Pot Calling The Kettle
by herm a. toba, Aug 19, 1996

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the recent attention of marijuana clubs and the proselytizing of the benifits of marijuana spurred this commentary. Please note all opinions and views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the same as the SLO Gazette.

SAN LUIS OBIPSPO - I will be the first one to admit it is time for a new direction in healthcare (as well caring for our world), but to pin the second coming on hemp/marijuana is just silly. The recent attention to the mounting medical marijuana (Prop. 215) campaign as well as the perennial 'hemp movement' shows how far people go to justify the socially unpopular.

Cannabis sp. is still classified as a Schedule I drug (since the original uniform drug acts in the 30's) meaning it shares billing with morphine, heroin, PCP, LSD and countless other drugs. The politics and motivation behind this legislation is from an entirely different time and mistake. The attempt to 'reform' marijuana legislation may only push it into regulation.

There are three major medical uses for marijuana: chemotherapy/radiation side-effects; glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. The effectiveness seems proven and I fully support these uses and continued searching for other beneficial uses. But is the support received by Prop. 215 from these combined, afflicted groups? I find most supporters suffer from none of the aforementioned ailments. In fact, many misconstrue this for an affirmation of their recreational use of Cannabis. It seems they have not thought of the repercussions of classifying marijuana as a medicine.

What will it take for your doctor to write you a prescription? The side effects seem minimal when compared to pharmaceutical, heavy-hitters like valium, ritalin, prozac, xantac and a whole slew of others. Why not replace these with marijuana? Because the makers of these drugs are able to weather the cost of the FDA's clinical requirements will people growing dope in their backyards be prosecuted under Federal drug codes? Will those using marijuana be forced to pay for these 'development' costs (though they are already paying an underground market price)? Instead of liberating the plant it becomes further steeped in legislation and governmental control.

Examining the hemp movement fares little better. Yes, hemp will be an important player in the weaning of our society off petroleum products of all sorts. But are we ready to save the world by growing hemp? Although hemp is biologically adaptable (it's not called weed for nothing) to build biomass takes lots of water, soil nutrients and processing. Maybe we stop mining petroleum only to mine ground water and soil resources instead. Also, hemp legislation once again continues the illegality of recreational use and will probably name maximum levels of psychoactive components in hemp products. Again, the real, underlying marijuana movement continues to remain on the fringe.

We continue marijuana prohibition and place layer upon layer of restrictions on a plant that will grow anywhere. If it really is beneficial, why legislate it at all? If we are worried about our youth fooling around with pot I would suggest similar regulatory structures employed to the tobacco industry. Commercial crops would be 'allotted' over a wide geographical base in small acerages which goes a long way to preserve agricultural land uses. Distribution would mainly be through large processors allowing some control over illicit sales to minors. The governments begin to receive revenue based on sales and other sumptuary taxes. And consumers would benefit from the competition through superior product and pricing. Of course, this would require a reclassification and decriminalization of marijuana allowing John Doe to grow in his backyard and use on private property unimpeded by police action. It is not a perfect solution but would seem more consistent with many people's goals

I urge all those involved with any sort of marijuana movement to enter with both eyes fully open. It is necessary to look within to discover the true motivation for one's involvement in marijuana issues and act accordingly. Anything less is self deception and complete hypocrisy.

Last Revised - 8/19/96
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