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Should Medical Cannabis Patients Fight For Recreational Marijuana Legalization?

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medical patients have all the funBy Johnny Green

Last week I wrote an article, ‘When Will Marijuana Be Legal?‘ The purpose of the article was to illustrate to readers that many consumers take the legalization movement for granted, and assume that legalization will come quick and easy. In actuality, due to the election cycle, fragmentation of the coalition, and outright laziness, recreational legalization is going to take longer than people think. Just look at the comments on that article and you will see what I am talking about.

The comments from that article inspired me to write today’s article. To give some background about my perspective, I have been an OMMP patient/caretaker/grower in Oregon since 2006. I have been a recreational consumer since 1993. I use my doctor endorsed medical marijuana often, especially on days where the pain is more prevalent. However, I also consume marijuana for recreational enjoyment as well. Oregon Revised Statutes do not provide guidance to the OMMP on how to differentiate between the two; if you are an OMMP patient you get to consume cannabis in a private area with State protection, whether it’s recreational or medical.

I was fighting for marijuana policy reform since the mid 90’s. Oregon did not get a medical marijuana program until 1998, and it wasn’t until years later that it was expanded to cover my ailments. Maybe I am a little biased due to the fact that I was fighting for recreational legalization before I was fighting for medical marijuana. However, I feel that just because I received my OMMP approval it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t still fight for full legalization.

medical marijuana blogI have long dreamed of a day when I could consume without any fears of repercussion from law enforcement. Despite the fact that I have my paperwork on me at all times, I still worry that I am going to be confronted by a member of law enforcement that is on a personal mission to inject his/her views on the subject into their job. A cop can do whatever they want to do, and it’s up to the defendant to prove their innocence thereafter, despite the claim that we are a system of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ Just ask anyone that has been falsely accused, and had to pay high legal fees to get their lives to the same status as before the cops’ wrath. I know there will be readers that will say, ‘then you can sue after you win!’ but let’s get serious, you have to have pay more legal fees, and maybe you win the next case as well. That’s not nearly as simple as ‘yes officer, I have cannabis on my person and/or in my vehicle, but it is legal, so kick rocks…’

I hope fellow medical marijuana patients understand that I hear their argument, and it is very valid. This was the comment from my previous article that I think sums up the mood of many mmj patients:

“I focus only on patient needs. We are struggling with just that issue. If you want to throw everything into the equation, you will never win in our lifetime…and patients will definitely lose. Don’t try to win your goal for legalization for everyone on the backs of patients. It’s seriously pissing us off.”

I understand where many patients are coming from when they feel this way. They use marijuana to alleviate their horrendous conditions, and see teenagers at the clinic getting their medical card/prescription when they look perfectly healthy. As with any government program, there are going to be loopholes and people taking advantage of the situation. It is absolutely disgusting to think that there are so many people suffering that need medical marijuana to tolerate living, and that there are people faking conditions to get a card. However, speaking as both a patient and a proponent of recreational legalization, I do honestly feel that we are in the same fight together.

Another reader made a very valid point:

evil cop“If there were assurances that the program would be left alone, AS IS, I might take your side. However, if you think that the medicinal cannabis business is safe and secure, guess again. The right wingers dismantled the entire system. They just gave the medicinal cannabis program in Colorado some revisions that are designed to make the program unworkable, and the guy who designed that fiasco said that he’s coming to California to “help us with our problem”. – Kevin

I think Kevin is correct. Without the votes of both medical marijuana members/sympathizers and recreational users, both groups are left open to attacks from those that wish to harm safe access. I can’t speak for all jurisdictions, but up here in Oregon, most of the members of one cannabis organization are also members of other cannabis organizations, both medical and recreational. These people also don’t think it’s cool to ‘ride the backs of patients,’ but they realize that there are clear benefits to banding together with like minded people.

Just as there are many in the MMJ community that are not happy about the recreational crowd, there are some in the recreational crowd that feel the same way toward the MMJ community. I have more acquaintances that are recreational users than medical consumers by far. There are not a lot, but there are some nonetheless, that feel the MMJ community turned their back on recreational users once the programs were started because cardholders already had their legal coverage. One guy I know very well always says, ‘We (recreational community) voted for medical marijuana in Oregon, when is it our turn for full legalization? All my card holding friends don’t go to any rallies anymore, they don’t collect signatures anymore, they just protect their own interests instead of going all the way on this thing.’ Like I said, that’s not MY opinion, but it’s something that I think is part of the conversation and comes up often.

Dank Marijuana NuggetWhat I do feel is that we are in this together. As a cardholder myself, I feel that medical marijuana should come first out of compassion, but that the fight should go on for full legalization out of a desire to apply logic to government. Anyone that has consumed marijuana, medical or recreational, will attest that it is not the menace that some make it out to be. In fact, it is a wonder plant that can be applied to so many facets of living. I am lucky enough to live in a state that recognizes the medicinal powers of marijuana. I wish it would be more widely applied so we could get the nation off of so many other harmful drugs. I also wish people could use it legally to relax from a long day instead of consuming large amounts of alcohol.

What do readers think? I welcome views from both sides, and as always, even people that disagree with me. I would much rather be wrong and create a constructive conversation than be right and bring zero awareness and education. Do you think that lumping the two causes together hinders the progress of either cause? I look forward to what people have to say.

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  • I think we should fight for every thing we want, this goverment sure isn’t going to let use do what we want, so fight like hell!!!!!!!!

  • Michael

    In answer to the title’s question, I can say only this:

    If cannabis cannot be made generally legal worldwide and somehow sensibly regulated as to quality/quantity by intended market (for recreational, industrial, medicinal and all other purposes alike), it will never be made truly “legal” at all anywhere on earth.

    Like it or not (and mostly I don’t like it but it’s reality), the only way that 6 and soon to be 7 and then 10 billion people can *ever* realistically expect the slightest assurance at all in their markets and what they find there (yeah, that includes cabbage and tampons and computers and garden-seed and everything else people buy/sell) is comprehensive and crystal clear best-practice regulations and some confidence that they’re being adhered to.

    Until a great majority of nations agrees to and signs off on a common set of regulations in this vein concerning *all* drugs of any kind whatever, there’s absolutely no hope of real Cannabis legalization anywhere: the entire overarching common global culture is saturated with myths and superstitions that make this so with regard to many drugs, and this will not be made otherwise without huge and globally-applied cultural change.

    That takes many, many decades, not a few years. The earliest major prohibitions of Cannabis more than a century ago were tiny cultural blips whose frameworks had been established for ten to thirty centuries and merely taken on a new label… and even when they did, those prohibitions took decades to be really meaningful outside the group who thought to impose them.

    We’re not dealing with just “people with guns who don’t like what we’re doing” here… we’re dealing with thousands of years of fluctuating influences on our culture in an age (since perhaps 1910 or even earlier) of such massive and rapid cultural input that cultural adaptation and evolution is nearing its breaking point… and *that* makes scapegoats a lot easier to tackle than reality.

    Breaks my heart in pieces to say this to good folks, but we have to face reality: “illicit drugs” and all people who have anything to do with any of them figure prominently among the scapegoats today as they’ve done for more than 100 years, and that ain’t gonna change for centuries yet.

    That don’t mean “stop trying”… it means “I hope your great-great-grandchildren are still patiently fighting for what you’ve taught your every descendant to insist on… because otherwise it just ain’t gonna fuckin’ happen”.

  • Joe Mullens

    Well, we are seeing this become legalized for medical reasons state by state and that is where is should stay. Many folks want this at the national level, but States should be the incubator of this so the facts can show whether that state incurs more issues with substance abuse or addiction from recreational use. I know we are working with California right now on medical marijuana labels that are tamper proof and that is an issue as well when dispensing this to the public. When it is illegal, you have no idea if you are getting tampered weed or not. Anyway, let this go state by state and not national all at once to measure the effects

  • Sure cannabis needs to be De- schedule. This goverment should not be able to stop, what we want. What this goverment does is a crime of it’s own, telling people what they can and can not do. They are elected officals, vote them out!!Not enough people voting these sorry asses out, or they vote in, the same person time after time. What is the matter with you people???

  • To be a fully informed voter on important issues — that will make or break patients’ on-going legal rights to cultivate, possess and share herbal marijuana — learn and repeat this mantra:
    “It is not legally possible to use any state law, either an initiative or legislation, to “legalize” the RECREATIONAL use of a federally scheduled drug.
    Adopt any law that purports to illegally invalidate or override a federally-controlling law, and as soon as it’s enacted, a single lawsuit invalidates any recreationally-related changes, but leaves INTACT all the changes to state MEDICAL marijuana law. Prop.215 is the best medical marijuana law for PATIENTS in the nation.
    This is the reason that Prop. 19, Richard Lee’s Trojan Horse, was a scam. Prop. 19 had been carefully written to allow the use of the “legalize marijuana” mantra to get people to vote “Yes” on 19!” without actually reading it. It was long, complex, and hey — it “legalizes marijuana!” That’s all I need to know! Why read it?
    Well, since legally Prop. 19 could never really legalize the recreational use of marijuana, why did Richard Lee (and his friends with the Oaksterdam “Marijuana Mafia”) spend so much money on it? Because it was really all about changing the only state laws that it could legally change: the MEDICAL marijuana laws. And not for patients’ benefits: “you patients, you, go back to being little consumers, no growing allowed for you, and just be satisfied with buying from our big corporate grows.”
    Now, stand by for the next Trojan Horse, the Steve Kubby, Judge Jim Gray “Regulate Marijuana Like Wine” initiative. This one is REALLY a piece of work. Interpreted as it will be by a court IF it is enacted, it will:
    (1) redefine “medical marijuana as cannabis with less than 1 percent THC (this is not a joke, folks), (2) make it possible (as well as HIGHLY probable) for corporate grows of GMO cannabis with a knock-out gene to stop production by the plants of any THC; (3) allow anyone growing marijuana to produce intoxicants to be taxed, controlled and regulated in unspecified ways. (Do YOU know how wineries are taxed, controlled and regulated NOW, let alone how those regulations and taxes could be changed in the future?)
    The “Regulate Marijuana Like Wine” Trojan Horse: don’t sign it, don’t circulate it, and warn all your friends! For a FREE legal analysis of this initiative, by an attorney with 30 years experience doing just this kind of work, e-mail Letitia Pepper, Director of Legal and Legislative Analysis for Crusaders for Patients’ Rights, at cprsocal@yahoo.com.

    Remember: ANY level of scheduling, whether 1 like marijuana or 5 like Lyrica, cannot legally be used RECREATIONALLY. “By prescription” and “recreational use” are mutually exclusive domains. Need a prescription? Then you CANNOT be using this drug “for fun”; your doctor gave it to you as medicine.

    Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug; unless it is completely DE-scheduled, not RE-scheduled, it can never be a recreational drug.

    Vote to De-schedule, not Re-schedule.
    Vote to keep marijuana as an alternative HERBAL remedy, NOT a prescription drug.
    The FDA is NOT our friend, and neither is Big Pharma.

  • Yes, it definitely should be legal for recreational use too. Alcohol is legal and kills thousands… how many deaths have you heard stemming from marijuana? I have lost at least 6-friends over the years from a drunk drivers. I am not saying its cool to drive after smoking but also know most people that toke but don’t drink will not drive stoned. I have however witnessed many episodes where someone was told they shouldn’t drive because they drank too much and put on the “might is right” face and became beligerant on their way to a drunk driving adventure. Even tho’ the physical high of marijuana does not make folks stagger or any of the other effects of alcohol… they have the sense not to drive when impaired… this is from my own experiences on this road of life anyway. That’s my 2-cents on the subject and may be worth a nickle to some. Peace

  • HAYWOOD

    I might be wrong on this but I will say that I don’t know of ANY patient that DOESN’T use it for recreation as well and there’s nothing wrong with that. Safer then all the other stuff thats out there.

  • Teen form ct

    the thing is yea i can see how you guys are talking about but im 18 and i do smoke for bad knee pain Ive tore my ACL but i still play football i get good grades.

  • some guy

    There is power in numbers and it doesnt matter what the personal circumstances are of each number

  • Lavina Houchen

    As you pointed out, it is not just about recreational or medicinal use…this movement is way bigger than that. Imagine what could happen if the hemp industry was legal-food, fuel, paper, etc..we can give a boost to our economy..we can give people the right to choose what to do with their own bodies-ALL people! This division has to stop or yes, I think we will fail. I am not working so hard on this issue just for medicinal users, Im doing it to help end the drug war and all of the things it affects.