Cannabis can be medically useful. (Delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive agent, is a recognized medicine in pill form, but it’s clear that pure THC is about the worst possible formulation – it tends to be anxiety-inducing, while the cannabidiol in the whole plant material has a useful anti-anxiety buffering action – and that oral administration isn’t nearly as useful as something with faster and more predictable bioavailability.)
With public opinion strongly pro-medical-pot, in a sane world the government would have gotten out of the way and allowed some version of whole cannabis to become an FDA-approved medication, available by prescription only.
But instead, under pressure from the drug warriors, the federal government has made it virtually impossible to develop cannabis into a medicine by preventing the R&D necessary to get a specific product through the FDA. And the drug-legalization movement was smart enough to grab the issue the drug warriors had so generously handed them. Since without FDA approval the voters couldn’t make some version of cannabis a prescription medicine, we have the “recommendation” system instead, which in places such as California has developed into a free-for-all. Anyone can get a “recommendation” by going to the nearest recommendation mill, saying one of the magic words (“pain” or “anxiety” or “appetite” or “sleep”) and paying $40. In effect, California has legalized marijuana through the back door.
The result is a huge industry growing and selling “medical marijuana.” My back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that it’s about a billion-dollar-a-year business in California alone. Los Angeles County may have more “dispensaries” than the Netherlands has “coffee shops.”
There’s been some blowback in the form of federal enforcement and local action: the LA City Council voted 14-1 to shut down the trade, though the dispensary industry quickly rounded up enough signatures to keep the law from taking effect.
Now comes the next round of irony: now that the drug warriors have enabled the virtual legalization of pot by preventing its development as a prescription medicine, the “medical marijuana” profiteers are now trying to block full-on marijuana legalization at the state level because they see it as a threat to their highly profitable racket.
Latest development is from Washington State, where the medical-marijuana industry is the primary organized opposition to the legalization initiative I-502. The “anti” campaign is now resorting to Tea-Party-style disruption tactics to keep the “pro” side from getting its message out.
All of this ought to make me furiously angry, but the sheer level of outrageousness seems to have tripped some sort of circuit-breaker, and all I can do is laugh.
h/t Legalization News.