By Lanny Swerdlow, R.N.
The medical marijuana model for providing cannabis to people is not working. Sixteen states with medical marijuana laws and almost sixteen years since passage of Proposition 215 and people’s lives are still be ruined as they attempt to navigate the veritable jungle of conflicting local, state and federal civil, criminal and regulatory laws.
The legalization advocates are right–the only way to ever get marijuana safely and widely available is to legalize its possession, production and distribution. Over the last decade progress has been made with statewide decriminalization measures, local lowest enforcement initiatives and medical marijuana legislation. The public’s acceptance of legally controlled and regulated marijuana distribution has reached the 50 percent level and continues to climb.
Cops have fought medical marijuana because their worst nightmare is that it will lead to legalization and the loss of their $20 billion annual feeding frenzy at their pig trough of marijuana prohibition laws. That nightmare is about to come true as not one, but two states have viable legalization measures on their November 2012 ballot.
Washington was the first state to submit sufficient signatures to qualify a legalization initiative for the ballot. Colorado qualified shortly afterwards.
Although their approach to legalization is different, the two initiatives essentially legalize the possession, cultivation, distribution and sale of marijuana. Beyond affecting the laws in those states, passage of the initiatives would have a significant national impact.
Mason Tvert, of Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the sponsors of Colorado’s Amendment 64, states “Along with changing how marijuana is treated in Colorado, passage of the initiative will force a dramatic reevaluation of national marijuana policy and the ability of states to handle marijuana free of federal interference.”
Tvert believes that the campaigns will generate a great deal of media attention that “will inspire thoughtful discussion about marijuana. In particular, we want to make people talk–and think–about the fact that it is objectively less harmful than alcohol.”
Allowing people a choice between alcohol and marijuana is the main reason these legalization measures are so critical to the health of our communities. Hospitals are overflowing with people in hospital beds because of alcohol use and multiple research studies have shown most people use marijuana as a substitute rather than complementary to their alcohol consumption.
Unlike Washington, Colorado is considered a presidential swing state. Tvert points out that in Colorado “marijuana is always a hot news item, so it is likely the candidates will face questions about the initiative and broader marijuana policy issues.”
Many of the supporters of Amendment 64 are upset with President Obama’s Beyond Bush escalation of federal attacks on medical marijuana providers as well as his opposition to legalization measures such Amendment 64. He is going to need the votes of young progressive voters to win Colorado so it is going to be interesting to see how he handles the inevitable questions about his actions. With Romney as opposed to marijuana as Obama, it is third-party, Green, Libertarian and Socialist candidates that may get the votes that could have gone to Obama.
These campaigns need and deserve your help. Although both campaigns are being financed by some deep pockets, it’s going to require additional financing from marijuana advocates to put it over the top.
Both campaigns are working on developing a phone bank in which supporters in California and throughout the nation will be able help out by making calls to voters.
Unfortunately both these initiatives are being attacked not only by raging drug warriors, but by marijuana consumers who feel the initiatives have fatal flaws that will make things worse. I cannot begin to imagine how things could be any worse, but whatever imperfections they may have, it is much easier to change whatever problems remain when marijuana is legal than when it is illegal.
Published with special permission from Culture