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Fully Legal Weed?

One of the criticisms of the push for medical marijuana is that the efforts conceal another agenda – full legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Advocates are accused of leveraging the compassion we all feel for chronic suffering into a broader acceptance of weed for pleasure instead of treatment. That criticism may be justified as Maine legislators move on a bill to make cannabis the legal equivalent of alcoholic beverages.

An article in The Raw Story reports on State Representative Diane Russel’s bill that would do just that – shift marijuana from prescription to entertainment status.

Her quote is telling: “We already regulate marijuana in Maine. We already have dispensaries. We already do this. We just do it for the medical community. It’s not a huge step — it’s actually a very small step — but it has profound implications.”

The “small step” doesn’t seem so small to others. Prescription drug abuse and addiction are already well known. There’s already a path from the pharmacy to the streets and huge money is being made feeding addicts from this supply route. No one suggests Vicodin should be legalized because of it, even though there are plenty of people who enjoy taking narcotics and would prefer to buy them without a doctor’s supervision.

The question is worth considering – is marijuana a drug we allow for medical purposes because patients find relief or is it a way to get stoned and escape your life?

To make it more palatable, Rep. Russel’s bill mimics the language in the medical marijuana statute. It limits the amount someone could possess to 2.5 ounces and a single purchase every seven days. It also restricts sale to those over 21. Retailers would have to be licensed and taxed to sell marijuana and the measure includes a fine for anyone caught smoking weed in public.

The comparison to alcohol is a bit of a sham though. After all, alcohol itself isn’t harmless, it’s just that the harms are accepted by society. If it were possible, we’d stop alcohol abuse immediately and get those who cannot drink responsibly into treatment. Will this part of the picture be duplicated if marijuana is legalized? What the bill needs is a provision for those who cannot handle the new freedom to waste a weekend or a life with easy access and a percolating bong.

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