Medical Cannabis Support Needs to Continue Alongside Recreational Legalization

By Brian Grimmer, Washington State cannabis activist

There is a disturbing discussion occurring among cannabis legalization advocates: Is it time to abandon medical cannabis advocacy in favor of focusing on outright legalization? As a patient and cannabis advocate, I resoundingly say “NO!” – do not abandon the patients. medical-marijuana-symbolIt is the most effective avenue the cannabis movement has within its arsenal to win the “hearts and minds” of those who oppose cannabis law reform.

Two states in the country now allow for the recreational use of cannabis in addition to medicinal use. In these states, plus the 16 other states and D.C., where medical cannabis is permissible, the path to legalization has been blazed (pun intended) by successful medical cannabis campaigns. The secondary success of medical cannabis, beyond the compassionate treatment of those in need, lies in the fact that the prevalence of medical use in the communities where such use is acceptable has been successful in softening the overall attitudes towards cannabis within these communities.

Thanks to communities like Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, Oakland, and even little Ellensburg, Washington, who have legislated ordinances favorable to medical cannabis, residents within those communities become accustomed to seeing cannabis as a part of the community. As these people see life continuing as before, they realize that the propaganda against cannabis is a lot of hype, not reality. This realization is a large part of the battle in gaining the support of the public.

More importantly, however, is the fact that our work as medical cannabis advocates is far from complete. There are patients in the 32 remaining states and territories of the United States who lack access to favorable medical cannabis laws in their state of residence. Looking at the Drug War as exactly that, a war, I look back to World War Two. On 4 January 1945, General ‘Blood and Guts’ Patton confided in his diary, “We can still lose the war”. Like the feds, the Germans were striking on multiple fronts simultaneously and causing the allies significant hardship and casualties.

We too are suffering losses in our war. Some victims such as Chris Williams, Mark Emery, and Aaron Sandusky are being held as prisoners of war. These POWs are lost to us temporarily until their sentences are completed. Other POWs, such as John Knock, Paul Free, and Larry Duke, to name but a few, are serving life for non-violent marijuana crimes. In compensation for other, more permanent losses, such as Ric Smith, Richard Flor, and Peter McWilliams, we have medical cannabis, the living legacy to remember them by; the very thing they fought for so valiantly while they were among us.

America’s Drug Czar has vowed to make life difficult for those who chose to sell cannabis in Colorado and Washington. In all the states where the people have enacted medical cannabis, the opposition works to repeal the will of the people. The legalization movement has gained strength in recent years, as proven by the recent ballot success stories. In the face of the victories in Washington and Colorado, the defeat of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act in Oregon, a rather green state in comparison to most others, is evidence that outright legalization is not a sure thing just yet. Now is not the time to abandon medical cannabis advocacy.

8 comments

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    • Rudy Obermeier on June 24, 2016 at 7:59 pm
    • Reply

    Would like to join the ones who are pro Marijuana! How do I contact those who represent this herb?

  1. We must continue to support patients across the nation!

    • JOhn on March 1, 2013 at 11:46 pm
    • Reply

    Americans deserve to have a 100% organic alternative to addictive substances!
    Either for recreation to smoke or for medication as oils.

    What they fear is long hair bong humping bums who wander around looking for free smoke and then pass-out on the street.
    REGULATE IT, DON’T PROSECUTE IT
    Not one State has made any progress to allow even simple possession on private property.
    That MUST BE the first baby step the FEDS need to yield to us.
    AS every state is still arresting people for MJ nothing on the state level can protect US from the feds
    SO if we cant achieve legal possession on our own property, then any other argument is void.
    and we will continue as we have done the last 40 years under the prohibition.

    But Why are they so bent on wasting $$ fighting a WAR on a harmless herb?
    almost 700 homes were kicked in last year by mistake, a third of them resulted in someone getting shot and half the time it was the homeowner who died or they got locked up for life IT MUST END.

    The availability of imported commercial grade MJ is strong and never will end until the cash dollars stop flowing south. When that happens America will improve if only from the dollars that will stay in the US.

  2. In the future medical marijuana will be by prescription only and it will be a patented. Smokable plant matter will never be considered as actual medicine by the Western world. Legalizing marijuana, even if it is possession of small amounts, is the only way to ensure that patients will have access to smokable plant matter. Most people understand this subtle reality.

    • Karen S. on February 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm
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    I’ve heard that although cannabis is “legal” in Washington state, there is no where to buy it at. No dispensaries or anything. You are allowed up to an ounce but where you get it from is your problem. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but if marijuana is “legal” doesn’t that mean there are dispensaries set up and ways for the state to collect the tax money?

    • Lorrie on February 21, 2013 at 6:59 pm
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    We should not give up on any level a true activist knows the more we fight on either issue the better off we are. The more victories we obtain no matter if it is just for Cannabis patients or all out legalization a win for us is a win for the patients that cant speak for themselves. This medication will be available keep the education and information coming. That is how we win EDUCATE OTHERS SHARE INFO AND WE WILL DO THIS!

    • David James on February 20, 2013 at 8:20 pm
    • Reply

    The focus on the medicinal use of cannabis has, indeed, opened the eyes of many who had believed the lies told by government. One strong way we could meld the medicinal with the recreational is to focus on the fact that cannabis is a medicinal herb, not a “medicine”needing approval from the FDA. We should be able to purchase our cannabis from a local herbalist. When we fall into their trap and call it a medicine, we are dancing with the Emperor and he will most assuredly stomp on our toes. Let’s fight for an honest definition of cannabis and all of us can fit under that umbrella.

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