Cannabis Cups Causing Controversy in Medical Marijuana States

Submitted by smorgan on
Predictably, the trajectory towards more compassionate marijuana policies brings people out of the shadows to celebrate this unique and infinitely useful plant. Unlike other medicines, cannabis comes in a thousand forms and lends itself to inquiry and discussion comparable to that of music, art, food and wine. Mix in the fact that a lot of people are able to appreciate it openly for the first time in their lives and it should come as no surprise that they're organizing events to see who can grow the best stuff.

Such contests generated controversy this week, raising the question of whether medical marijuana patients might be enjoying their freedom at the expense of further political progress. In Colorado, an upcoming event prompted a critical editorial questioning whether a pot contest serves any legitimate medical purpose. Meanwhile, in Michigan, a similar event was shut down after law-enforcement officials questioned its legality due to the state's tight restrictions on distribution by caregivers. Despite overwhelming public support for medical marijuana, the idea of patients convening to consume large quantities of top-grade medicine seems a bit of a stretch for some observers.

Surely, we can expect more of this sort of thing, and I understand the enthusiasm for bringing together a community that's been forced underground for generations. But there's also a line that has to be drawn somewhere and those whose states are ahead of the curve should really consider the impact of their approach on those still fighting for reform elsewhere in the country. The example you set inevitably impacts the tone of the debates taking place elsewhere. The "lessons of California" have inspired much more restrictive approaches in subsequent medical marijuana states, resulting in fewer patients receiving the care and protection that they need. Yet the problem in California was never really the distribution of medicine to a large patient population, but rather the conspicuous magnitude of the cultural and industrial phenomenon that Prop. 215 became.

Obviously, to us at least, any difficulties adapting to the new reality of medical marijuana in America are to be blamed first and foremost on the drug war, the Feds, sometimes the press, and absolutely the local governments that failed to regulate the industry in the hope that it would just go away. But as decades of hysteria and injustice begin finally to subside, our work isn't necessarily going to get any easier. Pot-tasting parties are awesome, I'm sure, but they're awfully far removed from the professional advocacy that got us to this point and if they piss off even a few people, then maybe it's better to wait or just invite people you know.  

Marijuana remains illegal for healthy people everywhere in America, thus the examples set today by the medical marijuana community will inevitably shape the political landscape and determine the future of the movement for complete and permanent reform.

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