The Radical Minority

[The following was the basis for Doug Banfelder’s comments at last week’s Prop 203 Solidarity meeting.]

Medical Marijuana – Supported by the Majority, Under Attack by a Radical Minority

Who here feels like a Radical Tonight?!  Its easy to feel that way while we’re under attack – but consider this – We are Actually the MAJORITY!

Tonight as we meet we face an organized, energized opposition.  U.S. Attorneys have been unleashed by the DOJ, dispensaries raided, letters threatening legal action against property owners, and IRS harassment of dispensaries is escalating, despite the good faith efforts of most canna businesses to comply with often ambiguous state laws, or, as with the IRS, rules that are blatantly discriminatory and unjust.  That’s radical!

At the state and local level, anyone engaged in the production or distribution end of medical marijuana is feeling the heat. Governor Brewer and Attorney General Horne’s federal suit for a declaratory judgement is certain to be dismissed, but the intended result, confusion, has been achieved.  That’s radical!

We’ve all heard reports that local police seemingly don’t know which parts of the AMMA remain in place, putting patients at risk.  Caregivers must either grow in their homes or in commercial buildings, making them subject to the not altogether unfounded fears of building owners concerned that their property may be seized.  County Attorneys seek every opportunity to keep the prohibition machine in place, stubbornly continuing the failed “tough on crime” approach.  That’s radical!

Why is all this going on?  The only logical answer can be this: our opponents know that we are winning the public debate, and that our success WILL bring about the end of marijuana prohibition.  Consider: 25% of the American people live in states that have approved Medical Marijuana laws; we have an unprecedented level of support in the United States Congress, with three bills recently introduced; and, a Gallup poll just revealed that a majority of Americans, for the first time ever, support the full legalization of cannabis.  And, as a MAJORITY of Arizonans voted to approve Prop 203 last November proves, WE are NOT the radical ones!

No, we are the MAJORITY.  This means the best way to fight back is from WITHIN the system.  It’s how Prop 203 got passed, right?  So then how do we get from here to where we want to be?  Several things have to happen, and starting RIGHT NOW is not too soon.

Lets begin by agreeing that our opponents are a RADICAL MINORITY, and that we are part of a MAJORITY that approved Prop 203.

Second, we all must be registered to vote and know who our State Representatives are.  Every legislative district has two members of the House and one Senator.

Third, all of us, especially those patients who are able, need to contact their legislators and say “I’m a medical marijuana patient/caregiver/businessperson, and I request (not “ask”) that you support continued patient access to the medicine that works best for me/my patients.”

It does not matter that legislators cannot undo Prop 203 (due to the Voter Protection Act); we need to understand that so far, their opinions have been formed by conversations with people like Drug Free AZ leaders Carolyn Short and addiction psychiatrist Edward Gogek – a minority of prohibitionist RADICALS who want to make AZ patients into criminals!

Always keep in mind that lobbyists and business interests drive the dialogue at the legislature.  And that the legislature CAN kill 203 with “death by a thousand cuts.”  Remember Rep. Steve Farley’s bill from last session to tax MMJ 300%?  We must eliminate that kind of threat by letting our House and Senate members know how we feel NOW, BEFORE they run bad bills that put us on the defense.  They respond to pressure, so it is up to ALL of us, THE MAJORITY, here in this room tonight!

We know the awesome powers of cannabis; we know that History is on OUR side; and we know that by committing to pulling together, we will win this public policy debate over the RADICAL MINORITY who oppose WE the MAJORITY.

So let’s act like the MAJORITY we ARE by getting all Prop 203 supporters registered to vote, contacting our Representatives, and working together to overcome the Governor and AG’s attacks – we CAN have America’s BEST MMJ program, guarantee patient access to medicine, create business opportunity for growers, property owners and dispensary operators and earn the respect we deserve as a MAJORITY of everyday Arizonans supporting medical marijuana.

By |2011-11-01T07:09:30-07:00October 30th, 2011|Stories & Articles|Comments Off on The Radical Minority

The Truth About Medical Marijuana

The Arizona Republic has apparently decided not to print this rebuttal to “addiction psychiatrist” and marijuana prohibitionist Ed Gogek’s “My Turn” editorial that appeared in the paper on 8/4/11.

In an effort to sow the seeds of public confusion, marijuana prohibitionist Edward Gogek employs tired rhetoric about “drug abusers” and “recreational use” (My Turn, August 4) while conveniently ignoring the truth about medical marijuana and the patients who benefit from it.

First, he complains that most medical marijuana (“MMJ”) patients cite pain as their reason for seeking a state card. Yes, pain is the predominant ailment cited, but what does this prove? Many experience the “aches and pains” of advancing age – and almost 40% of MMJ patients are over fifty.

Might it be that people suffering from daily pain simply prefer a natural herbal remedy to those manufactured in a lab? If one can choose between a drug with pleasant side affects verses those with adverse consequences, which is the more logical choice?

Mr. Gogek also makes much of the fact that most MMJ patients are men, while women generally claim pain more often to their doctors. To strengthen his thesis he adds the assertion that substance abuse is primarily a male disorder, and concludes that since more men than woman are currently Arizona MMJ patients, they must be using marijuana for purely recreational reasons.

Consider, however, the political and legal status of Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act: confusion reigns, thanks in part to the Governor and Attorney General’s federal lawsuit (to which federal lawyers have recently responded by filing a motion to dismiss for lack of legal merit) and generally negative local media coverage.

Is it really any surprise that qualifying women patients have not come forward in their true number, when seeking a patient card more resembles an act of defiance than the exercise of a perfectly legal right?

Prohibitionists such as Mr. Gogek want Arizona to go back to criminalizing these citizens and restricting their pain relief choices to expensive, addictive, synthetic medications. This is the conditioned response of someone under the influence of seventy years of anti-marijuana propaganda.

The failed, expensive and hypocritical “War on Drugs” incarcerates peaceful citizens at heavy social cost. Breaking up families and causing productive wage earners to lose their jobs simply for seeking relief from pain or other ailments is neither fair nor wise public policy.

The general public clearly understands this. Currently, twenty-five percent of Americans live in a state with medical marijuana programs, with more and more states considering such legislation.

Those who doubt that marijuana has medicinal value should speak with a patient; the range of conditions marijuana helps patients manage is truly astonishing, and must be why the pharmaceutical industry now has over fifty researchers attempting to isolate the plants’ active ingredients.

Attorney General Tom Horne has estimated that Arizona’s medical marijuana industry could generate $40 million annually in taxes; others say that it could be significantly more. The public supports adding a reasonable sales tax to medical marijuana. Arizona could certainly use the funds, and should allow patients their choice of medicine as provided by passage of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

Mr. Gogek could then return his focus to treating abusers of hard drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, oxycontin, hydrocodone and percocet. Medical Marijuana is a safe alternative to many over-prescribed pain relievers; as such, it should be welcomed by those professing an interest in saving people from the ravages of drug abuse.

The Protect Arizona Patients Coalition urges the Arizona Republic to report objectively on the issue of medical marijuana. To do so requires only that its reporters talk with MMJ patients and their doctors. Many of our members would welcome that opportunity.

By |2012-01-14T16:53:13-07:00August 11th, 2011|Miscellaneous|Comments Off on The Truth About Medical Marijuana

Insuring Your Medical Director

According to ADHS Director Will Humble, the most important name in your application will be that of the medical director.  This is because  Mr. Humble sees the long-term success of Prop 203 depending more upon the actions of the medical community than any other factor.

With those thoughts in mind, choosing the right medical director becomes of paramount importance.  Unfortunately, however, the ADHS mandate that the director be “available” during dispensary business hours complicates the hiring process by considerably shrinking the available talent pool.

Another issue impacting the hiring process is medical malpractice insurance.  Doctors with current practices already have policies, including those working part-time.  Those willing to come out of retirement to serve a dispensary or disensaries only need coverage for the limited services they will be providing.

Fortunately there are flexible, cost-effective options.  For those with active practices there is no need to completely change policies – instead, separate, MMJ specific policies can be obtained that essentially supplement the coverage they already have.  The same goes for the semi-retired.

Retired doctors coming back to work can find medical malpractice policies that cover just the activities they list on the application.  In all cases the premium costs are quite modest.

Don’t let concerns about obtaining reasonably-priced medical malpractice insurance keep you from finding the doctor or doctors you need to make your application shine with ADHS.

For further information or to receive a quote, I can be reached at www.PremierDispensaryInsurance.com

 

By |2012-08-18T09:25:16-07:00May 15th, 2011|Dispensary Insurance, Medical Directors|Comments Off on Insuring Your Medical Director