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May 09, 2009

Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reasons

The push to legalize marijuana in California is motivated primarily by a growing awareness of two separate realities; one is the tsunami of debt that has engulfed the state over the past year. The other is the stubborn popularity of pot’s medical gray market since Proposition 215 was passed back in 1996.

While I have come to believe that we should allow marijuana to be freely grown, sold, and used under adult supervision, I’m realistic enough to accept that some more restrictive form of “legalization” is more likely and would still be preferable to the status quo. Thus I’m hopeful California will push for legal pot sometime in the next few months.

I’d also like to point out that it couldn’t be the quick fix its advocates hope for because that belief is, like much of what is now believed about pot itself, profoundly mistaken. To keep it as simple as possible, today’s huge illegal market didn’t start growing until "kids” discovered the emotional (anxolytic) advantages of pot over alcohol and tobacco in the Sixties. Unfortunately, the excesses of the “kids” who made that discovery frightened their elders into electing Nixon in 1968, thus creating the drug war that has plagued us ever since.

One of several consequences of having a thriving illegal market develop in the nation’s schoolyards for forty years has been a chronic user population that had to discover pot’s advantages over alcohol and tobacco for themselves while still avoiding the punishments mandated by Nixon. It was that population my study of California pot applicants has discovered and (loosely) characterized. Under ideal circumstances, several residual loose ends should be studied before the modern (criminal) product is embraced as medicine, but because I’m now painfully aware of how dishonest we can be in setting public policy, I’ll simply point out the most obvious traps: the cannabis now reaching the US market is a criminal product originally developed by amateurs and long neglected by academic Pharmacology. That situation should be reversed with as little political interference as possible, while still maintaining pot’s availability to the public.

Over the next several weeks I hope to develop these themes more coherently; for the moment I’ll end by suggesting that, now that we may finally have a chance correct the errors of such insecure mediocrities as Hamilton Wright, Harry Anslinger, and Richard Nixon, in creating our current drug policy mess, let’s take care not to repeat them.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at May 9, 2009 06:08 PM