Oakland, California

The city of Oakland is taking a big step in the world of marijuana reform. The city advanced toward a plan to allow industrial-scale production of medical marijuana, sparking debate between supporters and opponents. The committee voted 3-1 in favor of the plan to license large-scale indoor cultivation of medical marijuana.

Growers would be expected to stay in the confines of California law. They would also have to pay $5,000 for a permit and a $210,000 regulatory fee. Along with a $60,000 dispensary permit fee, the revenue would be used to pay for the more than $1.2 million estimate that will be needed to run the expanded program, including Oakland police, tax auditors and other staff.

The plan also would permit Oakland’s four licensed dispensaries to sell to retailers throughout the state of California. Those dispensaries generated $28 million in gross sales in 2009!!! Other cities in California have recognized the benefits of regulating and expanding the lucrative industry, which has generated new jobs and success in business. As it would figure, the city of Berkeley recently took steps toward expanding the city’s medical marijuana industry.

San Francisco, California

A doctor by the name of LARRY A. BEDARD MD wrote a very interesting letter/article for the Silicon Valley Mercury News. This piece was a reasoning for decriminalization of marijuana and how it is far less harmful than alcohol. Bedard is the former president of the American College of Emergency Medicine and is a California Medical Association delegate.

The California Medical Association in October of 2009 declared the criminalization of marijuana to be a failed public health policy, which anyone with a brain already knew…for years!! Consider these facts: 43% of Americans over the age of 12 admit to having smoked marijuana, and one in ten Californians currently use. At an estimated $15 billion, marijuana is California’s largest cash crop…by far!!!

Now examine the costs of the current prohibition. In the Golden State, taxpayers spend $300 million annually to arrest and prosecute 60,000 people — largely Latinos and African-Americans — for possessing minor, recreational-use amounts of marijuana. Prohibition is also starting to empower and embolden the Mexican drug cartels which haul in between 60-70% of their total revenue from the exportation of marijuana to the US and have basically turned Mexico into a “narco” state.

The doctor feels there is an alternative. It is the passage of Proposition 19, which would legalize, regulate and tax the adult possession, use, production and distribution of marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. After reading over the recent RAND Drug Policy Research Center report on the financial impact of Proposition 19, it reaffirmed for Bedard the belief that the legalization and regulation of marijuana would make our communities safer and more just. According to RAND, fewer than 200 total patients were admitted to California hospitals in 2008 for “marijuana abuse or dependence.” This number is drastically lower in comparison to recorded cases of alcohol related health issues and concerns. In over 35 years as an emergency physician in busy ERs in Northern California, Dr. Bedard had never needed to admit a patient due to an adverse reaction or medical problem caused by marijuana.

In comparing the numbers of health care concerns of marijuana to that of alcohol,  the heavily slanted results in favor of the former is absolutely startling. In 2006, there were 72,771 hospitalizations in California related to the use of alcohol. Of these, 34,292 cases were due to illnesses or chronic conditions caused by alcohol consumption (HELLO…Does anyone else notice there is a STAGGERING difference in these numbers??)

This total is roughly 200 times the number of hospital admissions associated with marijuana!!!

From a physician’s perspective, detrimental side effects from using marijuana are considerd only minor ailments. The supposed cure, “criminalization”, is like the IV administration of a toxic, expensive antibiotic to treat a cold. An adverse effect of the inappropriate and ineffective use of antibiotics is the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. That is fancy doctor talk for YOU ARE NOT FIXING THE PROBLEM!!!!!!

The adverse effect of criminalization of cannabis is that is stigmatizes 60,000 people a year as criminals.
Bedard stated, “As emergency physicians, we are the ultimate realists. We know that the prohibition of marijuana is a failed public health policy.” California’s nearly 100-year-old war on marijuana is an expensive failure. Let’s get real folks; legalize, regulate, control and tax marijuana — not just in California but in every state in America. Dr. Bedard finished by saying, “As physicians we know the best way to deal with marijuana dependency is by education and treatment, not by criminalization.”

Amen Doctor Bedard….

New York State

It seems that the majority of New Yorkers who participated in a survey favor some system of medical marijuana. A poll released today by Cornell University found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of New Yorkers are in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical use. The poll results are similar to a Quinnipiac poll in February that measured support at 71%.

Despite broad public support, making proposed medical marijuana a reality failed to pass either chamber of the New York legislature this year. For a dozen years, proponents have pushed medical marijuana bills, and twice the Assembly has approved them only to see them die in the Senate.
That was understandable when the Senate was controlled by Republicans, but with the heavily liberal current Congress, the reasoning for the road blocks is less clear now.

Medical marijuana won majority support across every age group, and was 65% or higher for every age group except those over 65, where support declined to 52%. It also won majority support across every income bracket, increasing steadily from 53% among those making less than $30,000 a year to 73% among those making more than $100,000 a year.