The debate about medical marijuana dispensaries is ridiculous

Medical marijuana is legal and fear is rampant across Alabama.

Okay, maybe “great fear” is driving it. Any fear? A bit scared?

Anyway, the point is that we’re getting closer to the time when medical marijuana dispensaries can be up and running. It’s about time, since the state’s medical marijuana law was passed almost two years ago, and we’re still figuring out where you can and can’t get a license to sell the stuff.

These are the consequences of a state legislature as thoroughly incompetent as ours. Absurd barriers are erected where they are not needed, and important details are left for state officials to figure out.

Among the many steps required by our lawmakers is one that will allow essentially every municipality in the state to opt out of licensing medical marijuana dispensaries. That said, in city after city across Alabama, there was debate at city council meetings about whether each city would offer medical marijuana distribution licenses.

In a number of Alabama cities, particularly the largest, the issue moved quickly and there was little or no opposition.

Well, with the exception of Huntsville, where medical marijuana sales are inexplicably limited to only the city’s medical counties.

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And if you think that’s absurd, you should listen to the stuff from other cities.

As in Decatur, where a council member wants to establish a 1,000-foot buffer zone banning pharmacies from operating within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare, church or residential area. The only way to get a legal dispensary in town is to make it float.

Fairhope and Pelham, meanwhile, just went ahead and denied the licenses altogether. Fairhope councilors cited “unprecedented opposition” to the dispensaries, although the entire opposition appeared to consist of about two dozen people, led by a local doctor who compared medical marijuana to the opioid epidemic.

In Pelham, resistance was also related to medical marijuana falling into the hands of people wanting to use it for non-medical purposes. (FIGHT!) The council there passed a resolution saying it would not consider the licenses until safeguards were put in place to protect the public from recreational use.

And it’s further and further away.

Honestly, I find it difficult to wrap my head completely around this stupidity. Because that’s an exorbitant amount of stupidity. Even judging by a sweeping Alabama scale of stupidity, which has some level of ultraconservative, church-based stupidity burned in, it’s still absurd.

Take, for example, the comparison – by a DOCTOR no less – of recreational medical marijuana to the opioid epidemic that has killed millions of Americans and ruined millions more financially and personally.

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To date, not a single person has died from a marijuana overdose. And, oh yeah, the stores that sell these opioid pills — I think we call them dispensaries — operate on every other corner of every city in this state.

Has there ever been any discussion about whether a city would license CVS or Walgreens because they keep all those Oxycontin pills that keep falling into the hands of people who use them improperly?

It’s also worth noting that the medical marijuana sold in Alabama dispensaries won’t be the fun stuff — the edibles and traditional weed used for smoking or vaping. Instead, it will be pills, gels, ointments, suppositories, patches, and oils for inhalers.

And yes, I’m sure some of these are used by people who just want to get a little high, maybe to soften the day a bit. It’s probably used occasionally by teenagers.

So what?

On every corner where there is no pharmacy there is a liquor store or supermarket selling wine and beer or other alcoholic beverages. And every drop of this drug is more harmful and dangerous than marijuana.

Let’s put an end to this.

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Marijuana should have been legalized decades ago, but it remains illegal because it is a powerful tool to overwhelm black citizens and young people. Not to mention that legalization would mean a significant reduction in revenue for cities and counties as subpoenas and arrests would be drastically reduced.

There is no viable alternative reasoning. There are no medical statistics showing that marijuana is more harmful than thousands of other products that we consume regularly. There are no statistics showing that marijuana poses a greater risk to society than alcohol, opioids, or even tobacco.

All we have are thoroughly ridiculous arguments from stuffy old men who are perfectly happy gulping down a six while chasing a game, or popping down some Oxycontin pills to relieve back pain, but somehow believe that marijuana use is a gateway to an opium den and death is corpses in the street.

The reality is that these fears are ridiculous, and they are rooted in the same old, tired mantra of all backward conservative sectors.

We hate any change.