Week of January 11, 2015: Legalization

Up in Smoke… When it Comes to Marijuana, They Just Have a Job to do.
1/17/2015

All this week we’ve been talking about the hot-button issue of marijuana legalization. If you missed any of our interviews you can catch up on all of them on the blog. As of now, marijuana is fully legal to be purchased and smoked in only 4 states, Washington state, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. Washington DC’s legalization bid is currently stalled in Congress. In 23 other states, various forms decriminalization and medical usage laws exist. Decriminalization differs from legalization in that it eliminates the criminal penalties associated with marijuana posession. However, there are still lesser penalties such as fines often attached. For medical usage, in most instances a medical marijuana card must be obtained with the assistance of documentation provided by a certified primary care physician. Medical marijuana laws vary from state to state, with some making the process much more difficult than others.
Many proponents remain unsatisfied. Many opponents continue to fight to preserve the laws in the remaining states, or even reverse the laws that have allowed marijuana to become legal (or nearly legal). At present under federal law, marijuana possession, usage, and sale is still illegal. However, the federal government has allowed provisions for the states to pass or enact their own laws for both medical and recreational use.
So, where do you stand? Are you in favor of legalization and/or decriminalization? Do you think it is acceptable only in the cases of medical need? Or are you opposed to marijuana being readily available in all instances and situations? We spoke to a variety of people, with a variety of opinions, stories, and positions on the subject. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions. Remember you can alway comment anonymously. Check back every day for more and be sure to join this important conversation!

pot2HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA?
“Well, on a personal level, I understand why it’s beginning to be legalized in places, and it doesn’t seem to be yielding any significant problems yet. But, for as long as remains against the law, it’s my job to oppose sales, transportation, production and yeah even usage of it.”
WHAT IS YOUR JOB?
“I’m a cop.”

SO IT IS QUTE LITERALLY YOUR JOB TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE ARE NOT SMOKING POT?
“Yeah.”

DO YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME ON THAT PARTICULAR ASPECT OF YOUR CAREER?
“On keeping people from smoking pot? No. I mean I am not going out looking to arrest people who are smoking pot. Unfortunately, if I happen to come acrosss it, I have to deal with it. If you’re growing it, selling it, whatever, I have no choice but to do my job.”

YOU SAID YOU UNDERSTAND WHY IT’S BEING LEGALIZED IN PLACES, IF YOU WERE NOT A POLICE OFFICER DO YOU THINK YOU’D STILL HAVE ISSUES WITH IT?
“I know people who smoke pot. And I am sure people that I don’t even know about smoke too. Society is not a bubble. I don’t think of these people in any certain kind of way because they may smoke. Other than the fact that they’re doing something against the law, I don’t really think what they are doing is morally wrong or anything.”

WHAT ABOUT OTHER OFFICERS, DO YOU SEE A LOT OF RESISTANCE TO LEGALIZING?
“Actually no. I mean yeah there are some guys who will just never come around to it. They’re just too old school. But you see a lot of the guys just trying to do their job. You know on the inside they might think ‘this is such a waste of time to be busting a bunch of guys sitting in a car smoking a joint.’ Even some of the older guys who’ve been on the job a long time don’t think it’s a big deal at all. I mean, these guys have seen shit that is so much worse then a bunch of kids getting stoned at a park or whatever.”

WOULD ANY OF THEM EVER SPEAK OUT IN FAVOR OF LEGALIZING?
“I have no idea. I mean, it’s their job so I’d think probably no. I’ve seen a few ex cops come out and talk about stuff that they felt was wrong from a legal standpoint, but I don’t think that happens to much. You have to respect the law. You have to respect the badge, the uniform, your brothers, you maybe not agree with everything, but you have a job to do, a responsibility. I mean there are all kinds of crazy laws in the world. I think in like Kentucky or Alabama or somewhere down south it is legal to marry your horse (laughter). Do I think that is normal? No. I think it’s a lot crazier to marry a horse than it is to smoke some pot, but it’s legal, so that’s it. If you marry your horse, I’m not gonna arrest you. If you light up a joint in the middle of Taco Bell, I am. I have to.”

WHAT ABOUT MEDICAL MARIJUANA?
“That’s another story. I mean legally speaking. There are all sorts of regulations that vary by state as far as what you are allowed to do, where you can get it, what the procedure is, what the approved conditions are, it just goes on.”

BUT YOU SUPPORT THAT?
“I do. I don’t know very many people who are against it. I mean, I know they are out there. But if a doctor says it will help a particular illness or disease and the research supports that, I think it’s pretty cruel actually to withhold it. They don’t withhold other kinds of drugs. Look at pain medication. They give that out freely and it’s perfectly legal and I have arrested a lot more people in the past 2, 3 years for stuff related to abuse, sales, theft and stuff, all of Oxys and Percocets and prescription meds. People will steal from their own mom to get Oxys, they’ll sell their wedding ring, they’ll pull a gun on someone. Doesn’t really happen that way with pot.”
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WHAT DOES HAPPEN WITH POT? SPEAKING ABOUT CASES, ARRESTS?
“Possession mainly- someone with pot on them. You get intent, I mean people who are selling it, or who are planning to sell it, but nothing crazy. You catch people smoking it. You might be working on a case where someone is dealing it in larger amounts. You’re not responding to a pot-created hostage situation. I mean unless someone is holding the last pack of Twinkies hostage (laughter).”

SO IF IT BECOMES LEGAL, YOU’RE OKAY WITH THAT?
“If it becomes legal, I’ll do what I have always done. The only thing it changes for me, is who I need to be focusing my attention on.”

DO YOU THINK THAT, AS SOME HAVE SAID, LEGALIZING MARIJUANA WILL ACTUALLY HELP THE POLICE?
“I’ve heard that, of course. I mean the arguments that it will free up some time, some manpower, the resources spent on dealing with marijuana arrests, trials, incarcerations, etc. I’d imagine it’s true to a degree. But, that’s the case if you take any law off the books that has a significant amount of arrests annually or however they want to group it. I don’t spend a lot of time working on cases like that, but I guess. I can see it more on a federal level, people who are in prison for it. I don’t know what the statistics are, or how many people are taking up prison space for pot charges, but I have heard the arguments that it would free up prison space and court time.”

LASTLY, IF IT’S LEGAL, WILL YOU SMOKE IT?
“No. Not my thing. I didn’t even really smoke it when I was a kid and all my friends were. I was, and I am, a beer guy. Give me a beer and I am good. And yeah I know that alcohol is harmful an a lot of people say more so than pot. It may be true. Pot just isn’t my choice. I’ll take my chances with a few beers. it’s not the legal thing. Well it is, but it’s not. It’d be that way anyway. The only difference for me, like I said, is who I have to be taking in.”


Make Marijuana Legal, But be Considerate About it, Please.
1/16/2015

This week we’re talking about the hot-button issue of marijuana legalization. As of now, marijuana is fully legal to be purchased and smoked in only 4 states, Washington state, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. Washington DC’s legalization bid is currently stalled in Congress. In 23 other states, various forms decriminalization and medical usage laws exist. Decriminalization differs from legalization in that it eliminates the criminal penalties associated with marijuana posession. However, there are still lesser penalties such as fines often attached. For medical usage, in most instances a medical marijuana card must be obtained with the assistance of documentation provided by a certified primary care physician. Medical marijuana laws vary from state to state, with some making the process much more difficult than others.

Many proponents remain unsatisfied. Many opponents continue to fight to preserve the laws in the remaining states, or even reverse the laws that have allowed marijuana to become legal (or nearly legal). At present under federal law, marijuana possession, usage, and sale is still illegal. However, the federal government has allowed provisions for the states to pass or enact their own laws for both medical and recreational use.
So, where do you stand? Are you in favor of legalization and/or decriminalization? Do you think it is acceptable only in the cases of medical need? Or are you opposed to marijuana being readily available in all instances and situations? We spoke to a variety of people, with a variety of opinions, stories, and positions on the subject. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions. Remember you can alway comment anonymously. Check back every day for more and be sure to join this important conversation!

potWHAT IS YOUR STANDPOINT ON LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA?
“Being someone that doesn’t use pot, I don’t have a strong opinion about it one way or another. But if asked the question, my feeling is that I don’t have a problem with it being legalized. I consider it to be a drug equivalent to alcohol. Since I enjoy having a drink, I think people probably enjoy smoking pot in the way I enjoy having a drink. I think it would be hypocritical to be against it. A lot of time, energy, money and police hours are spent in apprehending people and going through the courts and what have you, could be better spent in other places. I equate it to the era of prohibition.”

DID YOU ALWAYS FEEL THIS WAY?
“I think in the past, if I think about it, I probably was against the legalization of pot just because you grew up in a society that said pot was bad. That mentality kind of ingrains itself in your head. People are always resistant to change so the thought of changing it, to me, probably my initial knee- jerk reaction would’ve been like “no!” about ten years ago. But I’m sure people felt that way about reversing prohibition. You grow up thinking if the law says it’s bad, it’s bad.
Not having a medical background, I can’t say that I’m in any way an expert about whether or not it’s worse for the body than alcohol. I’m assuming that it’s not doing more damage to someone’s brain than alcohol does. I guess I’d have to look more into that. It’s not something that I’m gonna be doing though. But if medical research showed that it was worse for you than maybe I’d have a different opinion. I do think you should have to be over 21, just like with alcohol.”

THAT’S INTERESTING, BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE WE SPOKE TO THIS WEEK SAID HOW PEOPLE JUDGE AND STEREOTYPE PEOPLE THAT SMOKE POT. LIKE ALL THEY DO IS SIT ON THE COUCH EATING CHEETOS.
“Do I think that if you just smoked a joint, you might be more relaxed, sitting on the couch, eating Cheetos? Yeah, you might be, but it’s the same as after you’ve had one or two drinks after dinner. So, it’s kind of the same.”

I UNDERSTAND THERE’S A COMPONENT THAT YOU DON’T LIKE?
“I’m not anti-pot, but I am anti-second hand smoke. I wish we could outlaw smoking in every form whether it be cigarettes or pot. Because I’m not a smoker, and if I’m sitting next to you at a table having a drink, as long as I don’t get behind the wheel of a car, nothing I’m doing about having that drink is affecting you. But if I’m sitting at a table next to you smoking a cigarette or a joint, my second hand smoke is infringing upon you. I worry about that. I worry that if it becomes legal to smoke it (pot), that’ll be just one more thing I have to walk through at the entrance of a mall that I don’t wanna walk through.
What worries me too, is I have so many people, through work, I have to do deal with that I can smell second hand smoke all the time because they’re smoking in their cars or a home environment that has it. So I worry, that if it becomes legalized, what happens if people do it around their kids- smoking it. Any other form, I don’t really have an issue with except your normal issues like don’t put it in a brownie and then drive your kid, obviously. But I worry about people smoking it around their kids. Because not only would that be second hand smoke getting into the child’s system, but also a drug. I hope people would be smart. I have absolutely no issues with medicinal purposes of it though. It’s the same as any other legal drug that’s prescribed to help with pain. That’s a no brainer. If it’s causing somebody to not be in pain, then they should have it.”

CERTAINLY, WHETHER IT BECOMES LEGAL OR NOT, ONE WOULD HOPE PEOPLE USE GOOD JUDGEMENT BY NOT EXPOSING THEIR KIDS TO SECOND HAND SMOKE OF ANY KIND. IT CAN LEAD TO ALL SORTS OF HEALTH ISSUES.
“I get a cold, and I get over it. But when my husband gets a cold, it’s so much worse. And I’m quite sure that because he grew up in the 70’s and his parents were both chain smokers, so for the first 23 years of his life, he was in a house, that at all times, 24/7, had second hand smoke, a lot of it. He’s never been a smoker, but (it’s like) he was a smoker for 23 years. But that was the 70’s. In the 50’s everybody actually thought they (cigarettes) were good for you. I remember my mother telling me that her father, who died of a heart attack eventually, had three (heart attacks) before he died. He stopped smoking one year and was irritable, the way someone quitting can get, and the doctor said to him “you have to smoke. It calms your nerves. It’s not good for you to not smoke. You’re hurting your body.” This was the 40’s or 50’s. They truly believed that. Then it moved to the 70’s, where the drug companies knew it was bad for you but they were lying. Now, everybody knows the truth and that’s good. But I do think there’s damage to his lungs from growing up in a house where two people chain smoked. You don’t know cause there was no before and after study done, but it just makes sense to me, that there are people in life that have more respiratory or have more trouble getting over colds or get bronchitis every year while other people don’t. I think if you look back, that could be one of the reasons.
Every parent loves their child. They don’t purposely hurt their child. They just get lazy as humans, it’s cold outside, this or that. You see a carseat in a car, then you see a cigarette getting flicked out the window and you’re like “Did you really think the fact that you cracked your window was gonna solve that problem? Cause it didn’t.”
A kid doesn’t go to school cause they were at the ER getting a breathing treatment, but their folder smells like cigarette smoke.
They (parents) don’t equate it to like taking a belt to their kid, because they’re not doing it in anger, but it’s still abusive.”


Are Teens Getting Schooled on the Dangers of Marijuana
1/15/15

justsayno2YOU’RE A SENIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL IS THAT RIGHT?
“Correct.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF MARIJUANA BEING LEGALIZED?
“Marijuana is everywhere now. I think the biggest concern is that it will be a gateway drug. But I feel like if marijuana is easier to come by, most people will just stick to that rather than try to take the extra risk of trying harder, illegal drugs. I think the main fear people have with marijuana is getting caught with it. Tobacco is legal, which you could argue is worse for you. With alcohol you hear about drunk driving, you hear about people getting drunk and getting in bar fights, you never hear about that stuff with marijuana.”

WHEN I WAS A KID NOT MANY PEOPLE EVER TALKED ABOUT LEGALIZING POT. NOW IT’S A HUGE ISSUE. DO YOU THINK THAT PEOPLE YOUR AGE VIEW POT AS SOMETHING THAT IS LESS DANGEROUS, LES ADDICTIVE THAN WE WERE TAUGHT IT WAS WHEN I WAS YOUNGER?
“Oh definitely. I mean pot has become more powerful. The levels of THC in the drug have gone up. There’s more potent stuff. But it’s not really seen as something “addictive”. Not like tobacco or whatever. You don’t think you’re going to have a dependence on it. People just look at it as something fun, something you might do from time to time without the risk of getting addicted. And if it’s legal, that’s just one less thing you’ll be worried about.”

WHAT DO THEY TEACH YOU IN SCHOOL ABOUT MARIJUANA?
“Honestly, they don’t talk much about marijuana as a singularity. We used to talk mostly about ‘drugs’, as a whole. They’d classify them as stimulants or depressants or whatever, but we don’t really learn much about it alone. There’s a big pot presence in high schools already. Maybe they think if they just ignore it it will go away.”

WE USED TO HAVE TO WATCH ALL THESE ANTI-DRUG VIDEOS THAT REALLY DEMONIZED DRUG USE, PARTICULARLY MARIJUANA. HAVE YOU SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS?
“In middle school we had a whole program where it started out where we learned about what would happen to you if you did this, or this or this. Marijuana was like the starting point. If you do that, then you might do this. You might try cocaine, or meth, or heroin, and how it all falls out from there.”

justsayno3WAS THAT THE D.A.R.E PROGRAM?
“That was the D.A.R.E. program, yes.”

I REALIZE YOU WERE MUCH YOUNGER BUT WHEN YOU COMPLETED THE PROGRAM, DID YOU FEEL A SENSE OF FEAR ABOUT WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO YOU IF TRIED ANY DRUGS?
“I didn’t really feel a sense of fear. But as far as marijuana goes, some things didn’t add up. I mean, just from knowing people who had smoked pot I knew that just by smoking pot one time, you’re not going to die, you’re not going to become addicted to drugs.”

THAT GOES ALONG WITH WHAT YOU HAD SAID EARLIER ABOUT ONE FEAR OF LEGALIZING BEING THAT POT IS A GATEWAY DRUG. DO YOU THINK OF MARIJUANA AS A GATEWAY DRUG?
“That’s a big issue with marijuana. I really think on its own it is relatively harmless. I don’t think it really does too much negatively health wise. But the fear is that if people do one thing, they want more of that thing, and then they are going to want something else, something more, and then another and another.”

SO DO YOU THINK THE GATEWAY DRUG ISSUE IS MORE ABOUT THE PHYSICAL ADDICTION TO MARIJUANA OR THE SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS- IF YOU’RE OUT SMOKING POT, YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO BE IN SITUATIONS WHERE YOU MAY MOVE ON TO TRYING OTHER THINGS TOO?
“Yeah because if say someone offers you heroin or another hard drug right off the bat you’re not going to do it because you know how harmful it is. I mean most people won’t. But if you start off smoking pot, I can see how smoking pot might ease that transition a little bit. I mean even then it’s still a huge jump to some hard chemically synthesized drugs from something that basically grows right out of the ground.”

(REALIZING THAT YOU WOULD STILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL YOU WERE 21 TO SMOKE LEGALLY) DO YOU THINK THAT IF IT WERE COMPLETELY LEGAL IT WOULD MAKE YOU, OR SAY YOUR FRIENDS OR YOUR PEERS MORE LIKELY TO TRY IT OR USE IT?
“Oh definitely. I mean, I don’t want to say because there are no repercussions, but it’s definitely less fear there. I mean there’s still the standpoint that it is a drug, and so it can still be harmful for you, but if it is legal, yeah, in my opinion it will definitely make people more open to it.”

SO WOULD YOU SAY IN YOUR OPINION IT IS MORE THE FEAR OF LEGAL OR PARENTAL REPRECUSSIONS THAT KEEP YOUNG PEOPLE FROM DOING IT RATHER THAN THE FEAR OF WHAT THE DRUG MIGHT ACTUALLY DO TO YOU?
“Oh, yeah. By far yeah.”

GIVEN THAT YOU ARE STILL LIVING AT HOME, DO YOU THINK IF IT WERE LEGAL YOUR PARENTS WOULD STILL HAVE A BIG ISSUE WITH YOU USING IT?
“Definitely. Because, as I said before, it is still drugs. I mean you’re inhaling some kind of toxins into your body if nothing else. And I think it can be seen as leading to laziness. And since this is such a critical point in my life, I think it could be seen as a ‘motivational hazard’.”

AS SOMEONE WHO WILL SOON BE VOTING FOR THE FIRST TIME, WOULD A CANDIDATE THAT WAS PRO-LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA HAVE ANY KIND OF ADVANTAGE IN GARNERING YOUR VOTE?
“Probably. I think most people would like to avoid having any possible run-ins with the police if possible. And should anyone be caught for this, it could later come back to haunt you. And for what? I wouldn’t want to feel the wrath of the police for that. I just think that (by legalizing) eliminating the risk of being caught and getting in trouble for something like that would be beneficial for all of us.”


The Good Outweighs the Bad When it Comes to Legalization
1/14/2015

suefpotWHAT IS YOUR STANDPOINT ON LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA?
“I don’t think it’s a harmful drug. I think there are more benefits to people using it as a recreational drug than people using such things as alcohol or harder drugs. I think there are some people in our society that may benefit from the drug itself. Pot doesn’t usually turn people into criminals. I think legalizing for tax purposes would be a better reason, in my opinion, than not legalizing it because they say it’s a harmful or bad for society to use, recreationally.”

SO YOU’RE PRO LEGALIZATION FOR RECREATIONAL USE?
“It does benefit people medicinally too. People having problems with eating, cancer, depression, trouble sleeping. It’s been proven, as I’ve seen on the news, to help children that have diseases that we never even knew that (pot) would be an approach. These parents that have kids taking lots of prescribed drugs, legally by doctors, that didn’t seem to work. I don’t know how the parents wound up coming up with the idea to let their kids smoke marijuana, but it’s proven to the parents, the kids ultimate protector, that it’s helped medicinally.”

WHY DO YOU FEEL IT’S SAFE TO LEGALIZE?
“I think it would stop people from going into bad neighborhoods to obtain it. I think it would be monitored so it doesn’t get laced with other drugs.”

THAT BEING SAID, SOME PEOPLE MAY ARGUE THAT PEOPLE GO INTO BAD NEIGHBORHOODS TO GET HARDER DRUGS TOO. DOES THAT MEAN WE SHOULD LEGALIZE THAT TOO? WHAT WOULD YOUR RESPONSE BE TO THAT?
“I guess the classification of drug that it is. Some are addicting, cause hallucinations, cause you to act in different ways and are a lot more dangerous. They are proven to be more addictive. I’m not saying marijuana is safe, I don’t think it’s a “safe” drug, but compared to heroin and cocaine and methamphetamines and even pain killers that are so rampant in our world. You don’t just sit and smoke joint after joint after joint. When people are doing lines of coke, they’re doing it for four and five days straight with no sleep, they don’t eat. Their health goes down. Pot isn’t a drug that takes your body over. If you let it, become a heavy user, then you could be classified as a “pothead” which is known as a lazy person. Someone that doesn’t have any drive or things like that but it’s not gonna cause you to steal or lose your family if you smoke weed. It’s not gonna cause you to do illegal acts cause it’s such an addicting drug (coke, etc.) versus marijuana.”

YOU SAID YOU DIDN’T THINK MARIJUANA WAS HARMLESS THOUGH. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE HARM IS?
“I guess just the fact that it’s a drug. It’s like Cardiozem, a heart drug medication. I don’t think that’s safe. (It’s just the first one that came to my head). It monitors people with atrial fibrillation and it’s unsafe. I know it sounds contradictory. It’s not that I don’t know that I’m putting some type of toxin in my body. It’s smoke. It’s as if I’m driving behind a tractor trailer that has all that carbon dioxide coming out of it’s exhaust. It’s unhealthy to be taking in the oxygen I’m taking in. I know it’s not a “good thing”. I’ve never had any health issues from it. I’ve never gotten myself into any situation where I was needing it, looking for it, where I had to do things that were not “human like” to get them, compromise my family by doing this drug. But, it’s still a drug. It’s something entering your body that isn’t purely clean. It’s still a toxin and from what I’ve read, a harmful toxin. I just don’t have side effects or feel I’ve acted different, outside of myself, by doing the drug.”

WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU SMOKED?
“I was probably between 12 and 14. I’m leaning more towards 12.”

WHAT MADE YOU DO IT FOR THE FIRST TIME?
“Probably because I wasn’t supposed to be. What are you gonna do when mom tells you “get away from him?” Follow him outside and smoke with him. I was curious. Just being a kid. I remember it like it was yesterday. They were all doing it, my brothers and neighbors; (they) were doing it so it couldn’t be that bad. At 12 I don’t think I really knew what a drug was.”

HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIMENTED WITH DRUGS OTHER THAN POT?
“Yeah.”

DO YOU THINK YOU WERE COMFORTABLE TRYING THE OTHER DRUGS BECAUSE YOU HAD SMOKED POT AND THAT WAS FINE?
“I never felt comfortable doing the other drugs. I don’t really know why I tried the other ones, to tell you the truth. It was definitely addictive, but not hard to stop. But pot definitely didn’t lead me into doing the other drugs. I tried those like 12, 13, 14 years after I tried pot, so it wasn’t that it was a gateway. That was a different time in my life, many many years later. Probably just offered to me at the right time. I don’t know why I wasn’t scared. I was at an age that I could afford it. I hung with different people. I needed to work different hours and was in school. Now, they tell you to drink a Monster or a Red Bull (to keep those hours).”

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT POT? WHAT DOES IT DO FOR YOU?
“Relaxes your mind. I sleep better. Sometimes, often, it’s a social thing. Many of my friends “participate”. You gravitate towards those people, even in a dating world. I don’t think people that smoke pot are mean. Most of them are kind people, chilled out people. They don’t wanna go out and party and have a raucous kind of time. I don’t drink, take medications, any other drugs at all. You know how someone will say they just need a nice cold beer? I enjoy a joint. And if it helps me sleep a little bit and clears my mind, that’s extra. Mostly it’s social.”

AS A PARENT, HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF YOUR KID STARTED SMOKING POT?
“I know he’s tried it and didn’t like it and that made me happy, that he didn’t like it. But if he decided that that was something that he wanted to partake in, I would hope that he would be honest enough to tell me the truth about it all so I would be able to support his idea behind why he was doing it. If it was a decent enough reason, I guess I would try to stick behind him and support him. I would not be happy about it.”

IF YOU THINK IT SHOULD BE LEGALIZED, WHY WOULD YOU NOT BE HAPPY ABOUT HIS DECISION TO DO IT?
“It’s still a drug. To tell you the truth, it’s a lot that people just look down on it. You can go to a bar and leave after spending $400 and nobody will say anything to you the next day. But if you found out someone smoked a joint the night before, you’re a pothead, a loser. Because it’s been illegal so long, it has a stigma about it. I wouldn’t want him to feel disappointed in himself doing that drug, though he’s raised in a different world where there’s talk about it being legalized. When I heard he tried it, there was nothing I could say. He’s seen it in his family. I’m obviously not against it, but I can’t say I think the world should do it. I have a mother with cancer, and I don’t know if it would help her, but I would like her to try, but I’d never say “do it”. Same reasons why I’m on the fence with myself doing it. Physically, health wise it could come back and be harmful to you. Everybody’s different and some people see it as a gateway drug and I’d be a little nervous about that with him. Maybe I’d be nervous about the reason he decided to start. If he was trying to fill in a void of another problem he was having. Other than that, I’d like to know that he was, because then I’d know he wasn’t hiding it from me. I wouldn’t try to stop him. I’d just try to educate him on it.”

DOES HE KNOW THAT YOU SMOKE?
“Yes. It was in a horrible fashion and we had a really long talk about it. He told me he knew already, since he was young.”

HOW DID HE FEEL ABOUT IT?
“He took it a lot better than I thought. He was raised in a world where it’s very normal. He wasn’t happy that it was his mom though. But he did say that he wouldn’t try to ask me to stop. He asked for it to not be in the house and that it was my decision. I know that he’s not happy about it but I don’t think he looks at me any differently because of it.”

DID YOU HAVE THAT “TALK” WITH HIM ABOUT DRUGS? AND HOW OLD WAS HE?
“Yes. Probably about 15-16. As his parent, I probably talked to him so late because it is such a frowned upon drug and the stigma, the adjectives and definitions that go next to pot aren’t good. I never really wanted to have that talk with him probably because I was afraid he’d be ashamed that I was a partaker and I didn’t want him to be ashamed of his mother. You know what they’re taught and I didn’t want him to know it was in the house. That’s why I waited so long and it came up at a really bad time. But now he’ll talk to me about it and tells me stuff, more than I’d like to know. Not about me, but about what they learned. He knows. He has a brother (different mother) that partakes and he is a bit of a loser and he blames a lot of it on the pot smoking. He tried to compare us both when I was out of work and he stopped real quick. Even though I’ve paid my mortgage myself for years and years. Pot doesn’t make everyone that lazy, non working, strung out, laying on the couch eating, type of person. That’s what I thought he was gonna think of me cause that’s what he saw in his brother. So when he compared us, I had to make him know that not everybody’s like that. I think that’s why I tried to hide it. I wanted the chance to redeem who I’ve been his whole life without him knowing I smoked. A recent talk had happened regarding his brother and the pot smoking because I smelled it in the house. I was very unhappy. He turned to me and said “look who’s talking” and I did have to stick up for myself and say “I never did it in front of you.” I never put him in that predicament where it was accessible or in view. I’m not an irresponsible drug addict. And I think that’s the reason why I don’t want him to do it himself. I don’t want him to be afraid that that’s what people are gonna think of him. Though I’m big on worrying about what people think of me. It’s not good.
We were driving yesterday. We came onto the topic about how people judge and worry about what other people think of them. He said to me, pointing to a random car, “Mom, I think you would care if that person thought that you should be wearing those sneakerss.” I know I worry about what people think about me a lot, but that’s how I was raised, even about weed. People don’t give you a proper trial. They look at, let’s say, heroin addicts as a lost cause. I’ve dealt with many addicts and they’re not bad people. There just on a different path I guess. I don’t know. But marijuana is not a drug where it’s going to hypnotize you for days on end thinking there’s another world. I think people look at pot users as a lost cause too, expecting they’ll now do heroine or something.
Again, I don’t think pot is so bad, but I don’t like people to know that I smoke it, probably because of the stigma my parents thought about it. They were born in the 30’s, my brothers in the 60’s, I’m the last kid (’72). It was such a big deal in my house and to this day, I believe that if it wasn’t made out to be such a big deal, I might not have smoked it. I don’t know. Who knows, I might have gotten bored with it. I still hear about it, at this age, the negative comments. A lot of things we do to ourselves is our own battles in our brains.”

WHAT WOULD YOUR ARGUMENT BE TO LEGALIZE IT?
“That it’s not a dangerous drug. It doesn’t lead people to do things that could cause them to lose their lives. I just don’t think it’s that class of a drug to be against the law. I think if everyone tried it, they wouldn’t be so afraid of it and it would be a kinder world.”

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A Parent’s Perspective on Pot.

1/13/2015

This week we’ve been talking about the issue of marijuana legalization. As of now, marijuana is fully legal to be purchased and smoked in only 4 states, Washington state, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. Washington DC’s legalization bid is currently stalled in Congress. In 23 other states, various forms of decriminalization and medical usage laws exist. Decriminalization differs from legalization in that it eliminates the criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession. However, there are still lesser penalties such as fines often attached. For medical usage, in most instances a medical marijuana card must be obtained with the assistance of documentation by a certified primary care physician. Medical marijuana laws vary from state to state, with some making the process much more difficult than others.
Many proponents remain unsatisfied. Many opponents continue to fight to preserve the laws in the remaining states, or even reverse the laws that have allowed marijuana to become legal (or nearly legal). At present under federal law, marijuana possession, usage, and sale is still illegal. However, the federal government has allowed provisions for the states to pass or enact their own laws for both medical and recreational use.
So, where do you stand? Are you in favor of the legalization and/or decriminalization? Do you think it is acceptable only in the cases of medical need? Or are you opposed to marijuana being readily available in all instances and situations? We spoke to a variety of people, with a variety of opinions, stories, and positions on the subject. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions. Remember you can alway comment anonymously. Check back every day for more and be sure to join this important conversation!
*If you missed them, be sure to check out the previous two interviews on this subject*

dianaWHAT IS YOUR STANDPOINT ON LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA?
“I’m all for it. But, with certain restrictions like what we have with alcohol. In fact, I think we should ban alcohol cause I think that’s way more dangerous. But I digress. Restrictions like you can’t drive impaired. Obviously when you use, you become impaired. You may be having a great time like you do when you’re drinking but you should know your limit and not get in a car and endanger other people’s lives.”

WHY DO YOU FEEL IT SHOULD BE LEGALIZED?
“For me, and I’m not gonna lie and say I don’t like doing it just to do it, cause I do. But I also have a lot of physical issues from a car accident and as I’ve gotten older and heavier, the issues have become more complicated and cause me more pain and discomfort. A lot of the time, mostly every day, the medicine doesn’t always work. Being able to take a couple hits here or there, smoke a joint, bowl, whatever, actually helps. It makes the medicine work a little bit better, kicks it in a little better. So I have that reason as well as just enjoying it.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT LEGALIZATION, FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF A PARENT?
“Fortunately for me, my sons are 25 and 21. They’re both old enough to make their own decisions. My younger son has never touched it and is not interested in any way, shape or form. My older son was very interested. He isn’t doing it now (for personal reasons) but I think someday, when and if he can, he probably would. My daughter, 13, I talk to her about it. I refuse to be a hypocrite. I’m not gonna sit there, and I was like this with the boys too, and tell her how bad it is and how horrible it is while I have a joint hanging out of my mouth, blowing smoke in her face. I would never be a hypocrite like that. I always told them that if they were old enough to ask me a question about something, that I would answer them honestly, within reason. When they came to me, and they were all weirdly the same age of 13, and they said “What are you doin? We saw you. What’s the funny smell coming from under your door?” I was just like “Well, I gotta fess up.” So I would sit them down and explain it to them. They all went through the DARE program. Their concern for me, which was sweet, was that they were taught that marijuana is a gateway drug. Which we know it is.
I sat them down and explained to them that I had been there, done that, not interested in going back. This is the one thing that I’ve done…I don’t smoke cigarettes, I don’t drink alcohol except once in a while but I never get drunk, I don’t do drugs, those are things that I’m not interested in. I also explain to them that I’m 3 times their age, at that point, and that I made those decisions as an adult and that making those decisions at their age is not a wise thing to do. I asked each of them if they had been offered anything and they all said no. The only one that used, was my oldest, when he was about 15. I remember arguing with him about it. But I think I had lost my moral high ground at that point to say “you can’t do that”. But because he was underage, I would say to him “look, when you’re 18, you can do what you want ’cause you’re grown. But you’re not gonna do this in my house. If you continue to do it in my house, you’re outta here.” At one point, we did throw him out for that, among other things. That was a contributing factor though, because I didn’t want my other children at risk for anything. They were honor roll students and young and I didn’t think it was right. But I won’t lie to my kids about it. So they know, but they also know it’s something I don’t think they should do. Fortunately, for me, it’s never been a problem. They’ve always been understanding about it.”

YOU SAID EARLIER THAT YOU BELIEVE POT IS A GATEWAY DRUG. DOES THAT CONCERN YOU, STILL HAVING A YOUNG DAUGHTER?
“I’d be a moron if it didn’t concern me. Of course it concerns me. I think it’s very important as a parent, especially one that smokes pot, for whatever the reason, that you sit your child down and set rules and boundaries like any other rules that you would set. Talk to them. One of the reasons I started using was because nobody talked to me about it. I found out from my friends. I did all the things I did cause I didn’t have anyone telling me it was wrong. Nobody told me not to do it. So I made a vow when I got pregnant with my oldest that I was never going to allow my children to grow up in ignorance about drugs, alcohol and things like that. I’m not saying that my parents didn’t do a good job, or try, to do the best job that they could, but these are issues that they didn’t have growing up because of the times that they grew up. I can’t fault them, but I just made up my mind that I was going to do things very differently, and that’s what I’ve done. I have to hope that I made the right decisions. So far so good. My daughter will be my true test being the youngest. So far she doesn’t show interest, has never tried anything and she’s pretty honest about it.
I think it’s really important that you talk to your kids about drugs, alcohol, and sex. When you don’t talk to them about those things and you let them learn about it in school or from their friends, or God knows who, you’re not doing them any favors. You’re not helping them by keeping them ignorant and naive. That’s how I grew up. And when I think about some of the things that I’ve done or the situations that I put myself in, I thank God that I’m still alive. They need to also listen to their children and I don’t think parents listen as much as they think they do. We need to really listen as well as talk to them.”

image


Medically Approved Marijuana- To Legalize or Not to Legalize?
1/12/2015

This week we’re talking about the hot-button issue of marijuana legalization. As of now, marijuana is fully legal to be purchased and smoked in only 4 states, Washington state, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. Washington DC’s legalization bid is currently stalled in Congress. In 23 other states, various forms of decriminalization and medical usage laws exist. Decriminalization differs from legalization in that it eliminates the criminal penalties associated with marijuana posession. However, there are still lesser penalties such as fines often attached. For medical usage, in most instances a medical marijuana card must be obtained with the assistance of documentation from a certified primary care physician. Medical marijuana laws vary from state to state, with some making the process much more difficult than others.
Many proponents remain unsatisfied. Many opponents continue to fight to preserve the laws in the remaining states, or even reverse the laws that have allowed marijuana to become legal (or nearly legal). At present under federal law, marijuana possession, usage, and sale is still illegal. However, the federal government has allowed provisions for the states to pass or enact their own laws for both medical and recreational use.
So, where do you stand? Are you in favor of the legalization and/or decriminalization? Do you think it is acceptable only in the cases of medical need? Or are you opposed to marijuana being readily available in all instances and situations? We spoke to a variety of people, with a variety of opinions, stories, and positions on the subject. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions. Remember you can alway comment anonymously. Check back every day for more and be sure to join this important conversation!

suesalTHE LEGALIZATION AND/OR DECRIMINALIZATION OF MARIJUANA IS A PRETTY BIG TOPIC THESE DAYS. WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THE ISSUE?
“I’m 100% for medicinal throughout the country. Recreational, I think the states can decide themselves. That’s not where my heart is on this issue.”

DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL REASON TO WANT IT APPROVED MEDICINALLY?
“I have MS and it benefits what I’m going through like the muscle spasticity and the pain. It’s something that works instantly and not another pill that has to go through my liver and all that nonsense. Besides, I’m too old to be out on the street looking for weed (laughter). I’d rather know that I can get one they supply and be responsible with it and take it as needed or whatever the doctor recommends. It’s just something that’s beneficial to people with cancer and MS, and I’m not sure what other diseases. My doctor said that he didn’t see it to be likely that it’ll be legal here soon, but he said that I’d be top of the list to get it; people with MS and people with cancer. I don’t wanna feel like a criminal if I use it for my condition. Something that’s really confusing too, is if you live in a different state and you take your “medicine” across to a state that it’s not legal, that’s kind of a screwy area to get into too. It’s a really complicated issue there.”

WHY DO YOU FEEL THAT MARIJUANA IS A BETTER TREATMENT THAN THE MEDICATIONS THEY HAVE YOU ON CURRENTLY?
“I think it works faster. It relaxes the muscles. Maybe they don’t want to give it to us cause they think we’re gonna sit around in our underwear, play video games and eat Cheetos. But that’s not the case. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about what it does and I think that’s the image that people tend to think with it. It wouldn’t be (medically) legal in the states it is if they didn’t find positive results from it for medical reasons.”

DO YOU FEEL THERE ARE OTHER DIFFERENCES BETWEEN POT AND THE LEGAL MEDICATIONS YOU’RE CURRENTLY ON?
“I feel it’s more of a supplement than a replacement of another medication. Like the muscle relaxer that I’m on is more of a consistent thing, but it doesn’t prevent a chronic illness from getting worse. Sometimes that drug becomes not quite as effective as it used to be but it’s all I have. But to have something to supplement that, would be terrific.”

SO POT WOULDN’T REPLACE ANY MEDICATIONS YOU’RE ON?
“No. It wouldn’t replace any. And yes, I’ve tried it (pot), and it’s hard to compare it to other times that I’ve had it. My symptoms change and what pot is available is not always the same, the same quality. So at least if it was regulated, I’d get a better, consistent quality of it.”

DO YOU TAKE PAIN KILLERS NOW?
“No. My doctor never prescribed them. They keep giving me something call Baclofen (for muscle spasms in MS patients) in a pretty high dose. I take that with these other neuropathic type drugs to try and control the pain. I’d still have to take that too, otherwise I’m so locked up and I can’t move.”

WHY DOESN’T YOUR DOCTOR PRESCRIBE PAIN MEDS?
“He’s very conservative and I think he’s afraid of abuse.”

SO YOU FEEL POT IS A MORE EFFECTIVE PAIN RELIEVER?
“Yes, and the fact that it relaxes the muscles where, when you take a pill, it takes a while to go through your system to get going. It doesn’t last, and is more instant.”

I SEE WHAT YOU’RE SAYING ABOUT IT BEING SUPPLEMENTAL. OTHERWISE, YOU’D HAVE TO SMOKE IT ALL DAY? YOU JUST WANT TO HAVE IT ON THOSE PARTICULARLY BAD PAIN DAYS?
“Right and I don’t wanna be in my underwear eating Cheetos. The drugs I take are kind of maxedsuesal2 out and not giving me the relief that I need.”

WATCHING COMMERCIALS FOR MEDICATIONS, IT’S ASTOUNDING TO SEE THAT THE LIST OF POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS ARE LONGER THAN THE BENEFITS.
“Yeah, I don’t need anal leakage and I don’t get that from pot (laughter). So it’s all good. You take it for one thing and it gives you four others. It’s not worth it and I feel that it (pot) would be an easy way to give me some relief without any extra complications. I’m on enough pills that I don’t want any more pills. Unless you have a miracle pill, but you don’t, so in the meantime, a bowl a day keeps the pain away.”


Legalization’s Impact on one Community
1/11/2015

siouxThis week we’re talking about the hot-button issue of marijuana legalization. As of now, marijuana is fully legal to be purchased and smoked in only 4 states, Washington state, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. Washington DC’s legalization bid is currently stalled in Congress. In 23 other states, various forms decriminalization and medical usage laws exist. Decriminalization differs from legalization in that it eliminates the criminal penalties associated with marijuana posession. However, there are still lesser penalties such as fines often attached. For medical usage, in most instances a medical marijuana card must be obtained with the assistance of documentation provided by a certified primary care physician. Medical marijuana laws vary from state to state, with some making the process much more difficult than others.
Many proponents remain unsatisfied. Many opponents continue to fight to preserve the laws in the remaining states, or even reverse the laws that have allowed marijuana to become legal (or nearly legal). At present under federal law, marijuana possession, usage, and sale is still illegal. However, the federal government has allowed provisions for the states to pass or enact their own laws for both medical and recreational use.
So, where do you stand? Are you in favor of legalization and/or decriminalization? Do you think it is acceptable only in the cases of medical need? Or are you opposed to marijuana being readily available in all instances and situations? We spoke to a variety of people, with a variety of opinions, stories, and positions on the subject. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions. Remember you can alway comment anonymously. Check back every day for more and be sure to join this important conversation!

YOU LIVE IN A STATE WHERE MARIJUANA HAS BEEN FULLY LEGALIZED, CORRECT?
“Yes. (In Colorado) possession up to an ounce is completely legal if you’re over 21.”

SO AS LONG AS YOU ARE OVER 21 THERE IS NO PENALTY AT ALL FOR BUYING OR USING MARIJUANA?
“Correct. You can’t smoke in public places, but on private property it’s okay. Growing is legal too- for personal use.”

SO WHERE IS IT BEING SOLD?
“We have marijuana dispensaries- stores that anyone can go in with ID showing they are over 21 and buy.”

THAT’S ALL YOU NEED IS AN ID SHOWING YOU ARE 21+ AND YOU CAN WALK IN AND GET WHAT YOU WANT?
“Yes. You don’t even have to be a Colorado resident to buy. It’s like a liquor store.”

HAVE YOU BEEN INSIDE OF ONE?
“Yes.”

WHAT IS IT LIKE INSIDE? IS THERE A LARGE VARIETY? ARE THEY GROUPED IN SOME WAY?
“I live in a small town, so I can’t speak for the ones in Denver. There is a good variety for as small as it is here. Everything is labeled with whether they are Indicas or Sativas. Some are mixed. How much THC & CBDs, etc (is indicated). The ones in our town have jars on display. You can smell them and talk to the ‘bud tenders’ about them. We like to buy the 4 gram 1/8s (of an ounce) and get 4 different kinds. There’s also a variety of edibles & drinks.”

THAT’S PRETTY INTERESTING. HOW WOULD YOU SAY THE DISPENSARIES HAVE BEEN RECEIVED BY THE COMMUNITY WHERE YOU LIVE?
“We had to vote to allow the recreational dispensaries. Some were worried about it affecting our tourist industry, since that is where we get most of our income. The tourists seem to love it. The stores are very busy when there are a lot of tourists in town. Since it became legal, it is the most popular question from them, “where is the marijuana store?” These are not the normal weed smoking stereotypes either. Mostly it’s older people with TX (Texas) and OK (Oklahoma) plates. I never would have thought that they smoked. So, the community is all for it.”

WHEN IT WAS FIRST PROPOSED TO LEGALIZE IN COLORADO, WHAT WERE THE ARGUMENTS USED TO ADVANCE IT? WHAT WERE THE STATEWIDE BENEFITS SUPPOSED TO BE?
“Mostly the tax revenue for schools, road, etc. Because it can be taxed like alcohol and cigarettes. They definitely emphasized the school revenue. I knew it would pass on the western side of CO, since we’re mostly skiers over here, and it’s not as conservative. It passed on the eaters side to because there are a lot of farmers, and they were thinking of the hemp industry. They can grow hemp now too.”

SO AS FAR AS YOU KNOW, YOU’RE SEEING THE PROMISED BENEFITS?
“I haven’t seen the exact numbers. There is extra revenue coming in. Not sure how much is actually going to the schools.”

ARE THE FARMERS SELLING THEIR CROPS TO THE DISPENSARIES?
“They don’t seek hemp in the dispensaries. We have a friend who took over his family’s farm to grow hemp. The first year he didn’t really sell much. Mostly he harvested the seeds for his next crops. It was hard to even get any seeds. Since growing hemp was illegal in the US for so long, there were a lot of offers to buy his seeds, but he kept most of them for himself.”

SO HAVING THE EXPERIENCE FOR A LITTLE WHILE NOW, DO YOU THINK LEGALIZING MARIJUANA HAD INCREASED USE OR DO YOU THINK THAT IT’S BASICALLY THE SAME AMOUNT OF PEOPLE SMOKING AS BEFORE, JUST WITHOUT THE FEAR OF LEGAL REPRECUSSIONS?
“I think it is about the same. People are just more open in talking about it now with someone you are just meeting.”
*Here is an article from the Washingtom Post about the “friend” and hemp farmer spoken about above as he traveled to Capitol Hill to speak to Congress about hemp and hemp farming.*

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/hemp-farmer-ryan-loflin-heads-to-the-hill/2013/11/18/0ee2df82-5081-11e3-9fe0-fd2ca728e67c_story.html

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