October 28, 2009

"Oooh, there's a pinch in my lower back. My head hurts too."

"And my vision is blurred from going through long lists of Southern California physicians who specialize in herbal medicine.... The open secret is that it's a cinch to get a marijuana 'recommendation' in California. A 'recommendation' isn't a prescription, but it would allow me to visit a dispensary and buy my buds. In Los Angeles, locating such a place would be no harder than locating a palm tree. The little green crosses are everywhere, with 186 dispensaries operating with city permits and an estimated 600 more that found a loophole."

So, basically, in California, anybody who wants to use marijuana and is willing to be mildly deceitful to do it, can now do it legally... almost. You have to be — if not actually sick — willing to go through the medical dance and to accept the not-quite-completely legal aspect of it.

Does that state of affairs make marijuana all but completely legal in your way of thinking or all but completely illegal? I would find myself in the second category, and I think there's something really unfair about that.

Well, maybe people who are super-straight enough to fall in the second category wouldn't be the type to use marijuana anyway, even if it were 100% legal. But it's at least unfair to the people in the first category, who do get their marijuana the medical way, because they have to bear the burden of feeling that what they are doing is sleazy and bogus. (Perhaps a little marijuana will help you with that feeling.)

But actually it is still unfair to the super-straight folks who wouldn't even use marijuana if it were 100% legal. It's telling us we are not allowed to do something that other people can do. I don't like that inequality. Equal access is important — even to places you don't want to go.


jeff said...

Place I used to work at would send people to Europe every once in a while and they would head to Copenhagen to sit and smoke pot. They would always complain about the quality. There is just something more exciting about sitting in your garage with the blinds duct taped down so no one can see in the window verses sitting in a cafe out in the open.

William T. Sherman said...

We now have a government of junkies, by junkies, and for junkies.

chuck b. said...

Can something be various percentages of legal? It's not like being pregnant. The percentage of my inner lawyer is very low.

X said...

marijuana is less of a gateway drug than it's prohibition is a gateway crime that degrades respect for the law.

Unknown said...

According to The Blonde, nurse of 40+ years' experience, the whole medical marijuana ploy is a crock. The same effect can be had by using legal painkillers IV push. But, as the man who burned Atlanta has noted, we now have a junkie in the White house.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

Althouse: But actually it is still unfair to the super-straight folks who wouldn't even use marijuana if it were 100% legal.

I really appreciate the emphasized still.

Before, when using marijuana was 100% criminal, it was unfair to super-straight folks then, too.

In the same way that it's unfair to super straight folks that they can't "borrow" a stranger's cars when they need one.

Honesty is its own reward.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

The crime is to stop where they have. We are adults; why can't we access any drug without the 'medical dance'?

If I want a little blue pill, why do I need to have a doctor's permission?

If I want morphine (or oxycontin or percocet) for pain, why do I need a doctor's permission?

The medical marijuhana dance is no differnet than the medical dance junkies and slackers have been doing for years to get access to drugs and disability payments.

WV- befel- a past tragedy that happened to the speaker; as in 'I had that befel on me once'

TMink said...

Legalize it.

And equal access is a goal, not a destination.

wv spandue - when the jail's rent was late it was spandue

Lynne said...

Here's what I don't get:
One kind of smoking- tobacco- is rapidly becoming illegal, while another kind of smoking- pot- is rapidly becoming legal.
I frankly don't see the difference between them, except with pot you can *get stoned* while you give yourself COPD, emphysema, or lung cancer.

(...and if you look up ads from the 40s and 50s, 'doctors' were recommending Chesterfields and Lucky Strikes for their supposed health benefits.)

Unknown said...

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

The crime is to stop where they have. We are adults; why can't we access any drug without the 'medical dance'?

Maybe because you need the five years' training to understand the full implications of what you're doing. I suffered through the maze that is pharmacology while my wife was in nursing school. She sometimes has to call doctors to remind them, "Do you really want to give this to the patient?" because of other issues, conditions, interactions, etc.

WV "rutlet" An unsatisfactory deer date.

Angst said...

Hopefully some grad student is tracking the street price of the EVIL weed.

It would make a great paper regarding the effects of (partial) legalization.

I'm Full of Soup said...

The onetime drug czar, General Barry McCaffrey, claims there are abot 1,000 medical marijuana "outlets" in the Los Angeles area.

Wince said...

It will cure your ills, mun!

reader_iam said...

Meanwhile, there are states in which even if you're emphatically terminal, but not yet in hospice, doctors are restricted in their ability to prescribe sufficient prescriptions to adequately manage pain, because there have been abuses by non-terminal people who were basically interested in the high.

It's a weird world, in which we live.

reader_iam said...

Gah! prescribe ... prescriptions. Sorry, this is a topic that gets me going a bit, on account of my mother being one of those patients in one of those states.

bagoh20 said...

I have considered getting a Med MJ prescription just to be covered if I happen to get caught with someone's weed in my house or car. A kind of insurance against being charged for possession. I have not done it because I'm concerned politics will change and them my name will be in the database as a pothead thus making me ineligible for some part of the nationalized health care.

Dad Bones said...

I experimented for a couple years and decided it wasn't for me (well, it took 30 yrs).

If you have any animist tendencies you'll give the weed a little credit for what IT wants, which is to be a little bad. That's its power - which is feminine - to make us laugh. Making it completely legal would diminish the very thing that makes it attractive and enjoyable.

That's basically what the first commenter, jeff, said.

garage mahal said...

My wife commented on the unfairness of a particular aspect of the child rearing she was in charge of, to which I commented that it was unfair I was deprived of the experience of carrying the child in the womb. She laughed about as hard as I just did reading this post.

Randy said...

Going through the song and dance if not sick doesn't make all that much sense. Buying it through a dispensary is far more expensive than buying it on the street.

Skipper50 said...

Is the song and dance needed to obtain the weed all that different from a similar song and dance needed to get a prescription for pain killers or Valium? As long as Doctors are the gatekeepers to almost everything, we will all take dancing lessons.

veni vidi vici said...

Bagoh raises a point I've also considered: what about when these grasping hands of government, constantly promoting their "enhanced digital medical records databases" and all the rest of it, find out you're a pothead in the database records? How will that affect insurance, employment, everything? Too much info for the G to know.

As an anecdotal aside, an acquaintance who used to deal pot got busted recently, and I've heard other similar stories that may indicate that the authorities are now moving more aggressively against any dealers not "in the system" so that they can control the traffic of weed and its users through the dispensary system.

And unless you're buying "sad bag of shakey jake" dirt weed, the price for an 1/8th is about the same at a dispensary as on the street, although dispensaries often have substantially more expensive strains as well, many of the "one hit wonder" variety.

At least, that's what my friends all tell me.

wv: "sonsurli" -- An angry boy.

Sigivald said...

edutcher said: The same effect can be had by using legal painkillers IV push

Well, I'm willing to believe that. But who wants to have to do an IV for themselves at home because they're in chronic pain? (Assuming I'm parsing that somewhat cryptic sentence correctly.)

Besides, the only thing separating pot from legal painkillers is leftover moral panic from decades ago... and once heroin was a "legal painkiller" too.

I'm not sure smoking pot to kill pain is worse for your overall health than taking high doses of acetaminophen (as some people do, under "doctor's orders"), what with the former being bad for the lungs and the latter for the liver.

I see no plausible reason for pot to be illegal, morally speaking (both in the general sense and from the libertarian "justified powers of government" sense) - and no matter what the Supreme Court said in Raich the Constitutional basis is bullshit, for a Federal ban on mere possession and production.

(For that matter, I see no basis for the State to make possession and use of any drug illegal or regulated for any adult, short of those with a demonstrable and high external cost to abuse - antibiotics.

"Being a worthless junkie" is not a cost to others (and if it is, we'd best ban being an alcoholic For Other People's Good, too), but "breeding antibiotic-resistant diseases" is.)

Chip Ahoy said...

In Denver, the deal about prescriptions for medicinal pot is not so much about buying it but rather about growing it. Apparently, the prescription allows a person to buy a license from the state which must be renewed annually for some specified number of plants.

Given the intensity of today's marijuana plants compared with what you might have known in your own misspent youthful experimental phase, if you had one of those, the license always greatly exceeds anyone's own reasonable personal medical need, however real or perceived or faked. Add the excessive number of legal plants to insanely powerful hybridizing along with with superior hydroponic growing systems augmented with powerful CFL lighting, and you end up with quite a profitable and irresistible business enterprise. All legal. And this is just one reason why I love living in America more and more. We do manage to learn from our mistakes, if ever in fits and starts, two steps forward one step back, unsteadily but still ineluctably as she goes.

William said...

One of the unintended consequences of Prohibition was the glamourization of liquor. In the Thin Man movies a highball was as much a marker of sophistication as a top hat. A gentle buzz caused attractive people to interact in witty and affectionate ways. As if. In the Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne movies, raw whiskey caused manly men to become even more manly. As if....From the Algonquin Round Table to the Dean Martin show, worthy people became worthier after a few drinks. It wasn't against the law to advertise whiskey; it was unnecessary. Seagrams couldn't buy that much product placement. There were a few honest depictions such as Lost Weekend or Days of Wine and Roses, but largely liquor was depicted as a cool way to enhance the quality of your life. Teetotalers were presented as hatchet faced, Carrie Nation types......We're now two generations away from Prohibition, and speakeasy chic has finally gone the way of disco. Hollywood has sobered up. Moe's Tavern in the Simpsons' is what the drinking life truly looks like, In Mad Men, liquor causes people to act ugly. It took them sixty or seventy years but the pros and cons of hard drinking are finally being put into some kind of realistic perspective by literary and show biz types. Some day they may even work out the moral nuances of child rape.....Perhaps if marijuana is legalized, the warm glow that haloes this activity will be dissipated. It is a unversal law of human nature that mood enhancers cause assholes to become bigger assholes. In the fullness of time, perhaps within forty years, we will see stoners portrayed not as gentle dreamers but as sullen drop outs.

Michael said...

When the Feds began spraying the Mexican crops in the late 1970s the wonderful low-powered make-you-laugh variety was replaced with American pot which was grown with a scientific fervor that is since unmatched. The new stuff was so potent and so expensive that it lasted for years. I quit about then because of the profoundly anti-social outcome of the stupendously strong buds. No one could move. No one could go for icecream or salty stuff.

If this is what they are serving up in L.A. and elsewhere then it is no wonder that there are so many thousand mile stares out there on the edge.

Tibore said...

Well... I honestly have a pinch in my back. And yes, at the moment my head does indeed hurt. Funny thing, though: I have no desire to toke on a splif.

Color me crazy.

traditionalguy said...

The new Beechnut Gum for the glum.

Robohobo said...

It is okay. They can have their pot BUT they must be issued a sign and be forced to wear this sign at ALL times.

"I am stupid."

Because you know you cannot fix stupid nor can you trust it.

Ron White - Stupid Is Forever

Bill Engvall - Here's Your Sign

Alex said...

Smoking pot kills brain cells - no super straight person would do that to themselves.

veni vidi vici said...

to me, from my earliest grass-smoking beginnings, weed was pretty much the equivalent of drinking beer. Not hard-liquor, but plain ol' beer. One was a head-buzz, the other more a body-buzz.

Anyone who thinks someone who recreationally takes a bong hit on a Saturday night is "stupid" had better hold the same opinion of all the folks who drink a few beers while watching sports on TV, otherwise it's a pretty silly thing to say.

wv: "boxio" - the name of a party game inspired by all those "delivery man" porno movies.

Eric said...

According to The Blonde, nurse of 40+ years' experience, the whole medical marijuana ploy is a crock.

That's not really fair. There definitely are people who use it for genuine medical reasons. If you have a condition that leaves you nauseated it really does outperform anything the drug companies have come up with. Some people take it for anxiety - having been on an SSRI myself I'd much rather smoke pot than start taking that drug again.

The real question is what percentage of the legal pot smokers are trying to alleviate symptoms and what percentage are just getting high. It's hard to know. But in the end, why would I care?

Eric said...

Smoking pot kills brain cells - no super straight person would do that to themselves.

This is probably wrong. There's never been any actual evidence pot kills brain cells - it was just sort of assumed by drug warriors.

Unknown said...

Dad Bones --

"Making it completely legal would diminish the very thing that makes it attractive and enjoyable."

Like hell it would.

daubiere said...

jesus, america is already to fucking touchy-feely, fat and lazy. do we really want to give people another reason to sit around and contemplate the spiritual dimension of cheetoes? pot use should carry the death sentence. legalize cocaine and speed. we need to get moving not chill out.

I'm Full of Soup said...

Speaking of dope, I watched the movie, Easy Rider, last night. To me, it now seemed more like a documentary of the olden days.

Paul said...

Jesus there's more misinformation and ignorance in the comments for this post than I can believe. And for once it's the right wingers who are the ignoramuses.

I'd like to know how many of the anti-pot zealots here drink alcohol, because alcohol does far more damage to society and to the human body.

Regardless, prohibition is madness as it substitutes a dubious decrease in the availability of the banned commodity for a substantial increase in crime and the black market.

The government's role is to protect us from others, not from ourselves. So called conservatives who don't grasp this are just statists, albeit selective ones.

daubiere said...

I'd like to know how many of the anti-pot zealots here drink alcohol, because alcohol does far more damage to society and to the human body."

i do, i drink a LOT. ive also done most every drug on the planet and i can tell you that potheads are the most intolerable. you want to sell your shit as some kind of funky hip spiritual organic sacrament. other junkies are honest about their addictions. theres no bullshit with blow and smack and booze. i like that.

kentuckyliz said...

Anti-nausea Rx more effective, cheaper, and safer than pot:

Kytril 2x/day (12 hour pill)
supplemented as needed by
Phenergan (fast-acting)

If you want a pot-derived anti-nausea agent: Marisol.

Kytril + Phenergan rawks.

THC clogs the vesicles of brain neurons and lines the dendrites.

Anything pot can do Rxs can do better, safer, and cheaper.

Paul said...

"i do, i drink a LOT. ive also done most every drug on the planet and i can tell you that potheads are the most intolerable. you want to sell your shit as some kind of funky hip spiritual organic sacrament. other junkies are honest about their addictions. theres no bullshit with blow and smack and booze. i like that."

Yeah you were probably drunk when you wrote that nonsense too. I've heard enough coke raps and drunken rants to know that potheads don't have a monopoly streaming inebriated bullshit. But as a rule potheads do not even appear inebriated. They get high and go about their business and no one even knows. The Cheech and Chong stereotype is BS.

But even if you are right, and you're not even close, that's no reason to criminalize pot while alcohol is legal.

bagoh20 said...

It is disappointing to see anti-big government people approving of it's war on pot. It's just hypocritical. I don't care if it's effective as a medicine or not, or if people may use it in a way I don't like. It's not he government's business if someone enjoys smoking some plant they grow in their back yard. It is probably the safest intoxicant on the planet. Regardless, it's the peoples' right unless there is a clear danger to the public that is more important than this country's basic principles.

It just is not a problem, except when illegal. You are deciding to accept all the crime including murder, and everything else it funds to pretend that you are stopping other people from smoking pot. It's silly and unprincipled.

Eric said...


That anti-nausea Rx stuff didn't work at all when I needed it. I didn't try pot to deal with the problem, so I don't know if that would have worked or not. But I can guarantee, at least, the prescription stuff doesn't work for everyone.

Back when AIDS was a bit less under control here in Northern California the verdict among patients was pot works the best. Helps with appetite as well, so I'm not surprised you see chemo patients using it.

In terms of the neurons and lines and dendrites, do you have a link to something definitive that shows permanent damage?

Ken Mitchell said...

We ought to just legalize it. I've never smoked ANYTHING, and probably never will, but I really don't believe that a government that needed a Constitutional amendment to ban alcohol ever did have the authority to ban hemp.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Ooooops! I'm late to another "how silly is it to decriminalize medical cannabis when casual users are suffering discrimination" thread!

Anyway, Eric. The short answer is of course she doesn't. I can't remember if Liz is a patient, but her post suggests she is or was. However, clinicians know that what works for a single patient is anecdotal. What works better for many, many more is "evidence". And we know that enough patients are unsatisfied with Liz's advertised regimen for there to be something to non-synthesized ("natural") cannabis. Who's to say that only one synthetic agent should accomplish every goal of therapy that anything which cannabis contains could accomplish?

Certainly not just one, single patient.

As for the brain damage canard, try starting here, and here, and here.

Of course, you'll only find evidence that, if anything, would seem to counter or even debunk that Nancy Reaganism.

Opposition to cannabis use is cultural, social and in terms of the legal regime, based in bigotry. But there is certainly no medical or biological reason to classify it anywhere near other illicit or legal drugs of abuse in terms of toxicity.

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