The Threat to Legalized Cannabis

October 9, 2011
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Some states have legalized the growth of marijuana for medical purposes. Other states have bills proposing the same laws.

Sources, including the AP, are reporting the Department of Justice plans to shut down many growing and sales operations of Marijuana Dispensaries in California. In some cases the process has begun with warning letters sent to landlords threatening seizure of property (forfeiture) in an effort to dissuade owners from renting to marijuana businesses.

 

Some states have legalized the growth of marijuana for medical purposes. Other states have bills proposing the same laws.

Sources, including the AP, are reporting the Department of Justice plans to shut down many growing and sales operations of Marijuana Dispensaries in California. In some cases the process has begun with warning letters sent to landlords threatening seizure of property (forfeiture) in an effort to dissuade owners from renting to marijuana businesses.

The marijuana businesses operate within the limits of California law, employing people, paying taxes, renting property that would likely be empty in the current economy. Estimates are that California’s Marijuana industry supplies the nation.

This is a never ending story (much like ‘right to life’) issues, homosexuality laws as a civil rights issue, and abortion. The pendulum swings both ways.

There are many arguments on both sides regarding the issues of whether marijuana should be legalized:

 

      1. The California Board of Equalization has estimated medical marijuana generates between $53 million and $104 million in annual sales taxes on sales of between $700 million and $1.3 billion. This is a significant cash flow and tax base for California sales tax, and the Federal government in the form of income tax. And this in a state where the economy is terrible and the state is bankrupt.
      2. There are no facts given by federal officials regarding whether or not the sale of medical marijuana has resulted in an increase in serious crimes or even misdemeanors.

      3. Obtaining a medical marijuana card is very easy. While it does require a doctor’s authorization for a referral to a dispensary, there are no specifics in regard to documentation of a reason for this treatment. Merely a prescription for the individual to obtain medical marijuana (there is no such thing). There are no laws or regulations certifying strength of the marijuana. Most users are sophisticated and recognize plant types and choose accordingly. Dispensaries have these plant species separated and are sold according to the client’s needs and their effects, which differ significantly from patient to patient.

      4. Some (most) physicians who prescribe marijuana do so without documentation of a proper medical history and/or physical examination. And there are adequate laws in that regard to enforce more restrictions in the sale of marijuana. Most physicians have little background or experience in prescribing marijuana. The Board of Medical Quality Assurance has strict rules in regard to prescribing which include examinations and documentation and continuing follow-up of patients prescribed medications. Many physicians have had their medical license suspended and/or revoked for violation of those requirements. Physicians must take a proportional responsibility for this situation. If current regulations were enforced the prescription rate would drop precipitously due to the increased time and effort required for physicians to comply with the law.

      5. Physicians such as oncologists and some pain specialists will resort to marijuana to control        nausea, pain, anxiety, and anorexia. A new specialty has developed. The marijuana doctor who hands out prescriptions for marijuana to almost whoever enters their office asking for one. The users know well who these physicians are in their community. It is also a well known fact that some physicians will work part time in a marijuana clinic, employed by the growers and/or dispensary.

 

The marijuana business is  ‘cash and carry’. and it cannot be regulated through the customary process of insurance restrictions.

In most cases an ethical physician will refer a patient to a dispensary after attempting to control symptoms with accepted medications, acupuncture, physical therapy or other mode. Marijuana now is accepted as an alternative treatment method, however regulations are side-stepped and ignored in regard to customary medical practice guidelines.

Demand is no excuse for not enforcing regulations, and this falls at the foot of organized medicine, peer pressure and the State Medical Board of California.

If medical marijuana is a controlled substance tracked by DEA numbers on prescriptions prescribers can be tracked, identified and enforcement can proceed through the established methods used for over prescribing of any controlled substance such as Vicodin, or Demerol.

Current law allows for revocation of a DEA license and Medical license, and provides for a very significant ability to control this issue at the source.

The Justice Department’s enforcement “nuclear option” is a poorly conceived method when a tactical strike with a smart bomb targeted at the source….physicians who are breaking the law set forth by medical boards.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano said the crackdown “means that Obama’s medical marijuana policies are worse than Bush and Clinton. It’s a tragic return to failed policies that will cost the state millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives.”  Once again Obama does a one-eighty on his policy toward marijuana since election.

“I don’t understand the politics of it, and certainly if we haven’t learned anything over the past century, it’s that Prohibition does not work,” added State Sen. Mark Leno, who has worked to safeguard and regulate medical marijuana in California.

Associated Press writers Lisa Leff in San Francisco and Catherine Tsai in Denver contributed to this report.