Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Santa Clara Pro-Marijuana Editorial

Columnist's NIMBYbess and numbskull marijuana logic

11/9/09 8:24 PM

By Lisa Pampuch

"Often, the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it
is to get rid of it."

~ Mark Twain

Twain's wisdom came to mind as I read a recent article by new Dispatch
columnist John Larson (another new club member; welcome!) about medical
marijuana dispensaries.

Near as I can tell, Larson supports in theory patient access to medical
marijuana, but opposes in practice "putting (a medical marijuana
dispensary) in Gilroy.

"That's a perfect example of a NIMBY (not in my back yard) position. A
Time magazine article on ethics called NIMBYism "a perverse form of
antisocial activism."

Certainly Gilroy should ensure that medical marijuana dispensaries -
which are legal in California - are appropriately located, just as
planners do for pharmacies and hardware stores, for example.
Dispensaries should be treated like any other business seeking to locate
in Gilroy.

Larson uses pretzel-twisted logic to try to justify his NIMBY position
by claiming that legalizing medical marijuana usage is part of a larger
battle to legalize recreational marijuana usage, something he apparently
opposes. He claims that dispensaries have "ill effects" on "family
values and safety" and that they lead to an increase in crime.

He describes how ridiculously easy it is to get marijuana (since his
childhood!) and then tries to scare readers into opposing dispensaries
by claiming they'll make it easy to get marijuana. Huh? I call foul.

Larson provides zero evidence for these assertions, but that doesn't
prevent his lame attempt to support a conclusion that's illogical and
cruel to suffering patients. He does, however, provide examples of red
herring, appeal to fear, and slippery slope logical fallacies. I assume
those fallacies help squelch the cognitive dissonance that must come
from acknowledging the suffering of "someone with terminal cancer who
finds relief from their pain or nausea by smoking a doobie" while
opposing the only way, given our current ridiculous federal laws, for
that patient to safely and legally obtain the medicine that brings
much-needed relief.

Many people - like me - support legalizing medical marijuana because we
understand that the federal government completely misclassifies
marijuana, causing people to needlessly suffer. The federal Controlled
Substances Act lists marijuana on Schedule I, the most restricted
category that is supposed to include only substances with high potential
for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and no standards for safe
use under medical supervision. This is simply not true about marijuana,
as I've detailed in previous columns.

It's fine to debate legalizing recreational use, but it's completely
separate from the debate about medical marijuana. Another thing:
Larson's use of a street name for a medical marijuana cigarette, and
giving his fictional medical marijuana dispensaries monikers that
incorporate other street names ("Weed-Mart, " Ganja Emporium" and
"Pot-pourri" ) might be cute, but the names are irrelevant, and using
them is illogical and unfair. Worse, they're examples of the ad hominem
and appeal to ridicule logical fallacies.

Does Larson call pharmacies "Lude Lounges" because they sell
prescription quaaludes that some people use recreationally? Maybe he
prefers "Hillbilly Heroin Huts" because some people abuse prescription
OxyContin? Does he call hardware and paint stores "Huff Depots" because
they sell products that contain inhalants? Does he oppose the presence
of these stores in Gilroy?

The use of logical fallacies is usually a sign that the fallacy-employer
knows that his position is weak and is thus reduced to trying to
distract his audience and hoping that they don't notice his argument's

Something else about Larson's column confused me: He believes it's
relevant to emphasize that he has never smoked marijuana. I fail to
grasp the relevance, but I'll share too: I have never smoked, seen,
touched or been offered marijuana. I wouldn't even recognize the odor, I
lived such a sheltered youth. However, I'll also share a relevant
personal fact: My daughter endured two-and-half years of chemotherapy to
treat cancer. She suffered from nausea, but, thankfully, it was
short-lived and manageable.

However, had her doctors recommended medical marijuana, here's what
Larson and his ilk would require me do: In their pollyanna-ish,
"Weed-Mart"- free utopia, I would have had to locate one of the scores of
unlicensed, unregulated street marijuana dispensaries (you know, drug
dealers) sprinkled throughout South County to purchase marijuana of
unknown quality and strength, in the process likely supporting other far
worse illegal activities, while risking arrest, prosecution and
incarceration when my young daughter desperately needed me.

Why? Because they don't want legal, regulated medical marijuana
dispensaries in this community. Put that cruel reality in your NIMBY
pipe and smoke it.

Lisa Pampuch is a technical editor and a member of the newspaper's
editorial board. She lives in Morgan Hill with her husband and two
children. Reach her at lisapampuch@ iname.com.

http://www.gilroydi spatch.com/ opinion/260812- columnists- nimbybess- and-nu\
mbskull-marijuana- logic

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