This week a new medical marijuana cultivation facility broke ground for construction in Yellow Springs. Suddenly, everyone is concerned about people using medical marijuana while carrying a concealed weapon. That begged some questions right off. First, how did these two things get so quickly linked together? And is there really anyone out there who doesn’t get that thousands of people are already walking around with guns while legally using alcohol and prescription medication?
Make no mistake, there is no use of any drug that could be considered good — if you think there is, stop reading now because you’re not going to like the rest of this. But with no specific comparison data available, it’s the best guess that there have been a great many more gun-related injuries and fatalities associated with alcohol use than with any level of marijuana consumption. Yet, there are people totally off the rails about the medical pot issue and how it relates to firearms, particularly controversial concealed carry laws.
It certainly hasn’t taken long for law enforcement to chime in on all of this, especially those running for governor. Not long after the groundbreaking in Greene County, the Dayton Daily News reported a statement by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office that said, “Ohioans who use marijuana — even legally under state law — are prohibited from obtaining a concealed carry permit.” As it happens, the regulation will be based, not on some kind of drug test, but on the honor system.
Apparently, the attorney general feels that taking medical pot for your glaucoma or cancer pain and that somehow makes you a bad risk. But he’s not the least bit worried about some rube with a loaded flask in his back pocket and a “45” under his coat. The stupidity is astounding, not to mention the double standard with regard to legal substances that are more socially acceptable — namely alcohol.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol is directly responsible for three times as many deaths each year as guns. But for some reason, no one seems to care about people carrying a weapon if they’re camo pickup trucks are loaded with Jack Daniels and Budweiser. Still, no one is pushing a ban on people who drink getting a firearms license, and they’re not likely to in the near future. Why? Money.
A massive amount of cash is dumped into lobbying and political campaigns each year by the alcohol producers to make sure things run in their favor. It’s easier to push those agendas since drinking is more socially acceptable than using pot, even for medical reasons. And with a careful manipulation of the legislature and the media, the public remains so focused on how much the N.R.A. contributes, they forget about the level of cash dropped by alcohol producers.
According to the whistle-blowing website, OpenSecrets.org, “a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of campaign finance data illustrated that companies like E. & J. Gallo Winery, Molson Coors, and many others have dumped millions into the campaign coffers of Democrat and Republican races throughout the last several decades.
It’s doubtful that the medical marijuana companies have that kind of leverage — yet. Once they do, you can bet the political pendulum will swing more often in their favor. It’s all about money and power and who can grease the palms of the right politician.
But for now, it’s the alcohol companies and big pharma calling the shots. The pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want medical marijuana to be a successful industry in Ohio, or anywhere else because they’re making too much money on debilitating, addictive pain medications with terrible side effects. Of course, they’re compassionate about it, those side effects can easily be treated with, you guessed it, more medicine.
It seems that having armed citizens spun up on pain meds and booze is perfectly acceptable to law enforcement, and the general public. Lawmakers need to wake up and sacrifice some capital. Instead of treating the symptoms, go after the disease — big pharma and alcohol producers. Restrict sales, prosecute violators more often, and maybe do something meaningful at times besides when they’re running for office.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer in Greene County. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communication, Ltd. More at www.deerinheadlines.com