Cannabis is coming. Are you Ready?

Elizabeth Everett

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

It's the dirty little secret of every suburban party. You know...there is always that group that disapears to the backyard or garage after dinner for a  puff of a joint. Your Realtor, lawyer and hairdresser have probably done it. Your money manager brings edibles along for a guy weekend. Your favorite runner loves it for pain and endurance. Your cousin, the conservative attorney? He prefers it to booze. When my husband moved groups to a new investment bank, two of his highly successful co-workers couldn't come. They didn't pass the drug test. "It" is weed, and more people use it than you think. 

On March 24, the Supreme Court turned back a challenge to state marijuana legalization laws. The rising tide of full legalization is upon us, but apparently the Attorney Generals of Nebraska and Oklahoma aren't prepared to swim. Those who are normally all for state's rights, are making exceptions where the end of prohibition is concerned. 

So far, five states have made recreational marijuana legal: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and DC. On the ballet for November are six more states: Arizona, California, Maine. Massachusetts, Michigan, and Nevada. If even four out of the six states win, the argument is said to be over. California is a state of thirty-nine million people. It's a country in it's own right, and as of today, the polls are showing a win. Twenty four states have medical programs, and several more are expected to pass in November. 

Twenty million Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses last year. Most of those were boys between the ages of fourteen and twenty-four. That's twenty million people with arrest records that interfere with their employment status. The cost on the courts and jails in this country is astronomical, not to mention the human toll. The cost to minorities, whose arrests far outnumber those of their white counterparts is downright shameful.



After two years of legalization, Colorado is proving the policy is a success. Arrests are down by 84% since cannabis was decriminalized. Cultivating and illegal distribution is down by 90%. Traffic fatalities dropped by 3% in 2014, a continuation of a twelve year decline. Meanwhile, the state has received forty million dollars in tax revenue. Money well used on health workers, schools and drug prevention. Sixteen thousand new jobs were created in the industry. New statistics show that there is no increase in underage use (although states that legalized already had a higher rate of youth users). 


Relax. There are no recorded deaths from marijuana induced drug overdoses. A total of 17,465 people died from overdosing on illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine last year, while 25,760 people died from overdosing on prescription drugs, including painkillers and tranquilizers like Valium, according to CDC figures. There were more than 30,000 deaths from alcohol, which doesn't include drunk driving or other alcohol induced deaths. 

Never the less, what little cannabis research we have (congress banned any research in 1933), shows that cannabis is not good for developing brains, especially people with schizophrenic tendencies, as it can bring it on early. The rules for using cannabis should be the same as using alcohol...don't do it. Parent's shouldn't have to sneak about if they choose to partake. It's a recreational herb used by mature adults who understand moderate consumption and responsibility. But the policy of absolutism that stands now is not practical. Kids know better than adults that weed is not the same as heroine or cocaine. It's time for a more honest discussion.

Still worried that your son will turn out like Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High? It's a myth. Until the not so distant past, the War on Drugs campaign was giving Hollywood bonuses for portraying stoners as losers. Bill Gates has admitted to using it "about 50,000 times." Steve Jobs, Carl Sagan, Stephen King and even our President have partaken on more than one occasion. And they inhaled. 



We don't know enough about the medical benefits of the naturally occurring weed with many names, but we do know that it won't kill you, like many other legal drugs currently approved by the FDA. The first government sanctioned study is currently taking place, due to the overwhelming evidence that marijuana was helping our veterans with PTSD. In Spain and Israel, doctors are finding success in treating many types of tumors, most especially brain cancer. We know it works for nausea, because pharmaceutical companies turned it into a pill that mimics it's effects (I personally can not go out whale watching without it, as I suffer from sea sickness). Those suffering from chronic pain get much relief from the herb. As do many with seizures. 

So don't these people deserve the right to unfettered access? There are many conspiracy theories about who doesn't want cannabis legalized. Some say it's the drug cartels, who lose out the most from regulated and legal growing. Some say it's big pharma. But the truth is, it's in our hands, as many states have proven. It's time to vote against the laws that allow our sons to be arrested, that turn adult recreational users into criminals, and keep our sick from trying something that may help them live a better life. 

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