Douglas Bianchi: Edible cannabis should concern politicians as much as tax revenue | TheUnion.com

Douglas Bianchi: Edible cannabis should concern politicians as much as tax revenue

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Douglas Bianchi

Regarding "California preps for pot infused fare," from the Dec. 27 edition of The Union, I never thought I'd see the day when The Union published a puff piece (sorry) for the marijuana industry.

You pulled it off the Associated Press wire so I can't call it a joint effort, more's the pity.

And seeing as how I am fresh out of bad puns, I'll get to my serious purpose.

As a 70-something who has enjoyed occasional responsible cannabis use for over 50 years, and who has looked forward wistfully to legalization since my first hit, I was shocked by the cheerful ignorance in what is essentially a propaganda piece for edible cannabis.

... it seems that instead of courts and jails propping up the price, the tax man and the bureaucrat will take over.

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In all my innocence and naiveté, I envisioned folks after legalization growing a couple of plants in their garden (easy to do, no great trick) and putting up the result with the rest of the fall harvest of tomatoes and peaches. Different strains would be available in the Burpee catalogue.

But, noooo … it seems that instead of courts and jails propping up the price, the tax man and the bureaucrat will take over. Don't get me wrong. It is a good thing that people won't be going to jail. But, call me a dreamer, we can do better.

In the run up to legalization, the focus, at least locally, has been on taxing and regulating the growing, manufacture and sale of cannabis products. The prohibitionists advising the supes seem to have grudgingly come around to believing it should be allowed to be grown and taxed here, but expect it to be smoked no closer than San Francisco, which, in their view, was lost to the potheads years ago anyway.

More attention needs to be paid to how it is consumed.

When inhaled, the effects of marijuana appear quickly to the user, allowing him or her to adjust the dosage effectively. This is partly why reported incidences of overdose from the inhaled drug are vanishingly small. It is also why it is used socially, like alcohol.

This is not at all true when the drug is swallowed.

Imagine a cocktail party where the first pleasant little alcohol buzz isn't felt for a half hour or so after the first drink. Oops. By the time happy hour is in full swing it might be a little late to slow down, what with that second, third or fourth drink still to make its presence known. In addition, the psychotropic effects of ingested cannabis are different: stronger, longer lasting and more drug like.

Black market prices have caused little dollar signs to appear in the pupils of politicians and county administrators lately in anticipation of legalization. But tight control of the market from seed to gummy bear will be required to realize any tax revenue, let alone at the unrealistic level that some seem to expect. This favors the process of the manufacture of edibles over just letting weed be weed. Unfortunate, as edibles are a real hazard and will be harder to keep out of the hands and heads of children.

It would be a great irony if responsible adult users had to continue to rely on the black market.

Douglas Bianchi lives in Nevada City.