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Pot talk smoking online

POSTED September 18, 2009 11:20 p.m.
A debate is raging this very instant on our nascent Web site, turlockjournal.com.
Or perhaps I should say, a debate is blazing.
The myriad stories about local government, state budget cuts, and even murders just haven’t been able to get our readers riled up in the way that a green, leafy plant has in these past few weeks.
Yes, the TurlockJournal.com comment section is veritably alight with varied viewpoints on the vile demon weed of cannabis. Or, marijuana, as it is more commonly known.
In the 40 years since the Summer of Love made marijuana use “acceptable” – and the 20 years since Nancy Reagan advised us to “Just Say No” – America hasn’t come any closer to a consensus about legalizing or cracking down on marijuana.
The TurlockJournal.com poster “delhistoner” advises our Web site visitors to, “Smoke weed. Relax. If you don’t want to then don’t but its (sic) none of your business what i (sic) do.”
Poster “Rawlins” counters that pot smoking, “is our business because those of us that are law abiding citizens want to a live in a community free from low life scum and criminals. You are an addict who is breaking the law and worse yet, you are supporting drug dealers with each purchase.”
The fact of the matter is that I agree with both of these posters. Each one has a very valid point.
Yes, while the jury is still out, most studies I’ve read tend to show that marijuana is no more harmful or addictive than alcohol or tobacco. And, if someone does want to impair his or her short-term memory – the one undeniably clinically proven side effect of marijuana use – then I think that’s the person’s decision to make.
But, yes, marijuana – as an illegal substance – is a substance controlled by gangs due to its black-market nature. And, in a world where our young and old alike already have access to two potentially destructive substances in alcohol and tobacco, do we really need to throw another one on the market?
When push comes to shove, I think I come to the conclusion that most of the problems caused by marijuana are mainly due to its illicit nature.
I know I’m much safer in Turlock buying alcohol at Safeway than I would be if Al Capone were still running the booze trade. Plus, the government benefits from the sales taxes.
I’m not quite sure that I’m ready to argue for the outright legalization of marijuana, but I do think that the government must be covered in its own cloud of smoke to still have the drug classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic, among the most addictive of substances with no acceptable medical uses whatsoever. For comparison, even cocaine and opium are deemed more acceptable under the U.S. drug policy.
Synthesized versions of the active ingredients in cannabis are sold as prescription drugs in America under the names Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone). The drugs are used to combat anorexia in AIDS patients, for nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients, for multiple sclerosis patients, and for fibromyalgia.
The argument about the recreational use of marijuana is nowhere near decided, but I believe, in the interests of compassion, there should be no question whether or not those in need should have access to what has been shown to be an effective form of treatment.
If you would like to join the debate on the legalization of marijuana, I invite you to visit our Web site www.turlockjournal.com
To contact Alex Cantatore, check movie listings for your nearest Cheech and Chong showing.

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