Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Medical marijuana: Two steps forward . . .

One step back. Or so. I still think we are close to a tipping-point on legal marijuana, although it's likely to take years for the implications to be worked out and the modalities agreed upon. It's not surprising in such a time of flux that there would be progress and setbacks. A setback occurred this week in Iowa, where the state pharmacy board, which had been ordered by a judge to consider permitting medicinal marijuana, dispatched of the idea with scorn and ignorance in a couple of hours. Well, what did you expect. A state pharmacy board represents the interests of pharmacists and at least by indirect extension the pharmaceutical-industrial complex. Medicinal marijuana is not only a threat to that whole shady industry but represents a paradigm the people steeped in pharmacology -- which views only single-molecule doses of standardized doses as "real" medicine and herbal medicine as primitive and maybe barbaric -- can't get their minds around. Of course a pharmacy board would dismiss "the very idea" with contempt.

The court action had asked Iowa to legalize medicinal marijuana because 13 other states had done so. One board member even recalled the old chestnut everybody claims to remember about their teenage years, claiming she asked her father as a teenager about staying out late because all the other kids were allowed to and being asked, "If your friends jumped off a bridge would that mean you had to jump off a bridge?" I'll leave it to you to suss out the kind of mind that would come up with such an inapt analogy, starting with the idea that these bureaucrats view free American adults as adolescents who can be allowed to do only what our in loco parentis types (loco parents?) -- them -- allow us to do.

But the news wasn't all negative. A proposal to legalize medical marijuana squeaked through the Illinois state senate; it gos to the House next. The state senate in New Jersey has passed a medical marijuana bill and it goes before an Assembly committee Thursday, after which presumably the full Assembly can vote on it. It may seem slow but progress is being made.

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