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Medical Industry Threatened By Recreational Marijuana Legalization

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Advocates of medical marijuana are at odds with ballots in several states legalizing the drug for recreational use, fearing patients will opt for cheaper weed.

The medical marijuana industry is uneasy over the market competition broader legalization would bring. The states fighting for recreational legalization on the ballot this election already have established and thriving medical marijuana industries. If corporations are allowed into the business, medical growers fear profit motives will uproot their efforts to treat patients with the drug, reports The Denver Post.

Supports of broadening legalization argue medical vendors are just upset they are losing their monopoly of the industry and that the ballots will actually benefit medical patients.

“When it’s legal we’re going to see an increase in quality and a decrease in cost, and that is really good for people who need access to this medicine,” Carey Clark, a board member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association, told The Denver Post. “Things will be labeled and they’ll know what they’re getting.”

Five states are putting recreational marijuana legalization on the ballot this November — California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — while an additional four states are voting on medical marijuana. A recent poll from Gallup shows that 60 percent of Americans favor legalization, the highest support the issue has registered in nearly 50 years.

Friction between supporters of recreational legalization and those who want to protect the medical industry from competition is growing. Professionals who treat patients with medical marijuana fear their patients will bypass the doctor and their recommendations, and just go purchase it themselves.

“This is being structured for big corporations to come in and in a very short period of time wipe out the caregivers,” Lori Libbey, a nurse who administers medical marijuana, told The Denver Post. “I wonder who is going to be able to provide for pediatric patients.”

Record national support is giving recreational marijuana activists hope for victories this election year in many states and they are hopeful for a future push towards national legalization.

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