Monday, March 29, 2010

Mary Jane? Like, in Spiderman?

First off: In your opinion, should marijuana be legalized?

I've lived in Humboldt County for 2 and a half years now, and I've become well acquainted with the smell of pot. It's everywhere. Don't believe me? Go on a run. You may not smell it on EVERY run, but on the majority of mine I have noticed the pungent smell. Sometimes, it annoys the heck of me. Marijuana and I don't seem to get along, although I can't really say for sure, since I've never tried it firsthand. I have been around it a few times, and, like I said, I smell it all the time. It usually gives me a headache.

But other times I smell it and smile a bit. Ahhhhh Humboldt. It will be hard for me to ever think of life in Humboldt without thinking of the marijuana culture that is so prevalent here. Of course, most of that is an illegal culture... although many, many people have a 215 card that allows them to consume pot for medical reasons. How VALID these reasons are? Well. I'm not sure.

In November, California registered voters will have a voice in the decision to make pot legal. According to the New York Times, "On Wednesday, the California secretary of state certified a November vote on a ballot measure that would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana, a plan that advocates say could raise $1.4 billion and save precious law enforcement and prison resources."

However, there is a lot of worry in Humboldt that legalization will lead to the corporatization of marijuana. This, plus the fact that marijuana currently sells for a LOT more than it really should, is causing many people to go AGAINST legalization since it could hurt Humboldt's already anemic economy.
From the Associated Press,

"Community members are gathering Tuesday night to consider the consequences. They worry about the ripple effect that a drop in marijuana prices could have on the county as a whole if legalization undermines the black market.
'We have to recognize that if we have something that is this big a piece of our economy that is subsidized by being illegal, that this is an unsustainable situation,' Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace said."

Money aside, is making marijuana legal a good idea? I, like most of you readers, grew up with marijuana being taught as a "gate-way drug." Marijuana leads to cocaine which leads to heroin with leads to death. I'm not sure I believe that at all, though. I can understand that certain substances lead to other substances. There are a lot of people who only smoke WHEN they are drinking. I can see how drinking could lead to smoking cigarettes which could MAYBE lead to pot. I can't see pot leading to cocaine though. Or meth. I think if you're willing to try those intensely dangerous drugs, you may have gotten there from MANY places. Like depression. Or prescription drugs. Sure, maybe you got there from marijuana but I don't think it's the predominant route.

There are those who say that if pot is legalized, we'll have more car accidents and more crime. Not necessarily. Drinking and many prescription drugs can cause a person's reaction times to slow or may cause aggression or tiredness. I'm not sure that pot would cause enough additional accidents to be statistically relevant.

Like I've said, I have not tried marijuana, but the biggest reason for that is that it is currently illegal. I try to obey the laws of the land, including this one. I do think that marijuana can be medically appropriate for certain conditions, however. Yes, it's a drug. So is Tylenol, and caffeine. Now, I don't have any serious medical conditions, but I do struggle with anxiety. However, when I am having an anxiety attack, I take this:
Lorazepam. It makes me nice and calm. In fact, it makes me feel like I've had about two glasses of wine. It makes me want to curl up with a blanket and just veg out. However, it's apparently quite addictive, so I've only taken 3 in the past 6 months. I don't want to get hooked, and I try not to take more medication than I absolutely need.

If marijuana was legalized, would I try it for my anxiety? If I'm being honest, yes. Quality, organic leaves versus chemicals? I would go leaves.

But it's not legal. And even if it is, I'm moving away from California in 6 days.

We'll see if Humboldt survives legalization.

What do you think? Should pot be legal, regulated and taxed? Do you have more information for the discussion? Do you care, or is it a moot point?

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  1. Interesting entry, Jess. Thanks for bringing the Humboldt local politics into it-- I wouldn't have considered those points...very interesting.

    I'm a bit like you in that marijuana just doesn't seem to be for me. I hate the smell, and E and I have never tried it. But in general, most people I know who smoke pot do it only occasionally, and certainly haven't been led to other drugs. I think taxing pot could be a great way to make up some budget shortfalls. And I don't see any reason why we couldn't treat it like alcohol-- most workplaces don't want you to have a beer over lunch, and similar policies could be successful with pot.

    I read a great book this winter called "Skipping Toward Gomorrah," by Dan Savage. He was investigating the 7 Deadly Sins as a response to the book "Slouching Toward Gomorrah" that came out a couple of years ago. "Sloth" is about MJ, which might interest you. (And there's a CRAZY chapter on morbidly obese people that is mindblowing.) Check it out if you need a good road trip book. Savage is always amusing...

  2. I had so many other good points that I forgot to include, like how the Mexican drug cartels are here in Humboldt growing up in the hills, and how so many of our teachers have been laid off do to state budget cuts and how pot taxes could help education... but it was 2am when I wrote this, so. You know.

    That does sound like an interesting read! I'm downloading "The Botany of Desire" for the car trip to Idaho, and I'm looking forward to that for sure. I'm finishing "Born to Run" right now, if I haven't told you how great it is, well, it's great. :)

  3. I don't know if I'm for it or against it -

    But, it's legal in Michigan! :) I suppose it's nice to know its there if I need it.

  4. Fawn-- I think only MEDICAL marijuana is legal in Michigan; you still need a prescription. Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996. The legalization on the ballot is legalization for recreational use as well.