It is easier to get marijuana in Connecticut than a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus.

It is true that a license is needed and requires a prescription.  Vaccines need FDA approval and trained personnel.

We’re not alone:  Our neighbors in Rhode Island and New York can also get so-called “medical marijuana” with a similar state-issued license, but Massachusetts recently approved recreational sales of cannabis.  Colorado has had legal sales  since 2014, and in California you can walk into a Med Men store, after flashing a photo ID from any state, and have a system similar to the Apple Store Genius Bar to guide you through the array of products.  It is also legal to varying levels in every other state except for Nebraska and Idaho.

More than 40,000 Connecticut residents have licenses to buy marijuana, and the legislature has plans to open the door to recreational use in the next session.  Far more dangerous opioids like oxycodone saw 1,825,478 prescriptions written in 2017, many filled at local pharmacy drive-through windows.  Also, remember that liquor stores are “essential businesses,” drive-through in some states.

Thus, it is easier to get stoned in America than to get healthy.  Don’t think too hard about this; it will drive you to drink.

The COVID-19 vaccine is also legal in many states; all of them.  So, what’s the problem?  The states can’t get enough doses of them and don’t have the funding to actually perform the vaccinations.  A vaccine sitting in a freezer helps no one.

The pandemic was a “nothing,” Donald Trump proclaimed.  However, he confided to Bob Woodward on February 7 that it was “more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”  He said he played it down so the public wouldn’t panic.  By comparison, when President Franklin Roosevelt told the nation of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the biggest panic was young men and women flocking to recruitment centers to help.

Trump flocked to Mar-a-Lago to cheat at golf.

As the pandemic news emerged, Americans reacted to the truth:  Dentists and other health care professionals transferred their protective gear to hospitals, painters donated their face masks and a neighbor of mine, an antique clock repair specialist, found a forgotten cache of about 15 N95 masks he promptly brought to Pequot Medical Center in Groton.  Others did the same.

President Trump on February 26 said “A lot of people say it will go away in April, you know, with the heat…”  It didn’t.  He made similar claims about it “going away” 40 times by Election Day.  Ask the dead if that’s true

Then he suggested using bleach, debunked by the Centers for Disease Control Centers and Prevention.  However, they found that 4% of respondents to a survey consumed or gargled diluted bleach solutions, soapy water and other disinfectants in an effort to protect themselves from the coronavirus.  The number of injuries and deaths is unknown.

In the meantime, companies like Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca, Gilead Sciences and 19 others in the U.S. and internationally set about defining the genetic makeup of the virus, searching existing compounds for clues to help develop a treatment or vaccine to fight the Covid-19 menace.

They did not think it a hoax, but made major investments to find a solution to the problem of the pandemic.  Businesses such as those do not invest in hoaxes.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., there was a battle over how to respond to this deadly threat.  The CDC issued guidelines for behaviors and tools the average person could use to protect themselves, their families and fellow Americans from infection.  It was science versus politics.

Throughout the spring and summer, the administration blamed the states and the “Democrat-controlled” cities, all the time denying science and ignoring medical advice.  Wearing a mask was perverted into a political statement instead of being implemented as wise medical advice.  Each holiday weekend – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and (famously) the annual motorcycle spectacular in Sturgis, S.D. – fueled spikes in coronavirus cases.  Students went off to college, got infected and were sent home to further spread infection.

Then came Thanksgiving, after that Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza.  And now we’re through New Years’ Eve and New Years’ Day, so we have a demolition derby smash-up of super-spreader events.

Dr. Anthony Fauci believes the worst is still ahead of us, despite the good news about vaccines, President-Elect Joe Biden fearfully agrees with that thesis and so do infectious disease experts and epidemiologists around the world.

State health officials are unclear about when they will get a supply of the vaccines.  Without aid from the U.S. Government, they won’t have the funds to store the vaccines, set up the inoculation centers or hire staff to actually inject the doses into the arms of a clamoring and endangered public.

Too many of the things we could or should have done by now are left hanging.  The only thing traveling at “Warp Speed” is infection.  With luck and better leadership, we will accomplish those daunting tasks soon.  But as for this pandemic, I’m embarrassed for the country, a nation that has pulled together to confront the brutality of tyranny around the world, injustice at home, repeated health scares, epidemics and worse over nearly two-and-one-half centuries.

We know we can do better, and must do better.  But do we have the will to do better?

Brian McGlynn is a journalist and essayist living in Mystic.   

Leave a comment