Medical marijuana can be a wonderful medicine and is a blessing to many chronically ill people, and NORML will always be in full support of safe access for patients.
However, if you really want to do what’s best for patients, you must support full legalization.
I am not talking about decrim. I am talking about a regulated (and yes, taxed) market in which businesses and nonprofits sell marijuana to citizens. Or, those citizens grow their own and share it with friends. Sort of like beer and wine today.
In this future world I am envisioning, big businesses will sell tolerable pot for cheap to people who don’t care much for quality. Smaller players will enjoy a connoisseurs’ market of high end crystal-caked gorgeous buds. And local “grassroots” clubs of growers will share the fruits of their gardens amongst their membership.
And the patients most in need, those people for whom marijuana is not social, is not cool, and has little aesthetic aspect, those people for whom marijuana provides important, sometimes near-miraculous therapeutic benefits, will be better off in such a world.
Walk with me, into this world:
First, the price will fall. The price of cannabis is inflated by prohibition currently. Why would a grower sell an ounce for $100 that can be sold for $200-300 by their patient five minutes later? Altruism? Sure, it can happen. But the market bears what the market can bear, and many Montana cardholders, I suspect, would quickly take advantage of such reasonable pricing.
In a world in which everyone can buy it for $100, that temptation, that opportunity, mostly evaporates.
Are there people buying cases of wine and selling $8 glasses? Sure — they’re called restaurants. They’re regulated, it’s legal, it’s okay.
Second, while free market economics is arguably a savage system, one thing it certainly does is offer the consumer lots of options. May the best product win. Imagine if retailers were competing not just on price, but on variety and quality as well. Imagine huge menu boards (like these) of dozens of strains, dozens of edibles, tinctures, cocktails, salves, oils, and who knows what else we’ll come up with.
And, you can go to any retailer you like. Want a high-CBD banana muffin to ease your pain? Stop by my shop on 3rd street. Does your ailment benefit from Romulan-derived tincture to help with your chemo-induced nausea? The collective in Darby produces the best, and it’s available at retailers statewide. Looking for a soaring cerebral experience from pre-rolled hemp-paper 2-gram joints of Super Lemon Haze to inspire art, poetry, and conversation? Got you covered, at the boutique place on the 8th floor of the Millennium Building downtown.
Third, medical marijuana treats patients like second class citizens. In Montana, despite the media hype, a person must jump through various expensive bureaucratic hoops to get and stay legal. If your current doctor (if you are fortunate enough to have one) is too uninformed or afraid to sign the papers, then choosing a potentially-less-than-savory “clinic” is the next unpleasant step. Then the government papers (hopefully) get sent off to a state agency for review. In weeks, or sometimes months, you get your card. I hope you chose a trustworthy caregiver. I hope their crop succeeds. I hope they don’t get busted. And, in a few months, you need to start thinking about the renewal process.
Marijuana is one of the safest therapeutic herbs known to humankind, less toxic than aspirin and less addictive than caffeine. Why not make it more accessible to people with dire medical conditions?
Further, does anyone believe that marijuana is too dangerous for healthy people? Come on.
Adults shouldn’t need permission from any doctor, any cop, any bureaucrat, to use this plant responsibly, whether it’s for medical, spiritual, artistic, social, or other personal reasons.
Legalization is the best thing for patients. Spread the word.