pharmaciststeve's blog

Will California legalize recreational MJ?



It is on the ballot in NOV, 2010. Law enforcement & prosecutors are livid about the idea.. How much of the state/county/city are devoted to arrest/prosecuting/jailing the non-violent "drug dealer or drug user". Those corporations that are hired to run the prisons for the state.. must be seeing there profits "going up in smoke"

Should this bill be called the judicial unemployment vote?

Some in law enforcement believes that the whole war on drugs is a waste of resources

Does anyone see the parallels between the current situation - thousands being killed on the southern US/Mexico border over rival gangs and the "civil war" that we endured for 12-14 years while this country TRIED to enforce the Liquor Prohibition?

Our society is in a state of denial over MJ.. it is literally readily available to just about anyone who looks for it.

It is estimated that this will bring over ONE BILLION to the state's coffer annually.

Instead now, our society is allowing "gangs" to control how much is sold, what the quality of the MJ is, how much it is sold for and WHO IT IS SOLD TO... and when is the last time that you heard of the IRS going after a "gang" for tax evasion?

How much violence - involving "boot-legging liquor- has the country experienced since the 21st amendment was passed?.. and how many BILLIONS/TRILLIONS has been paid in taxes to the Feds/states?

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nyrxman's picturePharmacistnyrxmanJoined: Mar, 2009
Location: Lyndhurst, NJ
Posts: 81

What is your point? You talk around it but really never say it. But I suppose we can all extract what you are trying to say from the statements you make and "references" you cite. You think recreational MJ should be legalized, right?

First of all, as far as your Web site "references" are concerned, if I wanted to take the time to search the Internet for sites on why legalizing recreational MJ is a bad thing, I bet I could come up with more than a few gems. But honestly, I've got better things to do. As a man of science, as you say you are, you should be a bit more analytical in your thinking and shame on you for believing what you read on the Internet as truth. Everyone has their opinion on this and many other controversial topics. Most sites are generally very biased towards one opinion or another. Many have a political motive. One can turn anything into a positive if you search hard enough, and but in the end you really can't rely on the "facts" because generally they are made up.

And your statement regarding law enforcement and prosecutors making money off of MJ convictions is ludicrous. There are unfortunately plenty of other criminals around to fill up our prison system. In fact, most of these minor MJ violations that are brought to court are plea bargained down and out of the judicial and jail system because our prisons are overcrowded and can't handle the load they have now. If there is a profit motive as you suggest, I assure you the people who run the prisons have nothing to worry about. MJ violations simply clog up the system and many are not even brought to justice by the police because they know they will only be given a slap on the wrist. Perhaps if stricter violations were filed against illegal MJ users and dealers, there would be a different story to tell.

As far as comparing MJ with alcohol, you are correct. Prohibition didn't work, but that was almost a century ago. The country we live in today is very different and I maintain if we had stood our ground as a nation on prohibition, the sale of alcohol today would be a controlled prescription product. Excessive use of recreational alcohol has led to many problems in our society, not the least of which is the tens of thousands of innocent deaths over the years caused by drunk drivers or domestic violence. But I am sure back in the 20's when prohibition was tried, there were people like yourself who protested against it without any foresight as to what its basically uncontrolled sale would have a century later. Sure we have state laws restricting the sale of alcohol, but we all know how effective they've been. Are you saying we should repeat our mistake as a country again by legalizing MJ? As the saying goes, "two wrongs do not make a right."

All that being said, I actually agree with legalizing the sale of illicit drugs (and right now MJ is still considered by the federal government as an illicit drug regardless of California's opinion on the matter). However, I think controlling these drugs in a legal environment is the answer. I've seen this done very successfully with heroin in Switzerland, where I spent some time. Addicts there are registered and can go to a number clinics or "drug vans" parked in various spots in high density cities. These are card-carrying addicts who need a fix. Switzerland isn't spending billions on trying to rehabilitate their addict population, because they realize they cannot. The government there is merely trying to control it. Since the institution of very strict penalties handed down to non-registered addicts and this successful program of giving out drugs and needles to registered addicts, drug crime and AIDS has dropped dramatically in the country which has led to a better quality of life for its citizens. I am certainly not comparing the use of heroin with MJ, but they ARE both illicit drugs.

And while you are obviously endorsing the legalization of recreational MJ with your blog posting, I ask you, where does it stop? Is cocaine next? I mean after all, using your analogy that illicit drugs like MJ are readily available, I bet cocaine users have no problem getting their hands on the white powder.

Are you saying that MJ is not a drug and should not be controlled by Rx? I am for legalizing MEDICAL MJ, under strict protocols. There are enough SCIENTIFIC studies done that show the benefits of MJ in some disease populations, not information being purported to be the the truth by unreliable Web sites that have a political motive. It should be tested like any other drug on the market for efficacy and safety and submitted to FDA for approval. There has to be some control in its manufacturing process so that everyone receives the same potency of drug, just like any other prescriptions today.

And finally, we have no idea as a country what the effects of easily obtained recreational MJ has had on our society, like we do with alcohol. I mean, how many people are really tested for MJ after a fatal car accident? I think you would be amazed to learn what the effects of illegally distributed MJ has had on our society if we were to start testing like we do for alcohol.

We've made a lot of mistakes as a society over the years, let's not make another one by endorsing the legalization of recreational MJ.

pharmaciststeve's picturePharmacistpharmaciststeveJoined: Jul, 2009
Location: New Albany, IN
Posts: 222

Personally, I think that we should de-criminalize ALL DRUGS. As a country, we have the highest % of our population in jail/prisons. Most of them non-violent criminals. I don't think that I said that the judicial system makes money off of MJ... but there is for certain a great deal of job security.

In fact one DEA agent told me that their charge is to "...arrest those that would divert and teach kids that drugs are bad.." There is a wide gap between preventing diversion and arresting those that would divert.

It is estimated that ~50% of those committing suicide is due to under/untreated pain.. and I would wager that the most/all of the balance have under/untreated mental issues. But reporting it as a "drug over-dose" must serve a certain agenda.

IMO ...we don't have a substance abuse problem .. we have a HUGE mental health issue problem...but just like pain .. mental health is a subjective disease and our society and the insurance industry has not taken this seriously.. just look at the typical reimbursement rates and typically low annual cap on mental health expenditures. Generally it is just "suck it up " for both disease states.

That is not to say that the consequences of abusing substances should not be pretty stiff.

Everyone makes choices.. those that chose to coat their lungs with tar via smoking and those that will "pickle" their liver with alcohol.. why should society pay for treatment for someone .. who has basically -by choice - shot themselves in the foot?

Maybe pallative care is all that their insurance should pay for... It is called HEALTH INSURANCE ...not IDIOT INSURANCE.

After nearly 100 yrs of fighting this war on drugs... one would think that a society with some collective intelligence could easily figure out that what we have not working!

In Metro Louisville KY... a METH-CHECK program was implemented.. where each pharmacy has to pay $25/month for a credit card type machine where the person's driver's license has to be scanned in - that determines -in real time - that the person has not purchased more Pseudoephedrine in a month's time than the law allows.

A year later.. the number of meth labs busted outside of the metro area was up 75% over the previous year...the number within the area - ONLY UP 50%. I have talked to Pharmacists that work retail and they have persons who they believe have 3-4 different driver's license... but can't really prove it.

Over the last 100 years.."uncle Sam" has moved from a paternalistic entity to a parochial nanny... and New York City has to be one of the epicenters of nannism

I saw a quote years ago from a CFO ".. we have 5-10 millions laws/rules/regulations to enforce the TEN COMMANDMENTS .."

IMO.. the only thing that BNDD/DEA has done is created a black market whose demand is being filled by the mod/cartel. Who controls the price, who can buy it and the quality of the product.

The "drug war" in Mexico has had 16,000 murders in the last 3 yrs.. including 500 police officers.. fighting to have get control of drug distribution and the huge amount of money from this black market.

The DEA is not the solution to this problem... IT IS THE PROBLEM..

nyrxman's picturePharmacistnyrxmanJoined: Mar, 2009
Location: Lyndhurst, NJ
Posts: 81

What you say here in your reply to my comments may be true, but it is off the point made in your original forum topic of legalizing recreational MJ. So I'm not really sure if we accurately addressed your original comments about the legalization of recreational marijuana. Oh, by the way, re-read your first paragraph under your forum topic of California thinking about legalizing recreational MJ. It sounded to me like you were making a comparison between the prosecution of MJ users and the people who run the jail system making a profit off of that.

I think your latest comments and anecdotal stories (you never quote a reliable and trusted source of your information) are best suited for a separate blog on illicit drugs in the U.S. And since this is a site specifically for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy students, why not try to incorporate what you think the pharmacist's role should be in controlling the spread and diversion of LEGAL drugs, which as you know is also big issue in the U.S. I'd be interested in hearing your point of view on this topic.

Oh, by the way, making a comparison of smoking and taking illicit drugs is a little far fetched, don't you think? The last time I looked, buying a pack of cigarettes and possibly killing yourself with lung cancer was not against the law (although maybe it should be). Smoking cigarettes does not harm society, unless you consider secondhand smoke. But I think you will readily agree that making the choice (your words) to use illegal drugs has a significant an impact on society from both a crime and quality of life perspective.

Your comments are all over the place and I really cannot ascertain what your main points are.

pharmaciststeve's picturePharmacistpharmaciststeveJoined: Jul, 2009
Location: New Albany, IN
Posts: 222

I believe that most of the pharmacies/Pharmacists are apathetic about determining if a pt with a controlled substance Rx is for a valid reason. Those 30+ states that have PDMP have at their disposal is a excellent tool to weed the bogus patient out of their patient base. These databases typically have limited utilization by health care professionals.

Nearly, every Pharmacist uses the same lame excuse "I don't have time". They seem to believe that you have to screen out every pt.. every time.. When I explain how to get the reports down to 1-2 per 100 rxs filled... They usually have a hard time defending not using the database.

If is not hard to spot a doctor/pharmacy shopper when using these databases.

A recent (12/09) Nevada Supreme court ruling stated that we don't have any obligation to protect the public against themselves.

The defense by Corporate pharmacy?

The position of the pharmacies' attorneys is that the pharmacies should not be put in the position of turning people away for medications; in other words they shouldn't have to police them.

Maybe this is the same reason some of the major chains prohibits their Pharmacists from accessing the internet... where the databases can be reached.

I would guess that corporate pharmacy's mission statement should be "fill them until we kill them "

I have been told by a reliable source... that out in the rural parts of the state.. the small hospitals have dictated that their ER docs are not to run PMDP reports on nights and weekends... has something to do with not generating revenue.

I have also been told by a reliable source that these PDMP are given money by the Feds to go out and promote the use of these databases and when they approach health care groups to put on a presentation... there is little/no interest.

Purdue paid the cost of developing the original database in KY and the model legislation was written that NO ONE can data-mine the database to uncover doctor/pharmacy shoppers. Police can only access the database once they have a case on a person and only the records of that person.

The use/abuse of drugs is big bu$ine$$ for the Pharmas, docs,Pharmacies and the judicial system. IMO... there is a lot of lip service about the war on drugs... but not a lot of action. Of course, the last war that we actually won (WWII).. took two H-bombs after 3-4 yrs of fighting.