Shanti Emerson: Enough with the fear, let’s deal with reality of cannabis
February 19, 2018
Cannabis, cannabis, cannabis — that's all we seem to hear about in Nevada County these days. Ranging from elation to fear, we hear the gamut of emotions during the same conversation with friends and family.
Six weeks after recreational cannabis has been legalized following approval by the voters, there is still anxiety. "Will growers and dispensaries be taxed so much that consumers will not be able to afford their products and go back to the black market? Will we attract the wrong sort of people?"
Why aren't questions asked about the numerous breweries, wine tasting rooms and liquor outlets lining our streets and our shopping centers? After all, pot users get dopey and sleepy after they use too much, whereas drunks often get nasty and even violent after a toot.
Is it fear of the unknown?
So let’s dispense (pun intended) with all this fear and let the story play out.
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"Will the cannabis dispensaries attract riff-raff?" Many cannabis users are professionals in their 60s and 70s who have enjoyed this herb since the '60s and '70s. Remember the love children?
People worry that we won't make much in cannabis taxes, but the state of Colorado has raked in $506 million since retail sales began in January 2014. California stands to gain even more.
"But cannabis is a gateway drug leading to heroin and meth!" By that same logic, wine and beer are gateways to a life of alcoholism and depravity. I personally have never known anyone going from marijuana to narcotic addiction, but have known many alcoholics.
"Oh, but how about the edibles?"… those lovely confections whose effects come on sweetly and softly. Yes, and the imbiber is well aware of that. How long does it take to feel the effects of a martini or two?
"But cannabis strains are so much more potent now than they were 40 years ago." C'mon … so you think people don't know that and adjust their consumption? If someone handed you a glass of Zinfandel and a glass of vodka, don't you think you'd know the difference and adjust your intake accordingly?
For years, fake facts have been handed out in public meetings to stop the inevitable legalization of marijuana while proponents often sat in their chairs gritting their teeth unable to speak about something illegal while naysayers were very loose with the "facts" knowing that they would not be publicly corrected.
"But what about our children? Will they have more exposure to it?" Now there will be much more regulation and accountability. The attraction to rebel against convention might also be dissipated as cannabis becomes more and more accepted by the general public.
As for medical marijuana use, even the staunchest foes of recreational usage realize its healing effects. There are millions of patients who can attest to this. Patricia smokes cannabis before she goes to sleep. Tom rubs cannabis oil in his sore knees every morning. Oliver gives them to his little boy five times a day to stop his seizures.
After hours and hours of meetings with supervisors, councilmen, proponents and adversaries, it seems common sense that cannabis is here to stay. So let's get realistic and make some rules and regulations that benefit all sides.
Isn't it better to have this product brought out into the open so it can be regulated as to quality and who can buy it and for our governments to receive money from it when we have such a need for dollars to fund infrastructure repairs and services for our neediest citizens?
So let's dispense (pun intended) with all this fear and let the story play out.
Let's walk the yellow brick road together and know that there will be adjustments and bumps along the way … but at least we're on the right road at last. A lot of people will find out that the man behind the curtain is just an ordinary guy, not a wizard.
Shanti Emerson is a Nevada County resident and a member of The Union Editorial Board. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the board or its members. She can be reached at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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