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Children, what do you want to be when you grow up? I want to own a cannabis business and become rich. I want to be the Weed King of Wallstreet, the prosperous Prince of Pot, the Mega Marijuana Man, the zillionaire Get High Guy.

Marijuana has grown into a multi-billion-dollar business in states where it is legal for medical or recreational use. Nationwide, 10 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use, while 33 states allow medical marijuana, according to a 2019 article at nbcnews.com.

Let’s jumpstart our poor communities with marijuana—not soy beans, or corn, or tomatoes. Farmers can harvest a psychoactive drug instead of food. The cannabis industry will revitalize the economy. Our problems are solved. State tax revenue from weed is the answer to funding schools, funding Medicaid and Medicare, feeding the hungry, and housing the homeless. The US government can subsidize cannabis to pay off the federal deficit. A dime bag of pot in every pot! Let’s all get high and escape reality. Make marijuana—not war.

Is there an environmental downside of cannabis cultivation? What are the water worries of growing the thirsty plants? What about waste by-products? What about wildlife?

“Whether professional growers are producing dried buds or collecting resin for extraction, the steps of harvesting and processing create by-products and waste that must be disposed of according to all applicable regulations…” cannabisindustryinstitute.com. “Mule deer, gray foxes, coyotes, northern spotted owls and ravens have also been victims of poisoning, linked to cannabis cultivation.” daily.jstor.org.

 Since legalization in Colorado, Sheriff Justin Smith said he has seen a rise in home invasions in his county that are tied to theft of marijuana or its profits. The Colorado report found a 26 percent increase in violent crimes across the state from 2013 to 2017, including a 22 percent increase in robberies, according to a 2019 report at urbanmilwaukee.com.

Thieves also follow the money trail. Drug cartels follow the money trail. Money laundering, murder, and mayhem. Follow the greenbrick road with Dorothy to the land of crime. There’s no place like a pot patch. Growers and sellers beware of the underground market. How will you protect your profits when guns are banned? Black market–marijuana cultivation remains a problem in Colorado despite the legalization of recreational use, according to a report at policefoundation.org.

Nicotine, the addictive drug in tobacco cigarettes, reaches your brain within 10 seconds of when it enters your body. The brain releases adrenaline. And boom—a buzz of pleasure, but the buzz quickly fades away. The body builds a tolerance, so you smoke more and more. Addiction. Does the law deter or stop teens from smoking or vaping?

Alcohol is categorized as a drug by the FDA. And it’s big business. Does the law deter or stop teens from drinking? Grapes and grain are used to make alcohol, instead of feeding hungry humans.

How ironic that marijuana is being legalized in the USA while the opioid crisis still rages and ravishes. Heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and methamphetamines, club drugs, inhalants, Ketamine.  

Let’s address the crux of cannabis use. Why do humans chase a buzz? A beer buzz, a prescription benzodiazepine buzz, a crystal meth buzz, a weed buzz. Why do humans try to escape from emotions and problems? What’s the purpose for using /abusing mood-altering and mind-numbing drugs? Life is full of both pleasure and pain; heartache and healing; tragedy and triumph. I doubt that Adam and Eve smoked weed after being escorted out of the Garden of Eden.

Who cares about the health risks? Who cares about lungs? Who cares about brains? Who cares about impressionable youth? Are marijuana proponents throwing our youth under the bong bus? “Let’s be Blunt, No Need For Weed” is a slogan by the Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition which targets and educates minors under the age of 18 about the risks of marijuana use and abuse. Where are the other voices of prevention?

Will the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana harm or benefit society? Maybe it’s not the magic miracle pill it’s touted to be by pot promoters and proponents.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Southern Ohio. Contact her at melissamcolumnist@gmail.com.

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