By Mark Goldfogel
What do you get when you close medical marijuana centers? A thriving, untaxed, unregulated and illegal drug market.
In Colorado, users are still patients, so cops have nothing to enforce. Drug dealers (you know, the ones on the corner who don’t care who they sell to) are ready and willing to fill the gap made by the decision of the U.S. Attorney’s office to shut down 23 dispensaries in the state.
But this isn’t only about access to cannabis.
The result of these closings is that harder – and more dangerous – drugs are encouraged because the black market has no need to only sell the low-margin weed. Why not up-sell to the dangerous stuff and really get you hooked?
This is especially true because these very same medical marijuana centers have destroyed the margins for the drug dealers, so why not encourage the harder, more profitable stuff in addition to selling them weed?
This is the chilling effect that happens when federal agencies close down licensed, tax-generating and regulation-compliant MMCs/dispensaries.
Let’s be clear about who this action really hurts. These are not drug users looking for a score and randomly walking through a door with a bud leaf on it. These are registered patients who have seen a doctor, paid their fees, registered with the state and now rely on the safe and effective use of cannabis for their medicine.
MJ Freeway, the company I co-founded, houses over 500,000 patient validation recommendations securely. Every one of us has federally incriminated ourselves because we consider cannabis enough of a medicine to submit our names to a state registry.
Why would we do this? For many the answer is simple: because the pain or nausea or other malady we face is best addressed with cannabis.
And because we don’t believe we are criminals, nor do our doctors. Why would doctors prescribe cannabis so regularly? It is statistically safer than any other pharmaceutical prescription that can be written. Nobody has ever died from an overdose of cannabis. Read that sentence again: The key word is “nobody.”
Medical marijuana centers are not the problem; they are the solution. They provide safe, reliable and controlled access to affordable medicine where you won’t find hard drugs.
Center licenses are hard to get, expensive to maintain and very easy to lose. Taxes are collected, local economies are rejuvenated, traffic deaths decline and local crime decreases.
We must also get rid of this false idea that just anyone can walk into a center and buy cannabis. They cannot. No card, no entry – not even to look.
When a dispensary system is in place and allowed to thrive, the cannabis that shows up at a high school is from dad’s medicine cabinet, not the drug dealer on the corner. And patients (remember patients?) can have relief and quality access without adding “criminal activity” to the list of worries sick people have to deal with.
The DEA finds no medical value to cannabis, but they sure do find tons of value in fighting the advancement of it. This drug war has kept us from realizing the benefits of fiber production , a relatively low-cost way to produce healing medication and fuel resource development.
Humanity has an obligation to operate from logic and not fear. Cannabis is a plant with thousands of uses, and protecting ourselves from its benefits has caused no discernible advantage over the last hundred years – in fact, quite the opposite.
A war on cannabis is, quite simply, a war on common sense.
Unfortunately, the drug dealers are banking on it – literally.
Mark Goldfogel is co-founder of MJ Freeway Software Solutions, which provides inventory, client and point-of-sale software to medical marijuana dispensaries.