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A Cheech and Chong ‘medical’ marijuana bill

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Jan. 22, 2011 at 5:15 pm with 13 Comments »
January 22, 2011 12:00 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

It must have taken some doing, but advocates of “medical” marijuana have come up with a bill that would actually invite more abuse of the drug than straightforward legalization.

The “medical” belongs in quotation marks here, because the measure in Olympia would junk a key rule designed to prevent common drug seekers from getting marijuana on medical pretenses. And once recreational users or addicts got their pseudo-medical authorizations to use the drug, they’d enjoy more privileges than simple legalization would give them.

They’d be protected, for example, if ex-spouses objected to leaving children in their care; judges would not be permitted to consider marijuana use as a factor in custody arrangements except in extreme cases involving “long-term impairment” – whatever that means.

The bill would bring down the hammer of discrimination law on companies with anti-drug policies. Employers who refused to hire or employ marijuana users – the drug stays in the body long after use – could be investigated and sanctioned by the state Human Rights Commission.

That’s just scratching the surface of this amazing piece of legislation. It would also legalize large-scale commercial marijuana grow operations and wholesaling – no specified limits on quantity. Cities and counties would not be permitted to ban grow operations in their jurisdictions; the measure leaves all control over licensing to the state.

Growing, processing and selling could be conducted in secrecy. Call this one the Home-Buyer’s-Surprise Provision.

There’s more: Police officers would have to check state databases for medical marijuana licenses before responding on probable cause to “cannabis-related incidents” (also known, under federal law, as “crimes”).

Individual officers could be personally fined or sued for failure to do so. There’s no obvious reason this wouldn’t apply to, say, a cop who spots dope and money changing hands in a dark alley. Odd: The law doesn’t paint a legal bull’s-eye on officers for responding to “alcohol-related incidents.”

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, has been touted as a “clarification” of the legal status of the illegal marijuana dispensaries that Washington cities and counties – including Tacoma – have begun to tolerate.

The measure’s actual reach is far, far more sweeping; it amounts to legalization with privileges.

To legitimize the dispensaries, the logical first step would be to impose genuine medical-pharmaceutical rigor on the authorizations that allow people to acquire “medicinal” pot in the first place.

As things stand, a handful of clinics – often fly-by-night operations – do brief, assembly-line-style “exams” of marijuana seekers and churn out authorizations like factories. They rubber-stamp the documents – often for about $200 a pop – for users with nebulous complaints of “intractable pain.” These mills have been transforming who knows how many garden-variety marijuana smokers into “patients.”

The law permits little effective regulation, and no one has ever been sanctioned for over-authorizing marijuana. The lack of controls blurs the line between legitimate providers and money-hungry enablers.

Instead of tightening the process, Kohl-Welles’ bill would actually loosen it. Under the existing law – an initiative approved by the voters – marijuana is largely treated as a last resort to be used only when legal, conventional treatments and FDA-approved medications fail. Her measure would let it be used as a first resort.

With this in place, any drug abuser who didn’t get his get-out-of-jail-free card would deserve to be arrested for sheer stupidity.

Words fail. This bill could have been written by Cheech and Chong 30 tokes past midnight. Any lawmaker inclined to support it should make a point of reading it first.

Leave a comment Comments → 13
  1. Was this really written by an elected official??? Are we totally losing our moral fabric??? This is not California…this is my state!!!

  2. YellowJuanaCake says:

    Reefer madness. Thank goodness it’s only one person’s opinion, and sad sad sad that a previously reputable news source such as this would choose to print such dribble. Using quotes around the term “medical” is laughable as even the AMA accepts marijuana as medicine. It’s become glaringly apparent that this has come down to the moral dilemma – are your morals better than mine or are my morals better than yours?

    @TheMASO – Maybe just you and Patrick O’Callahan have lost your moral fabric – I was raised not to judge my fellow humans.

  3. libertariangirl says:

    It is so frustrating to see the mainstream media continuing to spread lies and misinformation about medical cannabis and serving their corporate and government masters by continuing to push prohibition which causes far more harm than it stops. Media are supposed to be watchdogs on government, n ot lapdogs, get a clue.

  4. Vartener says:

    This sounds like a half ass attempt at circumventing the strong disire to leagilize marajuana use, and the strong contingency supporting a drug free america at the same time.

    In any case, I hope Mr. O’Callahan knows that avoiding an explanation of “long-term impairment” only harms reader trust.

    “These mills have been transforming who knows how many garden-variety marijuana smokers into ‘patients.'” – Was there any research here to back this up?

    I think I’ll have to look at another source to really see what’s going on…

  5. Cannabeastie says:

    Glad I don’t live in tacoma, I had planned to start a farm, and I wouldn’t wanna live anywhere near the kind of person dumb enough to publish his ignorance, and reactionary and hateful attitude to the world. Misrepresenting the facts oughtta be a crime… Oh wait it is, it’s called slander.

  6. EditorRUSerious says:

    I do not use cannabis, I will let you know this right now. However attacking a patients right to use their medicine??? This is not journalism! This is a poorly written and bias opinion.

    Do you know what those people are going through? Have you no compassion? To feel your body waisting away, the uncontrol urge to be sick 24/7, the fact that you cannot do the simple little things that we as humans love to do. Or the fear of knowing the one thing that makes you feel better, could land you in jail or have your loved ones taken from you. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

    Have you ever thought about it as just a plant? That is all it is. The media and this newspaper have lied to you, it will not make you sit on the couch everyday, all-day, for the rest of your life. Some of the most famous and influential people in our world use or have used cannabis on a regular basis.

    The puritan “values” you anti-cannabis people are trying to hold on to, are very prejudice. The is nothing socially right about casting out a huge population because of their medicinal or recreational choices. You probably support pro-choice, and gay marriage, but THIS is just too much for you and where you draw your line? C’mon. . . . .

  7. EditorRUSerious says:

    @ YellowJuanaCake~ The United States holds a patent (#6630507) for medicinal cannabis. What does that say for the credibility of this “journalist”, didn’t cover all their facts now, did they?

    I feel sorry for the folks that may read this and take it a completely factual article and insist on keeping that little mind of theirs closed off to the possibilities that cannabis and hemp are probably the one thing that can actually SAVE the world. . . . Did you know that Henry Ford made an entire vehicle out of hemp that ran on hemp fuel? Crazy, huh? Did you know that there is no waisted byproduct of hemp? Crazy, huh? Did you know that one acre of hemp produces the same amount of paper as four acres of forest? Crazy, huh? Did you know that you could pay your taxes with your own hemp crop? Absolutely nuts, right?

    Check out your history folks, no ancient civilization has ever failed because they were “lazy potheads”, it’s not like hemp and cannabis showed up on this planet yesterday. . .

  8. paulbier says:

    Patrick O’Callahan please pull your head out of the sand.
    Your statements are very opinion based and are simply wrong.
    you clearly have no actual knowledge of what legalization means.
    You also clearly don’t know the difference between medical,
    and recreational, and it would do you good before
    writing an article to do a little research. doctors patients and
    many others know your biased view by now, but rarely see this level
    of ignorance. Legalization of marijuana is going to benefit the medical
    industry and the US economy, its a patriotic thing to support.

  9. beazelbud says:

    I hope cheech and chong llc sue your ass for slander! Ive already contacted there publicist to let them know where to look and who to sue! Your a joke of a human being and I will never let anyother person tell me what I can and what I can not put into MY body! let every voter know when you give someone authority over you they will abuse it. Look how far these fakes will take this issue.

  10. Novelist3 says:

    Judging by the uniformly poor grammar and spelling in this set of posts, I have the strong suspicion that a sockpuppet is at work.
    FYI to the sockpuppet- slander is spoken. Libel is print. Funny how all your personas got that wrong.

  11. SensibleKitsap says:

    @Patrick O’Callahan. Since you are the “opinion” editor, I will forgive your lack of journalistic integrity. The word “opinion” belongs in quotation marks here, because the measure of your piece clearly does not conclude from any actual evidence. Your subjectiveness is written from bias, and you wrongfully propel more stigma and stereotype.

    Medical Marijuana patients deserve the protections in job security that the Kohl-Welles bill provides. This does not suggest that employees can show up to work impaired, just as it is not acceptable with most employers to be drunk on the job.

    I am a full-legalization advocate. It is my goal to teach people with your point of view, the full ramifications of this issue.

    The problem with medical legislation is that it allows a black market to coexist with a legal one. As long as that condition exists, there will always be distrust and speculation in the community. Law enforcement will be confused as to proper course of action, and potentially find themselves in dangerous situations, if they unwittingly stumble across an illegal operation.

    Marijuana should be a first choice, or at least an alternate choice to the legal opiates and synthetic opiates which are habit forming and considerably more dangerous.

    Cannabis prohibition is what creates the criminal element that puts law enforcement officers in harm’s way and jeopardizes the safety of our children.

    Responsible adults should not live in fear of losing their jobs, homes, children, fines or incarceration, simply because they chose to relax with the effects of a benign plant instead of alcohol.

    Every American deserves the security and civility that can only come with the end of prohibition. Accepting responsibility and understanding our drug abuse problems will be far more successful in educating the public on drug use than the prohibitionist method of abstinence, arrest & prosecution.

    Job creation in new industries should be a welcome savior in our current economic woes. I applaud that fledgeling industries are rising from the medical marijuana field. These will be good business models when full legalization arrives.

    Portugal is a good example in which taking a more empathetic and humane approach toward drug abuse has actually seen use rates decrease.

    Isn’t it time in America that we demonstrate “We the People”, that we care for each other with compassion instead of apathy?

    Mr. O’Callahan, I invite you to learn more on this subject before you write another piece like this.

    One last note – if you are completely against the use of marijuana, then legalization makes even better sense. A tax and regulate system will offer more control in public view, instead of the societal chaos that currently ensues in a secretive and illegal black market.

  12. beazelbud says:

    novelist3- This is a post, not a novel. I bet you write garbage! If all your time is spent correcting grammar go be a hated school teacher!

  13. busdrivermike says:

    So. Period. In the supposedly freest country in the world , a person cannot grow a plant and then ingest it as a they wish. World must not be so free.

    Thank you for protecting me big brother.

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