Pubdate: Wed, 30 Jun 2010
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2010 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Gerald Turetsky
Note: Gerald Turetsky is chairman of the Manhattan-based Respect For 
Law Alliance Inc.'s committee on civil and criminal justice.
Bookmark: (Opinion)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Bills in the state Senate and Assembly to legalize medical marijuana
are set for a major, last-minute push. If they are passed, New Yorkers
are in for serious financial and health problems. Common sense
dictates before the Legislature moves forward with such a high-risk
program, thorough hearings must be held.

Marijuana is not a safe drug. Over time, damage to users' lungs and
brains are measurable and significant. Marijuana is widely regarded as
a "gateway drug" that introduces children to the drug culture. Most
kids who become addicts move on to other more potent drugs. Although
most who experiment with marijuana do not become addicted, young
people who avoid it altogether tend not to become drug addicts of any

Contrary to the allure of a potential huge new source of tax revenue
from the legal sale of cannabis, legalizing medical marijuana will
shift the burden of monitoring its safe manufacture and distribution
to the state Health Department. The federal Food and Drug
Administration will not participate in testing and monitoring the
safety of an illegal drug.

The additional cost to state agencies and local police and health
departments throughout New York to regulate the distribution to
legitimate medical users will be expensive and mostly fruitless.

How do we know? By looking at the failed experiments of legalizing
marijuana in Los Angeles.

Samples of medical marijuana purchased at dispensaries in L.A. have
contained up to 1,600 times the legal limit for insecticide poison. In
New York, marijuana frequently comes laced with angel dust or small
quantities of arsenic for added kick, as well as various crop
protective poisons. Los Angeles officials say they found using medical
marijuana purchased at medical dispensaries is like sprinkling
insecticide on a salad and eating it.

Marijuana is has other health risks. THC levels vary greatly. In
recent years its potency has risen by up to 600 percent and, in some
cases, 1,500 percent. These are dangerous levels, especially for
people with weakened immune deficiency systems, heart conditions and
psychiatric illnesses.

The pending marijuana bills do not require a prescription from a
licensed physician in good standing. The Los Angeles experience is
predictable. Most prescriptions are dispensed without physical
examinations or diagnosis of a medical condition. The Senate and
Assembly bills provide little guidance or restrictions on what
constitute a valid medical condition. Medical marijuana dispensaries
will proliferate quickly. Many will be near schools, parks and
inner-city neighborhoods where illegal drug consumption is already a
problem. Count on an explosion of distribution networks that will
attract addicted drug users. They will bring myriad crime problems
with them.

Los Angeles is in the process of trying to close down hundreds of
these so-called medical dispensaries. New York is on the verge of
welcoming them with open arms.

The state Legislature is moving quietly to legalize medical marijuana
on the run, without proper study and analysis to eliminate the known
dangers. This is not prudent or wise. A rush to legalize pot without
public debate is just ignoring the dangers and hoping for the best.

Skip medical marijuana. New Yorkers will be safer, and it will save
money, too.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake