Pleasanton Weekly

News - January 15, 2010

Call for legalizing 'recreational use' of marijuana

Quest by drug advocates just 'got a lot easier,' advocacy group says

Four Bay Area legislators provided the votes Tuesday as the state Assembly Public Safety Committee approved by a 4-3 margin a bill that would legalize adult recreational use of marijuana and allow the drug to be sold and taxed in the state.

The bill, AB 390, is authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco). Joining Ammiano in voting for the bill were Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley).

Stephen Gutwillig, the state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said he thinks the vote is "historic" because "it marks the formal beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition in the United States."

Gutwillig said, "Nobody thinks passing a bill of this kind is doable in 2010" but he said the fact that it passed out of committee is significant and potentially sets the stage for it to be approved by the full Assembly in the future.

Ammiano's spokesman, Quentin Mecke, said, "We're quite happy because this is the first time in the U.S. that a bill like this has been carried and has been approved by a committee."

Mecke said Ammiano is still hopeful that the bill will be heard in the Assembly's Health Committee before a deadline on Friday but he admits that such an outcome is "unlikely."

Gutwillig said three years ago a marijuana legalization bill wouldn't even have been introduced in the state Legislature, let alone be approved by a committee. He said there's now a broad national momentum toward reconsidering marijuana prohibition and Washington State's House of Representatives will consider a similar bill.

--Bay City News

Comments

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks
on Jan 15, 2010 at 12:07 pm

cool, so what's left for this to become legal?


Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 16, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Weak.....let me know when coke and heroin are legal.


Posted by Karen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2010 at 9:10 pm

The day we stop wasting taxpayer money hunting down and arresting people because of pot will be a good day. The people who believe pot is a 'gateway' drug are ignorant.
We glorify alcohol. We think we're so sophisticated if we know about wines. Alcohol is why many people are dead and more will die because of drunk drivers. Many children live in fear because of their alcoholic parents. And yet we joke about alcohol (talk about a gateway drug!) and glorify it. We are officially morons.


Posted by Kelly, a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Jan 17, 2010 at 2:15 am

American Counsel for Drug Education

BASIC FACTS ABOUT DRUGS:
MARIJUANA

What is Marijuana?

Call it pot, grass, weed, or any one of nearly 200 other names, marijuana is, by far, the world's most commonly used illicit drug—and far more dangerous than most users realize. So, there is just cause for alarm when adolescent marijuana use increases, as it did in the mid-1990's, and the age at which youngsters first experiment with pot starts to drops.

Marijuana has been around for a long while. Its source, the hemp plant (cannabis sativa), was being cultivated for psychoactive properties more than 2,000 years ago. Although cannabis contains at least 400 different chemicals, its main mind-altering ingredient is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).The amount of THC in marijuana determines the drug's strength, and THC levels are affected by a great many factors, including plant type, weather, soil, and time of harvest. Sophisticated cannabis cultivation of today produces high levels of THC and marijuana that is far more potent than pot of the past. THC content of marijuana, which averaged less than 1 percent in 1974, rose to an average 4 percent by 1994.

For the highly popular form of marijuana called Sinsemilla (from the Spanish "without seeds"), made from just the buds and flowering tops of female plants, THC content averages 7.5 percent and ranges as high as 24 percent. As for hashish, a resin made from flowers of the female plant, THC levels may be five to ten times higher than crude marijuana's.


How is it Used?

Marijuana and other cannabis products are usually smoked, sometimes in a pipe or water pipe, but most often in loosely rolled cigarettes known as "joints." Some users will slice open and hollow out cigars, replacing the tobacco with marijuana, to make what are called "blunts." Joints and blunts may be laced with other substances, including crack cocaine and the potent hallucinogen phencyclidine (PCP), substantially altering effects of the drug.

Smoking, however, is not the sole route of administration. Marijuana can be brewed into tea or mixed in baked products (cookies or brownies).


How Does it Affect You?

A mild hallucinogen, marijuana has some of alcohol's depressant and disinhibiting properties. User reaction, however, is heavily influenced by expectations and past experience, and many first-time users feel nothing at all.

Effects of smoking are generally felt within a few minutes and peak in 10 to 30 minutes. They include dry mouth and throat, increased heart rate, impaired coordination and balance, delayed reaction time, and diminished short-term memory. Moderate doses tend to induce a sense of well-being and a dreamy state of relaxation that encourages fantasies, renders some users highly suggestible, and distorts perception (making it dangerous to operate machinery, drive a car or boat, or ride a bicycle). Stronger doses prompt more intense and often disturbing reactions including paranoia and hallucinations.

Most of marijuana's short-term effects wear off within two or three hours. The drug itself, however, tends to linger on. THC is a fat-soluble substance and will accumulate in fatty tissues in the liver, lungs, testes, and other organs. Two days after smoking marijuana, one-quarter of the THC content may still be retained. It will show up in urine tests three days after use, and traces may be picked up by sensitive blood tests two to four weeks later.


The Impact on the Mind

Marijuana use reduces learning ability. Research has been piling up of late demonstrating clearly that marijuana limits the capacity to absorb and retain information. A 1995 study of college students discovered that the inability of heavy marijuana users to focus, sustain attention, and organize data persists for as long as 24 hours after their last use of the drug. Earlier research, comparing cognitive abilities of adult marijuana users with non-using adults, found that users fall short on memory as well as math and verbal skills. Although it has yet to be proven conclusively that heavy marijuana use can cause irreversible loss of intellectual capacity, animal studies have shown marijuana-induced structural damage to portions of the brain essential to memory and learning.


The Impact on the Body

Chronic marijuana smokers are prey to chest colds, bronchitis, emphysema, and bronchial asthma. Persistent use will damage lungs and airways and raise the risk of cancer. There is just as much exposure to cancer-causing chemicals from smoking one marijuana joint as smoking five tobacco cigarettes. And there is evidence that marijuana may limit the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease.

Marijuana also affects hormones. Regular use can delay the onset of puberty in young men and reduce sperm production. For women, regular use may disrupt normal monthly menstrual cycles and inhibit ovulation. When pregnant women use marijuana, they run the risk of having smaller babies with lower birth weights, who are more likely than other babies to develop health problems. Some studies have also found indications of developmental delays in children exposed to marijuana before birth.


Marijuana as Medicine

Although U.S. law classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance (which means it has no acceptable medical use), a number of patients claim that smoking pot has helped them deal with pain or relieved the symptoms of glaucoma, the loss of appetite that accompanies AIDS, or nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy. There is, however, no solid evidence that smoking marijuana creates any greater benefits than approved medications (including oral THC) now used to treat these patients, relieve their suffering, or mitigate the side effects of their treatment. Anecdotal assertions of beneficial effects have yet to be confirmed by controlled scientific research.


Teens and Marijuana
Although dangers exist for marijuana users of all ages, risk is greatest for the young. For them, the impact of marijuana on learning is critical, and pot often proves pivotal in the failure to master vital interpersonal coping skills or make appropriate life-style choices. Thus, marijuana can inhibit maturity.

Another concern is marijuana's role as a "gateway drug," which makes subsequent use of more potent and disabling substances more likely. The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found adolescents who smoke pot 85 times more likely to use cocaine than their non–pot smoking peers. And 60 percent of youngsters who use marijuana before they turn 15 later go on to use cocaine.

But many teens encounter serious trouble well short of the "gateway." Marijuana is, by itself, a high-risk substance for adolescents. More than adults, they are likely to be victims of automobile accidents caused by marijuana's impact on judgment and perception. Casual sex, prompted by compromised judgment or marijuana's disinhibiting effects, leaves them vulnerable not only to unwanted pregnancy but also to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).


Marijuana Dangers

* Impaired perception
* Diminished short-term memory
* Loss of concentration and coordination
* Impaired judgement
* Increased risk of accidents
* Loss of motivation
* Diminished inhibitions
* Increased heart rate
* Anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia
* Hallucinations
* Damage to the respiratory, reproductive, and immune systems
* Increased risk of cancer
* Psychological dependency

Web Link
The American Council for Drug Education is a substance abuse prevention and education agency that develops programs and materials based on the most current scientific research on drug use and its impact on society.


Posted by popo, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm

make it legal like alcohol so people will be arrested for DUI when driving under the influence and then charged by the DA! Let the games begin.


Posted by Mary Jane, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Wow Kelly, not a single positive thing in that whole article! The entire article is trying to instill fear, that's obvious.

I think a lot of medical MJ patients would vehemently disagree that there's no difference between the manufactured version of THC and the real thing. What you write off as anecdotal is saving sick people's lives right now. Have you ever used it medicinally?

I tell you one thing, Big Pharma has a billion dollar interest in trying to make sure that people can't self-medicate with MJ. It costs virtually nothing to grow and it more effective and has less side effects than many of the chemicals they prescribe us for certain ailments. No one has ever OD'd from smoking too much pot, it isn't possible. They want people to be afraid of MJ and we should be more afraid of Big Pharma and the FDA.


Posted by Nora, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 20, 2010 at 7:15 pm

1. Marijuana has more cancer-causing chemicals than cigarettes.
2. The active ingredient in marijuana builds up in brain tissue over time, and has documented toxic effects.
3. Marijuana has a scientifically documented effect of draining the will of a person to succeed; we have all seen this in people who smoke. The only people who deny this effect are those who are "in denial." Everyone else can see it clearly. Let's just fill our kids up with a drug that causes apathy, shall we?
4. Marijuana is a gateway drug. Kids who smoke marijuana are more likely to do other drugs than kids who don't. Period.
5. My opposition to marijuana has nothing to do with "big pharma." It's just a bad idea to legalize it. Legalizing marijuana tells every single child in our society that it doesn't matter if you do drugs. Well, it does matter.
6. It's not a logical argument to say marijuana should be legalized because people are alcoholics or drive drunk. "Marijuana is good and harmless because people misuse alcohol?"
7. "Medical" marijuana is a joke. All people have to do is find a doctor who smokes marijuana, and they'll get a prescription to smoke for "stress" or something similar. When has marijuana ever "saved someone's life?"
8. The article wasn't trying to "instill fear." It was "communicating facts" in an effort to "persuade." People who have an opinion different from yours don't "fear" your opinion, they "disagree" with it.

Say NO to legalizing marijuana!!


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