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Mary Jane

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

There is yet again another initiative being pressed nation wide, and especially in Nebraska, to make marijuana legal. People doing the heavy lifting posit that if the use and possession of marijuana were legal crime would go down, taxes (as tobacco and alcohol are taxed) would flow into local state and national coffers and users would be happy. Don't worry -- be happy. It all makes me wonder.

Now personally I have never tried the stuff. I've not smoked it nor tried any of the extracts of cannabis or THC the potent ingredient that gives marijuana the desired "kick" for its users. That is only half the story as I intend to never use the stuff intentionally or unintentionally. Pilots have no need for the stuff!

Marijuana or hemp is an old-world plant. The story goes that during World War I farmers in the U.S. were encouraged to grow hemp for fibers used in the making the familiar hemp rope. It was feared that the world war would disrupt our imported supply of that necessary material and that we could easily produce our own supply. Then during the 1920s growing of hemp in the U.S. was banned as a matter of public policy. Unfortunately following its introduction to agriculture, the hemp plants liked the environment and went wild.

Nobody has to plant it. Now it has morphed into an unwanted weed growing wild in local pastures and roadside ditches. Hence one of the modern slang terms for marijuana is "ditch weed."

Hemp that is grown for industrial purposes or its wild cousin the pasture weed produces very little of the chemical THC and is of little regard in the illicit drug trade. In fact, it is of no value as a forage plant, because few animals other than goats will eat it. The plant's seeds, however are a favorite of mourning doves who flock to the weed patches in the fall.

One of my memories living in California was an evening stroll in the Merced City Park with Ann and our three young children. I sniffed a familiar scent in the air, a scent that I remembered from burning road ditches in the fall as a farm youth.

I asked Ann if she recognized the familiar smell and she, too, detected the odor but couldn't place it. Ah, it was the smell of marijuana being smoked by persons in the shadows nearby. Ditch weed a-burning.

Not long after I retired from the Air Force and returned to the family farm, we were delighted to host a visit by a pair of Air Force Captains. Mike, a pilot, was one of my KC-135 crew commanders and wife, Donna, a commissioned nurse specializing in infant care.

Both had grown up in large cities and were curious about farm operations. They accompanied me early one morning as I was setting irrigation water. I spied a flourishing 4-foot tall wild marijuana plant along a creek bank, pulled it up and held it out for them to examine. Neither had any idea what it was until I pointed out its rank smell and distinctive leaf pattern. "Marijuana, oh my gosh!" Neither would touch it, nor allow me to photograph them holding the plant. Pilots have no use for the plant and the couple were not about to allow a picture to be made with them holding the stinky specimen.

Marijuana is considered a "gateway drug" by many in this country. The concept is that people, particularly young persons, are introduced to drugs by smoking readily-available marijuana and then progress to other hard drugs.

A former law enforcement officer explained it to me in this manner: "A person tries marijuana and likes the high that it first gives him. Then he continues to use it in search for that wonderful feeling of euphoria that he encountered in using marijuana for the first time.

"He increases his use, but just can't replicate that first high, so tries other illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine or meth and then becomes addicted."

Could be, but I suspect that nicotine in tobacco and caffeine in coffee, along with alcohol, all legal drugs of choice, might have somewhat the same effect on our bodies.

Personally, I suspect that one of the real attractions of marijuana comes from the concept that our society today frowns on its use. Experimenting with the drug is exciting simply because "old fogies" are against the practice.

"Everyone knows" that marijuana is not harmful and the kick it gives from use feels exciting, so why not give it a try? The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Growing and dealing marijuana is big business in the U.S. For a time, I lived in the huge California County of Merced. One of my best friends there was an agriculture inspector for Merced County, who proudly stated that the gross agriculture product of his county was equal to the total value of what was, at that time, produced in Nebraska. He stated that the value of marijuana locally grown plus imported and sold in Merced County itself made it the number one agriculture product, but not counted in the official statistics. All that was before "medical marijuana" was legalized and may have only increased that drug's use in California society today.

The supporters of legalizing marijuana may have a point in that its popularity may diminish and crime will decrease, if like alcohol, the drug is made legal. For sure, our prison population will decrease much as it did when Prohibition was terminated. Tax the stuff and politicians will have even more money to spend. Everybody benefits or so goes the argument. Be happy.

Somehow, I am reminded of an observation that my father made concerning the end of Prohibition. He had neighbors, yes, right here in rural Nebraska, who operated hidden stills and others that were known bootleggers. Dad's opinion was that legalizing alcohol greatly increased its use, much to the detriment of society. During Prohibition, hooch was transported across the state line from Kansas in the trunks of bootlegger's cars -- now it comes across the state line in semis. So it will be when marijuana is legalized again, much to the detriment of society.

That is the way I saw it.

Dick Trail

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The recent poll conducted by the Gazette appears to be just opposite of your opinion Mr. Trail.

I don't know if the poll would represent an official poll by any means, but it does serve as an indicator of local opinion on the issue.

The question asked was - do you favor putting the question of legalizing Marijuana on the Nebraska ballot?

Yes: 60.9% (994 votes)

No: 36.6% (598 votes)

No opinion.: 2.5% (41 votes)

1633 votes cast


This is the most votes ever cast on a Gazette poll according to the archives.

Putting it to a vote would tell the real story - let the people decide.

-- Posted by Geezer on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 1:18 PM

Well as with all "research" it can be made to look however the viewer wishes.

With an internet poll, the most that has to be done is clear the browsing history and cookies and vote again, and again..

As for saying put it on the ballot, that does not mean it will pass, just that the opportunity would be given to vote..

-- Posted by myopinion1 on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 3:22 PM

If they do put it up for vote to legalizing Marijuana in Nebraska, they should learn from California not to be so radical with the way it is written. It was just turned down out here because of the way

it was worded to protect the employes who choose to smoke it.

I for one have smoked it many times, but just like there is no place for drunks at work, there is no place for stoners at work. I know, there are lots of people who smoke at work and have for years that are fine, but if you get hurt it should not be the responsibility of the employer for your bad chooses. This is why myself and many others voted no on legalizing.

-- Posted by Keda46 on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 7:23 PM

I guess spending billions on drug interdiction, incarceration of users and sellers, corruption of police and judiciary from the huge profits of the drug cartels and mobsters, is the better way to go.

Legalization is adamately opposed by the mob. Can you guess why that is?

-- Posted by JohnGalt1968 on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 10:08 PM

Oh my, out here in southwest Nebraska, there were stills! MY my, I would never have thought such illegal activties would ever occur here! LMAO

The issue probably should be put to a vote, but just like making casino gambling legal in Nebraska, it won't happen, way too many save the good life voters out there.

-- Posted by goarmy67 on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 11:33 PM

"That is only half the story as I intend to never use the stuff intentionally or unintentionally."

Just curious, how do you intend to unintentionally use something?

-- Posted by bberry on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 9:57 AM

Unintentionally. Several years ago a national news story told of an airline pilot who lost his license due to ingesting LSD. At a party some soul laced the snacks with acid to watch the guests get hallucinations. Real funny. The pilot lost his license for five years. I don't want that.

Dick Trail

-- Posted by Dusty on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 2:06 PM

Great article by John Stossel concerning Portugal's recent legalization of drugs. Worth the read. It is working there according to Stossel.


-- Posted by Dusty on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 2:08 PM

No one ever intends to do something uninentionally, or it would be intentional.

-- Posted by bberry on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 4:06 PM

Geezer, doesnt that poll just state more people want the measure on the ballot for the voters to decide? I don't see an inclination that more people want it to be legalized.

-- Posted by npwinder on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 4:42 PM

I've heard that legaliztion will reduce the crime rate........... funny thing is, if one removes the crime title, that doesn't remove the action. Obviously, if there are 100 people smoking pot and it's not leagalized, then there are 100 people breaking the law. If there are 100 people smoking pot and it IS llegalized, those 100 people AREN'T breaking the law.

I suppose the same argument could be used in legalizing homicide. Hmmmm, if I put it that way, it seems as though reducing the crime rate by making it legal doesn't really sound that sane.

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Thu, Mar 1, 2012, at 12:02 AM

In colorado, this drug is legal and is often used. I haven't heard of it being abused in any way. It's just another drug - like alcohol - and would probably have the same wide range of usage . Some addicted , some not. Etc.

-- Posted by bob s on Fri, Mar 2, 2012, at 4:54 PM

Just a note...... the unemployment rate in Colorado is current;y high. Higher than Nebrassska. Just a note, not a correlation........ certainly not.

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Fri, Mar 2, 2012, at 7:09 PM

There is few problem with flying while high, you can't fly a plane at 15 miles an hour while paranoid. However, you could try, I just don't want to be your passenger.So I guess what I'm saying is, not everyone should indulge, thank goodness. I'm not advocating! just saying, to each his own.

-- Posted by Keda46 on Sat, Mar 3, 2012, at 12:00 AM

BUT pilots take high amounts of caffeine, some do coke, or what about the pills the U.S. Govt. gives to their pilots to enhance alertness and senses?

If you HAVE NOT first hand experienced the MILD altering effects of this drug then, really, why are you so raging against it, is it because, as you were trained and have done your whole life BLINDLY FOLLOWING. QUESTION things, WITH REASON and LOGIC...The world is a sad, sad place with how inept and brainwashed all are.

Typical Nick M. just blasting it, saying colorado is worse off...Compare the amount of people living in Colorado, compared to Nebraska...Numbers do not lie. Do the numbers on deaths of marijuana, compared to pharmaceutical drugs...Seriously, You're all so closed minded and irrational. Realize what's reality and true and what's not, kinda like the 'faith' you guys instill in everything blindly!

Just wait, it will eventually be legalized, and you'll be surprised at how little you'll hear about it.

-- Posted by marlin on Tue, Mar 6, 2012, at 12:45 PM

Maybe I'm a little bit confused, marlin, but I'm not sure why you're comparing the usage of stimulants to the usage of marajuana, which has hallucinogenic properties. I'm no expert, but it seems like the latter would be more dangerous to pilots flying than the former. Also, I sure as hell don't approve of pilots doing coke. (Pepsi is much better.)

I was going to make a long-winded argument about how much of our human knowledge is based on second-hand observation or communication with others, rather than just first hand experience. However, I realized that my problem wasn't with the idea of "QUESTIONING things" instead of "BLINDLY FOLLOWING", but the fact that you're only saying that because people here aren't sharing your viewpoint. It sounds as if you haven't even considered the possibility that maybe, just maybe, people with an opposing viewpoint have come to their conclusion through the process of questioning and using reason and logic.

I know, it's shocking. I still tend to forget that people who don't share my viewpoints may have thought about it for a significant period of time. In the long run, however, you really don't seem any less sheepish than the people who don't share your viewpoint. The "intellectual high ground" people try to claim tends to end up being more of a personal plateau than a universal one. But then, that's just my opinion.

In regards to the whole "Colorado and Nebraska unemployment and population thing", I checked on Google for those rates. I bring this up under the assumption that the unemployment rate of a state is calculated based on the state's own population, so if I'm incorrect, please let me know. At the time I checked, Nebraska has a 4.1% unemployment rate with a population of 1,842,641. Colorado has a 7.9% unemployment rate with a population of 5,116,796. This means that Nebraska has about 75,548 unemployed people, whereas Colorado has about 404,227 unemployed people. Take that info as you will.

-- Posted by bjo on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 12:41 PM

Good blog bjo. I like the "intellectual high ground" and the "personal plateau" view. It's true, often times I don't feel that my opposers have thought things through. That makes me mindful of my comments.

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 6:07 PM

By the way, unemployment IS based on populous percentage. Colorado, nearly twice the unemployed per capita.

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 6:09 PM

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Dick Trail
The Way I Saw It