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Medical Marijuana in California

Although not in the medical field, medical topics fascinate this author. Liz urges folks with any medical issues to see their doctors.

Today is October 6, 2011, and in today's news, the U.S. Federal Government made an egregiously bad call. They sent out a memo to the California State attorneys, ordering them to shut down California's medical marijuana dispensaries!

A Useful Plant


Some Basic Background:

These dispensaries became legal under state law 15 years ago for the benefit of patients with a medical need for the herb, and a valid state-issued identification card to verify that need. The system has worked just fine all this time.

The only problems, in fact, have been with some hard-headed local law enforcement agencies refusing to acknowledge the state law, and hassling both providers and patients. Illegal raids have taken place many times. I shudder to think of the amount of taxpayer dollars that have been wasted on this pointless persecution and prosecution.

Mind you, I'm not referring to the renegade black-market growers with large-scale, illegal operations hiding in the woods on public lands. That's a whole other side of the issue: one that would disappear overnight with Federal-level legalization.

I'm talking strictly about legalized medical dispensaries, operating under strict guidelines. You are not even allowed in the door of such shops without having your state ID card to show.

California is a very large state, covering 163,707 square miles, of which 155,973 is land; the rest is water. It is the third largest of all the states. Its population is 37,253,956 souls. of which 27,754,197 are over the age of 18, and legally eligible for a state ID card for medical marijuana.

Who, Exactly, Is Eligible?--The Laws Enacted:

According to the original law, commonly known as Prop. 215, making medical marijuana legal for California residents, I quote in part from the text of that bill:

SECTION 1. Section 11362.5 is added to the Health and Safety Code, reads:

11362.5. (a) This section shall be known and may be cited as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

(b)(1) The people of the State of California hereby find and declare that the purposes of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 are as follows:

To ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person's health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.

As with any other piece of legislation, it goes on and on with all sorts of disclaimers to the effect that qualified persons shall not be hassled by law enforcement, nor does the bill condone or provide for recreational use, etc., etc.

A Supplemental Bill

As time went on, Prop. 215 was found to be flawed, and an addendum with clarifications was added. This was State Bill 420 (SB 420). It reads, in part:

SB 420

SECTION 1. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(1) On November 6, 1996, the people of the State of California enacted the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (hereafter the act), codified in Section 11362.5 of the Health and Safety Code, in order to allow seriously ill residents of the state, who have the oral or written approval or recommendation of a physician, to use marijuana for medical purposes without fear of criminal liability under Sections 11357 and 11358 of the Health and Safety Code.

(2) However, reports from across the state have revealed problems and uncertainties in the act that have impeded the ability of law enforcement officers to enforce its provisions as the voters intended and, therefore, have prevented qualified patients and designated primary caregivers from obtaining the protections afforded by the act.

There Have Been Some Problems

Yes, it is true--problems have arisen. But, we live in a vast society; an amalgam of people of widely diverse cultures; races, socio-economic status; varied upbringings and expectations. Problems are inevitable--they happen in all areas of life. The medical use of marijuana as a legitimate, natural, herbal remedy has no exclusivity to "problems." It is merely the current scapegoat.

In point of fact, many of the so-called problems occurring around this herb would not exist at all, were it not for the federal government's stubborn refusal to validate and legalize its medical use--valid medicinal use--of which the government itself knows full well.

The government, in fact, has run its own research program for decades, and has provided medicinal grade herb to a group of selected patients, for whom standard pain medication is no longer needed, and these patients function fully in society without any of the dangerous side-effects of our modern synthetic drugs. Caught in its contradiction of propaganda vs. research, they are phasing out the program so they can continue their lies.

Cannabis, to give it its scientific name, has been known to have many benefits since as far back as the 1800's. One ailment that responds well is epilepsy. There are countless others. The government knows this. There are those who will point to abuse of the system; claim harm to underage users obtaining it illegally and those scamming the system to get a supply for recreational uses rather than medical ones. To them, I say, "And your point is....?" The exact same arguments can be made against legal prescription drugs, tobacco products and liquor, and have been.

Nothing has changed--kids still manage to get hold of alcohol and tobacco; many of them sneak into their parents' prescripton drugs, and still others have gotten sick or died from fooling around with legal over-the-counter drugs. Some of those are truly dangerous, and can be used for other nefarious and non-medical purposes, hence the fairly recent implementation of laws requiring some of them to be locked up behind the pharmacy counter.

Lies, Lies, and More Lies!

The propaganda machine went into high gear just before WWII, and Hollywood was called upon to produce movies putting Marijuana into a bad light. "Reefer Madness" was one such film.

Then, with our entry into the war, the government did an abrut about-face, and began a campaign of "Hemp for Victory," authorizing the massive planting of tracts of hemp to be made into fibers for everything from clothing to ropes 'for the war effort.'

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As soon as the war was over, however, they again reversed themselves and resumed the prosecution/persecution that continues to this day.

Why? I have a very good idea why--but the paper trail to prove it is going to be very well under cover. It is, of course, our modern industrial-pharmaceutical complex. It is not good business for the drug companies, if the populace has freely available and easily-grown natural remedies at their disposal. Make no mistake--our congress is firmly in the pockets of the drug lobby, as well as the oil lobby, the insurance lobby, the... ... you get the idea.

Re-authorizing the growing of hemp would introduce many thousands of new jobs in the textile and other industries. It certainly makes more sense than the current idiocy of paying farmers subsidies for letting land lie fallow.

Legalizing medical Cannabis would eliminate the need for black-market operations, and that activity would end on its own, just as happened with the repeal of the Volstead Act (18th amendment to the constitution; 1917-18) otherwise known as "prohibition." The repeal of the 18th amendment was the 21st amendment, coming in February of 1933.

The Truth About Cannabis

A conservative estimate of the veracity of so-called "facts" presented about Cannabis by and on behalf of the government ranks below 1%. That means 99% of what we are told is untrue!

  • Fact: Cannabis is non-toxic.
  • Fact: It does not cause erratic, violent behavior--rather the opposite--it has a mellowing effect.
  • Fact: No one has ever died from either smoking or ingesting Cannabis alone. According to FDA information!
  • Fact: All deaths supposedly involving this herb were found to be in conjunction with other substances, including alcohol.
  • Fact: Cannabis is NOT addictive.
  • Fact: Billions of dollars are wasted annually on trying to eliminate this useful medicine.
  • Fact: Hemp and Cannabis are close cousins, but not the same thing. You cannot get "high" on hemp (hemp being a useful plant in its own right).


Failure of Prohibition, Part the Second

Most of us are familiar with the saying, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Our government is guilty of this very failure in spades.

The first time prohibition was tried was back in 1918 when the Volstead Act attempted to outlaw alcohol. Massive expenditures of money, time, manpower and energy were wasted in failed attempts to enforce this law.

The end result was counter-productive in the extreme; it caused the very lawlessness for which that era was known. The Mafia grew from an inconsequential minor nuisance to a major player and controlling influence in politics and beyond. Corruption ran rampant. Gangsterism blossomed. When it was finally repealed, the lawlessness and gangster activity slowed almost to a halt.

Now, we are seeing a repetition of these problems. Marijuana is not to blame; its prohibition is. Again, massive amounts of money are being wasted attempting to prevent the growth and distribution of this beneficial crop.

It is the law itself that has made apparent and alleged criminals out of people who need this herbal medicine, just as the first prohibition made criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens. It is legal in just 16 states, (and, ironically, Washington D.C.), as a medicinal product.

While on the one hand the Feds sit bemoaning the 'deficit,' and threatening massive cuts to essential programs, on the other hand, huge amounts of money, sufficient to make a real difference, are still being wasted on senseless prosecution of Cannabis. Ironically, legalization at the national level would bring in massive amounts of cash in taxes!

Further Reading

The New Problem Caused for California

With this new edict from the Feds, California now loses hundreds of thousands of tax revenue collected from sales at the dispensaries. California's economy is in a very precarious position already, (along with the rest of the country), but California is among the hardest hit.

Were the crop to be legalized instead, at the Federal level, the hemorrhaging of money on futile law enforcement could cease, and tax revenue plus licensing fees could be realized. California will also now lose out on those fees.

Legalization could, at least in fair measure, begin to help the economy climb out of the seemingly bottomless pit into which it has fallen.


Since this article was originally written, California voters have passed a new law, legalizing recreational marijuana for those over the age of 18. This law went into effect in January of 2018.

Of our 50 states, 30 of them, or 60%, currently have legalized the herb in some form, whether medicinally, recreationally, or both.

Unfortunately, this has not made much difference to the Feds, and in fact, "#45" has threatened to come down even harder on the states that do have such laws in place.

The jury, then, is still awaiting the final outcome.

© 2011 Liz Elias


Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 19, 2011:

Hello, Wesman Todd Shaw--thank you so much for stopping by and adding that bit of wisdom. You are so is nothing more than a modern-day witch hunt!

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on October 19, 2011:

Hemp's the most versatile and usable plant on Earth - so it's logical that corporate fascist America doesn't want people to be able to grow and use something that threatens the profits of so very many corporations.

It's nothing new - just a modern day witch hunt, riding through.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 19, 2011:

Hello, Slezak--

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your insight. I agree with you, and can offer nothing more but "Amen!"

slezak on October 19, 2011:

When will people stop believing propaganda put out by a government that wants only to control us, not to do what is best for us? Marijuana is no better and no worse than a drink of wine or a beer. Used too much is not a good thing. Are they going to start regulating the use of Big Mac's next? For crying out loud, we are ADULTS with minds to make our own choices!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 16, 2011:

Hi, Nell--

That is part of the problem, yes, but the other part is that it has been singled out as a 'scapegoat,' when in fact, there is far more abuse of more dangerous, but legal substances, from alcohol to prescription drugs.

Marijuana is safer than either, so why is it being singled out? I think it's a political distraction tactic, pure and simple...

Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

Nell Rose from England on October 16, 2011:

Hi, in England it has always been illegal. I think the problem is that marijuana arrived in the wrong way around, in other words if it hadn't been used by people as a drug, like coke and heroin then it would have been seen to be the plant that was really useful, if it helps someone and they take it properly, then how on earth can it be wrong? great hub, and really interesting, cheers nell

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 14, 2011:

Hello, truthhope,

Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment. You are correct...there is such a thing as "State's Rights," and the Feds are trampling all over them!

I applaud the current wave of spreading protests! It's about time!

truthhope from Rapid City, SD on October 14, 2011:

I enjoyed your article very much so. It touched on a lot of very good points, i especially enjoyed how you brought up "hemp for victory" which was actually the first law enacted by our government. The fact is that it is a state law and according to our constitution, the states have power over the federal and the people have power over the states. Sadly most people don't exercise these rights and they have all but almost disappeared.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 13, 2011:

Hello, jrport--

Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm pleased to have been able to provide some valuable information for you.

I agree, the drug companies' tactics are purely despicable. They probably want to keep doling out things with multiple side effects, so there will be yet another drug they can sell us to counter the effects of the first. Disgusting! When I see ads for medications on TV, and hear the list of possible side-effects, my reaction tends to be, "No, thanks. I'll just keep the original problem!"

Thank you again for your thoughtful comment.

jrport on October 13, 2011:

This was an informative article for me, because I am unfamiliar with the assets of this herb. I have not read anything that is as explanatory regarding the use of and the reason why drug companies want to prohibit it's use. In the past year, I have been able to decrease the use of blood pressure medication because of increased excercise and a better diet. I am disgusted with the drug companies that produce drugs that have side effects that actually cause lung cancer and other horible deseases. I have never taken this herb, but for others if it may be a valuable solution. Thanks!


Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 11, 2011:

Hello, festersporling1--

Thank you very much for adding your comment. You are so very correct in your comparison to alcohol.

Also, you don't need to smoke pot to gain the benefits; it can be vaporized, and inhaled minus any smoke, and it can be made into countless types of edibles and administered via foods.

Daniel Christian from Los Angeles, CA on October 11, 2011:

I am a non-pot smoker, but I have never had a problem with it. I have never observed it to affect people to even the level of alcohol drunkenness.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 09, 2011:

Hello, homesteadpatch!

Thank you for stopping by to read, and for contributing that additional intelligent information --you are absolutely correct on all counts-- especially the last point about getting everyone off their apathetic backsides!

homesteadpatch from Michigan on October 09, 2011:

Two men were at the heart of outlawing what was once literally a "weed", William Randolph Hearst and Lammont Dupont. Both had a vested interest preventing Hemp from being used as a paper product, or as fabric, among other things (which it had been throughout history). Interestingly, in the American Colonies it was illegal to not grow Hemp. It appears Marijuana was the scapegoat to ensure that Hemp would never pose a problem to their respective empires. It is also interesting to note the wealth of one of them men responsible for outlawing Marijuana and it's harmless cousin, Hemp, William Randolph Hearst. This man was so incredibly wealthy he had a 12th century Monastery (St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church) disassembled and shipped to the states to be rebuilt. Review of the Hemp and Marijuana laws, and repeal is something that is inevitable. But, it's up to the people, and most of us are too busy watching TV. Still, I'm confident.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 08, 2011:

Hi, Dolores Monet

You are partially correct--you can grow it in some states--if there is a medical/compassionate use law in place, you can have your own grow.

However, growing it outdoors opens you up to a whole other hazard--that of being robbed of your medicine by prowling crooks looking for a fast buck. --and if it were to be legalized, that aspect would pretty much disappear.

And yes, between the booze, oil and big pharmaceutical's going to be an uphill battle all the way.

Thanks very much for your input--you make excellent points about other, actually dangerous plants that can be grown with impunity. ;-)

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on October 08, 2011:

One aspect of this that I find weird is that you can't grow marijuana in your back yard, but you can, by law, grow some pretty toxic plants, things that would kill you if eaten. I imagine the booze lobby fights legalization in any form as well. You've made some good points.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 08, 2011:

Hello, Hillbilly Zen--nice to "meet" you.

Thank you very much for your kind comment and the follow!

Hillbilly Zen from Kentucky on October 08, 2011:

MsLizzy, although I get the reference, you are obviously not "Dzy"! Your detailed research is apparent, and your article is extremely well written. I'll definitely be following your Hubs.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 07, 2011:

Hello, RealHousewife--

Thank you so very much for your high praise! I did do a lot of research on this to make sure I was not writing off the top of my head. ... :-)

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on October 07, 2011:

Very well written! I applaud your efforts here.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 07, 2011:

Hello, stclairjack, Thank you for stopping by. Let me address your points one by one.

Actually, the prosecution of "weed" is COSTING billions of dollars, not increasing revenue. If they were to legalize, the money they are wasting would stop, there would be a very significant rise in revenue, because it would be taxed. That money could then replace the funds that have been continually chopped from our schools, resulting in the "dumbing-down" of the population.

The law enforcement jobs "at stake" would not be lost--simply re-purposed. They can easily be turned into beat cops, traffic cops, detectives and so forth. As for special task forces, they can also be re-assigned to murder cases, kidnap cases, cold cases, etc.

Other jobs would be created within the industry itself in dispensaries, grow operations, and so forth, while others would be created in the taxation processing. It would not be a loss of jobs, but a re-training into new fields, just as currently happens with people suffering a trauma rendering them incabable of continuing their former occupation.

The real crime is in incarcerating people for a virtually harmless substance. Don't kid yourself that it is the drug companies and these law enforcement agencies creating these slippery-slope arguments which you have quoted.

As far as attorneys, I have little sympathy for them. Their "services" are overpriced far above the reach of the common man, (you get all the justice you can afford to buy), and they are responsible in large measure for the convoluted, impossible-to-understand reams-long documents required for everything from new laws to purchase of a house. (You've perhaps heard the old joke of why sharks don't attack lawyers? "Professional courtesy." Yes, it's a snide comment, but it illustrates a point.)

Any other jobs lost could easily be replaced by other jobs in the hundreds of thousands, IF we would enact other legislation forcing the return of the jobs that have been lost to overseas "outsourcing."

The real problem here is that our elected officials, put in office to represent us, instead represent only their own selfish interests.

Stclairjack from middle of freekin nowhere,... the sticks on October 07, 2011:

marijuana will never be leglized because the justice system in this country is entirely too financialy dependant on the prosecution of it.

there are too many law enforcement jobs at stake,... if the truth were told,... he vast majority of drug busts are weed busts, the vast number of drug charges are weed charges,... the vast number of our increasingly incarsarated culture are behid bars for nothing more than possesion of this gardem variety weed.

if we legaized marijuana, and released those curently jailed for it,... half of our nations correctional officers would be laid off,... half of our special drug task force officeres would be out of work,.. and our special drug court prosecutors would be job hunting,... and deffence atournys who specialize in deffending this would have to start chasing amulances again,...

no,.... their not going to legalize pot any time soon.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 07, 2011:

Thanks, Cobra--

That's a great idea--whatever happened to term limits, anyway?

Cobra on October 07, 2011:

I agree with you 100%. Maybe what we should make illegal is career politicians, not medical marijuana.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 07, 2011:

Excellent point, MaryJane. Putting this under control of some mega-corporation like tobacco is would be a bad move for so many reasons. For one, we don't need the addition of more top-heavy corporations whose only true interest is the lining of their own pockets and the degradation of the product to serve exorbitant profit margins.

MaryJane on October 07, 2011:

Nice hub! Now we have one more thing to protest in the 'occupation' happening across the country. For the Feds to do this, they are shooting themselves in the foot. Not only does the state lose the tax dollars, but the IRS will be cut short as well. It would not surprise me if this was just a step towards making this industry corporate controlled like tobacco.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 07, 2011:

Hello, GoGreenTips--

Thanks for your comment and insight. You are quite correct...there are many industries that stand to reap--rather continue to reap--obscene profits by blocking legalization of cannabis and hemp.

Greg Johnson from Indianapolis on October 07, 2011:

I agree with your observation that the big pharmaceutical companies prevent the use of the drug. But it's not only drug companies that have a stake,Hemp can be used for oil, clothing and numerous other uses. The propaganda against hemp goes back along way and has more to do than just medicinal marijuana.

Good article!

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