Letters + Opinion » The Week in Weed

Ganja Capitalism



The pharmacy bottles pictured above are part of a collection of old cannabis-industry flotsam that belongs to "an unofficial historian in Mendocino County." A slideshow of the collection recently appeared on High Times online, and the post should prove enlightening to anyone who considers medical marijuana a recent invention. One photo shows tall, green tins — like old loose-leaf tea canisters — labeled "Cannabis Sativa" and "Cannabis Indica." They're emblazoned with the logo for Parke-Davis, once America's largest drug maker (now a subsidiary of Pfizer). The old labels run the gamut: tinctures, extracts, elixirs — all bottled for sale to the American consumer of yore.

It wasn't just cannabis, either. As documentarian Eugene Jarecki shows in his enlightening and provocative documentary The House I Live In (recently released on DVD and online streaming services), cocaine, heroin, opium and other drugs were once marketed and sold to genteel American housewives as balms for a wide variety of maladies. And addiction and abuse were seen as public health issues rather than crimes. As Jarecki's film shows, America's change in approach had more to do with xenophobia than anything else.

But let's not get into all of that. For now it's just worth remembering that the crazy cannabis concoctions being sold here in 2013 — the pot-laced gummy bears, sodas, chocolate bars and Baklava — are part of a long history of ganja capitalism.

Speaking of which, could there be a pot commercial during the next Super Bowl? Intuit, the software company that makes Quicken and Quickbooks, recently launched an online contest to give one lucky small business a free, professionally produced ad during the big game. Businesses that receive the most online votes become finalists, and when pro-legalization group NORML launched a campaign, it quickly became a frontrunner (despite not being, you know, an actual business).

Police officers in Michigan reportedly smelled marijuana in the car of a man they'd pulled over for a broken headlight. According to a police report, the man admitted to having weed on him, but officers couldn't find any. Asked where it was, the man said he ate it. Yeah, he was arrested.

Also in Michigan, dozens of people gathered to protest the case of a 6-month-old Lansing girl who was taken away from her parents following a complaint about pot in the house. The mom is a registered medical marijuana caregiver, but a family court referee ruled that marijuana made the family's house inherently dangerous. According to local TV news, such rulings in the state are not rare.

A Colorado radio host and Christian pastor named Kevin Swanson took to the airwaves last week to suggest that God sent the recent devastating floods to his state as commentary on marijuana legalization, abortion and "decadent homosexual activity." And here we thought online comments were brutal.

And finally, SoHum pot farmer/community leader Doug Green, who helped found the Mateel Community Center and Reggae on the River, died last weekend after a battle with cancer.

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