by Chris Bodenner
A reader gets a highdea:
It's a modern version of the Johnny Appleseed story, only I call it Johnny Weedseed! No, I'm not high – haven't been for many years – but I'm tired of the stupidity, and the damage done, by our prohibition on marijuana. I think I might have a simple way to force the issue a bit.
If you have a seeds … plant them! Plant them anywhere and everywhere. Drive down the highway and throw them out the window. Go for a walk in the woods. Marijuana used to grow naturally all over this country, let's make that happen again! Make weed so ubiquitous that it's impossible to control! Make people deal with it as a normal, naturally occurring substance the way we used to before the "War". Put dealers out of business, overwhelm enforcement resources, stop the insanity!
Another returns to the topic at hand:
I'm 100% in favor of marijuana legalization, but I think it's crazy to believe the ability for minors' to access it will go down upon legalization. Three points:
First, the most probable type of legalization is not going to be corporations growing acres of pot that is then sold in state-run liquor stores; it's going to be the legalization of personal cultivation on private property. That's a teen bonanza. Second, you are confusing two statistics: the relative availability of pot and liquor to teens on one hand, and the availability of pot to teen before and after legalization. Yes, pot is easy to get now. But that doesn't mean it won't be easier to get once it's legal, simply because it's regulated like alcohol.
And finally, the most important point: pot is easy to get because of its medium. You can get a whole party high with a ziplock bag of pot that can be stuffed in a jacket pocket, weighs virtually nothing, will never break, and doesn't have to stay cold. That's way easier to conceal, transport, and distribute than, say, a keg of beer. And legalization will not change that fact one bit.
Your dissenting reader is right; marijuana isn't totally harmless. But the reader doesn't really say much about the harms, so I wanted to help out. I'm on board with legalizing marijuana, but I'm also always on the look out for negative effects. I haven't come across much in the literature (I also support more research in this area), but I always make note of it when I stumble across something. My favorite, from the Journal of Medical Microbiology:
A cluster of tuberculosis cases was identified in Seattle, USA, among East-African immigrants with a history of illicit marijuana use (Oeltmann et al., 2006). Isolates shared identical genotyping patterns, which in the state of Washington was exclusive to this outbreak. Patients reported frequent ‘hotboxing’, the practice of group smoking of marijuana in a vehicle with the windows closed so that exhaled smoke is repeatedly inhaled. Indigenous practices such as the sharing of a marijuana water pipe (‘bong’) in Australia and using a common ‘chilam’ or earthen tubular pot filled with tobacco and burning coal among opium users in India have been reported to favour tuberculosis transmission (Munckhof et al., 2003; Mathur & Chaudhary, 1996). ‘Shotgunning’ or inhaling smoke from illicit drugs and exhaling it directly into another's mouth has been associated with M. tuberculosis transmission among a group of exotic dancers and their contacts (McElroy et al., 2003).
Teenage marijuana has also been linked to schizophrenia; there's a nice little overview here and a longer meta-analysis here (there is an association, but they're not necessarily saying that marijuana causes schizophrenia). I should note that these effects are pretty rare. I don't feel very concerned about the link between weed and tuberculosis.
Another sends the above photo:
This is the view taken from my kitchen window in southern California. The temperature is 112 degrees F. I've been meaning to photograph this for you for about two years and I'm finally getting around to it. I live in a gated retirement community bounded by a golf course. You'd never be able to pick out my window because all these double-wide mobile homes have covered patios/driveways that hide windows from an arial view. (Yes, even people who live in double-wide trailers read your blog.)
Note the tall plants peeping over my neighbor's fence. My neighbor looks like a Hell's Angel. He's in his mid-60s and has taken to growing 2 or 3 marijuana plants each year. There are three of them in this photo and I expect he's close to harvesting them. The plants are about 8 feet tall right now, very healthy and lush. Before my neighbor started doing this I'd never seen an actual plant in my 60 years. As you might expect, my neighbor is a very laid-back guy.
I don't smoke pot. I'm still recovering from 30 years as a fundamentalist Christian and I'm a bit too uptight to tolerate the (in my experience) powerful effect. I did try a couple of times when I was in my 20s but I puked my guts out on both occasions. It was too strong for me. I had the same reaction to cigarettes.