Rethinking medical marijuana

October 10, 2006


Steve Comstock, a 23-year-old Thousand Oaks resident, says he's dying from Hodgkin's lymphoma and is in dire need of medical marijuana to relieve the painful condition. Loren Green, a 58-year-old man who works in Agoura Hills, says he uses marijuana to ease his symptoms of depression, anxiety and arthritis. But the condition of neither person failed to prevent the Agoura Hills City Council from enacting a recent moratorium barring medical marijuana cooperatives from the city.

The council was correct to approve the moratorium. The action came in response to the closing of the Conejo Wellness Center, a cannabis distributor on Agoura Road that was said to be operating under the guise of a copier business.

While few doubt the medical advantages of marijuana use-the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996 allows pot prescriptions to be filled for medicinal purposes-too many of the dispensaries operate on the fringes of the law.

Many doctors and dispensary operators are extremely careful in how much marijuana they dispense to patients, but others have interpreted the law in much broader terms and prescribe the weed liberally. Worse, young people are said to be obtaining illegal prescriptions and using the drug for recreational purposes. The system is fraught with loopholes and cities such as Agoura Hills have exercised their right to throw the businesses out of town.

The intent of the medical marijuana law was to help quash the black market and ensure safe and affordable access for legitimately qualified individuals, but too many of these cannabis centers have become storefront dope houses.

We think marijuana holds a rightful place in the medical drug inventory-its benefits are indisputable-but like other prescription drugs, it will always be abused.

Medical marijuana has a future-if better controls can be put into place.

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