Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Unintended Consequences: Medical Marijuana

Whatever were the supporters of Michigan’s 2008 Medical Marijuana Initiative thinking? Did the growers and users of marijuana think that they would be allowed to do so lawfully if they had a doctor’s note? If so, that was very shortsighted.

One of the many bills that passed in the final week of Michigan’s 2013 legislative calendar was Senate Bill 660 (Substitute S-3) which will “allow under certain circumstances and regulate the possession and use of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis by certain individuals” and regulates the “sale of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis through licensed facilities.”

This bill amends the “controlled substances” list and specifies that “marijuana” is classified as a Schedule II drug.  Furthermore, it prohibits a person from manufacturing, distributing, prescribing, or dispensing pharmaceutical-grade cannabis without a controlled substance license.

In short, the supporters of Michigan’s 2008 Medical Marijuana Initiative got exactly what they asked for … marijuana is just as lawful to manufacture, distribute, prescribe, and/or dispense as codeine, morphine and oxycodone.

But wait … that is NOT what they wanted, they wanted to be able to have the kind of autonomy that people who grow potatoes have. But not for everyone, just for themselves, for the special people who think of themselves a “medicinal” users.

This is part of the fundamental failure of special interest politics. Supporters or opponents of this or that social, political or economic reform are only interested in their own narrow view.

I spoke with several people in 2010 that I thought would be interested in helping to end marijuana prohibition but they were not.

One only wanted to make it legal to cultivate, harvest and manufacture THC-free industrial hemp products such as might be used for paper, textiles, cellulosic plastic, biofuel, cooking oil or high-protein meals. Another was only interested in making marijuana legal to cultivate, harvest and personally use as “medicine”.

I experienced the same lack of enthusiasm for ending marijuana prohibition when approaching candidates, political party and labor leaders, environmentalists and many others who all readily admitted privately that they thought it was a good idea but refused to be publically associated with any effort to end marijuana prohibition. Their focus on their own special interest prevented them from embracing the special interests of others for fear that they might loose a few supporters.

Even the people in the movement to end marijuana prohibition refused to be labeled as supporters of any movement other than their own.

Based on the 2008 election results, 38% of voters oppose the use of marijuana, even to save human life or spare human discomfort. That is a big voting block! They have spent the last five years working out how they are going to keep anyone from ever having the liberty to choose for themselves to cultivate, harvest, manufacture, or use in any way, shape or form a plant of the genus Cannabis.

Why do they hate liberty so much?

It isn’t just “them”; the pro-industrial hemp and pro-medical Cannabis voters are just as hateful when it comes to simple recreational use. The civil libertarians, most of which do not use marijuana for any reason, are probably the only objective party in the social question but they are about 7% of the voters.

Without the mutual support of industrial hemp enthusiasts, recreational users and principled civil libertarians, the so-called medicinal marijuana users are a much smaller and less politically influential block of voters than the 38% who oppose Cannabis just because they are closed-minded, hateful conservatives who think Jesus said something in the Bible about Cannibis being the devil’s weed.

This is just one example of how narrow-minded special interest gets in the way of political, social and economic progress. The one special interest group that seems to be able to get past this is the one with lots of money and only one special interest … more money.