Monday, December 10, 2007

Serious silliness over medical marijuana

Marijuana is one of those issues over which the American psyche tends to lapse into abject absurdity. Since the 1930s, the steady stream of propaganda flowing from the federal bureaucracies’ bottomless reservoir of self-serving, ignorance has established the myth that marijuana is a drug so destructively dangerous to society that anyone who possess or uses it must be severely punished.

Never mind that science, along with the experiences of millions of Americans, disproves this myth. Never mind that a nation founded on individual liberty should not allow its government to persecute those who exercise a victimless free choice.
Confronted with the facts about the intrinsic harmlessness of marijuana, the anti-drug zealots contend that marijuana’s real danger is as a “gateway” drug leading to addiction to other drugs. But, that allegation has about as much credibility as the old canard that masturbation leads to blindness. There is no conclusive, indisputable proof that the use of marijuana consistently results in drug addiction. Conversely, there is much evidence that it does not, and more evidence that it is an effective drug in the treatment of a number of dread diseases. In fact, before its prohibition by the federal government in 1937, marijuana was listed by the American Medical Association as beneficial in treating over 100 conditions.
Never-the-less, because the law has prohibited marijuana, and each year hundreds of thousands of otherwise law abiding Americans are convicted for using or possessing it, it now carries the social stigma of criminality. So, when it is proven to be a benign medicine delivering merciful relief against human suffering, the contortions of government and law enforcement as they try to reconcile marijuana myth with reality can result in some serious silliness.
Such silliness is evident as the city of Santa Barbara attempts to craft a municipal ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries as allowed under California law. In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215 allowing the medicinal use of marijuana, and in spite of the subsequent intimidations and thuggery of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, Proposition 215 remains in effect.
The specific concerns that the city council’s ordinance committee is being asked to address reveal the paranoia, prejudice, and intellectual inconsistency regarding marijuana. Rather than compose an ordinance focusing on the medicinal application of the herb, the authors of the ordinance have succumbed to the contrived myth of marijuana as a dangerous drug that if freely available would asphyxiate civilization under a cloud of hallucinogenic smoke.
The draft version of the ordinance requires that marijuana dispensaries be sequestered away from the main business section of town, and from schools, parks, and residential zones. Essentially the ordinance wants to treat marijuana clinics as if they were gathering places for dangerous criminal reprobates. Does this imply that anyone who dispenses marijuana is a predatory drug pusher and that those who purchase it are degenerate druggies? Are pharmacists drug dealers? Are all of their customers junkies making a score?
People suffering the pain and disabilities of diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis are not criminals because they use marijuana to treat the symptoms of their disease. Nor are locations from which medicinal marijuana is being dispensed drug dens; they are apothecaries providing a needed medication.
The draft ordinance wants to restrict foot traffic to marijuana clinics by limiting the frequency with which patients could fill their prescriptions. Why? Would the daily volume of patients seeking to fill prescriptions for marijuana somehow threaten or offend society? People who walk into pharmacies with prescriptions for powerful, potentially addictive, painkillers are not regarded as pariahs or criminals, why should people with marijuana prescriptions be treated any differently?
The ordinance committee wants to restrict the hours that the clinics are open, and the police want the clinics doors locked at all times—even during business hours. The fear being that drug dealers or drug addicts will storm the clinics and steal the marijuana. Yet, there are more powerful drugs available at any pharmacy in town. Should all pharmacies keep restricted business hours and have their doors locked at all times?
What drives all this silliness about medical marijuana is the obstinate self-interest of those law enforcement bureaucracies that derive their positions and financial sustenance from perpetuating the insane war on drugs. They fear that permitting citizens to go unpunished for using any of the drugs that government has arbitrarily banned will expose the myth that free choice of drug use will destroy America. The great threat to America is not drugs; it is government’s continued abrogation of Constitutional civil liberties. If America actually honors its Constitution and its promise of personal freedom, the war on drugs is over, and marijuana will be just another medicinal herb in the pharmacy.
Randy Alcorn’s Right on Target column appears every other Tuesday in the Daily Sound. E-mail your comments to


Anonymous said...

It would seem that we, the US population, has not learned any lessons from the past - think "Prohibition" (of alcohol). All that experiment did was support the rise of organized crime that provided the illegal alcohol to the masses that demanded it.
Based on what I can read, we have lost the "war on drugs." We spend trillions but the drugs keep on coming. Why? Because there is a huge market and therefore a potentially huge profit.
If we keep on doing what we've always done we will keep on getting the same result. (Isn't that a definition of insanity? - to keep on doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.) Perhaps it's time to try something different - like making drugs legal but taxing them like alcoholic beverages and tobacco. Just a thought...

Trekking Left said...

Well said! I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

The war on drugs is a billion dollar industry, it isn't going anywhere. Sure, it's ineffective, but money talks baby.