Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Buy a gun but no medicinal marijuana in Los Angeles

'Marijuana Vector Image' photo (c) 2011, Vectorportal - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/



I was on twitter this morning when I was tweeted a link for the L.A. Times.  It seems that Los Angeles has decided to force the closing of 762 medicinal marijuana dispensaries.
Under the ban, each of the 762 dispensaries that have registered with the city will be sent a letter ordering them to shut down immediately. Those that don’t comply may face legal action from the city.

Medical marijuana activists who had packed the council chambers jeered when the vote came down. More than a dozen Los Angeles Police Department officers were called in to quell them.

Under the ban, medical patients and their caregivers will be able to grow and share the drug in small groups of three people or less.

But the activists say most patients don’t have the time or skills to cultivate marijuana. One dispensary owner told the council that it would cost patients a minimum of $5,000 to grow marijuana at home. [source]
For many people who have chronic conditions, marijuana is a great medical option.  It comes with less side effects than many prescription drugs.  It increases appetite, encourages sleep and relaxes the body. When this debate first started, many refused to believe the medicinal properties of marijuana, thanks to the fact that the drug itself has been criminalized. It is still described as a gateway drug in many places. Beyond the medicinal properties, hemp, which is the by product of marijuana, is far more environmentally friendly than many products which we use commonly today. This ruling actually makes it easier to buy a gun than to buy much needed medicine. It is ridiclous to worry about the proliferation of medicinal marijuana dispensaries, when there are stores littered across the state that sell guns.  Medicinal marijuana won't kill anyone, but a gun most certainly will, despite the bullshit the NRA parrots.


Even when it was clearly protested and revealed that this decision would increase the costs for people in need, the city still went ahead and enforced the ban.  This decision is absolutely ableist and for many, it will drive them back on pharmaceutical drugs, which will cost more and be less effective.  The only person who wins in this situation is big phrama. Others will of course take the option to buy their pot on the streets, thus risking arrest and ending up with a criminal record that will follow them for life. Since the majority of pot arrests are people of colour, those who seek pot for medical reasons, who are visible minorities, face a greater chance of having to negotiate the prison industrial complex. This is penalizing people for needing to take a drug to make their quality of life better.

This kind of thing happens repeatedly to people living with chronic conditions and whether it is narcotics or marijuana, the state seems particularly resistant to understanding that there is a difference between someone seeking a drug to deal with a chronic condition and someone seeking a drug to get high.  The person with a chronic condition isn't seeking a high, they are seeking relief from what is in many cases a debilitating condition. When I was suffering from incredibly bad nausea due to the drugs I had to take when I was first diagnosed with sarcoidosis, I was given a prescription which cost five hundred dollars for twenty pills to fill. I'll say that again, 500 dollars.  Thankfully, I had benefits at the time, but for someone who doesn't, that is a hell of a lot of money to spend, especially when buying a small bag of pot for 50 dollars will do the exact same thing. 

This decision isn't in the best interests of the community.  When someone has relief from their symptoms, it makes them better citizens, better spouses, better parents, better employees - simply better in every single way. Making the decision to ban these dispensaries, also takes away control from people living with chronic conditions and infatalizes them. What we don't need is government telling us how to manage our conditions and limiting access to viable treatment. There are already so many barriers that the disabled have to face to get through the day and this is just one more thing to make it that much harder to get by in this world.

There is absolutely no justifiable reason for this ban to be in effect.  I wonder about the conscience of a city council that would knowingly force people to live in pain.  If they had any idea what it takes to make it through the day as a chronically ill person, then and only then could they possibly understand the harm that they have done. No one should have to live in pain so that pharmaceutical companies can increase their already massive profits and others may allow their paranoia and ignorance to run amok. I have said it before and I will say it again, those concerned about medicinal marijuana, really need to just be quiet and smoke a joint.