Marijuana Dispensaries are Finally Open, So is it Legal Yet?
By Mariah Metzger
Some would believe marijuana legalization is finally underway. Mayor Bill de Blasio set the wheel in motion by decriminalizing marijuana November of last year.
Now, throughout New York State, at least eight dispensaries have opened with more plans for more in the works.
But is it really legal yet?
What seems to be troubling most of us is the strict limitations on who is entitled to medical marijuana.
According to the New York Health government website people who are eligible must be diagnosed ”with a specific severe, debilitating or life threatening condition.” It states that legally, this would be cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, and Huntington’s disease.
What about the people who suffer from anxiety, depression, Rheumatoid arthritis (which is a form of arthritis that means chronic pain in your joints, for the rest of your life), PTSD, Crohn’s disease?
This leaves many people who could be benefiting from medical marijuana in the dust.
If we can remove the stigma that follows marijuana, we will be able to get sick people the medical help they need.
Besides marijuana, the only other thing a doctor can prescribe to someone who is sick would be a prescription drug. Opioid painkillers, which is your vicodin, oxycontin, percocets, kill 44 people per day according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Staten Island itself is suffering a major heroin addiction among its residents. This is because heroin gives the same effect that opioids do, and is costing a fraction less of what pills are.
It has been previously believed, but not proven, that marijuana was a gateway drug to heroin.
However, when looking at the increased use of prescription drug abuse you can clearly see this notion is false.
The idea of marijuana being a gateway drug has to be left behind. There is way too much compelling data and studies that proves marijuana can be medicinal.
Take a step back from the idea that has been shoved down your throat since the beginning of time that marijuana is a gateway drug. Marijuana is a non-addictive substance, with no withdrawal symptoms, and better yet, no side effects.
Cigarettes and alcohol have killed more people in the past year than marijuana ever has. There are at least 480,000 deaths per year from cigarettes, also according to the CDC.
Alcohol clocks in at 88,000 deaths per year. While marijuana has been involved in some deaths, it has never been a direct cause. No one has ever ingested so much THC that they died.
When Mayor de Blasio decriminalized marijuana, he got a lot of backlash from it. Not only from the public, but from the police and other state officials as well.
However, de Blasio has got it right. Marijuana arrests are now decreasing, which is saving time and money.
So how come the healthcare industry can dish out prescription painkillers to anyone in need, but we have harsh restrictions on medical marijuana?
The healthcare industry is having such a hard time due to political pushback, that as much lobbying that was done for medical marijuana there is just as much lobbying against it.
There is also problems with labeling cost to medical marijuana. Currently for someone prescribed in New York, it could cost $100-$300 per dose.
According to New York Magazine, they would not receive the physical plant, but would receive a dropper of liquid marijuana.
This doesn’t include the $50 to apply for the ID card or money spent on doctors visits to obtain it.
This is costing low-income New Yorkers serious cash. If no one can afford to use medicinal marijuana, how can we go about using it?
There is very slow progress being made. What we need is a reclassification of marijuana.
Once we reevaluate the drug, it will be taken out of the same category as heroin and other opiate drugs.
We need more political action for the use of marijuana medicinally, at the very least.
With more political action, there will be more changes for the people in need of the drug.