Saturday, September 12, 2009

Let's Legalize Marijuana


I always liked the Holiday Inn Express ads where the guy says, "I am not a doctor but I play one on TV." What a great line. It excuses a multitude of mistakes. He is really saying, "I am asking you to pretend that I am doctor but if I kill you or someone else then please forgive me."

I testified recently at a hearing of the Colorado State Board of Health concerning proposed changes in the Medical Marijuana law.

A few years ago Colorado legalized Medical Marijuana and put it in our state constitution. The program was slow in the beginning but now thousands of people have prescriptions for marijuana and it has created huge problems in the administration and enforcement of the law.

The Health Department was not ready for all of this.

Medical marijuana is used for many purposes including pain reduction and increased appetite. It is especially good for terminal patients who are wasting away because they do not eat.

I think the reason for problems in the adminstration is that is they really never supported the program in the first place. Staff members actually gave testimony saying that the program was not a good program and should be severely limited. I guess they never looked at the numbers.

In my testimony I commented that I was not an attorney but that I teach law in my American Government, Political Science and the other eleven courses I teach. In effect, I am not an attorney but I play one in the classroom.

I briefly said (paraphrased) it is the law so deal with it. It is not the role of the Board of Health to rule if the program should exist or be limited. It is their role to facilitate the program so it works well and serves the people with prescriptions.

Currently there are several applications pending throughout Colorado to open retail dispensaries. There are several proposed here in Summit County. Towns are flopping and diving trying to avoid allowing them or figuring out ways to postpone the applications. Our government at work.

This November Breckenridge will vote on legalizing marijuana which would limit the Breckenridge Police from enforcing the law concerning small amounts. That is already in the state law and possession of less than an ounce is a petty offense punishable by a fine. You get a ticket and are not arrested. In Breckenridge even that would be eliminated for small amounts.

There are two states that have the more open laws. California and Colorado. In California they even have 24 hour vending machines for marijuana in some places. The rub of course is that the Drug Enforcement Administration still has the strict laws on small amounts and selling marijuana in any circumstance.

Alcohol is much more dangerous than marijuana. In my many years in law enforcement I have never seen anyone hurt or killed by using marijuana. It is not a gateway drug. It does not lead to hard drugs. The only thing that is threatened by the use of marijuana is that handy bag of potato chips. They will be destroyed.

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