Oregonians Put Earl Blumenauer and Marijuana Users Behind the Eight-ball

Pot-heads nationwide are celebrating Oregon’s legalization of a fourth over-the-counter addictive, recreational drug. THC now joins caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol in the arena of legal vices Oregonians can enjoy with relatively nominal legal restrictions. Heartily supported by Representative Earl Blumenauer, the 420 crowd capped a multi-million dollar political campaign with a solid victory for their Measure 91, legalizing recreational marijuana in Oregon. Along the way, users made a lot of grandiose promises about the utterly harmless nature of smoking marijuana such as:

  • Legalization will decrease access and use by minors.
  • Students who regularly use marijuana will have the same academic successes as clean students.
  • Adults who regularly use marijuana will have the same professional and employment success as clean adults.
  • Marijuana users will not seek social services at rates greater than general society.
  • Marijuana is not a gateway drug, therefore the rates of illegal drug abuse will not rise as marijuana use increases.
  • Using marijuana products regularly will not impair thinking, decision-making or IQ.
  • Chronic users are safe drivers.
  • Smoking marijuana regularly does not impair lung function or lead to COPD or emphysema.
  • When smoked at equivalent pack-year rates to cigarettes, marijuana does not cause cancer.
  • Unlike nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol, marijuana is not addictive and has absolutely no withdrawal pattern.

Over the next several years, as data is collected from Oregon, Colorado, and Washington State, along with any other states that legalize pot, the truth of these claims will emerge. It will be a ‘put up or shut up’ moment for stoners. This entire block of our society is now under tremendous pressure to fulfill their very own prophesies. Can they ensure their own predictions will come true? Will they have the guts to own it if they are wrong?

I believe, as evidences mounts, all their claims will prove false. When that time comes, I also believe marijuana advocates will scurry away from their responsibilities like cockroaches when you turn on the light. I have seen too many of my friends, patients, and colleagues get destroyed by drug addiction and abuse over the years. I am not talking methamphetamine, heroin, PCP or fringe designer drugs. I am talking caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs. The ‘safe’ stuff. I know a truck driver, the husband of a former coworker, who earned a heart attack by drinking six or more energy drinks every day. A friend of mine from high school fell to his death when he was stoned. Another high school classmate began abusing steroids at the age of fourteen and continued until his death from a major cardiovascular accident at age 38. I know pharmacists, doctors and nurses, all trained to the dangers of controlled substances, that have destroyed their careers for the sake of hydrocodone or zolpidem or whatever controlled drug they fancied. One of my former pharmacy colleagues was an alcoholic who committed suicide when he was caught stealing narcotics from the pharmacy. I have patients who are chain cigarette smokers who are literally taking decades off their life. A former patient of mine murdered a man in downtown Portland over a bottle of alprazolam.  I have watched gifted friends go by the wayside for the sake of marijuana… peers with IQs well above mine who deliver pizzas for a living or hang drywall. My daughter just came home from university to attend the memorial service for one of her high school classmates. He overdosed on Molly at a party at the age of 20.

People who use drugs recreationally like to believe they are in control of the drug, not the other way round. Sometimes that is true, sometimes that is not. What most people who dabble with recreational drugs lack is a healthy respect for the power of those drugs. It does not matter if the drugs are clean and legal, or the nasty, adulterated products manufactured by some South American drug cartel. Alcohol is no exception. Marijuana is no exception. To have some childish “Fight the Power” pot-head brag that marijuana is just as safe as alcohol is not exactly reassuring. I know too many alcoholics who have destroyed their lives and families to find comfort in this comparison. The same goes for pot-heads. Your children are ashamed of your behavior.

This idea that psychoactive substances like marijuana are as safe as candy is nothing more than wishful thinking. It is harder than you think to have your cake and eat it too when it comes to recreational abuse of drugs. Whether you are rich or poor, it is harder to succeed and easier to fail in virtually all aspects of life if you get drunk or high on a regular basis. Ugly as it is, that is the truth. And when things go sideways for you, you get hooked, you O.D., you wreck your car and maybe kill someone, your kid eats your stash and ends up in the hospital, you lose your job or fail out of school, when your life slips and falls off the edge, it is the rest of us who have to pick up the broken mess you leave behind. I find the idea of having such things on my conscience quite haunting. Why so many people embrace such easily avoided risks simply to get high for a few hours also haunts me. It is as though they believe life is filled with infinite second chances, do-overs and restarts, when the truth is there are simply not that many tomorrows before it is over and we have to make account of our lives.

So now Oregon has marijuana. Mary Jane’s last dance. One more drug to ease the pain, so smoke up, Johnny!  The question is – can we handle it? Only time will tell.

Advertisements

Vote No On Oregon Measure 91: The Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act

*If this issue matters to you at all – please pass this on. Two weeks is hardly enough time to get the word out how dangerous Measure 91 really is*

It takes about 6 ounces of hard liquor or about 48 ounces of beer for the average person to blow 0.08 and equal the impairment of a single marijuana joint. That means a fifth of hard liquor is about equal to 1.5 gallons of beer is about equal to four joints. Oregon Measure 91 will  allow ANYONE age 21 and over to privately grow and possess the equivalent of 1000 joints (16 ounces) of marijuana products at any one time. That is a rough equivalent to 375 gallons of beer or 250 fifths of hard liquor. In Oregon, it is illegal to produce a drop of hard liquor without a license. Period. The maximum amount of unlicensed, home-brewed beer you can possess is 100 gallons, the intoxication equivalent of about 250 joints, except you can’t fit the beer in your coat pocket and hang out near the school yard. This single disparity makes clear the mindset and real intent of the authors and supporters of Measure 91. They want as many people as possible to smoke as much pot as possible, the rest of society be damned.

The Consequences of Passing Measure 91

  • Unlicensed Possession No Longer a Crime: Not only will any adult be able to lawfully grow and possess enough marijuana to bake the entire Gladstone High School student body, ORS 475.864 clearly states a minor who possess up to 60 joints (1 ounce) of marijuana will only be subject to a non-criminal fine of $650. Compare that to ORS 471.430, Oregon’s “minor in possession of alcohol” statute where a minor drinking a lone can of Bud Light can be criminally cited and fined, or be required to do community service. Remember, 60 joints is equal to about 15 fifths of vodka.
  • Impaired Drivers Not Subject to Criminal Prosecution: Section 7:3 and 7:4 do not require the OLCC to create impairment standards until 2017. That means we will have two years without meaningful intoxicated driver rules. Marijuana users are already 9X more likely to die behind the wheel than alcohol users, so buckle-up for a rough two years as gorked pot-heads mow us down with impunity. Even if they are cited, Section 73:2 states it will only be a class B traffic violation… like a parking ticket. Try pulling that off if you blow 0.08!
  • Failure to Keep, or Destruction of, Production Records is Only a Class B Misdemeanor: Pharmacies have to keep their records for 10 years. According the Section 40 and Section 69, Marijuana producers are only required to keep their records for two years. If they do not keep those records, or alter or destroy those records, they are only subject to a Class B misdemeanor. Section 23 requires the OLCC to give any licensee 72 hours notice before examining their books, allowing them plenty of time to destroy their records if need be.
  • No Limits On, or Records of Purchasers or Purchases: Everywhere in the United States, to avoid mass purchasing and diversion to the illegal methamphetamine market, the selling pharmacy records the name of every person who purchases pseudoephedrine. Under Section 16 of Measure 91, there is no requirement to keep such records about marijuana purchasers or purchases. As a matter of fact, even though THC is a highly abused, impairing drug, Section 72 of the bill demands that marijuana no longer be considered a controlled substance.
  • OLCC is Mandated to Generate New Users: Only 5% of tax revenues actually go to drug abuse prevention programs, while Section 33:5:a mandates that the OLCC will maximize tax revenue generation. There is only one way to maximize revenues, and that is to generate new users. To maximize new users, Section 7:2:g gives the OLCC the authority to allow advertisements to promote consumption of marijuana.
  • Section 42 states that the State has exclusive rights to tax revenue: No city, county or other entity can levy any marijuana taxes.
  • The OLCC Cannot Deny Licenses to Known Criminals: Section 29:3:a clearly states that the OLCC cannot consider marijuana related convictions older than 5 years when issuing a license if it was a single transgression… no matter how bad it was. Period.
  • The OLCC and Other Agencies are Required to Violate Federal Law When it Conflicts with Measure 91 Language: Sections 10, 11 & 12 clearly state the OLCC and other agencies are required to violate federal law if it conflicts with measure 91, and no individual of an agency can be held liable for official acts. Also, the OLCC is not allowed to deny any marijuana license application based on a violation of federal law.
  • According to Section 58, Measure 91 will supercede all charters and ordinances that are inconsistent with the measure.
  • Section 54 states that the law enforcement can only issue a minor citation to pot-heads for smoking in public places.
  • Nowhere in the bill does it mention variations in potency or creating standards in THC content, or potency labeling requirements, as exists for producers of alcoholic beverages.
  • Nowhere in the bill does it require health warnings on packaging even though there is substantial clinical evidence marijuana is dangerous for pregnant women. Every single person in the Oregon General Election Voter’s Pamphlet who supports measure 91, supports omitting any and all health and safety warnings. Can you imagine nurses like Mark Jacklin, Maggi O’Brien, Pat Hughes, Rosemary Piser, and Davi Hawk actually wanting to deny safety information to pregnant women? What a shameful lot of healthcare providers.

Seriously, you better read this measure before you vote, because I can guarantee you, if Oregon voters pass this bill, innocent people are to get hit and killed by stoned drivers at rates never seen before. Your friends. Your family. Maybe you. It is already happening in Washington and Colorado.