It is merely an ordinary law, which would be much easier to change or amend if it doesn’t work out, or turns out to need tweaking.
I think it is worth reminding ourselves of this, in part because of the torrent of negative propaganda against this bill. Frankly, I don’t feel strongly about this issue. I don’t smoke anything, don’t like smoking of any kind, don’t use marijuana and don’t propose to start.
On the other hand, I am not at all comfortable making a law telling anyone suffering that they can’t have some drug designed to ease their pain, especially if that someone is dying.
You can make, I think, an honest and rational case against using marijuana in most cases without resorting to exaggeration.
But what is troubling is the exaggerated bitterness of the attacks against those who would legalize medical marijuana.
Earlier this week, a conservative physician and a judge co-authored a column that ran in the Detroit Free Press titled, “Medical Marijuana has unhealthy side effects for all.”
The article drew a lurid picture of a state where there would be more pot shops than Starbucks stores, and where medical marijuana would be dispensed from strip malls, as is allegedly is in California, which has allowed the drug to be prescribed legally for some time...
If that isn’t scary enough, it added that “Last week a security guard was gunned down outside a Los Angeles pot shop.”
What that says to me is that maybe we should outlaw Seven-Eleven and other convenience stores instead, since I know of many more security guards who have been shot in or outside them.
The proposed Michigan law, in fact, doesn’t establish any strip mall pot shops. It says the Department of Community Health will approve what conditions marijuana can be used for, and even then you would have to have a doctor prescribe it.
You would have to get a health department ID card to use or grow medical marijuana. There is a potential problem here, of course.
The law says registered individuals can grow limited amounts of pot for use by patients who qualify, and that the stuff must be grown in an “enclosed or locked facility.” What’s not clear is who would inspect or regulate it. But time for a reality check:
Marijuana is not exactly rare. People are smoking it anyway, and the police have enough to do without hauling glaucoma sufferers off to the slammer. Trying this approach makes sense.
The virulence of the attacks against it does not make sense.
Not, that is, unless you subscribe to H.L. Mencken’s theory that America is still a Puritan country. Puritanism, as he defined it, was the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
I think we should fear unnecessary suffering instead.