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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 1, 2010

Time to consider legalizing marijuana

By David Shapiro

I don't know what it is with Maui legislators and marijuana, but in the past, it was state Rep. Joe Bertram III who tried to have the state all but roll joints for the pot smokers, and this year it's state Sen. J. Kalani English.

English wants the state to go beyond legalizing marijuana for medical use, which we already do along with 13 other states, and create licensed dispensaries to actually distribute medical marijuana.

I have no problem with the state allowing the medical use of marijuana for those with serious illnesses who believe pot brings them relief I've tried it myself but there's a difference between allowing its use and promoting its use as English's legislation would do.

His dispensaries would give marijuana exalted medical status over more established drugs by allowing pakalolo to bypass our rigorous national system for testing drugs and regulating their use according to accepted medical standards.

Without further research, marijuana is more folk remedy than proven medicine. There's no listing of what ailments marijuana has been proven to effectively treat, no dosing schedules, no standards of purity, no understanding of side effects.

What are they going to do, dispense Kona Gold for pain, Maui Wowee for nausea and Puna Butter for seizures?

The issue affects relatively few people, and they're capable of seeing to their own needs by growing their pot themselves as provided by the state law or acquiring it on the market without much risk since neither local nor federal authorities are now prosecuting medical marijuana possession.

There's no need for a state marijuana bureaucracy to hold the roach clips. Let's worry first about getting Tutu her heart medication.

The proposed dispensaries could run afoul of federal law if a future administration drops the tolerant Obama view.

Prescriptions for medical marijuana aren't hard to come by, as many doctors see it as relatively harmless even if they doubt its medicinal value. With state-licensed dispensaries, pot could become the new aspirin take two reefers and call me in the morning.

In such an environment, it doesn't take a big stretch of the imagination to see much of the "medical" marijuana being diverted to recreational use.

So I say the same thing I said last year: Instead of forever straining to put a fig leaf of medical respectability on weed, let's honestly discuss legalizing it, regulating it and taxing it for what it is a primarily social intoxicant like alcohol.