Medical pot law needs time to become functional
Arizona's medical marijuana law was approved by voters more than two years ago, yet it remains pretty much dysfunctional at this point due to court and political struggles to prevent it from going into full effect.
Many state leaders who had opposed the law were shocked when it passed by a few thousand votes. They had assumed it would be rejected — although we are not sure why since similar measures had received the backing of voters in the past and there was no real organized opposition.
In fact, if anything was clear going into the vote, it was that Arizonans tended to favor the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Despite this ongoing support for the idea over the years, a proposal is on the legislative agenda this year to reverse the 2010 vote and repeal the medical marijuana law. Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who is sponsoring the measure, says the law is a failure.
He cites a recent study that showed one in nine schoolchildren got marijuana from registered medical marijuana users who are allowed to have 2-1/2 ounces for their medical needs every two weeks. They can either grow their own or get it from a state-authorized facility — although none of those are yet functioning.
Actually, we can't yet know if the law is a “failure” because it isn't truly operating yet. And the fact that youths get illegal substances from adults is no surprise. They also get alcohol and prescription drugs from them.
State officials have actually been working hard — a lot harder than in some other states with similar laws — to try to ensure the marijuana goes for legitimate medical purposes. Still, with even the best efforts there will inevitably be some abuse, just as there is with prescription drugs. That does not mean the law is a failure.
Instead of rushing to repeal this voter-supported law, state lawmakers need to give it adequate time to fully function before making a judgment about the need to put it before voters again.