I concur with Rick Sherman - legalizing marijuana for just a few is going to backfire. You can't just legalize 5% of the market for marijuana and not expect the negative consequences of the illegal 95% of the market from affecting the legal 5%.
Exhibit A) Prices for medical marijuana that meet or exceed the prices for black market marijuana.
Exhibit B) Home invasion robberies of legal medical patients.
Exhibit C) SWAT team raids of nursing homes over a bag of weed.
My fear is that we legalized marijuana for a few, the "green rush" highlights and attracts the worst aspects of the black market, and we see public backlash against both the "exploitation of the sick and dying" and "fraud and abuse of the law by healthy people looking to get high". Already these sentiments have led to stricter statutes as more states legalize medical use, as in New Jersey which just passed the first medical marijuana law that doesn't allow patients to grow their own herb.
There exists now the perfect opportunity for legalization for all adults, which is the only logical way medical users can ever be free of the effects of the black market. 81% of the public support medical marijuana and 44%-53% support marijuana legalization. Now it can be said that legalizing marijuana for 5% of its users hasn't caused the sky to fall. Now we have an enormous economic and employment deficit that would be cut by re-legalization. Now we have the attention of the public on the horror of 15,000 murders in two years of Mexican drug war over brick weed.
But if this moment passes... if the economy improves... if the "green rush" leads to more negative headlines... if the Mexican massacres start happening on American soil... if Big Pharma succeeds in duplicating whole plant marijuana's medical value... if more East Coast states pass "no home grow" medical bills... we may find this country settling on very strictly regulated medical marijuana where you're in as much trouble for smoking it without a prescription as you are carrying a bottle of Vicodin without a prescription.
Medical marijuana is so 20th Century. It's time to legalize in the dawn of the 21st.
NORML Outreach Coordinator.
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