Highest greetings from Amsterdam, former marijuana capitol of the world, although I intend to be in New Orleans for the Mardi Gras by the time you’re reading this column. Sad to say, Louisiana is one of the most backward sectors of the USA in terms of its marijuana laws, and I’ll go back to a life of full-time criminality as a toker during my up-coming six weeks in the Crescent City.
Here in Amsterdam the attack on the cannabis culture by the Dutch authorities continues to rage, with another round of forced coffeeshop closings completed in the busy Warmoestraat on January 1, including the mammoth Grasshopper shop and the popular Baba.
Across the Damrak—the main drag—the 420 Café (my own headquarters in Amsterdam since the turn of the century) was slated to be closed on New Year’s day along with the Kroon across the street, but the local government granted a 6-month extension which may or may not be extended even further. Who knows? All of these restrictive moves are totally without sense and represent a radical restructuring of a local social construct which has worked very effectively for more than 40 years.
If it weren’t so sickening and stupid it would be funny: Now that 52% of Americans clearly favor legalized marijuana in the United States, the Dutch government—after nearly half a century of permitted public smoking and copping although never actually legalizing marijuana—now wants to try to shrink the cannabis culture and drive it back out of the public eye in order more fully to commercialize and commodify the Dutch tourist industry.
The YouGov.com poll cited above, as reported in NORML News, concludes that “a majority of Americans, including two-thirds of Democrats, believe that marijuana should be legal [and] only 34 percent of respondents opposed the idea.” NORML News adds that “66% of respondents agreed that government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth…while 62% said that the government should no longer enforce federal law in states that have legalized and regulated the plant’s use.”
The story concludes: “53% of those surveyed, including 68% of respondents between the ages of 45 and 64, acknowledged having tried cannabis.” Wow! It would seem that experiential knowledge in Americans is finally outweighing the horseshit propaganda and outright lies of the authorities. Try it! You’ll like it!
And speaking of exploding bullshit myths about marijuana use propagated by the unholy alliance of whiskey drinkers and religious nuts in power, Christopher Ingraham recently pointed out in Wonkblog that, duh, smoking weed does not make you stupid after all.
It turns out that a popular study released by Duke University in 2012 which found that persistent, heavy marijuana use through adolescence and young adulthood was associated with declines in IQ failed to account for a number of confounding factors that could also affect cognitive development, such as cigarette and alcohol use, mental illness and socioeconomic status.
Ingraham reports that two new studies this month examine the relationship between marijuana use and intelligence from two very different angles: one looks at 2,235 British teenagers between ages 8 and 16, and the other looks at the differences between American identical twin pairs in which one twin uses marijuana and the other does not.
Despite vastly different methods, Ingraham says, the studies reach the same conclusion: They found no evidence that adolescent marijuana use leads to a decline in intelligence; in fact, they found that those who used marijuana didn’t experience consistently greater cognitive deficits than the others.
The twin data “fails to support the implication by the authors of the Duke study that marijuana exposure in adolescence causes neurocognitive decline,” the study concludes. “On the contrary, children who are predisposed to intellectual stagnation in middle school are on a trajectory for future marijuana use.” In other words, Ingraham summarizes, “rather than marijuana making kids less intelligent, it may be that kids who are not as smart or who perform poorly in school are more inclined to try marijuana at some point in their lives.”
This is really quite a provocative story, and the author makes some very interesting speculations. “If marijuana use were responsible for cognitive decline,” Ingraham wonders, “you might expect to find that the more marijuana a person smokes, the less intelligent they become. But this paper found that heavier marijuana use was not associated with greater decreases in IQ.
“Marijuana is a drug,” Ingraham reasons, “and just like any other drug—alcohol, nicotine, caffeine—there are risks and benefits associated with use. But exaggerating the extent of those risks and benefits won’t help create smarter policies. For proof of this,” he adds, “simply review the history of the drug war.”
Well, yeah. Let me call on my own experiential knowledge gained from smoking marijuana virtually daily since early in 1962: Weed can make you smarter, more aware of what’s happening around you, more sensitive to your environment and your fellow humans, more receptive to visual arts, music, poetry, arts activity of all kinds. It can help you open your mind to new experiences, new companions, new cultures, new perceptions of reality.
These are things I know from my own experience and from observing others who are daily tokers like myself. With the current drive by the burgeoning marijuana industry to sell their products to squares and as many people as possible, someone should warn the potential smokers that they are in for a whole new ride and about to enter a significantly different mental universe than the one to which they’re accustomed.
Don’t get me wrong—this is a good thing, something I’ve looked forward to for more than 50 years of turning on my friends and colleagues, and my belief is that people should be able to get as much of the finest weed available as often as they may want to have it, and as conveniently as possible. And this leads me exactly to where I wanted to end up this column: spending my final 200 words on expressing my disgust for the recent “Medical Pot Shop Law” introduced by the Detroit City Council.
As Christine Ferretti has pointed out in The Detroit News, medical marijuana dispensaries do not exist under current state laws, but the experiential reality is that something like 150 such dispensaries have opened up within the Detroit city limits since the City legalized marijuana use in 2012. (Detroit legalized medical marijuana in 2005.) As Ms. Ferretti put it, “Some have opened and have been operating with strict standards to monitor products and treat patients; others are not.”
The demand for licensing of these outlets by the city—despite their lack of legal existence—has been spearheaded by the Metropolitan Detroit Community Action Coalition, a group of community, block club and faith-based groups who have come together to combat medical pot shops.
“Right now what we have going on makes absolutely no sense,” city councilman James Tate remarked. “We have no regulations whatsoever.” So he proposes to set strict licensing requirements for dispensary operators and specify where marijuana access facilities can legally locate within the city, establish required distances between each of the potential dispensaries and specify a distance between the shops and other controlled uses, including party stores and adult cabarets as well as the city’s parks, schools and churches.
I’ve got an instant solution for them: Let the merchants sell the weed to the people who want it. If you don’t want any, don’t buy any! Don’t smoke it! Relax! You don’t have to do this. Let it go! Free The Weed!
January 20-23, 2016
© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.