#421 George Will’s Rocky Mountain Medical Marijuana High

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 2009
Subject: #421 George Will’s Rocky Mountain Medical Marijuana High

GEORGE WILL’S ROCKY MOUNTAIN MEDICAL MARIJUANA HIGH

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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #421 – Sunday, 29 November 2009

Today the Washington Post Writers Group syndicated columnist George
Will’s column about Colorado’s medicinal marijuana law, below,
appeared in many newspapers.

The issues and the spin in the column should provide fodder for any
letter to the editor writer.

Below is a list of newspapers we know printed the column with the
newspaper’s title, the article title used, the date printed if not
today, and the contact for sending your letters.

Norman Transcript (OK) Printed Sat, 28 Nov 2009

Rocky Mountain Medical High

editor@normantranscript.com

Columbia Daily Tribune (MO) Printed Sat, 28 Nov 2009

Legal ‘Medical’ Pot A Dangerous Farce

editor@tribmail.com

Abilene Reporter-News (TX)

Rocky Mountain Medical High

letter@reporternews.com

Houston Chronicle (TX)

Medical Marijuana Mocks The Idea Of Lawful Behavior

viewpoints@chron.com

Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)

A Dubious Medical High

http://www.heraldtribune.com/section/opinion04

State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL)

Pitfalls of Legalizing Medical Marijuana

http://service.sj-r.com/forms/letters.asp

Post-Star, The (Glens Falls, NY)

The Leaf Offers False Hopes

http://www.poststar.com/app/contact/?form=letter

Dayton Daily News (OH) Printed Sat, 28 Nov 2009

Are Medical Marijuana’s Customers Really Sick?

http://www.daytondailynews.com/opinion/send-a-letter-to-the-editor-65916.html

Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rocky Mountain Medical High

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/letters/send/

Washington Post (DC)

Rocky Mountain High

letters@washpost.com

San Angelo Standard-Times (TX)

The Rocky Mountain Medical High

http://www.gosanangelo.com/forms/lettertoeditor/

Grand Forks Herald (ND)

Drop ‘Medical’ From Medical Pot Laws

http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/contactForm/email_id/2/

If MAP’s Newshawks find additional newspapers that printed this column
they will appear here http://www.mapinc.org/author/George+Will

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DENVER — Inside the green neon sign, which is shaped like a marijuana
leaf, is a red cross. The cross serves the fiction that most
transactions in the store — which is what it really is — involve
medicine.

The U.S. Justice Department recently announced that federal laws
against marijuana would not be enforced for possession of marijuana
that conforms to states’ laws. In 2000, Colorado legalized medical
marijuana. Since Justice’s decision, the average age of the 400
persons a day seeking “prescriptions” at Colorado’s multiplying
medical marijuana dispensaries has fallen precipitously. Many new
customers are college students.

Customers — this, not patients, is what most really are — tell
doctors at the dispensaries that they suffer from insomnia, anxiety,
headaches, premenstrual syndrome, “chronic pain,” whatever, and pay
nominal fees for “prescriptions.” Most really just want to smoke pot.

So says Colorado’s attorney general, John Suthers, an honest and
thoughtful man trying to save his state from institutionalizing such
hypocrisy. His dilemma is becoming commonplace: 13 states have, and
15 more are considering, laws permitting medical use of marijuana.

Realizing they could not pass legalization of marijuana, some people
who favor that campaigned to amend Colorado’s Constitution to legalize
sales for medicinal purposes. Marijuana has medical uses — e.g., to
control nausea caused by chemotherapy — but the helpful ingredients
can be conveyed with other medicines. Medical marijuana was legalized
but, Suthers says, no serious regime was then developed to regulate
who could buy — or grow — it. ( Caregivers? For how many patients?
And in what quantities, and for what “medical uses.” )

Today, Colorado communities can use zoning to restrict dispensaries,
or can ban them because, even if federal policy regarding medical
marijuana is passivity, selling marijuana remains against federal law.
But Colorado’s probable future has unfolded in California, which in
1996 legalized sales of marijuana to persons with doctors’
“prescriptions.”

Fifty-six percent of Californians support legalization, and Roger
Parloff reports (“How Marijuana Became Legal” in the Sept. 28
Fortune) that they essentially have this. He notes that many
California “patients” arrive at dispensaries “on bicycles, roller
skates or skateboards.” A Los Angeles city councilman estimates that
there are about 600 dispensaries in the city. If so, they outnumber
the Starbucks stores there period.

The councilman wants to close dispensaries whose intent is profit
rather than “compassionate” distribution of medicine. Good luck with
that: Privacy considerations will shield doctors from investigations
of their lucrative 15-minute transactions with “patients.”

Colorado’s medical marijuana dispensaries have hired lobbyists to seek
taxation and regulation, for the same reason Nevada’s brothel industry
wants to be taxed and regulated by the state: The Nevada Brothel
Association regards taxation as legitimation and insurance against
prohibition as the booming state’s frontier mentality recedes.

State governments, misunderstanding markets and ravenous for revenues,
exaggerate the potential windfall from taxing legalized marijuana.
California thinks it might reap $1.4 billion. But Rosalie Pacula, a
RAND Corporation economist, estimates that prohibition raises
marijuana production costs at least 400 percent, so legalization would
cause prices to fall much more than the 50 percent the $1.4 billion
estimate assumes.

Furthermore, marijuana is a normal good in that demand for it varies
with price. Legalization, by drastically lowering price, will
increase marijuana’s public health costs, including mental and
respiratory problems and motor vehicle accidents.

States attempting to use high taxes to keep marijuana prices
artificially high would leave a large market for much cheaper illegal
– — unregulated and untaxed — marijuana. So revenues ( and law
enforcement savings ) would depend on the price falling close to the
cost of production. In the 1990s, a mere $2 per pack difference
between U.S. and Canadian cigarette prices created such a smuggling
problem that Canada repealed a cigarette tax increase.

Suthers has multiple drug-related worries. Colorado ranks sixth in
the nation in identity theft, two-thirds of which is driven by the
state’s $1.4 billion annual methamphetamine addiction. He is loath to
see complete legalization of marijuana at a moment when new methods of
cultivation are producing plants in which the active ingredient, THC,
is “seven, eight times as concentrated” as it used to be.
Furthermore, he was pleasantly surprised when a survey of nonusing
young people revealed that health concerns did not explain nonuse.
The main explanation was the law: “We underestimate the number of
people who care that something is illegal.”

But they will care less as law itself loses its dignity. By mocking
the idea of lawful behavior, legalization of medical marijuana may be
more socially destructive than full legalization.

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Prepared by: Richard Lake, Senior Editor http://www.mapinc.org

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