In their latest desperate ploy for attention, CNN had medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta (who, in case you didn't know, still does neurosurgery in Atlanta when he's not on the air) "change his mind about pot" after studying the medical and legal implications of the War on Marijuana. Dr. Gupta even admitted that he has tried some himself in the past. What a shocking revelation! In a more sober vein, the doctor declared that he found the warnings about the effects of marijuana to be "overstated."
Since every remotely objective observer has reached the same conclusion, there is nothing to see here beyond the cachet of Gupta's medical credentials and public profile. Polling shows that barely 1/3 of the public (presumably old people) supports continued marijuana prohibition. It would appear that decriminalization at the federal level could happen in our lifetimes. And the best part about it is never again being cornered at a party by That Guy who lacks the ability to talk about anything other than legalizing pot.
While no one this side of Bill Bennett or James Dobson takes the Dangers of Marijuana horror stories seriously, I still find "medical marijuana" ballot initiatives to be a half-assed and ultimately pointless approach. Legalization advocates tend to be rationalists, people who are repulsed by the dishonesty and bullshitting inherent to the Just Say No/War on Drugs movement. For that very reason I find it particularly hard to people talk about legalization based on the medical uses of marijuana. I mean, come on. I support legalization, but let's just call it what it is: you want to smoke lots of weed and purchasing it legally would make your life easier. That's OK. Own it.
What percentage of people who have "cards" in Colorado or California (here's a great take on how it's nearly impossible to get denied when applying in LA) have a real, legitimate medical need to be prescribed marijuana? Certainly it must be dwarfed by the number who have bullshitted their way into it with the help, perhaps, of a particularly sympathetic physician – if that is even necessary. Perhaps this is a point that isn't worth making, but I don't see much difference between Bill Bennett trying to scare people with a bunch of lies about marijuana and some White Guy With Dreadlocks pretending that glaucoma is an important issue for him. These excuses and games grow tiresome. Let's just say what we mean. Conservatives love the War on Drugs because it lets them imprison black and Hispanic males, and marijuana is the volume seller of the drug trade. They hide behind their cheap "Someone think of the children!" rhetoric that fools fewer Americans by the minute. Liberals support legalization because they see the War on Drugs for what it is. And libertarian types who are single-issue fanatics about legalization usually smoke enough weed to sedate a rhino and decriminalization it would be advantageous. Cool? Let's all get comfortable in our own skin.
If you're going to make a farce out of a law, then there is no point in having the law and enforcing it haphazardly. There are no doubt some people out there who derive real benefits from Medical Marijuana laws, but for the public at large these laws are just a convenient way to get the good shit without the risk of arrest. I'm open minded to the possibility that legalization advocates are that passionate about treating glaucoma, but I have my doubts. We should stop treating the symptoms – coming up with ways to flank bad laws – and root out the useless laws at the core of this issue. Alternatively, we can continue to pretend that it makes sense to live in a country where Bacardi 151 is legal (Drink Responsibly!) and marijuana is not.