Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Holy smokes

I'm a little late getting to this, but David Samuels had a fairly interesting article on the medical marijuana movement in California in the New Yorker last week.

I would like to offer two points of criticism:

1) When will the New Yorker publish a piece that had a funny lede, for chrissakes! (This is a subject that begs for a snappy, tabloid lede... Instead he went with one of those rambling, New Yorker ledes. C'mon, David. You're better than that!)

2) While certainly the medical marijuana dispensers are abused by people who don't have real medical problems (or maybe do, but prefer weed to other remedies because weed is more fun), I sort of wish Samuels spoke a little about the people who are chronically in pain and for whom marijuana is their best (or their only) remedy. Medical marijuana is really not about recreation. There are people who need this and who are denied it by a truly pointless federal statute. (Of course, I believe marijuana should be legalized in general -- but I know that that's not in the cards for the near future.)

The article makes it sound as if the only people who are ever punished in California are the dealers and the mules. Not true! Chronically ill people -- who are operating in good faith -- are just as punished by the actions of the D.E.A. as anyone else is. Take, say, the case of Angel Raich, someone who would spend the rest of their life in agonizing pain if not for cannabis. The government's response? Tough shit.

I sort of wish that side of the argument was expanded.