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A new world order - Some good things to expect with the legalization of marijuana

  1. Balzafire
    It’s the year 2020 and marijuana and its industrial cousin, hemp, have now been legal for 10 years. The thousands of new businesses and industries based on these eco-friendly plants are reaping historic profits, and California leads the nation and the world in agriculture and manufacturing. The unemployment rate is at .02 percent and the threat of global warming has successfully been put on hold because of America’s steady transformation from an oil-based to a plant-based economy. There hasn’t been a war since 2012 and the savings has been put into public education, which includes the special work program developed for the tens of thousands of nonviolent drug war prisoners released in 2011 who have successfully assimilated back into society and entered the workforce. The new “green” economy has reduced pollutants in the air, soil and food, which, in turn, has resulted in a healthier population. And because of the tax surplus we now enjoy, health care is available and affordable for every man, woman and child in the United States. The millions of acres of hemp being grown worldwide have created enough nutrient-rich hemp seed to provide food for the starving people all over the planet, and on Jan. 1, 2020, the United Nations officially declared the end of world hunger. The recreational use of marijuana has supplanted alcohol in popularity, leading to a largest reduction in crime, violence and highway deaths in the nation’s recorded history. The United States has been heralded as a shining example for the rest of the world’s economies. How it all happened is described below.

    California passes Proposition 19

    On Nov. 2, 2010, California became the first US state to legalize marijuana for adults 21 or older. Once the law went into effect, it became immediately apparent that the warnings about marijuana legalization were unfounded. There wasn’t an increase in teen use. In fact, as happened in The Netherlands when they relaxed their laws in 1976, teen use steadily decreased. Once marijuana became legal, the “forbidden fruit” aspect of smoking pot disappeared and it came to be viewed by young people as something that older people do. Yuck!

    As the public became aware of the benefits from the change in California’s law, it wasn’t long before every state in the nation had legalized marijuana for adults. Public opinion effectively pressured the Drug Enforcement Administration to change its classification of marijuana and hemp as Schedule 1 drugs, among heroin and Angel Dust (PCP), opening the door for new medical research into marijuana’s medicinal uses and allowing American farmers to grow hemp. Hemp manufacturing became the fastest growing industry in the US, creating products like “hempcrete,” a form of concrete made from hemp used to build houses, bridges and even dams. Hemp ethanol fuel started to replace petroleum while major automakers began producing cars from made from hemp, based on Henry Ford’s prototypes from the 1940s. The 21st century was officially titled the era of “The New Industrial Revolution.”

    Dutch-style coffee shops in America

    When the Dutch relaxed their cannabis laws in 1976, coffee shops (retail outlets for marijuana and hashish) that had been operating clandestinely became legitimate licensed businesses. Hundreds of new coffee shops were established throughout the country to accommodate the multitudes of users that had been buying their marijuana and hashish from drug dealers. These coffee shops brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in sales previously pocketed by criminals while the government received millions of dollars in new taxes. In 2010, California decided to adopt many of the elements of the Dutch coffee shops that had been successful for more than 30 years.

    In The Netherlands, consumers can walk into a coffee shop and purchase up to five grams of marijuana or hashish without threat of arrest. Coffee shops offer comfy chairs, snacks and a friendly proprietor with a helpful staff. There is no longer any need to travel to the “wrong side of town” in search of a criminal drug dealer who is most probably selling hard drugs too. Dutch coffee shops provide a safe place where hard drugs are not allowed and where customers can relax with friends over a pipe of marijuana or hashish or can purchase cannabis to take home. The coffee shop system allows the Dutch government to monitor, regulate and tax cannabis products. In 2010, there were more than 400 coffee shops in Amsterdam and over 700 throughout The Netherlands.

    Coffee shop rules

    Dutch coffee shops are strictly regulated and must adhere to guidelines established by the government. The guidelines for coffee shops criminalize sales to minors — the legal age is 18 (the 2010 California law applies to adults over 21). Coffee shops are also required to make sure no hard drugs are allowed on their premises and that no nuisance is created in their surrounding neighborhoods. They are not permitted to advertise the sale of marijuana or hashish. If a coffee shop does not adhere to the guidelines, it can be closed and have its license revoked. House Rules (“Huis Regels”) are displayed: “Handel en Gebruik van Harddrugs is streng verboden. Agressie is niet toegestaan. Toegang boven achttien jaar.”

    Translated: “Sales and use of hard drugs is strictly forbidden. Aggressive behavior is not allowed.”

    American coffee shops, while adapting many of the elements of the Dutch model, also established their own unique American style, from country western to hip-hop. While there are many styles of coffee shops in The Netherlands, most feature certain elements in common: a bar, scattered tables and often a foosball table (a feature of the first coffee shop, “Mellow Yellow,” opened by Wernard Bruining in 1972 before decriminalization). Menus with prices and varieties of hash and marijuana may be displayed but are often held behind the bar and customers must ask to see them. Sometimes a house dealer will appear and give details of what is for sale. Because advertising is not allowed, often the only way to discern that an establishment is a coffee shop — that is, if the smell doesn’t give it away — is by the oversized rolling papers, ashtrays and paper filters on the bar or on tabletops. Some peculiarities of Dutch coffee shops — the house dealer and hidden menus — are a result of the fact that cannabis in 2010 is tolerated but not legal in The Netherlands.

    Coffee shops are not bars Marijuana is not alcohol

    Let me first make this very important point: marijuana is not alcohol. It does not affect its users like alcohol does and is not associated in any way with the many dangers of alcohol — overdose, addiction, loss of motor control and violent behavior. The reason I am so adamant about this difference is that opponents of legalizing marijuana often begin their arguments citing a list of the problems experienced with alcohol, then next claim that the same thing will happen if marijuana is allowed. Crime and violence will increase, they warn, and marijuana-crazed drivers will crowd the highways causing untold death and destruction. Fortunately, when it comes to marijuana, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, these problems — all associated with alcohol consumption — will likely decrease when marijuana is legal as a portion of alcohol-consuming adults switch to marijuana or, at least, reduce their alcohol use by substituting pot. “If marijuana was decriminalized, some [alcohol] users would surely make the switch,” Konrad Moore, a deputy public defender in Kern County, tells the Orange County Reporter. “Far from increasing crime, decriminalizing marijuana would most likely serve to reduce it.” What concerns Moore is not is not adults being allowed to use marijuana but the approximately 20 percent to 25 percent of college women who can expect to be sexually assaulted or the estimated 2 to 4 million US women assaulted by a domestic partner every year. “There is no real debate,” says Moore. “The majority of the assaults are fueled or otherwise associated with alcohol.”

    As for the claims that marijuana legalization will add inebriated drivers to the roads, there is little scientific evidence to support allegations that marijuana is responsible for a significant number of automobile accidents. While driving under the influence of any drug is never recommended, a 1993 study by US Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that “THC’s adverse effects on driving performance appeared relatively small.”

    As for alcohol, Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that in 2008 an estimated 11,773 people died in drunk driving crashes involving a driver with an illegal blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater, which adds up to 31.6 percent of the 37,261 total traffic fatalities in 2008.

    Alcohol — America’s legal drug of choice — is a killer and you will be hard-pressed to find anyone who will deny that fact. Alcoholic beverage producers have no choice but to talk out of both sides of their mouths when hawking their brew. First, as good corporate citizens, they warn consumers to “drink responsibly,” while at the same time their multimillion-dollar TV commercials and print ads directly target the nation’s youth with images of the sex and party atmosphere promised by a six-pack or a bottle of tequila. It is certainly no surprise to find that the California Beer and Beverage Distributors made a large donation to the No on Proposition 19 campaign.

    The most dangerous drug

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that excessive alcohol use is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death each year in the United States. In 2007, there were 14,406 deaths from alcohol-related liver disease and 23,199 alcohol-induced deaths. These numbers did not include alcohol deaths resulting from homicides or accidents.

    Finally, a comparison of overdose fatalities does not take into account cognitive impairments and risky or aggressive behaviors that sometimes follow drug use. Moore cites a former prosecutor who confided in him that he refused to testify at a driving-under-the-influence-of-marijuana case because he believed that marijuana makes drivers “more cautious and conservative.” Whatever the objective truth, says Moore, “Few clients are arrested for allegedly driving 90 mph under the influence of marijuana or, for that matter, allegedly beating their wife or girlfriend while high on marijuana.”

    Marijuana’s real effects

    Have you ever tried to describe how something tastes or smells? Describing a marijuana high can be just as difficult. In his book “On Being Stoned,” Dr. Charles Tart reported marijuana’s effects based on an extensive questionnaire completed by more than 150 smokers. Some of the “common” experiences that Tart’s smokers reported are listed in the “Psychedelics Encyclopedia” and are of an insightful and inspirational nature. The listings include: insight into others, expressing more profound and appropriate ideas, an intuitive and empathetic understanding of people and lowered inhibitions. In general, Tart’s subjects reported feelings of well-being such as easily falling asleep at bedtime, almost invariably feeling good when stoned, being more childlike, open to experience and filled with wonder. One set of effects repeatedly described by marijuana smokers is feeling an enhanced sense of vision, hearing and taste. Music sounds better, colors are more intense. Whereas alcohol dulls the senses, marijuana has the opposite effect. A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) describes the subjects had an increased “vibratory sense appreciation,” which may explain why many smokers report enhancement of their sensory perceptions. There was also “increased vividness of sensory experience,” and “a feeling of increased significance and meaning.” In another study, test subjects reported “a feeling of clarity of thought and a sense of deeper insight into [their] own personality, of seeing how to solve personal problems or of being able to achieve a better recognition for important goals in life.”

    In reality, the ordinary physical effects of marijuana are quite moderate. Users experience a slight increase in heart rate — reported in Time Magazine as “only a small fraction of what occurs at orgasm, and a minor increase in blood pressure and body temperature, dryness in the mouth and redness in the eyes.”

    Physiologically, when a person smokes marijuana, the cannabinoids — the active chemicals in marijuana that create its effect — are carried to most of the body’s organs, and they appear in the brain for a brief period, in particular in the frontal and perietal regions. New brain studies suggest marijuana’s appearance in these areas of the brain may explain the inspirational experience of its users and that these experiences may actually be hardwired into our brains. A clinical study reported in the journal Neuron in 2010 referenced several neuro-imaging studies suggesting that neural activation of a large fronto-parieto-temporal network may support a variety of spiritual experiences.

    Marijuana’s high dissipates in a couple of hours, but a small amount of THC (the cannabinoid most responsible for marijuana’s high) remains for an extended time in the liver’s fatty tissue, where it is released gradually. This remaining THC does not create any subjective, cognitive or emotional effects, but can show up in blood tests for marijuana conducted several weeks after smoking, which is the reason that drug tests for marijuana are unreliable.

    Many people report that after smoking marijuana they lose track of time, which appears to expand. Suddenly what felt like hours passing had been mere minutes. “Minutes seem to be hours and seconds seem to be minutes,” writes Lester Grinspoon in “Marijuana Reconsidered.” In a world where no one seems to have enough time in a day to get everything done, it is no wonder that marijuana, with its time expanding qualities, is the most popular illicit drug in the country.

    Marijuana’s temporary effect on short-term memory is well known. But Michael Pollan, author of “Botany of Desire,” suggests that forgetting is actually “a prerequisite to human happiness and mental health.” Interviewed for “The Pot Book,” edited by Julie Holland, Pollan elaborates: “There’s no doubt that short-term working memory is temporarily diminished when somebody gets high. But what I think is enjoyable to people is this idea of dehabituation, that they’re seeing things with fresh eyes. Memory is the enemy of wonder. When people get high, everything is new and intense because of this forgetting ... to see things for the first time you have to have forgotten that you’ve seen them before. Forgetting is very important to the experience of awe or wonder ... marijuana seems to have the ability to do this with ordinary things."

    On that note, I think It’s time we try to forget the decades of anti-marijuana propaganda that has deprived our nation of this valuable resource and begin imagining a world where legal marijuana and hemp are used to create a sustainable and vibrant economy, reduce oil dependence and allow individuals their constitutional right to choose what substances they put into their bodies.

    But please, whatever you do, don’t forget to vote YES Tuesday on Proposition 19.

    By Alaine Lowell


  1. TicksAndLeaches
    While the beginning of the article was a little too optimistic since those problems will always exist, the points made in the middle and end were amazing. SWIM finds that alcohol has caused so much more harm than good to society and we saw how the prohibition of alcohol was a failure. So why is the prohibition of a much more harmless drug somehow a good idea. Many of SWIM's friends are against pot because they think its a drug that makes you stupid but have no trouble drinking copious amounts of booze.

    SWIM also loved the point made that short term memory loss occurs because wonder and excitement are present and that it is as if we are looking through new eyes which is true. Things seem better because we can see from a things from a new perspective and while people think when one finds amazement in something so simple they think "ohh thats just a high thing to do". But whats so wrong with that? Discoveries of old things keep life fresh and give inspiration and motivation to do better things. While some potheads lose motivation many such as SWIM and many of his friends actually have gotten more things done because of weed. We enjoy life more and SWIM's grades are better in college as an engineering student than in high school because he finds beauty in science and physics and actually can enjoy studying and learning.

    SWIM isnt a daily smoker since he runs competitively so during season he abstains for his lungs and then after season indulges a sometimes on the weekends at parties then a few days during the week at night after hw and studying to play guitar and listen to music to reflect on the days goods and then falls asleep fine since he use to have insomnia. I just hope Prop 19 passes here so people can see what a failure prohibition of drugs are
  2. talltom
    Some More Good Things--19 Reasons Pot Should Be Legal

    By Russ Belville
    AlterNet, NORML Outreach Coordinator

    October 24, 2010

    California’s Prop 19 will be the most talked-about ballot initiative in the November election. This measure would make lawful the possession and sharing of one ounce of marijuana outside the home and allow for personal cultivation of a small marijuana garden and possession of its harvest in the home. California cities and counties would be able to opt-in to commercial sales, regulation, and taxation of marijuana. Existing prohibitions against driving under the influence and working under the influence would be maintained and prohibitions against furnishing marijuana to minors would be strengthened.

    After almost 100 years of marijuana prohibition in California, marijuana is more popular and accepted than ever. Prohibition has clearly failed. Prop 19 gives us another choice, one that benefits not just those who enjoy the herb, but the entire state of California and ultimately, the nation and the world. Whether you are a regular marijuana user now, an occasional toker back in the day, or you’ve never touched the stuff, there are many compelling economic, social, public safety, and civil libertarian reasons to support its legalization. Here are nineteen reasons for six distinct groups of Californians to vote Yes on Prop 19:

    For the Concerned Parents

    1. To make pot more difficult for kids to buy. It might seem counter-intuitive to some, but illegal marijuana is much easier to acquire than regulated marijuana because weed dealers don’t check ID’s. Four out of five high school seniors, more than three in five sophomores, and two in five middle schoolers (8th grade) say marijuana is “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get. One third of 16-17-year-olds say marijuana is easiest to buy, not cigarettes, alcohol, or prescription drugs. Two out of five teens say they can get marijuana in a day; almost one in four can get marijuana in an hour. Obviously letting unregulated dealers control the marijuana market is not protecting your kids from access to marijuana. On the other hand, aggressive enforcement of ID carding for minors, combined with public education have led to some of the lowest rates of teen alcohol andtobacco use ever recorded. Prop 19 enacts the same common sense ID carding for marijuana as we use for martinis and Marlboros.

    2. To make pot more difficult for kids to sell in school. Regardless of what regulations we put on marijuana, like alcohol and tobacco, there will be some kids who manage to get a hold of it. But part of what makes marijuana so easy for teens to buy is that they can all find in their high school one of the one million teens nationally who are dealing it. Legal access to marijuana for adults removes the criminal risk markup that makes pot so profitable. After all, when was the last time you heard of a beer dealer in a high school hallway? Prop 19 eliminates the huge profit that entices youngsters to sell marijuana.

    3. To make pot less available for transfer from young adults. Governor Schwarzenegger signed a decriminalization bill that makes it an infraction, not a crime, to possess and share of up to one ounce of marijuana between anyone 18 and older. Prop 19 adds a stiff punishment of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for any adult aged 21 or older who shares marijuana with anyone aged 18-20, just like we punish adults who furnish alcohol to those under legal age. When it’s tougher for those 18-20 to get marijuana, it’s tougher for them to share it friends under 18. Prop 19 treats marijuana like alcohol as a privilege for age 21 and older.

    For the Law and Order Crowd

    4. To decrease the profits of violent criminals. Prohibited marijuana brings with it the same problems as prohibited alcohol did – gangs and violence. We don’t see bootleggers shooting up the streets over whiskey distribution any more. We don’t see clandestine wine grape vineyards sprouting up in national forests. Providing California’s adults a legal way to grow or buy their own marijuana means violent drug gangs lose customers. No, these gangsters won’t stop being gangsters, but they will become gangsters with lower budgets and fewer associates. Prop 19 brings the dangerous underground marijuana market into a safe, regulated, inspected, and taxed legal market.

    5. To increase public trust of law enforcement. Currently more than 1 in 10 adult Californians smoke pot every year. It is unknown how many of these 2.9 million annual users fail to report crimes for fear of police interviewing them and discovering the marijuana they possess or grow. Prohibition also creates fear and paranoia that lingers long after the joint is smoked for these adults whenever they see police, fear that even talking to police could end in a ticket or arrest. Prop 19 allows otherwise law-abiding cannabis consumers to trust and help law enforcement.

    6. To prioritize our law enforcement. It is estimated that including the arrest, jail, prison, court, and marijuana eradication costs, California spends $200 million per year on marijuana law enforcement. Then there is the time and space we can’t afford in our overworked court system and overcrowded prisons. Prop 19 alleviates much of those problems while maintaining the current laws against irresponsible use of marijuana, such as driving under the influence and giving marijuana to kids. Prop 19 focuses police priorities away from adults who enjoy marijuana responsibly and onto real crime.

    For the Medical Marijuana Patients

    7. To protect your medical collectives. Over the fourteen years of medical marijuana in California we’ve seen numerous raids on medical marijuana collectives, or “dispensaries”. Many are conducted by state or local authorities, some by DEA but always with the cooperation and assistance of local law enforcement. Prop 19 forbids state and local law enforcement from seizing, attempting to seize, or even threatening to seize lawfully cultivated marijuana – medical or personal. Prop 19 makes it impossible for local law enforcement to assist federal prosecution of medical marijuana collectives.

    8. To provide easier access to cheaper medicine. Currently a patient has to see a doctor and pay for a recommendation to use medical marijuana. The patient has to carry around that recommendation to prove medical use to the police. The patient can designate a caregiver to grow for them or buy from a dispensary at grossly inflated prices. After Prop 19, you can use marijuana simply because you decide to, no doctors, no notes. Any number of your friends could be growing marijuana for you. There may even be Prop 19 stores that open in your city. Prop 19 will lower marijuana prices and provide greater access to patients without need for permission slips.

    9. To allow you to grow a lot of marijuana. For adults who decide not to get Prop 215 recommendations, you will be allowed under Prop 19 to cultivate a plot of marijuana not exceeding 25 square feet. The DEA has concluded that the average yield of cannabis bud per square foot is about one-half ounce – that’s over three quarters of a pound from a 5’x5’ garden. Prop 19 allows you to keep the results of your harvests; the one ounce limitation only applies to taking your marijuana out of your residence. Prop 19 does not impose arbitrary plant and possession limits at your home grow site.

    For the Business Community

    10. To create much-needed jobs. California’s marijuana market is already the largest cash crop in the state at an estimated $14 billion annually. This estimate only includes the marijuana itself and not all the ancillary industries a legal pot market would bring, from accessories to fashion, from tourism to retail, and all the incredible markets for marijuana’s non-drug cousin, industrial hemp. Prop 19 creates new job and business opportunities and opens the door for industrial use of hemp.

    11. To bring in much-needed tax revenue. It’s true that Prop 19 allows localities to opt-in and regulate commercial cannabis sales and some places may not opt-in, reaping no marijuana taxes. But marijuana for personal use will still be legal and many of the ancillary industries could flourish in a “dry county” (e.g., marijuana bed’n’breakfast) and that would produce tax revenue. Prop 19 brings in more tax revenue from marijuana than we’re bringing in now.

    12. To bring fairness to workplace drug testing. Prop 19 maintains an employer’s existing right to address marijuana impairment in the workplace – nobody gets to go to work stoned any more than they get to go to work drunk. But Prop 19 frees employers from the burden of disciplining, firing, or not hiring safe, productive workers for their personal use of marijuana away from the job site. Prop 19 treats employees who use cannabis responsibly in their private life like those employees who drink alcohol.

    For the Latinos and African-Americans

    13. To end the disproportionate arrest and harassment of people of color. African-Americans in California’s 25 largest counties are arrested at rates two-to-four times greater than their white counterparts, despite whites using marijuana at greater rates. In the 25 largest cities, the arrest disparity ranges from twice-to-thirteen times the rates for whites. Arrest rates for Latinos also exceed the rates for whites. Prop 19 removes the probable cause for law enforcement to harass people of color for merely possessing marijuana.

    14. To end street-level dealing of marijuana. Marijuana’s profitability and scarcity create the open-air street-corner dealing that plagues many communities of color and utilizes juveniles to perform the transporting and selling of small amounts of pot. The profit enriches gangs and leads to violent confrontations over turf. Prop 19 will reduce the cost of marijuana and provide a regulated place to buy it that will undercut the street dealers.

    15. To strike back at the murderous drug gangs in Mexico. Many Latino Californians worry for the safety of friends and family back in Mexico. Residents in northern border towns face violence and murder rates usually only found in war zones. Law abiding Mexicans don’t know if their law enforcement and government officials are corrupted by the wealthy gangs. Prop 19 is the first step in nationwide legalization that can be the only solution to Mexico’s drug war violence.

    For the People of All Political Ideologies

    16. To energize and connect with the progressive Democratic base. Prop 19 is overwhelmingly supported by the young, progressive, liberal voters that are the base of support for Democratic politicians. Many of these voters are not as enthusiastic about the Democrats as they were in 2008 when they turned out in record numbers. Prop 19’s passage forces the Democratic Party to recognize the get-out-the-vote potential of the marijuana legalization issue for future elections.

    17. To build a new, younger Republican base on conservative principles. The Republican Party faces a decline in its numbers due to the aging of its core base of white male supporters. Younger, libertarian-leaning, “Tea Party” activists are calling for a return to conservative principles of states’ rights, less government, personal responsibility, and cutting wasteful government spending. Prop 19 affirms the right of states to set their own policies and begins to dismantle the most ineffective government program of all time – the War on Drugs.

    18. To show the traditional political parties they aren’t responding to the people. Candidates for the highest offices in California from both major political parties refuse to endorse marijuana legalization even though more than half the citizens have used marijuana and support its legalization. Prop 19 reminds the major parties that they are the servants of the people and the people’s will is sovereign.

    For the Future

    19. To change the world. Prop 19 is not just another California initiative. Prop 19 is being watched in all fifty states and throughout the hemisphere as the “shot heard round the world” in ending the prohibition of marijuana.

    It’s up to you, California, to take that one small step for your state that will be one giant leap for the nation. Vote Yes on Prop 19!

    Russ Belville is NORML's Outreach Coordinator.
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