I-502 has flushed out the medical cannabis industry

The News TribuneSeptember 9, 2012 

Strangers to marijuana politics might assume that the drug’s champions would be cheering a ballot measure designed to legalize marijuana in Washington.

Follow the White Rabbit into Wonderland, though, and it turns out that the most ferocious opposition to Initiative 502 is coming from marijuana advocates – especially “medical” marijuana advocates.

They include people who run dispensaries and pot-friendly practitioners who keep the cannabis shops in business by churning out so-called green cards for drug-seekers.

Both groups are pocketing immense amounts of money from an illegal and incestuous industry.

The pot docs – most of whom don’t seem to be actual medical doctors – commonly promise users their money back if they don’t walk away with a license to smoke.

Sometimes the customers have to walk only a few feet, to the counter of the dispensary that helped arranged the consultation. Imagine a pharmacy that sells only Xanax in partnership with a quack who mostly sells Xanax prescriptions. Writ large, that’s pretty much the relationship between docs and dispensaries on a statewide scale.

They have every incentive to manufacture large numbers of “patients,” who these days are mostly common recreational users. They have every incentive to guard their hold on these customers.

Now comes I-502, which would demolish that monopoly by permitting marijuana sales in stores licensed by the state Liquor Control Board.

The initiative has its flaws, but it is unmistakably the work of grownups. Like grownups, it insists on limits.

Marijuana zealots don’t like those limits. Some don’t like the restrictions on how much pot a customer can buy at one time, for example. Some don’t like the requirement that sellers be fingerprinted.

The dispensary industry has seized on the measure’s rules against drugged driving, claiming they will keep patients off the roads.

One complaint is that I-502 would forbid people under 21 from driving with marijuana in their systems. Yes, the public is supposed to be alarmed about that.

Another complaint is that the law would presume intoxication if drivers exceeded a 5 nanogram limit of THC – the drug’s potent psychoactive agent – in their blood.

The science of driving-while-high is in its infancy, but evidence suggests that people who’d fail that test are typically more than one toke over the line. In any case, the law should err on the side of protecting other drivers.

The real agenda here isn’t about nanograms – it’s about money. It’s about the loss of monopoly. The dispensary-quackery complex, which has turned medical marijuana into a money-grubbing sham over the last three years, no longer bothers to hide its priorities.

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