As Illinois continues its long march toward recognizing medical use of marijuana in SB 1381, the reefer mad prohibitionists are flocking to the editorial pages to scare people away from approving sensible legislation.
(Chicago Daily-Herald) If approved, this bill will allow large amounts of an unmonitored and unregulated drug in our community and provide access for our youth. Supporters frame the issue around the need to decriminalize marijuana use for terminally ill patients, providing a safe and legal path to their medicine. However, there are major gaps in the bill, particularly the lack of controls.
Those “lack of controls” include:
- visiting a doctor to receive an examination and recommendation for medical use of cannabis;
- only after verifying the patient suffers from one of the accepted conditions listed by law;
- and the patient must register for and possess a registration card produced by the state;
- a card which lists the patient’s name and address (and perhaps photo) and the names and addresses of the up to two caregivers a patient may designate (don’t lose your wallet, Illinois patients!);
- the plants have to be kept in “an enclosed and locked facility”.
In the proposal, each person with a prescription can possess six cannabis plants but only three mature plants for a 60-day period. In just two months, three mature plants can produce 1,764 joints – that’s 29 joints per day.
According to cultivation expert Chris Conrad in testimony in California courts, a mature indoor marijuana plant on average will produce four to six ounces. Three plants would therefore produce 12 to 18 ounces, which works out to five and two-thirds to eight and a half grams per day over sixty days. On the low end, that means they are rolling 0.2 gram “pinners”, on the high end, 0.3 gram. For reference sake, the federal government’s standard reference weight for a joint is 0.4 grams and a more realistic joint would weigh in at 0.75 grams.
Or to reverse-engineer it, if they’re claiming three plants can produce 1,764 joints, at 0.4 grams that’s 8.4 ounces per plant and at 0.75 grams that’s over a pound per plant. I’ve seen it done, but it is far from what you can claim is any sort of “average”.
Furthermore, the definition of “mature” plant is copied from Oregon’s ridiculous “12-inch” rule that says any female plant greater than 12 inches in height or diameter is “mature”, meaning that for the most part, Illinois patients would be tending bud-less “mature” plants for most of the growing cycle.
Even so, the possession limits of the Illinois proposal are even lower than what the three plants could produce. Currently the bill sets the presumptive “60 day supply” at two ounces, which even at the prohibitionist’s ridiculous 0.2 gram pinners works out to four and two-thirds joints a day for 60 days (or, realistically, somewhere between one and a quarter and two and one-third joints per day.)
The top five states in the nation with the highest percentage of kids age 12 to 17 using marijuana in the past month are all medical marijuana states. The four states with the highest rates of new marijuana users age 12 to 17 are also medical marijuana states. Are we OK with our kids going down this road?
Those states had those same stats before they passed medical marijuana, and since then they have they have found their rates of teen use of marijuana in decline. Any scaremonger who’d frighten you about teen use of marijuana increasing should be asked why California (the state most associated with medical marijuana with “lack of controls”) had 43% of their 11th graders using marijuana in the past six months in 1995 and why that figure dropped to 29.8% by 2007 after more than a decade of growing up in the land of legal medical marijuana. They should also explain why California has the lowest teen marijuana use rates (ranking #32 nationally) of all the medical marijuana states, rates lower than Iowa, Kansas, and even Illinois have now.