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We're Still Conflicted About Pot Use


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Pot, grass, weed, dope, Mary Jane, cannabis, ganja, reefer, sinsemilla and marijuana - all names for a locally grown cash crop. When rolled into cigarette form, it becomes a joint, a doobie, or when burned down, a roach.

Ever since the 1960s, when it became the drug of choice for the hippie generation and GIs in Vietnam, marijuana has carried on an underground existence that won't go away. New generations are introduced to the drug in the same way they're introduced to cigarettes and alcoholic drinks. A forbidden substance has a certain allure, especially when it seems natural as opposed to coming out of a clandestine chemical factory, and it seems harmless to just take a whiff.

Despite its underground status, pot has a big presence in California. Commercial cultivation is a substantial business here in San Mateo County - so far this year, no less than 12 indoor growing operations have been raided. Helicopters searching the coastal hills when pot plants were reaching maturity in August helped local police find and uproot 11,000 plants with a street value of $39 million. Police won't say how or where they destroy the plants, except that they don't burn them!

But San Mateo County's pot farms are small potatoes compared to much larger operations up north in remote areas. Billions of dollars change hands as their pot moves into the distribution chain and filters into both rich and poor neighborhoods (and college campuses).

Marijuana was a legal medicinal remedy in this country before being declared illegal in the 1930s. Under federal law, it still is. Here in the county, being caught with less than one ounce of the stuff is a misdemeanor with a fine of $100. With more than one ounce, the penalty is six months in county jail. If the substance is hashish, or concentrated pot, one could spend three years in state prison. Dealing can get you four years.

It's been said that the worst danger from smoking pot has been ending up in prison. It's a "soft drug" when compared to other drugs.

In American society, we're two-faced about a lot of things. Sen. Larry Craig, ostensibly a family-values, anti-gay-marriage proponent, allegedly cruised for gay sex in a restroom. Probably a majority of Americans have taken a whiff of marijuana at one or more times in their lives, got a small high from it, and yet aren't about to admit this to their children, not wanting them to experiment as they did. Also, it has been a kiss of death for a person running for office to admit to having smoked pot, and if evidence is presented to the contrary they can always say, "I didn't inhale."

President Bush is known to have had a somewhat wild youth which involved intoxicants of various sorts, but his Republican administration is very anti-pot. At private parties in homes, however, they may act quite differently, as with Rush Limbaugh and his drug use.

But public acceptance of pot smoking has increased. Laws permitting the medical use of marijuana have been enacted by many states including California (in opposition to the federal law), after physicians and research showed that marijuana can be used to effectively treat pain, nausea, loss of appetite or other problems. San Mateo County has issued more than 900 medical marijuana cards to its citizens since its program began two years ago.

However, local police, along with the county district attorney's office, recently closed three medical marijuana dispensaries in San Mateo. What's going on here? I'm told the county feels it's OK for authorized individuals to grow their own pot, and for groups of these individuals to form a collective to grow their own pot for free distribution, but the dispensaries had crossed a line by selling for a profit. County Supervisor Jerry Hill said they'd been warned last November but continued selling.

One wonders if marijuana, after this initial breakthrough, will continue on a road toward legalization. One need only look at the small country of the Netherlands as a case history. Currently, coffee shops there can sell small amounts to visitors without fear of arrest. On one hand, this permissiveness takes some of the handling of pot out of the hands of drug traffickers and brings it into the open. In the future, this pot could be taxed and contribute to the country's bottom line. It also reduces the prison population. Still, one would like to know if availability increases the number of smokers.

Part of me wonders if legalization might create just another avenue for unstable and troubled personalities (certain Hollywood personalities come to mind) to go downhill. On the other hand, if the number of pot smokers keeps increasing to a critical mass and enforcement becomes a joke (which happened during Prohibition), then legalization becomes more and more reasonable.

Libertarians would argue that people should be able to decide what goes into their bodies and to determine what state of mind they want to be in. Along those lines, I've been watching the PBS TV series "The War," giving a realistic inside view of the carnage of World War II. Millions of American kids just out of high school were drafted and sent unto the hellish beaches of places such as Iwo Jima, where many thousands died. If young men are considered mature enough to fight and die for their country (as they now do in Iraq and Afghanistan), one would think they should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to drink a beer or smoke a lowly marijuana cigarette.

News Moderator: CoZmO - 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: San Mateo Daily news
Author: Bil Paul
Contact: natural_born_writer@yahoo.com
Copyright: 2007 San Mateo Daily News
Website: San Mateo Daily News


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An excellent point made here about our government's missed placed priorities. Kill our youth and incarcerate the sick MMJ patient....China should be charging us with human rights violations!!!
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