To The Editor:
Permit me to make a few remarks about the MMJ issue presently before the Board of Trustees. First, I would like to remind everyone that the topic that is
currently under scrutiny is medical marijuana. From the standpoint of moderates, the medical/recreational distinction seems sensible despite the fact that it hinges on user intentions. From the standpoint of the radical right it is attractive because it hinges on the purported knowledge of others’ intentions, with the regulation of others’ morals foremost in mind. To the politician, it is a useless distinction because it puts the policy-maker in the position of having to somehow divine the intentions of the voters who passed Amendment 20, the intentions of the doctors who are making MMJ recommendations, and the intentions of patients who report that they have a medical need for cannabis, which is not what policy should or can effectively accomplish.
However, regulating behavior that affects others is a political standard that is tenable since behavior is measurable while intentions are not. The regulation of intentions is the concern of religious institutions; it is why the confession is so important to the Catholic Church and why the framers of our constitution carved out that space as off-limits to government. Because, in the case of the debate before us, discussion of intentions leads inexorably to discussions of all marijuana use, I submit with all due respect that the discussion has gotten derailed by the Board’s failure to fully grasp this distinction and by Pastor Lohr’s deliberate introduction of confusion into the debate. (Note: I am not questioning Pastor Lohr’s moral character, I am suggesting that when he speaks of medical marijuana it invariably takes the form of, “I recognize that some people have a legitimate need for this, BUT . . .” effectively dismissing the legitimate medical use of cannabis and introducing the issue of recreational use, which is a separate issue).
While it clearly irritates some people that there are patients who are claiming that they have a medical need for cannabis when they simply want to use it to get high, this resentment is impossible to address through regulation. In any case, it is not the layperson’s job to distinguish between people who need cannabis and those who don’t by guessing at intentions. If we can settle on the fact that what we are talking about are people’s behaviors and medical marijuana, then this becomes much easier, because we have an existing, established behavioral standard: if a doctor signs off on the recommendation, it’s medical. Done. The recreational question can be addressed some day later when enough people realize that their right to ingest plants is anterior to political regulation. Until then, this debate should be brought back around to the salient topic, which is medical marijuana.
Secondly, although I have already pledged to remove the marijuana leaf on my signs in an effort to move towards a compromise, I am disappointed that the Board appears to believe that any business, let alone a business with a restricted clientele, can survive without advertising and visible signage. What other retail business is not permitted to freely advertise their merchandise? Including images of healthy, happy consumers is an effective means of advertising products ranging from clothing to cosmetics to cars to prescription medications. Is it any surprise that such images would appeal to patients who want to appear and feel attractive and well?
Medical marijuana patients are regular people who happen to be sick and who deserve to feel better. I have customers with intractable pain, MS, Crohn’s disease, cancer. Every one of them has a sense of humor, exercises to the extent that they are able, and has interests, hobbies and projects they look forward to completing. In other words, they’re regular people who use cannabis to treat medically recognized illnesses. It’s illogical to suggest that patients will be attracted to my business without advertising or explicit signs. No business can succeed while hiding from its target market and no other business in town is held to such an impracticable standard.
Thirdly, one of the Trustees recently repeated an apocryphal story about someone leaving my facility and lighting up a joint as he entered his vehicle. For the record, and unlike many other MMCs, The Bud Depot does not sell pre-rolled joints. Every bag containing cannabis is heat-sealed before it leaves the premises. Not only that, every patient is fully aware that the penalties for using marijuana in public include the immediate revocation of his or her card, and few would be foolish enough to risk losing their legal access to cannabis by engaging in illegal behavior. This story was related to me by a concerned mother several days ago and I debunked it then. My budtender smokes cigarettes, and it is more than likely that the “joint” was actually a cigarette. Under no circumstances ought elected officials to repeat unsubstantiated rumors in a public meeting, since what they say carries the weight of authority. For this reason I ask that in future discussions both sides take care not to repeat rumors or hearsay, or tolerate the repetition of such.
The Bud Depot