Pubdate: Fri, 29 Aug 2014
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2014 New Haven Register
Author: Randall Beach
Page: B1


Good news, people: I survived ingesting a "brain poison," easily 
operated a Hertz rental car an hour or two afterward without killing 
anybody and lived to tell the tale. Dr. Arthur Taub, a retired 
clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine, wrote a hysterical 
letter to the New Haven Register after I reported in my column last 
week that I ate one-third of a 10-milligram marijuana cookie outside 
a legal cannabis shop in Boulder, Colorado.

"Marijuana is a brain poison," the good doctor began. "It is an 
uncontrolled mixture of long acting brain-destructive neurotoxins and 

Taub went on to warn that it produces "a dose-dependent, complex, 
altered state of consciousness."

And he said it's "well-known to its users" that the results are 
"sedation, excitement, altered emotion, altered perception and 
altered judgment."

Sorry, doc, none of that happened to me.

Taub also said that for at least two hours after smoking "a joint of 
that agent," the user suffers a dangerous and significant impairment 
of his ability to drive.

"Mr. Beach was aware of this reality and nevertheless, totally 
ignorant of the dose he ingested, chose to drive," Taub wrote.

He concluded by calling me irresponsible, guilty of trivializing the 
issue of marijuana legalization and "foolish."

Well, I think Dr. Taub is foolish to think I would take a big dose of 
a marijuana product, then immediately climb into a rental car with 
two passengers to see what would happen.

As I explained in the column, I pondered the array of high-dose and 
low-dose items in the glass cages of the shop, discussed the products 
with the store manager and carefully listened to her description of 
how that cookie would affect me.

"Some people don't get high on it," she said of the "sweet grass cookie."

And so I purchased that cookie, the weakest, least "poisonous" item 
in the place, and proceeded to split it three ways with my sister and my wife.

Then we walked around downtown Boulder for an hour or two, stopping 
at a series of stores. I thought I might have detected a slight 
"buzz," but that was it. During our browsing, I was so amused by a 
poster from a long-ago movie called "Marihuana" (is that how they 
spelled it then?) that I took notes on the warnings.

"Shame! Horror! Despair! Weird orgies! Unleashed passions! Lust! 
Crime! Sorrow! Despair!"

It occurred to me that I wasn't experiencing any of that. I wonder if 
Dr. Taub saw that movie a long time ago.

Eventually we were ready to drive a few miles back to my sister's 
house. If I had felt anything that remotely suggested I was too high 
to pilot a car, I would have beforehand handed over the keys to somebody else.

My sister, who for decades drove school buses, praised me after our 
vacation with her for my expert, safe driving.

The Register received a much more rational letter from Robert Sharpe 
of Common Sense for Drug Policy after my column was published.

"If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to subsidize violent drug 
cartels, prohibition is a grand success," he wrote. "If the goal is 
to deter use, marijuana prohibition is a catastrophic failure," he 
noted. "The U.S. has almost double the rate of marijuana use as the 
Netherlands, where it is legal."

Sharpe added, "The criminalization of Americans who prefer marijuana 
to martinis has no basis in science."

The tide has turned; the New York Times recently ran a series of 
editorials calling on the federal government to repeal the ban on 
marijuana. The Times noted that in a 2013 poll by the Pew Research 
Center, for the first time a majority of Americans (52 percent) said 
they favor legalizing marijuana use.

"We believe that on every level - health effects, the impact on 
society and law-and-order issues - the balance falls squarely on the 
side of national legalization," the Times' lead editorial concluded.

The Times backed up its conclusion with some illuminating figures: 
There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012. The 
editors said these arrests "fall disproportionately on young black 
men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals."

Heads up, Dr. Taub: The Times editors wrote, "There is honest debate 
among scientists about the health effects of marijuana but we believe 
the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are 
relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and 
tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for 
otherwise healthy adults."

As I said to the owner of that Boulder cannabis shop, Colorado and 
the state of Washington are national trend-setters with their 
legalization laws. Within a few years, Connecticut and many other 
states will see the light and pass similar laws. This is neither 
"trivial" nor "foolish."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom