Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Medical Marijuana Charade

It's a scam, as I always say.

From Matt Labash, at Weekly Standard:

Southfield, Michigan

It’s hard to recall the precise moment when I realized I’d been hoodwinked by my US Airways pilot. Instead of taking me to Detroit, as my ticket promised, it seemed he had deposited me on the set of Weeds, the Showtime program about a workaday upper-middle class mother who decides to become a pot dealer.

That moment might have come after leaving the airport in my rental car, when I saw a clinic sign beckoning motorists to get an exam for their state-certified medical marijuana card. Or it might have come when I saw the multiple billboards for hydroponic gardening equipment (no, they’re not growing hothouse tomatoes here). Or maybe it was seeing the oversized highway sign heralding the season premiere of Weeds itself, the show that plunges you into California cannabis culture, from clandestine grow-rooms to “dispensaries”—the quasi-legal pot shops that one character on the show described as making Los Angeles like Amsterdam, except “you don’t have to visit the Anne Frank house and pretend to be all sad and s—.”

Then I opened Detroit’s alternative weekly Metro Times, which instead of being chock-full of ads for used futons and anonymous sex, as is the custom with such papers, was lousy with medical marijuana ads: for marijuana gardening academies; for pot doctors from places with names like Green Medicine (“No medical records? No problem.”); for the Medical Marijuana Extravaganja, a two-day jamboree of stand-up comics and horseshoe tournaments and centerfold contests which feature women like the one in the ad, who is holding a snake in one hand and an apple in the other, her ample gifts blossoming from a green bud bikini. You know, to pull in the chemo sufferers.

But the final dawning that I’d landed in the autumnal mists of a land called Honah Lee—as the poets Peter, Paul and Mary used to put it—probably came the day I went back to college. Not journalism school, mind you. What would be the point? Journalism—like making cars—is a dying industry around these parts. But there is a growth industry emerging in Michigan, the first one for decades: state-sanctioned pot dealing. And here in colorless, odorless Southfield, a white-bread suburb of Detroit, is one of the best places to learn how to do it, Med Grow Cannabis College.

Modeled partly on Oaksterdam University in Oakland, which became a weed-education hub after California legalized the medical use of marijuana in 1996, Med Grow is the brainchild of 24-year-old Nick Tennant. As Tennant’s auto-detailing business tanked in the Great Recession, Michigan followed California’s lead and became one of 14 states to legalize medical marijuana, with 63 percent of the vote in 2008. Technically, it’s still against federal law. Marijuana—even when it’s called medical—remains classified by the Feds as a forbidden Schedule 1 substance, meaning surly DEA agents can make trouble for its users. But the Obama Justice Department issued a 2009 memo directing U.S. attorneys not to target those “in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws” that permit the use of medical marijuana.

The state of Michigan now approves medical marijuana, but doesn’t provide it. So somebody needs to grow all this medicinal herb. The act allows a certified patient to grow up to 12 plants for himself, or to choose a certified caregiver who can grow for up to five patients (for a total of 60 plants, or 72, if the caregiver is also his own patient, as is often the case). And that’s why Med Grow is here—to teach people the ins and outs of the weed business, from growing it, to writing it off on their taxes. As they say in their mission statement—and you know weed has become serious business when a pot school has a mission statement—Med Grow is “dedicated to your success in the Medical Marijuana Industry, and your reputation is reliant upon it.”
Great piece. RTWT.

Plus, at LAT, "
Marijuana's Health Effects":
About 9% of adults who use marijuana develop an addiction to it. Among people who begin smoking before the age of 18, this number is as high as 17%. Although addiction to marijuana does not cause dramatic physical dependence, it can lead to substantial problems in education, work and relationships. In fact, addiction to marijuana is defined by the inability to stop using despite recognition of harmful consequences. Without harmful consequences, there is no diagnosis of addiction.

The short-term effects of marijuana intoxication are well established. As part of the high produced by marijuana, intoxication impairs memory and learning. Marijuana use also impairs driving, causing a twofold to threefold increase in accidents. Though not as dramatic as the fifteenfold increase in accidents caused by alcohol intoxication, marijuana's impact on traffic safety does have significance.

The long-term effects of marijuana are not often recognized because they are subtle, but they can have a cumulative impact over time. In people with preexisting vulnerabilities, marijuana use can unmask psychiatric problems such as schizophrenia. Many people with anxiety and depression use marijuana to soothe their symptoms; however, there is evidence that over time it may actually make these problems worse.

Smoked marijuana irritates the linings of the respiratory passages and can lead to inflammation and bronchitis. Although marijuana has not been definitively shown to cause cancer, smoked marijuana has been linked to precancerous changes in the lungs.

These long-term effects of marijuana are not as dramatic as those seen in other, "harder" drugs of abuse, but they do take a toll, and that toll appears to be greatest among people who begin smoking marijuana during adolescence, before the brain and body are finished maturing.


Anonymous said...

Your intolerance is astounding.

Please continue.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand; don't we want the state to have fewer regulations? I think the prop is a great idea. If we're actually worried about safety & health, tobacco & alcohol should be the first to be banned. But I don't want the state telling me what I can and can't do in my own personal life.

JBW said...

Ah, the Invisible Hand of the free market supplying a product that people demand and state governments deciding for themselves what should and should not be legal within their borders: two of my favorite things.

When you're done cutting and pasting others' words and you actually want to debate this issue let me know, Don. I've got a bongful of knowledge for you.