a gray market is just a black market with lobbyists
Many of us who have long advocated for the legalization of marijuana decided at some point to embrace the medical marijuana movement as a wedge issue to advance the greater cause of full legalization. Some perhaps more consciously than others. Personally, I was sold on legalization long before anyone convinced me of any medical benefit to cannabis, so I cannot really say that the medical argument ever moved me. But I will admit to having happily deployed the image of federal agents handcuffing the terminally ill to their beds during raids as a rhetorical tool for people on the fence.
I think that the time has come to acknowledge that embracing medical pot was a strategic mistake for those of us who really want much, much more than that.
Here in Washington, we will be voting on I-502 this fall, which would legalize marijuana for personal use by persons over 21 years of age, and create a state regime for its regulation and taxation. Part of the proposal deals with impaired driving, and sets the blood level of delta-9 THC for pro se DUI at 5.0 ng/ml. Anyone with half an ounce of common sense (or perhaps an eighth of uncommon sense) can see that setting some objective limit for impairment is absolutely necessary, both for public safety reasons and for the political necessity of selling this thing to the general public.
Enter the medical marijuana establishment in Washington, who have argued that this limit will result in patients getting hit with DUI charges because they are chronically above the legal limit. Which leaves us in an interesting position: one of the largest and most vocal groups opposing the present attempt to reform marijuana laws in this state is the group that has previously and successfully reformed marijuana laws in this state.
The problem is, the science doesn't support their assertions at all. In fact, if you read through Dominic Holden's recap of the science cited by the medical MJ activists themselves, you'll see that it actually takes a hell of a lot of pot to achieve the legal threshold in the bloodstream beyond the first hour or so after smoking. In other words, under circumstances in which you are most likely stoned and have no business being behind the wheel of a car.
I can only think of two explanations for this.
1. The medical MJ activists don't know their ass from a hole in the ground. They've completely confused the tendency of THC metabolites (which is what is tested for in most employment screens) to hang around at detectable levels for days or weeks, with the active form of THC, which has a plasma half-life on the order of a couple of hours (meaning it disappears much faster), and is the standard used under I-502.Beyond that, they don't understand the very science that they cite in support of their argument.
This is the most charitable explanation.
2. Medical marijuana dispensaries are enjoying a brisk business in the gray market. Under legalization, dispensaries will be mostly redundant, with the possible exception of those that choose to operate as a non-profits to provide low-cost (or free) palliative marijuana to people in need. Not much money in that.
This is rent-seeking, plain and simple. And there is good chance it is going to kill this initiative.