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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

May, 2008


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The Deceit Of Marijuana
By Jacqueline Patterson

There is nothing more revolting to me than 420 in California; it's like wearing the shirt to the show. Back on the frontlines, when I was still smoking ditch-weed that probably created more problems than it solved, 420 was a real celebration. We'd splurge on good pot and good food and be grateful for one another. It's so commercial here. Still, I had a producer to go investigate and a documentary I wanted to go see so I was actually looking forward the festivities. Marijuana meets reality TV: the word "TV friendly" sent shivers down my spine but I'm curious as to the potential for educationů
So I woke up this morning and immediately checked out what the local newspaper (the Marin IJ had to say about 420. Not surprisingly, a local drug treatment provider had taken it upon himself to warn local parents that cannabis is a gateway drug to the pharmaceutical drugs that kids are stealing from their parents or obtaining legitimate prescriptions for. The Chicago Tribune had a very well written article about the holiday and a few facts about pot that even I didn't know.

As for the negative press here, it's simply a reflection of the spotlight conservatism of Marin.

I have a friend who I will call Joe; he refers to himself as a stoner though he is launching a successful new business and competently grows some of the best cannabis in Northern California, which is quite a challenge. If you'd asked Joe 25 years ago if he wanted to grow up and grow pot, he and his military family would have laughed in your face. That was before Joe and another soldier held a bridge just long enough to seriously and lastingly injure themselves.

Joe tried everything- surgery, pain killers, muscle relaxers, massage therapy but all to no avail. Finally Joe's girlfriend gave him a paper that she'd written in high school on the efficacy of marijuana when used a medicine; reluctantly Joe smoked his first joint and as the pain faded the anger set in. Why had no one told in that this amazing plant was not the devil's weed but a gift of medicine, of food and shelter? Why all the manipulation and deceit?

Teenagers have these same questions; they know that marijuana is not as harmful as officer friendly wants them to believe and here is where we are botching an incredibly important lesson: we should not be utilizing scare tactics but teaching children to value hard work and creativity over apathy and boredom, instilling in them the concept that abuse of any kind is a bad thing.

In many cases teenage drug use occurs out of either the need to escape a problematic situation or a desire to experiment for lack of something better to do. Giving legitimate patient access to medical marijuana is not going to change that simple truth. But it may encourage a more open dialogue and it will hopefully change the way that Americans deal with the tumor of problems we call addiction.

Apathy is caused by demoralization- finding out that someone you trusted has been lying to you, that moment when you realize that your parents are fallible, the emotional distance in many modern families- these are all examples of demoralization. In the instance of cannabis, politics have superseded medicine for merely a half-century and although science is making a comeback, we still have propaganda and scare tactics to contend with. There is no rational dispute to the statement that cannabis was the first medicine known to man and the herb has actually evolved with man. Children see the disparity and they wonder what else we lie about so maybe if we tell the truth, they will too.

If we remain silent while patients suffer or risk their lives for medicine, we teach children to look the other way while injustice occurs and I have never been able to do that. The rights of one American belong to all.



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