Mike Gimbel should know better

February 04, 2010

It is downright disturbing to see that Mike Gimbel, someone who has worked in substance abuse programs, could express such a shockingly callous and ignorant view of medical marijuana dispensaries and drug treatment centers by implying that they would have a negative effect on "our communities, especially our children." ("Md. wouldn't be able to control marijuana dispensaries," Readers respond, Feb. 4). As Mr. Gimbel himself should know, such establishments exist in order to provide reprieve and care for afflicted members of our community.

The medical marijuana bill currently proposed by lawmakers in Annapolis would establish a very limited number of state-licensed dispensaries throughout the state. These distribution centers would safely provide medical marijuana only to qualified patients who suffer from certain debilitating diseases and have been recommended marijuana by a doctor with whom they have a long-standing relationship.

So how exactly would it harm our community to safely provide medicine only to those who could benefit from it?

If Mr. Gimbel is truly worried about the effect such dispensaries would have on children, he might be interested in reading a 2008 study of official state government surveys of teen drug use (compiled at mpp.org/teenuse), which found that no state with a medical marijuana law has experienced an increase in youth marijuana use since its law's enactment. In fact, all medical marijuana states have reported overall decreases, many exceeding 50 percent in some age groups.

Mike Meno, Baltimore

This writer is assistant director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington.

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