As We Move Inevitably to Legalizing Pot for the Fun of It, All I Can Say Is 'Wow'

Friday, November 21, 2014

I wish I could take a mulligan on my vote to legalize medicinal marijuana in Massachusetts.  If I could vote a second time, I’d be a definite no.

In November, 2012, I didn’t give it hardly any thought when I walked into the booth and put a black check mark in the yes box next to a ballot question on eliminating state criminal and civil penalties related to the use of marijuana for therapeutic purposes.  Clueless is as clueless does.
I didn’t think there were a lot of people who could actually benefit from smoking weed or from taking it in pill form.  I thought demand for this new “medicine” would be so negligible as to require only the busiest of existing pharmacies to have it in stock.

I did not foresee that Massachusetts would have to license 20 new Registered Marijuana Dispensaries, as our state government is now doing, to take care of all the sick and hurting persons who want relief via cannabis. 
Nor did I anticipate that numerous companies would invest millions and millions of dollars in the pursuit of marijuana dispensary licenses, the design and construction of dispensaries, and the creation of very elaborate and secure indoor “farms” for the cultivation of the products to be sold in those dispensaries.

On no point were my powers of discernment more ineffectual as on what legalization of medicinal marijuana actually signifies: a phase in a cycle that will likely end in the legalization of recreational marijuana.  
If I didn’t see the big money coming to chase those dispensary licenses, why would I have seen the big money betting on the eventual legalization of recreational pot and getting in position to become the Weed-Marts of the future?

Persons are already out there planning a signature drive to put a question on the November, 2016, ballot eliminating penalties for using marijuana just for the fun of it.  If you want to light up a single, small joint after a hard day of work or smoke your brains out every Saturday night, you’ll want to vote yes on that baby.

This is likely to be a hot-button issue in the 2016 race for governor.  Witness Charlie Baker, during an interview with a Republican / reporter less than a week after he was elected governor, promising to “vigorously oppose” legalization of recreational marijuana.
“There’s a ton of research out there at this point that says, especially for young people, it’s just plain bad,” Baker said on Nov. 10.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states unequivocally that marijuana “…affects brain development, and when it is used heavily by young people, its effects on thinking and memory may last a long time or even be permanent.”

The Institute reports that “A recent study of marijuana users who began using in adolescence revealed substantially reduced connectivity among brain areas responsible for learning and memory.  And a large long-term study in New Zealand showed that people who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost an average of 8 points in IQ between age 13 and age 38.  Importantly, the lost cognitive abilities were not fully restored in those who quit smoking marijuana as adults.  (Bold facing added.) Those who started smoking marijuana in adulthood did not show significant IQ declines.”
If a kid wants to be a lobbyist when he grows up, he probably won’t miss those 8 points much.  In most lines of work, however, a lower IQ does not correlate with greater success.

Alas, had I been smarter, I would have heeded the Massachusetts Medical Society, which, back in May, 2012, adopted a resolution opposing medicinal marijuana.

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