The booming marijuana industry and the cannabis community truly owe their freedom and businesses to the patients still living.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article solely belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Fresh Toast.
The drive to legalize marijuana seems unstoppable. Arrests are falling (but still over 400,000 annually), and the various cannabis industries (plural) are booming. Hooray for our side!
If present trends continue, in a few years, people will have forgotten that marijuana was ever illegal. The memory hole really works.
So how did 100 years of maximum government and medical and media industry propaganda fail? Or did it?
We owe it all to medical marijuana. It wasn’t just that cannabis was medically useful. It worked when nothing else did, and so the medical establishment, the American Medical Association, etc, the Quackocracy, simply lied about it, and, outrageously, they continue to do so.
Then “People With AIDS” got uppity. In San Francisco, my late, great friend, Dennis Peron, a gay rights activist and a remarkably brave human being, took a stand.
“In 1991, Peron organized for the passage of San Francisco’s Proposition P, a resolution calling on the state government to permit medical cannabis, which received 79% of the vote.”
Five years later, Peron backed Proposition 215 which won 55.6% of the vote and demonstrated that the people could bypass the politicians and the medical establishment… in states that allow the people to vote on issues.
Then the Internet emerged as a way to bypass the “gatekeepers”. Journalism in the “free world” has utterly failed by its own standards. Even now, the arrest numbers are rarely reported, and the federal government continues to block cannabinoid research, and millions of sick and dying Americans still cannot get medical access to a plant, and it isn’t reported.
The problem is actually much worse in Britain and the EU.
As Dave Berry quipped, “It is better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick.”
While over-regulation and high taxes are problems for the recreational market, they are much worse for the patients.
Ironically, our medical marijuana system resembles the rest of the American medical system economically. It’s the best in the world, if you can afford it.
Even more ironic is the sad fact that this is especially true in California, where patients complain about the high cost of over-regulated and over-taxed medicine. Consequently, the black market marijuana business in California is booming.
In some ways these regulations are beneficial to patients who may be at greater risk from contaminants such as mold. However, there were few problems reported in the AIDS community when only black market weed was available. Similarly, in Dutch cannabis “coffeeshops”, weed is sold from open bins and there have never been any major problems.
Obviously, medical marijuana should be covered by both private and government health insurance, which would make it much more affordable. There may be political problems with that, but far more dangerous and addictive drugs are covered by insurance.
Patients should also be encouraged to grow their own, either in co-ops or in conjunction with artisanal growers.
Of course, patients need more than cheap weed. They may need more guidance about which strains are best for people with their particular problems. Many older patients may even need guidance about how to smoke or vape.
The first time I visited Peron’s San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club it was obvious that it was more than just a store. The patients could sit down and smoke their medicine with other patients and be treated like human beings. Many of them badly needed to medicate, but there may not have been anyplace else where they could smoke.
The recreational market is finally getting “consumption lounges”, equivalent to Dutch “coffeeshops”.
Again, hooray for our side, but medical patients need and deserve it even more. The booming marijuana industry and the “cannabis community” truly owe their freedom and businesses to the patients still living and to the memory of those like Dennis Peron who fought the good fight to get us where we are today.
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of What You Need To Know About CBD And Drug Testing.