I think marijuana should be legal, period. I think people who want to buy and use marijuana, whether it be fore a medical reason or just recreation, should be able to do it. But when I look at the ballot measure proposed to legalize medical marijuana in North Dakota – read it here, it was just submitted to the Secretary of State this week to be approved for circulation – I see problems.
The measure puts so many regulations on who can use marijuana, who can sell marijuana, and under what circumstances that I’m not sure it’s all that much of an improvement over the status quo. And I think Minnesota’s experience with medical marijuana bears that argument out.
Medical marijuana became legal in that state earlier this year but it is so expensive and arduous to access it that sick people looking to use the drug are turning to the black market again:
The state’s Office of Medical Cannabis told the Associated Press Monday it sent a letter to 92 patients who haven’t purchased medical marijuana in 60 days seeking more information. That’s nearly one-seventh of the 662 patients registered as of last week.
Price has been a major hurdle for patients in the new medical marijuana program. Monthly costs that can quickly approach hundreds to thousands of dollars have prompted some patients to revert to buying marijuana on the black market.
The whole point of any legalization of marijuana, be it for medical reasons or in toto, is to move the commerce for the drug out of the shadows of the black market where it’s served by criminals and into the daylight. But if the legalization excessively byzantine, people may find that risking the black market is a better option.
Which is a testament not just to the demand for marijuana, but the government’s near total ineffectiveness at enforcing the prohibition of the drug.
North Dakota should learn from Minnesota. Let’s reject needlessly complicated maneuvers to kinda, sorta legalize medical marijuana and get on a with a debate about full-on legalization.