I am for medical marijuana being legal…


But medical use alone is filled with even more challenges than full legalization because it does nothing to stop or lower the marijuana crime rate. We are already learning that medical use alone is creating new marijuana crimes on top of the old ones, which is why states are now starting to forego medical use only and instituting full legalization of marijuana like Colorado and Washington. (Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. have just joined the ranks of full legalization and eight more states have lined up for full legalization to avoid the pitfalls of medical use only.) Legalization is not just about helping sick people but about better controls, addressing the concerns of everyone and the revenues that can be earned from this new industry.

It is also a fact that people want to vote on the issue and to do so they need to study marijuana use under legal conditions in our society before voting on a permanent law and there is no better way to study marijuana than to declare the moratorium period I proposed, which will allow citizens and the Legislature to get all the answers to questions and concerns about marijuana use and the products before drafting and voting on a final law. Laws also change when they go from one chamber to the other in our Legislature so why are we playing around with medical use only when we can study the entire marijuana industry, including the products, at the same time? We are literally setting ourselves up for double and triple unnecessary work and “oversight hearings” when and if this bill gets to the lower chamber.

Medical use alone also does nothing to change the way we handle marijuana use in our society as a whole and we will still have marijuana crimes and we will still be locking up people, especially our children, for a single marijuana cigarette so people can get pain medicine. Is that really fair? We will surely create more work for DPS and our White-Collar Crime Unit with citizens and tourist trying to get marijuana illegally. We must be more analytical and look at the big picture because ignoring the nuances in the bigger picture will definitely lead to mistakes. Have you thought about the fact that we will see all kinds of phony schemes and illnesses by locals and tourists to get marijuana—schemes that may even become organized crime as this is a billion-dollar industry we are flirting with so we better be more aware and address all the nuances.

Do you realize that some tourists are going to be manipulated and even ripped-off with marijuana related criminal schemes as if tourists are not suffering enough from criminals in the CNMI? Now we are going to set tourists up for even more theft and robberies related to marijuana, which will be a true and living example of our ignorance of the nuances in medical use alone.

There are many people not in pain who can’t get a prescription but need and want marijuana just to help them to cope or calm down and relax under stressed conditions, which can stop or prevent arguments and fights and even save a life. People want to socialize without having to drink hard liquor or cases of beer, and there are those who want to see the financial rewards of the entire marijuana industry, so do we ignore the majority to serve a few? Those who only want medical use legalized need to re-think what they are asking because it is a selfish and narrow-minded approach, driven simply by the fear of getting medical use legal because they think it is an easier sale but what about the adverse effects on the rest of society that will still exist and even escalate? Medical use may relieve some personal pain but it will also create headaches and more challenges for control that will have a ripple effect throughout society.

Our CNMI leaders, and not just you senators, really need to start thinking more outside-the-box and stop making us the very last to do what everyone else in America has already stopped doing for something better. In other words, medical use alone has already been proven too difficult to control so medical use alone will only serve to keep us behind the times and late when it comes to keeping up with the rest of American society socially and economically. Give all of us and our children a chance to live the American dream and help the sick at the same time!

Ambrose M. Bennett
Kagman, Saipan

Ambrose M. Bennett Dayao
This post is published under the Contributing Author. He/she does not normally work for Saipan Tribune but contributes for a specific topic or series.

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