Profits Over People (With a Little Help from Their Friends)

Florida is the latest state to have on its November 4 ballot an initiative that would legalize medicinal cannabis sativa (aka marijuana) for people with debilitating medical conditions such as cancer and cerebral palsy. Florida has already legalized the use of Charlotte’s Web for children suffering from epilepsy. A recent poll believes 62% of Floridians will vote for Amendment 2, a slim margin over the 60% needed for passage. [Editor’s note: this piece was written before the election; in the event, the measure failed, with only 57% voting in favor. Advocates vow to continue the struggle.]

Hopefully Florida will not follow corrupt Rhode Island’s path through this process. Outrageous falsehoods, such as the Florida Police Chiefs Association claim that the legalization of cannabis sativa in Colorado led to an increase in the number of automobile accidents and ER visits, already plague the debate of the topic. Modern medical research has discovered beneficial uses for marijuana in treating or alleviating pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions, as found by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine in March 1999.

In little Rhody, a person simply requires their doctor to not deny them their legally approved health care and write a prescription if they meet the medical requirements. This is just like any other prescription a doctor would write, except no patent or tier is necessary for a plant. A person receives their medicinal marijuana card from the Department of Health (HIPPA protected), and they choose two caregivers once a regressive $250 annual tax is paid to the state. Caregivers can be individuals or dispensaries that possess cannabis sativa.

Of course Rhode Island has chosen to follow the neoliberal path of profit over health care by backing corporations over caregivers. Rhode Island first passed the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act in 2009. The potential for selective law enforcement and doctors’ reluctance to sign paperwork, made the acquisition of one’s medication difficult for many patients. With the “assistance” of former Governor Carcieri and leading Democrats it took years for the dispensary approval process, with just three dispensaries allowed to monopolize the market.

Rhode Island desires to have its residents purchase marijuana from dispensaries rather than from more cost effective caregivers, evident through the new changes to the medicinal marijuana law. To this end, House Bill H7610 was recently introduced as a favor to the Attorney General’s office and its law enforcement based working group. It was they—not medical professionals—that pushed for this measure, in effect making a major decision about the health care and well-being of RI residents. Using that logic, maybe local community health centers should act as law enforcement? Governor Chafee willingly signed this law into effect in early July. Although the Governor fooled people into thinking he was behind legalization, when push came to shove, per usual he was the Missing Linc.

“We believe this is a good compromise that continues to protect the patients’ privacy while addressing the illegal cooperative grows across the state,” said Amy Kempe, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.

If by compromise you mean compromising the health care of Rhode Island residents, then this statement is correct. More cannabis sativa plants, not less, are needed to meet the medically approved needs of patients including the dispensing of oils and tinctures for patients’ care. There is an accumulation of data that supports this.

Caregivers provide marijuana to patients for free; the corporations who own the three dispensaries in Rhode Island charge money for their product.

After conducting numerous illegal raids terrorizing disabled individuals, law enforcement once again hides behind “safety” as a reason to target medicinal marijuana. If Rhode Island law enforcement truly wants its residents “safe”, they should target their own corrupt officers and the pharmaceutical industrial complex and let residents breathe and live. Rather than providing health care to individuals, law enforcement actively works to trigger the worsening of their medical conditions.

Further complicating one’s medical treatment under current medical marijuana guidelines is that if a legally prescribed cannabis sativa patient is in a correctional or health care facility, or is out of state, they are denied their health care treatment due to state and federal law and the institutional policy and procedures. So a cancer patient unjustly arrested, a disabled individual living at an assisted living facility, or an individual wishing to travel out of state are denied their health care.

The real issue at the heart of medicinal marijuana is that by making this product illegal, the Department of Justice is able to criminalize human beings while profiting off its illegality. Law enforcement jobs and side projects such as the building of prisons depend upon the criminalization of people. Billions are spent annually on the selective enforcement of cannabis sativa. The same individuals who enforce or are against the legalization of drugs are more than happy to purchase their cancer sticks from the tobacco industry and purchase poison in the form of alcohol from their legal drug dealers.

I hope that Amendment 2 passes in Florida so that residents are able to receive adequate health care. Even better than medicinal marijuana would be for the Department of Justice to legalize our medicine and all illegal drugs, stop criminalizing human beings and place the Drug Enforcement Agency out of business!!!!

For more information on the status of medicinal marijuana in your state please visit the Marijuana Policy Project site.


Chris Murphy

One thought on “Profits Over People (With a Little Help from Their Friends)

  1. I am in total agreement with your position on medical cannabis but you have made a couple of factual errors. I have been a caregiver for my wife in R.I. for the past few years. My wife Ellen and I have also provided cannabis to about 20 patients over the past 4 years. My wife and I also testified on numerous occasions in support of the political movement to legalize medical marijuana. You mention that in R.I. MDs can write prescriptions for patients to utilize this medicine. Docs do not write conventional scripts they simply sign a form indicating that med cannabis might be effective in treating a specific condition in a specific patient. You also mention that caregivers provide medicine free. While we do this in some cases for most we charge the cost of raising the plant inside which is approximately 150 dollars per ounce this in contrast to the centers which charge at least 300 dollars per ounce and usually more. IN the upcoming year we will be approaching the legislature to put in place the oversight board which was stipulated in the law to insure that non-profits are just that. Most caregivers that I have contact with charge a fee. Our hope is that if full legalization takes place some of the tax $$ might be used to subsidize those disabled patients who cannot afford this medicine and these patients number in the hundreds. I hope this info is helpful. Providing excellent quality organic medicine to patients is perhaps the most rewarding activity I have ever been involved in not to mention that this plant saved my wife’s life.

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