News / Health

    California Debates Limits of Medical Marijuana

    California Debates Limits of Medical Marijuanai
    X
    April 22, 2013 3:41 PM
    Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996 under state law, but the drug remains illegal under U.S. federal law. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles that Californians are debating the limits of marijuana use and waiting for Washington to weigh in on the issue.
    Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996 under state law, but the drug remains illegal under U.S. federal law.
    In Oakland, California, the nation's largest dispensary of medical marijuana, Harborside Health Center, dispenses prepackaged marijuana and potted marijuana plants to a steady stream of users. Each has a doctor's recommendation for marijuana use and belongs to the members-only cooperative.

    Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996 under state law, but the drug remains illegal under U.S. federal law.

    The marijuana dispensary, called the largest pot shop on the planet, pays millions of dollars each year in state and local taxes and has the backing of city officials. It also has paid millions in legal fees to fight efforts by federal officials to close it down. But co-founder Steve DeAngelo said the move has started toward nationwide legalization of marijuana.

    “The real question is, how is it going to be legalized? What is this new industry going to look like? How are we going to regulate it?” he asked.

    In Los Angeles, marijuana dispensaries have proliferated, and even supporters say things are out of control. A simple headache or insomnia can get a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana, and the city has 1,000 or more unregulated dispensaries.  

    Los Angeles city council member Bill Rosendahl credits marijuana with helping him cope with debilitating cancer.  

    He backs a proposal called Proposition D, one of three competing measures on the local election ballot in May. He said it would reduce Los Angeles dispensaries to 135, closing hundreds of others and imposing needed regulations on an industry that has helped him.

    “I feel strong. I feel I have got a long life ahead of me, and I want to thank medicinal marijuana for making it happen,” said Rosendahl.

    Polls show that 70 percent of Californians support medical marijuana. A narrow majority supports full legalization, which is now in place in Washington State and Colorado, but not in California. It is all illegal under federal law.  

    Today's marijuana is potent, with more of the psychoactive agent THC, said psychologist Steve Freng, who works in Seattle with treatment programs for the federal government.

    “Marijuana these days is not the marijuana that was out there when I was in high school and college. That was essentially Mexican ditch weed that, if you were lucky, was a 3 to 5 percent THC type of marijuana," he said.

    Some of today's marijuana is 15 to 20 percent THC, and as with alcohol, there are problems with abuse and underage users.

    Federal authorities continue to crack down on some dispensaries. Four were raided recently in Los Angeles. Marijuana fetches higher prices in states where it is illegal, and critics say the lack of regulation in Los Angeles has led to illegal shipments to other states from some dispensaries.

    The debate among Californians is no longer about prohibition, though, said marijuana dispensary founder DeAngelo. He sees marijuana as a burgeoning industry, and has set up an investment network called Arcview Group to help finance it.

    “It is no longer a question of whether or not cannabis is going to be legalized. It is not even a question of when, because we are in that moment right now,” he said.

    DeAngelo said it is a question of how it will be legalized. The country is waiting to see how federal officials respond to that question.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: wangjian from: NV
    April 23, 2013 3:01 PM
    If people can not execute their purposes aboveboard, they need any excuse. Someone credits marijuana with helping him cope with debilitating cancer, which likes you say " heroin calms down my pain from arthritis, I feel relief, I feel happy, and I want to thank heroin for making it happen"
    But if those advocators soon open their marijuana business after their laws passed, that make sense.


    by: Duncan Wallace
    April 23, 2013 7:20 AM
    Migraines are not serious in O'Sullivans world? Really?? Chronic insomnia is just minor discomfort? Mr. O'Sullivan has obviously never suffered either condition. Mr. O'Sullivan seems to have missed the fact that the reason that people in California can get it for a "headache" is because the people who wrote the Compassionate Use Act would fight adding new medical conditions tooth and nail; they also understood that laymen would act just as Mr. Sullivan is acting, belittling those conditions as if they weren't serious.

    But Mr. Sullivan should be aware that his complaints are almost certainly never going to be more than hot air in California. The only way to amend a law resulting from a citizen generated ballot initiative is with another citizen generated ballot initiative. Somebody is going to have to cough up a few million dollars just to get it on the ballot. And just to belie Mr. O'Sullivan's nonsense claim that people think the situation is out of control support for the Compassionate Use Act has grown from the 54% who voted in favor to pushing 80% today. So who's got a few million dollars to throw away on the pipe dream of repealing the CUA?

    BTW, why do people like Mr. O'Sullivan never notice the felony convictions of pharmaceutical companies like Perdue Pharma, the almost $80 million fine paid by CVS for promoting the manufacture of street meth, Merck's almost $5 billion settlement for defrauding the FDA to get approval for Vioxx, but is still willing to act as if it's a systemic flaw when someone makes the unsupported claim that perhaps some 10 or 20 pounds pot that arrived in their State was somehow "medical merrywanna"?

    Mr. O'Sullivan, you need to grow up.

    by: Miles Monroe from: Huntington Beach, CA
    April 22, 2013 4:04 PM
    More gov't anti-cannabis propaganda, thinly veiled …

    " … supporters say things are out of control." Really? Which "supporters" are those? Nobody willing to go on the record, apparently.

    So what if "a simple headache or insomnia can get a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana"? Who besides a doctor should have ANY say in patient care?

    We hear from a "psychologist who … works in treatment programs for the federal government"--no vested interest there, right?!--repeating the lie that the cannabis today is significantly more potent than in the past, an assertion that data collected by the DEA itself refutes. (We're sorry Dr. Freng couldn't get any of the good stuff in high school or college; he must not have hung out with the right people …)

    If there really are "problems with abuse and underage users", then why not an INFORMED and OBJECTIVE discussion on treating these problems as a public health and not a criminal justice issue? Every country that has done so--Holland, Portugal, etc--has significantly lower rates of both juvenile and adult use of cannabis as well as "hard" drugs like heroin, meth, etc.

    JOURNALISM: YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora