Pubdate: Wed, 23 Dec 2015
Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Column: Higher Ground
Copyright: 2015 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock
Author: Larry Gabriel


There is little doubt in my mind that marijuana - cannabis, weed, 
pot, ganja, skunk, bud, herb, sticky icky, mota (in Mexico), le shit 
(in France), whatever you want to call it - is on the road to 
legalization. There are a lot of reasons for that. One of them is the 
changes taking place around the world.

In Italy the army has been given the task of growing medical 
marijuana because the cost of imported medical marijuana is too high 
and government officials want to bring the price down. Israel has a 
well-developed medical marijuana system, and much of what we are 
learning about the plant is coming from research there. Uruguay has 
legalized recreational marijuana and other South American countries - 
Argentina, Brazil - are considering it. Canada's Liberal Party, which 
won recent elections, is moving forward quickly on legalizing 
recreational use of marijuana. Jamaica, possibly the central beacon 
of marijuana use worldwide due to Rastafarians and reggae music, has 
come around on medical use.

There's a lot more going on in that vein, however one of the biggest 
blows against marijuana prohibition may be coming from England. GW 
Pharmaceuticals has been a leader in developing marijuana-based 
drugs. GW first came out with something called Marinol. Marinol is 
synthetic THC and it is prescribed to cancer patients to alleviate 
symptoms caused by cancer treatments. Not a lot of people like 
Marinol because it reportedly made most folks feel weird.

GW then developed Sativex. The big difference between Sativex and 
Marinol is that Sativex is derived directly from marijuana while 
Marinol is a synthetic. Patients like Sativex a lot more than Marinol 
and it is sold in 23 countries around the world - though not in the 
United States. Sativex is not sold in the United States because it's 
derived from real marijuana and we have an official policy that 
declares there is no medical use for marijuana.

GW has been trying to get Sativex into the United States, a huge 
potential market, but no luck so far. That may be changing soon with 
another GW drug called Epidiolex. Epidiolex is a 98 percent CBD 
treatment for epileptic seizures. Most folks have heard about CBD as 
the cannabinoid in marijuana that does not get you high and has been 
working wonders for children with epilepsy. The Food and Drug 
Administration may put it on fast track for approval. That would mean 
the first marijuana-derived therapy that is available via 
prescription on the books. That would directly counter the lie that 
marijuana has no accepted medical use and probably knock it off its 
Schedule 1 category. That would then open up the floodgates for more 
research. After all, are we going to let this British corporation 
make all the money?

Even CBD-only medical marijuana is a step in the right direction.

Another reason I believe we are on the road to ending marijuana 
prohibition is that things change. There is a constant evolution in 
pretty much everything. Marijuana has been used as a medicine and an 
intoxicant for thousands of years. Prohibition of marijuana has been 
going on for less than one century. After trillions of dollars has 
been spent on prohibition, incarceration, and general warfare 
destroying families and lives, people are realizing that the model 
has not worked. People like smoking weed and no one has been able to 
stop them. That's the same thing that happened during the short 13 
years of alcohol prohibition in the United States.

Our government sold marijuana prohibition to other countries through 
foreign aid stipulations and bullying. That doesn't work anymore. 
Other countries are pursuing policies that make more sense for them. 
And people in this country are pursuing policies that make more sense 
than having jackbooted thugs busting into the homes of innocent 
people because they thought the okra plants were marijuana.

That's how crazy this whole thing has become. There are people 
charged with enforcing the law who can't tell marijuana from an okra 
plant, or a tomato plant, or a hemp plant. They are terrorizing 
communities and arresting the less fortunate. Police and prison 
guards unions are among the biggest forces opposing marijuana 
decriminalization because they make lots of money for capturing and 
locking people up.

Things are changing and I don't think you can put the smoke back in the bong.

However, as things change that doesn't mean the doors are wide open 
and anything goes - which brings us to Detroit today. Since neither 
the state nor the city governments have stepped up to deal with the 
fact that medical marijuana is legal in Michigan and people have to 
get their medicine, the creation of caregiver facilities has been 
weird and uneven. That has led to the proliferation of places in 
Detroit, where there are an estimated 160 places to buy medical 
marijuana, while many surrounding communities have no such facilities.

The people who oppose marijuana are angry about this. There have been 
rallies against them and some citizens have pushed City Council to 
regulate where they are allowed and how many there should be. That's 
fair enough. But the fear-minded gang has pushed the council to 
consider restrictions that would close the doors of most existing 
facilities, and to put those that are allowed in areas where few people go.

I believe this is an outgrowth of anti-drug hysteria. However it is 
an honest expression of what the people who live here believe and 
want. That shows there is still a lot of work to be done by those who 
are fighting to end prohibition. After a lifetime of learning 
anti-drug propaganda these people are understandably concerned when 
they see "marijuana stores" in their neighborhoods. They may be in 
the minority (marijuana decriminalization passed by a wide margin in 
Detroit) but they are organized and politicians have a tendency to 
bow to organized minorities even when the numbers show that theirs is 
not the most popular sentiment.

People who own and run these businesses are in a strange place. They 
are building an industry in a no man's land that is unfamiliar to 
everybody. Organized groups have stood against them and some police 
have victimized the business owners or their customers. City 
governments are fearful that if they accept these businesses and 
something goes dreadfully wrong they will be blamed.

Everybody on all sides needs to talk and to really listen to each 
other. That's the way this can be worked out in some just and 
equitable manner. The people who don't even want to walk past a 
marijuana shop need to get over it. The folks who want to wave weed 
in the faces of those who are afraid of it aren't doing themselves any good.

Legalization is coming, even though there are bumps along the road.

Medical vs. recreational?

I have intentionally blurred the line between medical and 
recreational marijuana in the above discussion. That's because both 
are on the same trajectory. There are many people who don't believe 
that there is such a thing as medical marijuana and that the whole 
thing is a smokescreen on the road to recreational legalization. And 
there are people who use medical marijuana recreationally. First of 
all, I tend not to argue with folks who don't believe marijuana has 
legitimate medical uses. I'll point them to source material if they 
really want to know. Otherwise they are just arguing from a point of 
ignorance. There are plenty of medicines on the market that don't do 
anything for you (most cold medications filling up the aisles in 
drugstores) and others that can kill you. Marijuana works and it is 
not life-threatening.

Regarding the idea that this is a step on the road to recreational 
legalization - yep, it is. But that is not such a bad thing. When you 
consider that the legal after-work relaxation tends to be alcohol - a 
toxic substance that has huge social costs associated with its abuse 
and addiction - I say there is no reason that people can't have safer 
fun. Medical and recreational marijuana can live happily side by 
side. click to enlarge

Holiday festivity

Deck the halls with cannabis blossoms, fa la la la la la la la la

I must say this bud is awesome, fa la la la la la la la la

Fill the bong and take a big hit, fa la la la la la la la la

Then declare this is some good shit. Fa la la la la la la la la
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom