No special rule for medical cannabis — Guest post by Ben Scales

As a tax man, I don’t think a special tax rule for medical cannabis can be administered in a trustworthy way by government. So I oppose it.  Having a tax agency examine the medical condition of individuals — or taking someone’s word for it — is not a model I trust.

Here’s another reason, from my co-presenter at a Continuing Legal Education event sponsored by the North Carolina Bar Association, Ben Scales, an Asheville lawyer and activist.

I’ve been working for cannabis law reform for more than 20 years, alongside many of the leaders of the movement. Over that time, my positions have evolved. I’ve always believed that cannabis should be legal for all uses, but I’ve spent the last 10 years or so focused on seeking safe access for qualified patients.  My thinking was: let’s let the sick and dying get theirs first.

I’ve now come around to believing that that strategy is a “box canyon” that will hinder, rather than further, the progress toward the ultimate goal of cannabis freedom. While I certainly understand that cannabis has medical benefits, I don’t think it’s properly classified as a medicine.  California’s law in 1996 came the closest to freedom, with its simplicity.  Every law since then has whittled away at the freedoms and moved the plant farther from the people.  I fear that the trend of medical cannabis legalization, with more and more restrictive plant and possession limits, delivery methods, registry lists, and specific lists of approved ailments, is toward an unnatural “pharmaceuticalization” of the plant.  I don’t want to see cannabis treated as a medicine under the law, because it’s so much more than that.  (Nor do I want to see it treated as an alternative to alcohol, but that’s probably a topic best left for a later discussion.)

Moreover, I’ve become disillusioned by many of the themes of medical cannabis legalization rhetoric. One that actually offends me now is “I’m not a criminal – I’m a patient.”  Well, I’m not a patient.  Does that make me a criminal?  I’m bothered by any law that would restrict why I can use cannabis.

Ben’s website is http://benscaleslaw.com/about-us/

 

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Author: patoglesby

From 1982 to 1990, I worked in tax policy for Committees of the United States Congress. In recent years, I was Adjunct Lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill's Business School and then Adjunct Professor at its Law School.

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