On Monday, two local businesses, including one founded by the Rev. Damon Lynch III, were awarded provisional licenses to sell weed derivatives as medicine in Ohio.
Praise the Lord and pass the cannabis oil!
Lynch, the pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church in Roselawn, casts a long shadow as a preacher and as a leader in our community. His group, Green Rx LLC, would operate from a 7,000-square-foot building in Hartwell. Care Med Associates LLC, headed by Jean Gould, would operate in Columbia Township. So, as early as September, patients with qualifying medical prescriptions can buy products like edibles, oils, patching and vaping concentrates.
That Lynch, who happens to be African American, is involved in the medical marijuana dispensary business may be curious to some. But purely from an economic and healthcare standpoint, I get it. Lynch often emphasizes economic empowerment and legacy-building to his congregation.
In February, he told the Enquirer’s Randy Tucker: “Other than medical professionals, nobody deals with more sick people than pastors. We’re not doing this to help people get high. We’re doing this to help people with a prescription from a doctor. If this was recreational, I wouldn’t be involved.”
While Ohio now lets people sell cannabis products for medicine, it is still against the law to smoke it, recreationally. Marijuana possession still comprises about five percent of arrests in the United States. In 2016, law enforcement agencies arrested more than 650,000 people, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group that favors drug policy reform.
The disproportionate number of African Americans arrested on drug charges has been well-documented, so Lynch’s involvement also takes on an ironic twist: African-African ownership potentially capitalizing on a product responsible for disproportionately populating the justice system with, well, black people.
Ohio voters in November rejected a measure that would have legalized recreational marijuana use in the state and joined nine others nationwide. Voters weren’t ready yet, but the issue isn’t going away. It is a foregone conclusion that Ohio’s approval of medical marijuana use is likely a precursor to recreational use.
Way back when, I covered a trial in which two boys died on railroad tracks in a rural Arkansas. A train ran them over, but the state medical examiner initially ruled their deaths a suicide and that the “psychedelic influence” of marijuana surely played a role in their death. Other examiners debunked that theory, their deaths remain unsolved, and the medical examiner was eventually run out of Arkansas.
In 1936, the movie “Reefer Madness” propagated the horrors of marijuana use as “destroying the youth of American in alarmingly increasing numbers.”
The movie started with a rolling narrative, primitive to “Star Wars” aficionados, but it was effective nonetheless. “Its first effect is sudden, violent, uncontrollable laughter; then come dangerous hallucinations – space expands – time slows down almost stands still. … fixed ideas come next, conjuring up monstrous extravagances – followed by emotional disturbances, the total inability to direct thoughts, … ending often in incurable insanity.”
“Reefer Madness” was debunked long ago as propaganda that was rooted in xenophobia and racism.
Today, what weed in Ohio is, is medicine, which is a long way from causing “dangerous hallucinations” and “conjuring monstrous extravagances.”
What weed is not, is to be used for recreation, which remains a crime.
It’s only a matter of time before that changes, too, which will provide tons of column fodder later.