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KCTS 9 Connects

Medical Marijuana - May 6, 2011

May 7, 2011

Medical marijuana dispensaries have been growing in number in Washington, and until the Governor's recent veto of a medical marijuana bill, were operating in a "gray" area of conflicting State and Federal laws. In this episode, we take a look into the medical marijuana debate heating up in our state, and show you who's dispensing it, who's using it, and the impact on the community.

Producer's Notes

Producer's Notes Hippocrates vs. Hypocrites

What’s in your medicine cabinet?

If you’ve suffered an injury anytime recently, there’s a pretty good chance you have a painkiller like Vicodin, Percocet, or Oxycontin. These are powerful opiate-based drugs considered by doctors to be the best at relieving pain. They are also the easiest to become addicted to. Not surprising since they’re derived from the same stuff as morphine and heroin.

According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, prescription drug abuse is the country’s fastest-growing drug problem. The CDC considers it an epidemic. One-third of first-time drug users in 2009 started by using prescription drugs, not for treatment, but to get high.

Still, the medical benefits of opiate-based painkillers are indisputable, so the government isn’t about to ban them anytime soon. Instead, we carefully regulate them and try to combat the accompanying issue of abuse.

Which begs the question, why don’t we do that with marijuana?

For some reason, we approach the issue of marijuana from a starting point of zero tolerance under any circumstances, while we condone an arguably more severe drug with an acceptable level of risk.

Yes, marijuana gets you high. So do opiates.
Yes, marijuana can be abused. So can opiates.
And like opiates, marijuana has medical benefits. The first medicinal use of marijuana dates back to 2737 B.C.

The issue of medical marijuana is a mess in Washington. Pot is illegal under Federal law, but the state has approved the medical use of marijuana as a plausible defense. Dispensaries that sell medicinal marijuana are cropping up across the state. Some get raided. Others don’t. And this week, the Governor partially-vetoed a bill that would have regulated them.

Like I said – it’s a bit of a mess. So in this episode of "Connects" our program looks at the medical marijuana debate from all points of view – the Governor, state lawmakers, dispensary owners, and medical marijuana patients. Decide for yourself if it’s high time for a blunt look at this burning issue.

Ethan Morris, Senior Producer