"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Friday, January 16, 2009

Medical Marijuana

I went to work even though I had laryngitis, knowing I couldn’t talk, but I quickly learned that most of what I say doesn’t need to be said at all.

Let me tell you a story. It has long been a bone of contention within the ranks of TSA (the ones who make you take your shoes off at the airport and x-ray your belongings)that our government farmed out the manufacture of our uniforms to Third World countries, instead of giving the business to the American garment industry, and we have long protested the shoddy materials, (my sweater vest developed a hole after one washing), but now we’ve found out that the fabric of our shirts has been treated with formaldehyde. Yes, we are draped in embalming fluid. Why would someone do this? To keep the creases in our shirts stiff? Our director is always nit picking about the length of our hair and our jewelry and tattoos, the crease in our pants and the shine on our shoes, but really . . . formaldehyde?

Once this leaked out they told us we could apply for new, all cotton shirts and return the old ones. But I recently discovered that nothing is that easy and sensible for the Dept. of Homeland Security’s poor stepchild, TSA. Now the official line is that we have to get a doctor’s statement saying we are allergic to formaldehyde (is this like saying you might be allergic to asbestos or lead?) and then we have to fill out a packet of forms ½ inch thick and then apply to receive cotton (untainted) shirts from our Third World supplier. But I wonder . . . what strange additive will the fabric of these so-called cotton shirts have? Where is it grown and under what conditions and with what chemicals, herbicides and pesticides?

All this brings to mind the fight here in Michigan over Medical Marijuana and the growing of this amazing ancient herb. (And what about the growing of hemp, a wondrous, natural fabric that isn’t made with petroleum like polyester is?) Michiganians voted overwhelmingly in ALL counties to pass a Medical Marijuana bill in November, and it is now up to the Michigan Dept of Community Health to draft the rules under which this new law will be implemented, and it is within their power to make it easy or hard. Sadly, in direct repudiation of the will of the people, they have chosen to make it hard. Rather than adopt the rules that are working well in other progressive states, they are drafting draconian regulations, making ill people and their caregivers keep elaborate records of amounts grown and used, subjecting them to face-to-face interviews, and recording the names of other users on registration forms, and so on. What are they afraid of? Marijuana has fewer side effects than most of the drugs foisted on us by the pharmaceutical companies; it is cheaper and far less toxic, and people can grow their own independently of outside interference. Maybe that is what they are afraid of.

We didn't learn anything from the Prohibition era, as proven by our failed war on drugs, so we are rightly doomed to repeat our history. We wouldn't be so foolish as to try and outlaw cigarettes, yet any doctor will tell you that no substance is more addictive than nicotine. Al Capone was put out of business overnight when Prohibition was lifted. The drugs are not the problem. The illegality of drugs is the problem. And as the violence in Mexico threatens to spill over the border, this truth is becoming ever more evident.

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