Heard a great stat on PBS New Hour. Currently there are more than 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, more than Starbucks and public schools. Although they didn't say combined - that's what I assumed. Too bad the LA city council has given initial approval to close hundreds of these locations, down to about 70. Are millions of over-caffeinated drivers, often with text-ready cell phones in hand, really better than a bunch of stoned, happy ones?
I can't say I know all the particulars of the current issue in Los Angeles. But generally, I've never understood the weed debate. While some states, like New Jersey, are loosening up the restrictions, and the Obama administration has ended Bush’s policy of raiding dispensers of medical marijuana if they comply with state laws, the federal government apparently still discourages research into the benefits of the drug's medicinal uses, as an article in the NYTimes reported yesterday. In this country, the puritanical, small minded thinking about the evil weed seem to persist - even in light of peoples and their doctors claim that it helps relieve pain.
While I can't personally vouch for the actual medicinal benefits of the drug, it doesn't take much of an imagination, based on my own personal research, to envision how these claims are more likely than not true. But, in my view it shouldn't just be about need, the drug should be available to all. There's not a doubt in my mind, that the subscription drugs dispensed every day by doctors, and that sit in most of our cabinets, are far more dangerous - and lethal - than a bag of weed. I dare someone to show me proof of someone who smoked themselves to death. (Pot - not cigarettes.) They couldn't, because it hasn't happened. Whereas the number of deaths linked directly to alcohol - and other drugs - are tragically countless.
Perhaps the tide is shifting though. A recent Gallup poll claims that acceptance across the country is rising. U.S. public support for legalizing marijuana was fixed in the 25% range from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, but acceptance jumped to 31% in 2000 and has continued to grow throughout this decade. And also from Gallup - In 2003, 75% of Americans favored allowing doctors to legally prescribe marijuana to patients in order to reduce pain and suffering. It is also reported that in California, suburban "soccer moms" are all for legalizations, having told pollsters that giving local government the authority to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis to adults 21 or older, would provide a safer way for their adult children to buy pot.
It's hard to tell where this is heading though. That so many states are putting this up for debate, should be evidence enough that the issue of legalization is trending towards acceptance. States are in need of revenue, so the benefits of taxation and regulation, also seem to be influencing sentiment. But based on the country's unfortunate leanings right these days, the bigger question of true legalization is probably not on the table anytime soon.
But I say it's time. I certainly have access if and when I want, so availability for me isn't the issue. It's just the principal.