Matt Labash has a new article out on Michigan’s nascent medical marijuana industry. Like pretty much everything he writes, it’s extremely funny, but Labash’s actual views on the issue seem to fall somewhere in between mocking indulgence and straightforward disapproval. Much of his ire is directed at the ridiculous terminology pot dispensaries have been adopting to accommodate themselves to Michigan’s ambiguous marijuana laws:
John is 25 and looks as healthy as a horse but tells me he has “a lower lumbar condition, anxiety attacks, and nausea,” as he wolfs down a sausage McMuffin.
Because of these ailments, “I smoke six, seven blunts a day,” John says. And he doesn’t buy low-quality street weed, either. “I only smoke good weed.” Since good weed can go for about 400 bucks an ounce, and typically isn’t covered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, it can be an expensive regimen. But John doesn’t seem worried. That’s why he’s here: “To make a lot of money, grow a lot of pot. I’m thinking of moving here.” When I ask him how he’ll get patients, which he needs to do first in order to become a certified caregiver, he says, “Easy. I’ll just go to compassion clubs”—private meeting places which serve as support groups for patients and caregivers and where people often smoke their medicine. “It’s like an AA meeting,” John says. Except that people aren’t trying to quit.
Admittedly, this sort of thing is pretty absurd. But it’s worth remembering that the best way to end the charade of over-prescribing medicinal pot is to legalize marijuana. Labash seems to think that his subjects’ tenuous connection to the health care industry is some sort of blanket indictment of marijuana use, but fake prescriptions and opportunistic bouts of carpal tunnel syndrome are actually symptomatic of a ridiculous legal system that outlaws marijuana use at the federal level while state and local legislators – who, incidentally, are best positioned to judge the costs and benefits of decriminalization – attempt to look the other way. The irony is that many of the individuals Labash lampoons actually sound like reasonably productive, responsible citizens – the best jokes come at the expense of silly nicknames designed to escape legal scrutiny and the lengths these businesses go to navigate our Byzantine drug laws. At one point, Labash suggests that Michigan has bigger problems to deal with than legalized pot, but that’s precisely the problem: A state that’s staring down the barrel of a slow-motion economic collapse should not be devoting precious resources to rounding up stoners, to say nothing of the opportunities for economic revitalization lost by driving businesses underground.
Still, it’s a very funny article. And if you’re looking for more to read, you could do a lot worse than checking out Labash’s archives.