Joe Bob's America: Potheads Unite

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Nov 2, 2002.

  1. By Joe Bob Briggs
    Source: United Press International

    Everybody was having a great time on the lawn of City Hall in Santa Cruz, Calif.
    The mayor was handing out free pot, as a sort of in-your-face protest against the Drug Enforcement Administration, and people were lighting up joints and celebrating the enlightenment of California's medical marijuana law. But then some jerks ruined everything.

    A few people lit up NON-NARCOTIC cigarettes -- you know, Camels, Winstons, Parliament Lights -- and they had to be treated like the rude barbarians they were.

    They were evicted from city property, told to take it to the street if they were going to act like uncivilized rubes. Thank God nobody attempted to light a pipe or cigar. They would have had to be removed in leg irons.

    You see, California -- the state that absolutely hates smoking -- wants to legalize a drug called delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, the active ingredient in a Cheech and Chong movie. In fact, they sort of already HAVE legalized it, as long as you have a good reason. A good reason can be, "Hey, man, I've got, like, pain."

    This would be a medical reason, which is all it takes to make dope smoking legal in the state. The legal standard doesn't even require a prescription -- just "some evidence" that you've consulted a doctor.

    In fact, in some California counties, the definition of "marijuana for personal medical use" is 99 marijuana plants or fewer growing in your yard. I don't know exactly who the guy is who needs 99 plants for his lumbago -- and they do grow 'em BIG in California -- but we should probably all hook him up to an IV and invite him to our next party.

    Obviously the Doobie Wars are gonna bring thousands of hippies to the polls this November, not just in California, but in several other Western states and especially Nevada, where a ballot initiative would make possession of three ounces of weed legal.

    (Just don't smoke it in the casino and scare the grandmas playing the slot machines.)

    But here's my first question about the whole deal. How can you legalize an act that requires you to participate in a felony in order to come into possession of the dope in the first place?

    If it's still illegal to SELL dope, then the buyer of the dope is an accessory to a crime that can result in some serious stretch time in prison.

    I suppose the answer, in Santa Cruz, would be that we'll all band together in little organic farming cooperatives and grow the stuff ourselves. That, too, would all be well and good, except that you would normally have to be checked out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- to make sure the substance was safe -- and probably the Food and Drug Administration as well, to make sure which type of dope could be prescribed by doctors.

    Obviously guys in walk-up West Hollywood apartments aren't going to be able to invest in organic fertilizer, so how can we know they're not getting Arkansas Polio Weed one week, Maui Wowie the next, and Acapulco Gold the week after that? There's a difference -- in intensity, effectiveness, and just plain ole smokeability.

    The feds are obviously upset by the whole "ease up on dope" movement, and drug czar John Walters has been campaigning against legalization in Nevada, using the old arguments that it's a "gateway drug" and causes all kinds of social mayhem -- traffic accidents, domestic violence, addiction and, of course, health risks.

    (Although the science is kinda shaky on both the risks AND the benefits.)

    Obviously he doesn't realize he's talking to people who live in VEGAS.

    But my other question about cannabis legalization is this. If the purpose is medical -- as almost ALL the laws say it is -- then how should it be taken to achieve the maximum medical benefit? We know quinine is beneficial, but we don't expect people to strip it off a tree and figure out how to get it into their bodies.

    There's already an FDA-approved drug called dronabinol -- commercial name, Marinol -- that delivers the active ingredient in marijuana in tablet form. Why not just, uh, USE IT, and avoid the whole issue of whether people can light up or not? How long can it be, after all, before somebody in California brings a lawsuit saying they were zombified by second-hand dope smoke?

    If you're gonna take a more potent form of it, though, then why not specify what that form is? How about ingesting it with a water pipe or hookah, so that it goes deeper? What about doing a "hot knife," in which you light a pellet of resin between a pair of red-hot knives, then gulp down the smoke, getting the whole enchilada without the muddle-headed waiting period? There's even a marijuana extract that can be delivered in a spray form, so why not just use that?

    I mean, it's either medical or it's not medical, right? And if it's medical, then a doctor needs to be specific about how it's to be taken, and a pharmacist needs to guarantee where it came from and in what form. How can we even be talking about "medical marijuana" when, in fact, it doesn't exist?

    Various forms of hemp have been ingested, of course, for 5,000 years that we know of. For the first 4,960 of those years, it was legal pretty much everywhere.

    George Washington kept a few plants for medical use himself. Then in 1937 we decided it should be a controlled substance, and in 1970 it was classified as a "Schedule I" drug, which means there IS no medical use for it.

    Now the Western states are telling the feds to get out of the business of defining which drugs are good or bad, and actually I think precedent is on their side. States have always regulated the strength of alcohol, for example, resulting in weird anomalies like the Oklahoma 3.2 beer law. No state is likely to legalize heroin or cocaine. And polls show that most people are conflicted about it -- they don't really want it legalized, but they also don't want people to go to jail for using it.

    Local and state referenda seem to work on issues like this. San Francisco wants it. Lawrence, Kansas, doesn't want it. What's so wrong with that?

    Let the potheads congregate in the cities and counties that like pot. Grow it, inspect it, grade it, prescribe how it's to be taken, and if people use it in some way that's not allowed by law, then bust em when you have the time.

    Right now, I don't think we have the time.

    Bob Briggs writes a number of columns for UPI and may be contacted at: or through his Web site at:

    From the Life & Mind Desk

    Source: United Press International
    Author: Joe Bob Briggs
    Published: November 1, 2002
    Copyright 2002 United Press International

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