Waste of Time and Money

Each year we waste hundreds of millions of dollars from arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning marijuana offenders. In 2009, there were 17,008 felony and 61,164 misdemeanor marijuana arrests in California, for a total of 78,172. The misdemeanor arrests are simply for possession of marijuana, and these people- who could be completely civilized peaceful human beings- are possibly being thrown in jail for months or years and fined because they like to use marijuana freely. That to me is like saying if we locked up people for having a few beers! It’s not fair to the people who should have the right to choose to smoke marijuana if they want to.

Not to mention, guess who’s paying for these people to be imprisoned? You, the tax payer. The average cost per inmate in California from 2008-2009 was about $50,000. This money is coming from us to pay for these innocent marijuana users to be fed, clothed, have health care, and security within the prisons and jails. Don’t you think it’s a little ridiculous we have to spend all this just because someone likes to relax and get a little “high”? Ok, it is true that many of the arrests could have been people who were distributing large amounts and therefore could lead to them being dangerous. Well if marijuana was legalized, where would their business go? It would be done, there would be no need for smuggling marijuana and any other crime around it.

Police roam the streets everyday to protect and keep our citizens safe. Then I would like to know why they are wasting their time arresting marijuana users when they should be out looking for murderers, gang bangers, robbers and rapists who harm people and the community in a much greater way. Thanks for arresting the two teenagers who were smoking a joint in the park, most likely leading to the consumption of mass amounts of taco bell and playing video games for the next few hours. I think this all leads back to the scare tactics that were used in the first place to make marijuana illegal, when farmers would say that the Mexican workers who used marijuana after a long day in the fields would turn into uncontrollable, violent people. This rumor was simply sparked by racism and jealousy of big farms who could pay for the workers. Since then these scare tactics have not stopped, making the casual marijuana smoker someone who is looked down upon in many societies. Lets be real. Yes it might make a person a little giddy and hungry, but they’re not violent and uncontrollable. The police do not need to bother these people because they are not doing anything to harm society.

If Prop. 19 had passed it would have saved the government millions of dollars. I wish our state could have been smart enough to vote the right way, all I can do now is hope the next time we get the chance we will make the right decision.

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Economically Smart

How is Marijuana not legal when alcohol and tobacco are? We’ve tried having a prohibition on alcohol before, and that definitely did not work out as well as planned. As you can see in the graph, murder rate before prohibition per 100,000 people was 5.6 persons. Later when prohibition was in full affect across the country, it raise to 10 persons per every 100,000. Prohibition had a huge impact on the crime rate of America.  According to a study taken in 30 US cities, there was a 24 percent increase in crime rate between 1920 and 1921.  The rate of arrests on account of drunkenness rose 41 percent, and arrests for drunken driving increased 81 percent.  Thefts rose 9 percent, and assault and battery incidents rose 13 percent.  Before Prohibition, there had only been 4000 federal convicts, and less than 3000 were housed in federal prisons.  By 1932, the number of federal convicts had increased 561 percent and the federal prison population increased by 361 percent.  Over 2/3 of all prisoners in 1930 were convicted on alcohol and drug charges. The one good thing that came from prohibition, a decrease in small crimes such as public swearing. Would you rather have more people on the streets yelling “SHIT” or having people killed for a certain substance? Should we really be doing the same with Marijuana? Making it legal would significantly cut down on crime rates, for there would be no need for a black market for the substance.

If we could simply go to the store and buy ourselves a marijuana cigarette pack just like regular cigarettes, think of how much the government could benefit on tax and regulation. This turbotax blog makes it pretty clear to see how much the government and states are benefitting off the sales of tobacco, showing each states taxes compared to the federal tax and how much consumption each state has. In 2009 alone, the federal excise on cigarettes grossed $8,512,263,000, and all the states combined grossed $15,753,355,199 in taxes. Just imagine if we had the same amount of revenue coming from Marijuana sales? Our country being in the huge debt that were in, should jump at this opportunity! Alcohol is the same way. $5.6 billion is made off state and local alcohol tax revenues each year. We are making so much money off these two dangerous substances, while we are leaving a potentially bigger cash crop out because people being misled about the substance. I’ve already talked about how alcohol and tobacco kill thousands every year, while there are no known deaths from Marijuana.

The thing with Marijuana is that yes we can probably make millions or billions off the tax revenues, but that would just be simply for the smoke-able products sold in liquor stores and what not. But cannabis and hemp have many more uses that could easily change some industries, such as the paper and lumber industries. We need to start realizing how much cannabis could change the world and stop hiding behind the reality. I want to contribute to our country getting out of the debt we are in and I believe if we are able to change people’s minds about Marijuana, we could make a big impact.

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Let’s Legalize.

The Medical Marijuana system is amazing, helping patients cope with the daily symptoms of their illnesses. With out it, these patients would all have to face the fact that what is helping them could also put them in jail, if caught with it, and most likely still wouldn’t stop the users from partaking in the use of Marijuana since it is so beneficial to them. This is one of the reasons why many doctors make it rather easy to obtain a Medical Cannabis card, at least have these people be legitimate under the law. This reason, along with many others, make me contemplate the issue; should California keep the Medical Marijuana system and laws we already have, or should Marijuana be completely legal?

In November of 2009, Fox news investigated how difficult it is to become a Medical Marijuana patient. The video shows how they simply have a reporter find a doctor who gives out recommendations for Medical Marijuana and go get a card. With no medical documents or history of any illness, the reporter went in and got his card with no problems, simply claiming anxiety and sleepless nights (anxiety and insomnia being two of the main illnesses for Medical Marijuana use). It shows it is easy to get a recommendation, but there’s reasoning behind it. The doctor points out himself, “It’s ridiculous to have physicians examine patients for medicines safer than table salt.” If these people are going to be using Marijuana anyways, why not have them be safe under the law? With Medical Marijuana, it makes it a lot more safe and peaceful to obtain your medicine. But if anyone can go and obtain this card at anytime, why not make Marijuana completely legal? Save the time of the patients and the doctors. These are good citizens trying to not cause any trouble with the law and just because they benefit from the effects of Marijuana they are either a criminal or have to be a patient. And another thing to point out is that video was made in 2009. If anything, it has gotten way easier to obtain a recommendation within the year and a half and it won’t stop until everyone has their card. Here is a list for all the places you can receive recommendations in Santa Clara county alone, and there are probably more than that.

Think of how the government regulates tobacco and alcohol. We have age limits for these two substances, but they are sold right out of the grocery store. We have liquor stores and 7-11’s who mainly sell these two things, which are far more dangerous than Marijuana. We don’t need recommendations for these, just a certain age, and I believe the same should be for Marijuana. Both of these substances when consumed too heavily or frequently can have terrible side effects. Liver failure, many types of cancer, and even smaller things such as throwing up after drinking too much. Marijuana does not have these effects on people. When consumed in great amounts, the user is likely to just fall asleep. There are about 85,000 alcohol related deaths a year, and tobacco products lead to about 1 in 5 deaths every year. Take a look at the breakdown of deaths due to drugs and other incidents such as homicide and see where Marijuana comes in.

Dead Last with 0. Let’s quit beating around the bush and legalize it already.

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Many people know the active chemical inside Marijuana as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is a psychoactive chemical, and that is what gets you “high”. But Marijuana has a lot more to it than THC. In fact, most strains of Marijuana will vary from a mere 5-20% THC nowadays. Research by Dr Zerrin Atakan and  Prof Philip McGuire cleared some confusion on the way it actually works by looking at the effects of THC and CBD (Cannabidiol), the two principal components of cannabis. At a 2007 conference in London for “Cannabis and Mental Health”, Professor Philip McGuire concluded, “These studies show that THC and CBD have distinct effects on brain function in humans, and these may underlie their correspondingly different effects on cognition and psychiatric symptoms.  Determining how the constituents of cannabis act on the brain is fundamental to understanding the role of cannabis use in the aetiology of psychiatric disorders.” The really interesting thing about this is that CBD, which never before this had been monitored, turns out to be playing a significant role. One can  think of CBD as almost the polar opposite of THC in its effects in some respects. If THC is linked to psychotic type episodes, CBD has anti psychotic properties. If THC is thought to cause panic attacks, CBD calms those impulses.

Alone, CBD medically has been shown to relieve convulsion, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea, as well as inhibit cancer cell growth. Recent studies have shown cannabidiol to be as effective as atypical antipsychotics in treating schizophrenia. Studies have also shown that it may relieve symptoms of dystonia. Now, many patients are choosing Marijuana strains with the highest percentage of CBD to help them with their certain disorders, instead of the high THC strains which may not help as well than they do for others. Luckily patients are able to see percentages in their buds due to movements like Project CBD. This is a movement that has fought for the right of labs to test the potency of THC, CBD, and other components inside the cannabis. This is a great way for patients to know exactly what kind of medicine they prefer and works best for them- for example there have been studies that show that high CBD help strongly with social anxiety disorder.

For THC, new research shows the medicinal properties go far beyond soothing pain and nausea. Scientists are now testing cannabis and its derivatives against a host of diseases. “The scientific literature now brims with potential uses for cannabis that extend beyond its well-known abilities to fend off nausea and block pain in people with cancer and AIDS. Cannabis derivatives may combat multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory conditions, new research finds. Cannabis may even kill cancerous tumors.” (July 19th, Science News).

With so many different diseases and disorders it can help with, Marijuana has to vary in many different ways. Being the amazing plant it is, patients dealing with their different symptoms will always be able to find which strain compliments their needs the best. If you can’t see how beneficial Marijuana is with all these facts in front of you, I don’t know what is going to happen in the world.

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What’s your utensil of choice?

Nowadays, when someone wants to medicate themselves they have options. I’m not talking about the different kinds of medicines like hash and buds how I have before, I’m taking about the different ways of simply smoking. It varies from rolling up some Marijuana, to dabbing hash oils on a sizzling hot plate (which I must say is the coolest).

If a patient ever found themselves in the situation of not having anything to smoke out of, they could simply go to the local liquor store or smokeshop, even grocery stores and pick up some sort of rolling papers. A common way of smoking while in groups is in the form of Joints and Blunts. The most common rolling papers, Zig-zags, were first created for rolling cigarettes, but the idea was easily adapted for Marijuana. These rolling papers vary in size and length to thickness and flavor, pleasing all preferences. If one prefers some tobacco with their Marijuana, they might want to choose a blunt rap instead of rolling papers. A blunt wrap is simply the tobacco leaves rolled around a cigar, which is split and gutted of the tobacco and filled with Marijuana. Now they make just the wrap, so the gutting of the tobacco is not needed, but true blunt smokers know that it’s all about the Swisher and White Owl cigars. These are much harsher though, and much unhealthier due to the tobacco.

Lots of times rolling up medicine is too much of a hassle for patients, and lots prefer a healthier choice. That’s why many users prefer pipes and water pipes, commonly known as bongs. Wood, metal or glass blown, pipes vary in shape, size, and color. Most people prefer the hand blown glass pipes even though they tend to be a little more pricey. They have their advantages and disadvantages, but what I think is the coolest part is it all depends on the user. You can choose whatever your heart desires. If you want a cool artsy piece or a reasonably priced piece, you have the options.

If pipes aren’t your thing, maybe a little too harsh on the throat and lungs, you can invest in a water pipe, or bong. Just like pipes, you can find cheap and expensive bongs, because they vary from acrylic to glass, glass being more expensive of course. Bongs usually have three main parts; the bowl piece, the down stem, and body or the actual bong itself. For higher quality hand blown glass on glass bongs- where all three parts are glass- the set up can take a little more caution. The bong is filled with water for the smoke to be filtered through at the base and the down stem slides down into the water through a spout. The bowl where the Marijuana is packed slides into the down stem, and with a well blown piece, all three parts should be air-tight. But it doesn’t stop there, there are tons of attachments and variations to the bong itself. Ice catchers to cool your smoke, percolators to filter the smoke more, and ash catchers to keep your bong a lot cleaner, you can decide how you want to create your piece. Some people prefer the cleanest hit possible, and that’s where I recommend a hash bell attachment with a titanium hot plate.

These hash bells are used for hash oil concentrates only, and they slide right into a down stem like a bowl would. It is called a hash bell because of its looks, a bell that hangs over a titanium hot plate, or skillet, which can move to the side when it needs to be heated up. To use one of these, one must first have a little propane or butane torch. Using the torch, you heat up the plate until it turns completely red and you turn it until its under the bell. Take a little dab depending on how big of a hit you want on a metal utensil and you place it on the titanium hash plate and inhale through the bong, just like a regular hit. This may sound like somewhat of a hassle to get your medicine, why waste your time? Because it’s healthy, and in the long run, saves you money. Without lighting it directly with a lighter and inhaling butane, it is only using heat. PLus, the potency of the hash oils is so much higher than Marijuana, it will take the average smoker one or two hits to feel fully medicated.

You never knew there were so many options when it came to smoking Marijuana. With knew technology and innovative thinkers, who knows how people will be medicating themselves in the next 20 years. Healthier, more efficient ways are still to come, too, it’s only going to get better.

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The Benefits

People don’t know the extent that marijuana actually helps people who have certain diseases. Without it, people would be suffering constantly, with no escape. Think about the people dealing with Chemotherapy, going through every day dealing with pain and nausea. Marijuana helps them overcome these symptoms, which can lead to greater problems such as depression. Going through Chemo and feeling sick all the time, not being able to eat because it will most likely be thrown up, not being able to sleep because you’re in pain, one can start to think to themselves, what’s the point? It’s hard to keep hope in a situation like this and Marijuana can help a lot.

Doctors and researchers agree that Marijuana can subdue the nausea and pain, while giving an appetite, for people with cancer and HIV/AIDS. A big problem for these patients is that they can’t eat, and we all know Marijuana gives you the “munchies”. The reason we get these munchies is due to the fact that the main ingredient in Marijuana is THC (tetrahydrocannabinoid), can bind to the CB1 receptor, which is the main hunger promoter. This action triggers an increase in hunger. A study was done in 2007 at UCSF dealing with if Marijuana really helps with pain. Fifty participants were given either marijuana cigarettes or a placebo that smelled and looked the same. The people who were given the Marijuana had an average of 34% decrease in pain. An HIV patient, Phil Alden, says, “I started using it for my stomach, and by happy coincidence found that it removed the pain from my feet as well.” So as you can tell Marijuana is a great way to cope with the everyday struggle of being diagnosed with these diseases.

Another disease that researchers are finding that Cannabinoids, which are found in Marijuana, help is Glaucoma. One of the leading causes of legal blindness, Glaucoma doesn’t have many topical treatments. Through studies, it has been found that lots of the cannabinoid receptors in the ocular tissues. It has shown an experimentally proved neuroprotective effect on retinal ganglion cells. These cannabinoids can now be made synthetically, and should be used as a topical treatment for Glaucoma.

The big problem with this is that patients are getting trapped because as of 2010, only 16 states had legalized Medical Marijuana, and it is still not legal at all under the federal law. Many patients don’t even have the opportunity to ever try using Marijuana to help them with different symptoms. Other states need to start wising up to this new research and the facts right in front of them. That would be the first step, but many patients would still be harassed by the federal government. Jim Lacey, a 60 year old California is a Medical Marijuana user for pain relief, due to his arthritic hip, says he’s been threatened to be arrested at border control checkpoints near his home in Jacumba. And he’s not the only one getting mistreated (Oren Dorell, USA Today).

Its unfair and unjust. The facts are there. Marijuana has great medicinal use.

Oren, Dorell. “State, federal marijuana laws collide.” USA Today n.d.: Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 6 Apr. 2011.

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Buds, Hash, Treats, Oh My!

Someone who hasn’t been exposed to the world of medicinal marijuana may not know the copious varieties of forms THC can be found. Everyone thinks that someone with a prescription for medical marijuana goes to the cannabis dispensaries and simply buys some marijuana to smoke. Marijuana is only one of the smoking alternatives to getting medicated, along with keef, hash and hash oils. There are also a few non-smoking alternatives, such as edibles and THC pills. So when a patient walks into a dispensary, it’s pretty much like a kid in a candy store. Here is a menu to a local cannabis dispensary.

For people who prefer to inhale their medicine, one can choose from may different strains of marijuana, different plants which lead to different “highs” and have different flavors and fragrance. Indica plants, which tend to be a more purplish color, tend to lead to a more of a stoney high, which would lead to what people like to call couch lock. Sativa plants, which are greener than the indicas, give you more of a head changing high, but your body won’t have to be sacrificed at all. Some of these buds may smell sweet and some might even smell like urine, and depending on the patients preference, they can choose whatever strain suits them best. But what if this marijuana isn’t strong enough a high for you? Have no fear, hash is here.

Hashish tends to have a higher amount of THC than marijuana, so users with higher tolerances usually prefer it. Made from the resinous material from the plants leaves and stems, hash can be made in a few different ways. There is flat screening, where the leaves and plant matter is placed over a mesh or thin screen, which one shakes to let the trichomes from the plant, which hold the THC, through the screen yet blocking all the plant matter. This is one of the easiest ways, but more likely to have plant matter in the finished product. People also used Drum Machines, which look like the inside of a dryer and spins around until the plant matter gets caught on the sides in screens, working just like flat screening except electrically powered. Next, there is bubble hash (a few topics down). The term bubble hash comes from being so pure, that when you smoke it out of a pipe you can actually see it bubble up from the flame. This way of making hash usually requires the usage of Bubble Bag kits or something called an Ice-o-later, which is a filtration device. With this method, the plant matter is placed in huge buckets with ice and water which is then blended for almost an hour. keeping the water cold, now you must pour the mixture into one of the Bubble Bags over another bucket which will filter trichomes through and leaving a green water in the bucket. After many filters, a brownish sludge will soon develop on the bottom of the bags and this is what you scrape off and let dry for many hours. A hash this way can have a THC content anywhere from 30%-75%, all depending on how well it was made. And now you have your homemade Bubble Hash!

Now we know of different forms of THC that can be inhaled, but what if a patient doesn’t like smoking at all? No problem. They can choose from many different edibles all made with Cannabutter (THC infused butter) or sometimes even hash oils. Anything can be made into a Marijuana edible. Most people think of cookies or brownies, but it doesn’t stop there. There are cakes, candies, drinks, and pretty much anything else you can think of. These edibles usually come in sweeter types of food, more like a quick treat or dessert. One can also buy the THC infused butter, and add it to anything they want! Making any meal a nice way to get medicated. Edibles come in different doses too, ranging from one dosage, about .5 grams of Marijuana, to a ten dosage, which could contain over an eighth of an ounce, or 3.5 grams, of marijuana. So depending on how medicated one wants to be and how high their tolerance is, they have quite the variety to choose from. Another way of ingestion is through a THC pill, which is an easy to swallow gel capsule filled with a high potency THC gel. This is preferred by users who want a quick easy way to take medicine.

So as you can see it doesn’t stop at just marijuana. With varieties like this, patients can choose whatever their hearts desire. And with new technology along with more and more awareness, who knows how people will be ingesting their medicine in the near future.

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