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Can We Talk --- About Pot?

Alicia Colon

By Alicia Colon

Published Sept. 8, 2014

Can We Talk --- About Pot?
Bill Clinton never inhaled. Rush Limbaugh says he never smoked it. Marco Rubio won't answer whether he ever did smoke pot but Sarah Palin admitted she smoked it in her youth and didn't like it.

Those pushing to have more states legalize marijuana consider this drug rather harmless, medically beneficial and liberal politicians consider this issue one that will attract voters. I don't blame Rubio for not discussing whether he indulged n his youth or not. He is a public official with young children and carries a different responsibility than the rest of us.

My own experience with marijuana was somewhat similar to Palin's and Clinton's in that I tried it but didn't inhale because I was a non-smoker and I didn't like anything messing with my brain.

In 1968, I flew to Hawaii to meet with my then boyfriend who was on R&R from Vietnam. How strange I thought that they would send GI's from hell to paradise for a short break and then back to hell. My boyfriend told me that most of the soldiers had easy access to pot and who could blame them? He once sent me a tape recorded while the area he was in was being bombarded and yet he spoke calmly during the attack. I imagine he was stoned at the time. My introduction to pot in Hawaii was short and unimpressive. Its effect was no more potent for me than a glass of wine.

In New York City, smoking marijuana was prevalent in the party scene and in theater balconies. I found it to be annoying to smell but at times hilarious to watch the stoners. Try being at a pot party where you are the only one not indulging and observe the utter stupidity of your fellow attendees who giggle for no reason at all. Either that or they will seem awestruck by any inane comment made by anyone.

In a recent column about the race riots, I wrote that Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were killed because they unwisely attacked their killers and I suggested that perhaps they did so because they both had pot in their systems at the time. Someone on Facebook commented that pot made users mellow not violent and that is simply not the truth. The truth is that cannabis accentuates the predominant mood that the user is in. If one feels mellow than one will feel even mellower after smoking a joint. If one is agitated or fearful, that emotion will be heightened. I am a great supporter in the use of medical marijuana that will alleviate the harsh symptoms of various diseases but this push for legalizing recreational use of the drug is not considering the consequent dangers.

In 2004, there was a rash of suicides by NYU students which prompted me to write about it in the New York Sun.


"What is not being discussed is the role that an increase in the use of marijuana among young adults may have on these statistics. The college students of today are the children of the baby boomers who regarded marijuana as harmless back then and to a certain degree still do. Hollywood promotes its use as a harmless form of relaxation and liberal politicians and celebrities push for its legalization. What these pot advocates rarely explain is that this so-called innocent drug can accentuate whatever mood the user is in. Thus a depressed adolescent may become suicidal. Is it so unlikely that a young, immature person undergoing loneliness or failed personal relations might seek solace in what is viewed as a harmless recreational drug?

I am reminded of the lyrics of George Harrison's song, "Beware of darkness":

'Watch out now,

Take care beware the thoughts that linger

Winding up inside your head

The hopelessness around you

In the dead of night

Beware of sadness'"

It has been said by legalization critics that Marijuana is a gateway drug to other more harmful drugs but I disagree. Addiction is dependent on the user's propensity for addiction. Not everyone who smokes pot becomes addicted but studies do prove that those hardcore addicts begin their addictions with pot. The same goes with alcoholism. It is that first drink that triggers the disease. No one indulges with the desire to become addicted but the only sure way to avoid that scenario is not to indulge in the first place.

Colorado and Washington State have legalized recreational marijuana and other states are considering doing the same. If these states believe that they will benefit by the increased tax revenue they may be very disappointed. According to the latest reports from Colorado those expectations are turning into a pipe dream. The original high demand which netted over $1 million this year hasn't lasted and sales have since slumped to well below what was expected. I don't quite understand the rationale behind the legalization of a drug that is not as innocent as it appears. If they're doing this for the potential revenue increases, they need to assess the gains against what could be lawsuits generated by incidents of impaired driving or criminal activity.

In April of this year, ABC News reported disturbing incidents involving edible marijuana. Rheana Murray reported: "A Colorado man is accused of killing his wife after eating now-legal pot candy, Denver authorities said. A Wyoming college student leapt to his death from a Denver hotel balcony after eating a marijuana cookie purchased at a pot shop, police said. And at least one Colorado hospital has reported an increase in visits after children ate too many pot-laced treats, according to a study in JAMA Pediatrics." This definitely ain't your father's harmless cannabis.

Marijuana advocates point to European countries like the Netherlands and Portugal which have decriminalized all personal drug use as good examples to follow. However one has to ask if these countries are producers of innovative products that improve the quality of life. Marijuana is not a drug that stimulates bursts of energy and a society that numbs itself through stupefying drugs remains stuck in drive, so to speak. I've known many pot smokers in my life who could have, would have, should have but never did anything to pursue their dreams or utilized their talents fully. A new study shows that teenagers who smoke marijuana daily are 60% less likely to complete high school than those who never use the drug.

One of the most effective PSAs on marijuana I ever saw showed two men sitting on a couch taking about how harmless pot is and how they just smoke to relax. Then we hear a woman's voice and one of the men says, "Ok, Mom" and we realize that this grown man still lives with his Mom.

Nothing bad may happen to one who smokes pot. Nothing may happen at all-ever.

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