Reefer Madness

Medi-Pot Hysteria Unfounded

Despite hysterical claims that the legalization of medicinal marijuana for use by the seriously ill would somehow kick-start a juggernaut of seemingly state-sanctioned drug use and abuse – a tired-ass hand-wringing worry brought, primarily, by your drug war pals at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, starting with Nineties czar Barry McCaffrey – it appears that, a decade after California voters passed the nation's first medi-pot law, the sky has not fallen. In fact, according to a report released last month by the Marijuana Policy Project, a review of medi-pot progress on the 10th anniversary of California's 1996 passage of Proposition 215, it appears that teen pot use in many medi-pot states has remained steady or has actually fallen, that public support for medi-pot laws has remained steady or increased, and that the laws haven't done anything to hinder the ability of law enforcers to bust non-medi-mari tokers.

In other words, it appears that McCaffrey's dire pot-hopped predictions – including his over-the-top promise that legalized medi-mari would lead to "increased drug abuse in every category" – were just plain-ass wrong.

According to the MPP report, instead of sending a message to teens that pot use is just fine, thank you very much, teen marijuana use in California has actually been on the decline since 1996; the most recent California Student Survey, the state's adolescent drug-use tracking tool, revealed that only 18.7% of ninth graders reported having used pot within the past six months, the lowest level in more than 10 years. Meanwhile, marijuana arrests in California have remained steady, notes MPP; in 2004, the most recent year for which complete statistics were available, some 61,000 people were arrested on pot-related charges, according to state Department of Justice statistics. And despite the continued official inclination to discredit medi-pot laws as nothing more than a backdoor attempt to legalize pot for all, public support for legalized medicinal marijuana has solidified: A national Gallup Poll released in November 2005 reported that 78% support making marijuana legal "for doctors to prescribe in order to reduce pain and suffering" – positional support that would, in fact, broaden medi-mari protections. Because marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, doctors are actually forbidden to prescribe it; instead, medi-mari users do so only with a doctor's recommendation. (The entire report can be found online at www.mpp.org.)


(Get Reefer online: In order to keep you up-to-date on the insanity of the war on drugs, "Weed Watch," your source for drug war and drug policy news, has a new name – "Reefer Madness" – and an expanded online presence. Check out the continually updated Reefer blog at austinchronicle.com/reefer.)

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Medi-PotReefer Madness, Medi-pot, Reefer Madness, Marijuana Policy Project, MPP

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