Letter: Much for all to learn concerning legalized marijuana

Editor:

I certainly appreciated hearing Mr. Bullock’s concerns. I completely understand his apprehension and that he openly admits that he has no experience with cannabis. After 80 years of prohibition and the continuing ‘Reefer Madness’ campaigns that is to be expected. I also agree that alcohol and cannabis are indeed like apples and oranges. That is if cannabis as the orange is 114 times safer than alcohol as the apple.

To address his point about not understanding why people might choose to enjoy some cannabis in the same way that he chooses to enjoy his glass of wine or a margarita, I will replay a moment after the debate I had with Attorney Polk in June:

A gentleman approached me with much the same feeling as Mr. Bullock. He related that he enjoyed a scotch with his steak and saw no way that a person could enjoy cannabis in the same fashion. Again he admitted to having no experience with cannabis and this was based only off what he has been told/heard.

I attempted to relate that people who choose to enjoy cannabis are no different. Just like a person enjoys the smell and taste of a glass of wine, ‘with fruity undertones, earthy overtones and an oaky finish’, people enjoy the same aspects of cannabis. The chemical basis for the tastes and smells of wine for example are called ‘Terpenes’. These chemical compounds are the source of unique tastes and flavors. Cannabis has the same characteristics and its consumers have the same appreciations for them, no different than a good scotch with a steak or a glass of wine with friends.

The assumption that people only use cannabis to get ‘high’ is just that, an assumption. There are actually strains of cannabis that are created specifically not to get you ‘high’. Additionally not all cannabis is smoked, many prefer to consume it edibly. When consumed in that way it can take up to an hour or so to take effect and the effect can last from 6-8 hours. It is not unusual for people to chose this as a way to assist with longer term pain relief or help in sleeping.

My wife who has MS (Multiple Sclerosis) is a legal cannabis patient and uses a very low THC (the part that creates the euphoria) high CBD (the part that reduces inflammation and pain as well as anxiety) concentrate. One drop three times a day controls her pain and has reduced her intake of liver damaging n-said pain relievers to almost none. She is able to sleep through the night and has achieved an amazing improvement in her quality of life. All without the need or desire to get ‘high’.

Many people also get great benefit from juicing the raw plant as well. It has been found to be a great way to nourish the endo-cannabinoid system that all humans, and for that matter mammals, each have. In it’s raw state the chemical compounds that create the ‘high’ are not as active either.

Of course this opens the door to the ‘we already have medical’ so why do we need 21+ adult use to be legalized? The medical program comes at a cost of about $300/yr. For people that don’t need to use that much cannabis that can be a huge barrier. For even more that might be curious about what cannabis could do for them the stigma is still a huge barrier.

Also consider that the very conservatively estimated number of people who have used cannabis in Arizona in the ‘past month’ time frame is 438,000. If we see that there are 100,000 medical card holders that leaves about 1/3rd of a million citizens in our state that live under the stigma of ‘Reefer Madness’. Their only solution to enjoy their version of a fine wine or margarita legally is to abuse the Medical program or risk a felony prosecution.

Now if you were under the threat of a felony while trying to enjoy your glass of wine would it really be as enjoyable? One aspect of Prop. 205 that seems to be lost in the shuffle is that it does not require a single person to use cannabis. As they said in Colorado, those who were not using cannabis are still not, and those who were using it before still are. But they are now paying their way via taxes and regulation.

Additionally, nobody should drive under the influence. Even simply being sleepy can be grounds for an impaired to the slightest so impaired is a wide ranging target.

Mr. Bullock’s concerns as an employer are also appreciated. Employers certainly have the right to maintain a ‘drug free’ policy, 205 does not affect that at all. The main idea is that as long as an employee is doing a proper job and meeting all the standards of the job, including safety, should they be fired simply due to preferring cannabis to tequila or margaritas? If you knew that enjoying a glass of wine on Friday night could cost you your job on Monday would it still be as enjoyable?

I greatly respect Mr. Bullock and have seen the vast amount of himself that he gives back to this community. His business has been a great benefit to the valley and all those associated with it. I honestly appreciate his letter and the chance to have a thoughtful discussion on the issue. I am always open and available to discuss this issue and I am just fine if we simply agree to disagree, that is the beauty of this country we all share.

Jesse Dowling

Unofficial Cannabis Advocate

Clarkdale

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