It seemed like a good idea at the time, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which allowed Californians to use marijuana with a doctor's permission to alleviate pain. The act was put on the ballot, and California voters passed it 56 to 44 percent.
The biggest bankroller of the referendum was George Soros, the secular-progressive billionaire who champions drug legalization. He pumped about $350,000 into pro-medpot ads, according to published reports.
Since the act was passed into law, thousands of pot "clinics" have opened across the Golden State. In San Francisco, things got so out of control that Mayor Gavin Newsom, a very liberal guy, had to close many of the "clinics" because drug addicts were clustering around them, causing fear among city residents.
In San Diego, there's another problem. Some high school kids have found a loophole in the Compassion Act. Incredibly, there is no age requirement to secure medical marijuana in California and no physical examination needed either. So some kids tell a doctor they have a headache, pay him $150 for a card, and then buy all the pot they want. Unbelievable, but true.
Catherine Martin, a school official in San Diego, actually sent letters to parents in the Grossmont Union School District warning that some students are getting the medical marijuana cards and then selling them to other students. The result: an increasing number of kids arriving at school stoned. Martin warned parents to supervise their children.
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis told me that some "clinics" are even marketing medical marijuana under names like "Reefer's Peanut Butter Cup," and "Baby Jane." Cheech and Chong would be proud.
Now, I'm sure Soros doesn't give a hoot about this, but the unintended consequence of non-prescription medical marijuana legalization is that some kids are making an industry out of it.
Sure, pot is available illegally in most places, but now children have a legal option. Why work at Burger King when you can sell pot cards?
Of course, there is nothing compassionate about kids being intoxicated. It changes them forever. Once a child alters himself with chemicals, childhood vanishes. A national study by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse says more teenagers are in rehab for marijuana than any other intoxicant, including alcohol.
Society needs to rethink its strategy on intoxicants in general. If marijuana can help those suffering with debilitating diseases, then doctors should have the power to prescribe it and licensed pharmacies should carry it.
But storefront "clinics" run by irresponsible adults who are aided by corrupt doctors are a joke only a confirmed stoner would find funny.
Bottom line: Be careful what you vote for. Compassion can easily turn into chaos.
Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News. His "Radio Factor" can be heard weekdays from 1 to 3 p.m. on NewsTalk 1300 WIMO-AM. Have any thoughts about this column? Share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters should be no more than 200 words and are subject to approval by the publisher. Letters may be edited for style and space requirements. Please sign your name and provide an address and a daytime telephone number. Address letters for publication to: Letters to the Editor, Gwinnett Daily Post, P.O. Box 603, Lawrenceville, GA 30046-0603. The fax number is 770-339-8081.