By: Admin_Mike25 Feb 2011
If you took the marijuana quiz based on the History Channel documenatry "Marijuana: A Chronic History," then you may be surprised to see that the answer to all the questions was "true."
This may seem unbelievable, but the history of marijuana becoming a "schedule 1 drug" in the United States is long and convoluted. The substance has been used medicinally and for other practical purposes for thousands of years.
This History Channel documentary used footage from many other previously documentaries and some new information to explore the phenomenon of Marijuana’s legalization and effect on society in the United States.
The show starts out in the emerald triangle Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties. The weather is good, the land is hilly and remote, and the social/law enforcement climate have allowed an entire illegal industry to develop since the 1960’s.
Marijuana cultivation started primarily outdoors but has since moved indoors. Growers have become educated and business savvy. Also, as we will see later, there are some interlopers from south of the border in this area.
Rio Dell City in Humboldt County: An Culture Dependent on Marijuana
Marijuana is effectively decriminalized in Humboldt County along these guidelines: 99 plants within 100 feet or 3 lbs of possession. Does that sound like a lot? It is… Also, from our personal experience we know that commonly growers will use the same permits to grow in multiple locations.
Rio Dell is a town that depends on marijuana. One old grower named Tim shows his crop and shares that “the kids have become the master growers,” alluding to multi generational pot growes.
The Napa Valley of Marijuana
Depending on the effects of legalization, Humboldt has the potential to become the ‘Napa Valley of Marijuana.’ Meaning that it could become a popular tourist destination for marijuana.
However, the fear from growers in the emerald triangle is that the plant will be grown in the Central Valley, robbing them of the opportunity to control the market.
The Legalization Argument - Marijuana Tax Value
The argument for full scale legalization is soon trotted out and will be a point of focus throughout the show. According to one pundit, “it is not a matter but ‘if’ but ‘when.” Some professors and law enforcement personnel weigh in on the pros and cons.
Arnold Schwarzenneger is shown given a "wishy washy" answer in a press conference that "the time for marijuana legalization is not here but the time for discussion about it is..."
There is a lot of varying discussions about the state and national value of the marijuana commerce. Estimates range from $7 billion to $200 billion nationally. A median estimate of the value of marijuana in seems t be around $15 billion- more than all vegetables combined. This is the value stated by Mark Klieman PhD a professor of public policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs
Rob Kampia the co founder and executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project estimates the value of the marijuana trade to be $38 billion – more than all of America’s wheat and corn combined.
Another side to this equation is that the US spends $13.7 billion annually on marijuana prosecution. This cost is incurred by transporiting, prosecuting, and jailing marijuana "criminals."
The legalization of cannabis could be a multi billion dollar windfall, but there are arguments for and against the effect that it could have on society. Many Americans are locked in a passionate debate about it. For instance, Prop 215 passed in California (medical marijuana) but 98% of people are using it for a recreational intoxicant.
Decriminalization in Portugal and The Netherlands
As stated in the marijuana quiz, there is no country in which marijuana is fully "legal." According to the U.N. However, there are 15 countries where it is "decriminalized" like Portugal and Netherlands. Also, as stated in the quiz, marijuana is not legal (or decriminalized) in Jamaica and there is a theory that the United States plays a strong role in that.
Decriminalization is different than legalization, it typically means that "efforts to prosecute" are not expended by the legal system. Decriminalization has had some surprising effects.
Portugal's Surprising Marijuana Experiment
Portugal has basically decriminalized to the point of being legal. What is the result?
The question is raised in the show: "Is the drug losing it’s charm?"
Amsterdam - Marijuana Tourism Capital of the World
Marijuana is not necessarily legal, but there are coffee shops that sell it “illegally but not enforced” There are some guidelnes (age limits) but it is not effectively prosecuted. This is referred to marijuana being “quasi lega.”
- teen use is down
- adult marijuana use is
- hard drugs are being abused way less frequently
Also - in Amsterdam, 2.5 billion euros are generated through taxation and tourist channels.
More Arguments for Legalization
The documentary then shows the inner workings of a medical marijuana "testing lab" named Steep Hill in Oakland. Steep Hill tests marijuana samples for pesticides and fungi. Since medical marijuana is intended to be medicine for HIV and cancer patients - the need for regulation exists. but is not being enforced.
Steep Hill employees discuss how they can make recommendations but ultimately cannot control what dispensaries do.
The Counterpoint Argument Against Marijuana Legalization
Throughout the History Channel documentary, counterpoint arguments against marijuana legalization are made.
An examples of a salient argument: marijuana has gone from 2-6% THC content in the 1960s to up to 27% THC content in recent years.
Psychiatrist Dr. Charles Sophy talks about the "celebrity effect" on making marijuana appeal to young people and how in the U.S. this could have disastrous effects.
Dr. Mark Kleiman does not agree to the “alcohol argument” that "marijuana should be legal because alcohol is legal and marijuana does not seem nearly as destructive." This is becasue alcohol has had a horrible effect and been managed terribly by our society and legal system.
Dr. Gil Kerlikowske, the current White House Drug Czar talks about the prescription drug addiction phenomenon and how they are "legal" but still destroying lives.
Also, tobacco is a legalized "drug" that generates revenue but the gains are not even a drop of the bucket into the health care cost .
Marijuana The Gateway Drug
One speaker states that "marijuana is a gate way to hell." For those who have lived through and recovered from an addiction, hell is an apt comparison. Marijuana is accessible and marijuana changes the way people feel.