Journal of the California Cannabis Research Medical
The Sheriff's "Joke"
“Alameda County Sheriff Charles Plummer has a doctor’s
letter stating on-the-job stress should qualify him to buy marijuana
for medical needs,” begins a recent story by Karen Holzmeister
of the Oakland Tribune. Tod Mikuriya, MD, read the lead and thought
Plummer deserved credit for a groundbreaking gesture.
Then he read on: “As a joke, Plummer’s physician wrote
the note, which the sheriff showed to members of the district attorney’s
office. They agreed the letter would be Plummer’s ticket to
getting a card that would open doors at any of the six cannabis dispensaries
in unincorporated areas.”
You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to know that things people
say “as a joke” can reveal below-the-surface concerns.
Being sheriff of a mostly urban county in an era of social breakdown
is a stressful job, indeed. Either Plummer’s doctor didn’t
think the request was a total joke, or s/he made an ethical stretch
in signing a letter approving his use of cannabis.
According to the Tribune, “After touring all the clinics [in
Alameda County’s unincorporated areas], Plummer said he can’t
see himself queuing up alongside patients who appear to be ‘unsavory
people’ and ‘young men under 30 who look like people
you would arrest a lot.”
It’s understandable that the subset of Californians who have
sought a doctor’s approval to medicate with cannabis includes
a high percentage of the young, brave, macho, and poor. Middle-aged,
middle-class people are more likely to have jobs, families, interests
to protect. Many become “risk averse,” too embarrassed
to ask their regular physician to approve cannabis use, and afraid
that going to a specialist might result in negative consequences
with an employer, an insurance company, a family court judge, etc.
mention the government.
Nine years after the passage of Prop 215, law enforcement’s ongoing
opposition has led to this:a middle-aged professional can’t find
a dispensary where he’d feel comfortable stopping by after
work to see what strains are recommended for stress.
What the sheriff sees as a diminution of his power to
control the citizenry, the doctor sees as a positive. Mikuriya says, “Whatever
other benefits a doctor may help a patient obtain by approving
use, the conferring of legitimacy is a benefit of the utmost importance
for their well-being.”