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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Monday, April 19

The politics of pot

I'm watching the comments appearing below my story on public cannabis consumption at colleges across the country on April 20 with great interest. It should be no surprise that one of my goals in writing this story was to mitigate a conversation about the social effects and politics of marijuana and avoid the string of personal pot-shots (pun intended) taken at Skidmore students, faculty, staff, law enforcement and the Saratogian last year.

To re quote Judy Ekman, outgoing executive director of the Saratoga County Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council, “People tend to generalize on the negative and not generalize on the positive.”

No one busted for possessing a small quantity of marijuana as a first offense on Tuesday is going to be locked up, as some readers seem to believe. According to Saratoga County D.A. James A. Murphy III, most first time offenses are dismissed under the condition that the charged attend some form of substance abuse counciling.

According to NYS Penal Law, first time offenses are violations subject to a fine up to $100. The public consumption of marijuana is a class-B misdemeanor, punishable by up to three months in jail.

For substantive conversation's sake, here is an update on efforts to legalize marijuana in the state of New York.

There are bills in both the Senate and the Assembly (S.4041-b/A.9016) this year that would legalize marijuana possession and use for patients with "severe debilitating or life-threatening" conditions. The policy would also require the Department of Health to issue registry identification cards to certified patients and caregivers, and outlines registration requirements for certified sellers and producers. The measure is written into the Senate's 2010 budget proposal, but who knows when that is going to be sorted out.

The information out there on the overall medical effects of marijuana are largely inconclusive because the drug itself is rarely used in labs that instead use a synthesized version of THC (
delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol A.K.A. the stuff that gets people high).

What is known about the drug through years of cultural analysis is that it induces a state of mild euphoria that has a psychological effect on users for better (ie. those suffering from debilitating pain due to illness) or worse ( ie. those who cant figure out why their car is moving so fast on the way back from the Phish show when the speedometer only says 20 MPH).

The way I see it, if you can prescribe someone enough pills for pain reduction that they could potentially commit suicide, it shouldn't be that hard to allow patients access to marijuana, a drug from which it is "virtually impossible to overdose".

A majority of New Yorkers appear to think that legalization of cannabis for medical use is a good idea.


Blogger Ben lives on said...

Thank you for some common sense.

April 19, 2010 at 6:55 PM 
Anonymous mamie said...

Just legalize it already. The sad reality is the police will go overboard just to bust some kids at Skidmore on April 20th. They were embarrassed last year so they will make a point to hall in some kids. Our great police department!

April 20, 2010 at 7:16 AM 

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