Weekly St. Helena Star Column

Thursday, April 22, 2010



“Reefer Madness” has become a cult film. It was produced back in 1936 as a cautionary tale about the dangers of marijuana, and instead of making pot, herb, grass, weed, Aunt Mary, skunk, boom, gangster, kif, ganja,"Texas tea," and "Maui wowie," appear dangerous, it had the effect of making the anti-marijuana lobby look ridiculous—especially to pot smokers.

California will vote on the legalization of Marijuana in November. I haven’t a clue how it will come out.

St. Helena is currently considering a Medical marijuana “dispensary” on Main St. It’s a fait accomplis.

We’ve become a very hip town.

Drugs are a touchy subject. I remember going to all these parents meetings when my kids were in school. The issue of alcohol and drugs was always at the top of the list.

“Hey, we all did it,” the younger parents would say. I was at a disadvantage. Those of us of a certain age didn’t “all do it.” We weren’t saints, necessarily, it’s just that in the 50’s and early 60’s drugs weren’t as ubiquitous as they are today.

There were maybe 10 or 12 kids in the upper classes who drank on some weekends—and none drank during football season. (OK. There were the outliers, but they kept it under wraps, though the let us all know who they were—status you know).

Standards were different. One year the Geyersville basketball team had its season canceled when players were caught at a “beer bust.” No drugs. Just beer. We all remember our football teammate who was suspended for three weeks because he was seen at a party with a cigarette.

In the mid 60’s as kids went off to college and returned for holidays, and soldiers came back from Vietnam, the presence of drugs in town expanded exponentially. The younger brothers and sisters picked up the habits of their elder siblings, fast.

I have no truck with medical marijuana. If it helps relieve pain and reduces suffering I’m all for it. Access should be easy. But on Main St.?

In a town of 6,000 people, how many need this service? Ten per cent? One per cent? How many sales does a business need to make a go of it?

According to the internet a gram costs around $3.50. A joint is about one gram.

An ounce is 28 grams so you might get 28 joints for $100.

With rents at $3 to $4 per foot, a store must make around a grand a day (gross) to stay in business. That means the dispensary would have to sell at least 10 ounces or 280 joints each day—7 days a week—or 2000 joints weekly.

Who’s going to end up smoking those joints? Only the sick?

Think some entrepreneur might buy a joint for $3.50 and sell it to a middle schooler for $5.00?

Like most Americans, the Goobs and I have watched members of our extended families be destroyed by drugs. We’ve witnessed addiction, wasted lives, divorces, birth defects, abortions, suicides, even the murder of one relative’s boyfriend. Every family I know shares the same burden—few like to talk about it.

Each and every druggie we know started out on “grass.”

Marijuana doesn’t “make” one go on to more lethal drugs. But its use encourages a reckless anti-establishment attitude than can lead to more extreme “highs.”

Anyone who has ever been a kid knows that each action has to be topped, in order to earn status. “You drove 70? I’ll drive 80. You drank a six pack, I’ll drink two. Anything you can do, I can do better.” It’s a great song, but ugly when it comes to drugs.

“If you think marijuana is a great high, wait’ll you try….”

Is this really where we want to encourage dope smoking? If Maui Wowie was great with a jug of Red Mountain wine, why not come to the valley and try it with some free Beringer Cab?

And can anyone spare us the druggies of yore preaching to us about how dope is better than booze? Marrakesh and Amsterdam may be great cities—we just don’t live there.

Also, please no “cool Moms” justifying their past transgressions by dumping it on today’s kids.

I don’t care what folks do in their homes. Offer me a hit in your house, and if I’m not driving it’s unlikely that I’ll act like a pompous ass.

But as a community, do we need to encourage mind altering behavior in a Valley where moderate wine drinking is the basis of our livelihood. Think of Cheers! on summer Friday nights.

Which store is going to get the most business?

Reefer Madness in St. Helena. It is truly insanity.

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