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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Grass in the machine

    Last week, the world’s first two cannabis vending machines, designed to distribute 1/8 ounce packets of medical marijuana to approved patients, opened at an Herbal Nutrition Center in Los Angeles. The automated dispensers operate 24 hours a day, but they’re far from the average Coca-Cola machine – the refrigerator-sized black boxes are guarded 24 hours a day, and customers are required to provide a fingerprint scan and swipe a magnetic card before purchase.

    Living in Europe last year, I enjoyed being able to buy a bottle of good Austrian beer from the vending machine in my dorm – and for the price of a Coke! In other parts of the world, there are different understandings of what is possible with a vending machine; but there are also different moral priorities that determine what can or cannot be sold in them, or consumed at all.

    Being the largely pro-capitalist, consumerist society that we are, the United States tends to focus on convenience for the customer and think of morality in terms of individual accountability. In our country, you earn the right to own multiple cars and be given free shopping bags every time you go to the store because you aren’t the “”bad”” or “”dangerous”” person who drives drunk or wants to buy a cigarette from a vending machine whenever the craving comes. In many

    European countries, however, moral focus often has more to do with the good of the society as a whole, while offering the individual greater personal choice. Thus, in the Netherlands I’m more likely to have to reuse my own bags for groceries to help conserve resources, but I can also smoke up as the need arises.

    Typically, the U.S. is the kind of gardener who likes to “”weed out”” unpleasant individuals to keep the garden nice without paying much attention to what pesticides are getting sprayed everywhere in the process. Perhaps we should instead be buying a little more marijuana on our way to the bus stop.

    – Daniel Sullivan is a senior majoring in German studies
    and psychology.

    While stoners the world around are celebrating this new innovation and devising schemes that would make Danny Ocean blush, the development reflects the broader trend of the burgeoning medical marijuana market in California. The fact that such a machine even exists is a testament to the sheer size of the market, which is estimated to be as large as $2 billion.

    Yet there remains a serious disconnect between California and the rest of the nation. While medical marijuana has become an almost mundane aspect of the medical community at large (how long until doctors sport marijuanathemed-pens and notepads?), the idea is scoffed at by federal officials who maintain that it is a Schedule I drug, a ranking that merits it more control than drugs such as heroin and cocaine. While California rakes in tax revenue from these marijuana dispensaries and provides employment for many of its citizens, the federal government spends billions fighting the same vain battles against the substance that they’ve been fighting for decades.

    The difference between the two positions is clear. One represents a rational policy that respects individual choice and the intelligence of medical professionals; the other is a policy based on irrational fear, rooted in racist sentiments and political agendas. Perhaps someday our grandchildren will laugh when we tell them stories about how the government used to think marijuana was worse than other drugs, much as some of our grandparents still remember when alcohol was driven underground. We can only hope.

    – Evan Lisull is a sophomore majoring in economics and
    political science.

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