Medical Marijuana : Contradictions and Complexities
The legalization of marijuana for medical purposes appears conceptually simple: End the illegal status of a certain controlled substance when used solely for the compassionate purpose of alleviating symptoms of illness and disease. The realities of medical marijuana, its sell, regulation, and impact on communities, is however, highly problematic.
According to an ABC News report this week, several states which have legalized medical marijuana are beginning to revisit those decisions. The government continues to release warnings to states and communities that marijuana is an illegal substance at the federal level, whether for medical or recreational use. They continue to emphasize that anyone involved in the growing and distribution of marijuana is subject to federal prosecution regardless of local statues.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have permitted, through either legislation or ballot initiatives, the medical use of marijuana. Almost all of those states have suffered unexpected problems in law enforcement, regulation, taxation, and zoning as a result of the legalization of medical marijuana. Persistent threats from the federal government are just one in a host of complications which surround this controversy.
Michigan's voters chose to legalize medical pot in 2008. Despite the public acceptance of marijuana, businesses in Michigan, and elsewhere, maintain the right to conduct random drug tests on their employees. Contention erupted when a large discount chain store fired an employee for having THC (the primary chemical in cannabis) in his urine. The THC came from his use of marijuana which he had obtained legally with a doctor's prescription.
California has revoked the licenses of a number of medical marijuana dispensaries for various reasons. One factor affecting California, as well as other medical pot states, is the lack of comprehensive state regulation of pot shops. In most cases cities or counties creates their own rules which address who may grow, who may dispense, and who may purchase. Rarely are such rules and regulations fully compatible with other counties or even nearby towns. In fact, of the states where medical pot is now legal, no two share identical regulations and many do not accept registry ID cards which come from other places.Continued on the next page