Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dispensaries are NOT Responsible For Elevated Teen Pot Use

A few weeks ago I was checking in on my advocacy blogs as I do every day and I saw an entry on the NORML blog that peaked my interest. Apparently the Drug Czar is now blaming elevated teen marijuana usage on medical marijuana laws instead of on his failed policies.

His logic follows this general pathway.

1) Drugs are bad MMMKAAYYY
2) Marijuana is a drug
3) Marijuana is bad MMMMKAAYY
4) People say marijuana is medicine and are giving it to sick people.
5) At the same time that this is happening you see an elevated number of teenagers smoking illegal marijuana (not from dispensaries).
6) At the same time you see marijuana either in a neutral or positive light in the mainstream media.
7) At the same time you have a large movement proposing the full legalization of marijuana.

Conclusion: elevated usage of marijuana is 100 percent the fault of medical dispensaries. It has nothing to do with ineffectual laws or Americans being angry at the billions of tax dollars fighting the drug war that never ends. Its totally the fault of medical dispensaries which you have to have a doctor recommendation to receive medicine from and in most cases (but not all) you also have to apply for membership within that specific "club".

I'm sorry Mr. Holder but I'll have to disagree with you on this one. Let's examine this argument a little closer.

Drugs are bad MMMKAAYY

Well, that's actually pretty subjective. There's no doubt that some drugs cause a lot of people life shattering addictions. But for many people one person's poisin is another person's medicine. We have a strange dichotomy in our society, where some drugs which are mind altering in nature are completely legal and sold as medicine. Many of these drugs are extremely habit forming (despite what the fancy little commercials may tell you) and can be obtained from a doctor. These drugs are designed to treat any disorder from ADHD to depression. In an ideal medical system drugs designated for medicinal purposes would only be prescribed to people with those disorders.

Unfortunately this does not happen. The problem lies in the fact that medicine is a profitable business in the US. A doctor's primary objective is not to treat as many people as possible, a doctors objective is to make the most money. How do doctors get paid? They get paid by the number of procedures they perform and prescriptions they write. In a virtually unregulated for profit medical system a doctor has a high insentive to over-prescribe, over-test and over-treat patients who they percieve have the means to pay. Its the same principal as a mechanic who fixes everything in your car but the thing that's wrong with it forcing you to keep returning for the same problem, only instead of ruining your car, the doctor is ruining your body.

On the other side of this false dichotomy are recreational drugs which are largely illegal. This dichotomy becomes for confusing when you consider that many recreational drugs are legal and unregulated and virtually unheared of to most (e.g Datura, Salvia, and Wild Dagga). Meanwhile some drugs are legal and regulated in an extremely half hearted manner (eg tobacco and alcohol). Lastly you have intoxicants which are extemely illegal and as a result of their illegality are more widely known about and available. It would literally be better to have no policy on these intoxicants than to have the current policy (and this is coming from an unapologetic socialist).  

I suggested as a policy idea for the US to adapt a model that is being used in Portugal.

But back to the topic at hand. Drugs are the problem they are now because of overly strict punishments which have made leaving the drug dealing life impossible for those who want to start over. The adage "You can over come a drug addiction, but not a drug conviction" comes to mind. Human beings have been altering their conscienceness since the begining of time. Our society just doesn't agree with many of the meathods, in some cases unjustly. Marijuana is one of many of those cases.

So the drug in and of itself is not bad. It is the circumstance in which the drug is used which is often bad.

Marijuana is a Drug

I"m not one of those marijuana advocates. I'm not going to sit here and try to tell you that marijauana is not a drug. It is a drug. It has both medicinal and recreational value. While it is not habit forming it is mind altering. Marijuana is a drug, but that's really a moot point.

Marijuana is Bad MMKAAYYY

Again we've crossed over into territory which is highly subjective. For the majority of people I have encountered marijuana use has been a positive experiance. I find that the majority of recreational marijuana users fall into 3 categories.

Regular Users

A regular user will smoke anywhere from once a week to everyday. They consider marijuana use to be an important part of their life and the majority of their friends are also marijuana smokers (not because they don't like people who don't smoke, regular users just tend to have more in common). They tend to be free-thinking and of a calm disposition, but its important to understand that marijuana users are as diverse as any community people from all walks of life fall into this category (the highly sensationalized media tells us so) so don't expect all regular marijuana users to fit into a specific stereotype.

Moderate Users

A moderate user will smoke anywhere from once a week to once every few months. They like smoking but they won't go out of their way to obtain marijuana. They most likely won't turn it down if the opportunity strikes, but its not a major part of their life. The moderate user has an even mixture of friends who smoke and don't smoke which will land them in situations with and without marijuana. The absence of marijuana does not bother the moderate user.

Infrequent Users

An infrequent user will smoke anywhere from once every few months to once every few years. For whatever reason the infrequent user isn't that into smoking marijuana. Either it has an effect on them they do not like or it just isn't their cup of tea. For whatever reason this user will turn down marijuana in most situations unless the mood really strikes them. The majority of the infrequent users friends will not smoke marijuana but they will have a couple friends who they can smoke with from time to time.

People who don't smoke marijuana tend also fall into a few categories.

Tried it and Hated it

Some people who smoke marijuana experiance effects the find undesirable. Some people get paranoid, some people get lethargic to the point of discomfort and some people just don't enjoy having their conscience altered. In this category you tend to find two subcategories


People who have tried it and hated it but are neutral realize that marijuana use can be a positive experiance for others and don't condemn it. They just choose not to use the substance because they have a bad experiance doing so.


People who have tried it and hated it but condemn the usage of marijuana tend to assume that their bad experiance is the experiance everyone has when using marijuana. They will be staunchly anti-drug and use their personal story as evidence for why marijuana should be illegal.

Never Encountered it and Condeming 

People who have never encountered marijuana and condemn it are the most frustrating people to deal with as a marijuana activist. The majority of this ilk that I have encountered don't know anything about marijuana, don't want to know anything and get angry with you if you try to educate them. Needless to say dealing with entirely willfull ignorance is possibly one of the most frustrating things to deal with. But this is the by-product of generations of misinformation propagated by the government.

Never thought about it

Many people who don't use marijuana don't think about it. They sit through the drug education in elementary and middle school, take it at face value and never consider it after the fact. Some of these people are willing to consider alternate viewpoints if they are clearly presented and not clearly biased. Some however will tightly cling to the horror stories faithfully handed down to them by their educators and parents.  This is our proverbial swing vote that we have to contend with. As marijuana activists we cannot win everyone who falls into this category over, but the people we can win over are often valuable allies.

Marijuana is not good or bad. It is something that a large population enjoy using. It is not inherently evil, nor is it inherently good. Personifying marijuana as if it has a benevolent or malevolent agenda is an unhealthy way to view any substance. It is a plant, it has no agenda or personality. Putting marijuana users or non-users on a pedastal is childish. Marijuana usage should be a personal choice that has no bearing on how we view another person end of story. Its no more relevant to the content of someone's character than weather they drink coffee or not.

People say marijuana is medicine and are giving it to sick people

Many patients with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclorosis and many other debilitating illnesses find using marijuana increases the quality of their life and helps them overcome their illnesses. If the illness is incurable it at least makes the quality of life higher for many people who are suffering from these illnesses.

Marijuana also may help with many psychological disorders. Many people report that the symptoms of their disorder disapate with regular usage. However the research on this is incomplete as far as I can tell. Please note, Drugs affect every person differently. Please do not use this as a means for self diagnosis or take my advise over the advise of a medical professional.

Elevated Teen Usage of Illegal Marijauana

The Drug Czar has taken to blaming dispensaries for illegal use instead of his own failed policies and the failed policies of his predecessors. To my knowledge there have been NO cases of medical marijuana dispensaries selling marijuana to anyone who does not have a doctor's recommendation.

News flash: Drug dealers do not ID. The reason teenagers are getting their hands on illegal drugs is the illegality of the substance. It has nothing to do with dispensaries. No one under the age of 18 should be able to legally purchase marijuana from a dispensary intended for medical use. Its simple as that. If the dispensary is found to be doing so, then they should be shut down for violating the laws which specify how they are supposed to run their establishment. There are already legal precedents set for handling illegal business practices. Why is the drug czar acting as if a dispensary breaking business law is some sort of alien concept that has never been dealt with in any other industry. Just because its pot does not mean that we need to create a whole new set of redundant business laws. Get your heads on straight DEA.

Marijuana's Portrayal In The Media

It is true. In recent years we have seen an elevated number of either positive or neutral portrayals of marijuana.

This is because people are beginning to see the error of our nation's ways in all demographics. People from ages 9-99 are not seeing marijuana as a threat. Why is this? Well its for a lot of reasons. It has to do with word of mouth. Young people see their friends doing pot and see that nothing horrible like what drug education programs would have you believe seems to happen. People enjoy the feelings they feel when they use pot. This inevitably leads to more pot usage.

People are also seeing the benefits of medical marijuana, either in their own life or the lives of other around them and are realizing that this plant is not some great Satan. As attitudes in society shift, attitudes towards things in the media shift. the media acts as a mirror that reflects our society's values. In this case it is showing that we're fed up with people lying to us about pot.

The Legalization Movement

Many Organizations have put their eyes on marijuana legalization as a solution to many of the nations problems. As people have grown more open minded they are willing to look towards many different ways to fix the problems we have created and many are taking a second look at pot.

As a marijuana activist myself I can tell you that the legalization movement is not a homogeneous movement by any means. There are people from all demographics involved. The day of "stupid stoner" has gone. We have our intellectuals, our scientists, our collegiates, our laborors  and every other walk of life you can imagine. There is no accurate profile of a marijuana activist. I've met all different types of people from all walks of life in my short time as activist for the drug. Not all activists even use the drug. We are people who beleive in freedom. We believe in harm reduction. We believe in body autonomy (in varying degrees). That is why we are marijuana activists. We're not just a bunch of pot heads in a smoke filled room ranting against the government for no reason. We are a legitimate movement with real concerns.

In Conclusion

The Policy has elevated teen pot use. Not dispensaries. Get your facts straight, Mr. Holder.

Love and Respect,


1 comment:

  1. I've had pretty much the same realizations about cannabis and drugs in general. It's simply a massively complex issue, and trying to summarize it as "drugs are bad because criminals do drugs" is painful oversimplification.

    In fact, I'm sick of looking at people that are supposed to be in charge fuck up so horribly on such a fundamental level: scientifically verifying that what they're doing is correct. I think all of this bullshit will blow over when we start holding /everyone/ to a more scientific standard. I think that's when a lot of society's ills will be cured.