Pubdate: Sat, 02 Mar 2013
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2013 The Times-Herald
Author: Michael J McCoy


Since I probably wouldn't have watched without his warning, I want to 
thank the Vallejo Police Department's Captain Ken Weaver for his 
comments about the Discovery Channel series, "Weed Country", as 
having "no value to the community" and "for entertainment purposes only."

When asked if he would view that evening's program, he replied, 
"probably not." It was disappointing to read that, primarily because, 
having not seen the show, he made this value judgment with no basis 
in fact. I'd hoped for someone in his position to have, at least, a 
healthy curiosity. I mean, I realize the police have a job to do -- 
enforce laws, arrest the bad guys, and I commend them for that. I do 
that in person, whenever I get the chance.

But for anyone, especially someone I look up to, in a position of 
authority, to be so closed minded, is unsettling. Prejudice shouldn't 
blind us to the truth. As for the show? Hold the Emmy nomination, but 
there were moments. Cultivation has come a long way since the '60s.

Marijuana as medicine, in our society, is here now. There's no 
turning back. Historical evidence shows marijuana used medicinally 
dating back to 2737 B.C. It's one of 50 fundamental herbs of 
traditional Chinese medicine. It's time to stop seeing it as simply a 
Schedule 1 controlled substance along with heroin, LSD, etc. A 
National Academy of Sciences study from 1990 recommended removal from 
this list.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 18 states. This is a partial list 
of uses from, ironically, a U. S. Government Accountability Office 
(GAO) report dated Nov. 2002, titled Description of Allowable 
Conditions Under State Medical Marijuana Laws: Multiple Sclerosis, 
ALS symptoms, Alzheimer's disease, glaucoma, appetite stimulant, 
Crohn's disease, epilepsy, nausea from chemotherapy, and more. It's 
currently being used by more than 35,000 patients recommended by more 
than 2,500 doctors -- 2,500 doctors can't be wrong.

It's only a matter of time until the local, state and federal 
governments agree on this and develop regulations, zoning ordinances, 
tax codes, business licenses, etc., and the sooner the better.

The uncertainty that comes from this disconnect has destroyed lives, 
not only by criminalizing individuals but by delaying research.

Initially marijuana was thought to be primarily effective for 
symptoms of diseases. It now appears that marijuana is able to fight 
certain diseases directly. As reported recently in the San Francisco 
Chronicle, scientists with the California Pacific Medical Center 
Research Institute first released data five years ago that shows how 
the marijuana compound, cannabidiol, seems to have the capacity to 
"turn off" the gene responsible for metastasis in breast and other 
types of cancers. A study published in December 2012 in the medical 
journal Cancer Research showed promise in treating Glioblastoma, an 
aggressive form of brain cancer. Another preliminary study shows an 
astounding 37 percent drop in lung cancer rates for chronic (daily) 
marijuana smokers vs. people who have never smoked anything.

I really hope that's true. Starting at 17, I smoked a pack a day for 
26 years. During that period I smoked a little marijuana every 
evening. I'm in my mid 60s, and cancer free. I'm just sayin'. And 
cigarettes? Don't get me started.

It seems like the more research is done on marijuana, the more 
benefits are discovered.

Thankfully, taking things a step further, Colorado and Washington 
have legalized marijuana for recreational use and are currently in 
the process of developing regulations similar to those applied to 
alcohol. California will likely be the next state to do so. The Feb. 
27 Field Poll showed 54 percent of California voters back 
legalization. That's up from 50 percent in 2010. I would think the 
police would welcome the day when they no longer have to spend 
valuable man hours busting the occasional toker or licensed medical 
marijuana dispensary.

I imagine the police departments in Washington and Colorado are 
thankful for these advances. Between you and me, I actually think 
Captain Weaver would be, too.

Michael J McCoy

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