Not hot for pot

11Mar16

marijuanaIt’s been a tough week for the Cannabis Community.

Last weekend, the Boston Globe published an op-ed piece opposing legalization of marijuana co-written by Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Then, adding insult to injury, on Tuesday the much anticipated Report of the Special Senate Committee on Marijuana was released.

The news was not good for herb enthusiasts.

In an introductory letter to the Report, the Committee outlines three pages worth of public health, public safety and legal concerns if recreational pot were to be legalized in Massachusetts.

And that’s just in the introduction. You can open any page in the rest of the 118-page report and find more concerns.

red_rocks_treeThe committee of Massachusetts state senators spent a full year researching and analyzing the ramifications if Massachusetts were to legalize marijuana for recreational use. They even went on a fact-finding trip to Colorado to study the results of legalizing pot in that state.

So naturally the report will be dismissed as ill-informed by the real experts – as soon as they can drag themselves away from the Cartoon Network.

Unfortunately for the toker lobby, they’re going to have a hard time casting members of the Senate Special Committee as out-of-step, conservative old fogeys out to ruin everyone else’s fun.

lewis_headThe panel was chaired by Wakefield’s own State Senator Jason Lewis, one of the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s up and coming progressive voices. The vice chair of the committee is Sen. Michael O. Moore (D-Worcester), who was elected to the Senate after a 22-year career with the Massachusetts Environmental Police. Another member of the committee is Linda Dorcena Forry, the 43-year-old African-American state senator who represents the 1st Suffolk District.

Other members of the Special Committee include James T. Welch, the 40-year-old Democratic senator from West Springfield, Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), Sen. John F. Keenan (D-Quincy) and Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester).

The two token Republicans on the committee were Sen. Richard Ross and Sen. Vinny deMacedo.

Those names don’t exactly read like a Tea Party membership roll. In fact, most of the members are lawmakers that stoners would likely have voted for – if only they could have remembered when the election was.

Many of the Special Committee’s findings confirm what anyone with an ounce of common sense could figure out for themselves. But common sense, like an attention span, is a rare commodity in stoner precincts. So you have to do the analysis for them even when the conclusion is a no-brainer.

And then they’ll reject as “biased” any result that doesn’t include getting baked.

potheadFor example, the committee concludes that “Even with strong safeguards in place, legalization may increase the accessibility of marijuana for youth and contribute to the growing perception among youth that marijuana is safe for them to consume.”

No kidding? Who could have guessed that legalizing something would result in more people having access to it and assuming that it must be safe?

The report notes that 885,000 Massachusetts residents, including one in four high school students used marijuana in the past year. How many think that making marijuana legal will cause those numbers to go down?

“In recent years,” the report states, “teen perception of marijuana’s riskiness has substantially decreased, a particularly worrisome trend. In 1991, when marijuana use among youth was at historic lows, 79% of teens thought great risk of harm could follow from smoking marijuana regularly. Today, only 36% of youth think the same.”

Gee, I wonder why.

Marijuana advocates are quick to say that “prohibition” of marijuana “hasn’t worked.” I disagree. It’s worked just fine for me.

“It is uncertain what impact the legalization of marijuana for recreational use and sale would have on marijuana usage in Massachusetts,” the report states, “although past experience with alcohol would suggest that usage may grow over time.”

I wonder – did alcohol use increase or decrease after Prohibition ended?

Potheads often claim that they drive “better” when stoned. The Senate Special Committee begs to differ.

cheech_chong“Driving a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana is a significant public safety concern,” the committee found, “and there is no well-accepted standard for determining driver impairment from marijuana intoxication. Nationwide, fatal motor vehicle accidents attributable to marijuana-impaired operators tripled between 1999 and 2012.”

Again, how many think the number of fatal accidents will decrease as more and more states legalize weed?

One of the more laughable assertions put forth in recent years by pot advocates is that it can function as a painkiller and replace opioids.

Vancouver Global Marijuana March 2015 - by Danny KresnyakIsn’t it strange that millions of recreational pot users since the Sixties never noticed this pain-killing effect. If anything, pot is known to intensify physical sensations, good or bad. Next time you have a root canal scheduled, just smoke a big, fat doobie before your appointment and skip the Novocain. Let me know how it works out for you.

The Report also dismisses the “pot as pain-reliever” claim.

“Some have suggested that medical marijuana could be a substitute for opioid painkillers for some patients, with less risk of addiction, but this view is not shared by most of the medical community.”

The medical community – what do they know?

Well, one thing they know is that marijuana-related visits to hospital emergency rooms have skyrocketed.

“Nationwide, emergency room visits attributable to marijuana use (for both children and adults) doubled between 2004 and 2011, from 60,000 such visits to more than 120,000,” the report states.

The Senate Report also addresses the economic cost of legalizing the bud.

“We are also concerned that the effort required at this time to implement marijuana legalization by our state and local governments would consume enormous amounts of time and energy that could otherwise be spent addressing other challenging issues already facing our cities and towns,” the report states.

Think of all the time, energy and taxpayer money that’s already been spent in Massachusetts sorting out the medical marijuana scam. Imagine how much more will be involved with dealing with recreational weed.

Do we really need to waste all these resources just so people can legally get wasted? Is that really a high priority?

I’ve barely scratched the surface of the alarms sounded by the Report of the Senate Special Committee on Marijuana.

And for those of you who are sticklers for documentation, the report fills 12 pages listing the sources that the Committee used in drawing its conclusions.

No, it has not been a good week for the brotherhood of the bud.

But don’t worry about them. They know how to deal with adversity.

Hey, it’s 4:20 somewhere, right?

[This column originally appeared in the March 10, 2016 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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