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Smoking rights

Posted in Health, and Women's issues

cannabis patternIf you are visiting Los Angeles, a walk along the Venice boardwalk is a must. Pastel-hued houses, the sun dipping into the ocean, Muscle Beach and souvenir shops is how the world imagines the Venice boardwalk to be. Whether you are paying much attention or not, you will also notice a high concentration of marijuana dispensaries, pharmacy-looking storefronts that often advertise the services of a doctor in the back or on an upper floor.

If you are a California resident, and over 21, you can walk into a doctor’s office, claim to suffer from migraines, back ache, insomnia or any other chronic condition, and you will leave with a little card that, for one year, will give you the right to smoke, vape or chew the cannabis of your choice. If you are a cancer patient, and marijuana helps you with chemotherapy-induced nausea or pain, your oncologist will have no problem recommending you smoke or, better still, eat dope.

And let me pause here for a second. I am not a big fan of dope. My only successful attempt at smoking took place in Jamaica, with sofagirl, when some American filmmakers had scored ganja from their local crew and were kind to partake with us. She and I, sitting along the shore, had mild visions and the giggles. My few other attempts induced an unwelcome torpor and sometimes anger – I never liked it much. Last year, following the suggestion of a much respected girlfriend who loves chocolate marijuana, I experimented again with tragicomical results: nausea, loss of balance and paranoia that sent me quickly into bed, in an effort to sleep this nightmare off. A word to the uninitiated: If you are planning to eat a candy bar or a brownie, you will need a lot less than you think. A lot less – even less than the stated guidelines on the package.

I had personally put the whole marijuana business to rest, vowing never to consume it again. I suppose if a referendum were put on the ballot to completely legalize marijuana (like Colorado), I would probably vote for it but I can’t say the subject occupies much of my waking time. But a reader happened to send in an article a few days ago, from the New Zealand Herald, with a story he thought might interest us.

Helen Kelly, a longtime labor leader who never smoked a day in her life, drew an extremely short straw and, one night in the hospital ER where she had gone fearing she was suffering from a heart attack, was told she had terminal lung cancer that had spread. At this point, she probably has a few more months to live, which she has been spending campaigning on behalf of medical cannabis.

Helen Kelly
Helen Kelly

Ms. Kelly asked the Ministry of Health for approval to take cannabis oil products imported from San Francisco. Her request was denied. Friends and strangers have been helping out, dropping off cannabis at her house, in various forms, that she can incorporate into cookies or inhale through a vape pen. But it doesn’t come cheap and, above all, it is illegal.

Why is this issue so important to her? If you are a patient in the last stages of cancer, the pain is severe. Short of morphine, there is not much else that works and cannabis helps immensely with sleep and pain control. It’s a no brainer.

Here is where I see a pattern. New Zealand is currently governed by a centre right party, led by Prime Minister John Key. I presume the Minister for Health is also a conservative. And here is the thing about conservatism I have a hard time wrapping my head around: while they advocate for less government intervention in most public spheres, when it comes to our health, they are extreme busybodies. In the United States, they worry a tad too much about women’s wombs and their rights to reproduce; they will negate the right to die a dignified death to terminal patients; they are against the legalization of marijuana and are now legislating where we are supposed to pee.

Often, the collective wisdom is far ahead of our leaders. In New Zealand, polls show a whopping 72% majority favors the use of medical cannabis. In the US, a majority of the population is in favor of gay marriage. But vocal and powerful minorities lobby against the prevailing consensus.

It’s enough to make anyone despair of a dehumanized political process at the center of which is not the individual but a stultified morality dressed up as a cause. If those who occupy positions of power could only look at people and see them as human beings, doing the right thing wouldn’t be so difficult.

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12 Comments

  1. I’m sure the introduction of something that has been forbidden for so long will have extra allure initially that will lead to “incidents”. Maybe it could be likened the end of prohibition. I believe the good of legalization would outweigh the bad and it should be equated with alcohol which can do enormous damage to families and communities when over consumed. But alcohol doesn’t have the heath benefits (although a hot toddy when you’re shivery with the flu…) that have been linked to marijuana. I would find a way to get it for a sick loved one and be damned. This whole election process has demonstrated clearly to me that money and power command not the will of the people or the greater good. I will never make it till November! Maybe I should smoke more. 😉
    Coincidentally I was offered ganja consumed from a machine recently at a dinner party (having not partaken in decades!). It looked like a small humidifier and apparently purifies the experience. Tasted nice.

    April 21, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Coincidentally, the day this was published I heard an interview with a Denver Post reporter who did confirm some of the mayhem that legalization has caused but also pointed out that the price of illegal weed has been pushed down considerably, making it harder for dealers to reap large profits. And that seems to be a step in the right direction. As for me, I will have to make it until November without smoking – weed and I really don’t do well – making the process even more painful.

      April 22, 2016
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  2. sofagirl
    sofagirl

    So – the legalisation of cannabis is causing people to behave with pretty much the same gay abandon as alcohol? Which is legal in all states. And pretty much globally. Here’s my question: if someone you loved was in pain or discomfort and giving them a glass of wine would ease that for a while. Would you do it? I know I would. And if I was suffering from nausea caused by cancer medication – I would grow my own and puff away. Amsterdam has its dope tourists = sure. But you have to wonder – if they could have a joint at home … would they bother to travel?

    April 20, 2016
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  3. Because I live in Colorado I feel like I can comment on the legalization of pot in our state. It’s been a nightmare. I wasn’t in favor of the citizen initiative to begin with and even less enamored with it now that the ignorant citizenry adopted it to the state constitution and not contemplating long term and far over-reaching consequences to legalization. Problems of illegal grows are taking over some otherwise decent communities, property values have gone through the roof with folks coming to the state to get rich quick (little do they know of all the regulations for start ups-they are only enticed with all the money that can be made ‘legally’ or illegally). City and state governments LOVE the tax revenue but seem to have failed to use those taxes to keep up with infrastructure demands (i.e. roads, housing, etc.). Meanwhile in my trendy neighborhood, out of state trust-funders openly get high so you can always count on a contact high in the summer months when outside. As for edibles, you are absolutely right, ingesting seems to have far more concentrated levels and there have been more than a few suicides, and a few high profile murders of people who went crazy after eating pot products. Since it’s never going to be repealed in Colorado, we can only hope that regulations will be created particularly on edibles to keep those problems to a minimum. There appears to be value in using it for cancer and pain management treatments, but not every Tom-Dick-Harry 20 year old needs to toke up 87 times a day, trash rental property and drive like a maniac on city streets. I know, I know, I sound like some old geezer screaming “get off my lawn” but the social costs of legalizing pot seem to have far out paced its benefits in our state which probably more underscores the fact that citizen initiatives do not fully comprehend all the consequences of such passage.

    As for right wing legislators, they seem far more pro-birth than pro-life. I just wish they’d keep their minds out of our bedrooms and their hands off women’s bodies.

    April 19, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I was actually curious to hear from you as I read that many Colorado residents are mighty unhappy with legalization. I am wondering whether it could have been managed better, and if such problems would persist if it was legal in all 50 states. I believe Holland has the problem of “dope tourism”, even if non-residents are not legally allowed to purchase it, but no increase in accidents or disturbances. Here, anyone who wants it, can get it. Yes, it’s ostensibly for medical reasons only but any 21 year old can pay for a doctor’s visit and get a card.

      April 20, 2016
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    • sofagirl
      sofagirl

      TOR – anyone who is toking up to 87 times a day is not capable of doing a darn thing. Every movement has an associated asshole. Sorry you are having to deal with them in your yard. xx

      April 20, 2016
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  4. In Australia, they’re starting trials of legalising marijuana. I was actually just talking to a colleague about it this afternoon. It’s also used for epilepsy, and the trial (in the state of Victoria) is for kids who don’t respond to other treatments. It’ll be interesting to see where we go from here

    April 19, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      I had no idea that it could possibly be used for epilepsy. I don’t think I am against legalization but the horror stories that come out of Colorado give me pause as to how best it could be done.

      April 20, 2016
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      • sofagirl
        sofagirl

        What horror stories?

        April 20, 2016
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      • People who move to see if they can start a business for a quick buck, bus loads of tourists heading up to Colorado for a legal smoke, then causing disturbances because they are intoxicated. Probably to be expected initially and it wouldn’t be a problem if it was legal everywhere. In California we don’t have the pot tourism because you have to present a valid Id to get your card but anyone who lives here and wants to consume can. As far as I know, there are way fewer car accidents caused by marijuana than by alcohol and the incidence of driving under the influence has not risen (although I have not looked at figures). Having said that, the regulation of cannabis growing farms is out of step with the proliferation of dispensaries and even this business is poised to end up in the hands of large corporations, cutting out the small growers. As usual, I don’t think local governments are planning any of this with foresight, and it will take years to see smooth running. And not until it’s legal all over the country. But that is a different story. In the meantime, people who need it for real, should have easy access because the research backs it’s use.

        April 20, 2016
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  5. Winston moreton
    Winston moreton

    I must tweet this for my kiwi twitter followers!

    April 18, 2016
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    • camparigirl
      camparigirl

      Tweet away Winston! By the way, thank you for the article. I didn’t even acknowledge you by name.

      April 19, 2016
      |Reply

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