Medical marijuana v. recreational use: NORML controversy, Colorado connection
During this period, Edson also had a number of exchanges with Celebstoner's Bloom. In the end, he says that Bloom asked to see the original LISTSERV response, "and I sent it to him."
After receiving the material from Edson, Bloom says he got in touch with St. Pierre to make sure the comments were genuine, and gave St. Pierre the opportunity to edit them.
"I wrote back and said, 'I don't want to edit something people have seen. It would make it look like I was changing what I said,'" St. Pierre recalls.
Nonetheless, some edits were made -- but by Bloom, not St. Pierre. Bloom took out small portions that specifically referred to Clark, including this line: "James, you can certainly choose to defend a system that benefits those who are largely gaming the system." The original document is also on view below, providing the opportunity to compare and contrast.
"I also said I'd rather [Bloom] not publish it, because it was an internal discussion -- just a dashed-off note," St. Pierre continues. "And he said, 'I think I'm going to publish it as is.' And I said, 'I hope you put it in the proper context.' But then it gets published, and it has my name on it and the note, and that's all. So a reader would probably think I was trying to be unnecessarily provocative."
Since the piece ran, Bloom acknowledges that he's received criticism for his decision not to describe the background behind the post, and he understands it. But he doesn't apologize for sharing St. Pierre's thoughts in what he sees as a straightforward manner.
Although St. Pierre calls the subsequent firestorm "unfortunate," he feels that "in the end, it's a good thing, because NORML is seen as standing on the side of honesty, transparency and science -- and I can live with that." He doesn't dispute that cannabis has medical efficacy. As he puts it, "For every ten marijuana consumers in the United States, there's one who's an absolutely genuine sick, dying or threatened person who really does benefit from access to botanical cannabis." But he thinks the other nine are currently being put in the position of exaggerating their ailments in order to obtain the substance for recreational use -- and even if the rise of medical marijuana may somehow enhance the prospects of broader legalization, he's uncomfortable with this methodology.
"I don't want to be associated with political obfuscation, shenanigans, misdirection," he says. "It reminds me of a sporting analogy: You can put the ball under your shirt and get across the goal line, and it might be a touchdown. But nobody looks at that as a very honest, clean or enduring victory." He also points out that others at NORML have been saying similar things for years.
Edson, for his part, rejects any suggestion that the medical marijuana industry in Colorado is an elaborate ruse, and he feels St. Pierre has damaged the community by painting with such a broad brush. After posing the rhetorical question "What are they doing here?," he says, "They're creating a rift in Colorado between the legalization community and the medical community that doesn't really exist."
Page down to read the original LISTSERV note, the published Celebstoner piece and an essay shared by St. Pierre. Authored by Florida attorney Norm Kent, it's entitled "Don't Blame NORML, Part 2."