Dispensing Stupid:Legalized Pot

Stupid is as stupid does.

This article was first published as “Medical Marijuana: Complexities and Contradictions” on

Those who are concerned about the social and personal implications of legalized marijuana, medical or otherwise, are often shouted down by the libertarians in the room.  The Constitution is often evoked as the logical basis which rationalizes the consumption of harmful substances; “Americans have the right to take into our bodies what we want.” “Alcohol is legal, pot is no different.  In fact, it’s less harmful than booze or cigarettes.” And finally, “Marijuana is last resort for these suffering people to relieve their terrible symptoms.”  For the most part these arguments are intellectually dishonest, often hiding a political or personal agenda of “recreational use.”  People who like to smoke pot are the most fervent advocates of  “medical marijuana.”   It makes me appreciate the few, intellectual honest, dealers out there who admit that it is about decriminalization of their preferred high.  Rhetoric aside, pot and its brother and sister substances, have a cumulative negative effect on the individuals who partake, their children, their job productivity, their health, and their moral character.  Weed, pot, bud, what ever innocuous name you want to give it, marijuana is the gateway as well as the foundation of wide spread social deterioration, crime, and spiritual impotence.  The following article simply names many of the practical problems related to legalizing pot.  The deeper questions have to do with the personal problems related to using it.

The legalization of marijuana for medical purposes appears conceptually simple: End the illegal status of a certain controlled substance when used solely for the compassionate purpose of alleviating symptoms of illness and disease. The realities of medical marijuana, its sell, regulation, and impact on communities, is however, highly problematic.

According to an ABC News report this week, several states which have legalized medical marijuana are beginning to revisit those decisions. The government continues to release warnings to states and communities that marijuana is an illegal substance at the federal level, whether for medical or recreational use. They continue to emphasize that anyone involved in the growing and distribution of marijuana is subject to federal prosecution regardless of local statues.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have permitted, through either legislation or ballot initiatives, the medical use of marijuana. Almost all of those states have suffered unexpected problems in law enforcement, regulation, taxation, and zoning as a result of the legalization of medical marijuana. Persistent threats from the federal government are just one in a host of complications which surround this controversy.

Michigan’s voters chose to legalize medical pot in 2008. Despite the public acceptance of marijuana, businesses in Michigan, and elsewhere, maintain the right to conduct random drug tests on their employees. Contention erupted when a large discount chain store fired an employee for having THC (the primary chemical in cannabis) in his urine. The THC came from his use of marijuana which he had obtained legally with a doctor’s prescription.

California has revoked the licenses of a number of medical marijuana dispensaries for various reasons.  One factor affecting California, as well as other medical pot states, is the lack of comprehensive state regulation of pot shops.  In most cases cities or counties creates their own rules which address who may grow, who may dispense, and who may purchase.  Rarely are such rules and regulations fully compatible with other counties or even nearby towns.  In fact, of the states where medical pot is now legal, no two share identical regulations and many do not accept registry ID cards which come from other places.

Numerous Colorado medical marijuana shops have been shut down by voter initiatives in cities and counties because majorities in those local communities oppose the legalization of marijuana. Dispensaries have, at times, become nuisances due to undesirable and disruptive customers, complaints that children are exposed to the marijuana culture, or complaints about the quality of air coming from adjacent ventilation systems.

The most daunting concerns regarding legalized marijuana are the implications to law enforcement.  In some states one can grow and distribute medical marijuana with an easily obtained license. Once legal pot is purchased, it is  easily distributed to unregistered individuals . There are few safeguards which protect children from the cultural fallout of open marijuana dispensaries in downtown, high-traffic areas.  There are no comprehensive guidelines available which define what blood level of THC an individual can have before being considered “intoxicated.”

These complexities and contradictions leave one to wonder if medical marijuana is one Jeni that would have been best left in the bottle.

By Marjorie Haun  6/3/2011

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