Thu Apr 19, 2012, 12:59 AM
RainDog (28,784 posts)
California 90420 and Pot: Inc
A new documentary and a new book about America's failed prohibition discussed in articles on Salon.
It might sound like pothead paranoia to suggest that President Obama told the Justice Department to go after California’s medical marijuana industry because it’s an election year and he’s willing to trade the freedoms of stoners in Venice Beach and Oakland for a (largely theoretical) handful of blue-collar voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania. But this is the Democratic Party we’re talking about, so almost no level of moral cowardice is inconceivable. Obama himself seems way too tightly wound to have been much of a toker (whatever he may say about his Columbia years), and has proven to have little concern for civil liberties of any sort, except as they are deemed to affect electoral votes.
Over the next generation or two, pot will probably become decriminalized, step by step, but for the time being we’ll make do with massive hypocrisy on all sides, as depicted half-accidentally in Shull’s film. Oaksterdam is in trouble, and Ix never got to teach her proposed class on “bluntology” and the importance of avoiding “canoeing” (you figure it out). On the other hand, she’s now a copywriter at NASA, and that joke finishes itself, I think.
What propelled me into the debate was the outrage medical marijuana laws had generated, not just in Colorado but across the country. The often ill-considered over-reaching by marijuana proponents — for many reasonable people who are undecided about pot, garish dispensaries blazing neon pot leaves from their local strip malls feel like being given the finger — was nothing compared to the militaristic hysteria unleashed by the federal government. Cops were busting into homes and blowing away the family pets looking for reefer and in many cases, turning up next to nothing. Perfectly sober businesses (to speak in relative terms) that followed the letter of their state laws were being pulverized under the heels of DEA agents. Although my personal experiences with marijuana are limited (and well in the past), I knew enough about the effects of pot to realize that the governmental reaction was far out of proportion to the actual threat.
That perception became sharply focused the more I learned about marijuana’s potential as a valid therapeutic tool in treating everything from cancer to nausea. The government’s rabid insistence that medical marijuana is as real as the tooth fairy is simply wrong. The National Institute of Cancer sees promise in its ability to attack tumors. It’s been known for decades to battle chemo-induced nausea better than oral drugs that have the obvious drawback of being vomited up before they can take effect. MS patients have used it to ease the spasticity in their muscles. Cannabinoids — marijuana’s unique ingredients that interact with specific receptors in the brain — have anti-inflammatory effects and can relieve pain. Importantly, cannabinoid receptors aren’t found in the parts of the brain that regulate breathing, which could be one of the reasons no one has ever died of an overdose, making marijuana safer than many foods we eat.
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