Part 3: California goes to pot with medicinal pot program
Residents love the weather in California but not necessarily the state's progressive leanings. This is so for Bonnie O'Neill, who like Thorner is a citizen activist in California who believes in and who defends our right for liberty, freedom, and the principles that made our nation great.
With this in mind Bonnie was eager to share California's medical marijuana plight to Illinoisans, who now must contend with their own new medical marijuana program as of the New Year, and the possibility that Illinois will go down the same path as did California if Illinois' four-year trial program gets out of hand.
Voters passed the "California Compassionate Use Act" in 1996, making it the first state to establish a medical marijuana program. Seven years later (2004) the California congress authorized dispensaries. Even so standardization of laws or rules were never enacted from county to county. Worse yet, when a specific city or county has attempted to initiate laws for better control, CA judges (who have been known to judge according to their own political left leanings) strike them down, making dispensaries legal in some cities and illegal in others.
The result is that just about anyone can purchase the drug. All they need is a prescription. The dispensaries treat selling the drug as casually as buying cigarettes. Even constipation, nightmares, and impotence can indicate a condition.
California hasn't gone to full legalization yet, though you wouldn't know that from a trip to Venice Beach. Most Californians believe it is only a matter of time before CA follows Colorado, but some good news is that there remains some strong opposition against doing so.
Notwithstanding, there are four potential initiatives to legalize marijuana being considered for the November ballot according to the Sacramento Bee. A recent Field Poll also found that 55% of California voters support legalization for the first time.
With all the confusion that now exists over California's medical marijuana program, what is the rush to legalize marijuana in California just because it might be inevitable?
1. California's culture and quality of life has deteriorated, allowing more people to "escape" through drugs, and thus there is less opposition to it.
2. Marijuana is wrongly considered the less detrimental of all drugs at this point.
3. States are looking for more ways to TAX people, and
4. California jails have become dangerously crowded, and law enforcement sees a way to help solve the problem by decriminalizing marijuana use.
Law enforcement and the state are willing to entertain any new way to help lower the costs associated with this crime, even though there are some indications medical marijuana is not working in Washington, D.C., where all marijuana businesses are operating at a loss.
One point that supports those who oppose medical marijuana is that marijuana can rightly be considered a "gateway" drug, although there are many who disagree vehemently with this premise. The "Foundation for a Drug Free World" explains the "gateway" drug phenomenon in the following way:
Because a tolerance builds up, marijuana can lead users to consume stronger drugs to achieve the same high. When the effects start to wear off, the person may turn to more potent drugs to rid himself of the unwanted conditions that caused him to take marijuana in the first place.
The vast majority of cocaine users (99.9%) began by first using a "gateway drug" like marijuana, cigarettes or alcohol. Not everyone who smokes marijuana and hashish goes on to use hare drugs, but some do. One study found that youth (12 to 17 years old) who use marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine and heroin than kids who do not use pot, and that 60% of the kids who smoke pot before the age of 15 move on to cocaine.
For those who wish to read a comprehensive listing of Just the Facts about marijuana, including Short Term or Immediate Effects; Long Term effects; How Long Does Marijuana Stay in your System, etc., this website is a must to check out.
For those who still believe that marijuana is an innocent drug, perhaps you are unaware that Chicago has one of the worst heroin problems in the country. The I-88 corridor is becoming what law enforcement officials call "the heroin highway"; it connects people from Naperville directly to the drug supplier on Chicago's west side.
As noted by Kimberly Groll who writes a monthly column for the Naperville Beacon News, kids often start with cigarettes and alcohol, before branching out to marijuana, then moving to heroin and other drugs. "Teens seem to think they are invincible. That nothing's going to happen to me."
In 2013 heroin-related hospital admissions were up by 200 percent in the suburbs of Chicago. When it comes to deaths, Lake, Will and DuPage counties reported big increases. And, yes, high school students are among those who are dying from heroin-related overdoses.
In Conclusion (Libertarian thinking about marijuana is making inroads)
Everyone agrees drug addicts are detrimental to both society and law enforcement. Society does not want more heavy drug users for obvious reasons. Even legalization of medicinal marijuana here in IL is bound to lead to more use, as normalization of marijuana, even for medical purposes, will naturally encourage more consumption.
The reason medical marijuana was received positively by Illinois House members in 2013 after four previous attempts to do so by the main sponsor of the bill, Rep. Lou Lang, is because public perception is changing. That marijuana is not a harmful drug, even though the effects of pot on the juvenile brain are not benign, is especially prevalent among the youth.
A question to ponder is whether Illinois will go the way of California, which, as the first state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes back in 1996, now finds its program has morphed into easy access of marijuana for all who desire it. Illinois' four-year trial program must be monitored carefully to prevent fraud, corruption and unused medical marijuana from being shared with young people.
Often forgotten is that marijuana possession remains a federal crime unless or until Congress changes the Controlled Substances Act which is supposed to trump state law.
As to states rights going to pot, many Americans now embrace the Libertarian view that it should be up to the collective rights of states and other legally recognized communities and institutions to have the freedom to organize their lives as they so desire, recognizing the fallacy of the progressive vision that one size fits all. Let Colorado legalize weed. If another state doesn't feel that the benefits from legalizing marijuana exceeds the costs to society, that's also acceptable. There is also the option of moving to another state.
As the consequences of legalization of marijuana are yet unknown, Colorado and soon Washington state voters may come to regret their decisions if they lead to increased drug use, more violence, or a generation of underdeveloped young people.
Hopefully Illinois legislators will take note of how the marijuana experiment works out in the "Stoner" State of Colorado, soon to happen in Washington state, remembering that once legalization is enacted it's difficult, if not impossible, to put the genie back in the bottle again.
It is also up to Illinoisans and citizens of other states who have not yet succumbed to the allure that marijuana holds for some, to be ever mindful of its consequences and likewise vocal in denouncing efforts to further legalize its use, for by the time voters figure it out, the damage will already have been done.