Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Up in the air on medical marijuana

Oregon has a measure on the ballot today regarding the distribution and regulation of medical marijuana (Measure 74). I'm deeply ambivalent about this measure.

I voted for the measure that allowed the use of medical marijuana in Oregon several years ago. The law was intended to provide legal access to pot for those in severe pain or undergoing serious illness. Since the original law passed, I've become aware of a few people who are abusing this law.

In Oregon, one doctor is responsible for prescribing approximately 35% of all medical marijuana cards, and ten doctors have prescribed 59% of all cards. Essentially, a handful of doctors are in the drug business. The doctors doing the prescribing are not investigating a patient's medical history (such as if that person has a history of drug or alcohol abuse) or criminal history (such as drug dealing or felony crimes). All a patient has to do is claim a little pain, and he or she can get a medical marijuana card from certain doctors.

On the other hand, if a person is seriously ill or in pain, I believe that he or she should have easy access to marijuana for pain relief. So legal dispensaries could be a good thing.

Bottom line, perhaps marijuana should be legal, period. I don't know. I'm one of those rare people who has NEVER tried pot, so I'm not exactly in a good position to discuss this matter with insight. I have no interest in it myself, although I remember one of my aunts telling me and my sister (when we were teenagers) that we should try it once in our lives. The only time I remember having the easy access was in Japan, when I was completely freaked out about the possibility of being deported (as Paul McCartney was).

I remain deeply ambivalent about pot given the fact that one of my family members is a drug/alcohol addict. In the end, I left that measure blank on my ballot. I couldn't make up my mind, and as much as it pains me to leave anything blank on my ballot, I felt it was the honest thing to do.

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