If Prop 19 passes …

So I have to wonder, what if California voters legalize recreational use of marijuana? Will it spread across the nation as its greatest detractors fear and greatest supporters hope?

The funny thing is, this movement against prohibition of weed comes amid a tidal wave of public sentiment (and city and state ordinances) against smoking cigarettes.

Does anyone else think that’s odd? Maybe a tad hypocritical? Cannabis smoke is OK, but tobacco smoke is not?

For the record, I don’t smoke either product (anymore), and let’s just leave it at that.

Marijuana does have legitimate medical use: It helps AIDS patients and cancer patients on chemotherapy regain appetites, which can literally save their lives. It helps glaucoma patients. It certainly helps the snack food industry.

But what about long-term medical effects? Some health advocates claim that the THC (the so-called active ingredient in pot) chemically alters the human body permanently. Color me skeptical. I could be wrong. But, just as with smoking tobacco, inhaling burned leaves and buds (and if you’re unlucky, stems and seeds) must have some detrimental effect on your health: Will we see a marijuana-related spike of lung cancer and emphysema cases?

Will marijuana bars pop up across the countryside? Will there be a new marijuana tourism industry sprouting up in California as long as it’s the only state with legalized dope? And how much could a “joint” joint clear in a year, after taxes?

Will we be able to stroll to the neighborhood drugstore for a couple of nice machine-rolled fatties? Will there be brand wars and local faves, a la beer, wine or tequila? Legendary Meigs County sensimilla! Maui Waui! Will Anheuser Busch sue to preserve its Bud brand? So many questions …

The bottom line is, I don’t know if this is such a good idea. On one side, the criminalization of pot use seems to be  a huge waste of police, court and jail facilities. And imagine how much tax money California will rake in. On the other hand, I doubt that what America needs right now is another means of wasting money and killing productivity even if it is legal.

Damn, I must be getting old. Or something.

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