Medical marijuana has some legitimate uses for people with cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma and schizophrenia as seen here from the Mayo Clinic website (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/marijuana/NS_patient-marijuana/DSECTION=evidence). But if you are going to do something, then do it right. If it is going to be sold as medicine, then it should be controlled like other drugs via listing strict conditions for the drug to be prescribed, ways to administer the drug more effectively than smoking, methods of manufacturing / protecting the product, which more often than not is tainted with harmful chemicals, and protecting our society from people getting high and driving. Not to mention that smoking a drug is still smoking and makes the user more prone to cancer and emphysema. The system that exists today is a sham and fraught with abuse. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times stated that in Los Angeles, “there are more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks.” (http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/17/local/la-me-marijuana-20110617)
In talking to members of the San Francisco police force, it’s obvious that the Medical Marijuana laws here have been taken to extremes by the public and the police can’t do anything about it. One police lieutenant I spoke with said a) Her gynecologist can prescribe medical marijuana; b) There has been no investigation to uncover doctors who prescribe these prescriptions for anyone and c) The DA will not prosecute marijuana use. I saw a news report that said if someone is smoking marijuana as they drive and have a medical marijuana card, they can not be arrested. I wonder what the percentage of people who use need medical marijuana is of those who use it.
The other day I saw a medical marijuana ad on television. That was a first. The ad mentioned the effectiveness of marijuana, although it didn’t mention a single medical reason for its use. The ad encouraged people to come in to their facility to get a prescription. Come on for a prescription? How about coming in to get checked up to see if you even need a prescription? These dispensaries are giving out prescriptions for anything including anxiety, which is one of the side effects of marijuana (http://www.justice.gov/dea/ongoing/marijuana.html). Does anyone else see the problem with this? Telling people they can get a prescription at your business is as bad as doctors getting paid by pharmaceutical companies. They may as well let black market drug dealers tell you that their drugs are medically safe for any use. Attached (Specials) is a PDF of a dispensary’s web page offering coupons for discounts for everything including bringing in 3 new patients. Do legitimate medical facilities offer group discounts and coupons to convince you to bring in your friends? Obviously, the system now is just a way for people to get high legally.
The medical industry knows that smoking is the worst way to introduce medicine into the body. It is less controlled, irritates the lungs, can lead to lung cancer and emphysema and it also goes into the air where people in close proximity breathe it in. Maybe I wouldn’t be so offended about medical marijuana if it weren’t smoked and I didn’t have to breathe it in from my neighbors and even people walking down the sidewalk.
Worse yet, marijuana can’t actually be prescribed; the prescriptions people are getting are actually just recommendations as prescribing marijuana is still illegal. Using the word “prescription” though gets people to accept it more and break down the walls of objection.
Sadly, while many people only have short-term effects from smoking pot, 10-16% do get addicted and for many others, it is a gateway drug. There was a great article printed in The New York Times about marijuana being a gateway drug (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/fashion/19pot.html?pagewanted=all). The gateway isn’t necessarily from the need to get higher, it comes from the person’s network where they got the marijuana and who can also get them something new to experiment with. In fact, people who deal drugs are always interested in getting their customers addicted to their product like heroine, cocaine and methamphetamine. In California today, there is a huge epidemic of methamphetamine use. This is one of the most addictive and destructive drugs in history.
Are people just getting prescriptions so they can get high legally? You bet they are. It’s out of control. Its time the FDA did a study to see if marijuana is actually effective. It’s also time to make this drug prescribed by pills or inhalant or other ways rather than such that people are getting it from drug dealers, which apparently most of the medical marijuana facilities actually operate as.
This whole medical marijuana system is a mess and needs to be overhauled. If the state really wants to make money off the regulations, they need to put more controls on it too like a strict list of medical reasons marijuana can be prescribed (as it is now, anything goes), requiring manufacturing regulations like other drugs making it safe for the public (as it is now, marijuana is often tainted with many harmful chemicals), and requiring a form of the drug that isn’t smoked so others don’t have to breathe the drug in. If you are going to do something, then do it right.