High (and Getting Higher) on Compassion

It seemed like a good idea at the time: The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 allowed Californians to use marijuana with a doctor's permission to alleviate pain. The act was put on the ballot and California voters passed it 56% to 44%, making California the first state to legalize weed for medicinal reasons.

Almost immediately, thousands of pot "clinics" opened across the Golden State. In San Francisco, things got so out of control that then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, a very liberal guy, had to shutter many of the "clinics" because drug addicts were clustering around them, causing fear among city residents.

Some California high school kids, with the emphasis on "high," found a huge loophole in the law. Incredibly, there was no age requirement to secure medical marijuana and no physical examination was required. So some teens just told a friendly doctor that they had a headache, paid $150 for a card, then bought all the pot they wanted. Unbelievable, but true.

A prosecutor in San Diego told me at the time that some "clinics" were even marketing medical marijuana under names like "Reefers Peanut Butter Cup" and "Baby Jane." Cheech and Chong would have been proud. The unintended consequence was that some kids made an industry out of it. Hey, why work at Burger King when you can sell pot cards?

After years of chaos, in 2013 some California legislators, at least the remaining few with a dollop of sanity, introduced a bill laced with common sense. It would have created new rules for growing and dispensing medical marijuana. But because medical weed has sprouted into a multi-billion dollar industry, complete with the usual "special interests," the bill went up in smoke.

And by the way, medical marijuana is no longer just for the folks. A Los Angeles veterinarian, aka the "Vet Guru," has led a movement to dispense pot to ailing dogs. That's right, cannabis for canines.

As is often the case, and for better or worse, much of the nation followed California's lead. 20 states have legalized medical marijuana to some extent, while voters in Washington and Colorado, oblivious to the dangers, approved pot even for recreational use. It's worth noting that a 2-year-old toddler was hospitalized just last week in Colorado after munching on one of her mom's pot-laced cookies.

And now it's New York's turn at the plate. Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to legalize medical marijuana for chronic pain and other serious conditions, but pledges to keep a tight rein on the weed. Doctors in New York will be required to certify that a patient meets strict qualifications, and review boards will, in theory, confirm that the prescriptions are merited. The Empire State has apparently learned a thing or two from the other coast's unbridled "compassion." Whether or not the kids in New York will really be protected remains to be seen.

Of course, there is nothing "compassionate" about kids being intoxicated. It changes them forever. Once a child alters himself with chemicals, childhood vanishes. If marijuana can help those suffering with debilitating diseases, doctors should have the power to prescribe it and licensed pharmacies should carry it. But storefront "clinics" run by irresponsible adults aided by compliant doctors are a joke that only a confirmed stoner would find funny.

Bottom line: Be careful what you vote for. Compassion can easily turn into corruption and chaos.

  • Wheels55

    If pot is to be a medically endorsed drug, then it falls in the same category as aspirin to heavy prescription drugs, even beer: Users and parents beware.
    Parents now have just one more thing to deal with. “Responsible” adults won’t be the problem. It will be irresponsible people, like with just about anything else.

    I’m not a pot smoker, but legalizing it presents no problem to me. It was readily available for decades anyway.

    • http://www.rglennnall.com/ glenn nall

      cannot be over-emphasized: “It was readily available for decades anyway.”
      and: It will continue to be readily available, will never NOT be readily available, will NEVER be got rid of, and will NEVER be controlled and regulated until it’s controlled and regulated.

      I’m a conservative, but i’m also a realist.

  • Josh

    “It’s worth noting that a 2-year-old toddler was hospitalized just last
    week in Colorado after munching on one of her mom’s pot-laced cookies.”

    This is the argument the anti-gun left makes when a moronic, irresponsible gun owner leaves his or her gun out, and their kid ultimately finds it and dies from an accidental gunshot.

    The only legitimate difference of note–other than the cookie kids having a much higher probability of surviving–is that pro-gun folks can cite the Constitution and their “rights” — add in words like “God given” and such for effect.

    Worth noting? Sure. The reason for noting it? To add weight to the case that pot is a no good, useless, very bad thing for people and should thus be illegal for gen pop.

    It’s up to parents to protect children, not the state. Folks can’t have it both ways. Or at least they can’t expect folks not to call it when they end up getting it both ways.

    There are unfortunately irresponsible people in this nation. Laws making marijuana illegal due to the people who may misuse it are absolutely no different than any other type of prohibition laws.

    So the kids may use, they might get hooked, they’ll be dumbed-down, lazy, good-for-nothing street urchins turning tricks and stealing. So better keep it illegal.

    Those were among the arguments for the banning of alcohol, and they’re still used for every intoxicant out there.

    If Stossel can’t get the point across, some random schmoe on a blog can’t. But for folks who look for government to step in and play daddy for their little good society projects, they shouldn’t then turn around and lambast others who want the government to play daddy for theirs.

    What’s next? Video games cause violence? Oofah.