What Happens to Medical Marijuana if Recreational Use Becomes Legal?

Article by Brook Edwards Staggs, Orange County Register

Alexandra Rice sits on the porch of her Riverside home,on Friday, July 15, 2016. Rice uses marijuana to battle lupus and depression. She's one of many patients who's against Prop 64 to legalize recreational because she's worried it will consume the current medical market with people who just want to get high.

As she battles symptoms of lupus and depression, Alexandra Rice says she depends on easy access to medical marijuana to control widespread pain and to improve her mood.

The 21-year-old resident of Grand Terrace, near Riverside, has pictures of cannabis flowers on her Twitter profile and friends whose livelihoods depend on the pot industry. She’s also an unlikely opponent of a November ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana for all adults in California.

“If it is legalized, more people who don’t respect it and just want to get high are going to take advantage of that,” Rice said. “And people who genuinely need it as medicine will be misplaced and thrown to the side.”

When it comes to permitting recreational cannabis use, reaction from the medical marijuana community ranges from enthusiastic advocacy to passionate opposition — with many left somewhere in the middle, confused and torn.

“I’m completely on the fence about it,” said Robert Taft, a longtime medical marijuana advocate who owns 420 Central licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana.

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