Since the US policy-making system is not perfect and it is influenced by other factors such as self-interest and interest groups instead of just what is best for the nation’s health, it is understandable why certain things are legal, such as alcohol and cigarettes, when they are known to be harmful for one’s health (Longest, 2010). Also, congressmen and women are re-elected every 2 years to represent their district and they may support certain propositions for their own gains (Longest, 2010).
In 2010, the national Marijuana Policy Project was the driving interest group behind legalizing medical marijuana in Arizona and donated $140,000 to support the campaign (BallotPedia, 2010). There was a lot more money put into the campaign for legalization of medical marijuana than what was spent to oppose Proposition 203. Voters were told that “marijuana is safer than alcohol” and “better than deadly painkillers.” Proposition 203 was passed in 2010 by roughly 4,000 votes, 50.1% of participants voted yes and 49.9% voted no (BallotPedia, 2010). I think that the initial intention to make medical marijuana available for those who really need it is justified. However, recent reports from the Arizona Department of Health (ADH) show that people who don’t need medical marijuana are getting it too. In addition, legalization of medical marijuana seems to be the gateway to propose legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Currently, four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use including Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska (Keller, 2015).The Marijuana Policy Project is now focusing their efforts on Arizona to make marijuana legal for recreational use. State Representative Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix, recently introduced the bill that would legalize marijuana for recreational use and generate an estimated $48 million annually from tax revenue (Rau, 2015). This is just one example of how bills are not made in the best interest of the nation’s health and are intended to generate income at the expense of one’s health.
Since legalization of medical marijuana, William Humble, the director of the ADH, states that part of their medical marijuana program is actually recreational (Fischer, 2015). The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act End of the Year Report from the ADH indicates that 71% of patients have a medical marijuana card in Arizona for severe and chronic pain and roughly 2% or less is used for all other conditions, patients ages 18-30 are the ones buying the most marijuana, and the most marijuana was purchased on New Year’s Eve in 2014 (Arizona Department of Health Services, 2014). In addition, the 2014 Arizona Youth Survey reports that about 10% of students are getting marijuana from medical marijuana card holders (Harrison, 2014). Medical marijuana card holders are allowed up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 2 weeks, but this amount is actually enough to smoke one joint a day for 4-6 months (Green, 2014). It is possible that patients with medical marijuana cards are distributing their excess marijuana illegally to others.
Arizona Department of Health Services. (2014). Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) end of year report. Retrieved from http://www.azdhs.gov/medicalmarijuana/documents/reports/2014/arizona-medical-marijuana-end-of-year-report-2014.pdf
BallotPedia. (2010). Arizona medical marijuana question, proposition 203 (2010). Retrieved from http://ballotpedia.org/Arizona_Medical_Marijuana_Question,_Proposition_203_(2010)
Fischer, H. (2015). Report: Arizona patients consumed 10 tons of medical marijuana in 2014. Retrieved from http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2015/01/15/report-arizona-patients-consumed-10-tons-of-medical-marijuana-in-2014/
Green, J. (2014). How many joints are in an ounce of marijuana? Retrieved from http://www.theweedblog.com/how-many-joints-are-in-an-ounce-of-marijuana/
Harrison, B. (2014). Arizona youth survey. Retrieved from http://azcjc.gov/ACJC.Web/sac/AYSReports/2014/2014%20Arizona%20Youth%20Survey%20State%20Report.pdf
Keller, J. (2015). The map is going to make marijuana legalization advocates very, very happy. Retrieved http://mic.com/articles/109270/this-map-is-going-make-marijuana-legalization-advocates-very-very-happy
Longest, B. (2010). Health policymaking in the United States. (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Association of University Programs in Health Administration.
Rau, A. (2015). Arizona lawmaker proposes legalizing pot. Retrieved from http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/01/06/arizona-lawmaker-proposes-legalizing-pot/21371767/