Archive

Archive for August, 2010

Rope-a-Dope

August 13th, 2010 Comments off

E-mail traffic requesting my support for legalizing marijuana increased tenfold in the last 60 days. I am a supporter of changing things, but not in helter-skelter method advocated. Since my support is wanted, I have just a few things I’d like to say about legalization.

With America’s number one cash crop coming up for a legalization vote in California, the cannabis rush is on as state coffers rattle with the few tax pennies remaining. The lip-smacking, salivating and greedy hand-rubbing of those anticipating windfall profits may push the vote over the top, but to what effect?

The largest distributor of marijuana in the United States is what is known as the “Mexican Mafia” that generates billions of dollars exporting their product to the United States. The loss of revenue will not go unnoticed. Within the country there are thousands of dealers that depend on marijuana sales as a source of support. Will they all give up a billion dollar industry quietly?

I feel the great money grab of the marijuana rush is on and with the inmates running asylum. The get rich quick schemes from runs all the way from the governor of the state to preachers of every denomination that is anxious to cash in on taxing marijuana smokers. The rush to make it happen obscures the reality of marijuana.

Before getting into the ramifications of legalizing marijuana, perhaps a discussion of the laws covering its use might be order. For instance, if you show up at the emergency room with life-threatening injuries, is the doctor that smokes weed qualified to work on you? Do you have to accept that doctor? Should that doctor be allowed to work while under the influence of marijuana? Too drastic?

Should a stoned policeman be allowed to carry a weapon, drive a car or operate radar equipment?

What about our children? Sadly, in many cases marijuana loaded teachers are already teaching our children. Having the mentally obscured teach the academically challenged presents serious problems for both the deliverers and recipients. In the United States the uneducated are left behind. Clearly, US schools can do no better than produce high school dropouts, unemployable adults and fodder for the criminal justice system. Already it is difficult to obtain qualified teachers for our public schools as well as the revenue needed to fund them. Would the added revenue be a blessing or go the same route as the lottery revenue earmarked for better education?

Want to ride with an airline pilot flying at 35,000 feet and hasn’t left the ground. What about a fire department that shows up 30 minutes late because they’re all stoned. The possibilities are endless, but the effect is clear. In all cases most people want sober, knowledgeable, steady people monitoring their health, their children, their finances and watching as lifeguard at the pool.

So, how do we set steps for usage that are fair but don’t endanger the public? What is public endangerment and who makes those decisions? Will law suits be available to collect damages when a person smokes unapproved drug-laced weed if there is ensuing harm to the user or others?

What about jobs requiring speed skill, precision and attention to detail, such as a construction worker or an assembly line laborer? An air-traffic controller? A bus driver? A school bus driver? A kid’s crossing traffic cop? The numbers of jobs requiring clear judgment are numerous and even with safeguards in place accidents due to human error occur.

Are we ready to take on an even larger load complete with litigation enormous payouts? Will user names be disclosed or will it fall under medical privacy laws? Once approved, the price of marijuana will bottom out. Do we expect illegal dealers to just pack up and leave? Who will be licensed to sell the drug and under what restrictions? Who will determine the restrictions?

Will felons be allowed to continue their business? Will felons be allowed to work in any part of the industry? Will there be licensing and testing requirements? Will mandatory testing for public safety be required and if so, who will pay for it? Will employers have the right to test for marijuana and if so, can they deny employment to the individual based upon job regiments? Will liability insurance be available for those that smoke?

The intricacies of passing a marijuana law are endless and could bankrupt a small town or municipality if the rights laws are not in place. No matter which side of the debate one picks, a mountain of new laws and regulations will be necessary and that is money California does not have to spend. Should marijuana be decriminalized? What are the long range implications of doing so? These are serious questions that require serious answers.

Before everyone jumps on the revenue railroad, there are serious health issues to consider. Contrary to popular belief that there is no harm in smoking marijuana, science shows otherwise. When it comes to the woes of weed there are a truckload of physical effects that no one speaks of, but the biggest drawbacks may be the potential for harm to others.

The leisure time, get-rich and entertainment cultures have pushed the ideas of feeling good, living without stress and escaping boredom to the extremes, making mind-altering substances seem worthy of the risk, but is marijuana as safe as they say?

Marijuana proponents often promote the drug as less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but recent research shows that common wisdom may be wrong, dead wrong. In a study released last year, researchers found that smoking marijuana could raise the risk of developing psychotic illnesses by 40 percent in comparison to people who never use the drug.

In addition, the study showed heavy marijuana users at two to three times the risk of developing psychotic problems with chances increasing with the amount smoked. Psychosis is the mental disorder most people associate with madness or insanity. Research also shows that marijuana use increases the risk of developing depression. A 16-year study that ended in 2001 shows marijuana users as four times more likely to develop depression. Research conducted in 2007, indicates that frequent use of marijuana not only sparks depression but anxiety disorders as well.

What’s inside that naturally occurring cannabis sativa that grows gently in vast pastures and weed gardens? Aside from containing the same carcinogens as tobacco, marijuana smoke contains 20 times more ammonia, five times more hydrogen-cyanide and nitrous oxides than tobacco smoke. Besides nicotine, marijuana smoke also contains cyanide, formaldehyde, methanol and carbon monoxide. Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is poisonous and if taken in liquid form can cause blindness and death. Cyanide is a deadly poison best known for its use in the gas chamber for capital punishment. Formaldehyde receives use to preserve biology specimens. Carbon monoxide is an invisible poisonous gas produced by car exhausts, also known to be poisonous.

Today, marijuana use links to worsening the affects of depression, psychosis and schizophrenia. A 2007 study indicates that marijuana users have a 41 percent greater risk of developing psychosis than non-users with the risk growing up to 200 percent for the most-frequent users. Marijuana use now ranks as a clear predictor of later major depressive disorders. Other affects include frequent respiratory infections as well as damaged memory and learning difficulty.

Any smoke in the lungs is not a natural event, but the idea that marijuana remains safer than cigarettes defies logic.

A 2008 study suggests a link between chronic marijuana smoking and increased risk of heart attack or stroke. For marijuana smokers, the risk of heart attack quadruples in the first hour after smoking the drug, hardly good news in some communities that suffer inordinately from heart disease.

Smoking of any type ties to a significantly increased risk of heart disease, stroke, lung and other types of cancer as well as chronic lung diseases. Regular marijuana smokers are likely to develop bullous lung disease 24 years sooner than tobacco smoking counterparts. The disease leads to a reduction in the lungs’ ability to expand and contract and therefore adversely affects the ability to pass oxygen to the bloodstream.

Current studies show that a person who smokes five joints a week may inhale more cancer causing agents than a pack a day cigarette smoker as marijuana contains 50 to 70 percent more cancer causing agents than tobacco. The list of new studies goes on, but if nothing else is clear, research shows that marijuana is not the harmless drug many portray it to be and it has links to depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

Before everyone runs down for their cannabis connection and reefer revenue drives common sense out the door, far more serious thought needs to take place to at the very least attempt to anticipate problems and discuss something other than money. If money turns out to be the winner, then we’ll be in for a lengthy growing season after the lottery.

Share
%d bloggers like this: