The giddiness was as contagious as contact vapors when potheads learned that Mary Jane had been freed.
To grow in select backyards anyway.
While other states have spent years just blowing smoke, Colorado and Washington State are the first states to legalize marijuana. Ironically, as a side effect, most of us have no idea what that means.
So grab your snacks and let’s toke. I mean, talk.
Some states have exemptions for use of marijuana for its medicinal properties. Other states, to some extent, have decriminalized the drug for recreational use. But as of the November 6th, 2012 election, only two states, Colorado and Washington, have voted to approve the sale and possession of marijuana for both medical and recreational use.
However, it will not be “safe” to sneak your stash to these states until they have produced cut and dried laws on the distribution and regulation of marijuana. Colorado and Washington have only got one year to write those laws on the books. And since the clock is ticking, legislators, of course, will be burning the midnight bong to uphold the will of supporters who passed the law.
So where’s the controversy? Buzzkills are incensed and huffin’ and puffin’ about the soundness of passing such a joint. I mean, law.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) warns that marijuana is as serious as a heart attack. “Marijuana raises a person’s heart rate by 20 to 100 percent shortly after smoking—an effect that can last up to 3 hours. In one study, it was estimated that marijuana users have a nearly 5-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug.” Consequently, potheads who have high blood pressure place themselves at a higher risk for stroke.
Chronic marijuana use has also been linked to various mental disorders: schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and major depression. A disturbing fact, as nowadays, the main psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, is higher than ever.
For a pungent potpourri of quality of life benefits, sufferers of chronic diseases such as cancer, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and glaucoma have chosen to ignore Mary Jane’s nickel bag of problems. For them, the abatement of a myriad of horrors (pain, nausea, blindness, etc.) is a dime bag of heaven.
Old School Smokers, on the other hand, lost their taste for weed years ago when it started showing up in plastic baggies in every flavor but “all natural & no preservatives added.” The higher potency of THC tends to make it harder for the older and wiser (with aging and dying brain cells) to just lean back and toke it easy. For them, the higher THC dose is a mind-blowing statistic shooting too close to the dome.
Since NIDA has cited that marijuana use is on the rise, the higher THC dose is especially troubling. Obviously oblivious to the possibility of a long-term drop in IQ, more teenagers smoke weed today than cigarettes, according to the government’s annual survey data.
Could the rise in marijuana use be because cannabis offers kilos of fun? To be blunt, well, sure.
Distorted perception, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, disrupted learning and memory, and the potential for living life as a slacker—for short periods of time—is high entertainment. Functioning at a sub-optimal level all of the time—swoop (the sound of inhaling)—may be a drag on families and society. But a weaker stream of the same argument says: Nay, low-level functioning is merely the herbal essence—swoop—of kicking back and relaxing.
Still, googly-eyed giggling potheads should not carry their pipes to the streets in celebration just yet. Under the Controlled Substances Act, and as long as growing, selling, or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the federal government can prosecute marijuana cases—even in Colorado and Washington—regardless of state regulations.
Predictably, a Huffington Post poll found that support soared even higher for legalization of marijuana if the good stuff could be “taxed and regulated like alcohol.” Americans of more sober (and contrary) minds whine that the legalization of marijuana for any purpose other than medicinal is a smoke screen for commercializing sin. Same as alcohol. Same as prostitution.
President Obama, cool as he is, is not impressed nee-ver. Just a puff of smoke in time after the election, The White House stated that it “steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana and other drugs because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs, and pose significant health and safety risks to all Americans, particularly young people.”
Small-time marijuana users are not likely to find themselves in a skunky situation. Without worry of spending qwenty-five years in jail for a roach, small-time users may grow their hair long and skip barefoot alllllllll the way back to the sixties if they want.
But don’t let the limited federal resources fool you. As the administration has warned, large-scale traffickers may want to weigh in the balance that the big dog barking and sniffing around out back—“Come out with your hands up!”—may not belong to the neighbors.
What about you? Are you at peace with pot?