Medical Marijuana

Is All Marijuana Use Medical?

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The July 28 issue of The New Yorker includes a subtle, honest, and absorbing account of the gray market created by California's legalization of medical marijuana. Author David Samuels hangs out with a pot-wholesaling buddy for six months and through him meets growers, mules, dispensary operators, and patients. Samuels candidly describes how easy it is to get a doctor's recommendation (he gets one for "anxiety and depression") but at the same time offers reasons to wonder whether that should be considered a problem:

"People are talking about how it's being over-recommended and abused," [a defense attorney specializing in marijuana cases] said. "I mean, big fucking deal. It's not toxic!"…

Like many other dispensary owners I spoke with, Cindy derives particular satisfaction from providing medication to people who suffer from chronic diseases. Although she suspects that there is nothing seriously wrong with many of the young men who come in to buy an eighth of L.A. Confidential, she doesn't regard marijuana as a harmful drug when compared with Xanax, Valium, Prozac, and other pills that are commonly prescribed by physicians to treat vague complaints of anxiety or dysphoria….

Though [a doctor who writes recommendations] was always careful to observe the letter of California state law, he said, "My personal belief is that marijuana is a useful and relatively harmless substance and that adults should be free to choose whether they want to use it or not." 

When adults have that freedom, the world that Samuels describes, in which marijuana carries a load of cultural and political baggage that has little to with its intrinsic properties, will no longer exist.

Greg Beato covered California's medical marijuana scene for reason last year.

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  1. DeMunchification Syndrome (DMS) effects millions of people across the country.

    Imagine wandering downstairs at 9:44 PM, seeing a bag of Sun Chips, and just walking right by and sitting on the couch. Have I got your attention now?

    For just five dollars a day, you can help support joez Appeal for Guys Who Don’t Have the Munchies.

    Don’t look away. Don’t “almost give.” Ask yourself: do I want to live in a world where a can of Pringles can sit on the counter untouched for three, four, even five consecutive evenings?

    Won’t you please help?

  2. “People are talking about how it’s being over-recommended and abused,” [a defense attorney specializing in marijuana cases] said. “I mean, big fucking deal. It’s not toxic!”…

    Filling your lungs with soot is not toxic?

  3. Doc: I’m depressed when I do not smoke some MaryJ.
    If I’m not depressed when I do smoke some of this natural medication, then it is obviously working as the antidepressant for which it was prescribed.

  4. What a drag it is getting old.

    “Kids are different today,”
    I hear ev’ry mother say
    Mother needs something today to calm her down
    And though she’s not really ill
    There’s the marijuana chill
    She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
    And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day.

    “Things are different today,”
    I hear ev’ry mother say
    Cooking fresh food for a husband’s just a drag
    So she buys an instant cake and she burns her frozen steak
    And goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
    And reef helps her on her way, get her through her busy day.

    Doctor, please, some more Thai weed
    Outside the door, she smoked some more
    What a drag it is getting old.

    “Men just aren’t the same today,”
    I hear ev’ry mother say
    They just don’t appreciate that you get tired
    They’re so hard to satisfy. You can tranquilise your mind
    So go running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
    Ganja helps you through the night, helps to minimise your plight.

    Doctor,please, some more Thai weed
    Outside the door, she smoked some more
    What a drag it is getting old.

    Life’s just much too hard today,”
    I hear ev’ry mother say
    The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore
    And if you smoke more of those, you can’t get an overdose
    So keep running to the shelter of a mother’s little helper
    It just helped you on your way through your busy dying day.

    Apologies to Mick Jagger and Keith Richard.

  5. NAL – ever heard of a water pipe or a vaporizer?

  6. NAL – …or brownies, etc.

  7. joe,
    You scoff, but appetite restoration for people on chemotherapy for AIDS and Cancer, is one of Med MJs greatest successes.

    NAL,
    MJ smoke (not soot) is significantly less toxic than tobacco smoke, if at all.

  8. I really must take umbrage with Marijuana advocates turning and inflicting the same onus onto other substances as pot is imbued with. While we can bandy about the actual medical side effects all day (and yes, inhaling smoke can’t be that medically beneficial), the bottom line is that with any substance it all comes down to how the individual uses it. I’ve seen people who can use cocaine or pills now and then, and not develop an addiction, and on the other hand, I’ve also seen people who do nothing but smoke pot and have the same characteristics as any addict. In the end, addiction is the same no matter what the thing is one is addicted to – something William Burroughs was quite keen to. But I am truly sick of the assertion (mostly by weed aficionados) that pot is benign compared to alcohol for instance, in a metaphysical sense. While alcohol may lead to liver disease and the like, I have noticed plenty of similarities between alcoholics and potheads, and I have seen many of each in my life.

  9. she doesn’t regard marijuana as a harmful drug when compared with Xanax, Valium, Prozac, and other pills that are commonly prescribed by physicians to treat vague complaints of anxiety or dysphoria….

    QFMFT. Go talk with someone who was addicted to benzodiazepams and someone who was addicted to marijuana and compare the withdrawal symptoms. Benzo withdrawal occasionally includes “death” as one of those symptoms.

  10. Filling your lungs with soot is not toxic?

    tell that to the tobacco smokers! ..they not only fill their lungs with smoke (it’s not soot) they fill their lungs with cancer and emphysema causing smoke.

    At least marijuana smokers only fill their lungs with non-cancer and non-emphysema causing smoke!

    And if they choose to vaporize or eat their marijuana instead of smoking it they don’t even subject themselves to any smoke at all!!

    Sounds good to me. Legalize Marijuana!!
    Legalize, Regulate and Tax it. Strike down the prohibition laws and reject the Single Convention!

  11. I would rather see anyone I care about become a pot head than an alcoholic. Addiction is not the same for every drug. In no case is it the most desirable thing, but I’ve now seen enough people die of alcoholism to know that there is a very real difference.

    Of course, the real problem here is someone else deciding what risks are acceptable for a particular benefit. Inhaling certain smoke into your lungs can be quite medically beneficial. It also has some detrimental effects. People can weigh the relative risks and benefits on their own. With accurate information is available, people should be allowed to make such choices.

  12. MJ smoke (not soot) is significantly less toxic than tobacco smoke, if at all.

    Warren, taking foreign, particulate matter into the lungs isn’t good for them. The only remaining question is “how bad is this foreign particulate matter, vs. that one”

    Yes, the dangers of marijuana smoke may be negligible– a contextual danger, if you will. You know, like trans-fats, second-hand smoke… the list goes on.

  13. How right you are BakedPenguin. I pretty much was a pot “addict” smoked it everyday. I would even smoke it in my car at work on my lunch break. That was three months ago when I lost my job to a fascistic drug test sprang upon me due to “reasonable” suspicion.

    Now I am still looking for a new job and I have lost my connection. but since i have been largely broke anyways it hasn’t been a big deal. I have simply accepted being on the wagon and the only side effect is that at time I can be a total asshole and my migraine headaches have come back in full force, before they very rarely if ever occurred.

    I say legalize it now damn it!

  14. The thing about the mostly-accurate lazy pothead stereotype is those people were stupid and lazy before pot came along, or at least lazy enough to let pot make them stupid.

  15. There’s a trade off when you switch from pills to marijuana. On the one hand, the by products of burning lead to similar risks regardless of what you smoke. On the other hand, smoking allows you to adjust the dosage yourself very precisely. This leads to taking lower dosages and reduces the chance of addiction (for lack of a better word).

  16. . I pretty much was a pot “addict” smoked it everyday. I would even smoke it in my car at work on my lunch break. That was three months ago when I lost my job to a fascistic drug test sprang upon me due to “reasonable” suspicion.

    Like if I had two double-martini’s at lunch everyday, and then when I came in I was ‘acting different’ and smelled of alcohol? That kind of ‘reasonable’ suspicion?

    I say legalize it now damn it!

    Like liquor is legal but yet my employer might frown upon lunch hour drinking?

  17. The thing about the mostly-accurate lazy pothead stereotype

    is that it is self-confirming. There are lots of potheads who are not lazy, and you don’t know they are potheads. Like any stereotype, the people who confirm it register on you, and reinforce it; the ones who don’t, don’t.

  18. R C Dean: I know there are ones who aren’t lazy (I’m married to one) but I would refer to them as heavy smokers before I would call them potheads.

    Kind of like a heavy drinker can prioritize drinking with other things, but an alcoholic can’t.

  19. Kind of like a heavy drinker can prioritize drinking with other things, but an alcoholic can’t.

    W3rd!!1! Like get your swerve on at the beginning of the lunch hour, not the end.

  20. The thing about the mostly-accurate lazy pothead stereotype is those people were stupid and lazy before pot came along, or at least lazy enough to let pot make them stupid.

    I think that more often works the other way around. Pot doesn’t make you stupid, but getting off your ass requires special effort when you’re buzzed.

  21. Marijuana bad, Prozac/Valium good. Thus spake Government.

    Now stop asking inconvenient questions.

  22. On the one hand, the by products of burning lead to similar risks regardless of what you smoke.

    You would think so, but as it turns out there’s no correlation between marijuana use and lung/neck/head cancer. Tobacco has all sorts of problems marijuana doesn’t. Some people think it’s the polonium or the nicotine (a deadly poison) or both.

  23. But I am truly sick of the assertion (mostly by weed aficionados) that pot is benign compared to alcohol for instance, in a metaphysical sense. While alcohol may lead to liver disease and the like, I have noticed plenty of similarities between alcoholics and potheads, and I have seen many of each in my life.

    Ask a police officer or a physician who they would rather deal with.

  24. The thing about the mostly-accurate lazy pothead stereotype

    About a third of my medical school class smoked marijuana periodically. For obvious reasons, you’re not likely to know about this.

  25. Pot does not equal “smoked marijuana periodically”

    Pothead is to “smoked marijuana periodically” as Drunk is to “drinks alcohol periodically.”

  26. Hmmmm…

    “Pothead does not equal”, that is…

  27. Rimfax,

    So?

    Are there meaningful negatives short of overdose deaths?

  28. Standard disclaimer to head off certain assumptions.

    I do not support the WoD.
    I think that the negative effects of substance abuse are a public health issue, not one for law enforcement.

    But that does not mean that there are not real and measurable negative consequences that can result from addiction…

  29. Thank you, Neu Mejican, I couldn’t think of how best to articulate my definition of pothead.

    I agree that there are real problems with ANY addiction. Frankly, I think saturated fat and sedentary lifestyles are our biggest health problems right now.

    But every time they wage war on one of them, personal freedom/personal responsibility loses.

  30. Old Bull Lee,

    As a former pothead and a current social drinker I think I can vouch for the important distinction between the two levels of use.

    Abuse of a substance does not equal use of a substance and one can use a substance without being an addict.

    But if you find yourself getting baked everyday in the car during your lunch break, you may be an addict.

    And you may find that that behavior has some real-world negative consequences.

  31. “Are there meaningful negatives short of overdose deaths?”

    I knew a girl whose lung collapsed after taking a bong hit. Maybe her lung would’ve collapsed anyway, but that massive hit caused it that day.

    Any pothead like me who smokes out of a pipe has to clean the pipe out every once in awhile. All that tar can’t be good on your lungs even if it is less toxic than other smoke.

  32. Travis,

    Yeah,

    I suffered with chronic bronchitis and occasional pneumonia as a direct result of my pot smoking when I was younger. Both despite the fact that I was otherwise quite healthy (exercised regularly, played drums).

  33. I’ll never understand why Reason’s on this medical marijuana bandwagon. Pelosi and Obama intend to take us on the road to federalized health insurance, which can’t be pretended away. If Marijuana’s classified as a “medicine,” and considering the article linked above, it surely isn’t used as one, Reason’s essentially suggesting compulsory payment-sharing for certain people’s chosen means of recreation. What could be less libertarian than that?

    Furthermore, pretending marijuana’s a “medicine” concedes the point that only “good” things should be legal and all “bad” things should be banned. It’s the socialist position for legalizing marijuana and a horrible precedent to countenance. Why am I reading it echoed here?

  34. i’ll take med mj over prozac and its ilk any day. it’s safer, shorter acting and more efficacious. and if people are up in arms about people getting easy diagnoses to get med mj, please take a look at psychiatry where the dx’s are easy, the meds are harsh and toxic and you get considered crazy for life. bring on the bong!

  35. Neu Mejican,

    People who claim that smoking pot is not harmful at all are in denial. They’re trying justify their use of marijauna in their own minds. Why not just admit that it might have some harmful side effects as all drugs do. Moderation is the key as it is with pretty much everything else in life.

  36. Travis,

    Indeed.
    Even H&R commenting.

  37. I wonder if I may be developing a problem with the H&R…

    Well, at least I ain’t the heaviest user ’round these parts…despite the occasional binge.

  38. Is it easier for an underage person to get marijuana or alcohol, why?

    if prohibition works for marijuana, why couldn’t we just keep alcohol under prohibition too? they are both psychactive drugs that alter the mind and body, and alcohol has no medicinal value either.

  39. mike,

    In my experience it was easier to get marijuana than alcohol when underaged (results may vary).

    So that would argue for legal, but regulated, if your goal was reduced use among the under-aged population.

    BTW…Alcohol has no medicinal value?

  40. For those of you that (aaaarrrgggghhhh!) still believe that medical marijuana is a myth, I would just like to point out that your very own federal government, the same one that classifies cannabis as a Schedule I “drug” having no current medical use, filed for and was awarded a patent (#6,630,507) on the medicinal uses of cannabinoids for the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of ailments including stroke, trauma, HIV dementia, auto-immune disorders, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. Yes, hypocrisy abounds. But it is my hope, that when enough people realize that the US Dept. of Health and Human Services took out this patent based on research done at the National Institute of Health, that cannabis will be quickly rescheduled, and we can start having some intelligent discussions about its appropriate use in society . . . instead of making millions upon millions of US citizens into de facto criminals.

  41. alcohol has absolutely no medicinal value the same way marijuana doesn’t…

    http://www.norml.org//index.cfm?Group_ID=7002

  42. alcohol has no medicinal value either.

    One, it’s commonly used and is effective as a sedative or sleep aid.

    Two, it cures a hangover better than anything I know. 😉

  43. Mr Anonymous:

    There are many reasons why cannabis should be legal. I agree with you that the best (most fundamental) reasons have nothing to do with medical marijuana. But at the same time, those other (libertarian-based) reasons don’t negate the reality of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
    I think it makes sense for Reason to take an interest in this unreasonable situation where you have a dogmatic war on marijuana to the extent that suffering patients are being denied their doctor-prescribed medicine.

    By the way, the other reason that cannabis smoke does not cause cancer is that many of the cannabinoid molecules it contains (including the famous THC) actually fight cancer directly.

  44. “I wonder if I may be developing a problem with the H&R…

    Well, at least I ain’t the heaviest user ’round these parts…despite the occasional binge.”

    It’s not your fault Neu Mejican H & R commenting is a disease you need treatment in a facility that understands your condition. We also need to have reasononline banned by the federal government to stop future H & R commenters from becoming addicted.

  45. The “stigma of criminality” is not therapeutic. What more does any Hippocratic believer need to know?


  46. if prohibition works for marijuana, why couldn’t we just keep alcohol under prohibition too?

    Brilliant idea, maybe it will work this time.
    Many drug warriors would agree with you.

    The “harmlessness” of marijuana is not the reason it should be perfectly legal.

  47. Mike –

    In my experience,it is way easier to get marijuana than alcohol if you’re underage. This was true in high school and it is true now for me in college. I’m 20 and go to a school that’s notorious for marijuana’s popularity so that might play a role.

    If pot were legal, the only minors who would have an easier time getting a hold of it would be those who don’t know or know of anyone who smokes or sells it. I have a tough time believing that there are too many high schoolers who don’t know or know of anyone involved with marijuana who would seek out getting some for themself.

  48. It was always easier to get pot when I was a kid. The people who sold it didn’t ask for ID, plus they were underage too. Kids can buy whatever they want in a black market.

  49. p.s. Not just pot, but acid, mushrooms, crank, etc.

  50. The point most people miss is the spirits companies and commercial beer brewers provide prohibition groups (e.g. partnership for a drug free america) with major financial support. This is because research has been done since the 1800s and into the 2000s (google O’Shaughnessy Mikuriya alcoholism) concerning the clinical substitution of alcohol with cannabis. In the business of intoxicants, one addict is worth dozens of casual users in terms of profit. America is home to some 15 to 22 million alcoholics, representing thousands of dollars a year each to “big alcohol.”

    Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol would be a very enticing proposition and could very well cause losses in the beer and spirits industry well into the hundreds of millions of dollars per year. If cannabis were legal to the point of being sold alongside tobacco in liquor stores, it could represent a fatal blow to the alcohol market. Surely, many would simply get to the store and choose “maui wowie” over bud light, especially if the cost were similar.

    “Medical marijuana” threatens the alcoholic base. Cannabis relieves both nausea and is a natural anti-inflammatory enabling it to treat two side effects of alcohol withdrawal. Cannabis also has a tangible euphoric effect which could replace the need for alcohol intoxication.

  51. But I am truly sick of the assertion (mostly by weed aficionados) that pot is benign compared to alcohol for instance, in a metaphysical sense. While alcohol may lead to liver disease and the like, I have noticed plenty of similarities between alcoholics and potheads, and I have seen many of each in my life.

    Well, let’s look at the facts.

    Alcohol – toxicity ration 6-10:1. Can easily kill yourself with an overdose. Long-term addiction causes many, many serious physical problems.

    Marijuana – toxicity ratio 40,000:1. Virtually impossible to do serious physical harm even with heroic efforts. Long-term addicition’s only consequence is the social/financial harm being high all the time does.

    As far as metaphysics, I’m not sure where God stands on the issue. Addicts have problems, but in the case of marijuana those problems are mostly secondary to the drug, which isn’t true for virtually any other substance.

    Most people who use marijuana regularly simply live normal lives just like those who have a beer or two regularly.

  52. Surely, many would simply get to the store and choose “maui wowie” over bud light, especially if the cost were similar.

    I’m sure the cost would be far, far less than the equivalent high from alcohol, maybe as little as 1/10th. There’s no processing required from crop to customer and the product requires no special packaging or transport.

  53. All the yammering in the world won’t change the fact that cannabis is here to stay. So, let’s treat it like it’s far more dangerous cousins, alcohol and tobacco. Re-legalize it, tax it, keep the price low enough to run criminals out of the trade. Then, we’ll have re-installed true controls over cannabis. As it is now, kids can buy it easier than adults buy alcohol. No amount of scare tactics propaganda or strict penalties will ever reduce cannabis use. Only legalization will do that. Because, use will go down when cannabis is no longer the “forbidden fruit”. Amsterdam proved that, and nothing going to change these facts.

  54. I think it makes sense for Reason to take an interest in this unreasonable situation where you have a dogmatic war on marijuana to the extent that suffering patients are being denied their doctor-prescribed medicine.

    Give me a break. Seriously, what percentage of pot smokers have glaucoma? 1%? .1%? And don’t give me this “anxiety treatment” bullshit. You know what else is a good treatment for anxiety? Sex. Lots of it. Unlike “medical” marijuana advocates, at least Johns and sex-trollers have the self-respect and honesty to not argue that hookers and Lavalife accounts are “medicines” and should, by extension, be paid for by someone other than the user/client. It’s pretty bad when guys who give fake names to meet strangers for sex and guys who scutter about in hats, dark sunglasses, hoodies and crummy motels are more honest about their recreation than group M.

    If Marijuana’s primary use was as a “medicine”, but was banned in favor of alternatives, no one would ever have heard of it. There would be no “medicinal marijuana” movement. The “medical” marijuana argument is code for “stop arresting me for getting high” and, since medicines are about to be paid for via compulsory risk-pooling, it’s a destructive argument at the exact wrong time and the ends will absolutely not justify the means.

    I mean, I love booze, but if Medicare covered it, which is essentially what medicalizing marijuana guarantees for that drug, I’d probably shit a kitten.

    Better to drop all the bad-precedent-setting bullshit and just say “stop arresting me, I’m not bothering you” which is harder to argue against and doesn’t have the negative repercussions.

  55. No Doug Stanhope fans around here? From the brilliant Deadbeat Hero: “All illegal narcotics are medicinal. Boredom is a disease worse than cancer. Drugs cure it, with little or no side effects if used as directed.”

  56. What’s interesting to me is that adults can debate how other adults should live their lives, and assume that the force of government can be used to impose their opinion on their neighbors.

    One used to hear the declaration, “in america, every man is a king, and his home his castle.”

    Yet, as we have seen, while every man is often denied the privileges of being king, even of his own castle, pretty much every man gets his shot at being tyrant. And the tyrants have ratified the drug war, making war on their neighbors.

    I am thinking that Prohibition II might reasonably be called US Civil War II. Or the Fifty Years’ War. Whatever sounds good to you.

    Whatever we call it, we have to recognize its true nature and we have to stop it. By Any Means Necessary.

  57. Cool Cal | July 28, 2008, 5:02pm | #

    I really must take umbrage with Marijuana advocates turning and inflicting the same onus onto other substances as pot is imbued with. While we can bandy about the actual medical side effects all day (and yes, inhaling smoke can’t be that medically beneficial), the bottom line is that with any substance it all comes down to how the individual uses it. I’ve seen people who can use cocaine or pills now and then, and not develop an addiction, and on the other hand, I’ve also seen people who do nothing but smoke pot and have the same characteristics as any addict. In the end, addiction is the same no matter what the thing is one is addicted to – something William Burroughs was quite keen to. But I am truly sick of the assertion (mostly by weed aficionados) that pot is benign compared to alcohol for instance, in a metaphysical sense. While alcohol may lead to liver disease and the like, I have noticed plenty of similarities between alcoholics and potheads, and I have seen many of each in my life

    You ever notice that people who will toss out words like, “umbrage, onus, embued” right off the bat often have some real shortcomings with actual sentences, thinking?

    “Benign in the metaphysical sense?”

    How about in the “one of us has cirhossis in the physical sense”, and the other is mostly going to play videogames and eat snacks?

    The perverseness of the US policy towards pot is basically that its cheap, widely available, harmless, and we’ve spent 60 years fighting it for puritanical political reasons. The basic fact is that there has been no social benefit accrued whatsoever from our MJ policies. They should be dumped.

  58. as someone who actually read the article in question ho ho ho…i was struck by some of the things in it that may be an “only in california” type of situation, beyond having 200,000 registered medical users. having never been there, cali seems like a very strange place.

    getting scripts for “anxiety” would seem to weaken the overall case for medical marijuana in other parts of the country, at least in terms of public relations; i worry that it takes away public legitimacy from people who use it to keep food and other medications down, or to stimulate appetite, or deal with chronic neuropathic pain. on the other hand, expecting people to bypass a way to stay out of jail for the sake of unknown third parties is not reasonable, either.

    i don’t see any way for a california style med marijuana culture, from the supply chain to the enduser, showing up in a place like new york, unfortunately.

  59. Marijuana – toxicity ratio 40,000:1. Virtually impossible to do serious physical harm even with heroic efforts. Long-term addicition’s only consequence is the social/financial harm being high all the time does.

    That assertion is made to sound authoritative, but doesn’t fit with common experience (nor research). I don’t know if TallDave considers chronic bronchitis a serious physical harm, but the pneumonia that I developed as a result of daily marijuana smoking certainly does. Long-term marijuana use is also associated with increased risk of several mental health diagnoses including depression, schizophrenia, and suicidal ideations.

    The paranoid pothead is no more of a myth than the lazy pothead. Anyone who spends time around chronic marijuana addicts will recognize the mental health effects.

    Unless, perhaps, they are high themselves.

  60. I don’t know if TallDave considers chronic bronchitis a serious physical harm, but the pneumonia that I developed as a result of daily marijuana smoking certainly does.

    One of the reasons cannabis needs to be legalized are the bad effects from smoking too much bunk, schwag, ditch weed, and bammer. Obviously anyone smoking 4 or 5 hits a day of some high potency strain are not going to develop pneumonia. If your namesake is true, “Neu Mejican,” there was a day pre-medical legalization in your state where it was nearly impossible to get anything besides moldy, seedy, Mexican brick weed (I’m sure you remember).

    The paranoid pothead is no more of a myth than the lazy pothead.

    Certain types of cannabis do cause paranoia and laziness. These are the popular commercially grown high-yielding Cannabis indica strains. One can mitigate these effects easily by choosing what variety and quantity they imbibe… if they were available and the only choice was not bammer Mexi hidden in the gas tank weed.

    Prohibition folks would have you believe that all cannabis is the same except for some is more potent and therefore more “dangerous.” This is why they call it dope, reefer, and marijuana. They might as well use the n-word when referring to cannabis in this way.

  61. The paranoid pothead is no more of a myth than the lazy pothead.

    Again, the potheads who don’t confirm to your stereotype, you don’t even notice or know about. So, yeah, the lazy pothead is just as much of a myth as the shiftless black man.

    And, its not like potheads don’t have reason to be paranoid. I mean, nobody’s out to get them, are they?

  62. Yet another example of the failed war on drugs on one page (the tragic FL story being the other).

    I actually read this lengthy, thoughtful article yesterday, and I left wondering if I could do anything to help these people and the cause they so fully support and maintain.

    Another detail I took from it was the potential windfall to state coffers as a result of sales taxes from this “gray” industry. This is further proof of the sensible policy of legalizing certain recreational drugs and taxing them. The other states don’t know what they’re missing.

  63. Another detail I took from it was the potential windfall to state coffers as a result of sales taxes from this “gray” industry.

    The potential windfall of “medicinal” marijuana is dwarfed by the fact that the state will be buying it for its citizens. I’m with you on non-medical marijuana, though.

  64. Again, the potheads who don’t confirm to your stereotype, you don’t even notice or know about.

    Actually, those that don’t get mental health issues are noticed and counted and used in the calculation of relative risk. Relative risk of mental health issues is much higher among chronic pot smokers. That statement does not imply infinite risk.

    I think you are just playing dumb on this one.

    So, yeah, the lazy pothead is just as much of a myth as the shiftless black man.

    That’s a pretty inapt analogy (black, an intrinsic trait, does not line up with very well with “chronically smokes pot” an action with consequences).

    Nicely passive aggressive though.

  65. Obviously anyone smoking 4 or 5 hits a day of some high potency strain are not going to develop pneumonia.

    I (almost) always had high potency pot. When you are an addict, it is never a matter of reducing your intake because you have better shit to smoke…the idea is to maximize the high with what you have available.

    If your namesake is true, “Neu Mejican,” there was a day pre-medical legalization in your state where it was nearly impossible to get anything besides moldy, seedy, Mexican brick weed (I’m sure you remember).

    Not ever a problem I experienced.
    Locally grown Placitas strains were top-grade and easy to get, and we always had connections to the good stuff from points farther afield.

    That was a long time ago, however, things may have changed significantly in the more than 20 years since I was a bong-monkey.

  66. As someone who actually lives in Mendocino County and is surrounded by “growers” of every sort you should understand that the article was a thin slice of life in these beautiful hills. At one time you could walk and hike these lands in peace but now you must be afraid. Can you imagine trails turning dangerous because of greed – how hard that is to watch. The litter, toxic waste and guns that greet your attempt to commune. There are many many of us here who are disgusted by the charlatans – this is about huge profits – the article is a fantasy meant to feed your bias towards California. These are not idealists practicing their craft – they are just crafty hustlers afraid of real work.

  67. These are not idealists practicing their craft – they are just crafty hustlers afraid of real work.

    Real work? Are you kidding? The fastest growing employers in Mendocino County are casinos. Their sole purpose is to feed on the compulsive gambling addiction of regular citizens. Is this honest work? Mendocino County’s other big employer, Fetzer, exists solely to provide chronic alcoholics with a $9.99 boxed version of two buck chuck. Is preying on alcoholics and exploiting poor migrant workers considered real work? Harwood in Branscomb could be considered a viable, honest, upstanding employer if they were not seeking bankruptcy protection. I won’t even count all of the various over-staffed local government agencies as it is hard to believe anyone considers cutting welfare checks to be real work.

    On the flip side, $1.5 billion (out of 5, thanks to the cartel grows) is produced via Cannabis cultivation in Mendocino County. The citizens total legal income is $2.38 billion (2004). I would argue that a good portion of this $2.38 billion originates from “charlatans.”

    What disgusts me about the attitude of people in Mendocino County is the “Measure B” issue. The majority seems to think that if they just oppress their own citizens with tight limits that this will somehow solve the problem of cartel grows. Good luck with that.

  68. to Black Market Paranoia who states:

    “What disgusts me about the attitude of people in Mendocino County is the “Measure B” issue. The majority seems to think that if they just oppress their own citizens with tight limits that this will somehow solve the problem of cartel grows. Good luck with that.”

    The cartel grows are a huge problem. But that was not the subject of this thread.

    Let’s see – if your figures are correct then this thinly populated county of 80,000 would be dividing up 2.5 billion in some form. Schools would be terrific, roads would be impeccable and health care probably would not be an issue. The truth is we see none of this money – OK the car dealerships and hardware stores do pretty well but they are not known for their high wages either. What you are saying is that there are no jobs so grow dope? Wow, what a sorry alternative. I guess if we have the money you say we have we do not need jobs. I am afraid you are negating your own point.

    Arguing about “Measure B” might be more on track. We have no other means of sending a message to everyone who grows more marijuana than can actually be used by deserving patients, cartel or medical. That is a simple fact. Everyone here claims to be “Medical Marijuana” when caught with more than they can account for. The guy who grows next door to me is dieing of hepatitis contracted from needles feeding his heroin habit. He grows ten times more than he or his “clients” can use. The rest ends up on the street. Why not plug that hole and send a message to the larger operations.

    It is interesting that all you can address is the money. What about guns, pollution and iron gates with guard dogs? Some of us came to a rural county knowing it would be tough to make a living but we wanted more for our kids. If you think it is heart breaking to watch an old Victorians turn into crack houses in the city you should watch a stream dry up knowing everyone down the line would be affected.

    You are rationalizing a concept – not living it as we are.

  69. Let’s see – if your figures are correct then this thinly populated county of 80,000 would be dividing up 2.5 billion in some form.

    In the form of jobs. Per capita income in Mendocino County is ~$35,000. Multiply by ~70,000 income earners = ~$2.5 billion. The more precise figure is $2.38 billion in 2004. $1.5 billion is the amount of money the domestic Mendocino crop not grown by organized crime is estimated to be worth every year (the criminals grow $3.5 billion).

    He grows ten times more than he or his “clients” can use. The rest ends up on the street. Why not plug that hole and send a message to the larger operations.

    So, he grows a couple of lbs worth that ends up “on the street” but really that just means smoked by other pot smokers, so technically that takes away from larger operations. Is that really a big deal? That’s part of what this article is about. Cannabis in itself is not a big deal. It is a big deal however when someone who intends to use Cannabis for their medical condition is only allowed to grow enough to supply themselves part time and then have to go to “a guy” in Laytonville to pick up the rest. Measure B doesn’t send the intended message, it sends more customers to the very people it was supposed to send a message to.

    It also bothers me a little that you seem to place moral judgement on how your neighbor contracted his catastrophic disease. I don’t particularly want to hang around heroin addicts, but that is mostly because they have to commit crime in order to afford their habit due to draconian prohibition laws. I don’t think opiate addicts are automatically bad. Addiction is a disease, after all. That is a whole separate issue… or is it? Personally I’d rather have a heroin addict selling Cannabis to fund their habit instead of committing actual crimes. It’d also be better if heroin could be prescribed for heroin addiction in the United States or even if syringes could be purchased so that debilitating and potentially lethal illnesses were not passed around.

    What about guns, pollution and iron gates with guard dogs?

    What does that have to do with medical Cannabis? Gates, guns, and dogs are things people have to protect their private property, a right in a free society. Perhaps Mendocino County is becoming less socialist than it was in the 1970s and 80s. As for pollution, any area that intensively grows commercial crops has associated pollution. Be happy you don’t live with the kind of agricultural pollution the Central Valley towns experience. What is the incentive not to pollute, anyway? It is hard to make a case for organic certification when the entire crop is illegal.

    Personally, I see all the societal problems people want to associate with the drugs themselves as due the prohibition of these drugs. The solution to the problems associated with prohibition is not more prohibition.

  70. “In the form of jobs.”

    2.3 billion in jobs? Where are they – you simply are using provided statistics and using them carelessly. My point, as it was in the last post, we would see that in a small community. The money leaves and there is no gain.

    “It also bothers me a little that you seem to place moral judgement on how your neighbor contracted his catastrophic disease.”

    You are right – sorry about that? I am a recovering alcoholic and watching any drug of any kind hit the streets hurts. Hurt and fear makes us unkind.

    “What does that have to do with medical Cannabis?”

    That is a good question but not for me – ask the medical marijuana growers about the guns, dogs and gates. The New Yorker article was being sarcastic when he repeated the prayer flags and alluded to woodsy farmers. Did you read it or read into it what your canned agenda wants to make of it. These are not nice folks. You speak of the cartel size grows vs. small medicinal grows like they are very different. The difference is facing one gun or six. There are a few idealists growing as upfront and as the law intended but the value of this stuff so great that as my grower neighbor says, “This is the new gold rush” with all it’s bad behavior.

    To the east of me is a medicinal grower. He has never worked in the past decade. He never helps his neighbors. The acreage looks like an abandon junkyard and suddenly you want me to believe he is a spiritual being of great integrity. He chased my insurance man down our common driveway because he did not recognize him. To the west of me is a large scale grow. Bull dozers, chemicals, guns, dogs etc. Primarily made up of career challenged white guys who just have no sense of the land they are ripping up for short-term profit.

    “Personally, I see all the societal problems people want to associate with the drugs themselves as due the prohibition of these drugs. The solution to the problems associated with prohibition is not more prohibition.”

    OK – I agree. Legalize it. But I will quote you “Good luck with that”. In the meantime the band-aid “Measure B” is the only tool the citizens have to work with. We repealed “Measure G” (our attempt at liberalizing grow restrictions) because we tried it your way and we were crushed by greed and the quick deterioration of our life style. If you think it is sad to watch a neighborhood of Victorians go to crack houses you should see the results of bulldozers and chemicals on the forest. Until this changes at the Federal level it is for every community to decide what the law of the land is.

    It has been fun bantering with you but I will let you have the last word. I have a very strong feeling that your use of researched statistics and language is just a little to convenient for a sincere exchange and that perhaps it is done for some organization with much to gain by hiring word smiths to cruise blogs as this. Just a hunch. I do have one last suggestion for you. Get out from behind that computer and take a walk in the woods. It just might let you see the forest for the trees.

  71. 2.3 billion in jobs? Where are they – you simply are using provided statistics and using them carelessly. My point, as it was in the last post, we would see that in a small community. The money leaves and there is no gain.

    I don’t see what the argument is here. At the roughest estimate, 7×3 is 21 and 10,000 x 10,000 is one hundred million. Twenty hundred millions is two billion. Take into account a few more than 70,000 people have jobs and/or the average salary is a bit more than $30,000 and you have the $2.38 billion. I don’t see how that is careless use of statistics.

    My original point in using these numbers was more than a third of all money made in Mendocino County was due to Cannabis production.

    You are right – sorry about that? I am a recovering alcoholic and watching any drug of any kind hit the streets hurts.

    It is a shame that Alcoholic Anonymous teaches its devotees that all drugs are the same (except for refined sugar and caffeine). This is an especially bad thing given the case for harm reduction when substituting Cannabis for alcohol.

    OK – I agree. Legalize it. But I will quote you “Good luck with that”. In the meantime the band-aid “Measure B” is the only tool the citizens have to work with. We repealed “Measure G” (our attempt at liberalizing grow restrictions) because we tried it your way and we were crushed by greed and the quick deterioration of our life style.

    In my opinion, Measure G was not enough. It still placed a cap on plant number and canopy space. There can be no free market price reduction for medicinal Cannabis with the presence of production limits. A collective of horticultural experts could produce enough Cannabis to supply every medical patient with every variety that they could ask for at a significantly reduced price if there were no such restrictions. If some of this product accidentally leaked into the black market, it would put all of your reckless neighbors out of business. Any type of production-related regulation will always favor those willing to break the rules. The more heavy-handed the rules are, the more profit the rule breakers stand to make. It is my suspicion that the people of Mendocino County will see Measure B as dealing a blow to patients and as a win for the black market. Measure B was bound to pass all along due to the majority of black market producers being against medicinal Cannabis laws altogether.

    If you think it is sad to watch a neighborhood of Victorians go to crack houses you should see the results of bulldozers and chemicals on the forest.

    I place great value on the ancient forest and do not advocate bulldozing it in the name of progress. I place no such value on Victorian houses. Why concern myself with objects that represent the age of Disraeli’s socially conservative politics? Victorian houses turning into trap houses is quite ironic to me as it is the continuation of Victorian-style prejudice that spawned the “crack epidemic.”

    I have a very strong feeling that your use of researched statistics and language is just a little to convenient for a sincere exchange and that perhaps it is done for some organization with much to gain by hiring word smiths to cruise blogs as this.

    You think my comments are good enough to land a freelance job for some sort of advocacy group? That would be nice. I am just a regular citizen who advocates herbal medicine and individual liberty. I see Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica as two efficacious herbs with different medicinal properties. It is ludicrous for society to criminalize herbal medicine in any form. It is especially hypocritical for a society to allow its citizens to destroy their lives through drinking flavored solvents but not allow them to potentially enhance their lives by consuming certain aromatic herbs.

    I commented on this blog entry because this sentence resonates with my feeling about the subject:
    “When adults have that freedom, the world that Samuels describes, in which marijuana carries a load of cultural and political baggage that has little to with its intrinsic properties, will no longer exist.”

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