Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

It is about time to have a frank discussion about marijuana. California, a very liberal state, really opened the Pandora’s Box years ago making “medical marijuana” easily accessible to just about everybody. The intent (?) was to relieve pain in patients finding no relief with conventional medications.

Of course, there was no way to really regulate who received the prescriptions for “medical marijuana” since just about anybody with a  toothache soon became a customer of the thousands of legal marijuana dispensaries that popped up throughout the state

More states followed suit and soon 20 states had some form of legalized “medical marijuana”, or forms of “recreational” marijuana. Even New York is now discussing the marijuana question. Every time the question of some form of legalization popped up, the voters said yes.

I am from the “Baby Boomer” generation. Initially, possession of marijuana was a serious crime and something few discussed in polite social circles. That changed quickly and laws and social qualms eased. When I was in college, marijuana was everywhere. Even teachers partook in the occasional passed joint. Of course, my being of sound mind and body, I joined in, but only inhaled. Well, actually, I inhaled more than once, but alcohol was still the drug of choice in most circles.

Today, I am on a host of pain killer drugs, most highly regulated and usually with little effect on my varied pains. If medical marijuana was available, I would most certainly use it. This, coming from a conservative. By the way, the drugs I take now are two of the most abused prescription drugs on the streets. I know there are the alarmists who feel marijuana is a “gateway” drug that will lead to the destruction of civilization as we know it. We heard the same cries with the repeal of Prohibition. Today, alcohol is a far more abused and addictive drug.

Many in law enforcement consider marijuana arrests a pain in the butt for all the paperwork involved for a crime that usually results in a small fine. Many years ago marijuana possession, of a small amount, was downgraded from a misdemeanor to a simple violation.

Colorado recently allowed for the sale and use of “recreational marijuana”. State residents are allowed to buy up to an ounce. Non-residents can only buy a half ounce. Colorado taxes marijuana from the seed to the grower to the buyer, making a hefty take for the state coffers. Washington too is a state of smoke.

I am not saying there will be no problems in the legalization of marijuana. I have no crystal ball that will show the long term social effects, but I know the “War on Drugs” is a costly failure that only promotes more serious crimes and crime organizations. I also know that, just as bootleggers and home brewers of yesteryear, marijuana growers, sellers and users exist at every level of our lives. If you want it, you can find and buy it.

Perhaps New York, famous for promoting gambling and liquor – and making a pretty penny from both in taxes – should catch up with society demands. Marijuana is a reality. I sincerely doubt you would find many politicians and political candidates who haven’t “inhaled” sometime in their lives.