The Marijuana Movement Divided
Finding Medium Grounds for the Medical Cannabis Industry and Legalization
Jan 10, 2012
Jan 10, 2012
Several news articles, blogs, and videos have been posted lately in regards to the medical marijuana industry. Several high-profile activists have been scrutinized for their opinions about the industry, especially by others outside of the movement who are unfamiliar with the politics involved. This has caused a divide in the movement. Steve D’Angelo, Executive Director of Harborisde Healthcare (California’s largest medical marijuana dispensary) shunned recreational use due to the overwhelming support for medical application. Allen St. Pierre, NORML’s Executive Director, called the medical marijuana industry a “sham” on CelebStoner causing an uproar among bloggers feeling this as an attack on patients who benefit from the use of marijuana, even though the article clearly stated otherwise, and a statement has been made to further clarify.
“Prescriptive alcohol was a sham then, and the "medical" cannabis industry (not medical cannabis itself) is largely a sham now. Is this news? NORML, and lawyers like Bill Panzer, have been warning ganjapreneurs and their legal counsel at our seminars and conferences about this political and legal box canyon since at least 2002.” - Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of NORML
Despite NORML having one of the largest databases of clinical applications for marijuana, working for decades to support and help pass legislation for medical patients, or hosting several panels regularly discussing the benefits of medical marijuana, some are upset over the words due to the perspective they feel it sheds on the medical community. The very same people are misunderstanding how the rest of the world actually views the situation. At many of conferences and events, I have personally met many of the same bloggers and patients who are upset while participating in what could only be perceived as fun. Sadly now, the marijuana movement has been divided once again by a lack of transparency and a game of semantics.
I’ve worked for both medical and legalization efforts, cannabis collectives, medical magazines, and though we’ve had better luck with passing medical legislation, we have an even harder time keeping legitimate regulation as profiteers and lobbyists work to keep marijuana as an exclusive club. It’s even harder to protect real patients as 420 nurses, “doctor recommendations” made on-the-fly specifically for marijuana, businesses built around setting up dispensaries, and “patients” abuse their pseudo-freedom. Hundreds of pictures of things similar to these can be found on Google. All were taken at various medical marijuana expos and various events promoting "wellness."
I have a great deal of respect for the medical cannabis community and for all the activists who have helped patients using marijuana for a range of clinical applications. I have family members who have suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and other problems that medical marijuana has given hope after showing promising results in several case studies. Countless medical professionals and organizations support the growing truth behind the efficacy of medical marijuana, only politicians will try to deny that.
There is no denying marijuana has medicinal properties. Even alcohol has its own form of clinical applications, though much different. In modern medicine, alcohol is typically combined with other forms of medicine and limited in amount. Even with all the products that contain alcohol, you wouldn’t see a patient requiring it for a medical condition in the bar taking several shots of whiskey and buying drinks for other friends, even though they don’t necessarily need it for medical purposes. There also aren’t liquor stores that require a special note from the doctor to purchase alcohol. During alcohol prohibition, they commonly wrote prescriptions for alcohol, which were overly abused as much as modern day marijuana prescriptions. This abuse and exclusive rights allowed few to monopolize and create additional problems, such as extensive political corruption, and apathy for continued reform in some medical states.
You also will never see people standing in long lines to pay black market prices waiting while others choose their favorite flavor of painkiller or anti-anxiety pill. This only makes it more difficult for real patients with real needs for cannabis to obtain such at a reasonable price and time. In no way are patients to blame for the greed of a few, though medical marijuana is often seen as a joke by politicians and already supported by the majority of the nation. Through legalization, prices would drop significantly, especially for patients who would could work toward legal insurance coverage It would cut out the red tape for people looking for a simple solution. It would open the doors for patients to find better alternatives than spending thousands of their financial aid trying to stay healthy with many of the risks as yesterday.
Even with the majority of the nation supporting medical, the federal government is still cracking down on legitimate patients, their caregivers, and innocent citizens caught in the cross-fire at the taxpayers’ expense. The current administration has stripped several constitutional rights and patients’ right to privacy. The patients continue to be victimized, forcing them to choose between rights and medicine. It’s unfair to make patients suffering from debilitating diseases to be constantly in legal jeopardy because of the tens of thousands of people who abuse the system. Using words and phrases like "wellness" instead of "fun" or "medicate" instead of "smoke" is like going to the local head shop and buying "glass art" instead of a "bong" or a "tobacco only pipe" instead of a "whatever you put in it pipe." The legal loopholes of linguistics is nothing more than a temporary solution that teeter-totters at the expense of the community rather than addressing the real concern. Of course that depends all on what your definition of the word "is" is.
You can say that the vitamin C in orange juice helps your immune system, but you aren't required to visit a special "orange doctor" to see if you can be recommended the wonder medicine otherwise known as food. You can say that oxygen, essential for respiration, could be defined as a medicine to aid a perpetual state of suffocation... but most people just call it air. Both of these examples also have true real medical properties, outside of their common use though are treated totally differently by the majority. Leave it to lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians to split hairs, because they most definitely will redefine what constitutes legal and illegal so long as there is a fine line. Many people use marijuana to ease their pain, battle their nausea, and hundreds of other completely legitimate reasons, though that doesn't mean all marijuana use is or should be medical only.
It is the industry that has let patients down and has caused several political officials to reverse their opinion on the ability to regulate what is deemed as criminal activity according to the federal government. Many of these entrepreneurs of exclusive rights clubs use marijuana for their “headaches” while hitting a dabber with a blow torch using highly-concentrated BHO before eating heavily medicated food, and selling marijuana to elder cancer patients at extremely high prices. Some have been using marijuana for fun for years long before medical marijuana laws came about and now focus primarily on “patients.” Not every case is as extreme, but it only takes a few bad apples to ruin things for the rest of the community.
Until all adults have safe access, through a properly taxed and regulated market, the government will keep cracking down and raiding anyone they think may be breaking federal laws. With legislation such as HR 313 (co-sponsored by Democratic Representative of California, Adam Schiff) that passed the House last December, federal drug laws can extend overseas. So even if a patient travels to countries with lax laws, such as the Netherlands, or even talk about it, they could face time in prison. Patients should have the right to be mad, but they’re mad at the wrong individuals. The only way patients will be able to obtain truly safe access to their medicine is through legalization for all adults.
Copyright 2012 Garret Overstreet. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed without an appropriate link to the original source.