Oregon’s transition from medical to recreational marijuana

Rep Mike Nearman_thb

by Rep. Mike Nearman

How’s that going to work out for us?

It’s been 16 years since Oregonians passed Measure 67 and legalized medical marijuana. How’s that working out for us? I don’t dispute that marijuana may possibly have some value in medicine, but I’m skeptical of most medical marijuana usage because most of the medical community and the regulatory structure hasn’t come forward to push for its acceptance as medicine.

As of October of this year, there were nearly 70,000 medical marijuana card holders in the state of Oregon, a little less than 2% of the residents of the state. That makes me skeptical, too. Isn’t it amazing how a recreational drug can become so medically effective? That’s one out of every 50 people who has a card. There are 213 medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon which means that they have an average of about 330 customers each. Can they operate profitably with so few customers? Maybe they have side businesses.

I remember the arguments we were told. That grandma is dying of cancer, and she can’t swallow and so she can’t take a pain pill and, besides, she only has six months to live. I guess I wouldn’t argue with grandma, but I don’t think that many of the cardholders fit that description. Over 93% of cardholders list severe pain as a qualifying medical condition. I wonder how many can swallow?

We were told that marijuana is not addictive. We just saw two Oregon Ducks football players blow (no pun intended) a trip to the college national championship game for testing positive for marijuana. These are guys with multi-million dollar professional careers in their future, if they can just put down the bong for another couple of weekends. It happens to pro players, too. If marijuana is not addictive, then these guys are a whole new class of stupid.

My libertarian friends still bemoan the war on drugs, but I see more overt drug usage than war. In a very theoretical sense, I’m inclined to agree with them — that anyone ought to be able to do whatever they want, as long as they accept the consequences. However, practically speaking, our welfare state is far from requiring people to be responsible for their self-inflicted outcomes.

A medical marijuana card costs $200. You get a $60 discount if you are on food stamps (SNAP) and a $50 break if you are eligible for the Oregon Health Plan. That doesn’t make me feel any better.

Since we’ve pretty much outlawed cigarette smoking in just about every place within the orbit of the planet Jupiter, it’s hard to see how anyone is ever going to be able smoke a bowl – medical or recreational — even if it is legal. We’ve gotten almost to the point where the smoke is more illegal than the drug. We have the lowest workforce participation rate since they began keeping such statistics and we’ve just legalized the recreational use of a drug notorious for making its users lazy.

I can’t wait to see how that’s going to work out for us.

State Representative Mike Nearman (R-Independence) didn’t inhale. He can be reached at [email protected].