Sure as Christmas is coming this December, legal marijuana is coming our way. Since the cannabis smokers of the 1960s and ’70s are now running the country, marijuana is becoming more and more accepted as a drug on the order of alcohol and less the scary devil weed of the 1930s movie “Refer Madness.”
I’m not going to educate, preach or tell you why I think marijuana is bad for me, you and the rest of civilization. I do however want to make a couple of observations about marijuana and its mainstreaming.
1. Marijuana is a drug. Alcohol is a drug. We in law enforcement have psychophysical tests (otherwise known as field sobriety tests) to determine conclusively if a person is under the influence of alcohol. There is a solid measurement of alcohol in a person’s system (.08 percent) that is used in most states to determine if a person is legally under its influence.
While there are somewhat similar tests to determine marijuana influence, the tests are more involved. Marijuana reacts in the body differently and has different influence levels, which cause different symptoms. Marijuana stays in the body longer but the high (influence) is sometimes much shorter.
Therefore, if we are to legalize marijuana, we must first set definite limits and have standard testing procedures in place to demonstrate and detect influence levels.
2. Marijuana is not an exotic plant, it is a weed. While sophisticated growers have outstanding crops, which are grown under ideal conditions, sometimes indoors with proper lighting, water and nutrients, anybody can grow marijuana in their backyard, in a flowerpot on their window sill or on their patio.
The movement to legalize and tax marijuana like cigarettes is laughable when you consider most marijuana smokers grow their own. They don’t want to pay money, especially taxes for something they can grow and process themselves.
3. Like alcohol, marijuana is addictive. If a person has an addictive personality he will probably become dependent on marijuana. Some smokers, who perhaps don’t have green thumbs, won’t be able to grow their own and won’t want to pay for the legal cigarettes with all the taxes levied by the state and federal government. Those people will buy it from other sources (black market). Therefore, the jails and prisons will still be full of marijuana growers and marijuana smokers who have committed other crimes during their intoxication, along with those smokers who graduate to other chemical pleasures.
So yes, legal marijuana is coming, but its ramifications, pluses and minuses need to be carefully weighed out to the gram before it is released to the public. Andrew Kenny is a member of the San Luis Obispo County DUI Task Force.