Marijuana in America: A Chronic Issue

November 5, 2011

Dirty Hands


One of our society’s undeniable struggles is the issue of medical marijuana’s place in society.  An article on a recent petition featuring a group of advocates from California calling for a referendum on a ban of medical marijuana has highlighted the recent wrestling with the debate at hand in California and our country.

 

The so-called “civil war” over medical marijuana mentioned the article occurred in Kern County, California, but started when California passed Proposition 215 in 1996, California’s landmark medical marijuana law. Now medical marijuana is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S.

 

The stance of the medical marijuana patient is obvious – they want their medication.  Marijuana can help treat symptoms of cancer, AIDS, and a number of other illnesses. Medical marijuana treats and reduces symptoms of nausea, vomiting and weight loss, and facilitates hunger in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Opposition to medical marijuana would argue that patients are too easily qualified for medical marijuana cards. Many would call it a scam for doctors to make money. Almost anyone can attain a medical marijuana card if they have chronic pain, chronic nausea, AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, hepatitis, or chronic muscle spasms; other spastic disorders, such as multiple sclerosis; seizure disorders, such as epilepsy; gastrointestinal disorders, such as IBS; Crohn’s disease; or the inability to eat. A large problem with attaining medical marijuana cards is the corruption within the medicinal industry. Doctors are sometimes lenient with patients, giving them a medical card for a falsely concocted reason. The ultimate goal of the medical professionals is more money.  By allowing the lenient standards with his patients, the doctor creates a network of people looking for easy ways to acquire a medical marijuana card.  If the doctor is able to supply medicinal marijuana cards to this network, he profits mightily with little risk to him.

Two men whose lives are in the middle of this crisis – Robert Wade and Sheriff Donny Youngblood – have years of experience in law enforcement. Robert Wade, a former narcotics officer turned entrepreneur, is now a huge proponent of medical marijuana. He now owns multiple medical marijuana dispensaries in California and makes six figures a year. The medical marijuana industry is estimated to generate one billion dollars of revenue every year. Sheriff Donny Youngblood strongly opposes the use of medical marijuana, and has made his opinion clear that medical marijuana use is a “sham,” not only to the government, but the everyday person. “It’s not just a legal stand,” he said. “It’s really a moral stand,” considering a number of dispensaries have been caught selling to people without medical marijuana cards.  When some dispensaries have this reputation, it gives a bad name to the dispensaries that run their business legitimate, and makes voters reluctant to vote in favor of medical marijuana.

 

 

A Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Even though the medical marijuana business seems suspect or corrupt, should we stop one of the fastest growing industries in our current economy? In my opinion taxing medical marijuana would be extremely beneficial for the economy. This one billion dollar a year industry should not be destroyed because a small percentage of the business may be deemed illegitimate.  The concept of dirty hands applies to this issue because taxing the purchase of medical marijuana for the greater good of the economy would only be beneficial.

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16 Comments on “Marijuana in America: A Chronic Issue”

  1. rschles92 Says:

    Jeanchaw,

    You bring up an interesting point. Medicinal marijuana could be a solid revenue source for the government. However, people tend to feel reluctant to fund public service with dirty money. Hence why this is a great topic for the dirty hands debate. I know in Maryland there was a proposition to have slot machines put in at the horse racing tracks and use all of that money for education spending. While it was passed and implemented the vote was closer than one might think. There was a huge movement to shoot down the campaign because parents did not like the idea of funding their children’s education with gambling. I personally did not see a problem with gambling funding schools as long as the schools are better who cares.

    • Kunal Saxena Says:

      I feel that you also bring an interesting point to the table. In reference to the dirty hand, the means and the result, I feel that the means of making marijuana legalized is perfectly justifiable compared to selling cigarettes and consumption of tobacco. Tobacco is proven to be more harmful then marijuana and the government funds projects through tobacco tax so why not legalize marijuana and increase government revenue. In terms of the means and justification, Macoveilla, in my opinion, would concur with this.

  2. beaurh Says:

    Jeanchaw,

    The feud over medical marijuana is growing due to constant new legislation legalizing and adding conditions to attaining legal marijuana. I believe that the issue is not if marijuana should be legalized, it should be, but how the government can control, enforce, and benefit from this legalization. Medical marijuana alleviates too many symptoms in patients that are suffering unbelievably. My grandmother enjoyed smoking marijuana when suffering through chemotherapy. Without it, she could not eat or drink anything without fear of vomiting.
    The medical marijuana industry, as said above, is extremely lucrative if only it could be controlled. The government first must create laws clearly defining how patients obtain med cards and how they obtain the medical marijuana itself. As rschles92 said above, legal marijuana revenue is great enough to use in social employment projects, and bettering our education system.
    Another issue to bring up, is the illicit selling of marijuana by a legal patient. Thoughts?

  3. bmjasper Says:

    The debate over whether or not medical marijuana should be used to improve our nation’s economy is an interesting one. I believe this poses more of a moral issue than anything else. Considering our nations current economical state, can it be justified to legally use “dirty” money to boost the economy and fund public services?

    There are two opposing stances one can take in this debate. Liberals might argue that since the usage of medicinal marijuana has many proven health benefits, it should to be legalized. Additionally, proponents of the legalization of medicinal marijuana might state that the potential economic boost from taxing marijuana needs to be taken into account in light of our nation’s struggling economic status.
    Conservatives might argue that legalizing marijuana would cause an increase in marijuana users, for medicinal purposes or not. They might also argue that drug-impaired driving would increase as well, causing more driving injuries and deaths. And furthermore, since legalizing marijuana would increase the general usage and not decrease it, this would lead to an increase in marijuana usage among our nation’s youth.

    While both sides present valid arguments, I am a proponent of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes for two reasons. Firstly, the health benefits of marijuana are too significant to ignore. Many cancer patients are strong legalization supporters, and have sworn that medicinal marijuana throughout treatment was the most helpful medicine. Additionally marijuana is a prevalent drug in our society. Legalizing it or not will not change the fact that Americans will recreationally use marijuana and continue to self-medicate with cannabis. Legalizing it would surely boost our nation’s economy because the money would be going to our government rather than individual drug-dealers.

  4. ndreynolds864 Says:

    You have a valid argument and I really think that if this medical marijuana industry is performed within the laws it could be very beneficial for that state’s economy. The first state to legalize marijuana completely medical need or recreational will be the state whose economy will boom. This industry can provide a lot of revenue for struggling states like Michigan and California. Right now they need to crack down on their medical marijuana industry because that is what’s legal. I agree the laws are too lenient and some dispensaries abuse their power but if this gets cleaned up I can see the industry growing so much that it could be become completely legal. Think if it’s completely legal that brings the government in to put a high tax on it to make revenue and it also brings more job opportunities for a drug that can be argued to have less negative side effects than alcohol.

  5. zschmitt17 Says:

    Legalizing medical marijuana is great for the country. It has the ability to help many people experiencing pain and going through cancer. I see no moral dilemma about medical marijuana. What gives one person the right to say that another person’s pain is not real? That they are pretending to be hurt in around to get marijuana. If a person is in such pain that they want to use it to feel better and a doctor has gave his permission then I do not see why people have a problem with that. If you are against marijuana do not use it, but you have no right to say that it is wrong for a legal user to use it.

    In the case of corruption, it happens in almost every business that men start. Liquor stores sell to underage kids, adults buy beer for underage kids, and people lie, steal, and cheat to earn a buck constantly. Why then would doctors being lenient on giving medical cards away and dispensaries selling to non legal users be a big issue for medical marijuana? Are we going to pass a law making another prohibition on alchol just because underage drinkers are around? No, if medical marijuana helps people then it would be morally wrong to outlaw it just because people are able to get it for non medical needs.

  6. godzillagti Says:

    The medical marijuana industry can be very corrupt. There are a lot of possible symptoms that are given that allow you to get a medical marijuana card, many of them can easily be faked. I actually laughed out loud when I saw the symptom, “the inability to eat.” The industry whether they intend to do it or not is allowing for this drug into the hands of those who don’t need it. I agree that taxing medical marijuana would be great for the economy. Also we would be able to get more commercialized marijuana that is much safer than what is out on the streets today. This however doesn’t mean that the government is exempt from the dirty hands issue. They are putting drugs in the hands of citizens in order to make the economy better. This is definitely a case of dirty hands. The medical marijuana business is just too corrupt. Many doctors can give out these marijuana cards to those who don’t need it just so that they can make money and that isn’t right. Medicine should only be given to those that truly need it and the government shouldn’t try to benefit off of others medical problems. If the government does decide to make marijuana legal and tax it, I don’t think that it will be a valid law for long due to the more problems it will raise.

  7. maxmoray Says:

    An extremely interesting topic you discuss, I also believe the legalization of marijuana is one of the more fascinating discussions of the recent century. For me, legalizing marijuana can only have positive results. Yes, I do admit, marijuana is considered a transitional drug, one that if made legal would make it’s impacts seem less important. However, in recent research it has been tested marijuana is extremely safe, and only supplies positive results. In a research experiment done a couple years ago annual american deaths caused by drugs are as follows….
    TOBACCO …………………… 400,000
    ALCOHOL …………………… 100,000
    ALL LEGAL DRUGS ………….20,000
    ALL ILLEGAL DRUGS ……….15,000
    CAFFEINE …………………….2,000
    ASPIRIN ………………………500
    MARIJUANA …………………. 0
    This proves marijuana has no harmful affects to the body. Likewise, marijuana does not cause brain damage, genetic damage, or damage the immune system. Unlike alcohol, marijuana does not kill brain cells or induce violent behaviour. A counterpoint that could be taken into account is that marijuana supplies in patience with a “lazy” and “spaced out” approach while consumed with the drug. Likewise, laws would be amended to not allow driving while under the influence of the drug.

  8. wjpetok24 Says:

    Jean, the points you bring up gave me the opportunity to step back and objectively look at the situation regarding medical marijuana. First, I believe that Marijuana can and should be used as a medicine for patients in need. It has had a history of success stories and clearly has made a difference in many lives for those suffering from unbearable illnesses.

    Personally, my uncle, a Los Angeles native and medical marijuana patient, is a prime example of those who should be allowed to hold a medical marijuana card. He suffers from a legitimate stomach-related illnesses and went through almost 5 years of unsuccessful treatment before apprehensively turning to Marijuana. His results immediately showed improvement, and the doctors attributed it to the use of Marijuana. He was once again able to eat, and more importantly move on with his life. This is the essential reason why I believe we can not take away the right of medical marijuana. In many cases, it is the only feasible option for those to gain comfort in their lives from sickness.

    Furthermore, I believe the benefits that a crop such as Marijuana can bring to the country and individual states such as California would exceed any shortfalls or wrongdoings related to illicit use of the drug. As many of my classmates have stated above, Marijuana abuse can be rampant, but whose to say it isn’t because of the illegal nature of the substance. It has clearly been proven that cigarettes are more harmful than marijuana, and yet they are still allowed to be sold and taxed for profit. In a state so economically drained and frustrated such as California, how can this not be a formidable option? I understand the taboo related to marijuana, but at some point our country needs to accept the fact that it isn’t a problem that will simply go away.

    Overall, my proposed plan on the medical marijuana debate would be a process begun with decriminalization and eventually legalization. I understand that any type of legislation will always take time, and always have its detractors, but the health and economic benefits of marijuana will soon be too much for politicians to ignore.

  9. sgbraid Says:

    I don’t think that there is a firm grasp of the concept “dirty hands” in this post. The taxing of the purchase of medical marijuana is not a good example — or an example at all — of the dirty hands concept. My understanding of “dirty hands” is that one has to behave or take action that is initially considered wrong, immoral, or unethical to eventually improve the greater good of society. There is nothing immoral, wrong, or unethical in taxing medical Marijuana. No one is “dirtying there hands” for the greater good of society.

    But on to your point about the the economic stimulus that Medical Marijuana has on the United States of America’s economy. Medical Marijuana no doubt boosts and helps stimulate the economy because of the extremely high consumer population. How is the selling of medical marijuana a corrupt business? I agree with Bauerh and its comment that Medical Marijuana is an extremely profitable and harmless business if it can be contained and monitored and the best way to do this is for the government to open up its own shops and have its own people regulate the growing and selling of these products. This would also stimulate the economy because there would be more jobs and it would hopefully decline the population of unemployment. This would also be helpful for the consumer because they would now that all growth is regulated, thus, making it government approved.

  10. Matthew Bernstein Says:

    The debate over medical marijuana presents an extremely interesting dilemma: if medicine is available to patients in dire need, is it legal/moral for this medicine to be withheld from them. There are thousands of stories, similar to that which Mr. Petok cited, which attribute marijuana to the recovery from dire illnesses.

    I believe that, if the medical marijuana industry is a billion dollar industry and one of the fastest growing sources of revenue in the United States, then some sort of legalization must be enacted almost immediately. Mr. Moray cites an interesting statistic that shows that not one death in a given studied year was attributed to marijuana, as opposed to many common, legal products, including aspirin!

    Yes, marijuana can be considered a “gateway drug” and can lead to the use and abuse of many hard, illegal drugs. However, it is undeniable that marijuana does not have any of the effects of these drugs. Yes, there would need to be restrictions placed on when and where marijuana could be used, but if marijuana were to be legalized, there is no foreseeing how beneficial it could be to the medical community, let alone the United States economy.

  11. jrmeller Says:

    Medical Marijuana is without question, a hot topic of debate in our society today. The process for one to obtain a medical marijuana card has become a sort of joke, using any sort of ailment they can think of that will convince their doctor that they are in need of treatment. Those individuals than use their cards to obtain as much marijuana as they desire and use it recreationally. This completely ruins the point of medical marijuana, but opens up a new topic for debate: Should Marijuana be legalized?

    Different states in the US have their own laws regarding the substance, some more lenient while others more strict. But one has to think about the economic and social benefits of legalizing marijuana when assessing the issue.

    First the economic. Legalizng marijuana and placing a tax on it would reap large portions of money for our nation and the government. There is no doubt that it is a widely used substance, and legalizing it would allow for the government to benefit from it and help out the immense debt that our nation is in.

    Next is social. Legalizing marijuana would rid the nation of certain criminals. Drug dealers arrested and thrown in jail for trafficking marijuana would not only waste space in prisons, but they would be gone because there would be no need for an individual to use a drug dealer when they would be legally allowed to walk into a dispensary to purchase marijuana. Police would then be able to spend more time focusing on more alarming crimes and criminals making society safer.

    Legalizing marijuana has been a hot topic issue in the US, for certain groups, for a while now. There certainly are some foreseeable benefits that could arise from legalizing it, but until that day comes, those will just remain pure hypothetical benefits.

  12. rmwells3 Says:

    I think that this business should continue to thrive because it has proven medical benefits, however, I believe there needs to be a more legitimate and stringent system to monitor who and how certain people get medical marijuana cards. Do I have any suggestions? No, I don’t, I don’t know enough about any of this to make an intelligent conclusion or to formulate a resolution.

    I think that this is a dirty hands situation where if used properly, the end can justify the means and therefore, advocate the use of marijuana for treatment. Although it is hard to regulate the use of marijuana it is too stringent a decision to prevent people with medical needs access to the drug.

    I think, and as many have pointed out, marijuana is a gateway drug to bigger and more dangerous drug. But as the statistics show marijuana itself is not the killer drugs and if properly restricted the only people who should get their hands on marijuana are those that reap the benefit of using it.

  13. Joe Says:

    A very interesting twist to the dirty hands problem and a very controversial topic all together.
    To answer your question I say No, we should not stop one of the fastest growing businesses in America because of the sometimes sketchiness of the industry. As any stoner will tell you, it is ridiculous in the first place that marijuana is illegal when substances like alcohol and tobacco are legal because there has never been an overdose on marijuana but thousands of people die every year from the two legal substances. This causes one to think, how could we have deadly substances be legal for purchase?
    I stand that it is because they are casually used to alter people’s moods and society is so use to having them be a part of their culture, that they cannot ban these substances, they just tax them and try to educate the population about their dangers. I beleive that since marijuana and the consumption of it as a drug are all new relative to the other legalized drugs so when people ran a smear campaign against it, (similar to ones against drinking and tobacco use in the modern day) the government and society were a lot quicker to listen and accept the propaganda that lead to its banning in the first place. If alcohol and tobacco are legal despite their dangers, then the reason anyone would justify that is they are integral parts of society and they are being taxed to make money for the population as a whole. Why then can we not legalize marijuana for people of-age and tax this drug? Do the ends of a lot more tax revenue and less money wasted on criminal preceedings not worth the means of legalizing a relatively harmless drug?

  14. Jason Cohen Says:

    Based on your post, it sounds as if every person who is given a card might not necesarily be qualified. The solution to this problem on corruption and dirty hands perhaps lies within the full legalization of marijuana. If the government subsidizes marijuana and regulates it like cigarettes (which are statiscally way less healthy), there could be a large sum of money in taxes with marijuana sales. For a business that sounds as lucrative as it is, why not stimulate the economy more with the full on legalization of marijuana?

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