May 22, 2008 Marijuana smokers: Lend me an ear
Image from public domain.
No stems, no seeds that you don’t need,
My introduction to the pro-marijuana culture was heavily influenced by Cheech & Chong, who at once indulged (at least Chong, and I assume Cheech) in marijuana and lampooned those who did the same. This was 1971, and I was eight years old.
Somehow, I did not take to pot. I first smelled it on someone a few years older, recoiled at its reek, and recoiled even more at the age of thirteen when some people nearby me at an outdoor concert were smoking it openly and notoriously (those were the days). Not long after that, the Jimmy Carter administration, as I understand it, promoted the spraying of paraquat on marijuana in Mexico, which then spelled health hazards to smoking it with paraquat, and I did not want the health hazard.
Part of me wanted to know more about this weed that permeated all levels of American society and culture. Ultimately, when offered some by a friend, I tried it, and did so on a few more occasions. Each time, I had been drinking some beer, too. I had trouble figuring out if I was feeling anything different than if I had just been drinking beer. Maybe I was not inhaling enough. Maybe it was low quality stuff. Maybe it was not for me.
Nevertheless, marijuana is my favorite illegal drug, which I now vicariously enjoy through my marijuana smoking clients. As I have said many times, I insist that it be legalized, and I believe that we will have a much better society if those who drink a lot of liquor switched to marijuana.
It has been over two decades since I last smoked marijuana. Since then, fascinating botanical developments have taken hold whereby excellent quality marijuana can be grown throughout the United States without needing to be imported any longer.
I hear repeated talk about marijuana’s potency being much higher now than in the past, with this emphasis often coming from the anti-marijuana crowd. How true is that? If today’s marijuana is stronger than 1980’s marijuana, is it no different than getting the same high from one bowl today that needed more bowls twenty years ago?
Yesterday, I was asked about this marijuana potency matter by a Washington Post reporter, whom I am certain found numerous interesting soundbites to choose among. The writer told is preparing an article for this Saturday or Sunday about recent marijuana busts at two Montgomery County, Maryland, high schools, where one of the busts yielded at least two pounds of alleged marijuana. He asked me for my reaction to those who claim that some or many parents are too lax about their children’s marijuana use, that this may have something to do with the parents’ previous marijuana use, and that today’s marijuana is more potent than yesteryear’s. I replied:
– To say that a former marijuana smoker will be too lenient on his or her children’s marijuana smoking is as farfetched as saying the same about a beer drinker dealing with his or her child’s beer drinking.
– If today’s marijuana is stronger than yesterday’s, all that means is that it takes less marijuana to get the same high.
– Marijuana must be legalized now, as well as prostitution and gambling, and decriminalization of all other drugs. Without doing so, we will always have an overgrown criminal justice system that involves too much injustice, and too many unjust and incompetent judges, prosecutors, police, jailers, and probation agents.
– The overgrown criminal justice system is too expensive, and is costing me and other taxpayers money we should not need to spend. Many in the criminal justice system will be reluctant to shrink the criminal justice system, lest thy be out of jobs.
– Marijuana must be legalized to protect the Fourth Amendment. Today, cops will testify and testilie all the time that they searched a person or car based on the smell of marijuana (even going to the canard of claiming they smelled unburnt marijuana; burnt marijuana reeks, but unburnt marijuana is much more subtle, and cannot be smelled in small quantities from even a few feet away, and it is often a similar situation with larger quantities of marijuana).
– Marijuana needs to be legalized as medicine. It is a natural, effective proven alternative to many pharmaceuticals peddled by the drug companies.
– The Food and Drug administration’s current drug approval process presents too expensive a hurdle for getting marijuana approved. Harvard emeritus medical professor Lester Grinspoon — who started studying marijuana in the 1960’s expecting to prove marijuana’s harm but then finding the opposite to dominate — estimates that at least $200 million is needed for studies to get a drug approved by the FDA. Absent Bill Gates or George Soros coming to the plate to fund such a study, nobody is going to pay for such a study. Marijuana is unpatented, so pharmaceutical companies will have no interest in paying for getting FDA approval of marijuana.
– With the FDA approval process too expensive for marijuana, Dr. Grinspoon points to persuasive anecdotal evidence of marijuana’s strong benefits and low risks as medicine.
Returning to the marijuana potency issue, I ask marijuana smokers to weigh in on the extent to which I am correct that stronger marijuana mainly means that one can smoke less of it to get the same high as one could get from the less potent strains of marijuana. Jon Katz.