Marijuana’s Enigma


Come “Happy New Year”, January 1, 2018, adult Californians can legally light up recreational marijuana.  Reefer madness for the masses!

Personally, I have no plans to partake even though I live in California’s “Emerald Triangle”.  I’ve never smoked nor wanted to thanks to having to live with a father who smoked a couple packs of Camels a day.  Early years of dealing with even cigarette smoke cured me of any desire to pollute my lungs.

One of my early exposures to marijuana smoke was at a Guess Who concert in El Paso and I had to leave the auditorium thanks to the rampant weed smoking.  But I’ve had a number of acquaintances who were marijuana smokers and for the most part they were pretty mellow and often happy, though sometimes a bit paranoid and often of a lower demonstrated intelligence level.

If they want to get high on their own time and can remain productive members of society, I see no reason why they should not be allowed this privilege.  It just that some folks can’t seem to handle privileges responsibly and often marijuana smokers tend to be less than responsible when high.

I remember the stoners encountered in my American Government class back in Texas when I attended public high school for my final senior year after moving there.  They were actually a pretty fun, hugely mellow group.  Dumb as dirt, but appreciative that at least a few of us in the class could answer Mr. Adair’s class questions.  The perplexed looks on their stoned faces was like a scene from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”.  I often wonder what some of them ended up doing with their lives, as they certainly weren’t destined for college.  The military draft and a term in Vietnam probably took its toll on many.

I have a real problem with the environmental damages caused by growers of marijuana.

Water:  The Nature Conservancy revealed that cultivating marijuana consumes 5 times as much water as growing grapes for wine.  It’s bad enough that the flow of some of our northern California rivers has declined due to water used for vineyards, but marijuana growing is five times worse.

Chemicals: Growers use massive doses of weed and rodent killers to protect their crops.  Often, the chemicals that are wisely banned in the USA are imported from Mexico which lacks such constraints.  Anyone familiar with agriculture knows that chemicals in the ground are absorbed by the plants systemically.  When one smokes weed, they are smoking not just its components, but a good dose of Agent Orange-like chemicals.  Wonder how many cancers will result?

Critters:  This is primarily a problem associated with cartel-linked marijuana cultivators, but rodenticides used for rat control are eaten by foxes, voles, and other wildlife.  Additionally, the diversion of water and these chemicals have caused declines in fish populations of salmon and steelhead trout.

Energy:  marijuana is most often cultivated with the use of climate controlled electric light grow houses to reap the highest harvests.  These lights, pumps and climate controls use huge amounts of power – one reason so many here in the Emerald Tringle despise smart meters in that they are harder to circumvent to steal power.  We hear the cry to stop man-made climate change, but where are the protests against such massive users of electrical power from fossil fuel generators?

Even the very liberal Mother Earth News carried an excellent article on the problematic impacts of marijuana cultivation. Anyone thinking that recreational marijuana is not a problem should first read that article!

Fortune magazine recently forecast that marijuana prices will climb 70% in California due to taxes and demand, once again proving the supply and demand theory.  This will spawn a black market to circumvent the taxes levied on marijuana.  Then will come the inevitable spiral of government enforcement to collect these taxes that the politicians were planning to reap.

History has that nasty tendency to repeat itself and look no further back than the moonshiners and revenuers for the unintended consequences.  Taxpayers will foot the bill for these additional law enforcement costs.  The politicians will not see the tax revenues that they expect to see.

As for medical marijuana, that is a totally different aspect of its use.  If a legitimate physician prescribes an extract of marijuana’s chemical components (or, better yet, its synthetically produced version) that is in accordance with generally accepted medical practices or in a valid experimental drug use, then I personally see no reason to disallow or regulate medical marijuana further.  Treat it like any other FDA-approved or tested drug.

I do see a new industry that will be created for treating marijuana dependency.  When employers need to pay to teat or dismiss unproductive stoners, the demand for treatment will rival that of alcohol dependency.  Addiction is addiction.

Well, Happy New Year, stoners!  Stay off the roads and, when sober, think about the environmental damage you’re doing.

Walt Watson resides in rural Northern California where one still finds clean air and pure water, devoid of the distractions and crowded rat lifestyle of urban / suburban living and where community is more important than political affiliation.