Friday, February 19, 2010

A little more to puff on

Today's column (it should be the top story on this page) talks about the likelihood of a medical marijuana dispensary opening in Tracy.

It probably won't happen anytime soon, but if it was a more realistic possibility, I'd say "Why not?" — especially if it's a business that goes through the trouble of trying to get the proper permit and trying to operate on the up-and-up.

Then again, I say "why not?" when it comes to across-the-board legalization, too. So maybe I'm not the guy to ask.

Frankly, much of the concern about marijuana use is as overblown now as it was back in the day. In fact, when compared with legal (not to mention big-business) drugs like alcohol, it's hard to tell exactly what the danger is.

OK, so we don't want children to get their hands on it and, as the colloquialism goes, "smoke themselves stoopid." Of course, we don't want minors getting cigarettes or alcohol and rotting their lungs and pickling their livers, either. So there are not-insignificant penalties for providing such goodies to kiddies.

Still, admittedly, Marlboro Reds and fifths of Jaeger find their way into plenty of young hands. News flash: so does pot. In 2009, it got into the hands of 32 percent of 12th graders and nearly 12 percent of 8th graders.

Doesn't it seem like those billions of dollars to wage war on the herb have been very effective, does it?

Ironically, regulating marijuana's cultivation, harvest and sale could actually generate significant tax revenue for our currently cash-strapped government. Not to mention the resources it could silmultaneously free up — imgaine, police free of the burden of marijuana enforcement, prison and court rolls eased, a couple fewer sports stars forced to make meaningless apologies.

This is not to say that, should marijuana be legalized, a life devoted to reefer should be condoned. Alcoholism is a serious problem for society, families and individuals. So is cigarette use. In truth, overuse of anything can do serious harm. There should be limits on weed, even if it's legalized — I know I don't want super-stoned motorists getting anywhere near my '66 Rustbucket.

Which is why, legalization or no, there will always be a place for programs like DARE and laws enforcing sensible limits of use.

But thinking that everyone is going to Just Say No when it comes to pot — or even that it's the sensible thing to ask in the first place — is simply unrealistic.

1 comment:

Mike McLellan, D. Min. said...

Any chance is a good one to run the picture of your car!

But, the topic at hand is one that needs to be addressed. I work with many people in pain and they struggle with the legal/illegal aspects of something that really helps them.

We must deal with this issue. Why make illegal something that really helps people? The issue is control as is the issue with other drugs such as Vicodin and Sudaphed.

Our laws as based on "reefer madness" over reaction.

This, from a non-smoker of anything.