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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Why does the government continue to harass cigarette smokers, as the drive to legalize marijuana meets with no federal opposition?

Everyday it seems to me that the world becomes a bit more bizarre.  When I was a child, I could not imagine that cigarette smoking would ever be frowned upon.  Cut to 2016, where movements are underfoot in a number of states to criminalize cigarette smoking inside one's own home.  When the medical profession became more vocal about the dangers of breathing nicotine into the lungs, I was thrilled.  I was just out of college, and I had been thinking about trying to discourage cigarette smoking in my own family.  I remember when the federal government decided to make cigarette smoking more expensive.  Then came the isolation and borderline harassment.  I have never smoked, but I saw the evolution of the anti-smoking movement because I come from a family that smokes.  By the time anti-smoking groups were allowed to disseminate questionable studies involving second-hand smoke, I began to have concerns about the amount of authority the anti-smoking groups had been delegated.  At the back of my mind, though, I realized that if everyone were to quit smoking, our society would be changed for the better.....or at least we would be healthier.  It was then that I became more aware of another smoking movement, and this one was all about lighting up!

I'm not positive, but I believe that the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana was California, which came as no surprise to most Americans.  California has earned the reputation for being ahead of the curve when it comes to liberal legislation.  Since California set the precedent, a slew of "legalize marijuana" groups took the hint and changed their argument to "legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes".  Don't let the semantics fool you.  Marijuana doesn't cure anything.  Somewhere along the line, someone decided that smoking marijuana made it easier to deal with chronic pain.  Before you could say, "Cheech and Chong", half the potheads in America were discovering that they a medical history of terrible chronic pain that could only be ameliorated by smoking or ingesting marijuana.  Interestingly enough, Big Tobacco got the word as well.  Instead of worrying about diminishing profits, Carolina tobacco growers saw a way out; why not put all the lobbying money behind medicinal marijuana?  The plan was simple: once the nation became more comfortable with medicinal marijuana, put the lobbyists to work fighting for legalized, non-medicinal marijuana.  The plan has been working like a charm.  Soon, more states will be legalizing marijuana use.  The arguments of the day being that since people are going to smoke pot anyway, why not make some money taxing it?  The same argument has been put forth by Libertarians for years regarding hard narcotics.  Are you ready to see Heroin and OxyContin for sale at the local H.E.B. or Giant or Food Lion?  Why not? Drug addicts are going to buy the drugs illegally anyway; why not make some money for the state through tax revenue?

So the great people of the United States have decided that cigarette smoking is just short of sucker- punching a nun when it comes to heinous behavior, but smoking pot should be legal, because, well, its not as dangerous as alcohol, and the kids are going to smoke it anyways.  The anti-smoking effort and the pro-marijuana movement are like two ships that passed in the night, moving in opposite directions.  Don't be a bit surprised if you discover in a few years that legal large-scale marijuana production isn't taking place in Colombia, but in Winston-Salem and Greensborough, North Carolina.  Everything seems to be in place for smoking pot to replace tobacco use as the favorite pastime of  young Americans, except for one potential problem which might just cause people to think twice before lighting up their next joint.

For decades, research facilities in Australia and Europe have identified a disturbing link between psychosis and marijuana use.  I don't pretend to be a scientist, and even though I think I understand the basic argument, I must ask you to google "marijuana" and "schizophrenia", and examine the research for yourself.  It is apparent to me that some persons who are born with a potential chemical imbalance or "issue", can trigger psychosis just by smoking pot.  You will also find a few articles debunking the research I mention, but always take the time to discover who is paying for what.  The lobbyists and attorneys for Big Tobacco (we must come up with a new name!) have been busy, blocking all efforts to introduce serious, accredited research into the debate surrounding legal marijuana use.  This issue is very important to me because someone I was very close to, someone who would smoke one joint before bedtime, evolved from a brilliant, funny, healthy person into a paranoid schizophrenic in the span of one evening.  The psychotherapist that was hired was blunt with me regarding the problem; for some people, marijuana use is a ticket to psychosis.  Research has yet to determine percentages, and I'm unaware of any method to determine who would be at a higher risk.  But from my perspective, why take the chance?  We haven't even touched on the common criticism of marijuana that it robs a person's ambition.  I remember discussing the issue with a pot-smoking friend of mine, who had been incredibly successful in his field since leaving college.  "I've never stopped smoking pot, and look at me", he offered.  Sure, he's doing great, but what about percentages this time around?  I can't even count the number of people I have met in my life who are absolute permanent pothead couch potatoes who only care about video games and weed.  We all know that a link exists somewhere, but does it matter?  Not to the progressive issue of de jour.

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