Posted tagged ‘marijuana’

More honest talk needed on pot bills

March 30, 2011

It appears that all medical marijuana bills introduced in this year’s Legislature have died except SB 1458, which would allow a pilot state-licensed “compassion center” to dispense pot to those with licenses to smoke it for medical purposes.

This measure, which has been referred to the House Finance Committee, deserves to bite the dust along with the others until we get the marijuana discussion on a more honest grounding.

Clearly, the effort to expand the availability of medical marijuana has become less about compassion and more about filling state coffers by taxing it and opening a back door to legalizing pot for recreational use.

Kristen Consillio had an eye-opening piece in the Star-Advertiser about how lucrative the medical marijuana trade has become for some, even on its current limited scale.

Hawaii certificates for legal medical marijuana use are now at over 8,000, with more than half of the permits issued on the Big Island. The bulk of the prescriptions are written by a relatively small group of physicians, some of whom charge up to $300 for the service. It’s lucrative enough that doctors are flying in from the West Coast to get in on the action.

There’s little control over what constitutes an illness that benefits from pot, and the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the program, says the bulk of prescriptions are being written for patients in their 20s and 30s, who are demographically the least likely to have the kinds of medical conditions associated with marijuana relief.

It adds up to strongly suggest that a large amount of supposedly medical marijuana ends up in recreational use.

I have no problem with those who legitimately need marijuana for medical conditions being able to use it. Nor do I have a problem with an honest discussion about whether we should legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use.

But I do have a problem with using one as a fig leaf to cover the other, skipping the due diligence on the big-picture implications for our state, in order to feed the greed of marijuana suppliers looking to expand their business and lawmakers hungry for tax revenues.

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