I am replying to rebut the editorial that you authored on page 6 of the most recent edition of the VCReporter. (Right Persuasion, 11/5) It is very clear from your article that you are opposed to, if not prejudiced against, the legal use of medicinal marijuana in any form due to the very real recreational use that has been maintained through untaxed, underground channels for decades nationally.

Firstly, marijuana is legal. HR 215 and SB420 afford citizens in this state the right to use marijuana under general guidelines. Those guidelines are in question and need to be more defined and enforced if we are to have a legitimate litigious and pharmaceutical economy that is taxable. Even though dispensing facilities are required to function as nonprofits, the law allows the producer of medicinal marijuana to be reimbursed for time, labor and materials as in any other producer and consumer relationship. The most recent discussion in L.A. County is about requiring those who dispense to exclusively produce. 

This is an interpretation of the collective or cooperative language of the revisions to SB 420 and is not the law. The representative who was promoting the idea quickly retreated on his position when he discovered that the majority of his constituents were uncomfortable with his position and would vote him out of office. There is very real tax income, however, on the incomes of the employees who work for such facilities, no different from benefit-to-employment numbers that would be generated by any business, nonprofit, or otherwise.

The fact is, Mr. Moomjean, that medicinal marijuana is legal in our state. Our county only became compliant with state law as of last December, and did so by making a county-issued medicinal marijuana card available to patients with their attending physicians’ statements (for $100 if one is on state aid and $190 if you are fee-for-service). The county is making revenue to allow patients the convenience of identifying themselves with local law enforcement and preventing the need for making the call to patients’ physicians to verify the validity of the prescriptions (a 24-hour service most prescribing physicians offer inclusive in the doctors’ visits).

Viagra is prescribed over the phone and on the Internet with little more than the sound of one’s breath and is taken mostly for recreational purposes. A better understanding of biology on your part would aid you in understanding that the “stress” that you refer to as meaningless emotional fodder is a very real aspect that is affecting the quality of our lives and productivity. We, as human beings, self-medicate regularly with a variety of behaviors that produce desirable changes in brain chemistry whether or not there is a psychoactive substance being consumed as part of the behavior.

Sex, Mr. Moomjean, produces dopamine. It’s why we like it and crave it. The term dope comes from it and from drugs that increase levels of the chemistry in the brain. Not all marijuana makes you a couch potato, by the way.  There are at least two primary strains of marijuana, indica and sativa. Indica strains are about 70 percent of the crops; and the balance, sativa strains, really are only available from a legal dispensing facility. Sativa strains do not offer a body high and are generally not sedating. They are suggested and used primarily for issues of anxiety and depression as co-morbidities. Indica strains offer a body high and are generally for people with pain management concerns where the sedative effects are an acceptable risk versus the benefit of reduced and/or eliminated pain.

You should also know that disciplined, medicinal use will allow the side effects (unwanted effects) to fade over time and the therapeutic effects to be maintained. This is true of drugs like Prozac and Xanax. The side effects of Prozac are the same side effects you have blasted marijuana for. They take about 90 days to fade on Prozac with chronic and prescribed use. What remains is the therapeutic effect. Xanax is similar, however, it is a shorter-acting drug and takes only a few weeks to see side effects fade and therapeutic benefits maintain. Xanax (a benzodiazepine that is primarily prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders) and Prozac (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI) are both derived from a model that is used in understanding brain chemistry.  This model involves dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin and their interactions, levels and availability in the brain.  Much of the knowledge that the pharmaceutical industry has about this model is through the study of marijuana. THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, has been widely studied, and there is more misinformation than there is fact for a variety of valid socioeconomic reasons.

My primary concern, Mr. Moomjean, is that your right to speak freely can, unfortunately, create a bias about medicinal marijuana that, due to disinformation, denies an opportunity to people who could really benefit from the drug. You would find yourself in hot water really fast if you went around telling everyone that their anxiety and depression were just in their heads and that they should feel guilty about taking Xanax and Prozac, even thought they are legal drugs.  We have a great deal of social and economic ignorance about anxiety, depression and mental illness in general. Mental illness is no different than diabetes. Some people are born with it (Type 1/insulin dependent). Some people develop it due to no “fault” of their own, and some develop it due to unhealthy behavior (Type 2, generally).  The reason why someone’s insulin is depleted is often due to a history of self-medication with food, alcohol and sedentary behavior due to depression. There are very real cases of people who are not the product of their own behavior; however, the result is the same.

My opinion, Mr. Moomjean, is that your ignorance regarding mental illness and the pharmaceutically litigious economy that we live in is showing like a sore thumb.  Speaking of thumbs, we don’t use the rule of thumb anymore, Mr. Moomjean. We don’t openly beat our women as though they are our property anymore, even with a switch no bigger around than a man’s thumb (hence – “the rule of thumb”). We privately beat our women with our fists.

Take a look around, Mr. Moomjean.  Do you even live in Ventura? In our county, even? You have a tremendous responsibility, sir, to present our community with factual information and to present your opinion in a logical framework that is socially responsible.  You are being highly irresponsible, and it is misinformation from seemingly credible sources such as yourself that creates disinformation for us as a community.

The local law enforcement of Ventura has no legal right to put a moratorium on the sale of marijuana in the town. Technically, Mr. Moomjean, the City is out of compliance.   

Swami “V,” a resident of Thousand Oaks and a medical marijuana advocate, asked to remain anonymous.