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Medical Marijuana and the Law
A neon sign is shown at the entrance to the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Clinic in San Francisco, Monday, Oct. 19, 2009. Pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers should not be targeted for federal prosecution in states that allow medical marijuana, prosecutors were told in a new policy memo issued by the Justice Department. (AP)

The entrance to the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Clinic in San Francisco, Monday, Oct. 19, 2009. Pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers should not be targeted for federal prosecution in states that allow medical marijuana, prosecutors were told in a new policy memo issued by the Justice Department. (AP)

Before 1914, drug use was no crime in America — and millions of Americans were addicted to tonics peddled off the back of wagons and laced with opium or coca. Then came the big crackdown.

Now, “medical marijuana” is on the move. Fourteen states permit its use. And pretty broad use. LA has a thousand medical marijuana shops. In Colorado, thousands of young men have suddenly complained of chronic pain and signed up.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice officially said it will not prosecute what the states accept. Is defacto decriminalization on the way?

This hour, On Point: Marijuana, medical marijuana, and the law.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

Joining us from Washington is Josh Meyer, reporter for the Los Angeles Times. He reported on the Justice Department’s new policy on medical marijuana, announced last week. LATimes.com offers an interactive map of medical marijuana dispensaries in LA, and a map showing the states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Also from Washington we’re joined by Peter Cohen, adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University and the chair of the Physicians Health Program of the District of Columbia Medical Society.

And from Los Angeles we’re joined by Mark Kleiman, professor of policy studies and director of the Drug Policy Analysis Center at UCLA. His most recent book is “When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Brett

    Hopefully, this show will be a nice change of pace (finding most conversations about Afghanistan, health care, the economy, the environment, etc., have become tiresomely predictable; pundits have all begun to play a kind of verbal three-card-monte with logic and insight).

    Marijuana should be decriminalized for small amounts of possession, yet medical use (which is a different issue) should be further studied. This probably won’t happen any time soon, though.

    I used to deliver food to homebound AIDS patients many years ago, and many of them used marijuana to alleviate nausea and increase appetite. This was exceedingly helpful in their maintaining some semblance of health. Without it they had difficulty eating and keeping medication down. This could also be helpful for certain types of pain management, particularly the nerve pain and skeletal pain persistent in many diseases.

    That said,medical use needs to be held up to the same standard of efficacy as any other medication. Although what’s happening in places like California is positive because it challenges (and has the potential to bring in much needed tax revenue), it is just plain silly to think it passes any muster for responsible medical protocol.

    The good news is that federal dollars will no longer be devoted to catching and prosecuting medicinal suppliers and “patient” users.

  • Ellen Dibble

    A physician (allergist) who had spent time in California told me years ago that in California a lot of people are allergic to marijuana, that people easily get allergic to it. 25 years on, I’ve lived upstairs from smokers and to me, “medical marijuana” means it makes me sick. I have baskets of costly stuff to ameliorate symptoms. I have carpeting down and masking tape on all building seams. I have the costliest air purifiers, and fans and open windows.
    I concur with Consumer Reports, air purifiers don’t work. I think my state, while it’s moving to legalize marijuana, should move in lock step to ensure that multiunit housing allows no smoking whatsoever. People like me have to be nomadic renters, or throw a lot of clout with the chief detective.
    Right now only a very few residential buildings are non-smoking. For enforcement purposes (cocaine now), it would make a lot of sense to have a ghetto for smokers.
    Unfortunately, doctors’ offices don’t even try to “treat” marijuana or cocaine allergy with neutralizing drops or shots. It may be illegal to do so.

  • http://drewmorton.com Andrew Morton

    It seems to me that we there are many things worse than marijuana. People don’t overdose on pot, yet you can drink yourself to death, or overdose on presciption drugs.

    Of all the things out there, marijuana isn’t that dangerous. There are weight loss products that are more dangerous out there…

    Why not legalize marijuana to help control the industry? The gov could make tax revenue off it, and if they are really that against it, use that money to educate people about drugs.

  • Joan

    I can only hope for medical marijuana nationwide in my lifetime. I suffer from severe depression and have had multiple unsuccessful suicide attempts. I’ve tried a battery of FDA approved sedatives, tranquilizers and anti-psychotics. None of those are as effective as marijuana at consistently neutralizing the suicidal drive that can completely possess me. I only wish I could obtain it legally and in a consistent formulation.

  • OldHeathen

    If I want to smoke marijuana it is nobody’s business but my own. In these days of no medical insurance, untreated hypertension, untreated back pain from three lumbar surgeries, I demand the right to treat myself (since I can not find professional treatment). There is just so much wrong with prohibition in a liberty loving society. So go ahead deny me jobs, throw me in jail, I am still going to smoke anytime I damn well please.

  • Joey

    Hi Tom,
    Pot and Jazz for today’s shows.
    What a great 2 hours of radio.
    I think we are seeing a medicine that people want and use to good effect. Why shouldn’t that become a big business?
    Have a good day.
    From Colorado

  • Bill Fried

    As long as we don’t legalize marijuana, we leave intact the cartels and street thugs who will continue to control the production, distribution and marketing of those drugs. The problem with legalizing medical marijuana is not that it goes too far. It’s that it doesn’t go far enough to get rid of our futile, puritanical prohibition. Until you legalize marijuana–and harder drugs like heroin and cocaine–you can’t really regulate and control them. Medical marijuana laws scratch the surface of our prohibition. It’s the prohibition that needs to be overthrown.

  • Jeff

    The last election in Mass showed a entire state how we have control of what we would like to allow.

    As a young professional I am now aware I can throw my money around and generate some political clout on the issue. I feel very soon Boston will join the likes of Oakland and SF and have a healthy, legal pot economy and all the fear-mongering that opponents have touted will have to accept they were (and are) wrong. Its like gay marriage, it helps those who want it and does not effect in any way those who oppose it.

  • http://www.johnnyfrazee.com John Frazee

    I feel the resolution of this issue is long overdue. The “medical” use of marijuana is just a facade. I mean let’s face it, for many people this issue is to lead the way for recreational use for which I have no problem. People are in prison, separated from their families, for the non-violent “crime” of selling marijuana putting a huge burden on the taxpayer and overcrowding our prisons. The revenue which could be collected for sales and import tariffs could be very beneficial for the USA and many developing countries where cannabis grows naturally.

    It’s time to get this issue out of the way once and for all and get on to more important things!

  • http://euonymous.wordpress.com euonymous (please do not use on air)

    My brother was broadsided in an auto accident 20+ years ago. He has had two back surgeries with rods and screws inserted in his spine. He is in constant pain and takes morphine daily. Although he knows that marijuana would reduce his pain level, he is not allowed to take it or his other medications will be cut off. He is also limited to one acupuncture treatment a month. Marijuana and acupuncture are the only two things that reduce his pain levels without addictive drugs he would prefer to avoid, but cannot.

    While I am not personally interested in marijuana, it kills me to see my brother suffer this way. Marijuana should simply be available and be taxed. It will find its own level. My understanding of the science behind it is that marijuana is less harmful overall than alcohol and tobacco, and this country certainly does not have a problem with those. I would rather see alcohol and tobacco regulated, but we all know how much money lobbyists would throw at those ideas.

  • Frank Bayles

    There are many different reasons that MJ hasn’t been legalized look into Dow chemical chemicals used to produce paper vs. Hemp paper no chemicals (practically)

    Drug companies don’t want “us” not using their drugs.

    What is the difference between general uses of Alcohol to pot. There isn’t even medical value for alcohol.

    Furthermore, many states (excluding CA and CO) it is next to impossible to find DR that will prescribe and or what information the State (example Vermont)has relating to who it is available for and how to enter the process to obtain it.

  • Rae

    Massachusetts first adopted a medicinal marijuana law in 1992, which was signed into law by former Gov. William Weld, according to proponents of the bill.

    The law, however, requires the Department of Public Health to supply the marijuana to approved patients, and the department has been unable to obtain such a supply, according to a press release from the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition.

    http://www.wickedlocal.com/winchester/news/lifestyle/health/x1393575007/HB2160-Jehlen-cosponsors-medical-marijuana-bill

    This is an excerpt from an article published in the Winchester Star. Why is this not mentioned more often? Why was Massachusetts omitted from the list of states that have a law on the books regarding Medical Marijuana?

  • Karen Hill

    I think that the one major point that no one seems to make is that the biggest reason for not legalizing the every-day use of Marijuana that it is extremely difficult to regulate. If Marijuana were legal tomorrow, it would probably still be illegal to grow your own and sell it and it would still be illegal to drive etc… under the influence of it. It just doesn’t seem to me that it would be as easy to crack down on these problems as it is with other legal drugs like alcohol.

    To make another point, those who make the argument against the legalization of Marijuana based on notions that it creates criminals out of people or that it’s terribly addictive or down-right bad for you probably have very little scientific evidence to support these claims and it aggrevates me to no end when people aren’t corrected. Just like alcohol, Marijuana can be bad when abused, but you cannot ban something because there are people who may abuse it. If anything, alcohol should be made illegal and Marijuana made legal because the negative health effects of Marijuana are WAY less significant (a person can’t even be physically dependent on it as one can become on alcohol) than those of alcohol, which adds to the overall cost of our health care. But if that were how things truly operated, alcohol, sleeping pills, cold medications, and even vitamins would be made illegal.

    We can’t expect our laws to protect the American population from itself.

    In my opinion, if it were legal, crime would go down, because the illegal drug cartels would now be competing with legal suppliers and their presence in our country would diminish. And our country’s budget deficit would be made smaller because the tax revenues we would generate on legal Marijuana would probably be pretty significant. I just wish people would think outside their boxes about our country’s position in the fight against drugs and in the world in general. We can’t fight a war against something for the sake of fighting it when working with it would reap many more benefits than if we even did somehow win.

  • Eric

    As a user of cannabis and a person with multiple sclerosis I can only hope for the medicinal use across the US as it helps me with my symptoms. As a resident of Massachusetts this past year we passed decriminalization but still doesn’t allow me to purchase or obtain it legally in any way and feel Decriminalization is the wrong approach for this reason. A strict federal medicinal policy or full legalization are the only ways.

  • MIchael

    Marijuana became illegal not do to some threat from use but became it was a attempt in the early 60s to demonizes Mexican immigrants and blacks. The history channel had a great show about it

    “history of illegal drugs:marijuana, cocaine, LSD… in History”

    The laws on the book are like the caller has said draconian and nothing more. If anyone has watched t.v. adds on some of the drugs that are legal to get over the counter and all the massive side effects they have no wonder people rather use marijuana.

    I dont smoke but one of my Aunt’s has MS so she uses it to cope with it. Along with practically everyone i know does, in Ma they made it a civil offense not criminal since it’s a waste to throw someone in jail for years with real criminals.

    Don’t republicans always like to say keep the government out of there personal lives how about they actually start doing that?

  • Sean

    I’m a recreational user of marijuana, and I wanted to respond to the caller’s comment on brain damage due to smoking… Cigarettes have been shown to cause heart disease, lung cancer, and fetal defects just to name a few; while alcohol is linked to liver disease, and is related to violence in many forms… just because something may be dangerous to the user should not be used as an reason to make it illegal

  • Carl

    There are some conditions which marijuana in uniquely effective in dealing with. Arthritis, gout and other joint pain is excruciating on a good day, and the only thing which ever helped reduce that pain was marijuana.

    I’m no longer a smoker, and I can see many good reasons for merely decrimilizing (rather than fully legalizing) it. But the way in which the federal government have behaved, arbitrarily prohibiting industrial hemp in addition to marijuana… that is unconscionable.

    At this point, it’s legal status is merely about politics rather than any practical reason.. Regardless of where you stand, marijuana and hemp policies are in deep need of honest, open review.

  • john hepler

    This discussion moves naturally from the artificial limits– marijuana as “medicine– in which your guests wish to place it, to the critical ethical arguments.
    Marijuana was outlawed in the first place by purely political considerations. It is a PLANT, an herb of nature, not a pharmaceutical drug. Consideration of marijuana as medicine obviates the real problem of Prohibition, which
    a] does not slow its use or availability
    b] creates a small criminal class, often inspired by profit motive, not drug addiction
    c] creates a professional criminal class whose huge drug profits necessitate murder, violence and innocent victims.

  • Steve

    Let’s talk about cannabis as something other than getting high or medication. Cannabis can be used for clothing, building materials, superior paper, it’s used with a combination of other materials to make car parts. The list is long. Wake up! It’s about MONEY, .

  • Michael

    Tom, please refute the ‘Gateway Drug’ myth and don’t allow people to hide behind it. It’s the first and last defense of people who need a reason to criminalize the drug. Even the RAND corporation says it’s a myth, and they do lots of defense and goverment research. The link:

    http://www.rand.org/news/press.02/gateway.html

    It’s like saying that buying a travel guide will make you get on an airplane. People doing harder drugs are disposed to do them anyway. Look at it this way: think of all the people you know who tried grass and didn’t move on to heroin or coke addictions. US government data, looked at from that perspective, shows that smoking grass is actually a good indicator to not doing harder drugs.

    It’s time to stop persecuting American citizens, and let cash strapped states get a piece of the money that’s currently going to mexico and canada despite our multi-billion dollar, multi-decade war on drugs (read: American citizens making their own choices). Thanks.

  • Joe

    Not sure why employer testing would be relevant in the context of limited medical use. An employer would still be free to say that they would rather not employ MJ users – even with a prescription – anyway.

    Would be an interesting case though if you brought it as med discrimination once you were term’d for failing the screen.

  • Rob Manatt

    The medical marijuana movement misses the boat. By all means, those who need treatment should be allowed that right, but medical marijuana will always represent a front for a greater body calling for general legalization of marijuana. The medical basis for legalization simply sets the stage for pharmaceutical and insurance giants to soak up this market with synthetics which appeal to those morally opposed to legalization of natural marijuana. These synthetics do not serve the purpose for which they are intended because they lack the great diversity of cannabinoids in marijuana that produce it’s wonderful healing powers in the first place.

  • Bill in NSB

    Marijuana should be legal and regulated, period. I have used it both recreationally and medicinally (for chronic back pain) for over 40 years with no ill effect. I use no other drugs and have no desire to try other drugs. I choose marijuana rather than alcohol. I am a criminal only because I use marijuana. I am self employed as I can not work for an employer who would not hire me for my use. I have friends who drink only because they can not be employed as users. Alcohol and cigarette manufacturers sell killer products while marijuana is illegal… what hippocrates we are.

  • frank stadler

    Illegalization of marijuana is based on the assumed harm that it does to those who use it.
    one simple question: which is more harmful to pot users – marijuana or jail?

  • http://www.brianbergeron.net Brian

    Tom,

    I agree with Michael above. The Gateway Theory has been disproven and it’s a repeated falsehood like this that really holds the reform movement back. A lot of the information that has been fed to us for a number of years is incorrect and the correct information needs to get out.

  • Colette Barnett

    I have a comment in regards to the comment on “Pot” as being a gateway-drug. The fact that marijuana is a gateway-drug is that it is illegal, thus is lumped in on the streets with all the other illegal drugs. Marijuana does not have the same physiological effect as most of the other illegal drugs. It does not make sense that someone would automatically need/want other illegal drugs just because thay use pot.

  • http://www.saveberniesfarm.com Bernie Ellis

    Following up on your caller who asked about the state of Oregon becoming a direct cannabis producer, your guests may know that at least six states have actively considered this proposition (either by producing cannabis themselves directly or contracting with limited numbers of cannabis producers to produce the medicine.) We are actively considering this approach here in Tennessee. What do your guests think about this approach, to have tight state control of both production and distribution. Is that a better way to go? Can states choose4 that approach now with the new AG opinion?

    Second question: Where do your guests believe marijuana should be properly placed in the Controlled Substances Act? If marijuana is rescheduled to Schedule II or III, would not that single act make a huge difference in how we use (and treat) cannabis in the future?

  • David Montague

    I’m amused and disgusted by the entire marijuana question.

    Here we are in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” and yet the US gov’t is able to prohibit me from growing a single marijuana plant on my 10 acres for my own use. Or in my basement for my own use.

    What a bunch of fearful sheep we have become! obediently making war on people who have never hurt us, and timidly obeying a government that can stomach the likes of George Bush!

  • Cy Riggin

    You say there are 1000 marijuana shops in Los Angeles, how many liquor stores and tobacco outlets are there in LA? Both liquor and tobacco are more addictive and deleterious to health of abusers so why not make them available by prescription only?

    Prohibition did not work in the 1920′s and it’s not working now! It leads to harder (more concentrated) products which are more dangerous. Prohibition promotes organized crime. The gang warfare in Mexico is a result of our prohibition. We must repeal prohibition for the good of our country and the world.

  • jonas

    All the phoney concern about process from commentators who have never expressed concern about how other legal drugs are (legally) prescribed for things other than what they were originally tested and approved for.

    All the phoney concern about the possibility that some people are making some money off medical marijuana. As if no one makes money off all the other drugs from asprin to diet drugs.

    What is wrong with the people of a state overriding the undemocratic choices of the federal government, all made for political not medical reasons?

    If a person uses most drugs for non-tested purposes, even if prescribed, they can and often do end up not helping the underlying medical condition and often harmed by the drug.

    If someone uses medical marijuana, whether or not they have a medical condition, the worst that happens is that they have a good time for a while.

    If your “commentators” are so concerned about how such decisions are made by society why don’t they start demanding that the govenrment allow proper testing of marijuana? Until then the people will have to take matters into their own hands.

  • Graham

    Marijuana as a gateway drug is true and false at the same time. Alcohol contributes to more “next-step” dumb decisions (driving, fights, etc) than marijuana ever does. The gateway part comes from our failed war on drugs. We have told our kids that marijuana will lead to insanity (reefer madness) and you believing you will fly and thus jump out a window. When kids do try it anyway and realize that these statements are lies, some will also believe that similiar statements about herion for example are lies as well. Tell the truth to our children and they will make better decisions.

    peace

  • http://neilblanchard.vox.com/library/posts/ Neil Blanchard

    Hello,

    I didn’t see that anyone mentioned the fact that if pot is legalized, then it could bring in a whole lot of tax revenue.

    Sincerely, Neil

  • joemash

    Marijuana. I’m 62. Since Nixon. We’re still ‘talking’ about it. Same old silly debate and ‘arguments’. Way back, DEA Admin Judge ruled it’s use is ok. Meant nothing. THE one thing i never hear in all this ‘talk’ is that they’ve KILLED American’s over marijuana! That alone is enough to legalize it in a non-commercial way. Americans, through ‘drug enforcement polices – no-knock dynamic entries of homes’ have been shot dead over a weed…

  • Brian Bergeron

    Tom,

    I can’t believe that it was not until the ending music that any of your guests attempted to differentiate between LEGALIZATION and DECRIMINALIZATION. Many states, including Massachusetts and California have all ready decriminalized marijuana possession making the offense similar to a parking ticket. This does nothing about the supply side, making drug dealing a serious offense.

    Legalization and decriminalization are two different things and deserve debate.

  • Steve

    California finally realized that if they did not lock up everyone they arrested for MJ. they had more tax payers paying taxes, not the state paying 80K+ a year to house them in over crowded jails. Duh!

  • Jessica

    Marijuana is a non lethal drug that offers no more and in some cases less of a risk (health or otherwise) to its users than drinking alcohol. Smokers do not get in “drunken” rages and beat their spouses or children, they are typically sitting at home, relaxing like people tend to think of the average guy or girl having an after work beer. Why does society feel that is has a right to prevent me from using a natural substance that has not been chemically altered or derived that I can grow in my back yard. Marijuana is not in the same realm as narcotics. Your body doesn’t crave it, you don’t go into detox, and there has never been a case where someone has overdosed. The absurdity is beyond me. This is prohibition, and oppression. Is this a free country, do we really have the right to make choices for our selves? I am not so sure. To smoke marijuana is a personal choice just as choosing to smoke cigarettes, or drink alcohol. People seemed to be concerned about what is does to the brain, or the body. How can that be when Tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine are legal with no question on what they do to the body. People are left to read the information that is out there and make a personal choice. And one of these is given to children freely! What about HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) are we really sure how safe this is, because someone has told us its OK we accept that it is, could it be that so many conservatives and members of the older generations feel that Marijuana is so “dangersous” because someone told us so? A female caller today mentioned on the program that marijuanna is a gateway drug. I propose the questions, how does she know this?, Does she actually know anyone who smokes Marijuanna?, How can she be so sure?, Is this because someone told her this?, Has she really done any research? Most of the information available to those unexperience with marijuanna is propoganda.

  • http://ohhburn.com stoner_stuff

    This “Official Announcement” puts “into writing” what was already said back in February; we’ve reversed bad Bush administration policy that ordered authorities to continue to enforce federal drug laws even in states that have passed medical marijuana laws. So this statement is nothing more than a “REMINDER”.

    We support the idea of RE-LEGALIZING weed. Why should legislators be the ones to decide who gets to buy, sell, or possess a 100% all-natural medicinal herb? Why should they set the price and define the market? We say let everyone grow their own without any regulation or taxation!

  • Gerald Fnord

    What I would really like would be a drugs policy of which a mature adult need not be ashamed.

    Marijuana has had so many illusions—fears, hopes, loathing, worship—overlaid over it that it is often difficult to see for and in itself.

    It is not entirely benign; it does not kill, but some have used it as at least the occasion of screwing up their lives. As someone who’s seen saner and more competent individuals use more of it, more regularly than I ever have, I have to put this down to particular psychological or physical vulnerability to the many substances (not just THC) in it, or else a personality that in the absence of pot would have found some other way to screw up. But in any event, any talk on the order of ‘it’s just a plant, maaaan’ is so ridiculous that I have to remind myself that it didn’t come from a drug warrior’s lips.

    But it is also evidently useful, both as medicine and for recreation—the latter which I see as a legitimate use, not being a religious fanatic or a complete spoil-sport. We allow many dangerous things, because to not allow them would involve either a direct threat to the liberties of us all (e.g., we don’t close down dangerous cults because any religion could be declared so), or because in order to enforce the ban our liberties would be endangered—our liberties have already been degraded thereby?

    But let’s see it as it is. Making something bigfella tabu-tabu makes some fear it as Devil’s spawn, and others see it as the Persecuted Saviour. Neither of these attitudes are adult.

  • Pete

    Why is it that we are looking at synthesizing, extracting, reproducing a substance that grows naturally on it’s own.

  • Pete

    Think how many doctors visits and the associate costs to the healthcare system if all those people that could benefit from the use of it could just grow their medicine in the back yard and dose it properly without the risk of overdose?

  • Putney Swope

    Wow man a program on dope… cough…
    I was going to write something, but I forgot what I was thinking…

    Seriously though, it should be legalized or at least decriminalized. It’s criminal that there are people in jail for life for selling or possessing marijuana which is a real waste of tax dollars.

    Think of the tax revenue!

  • Concerned Parent

    Medicinal? Recreational? Inspirational? Is the potential harm to the user or society really worth putting Americans in jail? The US Dept of Justice estimates that 10% of Americans use marijuana every year; if it were a significant source of harm, we’d see an epidemic of health effects. Aspirin is clearly more dangerous; even fast food is probably responsible for more health problems than marijuana.

    Let’s put the drug cartels out of business. Let’s allow individuals to grow a little marijuana for personal use. Limit the size of the growing area or the number of plants, and put a small user-fee on it to cover administrative costs and leave a little something for education, health care, infrastructure…
    One possibility:$100 per year for a permit to cultivate a dozen plants, something like a fishing license.

    It’s a win-win.

    Who’s on board for this?

  • Brett

    In the history of marijuana being made illegal, robber barons of the early twentieth century played a huge role. Various textile manufacturers wanted hemp outlawed because hemp was superior and lasted forever, for example. Hemp could be used for all sorts of things from building materials to clothing to fuel. Every aspect of its production and use could be taxed. In the discussion today of the 1,000 or so shops in L.A., they failed to mention that those shops are taxed and brought nearly 11 million in tax revenues last year to California. If the state had really been on the ball, they could have brought in much more in tax revenues from pot. Considering the dire straits of the economy there……?

    I agree that simple possession should be decriminalized, at the very LEAST; think of the savings to state and local criminal justice systems?

    It would also be a good idea for more studies to be published on the efficacy of marijuana toward nausea and chronic pain, at the least, although political opposition within big pharmaceutical companies and among national politicians and the AMA would potentially be stumbling blocks. There needs to be an open and honest review of medical use marijuana. Among people who use marijuana effectively for illnesses, it is right down cruel to allow them legal use but deny them any means of legal acquisition, though.

    The scheduling of drugs (based on the Controlled Substance Act) is supposed to classify drugs according to their abuse potential, but is very political. I would like to see marijuana moved to a higher schedule (it is now #1). If one considers that Demerol is a schedule two (and much more dangerous with much higher abuse potential than marijuana), the controlled substance classifications are absurd in many circumstances.

    Although I don’t use marijuana myself, being a musician and within a community of alternative lifestyles, I have been around its use for well over thirty-five years. It is not a gateway drug; it is not addictive (although some folks can become habituated, but one can become “habituated” to chocolate chip cookies, too!) as many who have no experience with it might believe. I have not seen signs that its effects on the brain are any more than temporary.

    It is also abhorrent how the insurance industry has made drug testing by urine sample/hair follicle sample mandatory for many businesses to acquire accident insurance. That has led to drug testing for many jobs. As the one caller mentioned, it takes (on average) at least thirty days for THC to leave the system and show a negative urine presence–up to six months on a hair sample! In essence this polices people in their private lives and really has little to do with safety. If someone is impaired at work, employers need to deal with those issues by a change in someone’s (behaviors) demeanor or production rate and not a piss test! Seems to me that there is no substitute for an observant supervisor. Impairment at work can come about by everything from prescribed “legal” drugs to sleep deprivation to low blood sugar.

  • beefstick

    “A bag of weed, a bag of weed, everything is better with a bag of weed. It’s the only hope you’ll ever need, cuz everything is better with a bag of weed!!!”

  • JP

    Live with legalized pot?!!!!!

    The real problem is how we’ve stupidly criminalized victimless vice.

    The legalization of victimless crime will be one of the great social debates of this century, as escalating crime and decreases in all levels of government revenue will finally force us to confront the consequences of our idiotic and costly approaches to the problems of vice.

    Here’s the gist of very sensible and long-standing Libertarian arguments (one of the few areas I agree with the Libertarian platform):

    Tax the hell out of vice, and use the money for first-class anti-vice ad campaigns, rehab programs, and most importantly, heavy investment in primary education… educated youth have opportunities that allow for broader lifestyle choices.

    We’d get the fringe benefits of less vice overall, 75% less prison population and expense, less money spent on policing, violent criminals kept behind bars and/or kept to fuller terms, a more productive citizenry due to a better educated populace, and also importantly, less of a threat from Terrorists.

    Vice money fundamentally funds all organized crime, and much of terrorism. Eliminate drug money and you eliminate most crime directly, even most violent crime, since most crime is committed as part of operating vice, or supporting drug habits. The police would be able to devote all of their time to violent crime (except for traffic monitoring and public nuisance).

    We’d also no longer have to fund international anti-vice efforts, directly or indirectly.

    Young people will see drugs more for what they destroy, rather than being drawn to the taboo and alternative.

    Idiotic archaic notions about conquering vice through restriction rather than through understanding and scientific study will eventually fall by the wayside.

    More enlightened future generations will excercise more sense.

    In the meantime, society will continue to pay for past generation’s ignorance and stupidity.

  • Louise

    Medical marijuana, what a joke. It’s just a sad, sorry and lame excuse for all the potheads and druggies to get high.

  • http://www.masscompassion.org matt

    To learn more about the current medical marijuana campaign in Massachusetts, check out http://www.masscompassion.org.

  • Putney Swope

    Medical marijuana, what a joke. It’s just a sad, sorry and lame excuse for all the potheads and druggies to get high.

    People are going to get high on drink or marijuana no matter what it’s human nature. Locking them up for it is senseless and a waste of tax payers money.

    It should be legal and controlled like alcohol, period.

  • sydney

    We must discuss the COST of treatment with marijuana. For many who depend on it for treatment of disease, many of whom have no health coverage, pot is simply the most accessible drug available. Getting the pharmas involved will only force those people into an untenable situation.

  • Brett

    The only way to contain cost, it seems to me, would be to allow people to grow it themselves. The “black” market cost is about $15-$20 a gram. And I think it may even be higher at those medical use shops. I don’t know what would be a therapeutic dose, but I would imagine it is somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 gram a day, which would be $26 to $70 a week.

  • Inoccent Adult

    I have suffered from sever anxiety and depression since a very young age and the effects of prescription medicine were very disturbing to me. Marijuana has improved my quality of life and I’m tired of people deciding that they think they know what’s better for me more than I do. I use responsibly, and at home, out of the presence of minors and hurt NO ONE. Regardless of how I choose to intake my medicine, I feel it should be available for me as an adult. I’m am not a criminal or a dangerous person and I’m tired of feeling like one when I want to smoke a joint and read a book before bed. Get rid of the federal law, make it impossible for these crook drug dealers to profit.
    As an adult I feel that I should be allowed marijuana for not only medical use, but also for recreation. If people are allowed to go out to bars where I constantly see meaningless fights between drunken strangers, I should be allowed to smoke marijuana in the privacy of my own home. I show my ID to get alcohol, why can’t I for weed? I want an FDA approved drug and so do many other people and we will not stop. We will keep fighting for our right as adults and if people would be reasonable we could stop fighting based on puritan morals and start working on a way to regulate and distribute marijuana. One way or another, it will happen and people know it, so why not figure out a way to keep it out of the hands of kids and to stop Mexican mafia members from profiting off my harmless hobby.

  • Anti Judgement

    @ Louise

    “Medical marijuana, what a joke. It’s just a sad, sorry and lame excuse for all the potheads and druggies to get high.”

    Who are you to judge people? Smoking weed is no less dangerous than the bottle of wine that house wives down every day while they live meaningless lives. If I have a good career, and act and live like a responsible adult, why can’t I smoke without being labeled a “druggie”. I can say that I don’t live a life judging others for their harmful choices. I believe there’s a not so subtle word for people like you. Why do you even think marijuana is wrong? Because it’s bad for you? Not because of history of world leaders jealous of others using hemp, or use of it as a negative against Mexican immigrants in the past? My guess is just because your too busy thinking about the next useless commercial product your going to buy to consider that maybe THEY WERE WRONG IN THE BEGINNING!

  • http://n/a Phillip Jordan

    In a reasoning society, marijuana would be seen as it is- one of the Good Things of Life. None of these things are for everybody; I like hot, spicy food- not everybody does. There is one rationale for the ‘gateway drug’ hypothesis, viz. one must associate with a criminal group to obtain it. Their profits are much greater for the seriously habituating drugs so it is to their interest to steer people to more dangerous substances. Face it: the war on drugs is a total wash. Drugs are not, after billions of dollars and mountainous corruption, coming out of the basement waving a white flag. Perhaps there would be more success if cannabis were decoupled from this ‘war’.

  • Mark F

    Dear Tom, Could you please ask your panel this?: What were the initial reasons for banning marijuana? I do not recall there ever being a serious medical test to determine that it was unsafe for medical use. So why not then reevaluate marijuana’s medical use in the modern medical world?

  • Justin.Marshall

    Based on personal experience and anecdotal accounts, the efficacy of marijuana as a therapeutic agent for ailments ranging from chronic pain to depression is nearly irrefutable. Is it all all pragmatic for federal prosecutors to abide by “the memo” only in states where medicinal use has been passed via referrendum? If the usefulness of marijuana for therapeutic purposes has been ratified by 14 states, is that not enough of a signal for federal officials to put the issue of medicinal marijuana use under a lens of heretofore unseen magnification? Without the scrutiny of the FDA and the peer review process it is all but impossible for a therapy to establish significant credibility. Medicinal marijuana needs to be put through the channels like all other drugs if it is ever is to gain acceptance as a legitimate pharmaceutical agent. There are people capable of gathering the scientific evidence to prove/disprove this drug worthy f legalization…or not.

  • wavre

    Criminalization of marijuana:
    The big conspiracy of big Pharmas,”prison industrial complex”, drug cartels and their politicians, ect…strange bedfellows but very influential in politics!! Just follow the money…

    I guess Al Gore, Bush, Clinton (who didn’t inhale!?)Obama, ect…can not be put in prison because of the statut of limitation!!?? How many of them outer in government will pass a drug test??? Not many I bet you. Those hypocrites are keeping the country behind for monetary gain while the rest of the world has already gone pass that issue.

  • Caroline

    I live in Michigan where they just established the Medical Marihuana Program. You may either grow your own (but they do not give you any information on how to obtain the seeds legally) in a secure, locked room within your house. Your other choice is to have a “caregiver” grow up to 12 plants for you and to pay the caregiver for the marihuana.
    The caregiver system has one huge flaw – there is no “standard” by which the cost per ounce of product. Prices are set by the caregiver, and unfortunately some are driven by the profit factor. I was charged $150.00 for one-half ounce of “Blueberry”, so I have had to ration myself with that amount even though it gives me the restorative sleep and pain relief that I’ve not been able to get from morphine. If you’re a newbie in marihuana game, you don’t have a clue as to what the difference is between the inflated “street” price and the compassionate price the Michigan Medical Marihuana Association suggests caregivers charge their clients (mostly people on disability and on fixed incomes.) http://michiganmedicalmarijuana.org/

    I only found out about the pricing from a casual friend of ours (he happens to be caregiver from the north part of the state, and I am in SE Michigan, we found out he was a caregiver through casual conversation not solicitation) that told my husband I was basically being ripped off by my current caregiver, so I will be changing to one that has the welfare of his patient in mind and not his new boat he just bought.

    I am a participant in the program, I had the paperwork for the state filled out by my primary care physician not some guy on a list. I have chronic pain as well as chronic nausea. I have B-cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma of my spine. The radiation for that tumor caused catastrophic calcium loss that led to spontaneous fractures of 7 of my vertebrae. I had to have two surgeries to inject bone cement in them so my spine wouldn’t just compress totally and break any further up.
    I am in constant intractable pain, and I cannot walk for more than a few feet without a walker now. But at least I can walk, for now.

    After those surgeries and chemotherapy I started vomiting every time I ate which led to being on nothing but sips and ice chips and the occasional soup from late Oct. 2008 to March 2009. I still take a anti-nausea medication three times daily. So I definitely qualified for the program. *Side-note: Before being medically legal for marihuana I had smoked marihuana 4 times in my 45 years of life.

    I am also on morphine, sustained-release tablets, as well as fast-acting liquid. On any given day I take up to 510 mg of a powerful narcotic like Morphine, yet I still have pain. I use a vaporizer for the marihuana, and three times of filling up the pipe (which is equivalent to about 1/2 tsp) and I either fall asleep or am feeling calm and close to pain-free (from a constant 7 on a scale of 1-10, down to a 2). One thing the panel nor the callers didn’t mention was with narcotics is either you become addicted and crave them, or you just become tolerant and they became ineffective as in my case.

    I would really like to see some sort of tolerance law for those of us approved to use by the state we live in. I would love to be able to visit my daughter in Boston, but I cannot drive that far, and even if I could, if I was stopped by the State Police anywhere between Michigan and Massachusetts I could be subject to arrest for possession. I can’t mail any ahead to her, that’s a Federal offense too. Nor could I fly to visit her and take along my medicinal herb with the rest of my medications. Again, a Federal offense for possession if my bags are searched. So either I take the chance and bring it with me, or I leave it home and have a sub-optimal visit with my daughter.

    It’s a quandary that can be taken care of simply: make it legal, either dispense it like medication, or sell it like beer and cigarettes and tax the hell out of it and put the proceeds to universal health care!!!

    * I spelled marihuana with an “h” because that is the standard the State of Michigan uses on it’s Community Health Website: http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-27417_51869—,00.html
    I apologize for not being brief.

  • Brett

    Caroline,
    thanks for the insight into what this really means for so many people!

  • http://banicki.blogspot.com Steve Banicki

    We treat it the same way we treat the consumption of alchohol. We regulate it, tax it and only make it legal if user is over 21.

  • Legalize It!

    I think the number of comments on this program, speaking positively on Marijuana, speaks volumes.

    Legalize it – don’t criticize it
    Legalize it and i will advertise it

    Some call it tampee
    Some call it the weed
    Some call it Marijuana
    Some of them call it Ganja

    Legalize it – don’t criticize it
    Legalize it and i will advertise it

    Singer smoke it
    And players of instruments too
    Legalize it, yeah, yeah
    That’s the best thing you can do
    Doctors smoke it
    Nurses smoke it
    Judges smoke it
    Even the lawyers too

    Legalize it – don’t criticize it
    Legalize it and i will advertise it

    It’s good for the flu
    It’s good for asthma
    Good for tuberculosis
    Even umara composis

    Legalize it – don’t criticize it
    Legalize it and i will advertise it

    Bird eat it
    And they leave it
    Fowls eat it
    Goats love to play with it

    - Peter Tosh

  • Sean
  • Janet

    We are gradually lowering our standards and becoming a 3rd world nation. I don’t see China, Japan, Singapore, etc…pushing for legal drug abuse. This is a big mistake.

  • Putney Swope

    We are gradually lowering our standards and becoming a 3rd world nation. I don’t see China, Japan, Singapore, etc…pushing for legal drug abuse. This is a big mistake.

    So how do you account for countries such as Germany and Holland which have very liberal laws regarding marijuana.
    They don’t seem to be doing so badly. Hollands unemployment is about 4 or 5% during this bad recession and Germany’s is about 8.

    I read somewhere that in Holland that since the decriminalization of marijuana that the use has gone down, not up. Especially in the 15 to 25 age group.

  • Frank the Underemployed Professional

    This issue is about who owns your life and your body. The individual himself? God? Society at large? The government?

    I suspect that 99% of all self-respecting people would agree that we own our own lives, not the government or society at large. Individual rights are good for us and we should be free to do whatever we want to our own lives and bodies as long as we’re not inflicting physical force on other people. Thus, consensual “crimes” should be 100% legal–drugs, prostitution, suicide. Smoking marijuana in the privacy of your own home doesn’t hurt anyone.

    The real criminals in this case are the politicians and intellectuals who oppose the legalization of marijuana and who thus oppose individual rights. They are the real criminals who should be jailed and made to personally pay restitution to all of the victims of their immoral laws.

  • Frank the Underemployed Professional

    Janet,

    Please get your filthy, disgusting hands off of other peoples bodies. Do you own other people’s lives? Who are you to tell someone what they can and cannot ingest or do with their own lives if it isn’t inflicting physical violence on other people?

    Are you an advocate of freedom or dictatorship? Individual rights or communism?

    If someone wants to smoke marijuana in the privacy of their own home, how does that cause physical damage to other people? How would you feel if the government tried to force a religion on you in the name of the “public good”?

  • Louise

    Amen Janet!

  • Ellen Dibble

    Anyone watching PBS would have seen a segment about a half-hour long about marijuana (last night where I live) in a show hosted by Michael Pollan (I think I have the name right), the phenomenal author who has been on OnPoint. The show I think was titled Seeds of Desire, after the title of one of his books. He explores potatoes, why monoculture is ruinous as opposed to non-GMO organic cultivation, as used by the Incas in the high Andes for centuries. He explores tulips, how their diversification has kept them flourishing where less “flexible” flower species like the gillyflower and the pink have lost their appeal to humans.
    He addressed Johnny Appleseed who actually did not bring apple trees in time-honored manner (distribution having begun out of Kazakhstan, not to the Garden of Eden but to Europe) with clippings, but brought seeds, which bring great genetic diversity, not copies of the original. The diversity brought many bitter apples, but that was fine, when settlers reached Ohio, Appleseed had been there already, and saplings were available, bitter fruit though they bore. Hard cider (bitterness no problem) was the drink of choice for all till about 1825.
    And of course he addresses marijuana, which I believe he said were used (the way we use it now) in China and India from time immemorial. He has ancient art as Exhibit A. He points out consciousness-changing is part of the human quest, and each culture establishes which substances are encouraged and which are condemned. In Islam, alcohol is condemned, for example. So Mexico had marijuana and in the ’20s and ’30s brought it to the USA along with the song La Cucaracha (the cockroach) about a roach invigorated and fueled by the drug. About 1940, marijuana was made illegal. The female plants can be cultivated to exude their female perfume in the absence of males to exude their come-on, which is our drug, and great profit is derived. An Israeli discovered that the mechanism in the brain is that receptors in the cerebellum and hypothalamus and frontal cortex pick up the THC, and one of the side effects (confirmed on rats) is it allows forgetting, and for post traumatic stress, for accident victims and especially for soldiers in battle, this could be exceedingly good.

  • Brett

    The program (of which I only saw the ad) is from Pollan’s book “Botany of Desire” where he explores four plants: the potato, tulip, marijuana, and the apple, and historically their effects on society. It is highly recommended reading. Pollan is an incredibly engaging writer, and he has written many books on topics dealing with agriculture, food, agribusiness, etc.

  • Phillip

    I have a friend in his twenties with a medical marijuana recommendation in California. He was an alcoholic, and his drinking caused problems. Since he started using marijuana he can stop drinking after a single beer. Is he gaining the system?

  • http://none bri

    I hate the smell of cigarettes, I don’t even want to imagine how awful it would smell if pot were legal. Two different kinds of smoke filling the doorways smelling it on people’s breath even more-oh gross.

    And yes, pot is a gateway drug, I know this because every single one of my friends who tried it, went on to try other drugs. Duh.

  • http://www.ripplecity.com Ripped City

    Pot should be legalized for sale in N.C. Our customers ask for it constantly and it would benefit the community to have people stoned instead of drunk or high on narcotics like heroin.

  • j-dub408

    can any one tell me what is the law on growing plants if you no there’s 2 kids at the same location ?

  • http://nvnewswire.com Erick

    have epilepsy,chronic back pain’s and suffer from anxiety. My wife and I are alway’s on the road ,due to her profession .

  • John199453

    think pot helps pain

  • RIco Yawestiski

    That made ZERO sense … get to the damn point!

  • Sheamus Warior

    I conclude I have selected the smart and inconceivable website along with interesting stuff.

  • Sheamus Warior

    I’m in no doubt coming back again to read these articles and blogs.
    growing pot

  • Kanchan

    The complete protein in hempseed gives the body all the essential amino acids required to maintain health.germer graines cannabis

  • Kanchan

    The complete protein in hempseed gives the body all the essential amino acids required to maintain health.germer graines cannabis

  • Kanchan

    The complete protein in hempseed gives the body all the essential amino acids required to maintain health.germer graines cannabis

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