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Opinion

Relief in California over federal crackdown on medical marijuana

Community leaders from the San Diego area applaud last week's announcement of a widespread federal crackdown on sham medical marijuana dispensaries: 'We’ve heard youths often ask why marijuana is such a big deal when, after all, it is 'medicine'. '

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Softening attitudes generally precede an increase in drug use rates by about two years. As community members, this does not surprise us, as we’ve heard youths often ask why marijuana is such a big deal when, after all, it is “medicine.”

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It is important to remember that medical marijuana laws were advertised to California’s electorate as a way to serve the very sick. However, it is increasingly obvious that this isn’t playing out in practice. The average user of medical marijuana in California is a 32-year-old white male, according to a study analyzing over 3,000 medical marijuana users in the state. An overwhelming majority (88 percent) of those queried about the details of their marijuana initiation said they had tried it before the age of 19. Many users had taken other drugs in their lifetime – cocaine and methamphetamine.

These don’t sound like very ill patients. Another study from this year indicates they’re not. Of more than 1,600 medical marijuana applicants in California, very few of those who sought a recommendation had cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, or multiple sclerosis. Medical marijuana, as described recently by former Obama drug policy senior advisor Kevin Sabet, has turned into a “sad joke.”

Clearly in California we are having buyer’s remorse. Hundreds of towns have now banned dispensaries. As community groups, we are seeing and feeling the negative effects of such establishments – even though a recent RAND study concluding that closing down dispensaries has the effect of reducing crime has been discredited and taken off of RAND’s website.

We can’t thank the US attorneys enough for their action, and stand side by side with them as they put brazen dispensary owners, many of them profiting dearly off of other people’s vulnerabilities, out of business for good. As marijuana use has been increasing over the past few years, this action is long overdue.

John Redman is executive director of Californians for Drug-Free Youth (CADFY); Gabrielle Antolovich is executive director of Voices United; Aaron Byzak is president of North Coastal Prevention Coalition; Staci Anderson is chief executive officer and president of People Reaching Out. These authors are all from the San Diego area, which has been flooded with medical marijuana dispensaries.

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