The medical marijuana issue has little to do with helping people and more to do with making the drug legal for all those who want to get high and not get into trouble. If we are truly concerned about using marijuana for medicinal purposes, we would send it to the Food & Drug Administration to be tested and if approved they would decide on the best way to make the drug available.
This is how we handle any all potential new drugs in this country, and if approved, we get our prescriptions filled at a licensed pharmacy. However this has never been done with the drug marijuana, because we all know the results would be negative since the drug is more dangerous than anyone wants to admit and its medical use is at best minimal.
Instead Baby Boomer lobbyists have convinced several states to set up independent "marijuana dispensaries" which can sell marijuana directly to the public, with a doctor's prescription. There is no other drug in this nation that is dispensed directly to the public through independent stores. Can you imagine an OxyContin dispensary in your neighborhood?
As predicted this has already led to widespread corruption and the creation of a new black market in which marijuana dispensaries are selling the drug to anyone, including minors. It has also led to an increase in doctors who will write a prescription for marijuana without proper diagnoses, for a price.
Let's remember that the two drugs that kill more Americans are the two legal drugs of tobacco and alcohol. In alcohol's case, when the drug became legal after Prohibition, we saw a dramatic increase in its use and an increase in addiction, accidents and use by underage youth. Making marijuana legal would only lead to the same results. The major difference is when you smoke pot, the goal is to get "stoned or high" unlike alcohol and tobacco, where you can use a small amount without creating impairment.
If we are honest with ourselves, we all know that the higher you get after smoking marijuana, the more impaired you get. So if there is a medical use, let's put it through the proper channels, but if the real goal is to legalize marijuana, we need to think about the consequences.
Mike Gimbel, Timonium
The writer is the former Baltimore County drug czar and a recovering addict.
October 21, 2009
The Baltimore Sun