Marijuana Doctor Will Vote to Put Himself Out of Business

You have to love hypocrisy.

It’s not one of the seven deadlies, but the parading of fake virtue is surely the funniest of all political sins.

A recent example of the genre comes courtesy of the California Cannabis Association, a coalition of medical marijuana advocates.

In coming out in opposition to Proposition 19, the Cannabis Coalition, which includes owners of pot dispensaries, expressed its fear that some patients would be unable to obtain marijuana under the proposed law.

The association’s stated reasoning goes like this: Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot, allows local governments to maintain the status quo if they so desire. That is, they can forbid sales and purchase of marijuana within their borders.

In the association’s worried view, a local prohibition might be broadened to include the currently allowed legal medical marijuana, leaving patients with two options — travel to pot-friendly jurisdictions or grow the weed in the back yard.

This concern does sound noble. But the less noble reality is that Proposition 19, if it ever were to become accepted law, would likely run current medical pot dispensaries out of their often shady business. Who would bother with prescriptions when you can buy the drug over the counter?.

Hypocritic Rule #1: When you imply it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.

Under Proposition 19, the blurry line between the medical and the recreational marijuana user disappears overnight. Legitimate business interests would move in, displacing the ragtag troupe of entrepreneurs who supply marijuana to thousands, if not millions, of Californians, a large number of whom are faking afflictions to money-hungry doctors.

Instead of the Hippocratic oath, this medical marijuana group is taking the Hypocritic Oath.

What do I know about the medical marijuana demimonde?

Not much, to be honest.

For guidance, I turned to someone who does.

Dr. Bob Blake, a former chief of staff at Pomerado Hospital, heads Medical Marijuana of San Diego with offices in Mira Mesa and Orange County.

A year or so ago, I wrote a column about Blake, a respected E.R. doctor who doesn’t fit the stereotype of the slime-bucket doc who writes a script for anyone with a tale of woe and a hundred bucks.

Blake has lost prospective patients, he says, because he insists upon reviewing medical records. He examines his patients, he said, relying on his 30-year experience in the E.R. to recommend a controversial form of pain relief.

In the strange world of medical pot, I’d guess the Leucadia resident is one of the good guys. (I sure hope so. A prominent link to my column is on his website.)

If anyone should be concerned about truly sick patients’ access to marijuana, I figure, it’s Blake.

So I called him up and asked him how he intended to vote on Proposition 19.

“I’m voting yes,” he said. “Marijuana prohibition has not worked.”

He launched into a lecture, starting with the history of marijuana criminalization. He brought up the ginned-up anti-marijuana legislation in the 1935 Congress, the Capitol version of the lurid film “Reefer Madness.”

Blake asserted that marijuana, unlike alcohol and tobacco, has not been proven harmful to major organs like the heart, brain and liver.

The physician scoffed at the widely repeated fear that legalization would make the roads dramatically less safe.

The drug’s effects wear off several hours after smoking or eating it, Blake said. A driver is either impaired or not. Standard sobriety tests, not irrelevant urine or blood tests, reflect a person’s fitness to drive, he said.

The difference between cannabis and alcohol users is that drinkers often don’t believe they’re impaired, he said. If anything, marijuana users are over-aware, a state of mind that promotes caution, not the risk-taking that leads to accidents that wind up in the E.R.

Finally, Blake dropped down to the crucial bottom line: The billions of dollars in sales tax that could be claimed by the state.

Hold on, I said. You’ve worked hard to build up your practice. What if marijuana is legally available to anyone over 21? What will that do to your bottom line?

“It will end my business,” he predicted. “But I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Even if it passes, Proposition 19 may never go into effect, Blake warned.

The U.S. Attorney General’s Office is winking at medical marijuana, but who’s to say the feds will prove so pliable when it comes to California morphing into Amsterdam?

Medical marijuana has been difficult enough to implement. Decriminalization for adults? It could be a nightmare to nowhere.

But like it or not, Blake argued, marijuana is as deep in the American grain as moonshine.

No matter how messy 19 may prove to be in the courts, millions of Californians appear ready to vote for their personal freedom.

And if Proposition 19, currently neck-and-neck in the polls, falls short?

The medical pot industry — and criminal drug dealers — can breathe a sigh of relief.

– Article from The San Diego Union-Tribune.