I’m a longtime skeptic of "medical" marijuana. You’ve got to do a lot of doctor-shopping before you find one who thinks smoking anything is healthy and wholesome.
Cleaner, vaporized extracts of marijuana’s active ingredients may be a different story, but this remains the only high-potency drug legalized by political campaigns, not the Food and Drug Administration. No question it makes users feel better; so did the various 19th century elixirs spiked with alcohol, opium or cocaine.
Enough of the rant. Washingtonians approved a regulated medical marijuana regime when they enacted Initiative 692 in 1998. In contrast to California’s system of commercial "medical" marijuana shops, the initiative offered the voters a deal: personal medical use, but no buying and selling.
That deal is now being broken in Spokane, where the city appears to be tolerating California-style marijuana dispensaries that sell the drug in clear defiance of the law.
These dispensaries have effectively legalized recreational marijuana use in much of California. To buy the weed, you need a doctor’s written recommendation. But enough Dr. Feelgoods are willing to recommend it for just about any reason that the medical pretext becomes a sham. Some dispensaries have been used as fronts by criminal drug traffickers.
Spokane, of all places, seems to be letting itself become a foothold for the California model – which likely never would have passed muster with the voters had it been written into I-692.