Sunday, January 31
Certain states have legalized the medical use of marijuana while some others are expected to pass similar measures. As arguments for or against are flying to and fro, today, in Oakland, a new 15,000 s.f. warehouse called iGrow opens up to sell all you will need for medicinal marijuana cultivation. The managers have hired a doctor on site to provide you with the necessary cannabis card and whatever you need to grow the stuff (except for the seeds of course). On site technicians will happily demonstrate how you can set up a “farm house” in your home, how to proceed with the hydroponic cultivation, advise on the nutrients you will need and assist with weekly maintenance. The cost may rise to $1000 for an eight-plant system, and if you use half of the harvest you may sell the rest to a dispensary for a maximum of $12,000. Today’s opening will attract national media attention while three City Council members are expected to attend along with the leaders of the cannabis industry in the region.
Oakland residents voted last summer to regulate and tax “cannabis businesses” and have allowed the operation of four licensed dispensaries. That was hardly a “revolutionary act” within the realm of world history. Marijuana’s legitimate use goes back thousands of years. In 2737 BC the Chinese Emperor Shen Neng prescribed the plant for treating gout, rheumatism and poor memory. Various Hindu sects used it a stress-relief medication. Ancient physicians in Asia, Middle East and Africa distributed it for all sorts of ailments. In late 18th century America marijuana was prescribed for incontinence and sexually transmitted diseases. But in the early 20th century, with 2-5% of the American population addicted to morphine contained in medications like “The People's Healing Liniment for Man or Beast" the Food and Drug Administration was created to regulate marijuana use through the medical establishment. What we call today “medical use” in other words.
In 1914, the Harrison Act imposed a heavy tax on non-medical uses of the drug and punished anyone who obtained it without paying the tax. In 1937 the Marijuana Tax Act criminalized non-medical use while the 1950 Boggs Act and Narcotics Control Act established mandatory sentences for marijuana possessors and distributors. As times relaxed, in 1996 California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana and since then a number of states adopted similar measures. The arguments from both sides are serious. Critics point to the underground marijuana industry (in LA alone it is estimated that 1000 illegal shops are in operation), while supporters point to the plant’s qualities as a safe pain reliever, especially in severe illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS. Critics counter-attack by disputing the medical benefits when they are contrasted with possible health risks and consider the drug as “gate opener” to more potent narcotics. Supporters point to the lack of strong data that could support the latter argument and point to the prison population (the largest in the world), a quarter of which is imprisoned for drug-related crimes (In 2000 for example half of the convictions for possession led to a prison or jail term, while two-thirds of the trafficking convictions did).
Fast forward and back to Oakland. Watch the video Marijuana Superstore Opens. Would you support a similar measure for Florida? Post your opinion and then take a poll on the right so we can have an overall reflection of the students' attitude.