Green America

Recycling, cleaner energy, hybrid cars, these are the types of things one might think of when someone mentions
“Green” in America. This however is not the type of “Green” I am talking about, although I do support all
of the above actions on making this a better planet.

The “Green” I’m speaking of is the 15 and counting states that have chosen to pass Medical Marijuana bills.
In one Southern California County, marijuana accounts for 2/3 of the local economy, generating revenue of
$1 billion dollars annually and the industry itself accounts for tens of billions of dollars nationwide. Economists
have even estimated that if America were to completely legalize marijuana that it would generate
somewhere in the ballpark of 35-40 billion dollars a year. Some have even joked that California could be
debt free in 90 days with the legalization.

As the number of users continues to rise, so does the number of dispensaries popping up all over the nation.
For those of you not familiar with dispensaries, they are places of business where a medical card holding individual
can go purchase wide varieties of cannabis and cannabis edibles. Yes, they actually sell everything
from brownies, and baked goods infused with cannabis to coca-cola containing a liquid form of marijuana
mixed in. With drug legalization, pros and cons will always be weighed, in a positive aspect of things, patients
who actually need the drug to help ease symptoms of illnesses; it becomes as easy as perusing craigslist
where someone will actually deliver the marijuana to you. The con of that though is that you may not
even be asked to show your medical marijuana card, or even if you are asked to produce a medical card; it
has become relatively easy to find local clinics, that for the right price, will gladly issue you a medical marijuana
card for any symptom that they may “deem” you have.

In no way am I implying that people should be arrested for partaking in the consumption of cannabis baked
goods, or not be allowed to smoke a product that medically has been deemed to give relief for a number of
symptoms, I just believe that more information should be made available to the patients who partake in it.
Marijuana can very easily be considered a gateway drug, although medically proven not to be addictive in
any sense, with one of the side effects being ease of anxiety and a sense of euphoria, you may make decisions
that you normally would not make with a clear and conscious mind. It could also be argued that with
that type of attitude other things in your life could start to seem not so important sending your life into a
downward spiral that users of any other drug that have been ruled as illegal experience.

I decided to do some research into the matter, being in Austin, TX it was not that difficult to find a carefree
soul to answer a few questions for me. I asked a gentleman at a local establishment if he was a smoker, he
responded “just weed, not cigarettes.” I said, “just weed huh, have you ever tried any other drugs?” he replied
“Well after trying weed I figured it wasn’t that big of deal when asked to try other drugs because I had
already smoked weed and it didn’t seem to change things that much.” I then asked if he currently was on
drugs or still actively partook in the use of marijuana. His answer was pretty interesting, “No, I just got a new
job that drug tests so I’m unable to smoke like I would like to.” “But I have been using this stuff called space
that seems to give me the same effects as marijuana and it’s legal and undetectable.”

Some of you may recall the article written by Dr. Lavelle Hendricks last month on “K2”or “Spice” as others call
it. Another name for the product is “Space”. Given the name for the effect that it makes your head feel like
it’s floating in space from the rest of your body. This product has now been banned in TX as of December 24,
2010. What most users believe is that they were purchasing a form of synthetic marijuana when in all actuality
it is a cocktail of 5 chemicals that according to the national center of poison control have accounted for
500 incidents of unconsciousness, severe seizures and heart failure.

This makes me wonder that if this drug is not addictive, why would an individual resort to using a synthetic
blend concoction to achieve the same effect that marijuana provides. Maybe it has not been deemed physically
addictive but I would argue that it has a mental addiction aspect to it. One could compare it to nicotine
users that may not be physically addicted to the nicotine but have an oral fixation associated with the actual
act of smoking the cigarette. This argument could go round and round and depending on who you consult
there will always be different answers given.

Either way, legalization is at the forefront of hot topics for our nation. Are we headed in the direction of the
European country of Portugal, who abolished all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs including
marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, replacing jail time if found guilty with an interview
by a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser for appropriate treatment? The
United States may not be that far off with members of the legislature bringing the topic of rehabilitation and
recovery to light instead of using fear mongering tactics and jail as a way to get individuals to stop using.
With all of this being said, we should all push for more education on these topics to be available, because at
the end of the day, individuals with more knowledge can make a better assessment on which type of medication
may be a good alternative for them.

By Greg Lovelldge and Amver Egan