The marijuana wars are coming to New York, with pot advocates renewing a drive to approve weed for medical purposes.
Yo, dude, let’s get real. Let’s not pretend we’re talking about medicine. This is all about eventually legalizing pot completely.
The forces behind the medical marijuana effort range from groups that want the drug in mainstream use to firms looking to expand their purportedly therapeutic businesses into New York.
Two such outfits, based in Colorado, have hired influential lobbyist Patricia Lynch to push what’s called the seed-to-sale system for New York. In 2000, Colorado okayed medical marijuana by referendum and, this month, was one of two states that voted to approve it for recreational use.
Modeled on Colorado’s law, seed-to-sale has regulators track each pot plant from its sprouting at an indoor warehouse to the moment it’s sold at a specially licensed dispensary, to patients bearing physician-issued authorization cards.
Aimed at preventing medical marijuana from leaking into the black market, these elaborate precautions would demand costly state vigilance just to allow what should be a relatively small number of people to obtain pot.
In reality, tokers will find clever ways to game the system.
Just look at what’s happened in other states. Of the hundreds of thousands who have signed up for medical marijuana, small fractions use the drug to cope with symptoms of multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-related nausea and the other severe conditions cited to justify the law.
Fully 94% are people with the vague diagnosis of “severe pain.” And while medical literature shows that most chronic pain sufferers are female, the majority of those using marijuana for pain are male.
Law enforcement also has repeatedly caught Mexican drug gangs funneling their product into the medical marijuana marketplace, especially in California, a downside that can be controlled only through stepped-up policing.
Then there is the danger of attaching the word “medical” to a substance that the Food and Drug Administration has never seriously studied, let alone determined to be safe or effective.
Anecdotal evidence that it seems to make a difference for some patients is no grounds for issuing de facto prescriptions.
Advocates assert that marijuana is not significantly different than alcohol and should have the same legal status. Okay, that’s the debate New York should have — full legalization or nothing. No posing as Florence Nightingales with joints.