Mark Andrew, a former Hennepin County Board Chair and former chair of the Minnesota DFL Party, is the owner of GreenMark, a leading environmental marketing agency. GreenMark, the originator of the Minnesota Twins/Pentair Rain Water Recycle partnership, is currently finalizing the state's largest solar energy installation while delivering sustainable results on behalf of leading brands, nonprofits, public agencies and the public.

Marijuana legalization jumped the gun on research

Posted by: Mark Andrew Updated: June 4, 2014 - 2:55 PM

I walked out the doors from my high school graduation just as the social doors flung open on the mass use of marijuana in America.

When I was a senior in high school pot was being discovered for the first time by mass audiences. It was surrepititiously sold in "nickel bags", $5 bucks for a small baggie or manilla envelope sufficient to carry earrings or cufflinks or stamps, perhaps a quarter ounce of pot.

There was still a dress code in City schools and people were suspended for wearing jeans to school. But by the next school year, when I returned to guest speak in my former creative writing class, the dress codes were gone, long hair was in and everyone wore jeans. And grass was out of the closet. The scent was so pervassive you could smell it on the radio.

Weed has been a staple of recreational escapism ever since.

The recent new laws in Colorado and Washington State legalizing "dope" represent a sea change in public attitudes toward legalized marijuana. But it is the states where laws have not yet changed that the attitude towards legalization will be tested.

I was surprised to see two states legalize it in my lifetime. I thought it would take much longer for pot to become "mainstreamed". It wasn't all that long ago that we were told that marijuana was a dangerous drug that will lead to hard drug use. But the propogators of those charges--high ranking government officials--also said other drugs would damage our chromosomes, deform our off-spring and cause us to go insane. Really.

On the other hand there seems to be scant research available on the addictive properties of weed or the propensity of users to graduate to more sophisticated drug use. The NIH has apparently finally funded some new experiential research to test these impacts and others might be, too. 

I favor keeping the Colorado and Washington State laws in place and keep the Feds at bay in enforcing national enforcement laws. 

In the meantime, let's get more research on the books so we can move confidently toward more permissive state laws. If we don't accelerate the research on marijuana's impacts, the laws passed so far are at risk of going up in smoke.

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