This Halloween has some wondering if the intent of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, was to trick or treat the people of California.
On one hand is the opinion that the act is a trick to decriminalize the production, sale, and distribution of a nefarious controlled substance. On the other hand doctors and patients say that marijuana effectively treats nausea, premenstrual syndrome, unintentional weight loss, insomnia, lack of appetite, spasticity, neurologic pain, movement disorders, asthma and glaucoma.
Eight out of ten Americans support the medical use of marijuana, and nearly 3 out of 4 support a no jail fine for recreational users. Most significantly 52% of Americans currently favor legalizing and taxing marijuana. Coincidentally marijuana arrests accounted for 52% of all drug arrests nationwide in 2010 with a total of 750,591 arrests for simple possession and 103,247 arrests for sale and trafficking.
Since Prop 215 went into effect more than 10 million Americans have been arrested for simple possession and more than a 1.36 million for sales and trafficking due to the prohibition of a plant that nearly 100 million Americans have used. To make matters worse prohibition sustains a lucrative black market that enriches drug cartels and abets violence associated with the production and distribution of illegal substances. We waste billions of dollars every year apprehending, adjudicating, and incarcerating marijuana offenders while forgoing the significant sales and income taxes that would proceed from legal marijuana transactions.
Red Bluff, Chico and nonincorporated areas of Tehama and Butte County do not allow marijuana purchases or dispensaries. Those needing marijuana for medicinal purposes must grow their own (if permitted), travel afar, or support the black market. Consider the recent case in Tehama County of a 56-year old woman denied an exemption to grow medical marijuana because her home is within 1000 feet of a school. Although no one voiced complaints to her directly she was compelled to stop by law enforcement officers. A neighbor who just happens to be a Sheriff on the Marijuana Eradication Team told Supervisors pondering the matter "She's a nice lady. But it is a nuisance.
"Maybe it does help. I don't know, but its' way too close to the school."
Excuse me, but exactly what is the problem here, and what is the rationale for the policy? Might children catch a whiff of the evil weed and become addicts? No. Will they get caught in the crossfire between her and the police? Not likely particularly if permitted. Or are the sensibilities of patronizing legislators offended? Bingo! This is reminiscent of characters and plot of the movie Reefer Madness (originally released in 1936 as Tell Your Children) revolving around the melodramatic events that ensue when high school students are lured by pushers to try marijuana from a hit and run accident, to manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, and descent into madness.
The federal government classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance of no therapeutic value is appalling in light of the experience of over 14 million regular users, the victimization of 11 million Americans since 1996, the recommendations of doctors including the California Medical Association, and the disregard of the states that have joined California to legalize medicinal use.
The same local office holders that deride "nanny-state" federal governance are themselves embracing it by placing the arcane dictates of the FDA and DEA above the considered judgment of the people they represent. Perhaps they rationalize that marijuana is a "stepping stone" to the abuse of harder drugs by failing to understand that the only reason this may be true is the fact that marijuana is prohibited in the first place.
Let's put this horrendous error of public policy behind us to recognize that marijuana prohibition is ineffective and incongruent with guarantees of American liberty and pursuit of happiness. Let's realize that marijuana dispensaries pay taxes, serve only adults and help end the suffering of patients, the costs of prohibition, and the black market for a God-given plant.
Our marijuana policies should help treat the ill, not trick us into believing that prohibition is an effective and necessary deterrent for a crime whose only victim is the offender.
Red Bluff Daily News
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