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Puritans, Libertarians and Marihuana

Posted by Mark Ranzenberger on

Mark Ranzenberger

Mark Ranzenberger

The battle over medical marijuana - or marihuana, to use the obsolete spelling still enshrined in Michigan law - is really a battle between Puritan ethics and Libertarian laissez-faire ethics.

Think about the other recreational drug we permit in this society: alcohol. When talking about alcohol, we don't generally talk about its psychoactive effects. It's a bad thing to get roaring, puking drunk.

Instead, we focus on the body and pleasant bitterness of beer, the smoky taste of a fine Scotch, the bouquet of wine. We ignore the fact that if one consumes enough of it, one's judgment becomes clouded and the handcuffs come out.

There's none of that with marijuana. Advocates of that drug, however, now are focused on its use as a medicine. Medicine is good; getting ripped out of your mind on weed is something we, as a society, do not approve of.

In Michigan, despite consistent reports that there is no scientific evidence that cannabis is any better at relieving pain than many other approved drugs, voters OK'd its use as a medicine. That came as a result of a Libertarian sense that people know what's best for them, and big-government nannies and over-educated elites shouldn't get in the way.

The Puritans among us are raising all kinds of roadblocks to the use of cannabis as a medicine. They have a sense that many of the people using this medicine aren't really sick, but are smoking weed with a get-out-of-jail-free card.

The law is on the books, and it probably won't be possible to change it through the Legislature. The law envisions that people will grow their own, but growing marijuana isn't particularly easy. There is a the route of a getting a caregiver, but many of those people have run into trouble.

The law doesn't provide any other means of getting cannabis, and the sense in Lansing is to make it harder, rather than easier, to obtain it. That means the only way people who want to use cannabis as medicine can obtain their medicine is through the black market.

Somebody's grandma is going to have to get hurt before that changes. Even then, the Puritans and the Libertarians will argue points other than what they really think.

Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Andy Rapp, Q-TV, Delta College, or PBS.

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Currently Speaking host Andy Rapp

Veteran journalist Andy Rapp has been hosting Currently Speaking since 1999.

Each week, he's joined live in the studio by journalists, academics, and experts. Along with viewers at home, they tackle the local, national, and global issues that matter most.