On Tuesday, Missouri voters passed Proposition 2, legalizing medical marijuana. Two other competing propositions were defeated. Missouri is arriving rather late to this party, most other states have already passed similar measures.
I first encountered medical marijuana in 2011, when our LAX flight was delayed and we had a few hours to kill. We headed over to Venice Beach, which at that hour was still rather dead. Strolling the promenade there, we encountered a young man, dressed in surgical scrubs, with a stethoscope draped around his neck. His attempt to look like a medical professional was belied by the large placard that he held. He was selling marijuana evaluations for $40. A couple of businessmen playing tourists were interacting with him. They were trying to ensure that their $40 would result in some pot, but under the strictures of the law, the young man could not offer any promises. We moved on before they reached any resolution.
Last summer, we stayed in Butte, Montana. This once prosperous mining town showed numerous signs of economic distress. Getting lost on our way “uptown” for dinner, we encountered roads badly in need of repair, a derelict city center, with many storefronts closed and the seemingly only open establishments being pawn shops and payday loan outfits. Joining these other businesses were a host of medical marijuana dispensaries that were scheduled to open the next month.
Neither of these two state’s experiences with medicinal weed bode all that well for Missouri’s. That is because medical marijuana is the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. People use and abuse these systems to get high. These laws only saving grace is that they help expedite the legalization of recreational marijuana and an end to all of the phoniness surrounding medical marijuana.
My only other regret about Prop 2 is that Chief Wana Dubie did not live to see its passage. Born Joseph Bickelle, he died last year at the age of 58. This colorful advocate of pot most famously contested Roy Blunt (R) for his US Senate seat in 2016. Maybe medical marijuana would have saved him.