California’s legalization of marijuana for medical purposes has led to a number of strange stories, but perhaps none is stranger than this week’s grand opening of a “Wal-Mart of Weed” in the state capital. The term “Wal-Mart of Weed” is the nickname for a new Sacramento retail store called weGrow, a 10,000-square-foot hydroponic gardening superstore that focuses on one crop – marijuana.
Catering to Marijuana Farmers
Unlike other hydroponic stores that avoid any mention of marijuana, weGrow is immersed in pot culture. It doesn’t sell marijuana, but it provides all the equipment that an aspiring marijuana farmer needs. It purports to be in business for the 200,000 California residents who have obtained a prescription for legal medical marijuana. Once a customer has shown a doctor’s prescription for marijuana, weGrow employees will offer advice on grow lights, nutrients and plant cultivation. The store also offers online training at its University of Cannabis.
The Catch-22 of Marijuana Cultivation
In California, hundreds of medical marijuana stores across the state sell legal cannabis. However, growing more than a small amount of marijuana for personal use is a felony offense that is punishable by a prison term. This Catch-22 situation has led to a thriving criminal network of marijuana growers and sellers. Most of the marijuana that is sold in California, both in medical marijuana stores and on the street, is grown in Northern California’s Mendocino County, where marijuana is a cash crop that generates an estimated $1 billion per year in revenue.
The large profits that can be realized by the sale of marijuana have led to an increasingly violent network of drug trafficking. Without a doubt, many of the customers of weGrow will be people who are involved in the illicit cultivation and sale of marijuana.
The Facts About Medical Marijuana
The Sacramento weGrow store is the first in what its owners hope is a chain of franchise stores located in the 16 states that have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. In addition to California, the states that allow the sale of medical marijuana include Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
The states that have legalized medical marijuana are overlooking that fact that unlike other prescription drugs, marijuana has never undergone FDA testing. While it may offer relief from pain and nausea for patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other serious conditions, the consequences of long-term use have not been studied by scientists. What is known is that marijuana is both psychologically and physically addictive, as evidenced by the fact that tens of thousands of people seek treatment for marijuana addiction each year.
It’s a well-known fact that many young people obtain medical marijuana prescriptions from unethical doctors even though they have no medical need. THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, has been tied to depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and the onset of schizophrenia among at-risk young adults. In the past, the level of THC in street marijuana was about 5%. Today’s genetically-engineered cannabis has THC levels in the range of 20%. The higher levels of marijuana consumption that the weGrow franchise will support might very well lead to an increase in mental disorders and dependence among young users of legal medical marijuana.