By “Radical” Russ Belville
(CT News Junkie) Marijuana reform advocates and a group of patients called Wednesday for support of this year’s medical marijuana bill, saying it will serve as a model for other states and avoid the wrath of the federal government.National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws Connecticut Director Erik Williams said the bill benefits from the mistakes other states have made as they’ve legalized the use of cannabis for patients with debilitating diseases.
The bill, which will have a public hearing in the Judiciary Committee Wednesday, requires marijuana to be dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. The bill keeps the system within state borders and large chain pharmacies that operate in multiple states are unlikely to get into the business.
“What we have here is a far cry from California. It’s an industry that has very, very little oversight or regulation and that is not what we want to have in the state of Connecticut,” he said. “We’ve learned what not to do and that’s generally California.”
That’s the mantra every East Coast reformer has to repeat whenever they are fighting for medical marijuana — “it’s not California”. Not that I have anything against California’s Prop 215; certainly a doctor should be able to recommend marijuana for any condition they believe it will help… but I think even having the doctor involved in that decision is unnecessary.
However, to a nervous public, California represents a Wild West free-for-all in pot, with naughty nurses and shady doctors in tents on the beach with bikini girls spinning “$45 recommendation” signs and pot shops with neon pot leaves on every corner and expos where supposedly medical products are hawked by car show models and neighborhood backyard with pot plantations and stoners hiding behind a medical excuse so they grow weed to sell out of state for a living.
Had California passed Prop 19 in 2010, that attack would not resonate. Reformers could redirect public attention to Colorado, where the state has embraced a commercial licensing system, or to New Mexico or Rhode Island, where the states have taken different approaches with state-run dispensaries. With California off the table, the discussion moves from “how do we NOT be like California?” to “how do we emulate what other medical states have done?”
This is just one reason why it is crucially important for medical marijuana supporters to work for full legalization. California’s wink-wink-nudge-nudge medical system is seen by many people as a quasi-legalization, and to the casual observer it paints all medical marijuana as some sort of scheme by potheads to legalize by other means. With medical marijuana tarred by that brush, every attempt to pass a new medical marijuana law must work overtime to beat back California. Thus, we get the last four medical marijuana states creating laws with no home grow (as Connecticut is attempting here) and onerous security requirements and tiny possession amounts and more restrictive condition lists and stricter doctor-patient relationship requirements and so on.
During the Prop 19 campaign, so many of the patients and dispensary and clinic owners who were against it told me we just can’t pass any old legalization. They were recalcitrant over 5Ã—5 gardens being too small and the conspiracy theory that Oakland was going to be the only place you could buy weed, monopolized by a greedy bastard who just sunk $1.5 million of his own money on a losing bet. And they all told me, we can always pass “real” legalization on the next ballot.
In that two years since, they’ve faced increased federal raids and all the states that have passed medical marijuana have denied home grow. Also, it doesn’t appear that any legalization, much less “real” legalization, is going to make it to the ballot in 2012 in California. The next presidential year opportunity is 2016. If legalization should fail in two more medical marijuana states in 2012, you can bet the next four years are not going to be pretty for any marijuana reformers.
So remember — your vote on legalization could very well doom the next chance for patients in another state to get any sort of protection from arrest. Legalization votes are not merely an issue for your state, they are an issue of global importance. Until one state legalizes, the feds never stop prohibition, the drug dealers never stop supplying us, and another 10,000 Mexicans are slaughtered over that trafficking.
About “Radical” Russ Belville
I am the host of the NORML SHOW LIVE and The NORML Stash Blog. I’m married, live in Portland, Oregon, and I am a registered medical marijuana caregiver in this state. I’ve worked days as an IT geek and nights as a professional musician. Previously, I have been the host of my own political talk radio show on satellite radio. I’ve been the High Times “Freedom Fighter of the Month” for my work producing Oregon NORML’s TV show, “A Cannabis Community Forum”, and for helping to institute Portland’s wildly successful medical marijuana cardholders meetings, where we help sick and disabled Oregonians acquire cannabis plant starts, learn gardening, and understand the medical marijuana law. I’ve dedicated my life to bringing an end to adult marijuana prohibition and re-legalizing cannabis hemp, and I’m honored to be chosen by NORML to be our daily voice.
From the NORML Stash Blog