Pot tours, weed tastings , and cannabis cabaret. Stealing the spotlight from opponents of marijuana legalization is the gimmicky commercialization they warned would normalize the drug. Who’s laughing now, you ask? They are.
“Calling it ‘medical marijuana’ is a joke,” says Carla Lowe, 75-year-old founder ofCitizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (whic goes by the acronym CALM). “It’s been a joke from the beginning.”
The former K-12 teacher turned anti-drug activist has spent the past 33 years fighting the jolly green giant. Her newest endeavor is CALM, an organization she formed four years ago to fight California's Proposition 9. The mission of Lowe's eight-person team is to dispel the “lies” circulating about cannabis—a drug she first witnessed while substitute teaching in the 1970s (“these kids with long hair kept giggling in the back of the class”). Correlations between her students’ performance (“they weren’t focusing”) and their apparent use of the drug ("they were probably smoking pot") concerned Lowe. But it wasn’t until she suspected that her teenage son had gotten involved (“he grew his hair out, he didn’t want to swim anymore”) that she decided to take up the fight herself. Sitting in on University of California Davis clinical trials of cannabis in 1975 she was horrified at the “apathetic, disinterested" monkeys she saw, lying around their cages. “You know who they reminded me of?” she asks me. “They reminded me of the kids.”
Lowe, who seems capable of talking about this topic for hours on end, is fuming at the current state of affairs with marijuana. "There are no controls, there is no dosing…pot high kids are smoking god knows what and thinking it's ok. Nobody is getting pure marijuana." The mother of five frantically jumps from one argument to the next as if playing a high stakes game of Catchphrase. “It’s debilitating our teenagers and in so doing it is diminishing the potential for our country.” "What we call medical marijuana in California, it's a crock!" "I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, most people don’t drink alcohol to get drunk." On a hunter green poster from CALM is her marijuana definition: “It is a fat soluble, mind altering, highly toxic drug that remains in the body for up to one month, building up with each additional joint. The two organs most affected are the brain and sexual organs.” “It’s illegal under federal law, and it’s illegal because it’s a dangerous drug,” she adds later. But what of President Obama's softened stance on pot? “That was an inane comment, he’s been bought. We all know the story of George Soros."
Despite conflicting conclusions on how marijuana affects the brain (there are both studies proving it does and it doesn’t), Lowe vehemently defends her assertion that it makes people dumber. Humans aside, of course, there are other concerns for Lowe, who describes herself as “kind of” an environmentalist. “They are raping of our forest! They’re killing people,” she nearly yells, unprompted. When I ask who is killing who she fires back. “The growers. They will do anything to protect their crops.” And while Lowe admits that cannibidiol, the non-psychoactive component of marijuana, can have positive effects on certain patients (she cites epilepsy), she’s not satisfied with simply medical journals as proof. “I understand people who say 'I think it makes me feel better,' but it’s not the criteria used. That’s just an anecdote.”
It’s “anecdotes” like these that Smart Colorado is looking to amend. Started in 2010 by Diane Carlson and a few others, SC is a citizen-led organization focused on providing education for kids following marijuana’s legalization. “There is no knowledge. They don’t know anything until they get caught,” says Carlson, a mother of five in Denver. “There aren’t enough regulations. Right now you could buy an entire ounce of marijuana. That’s enough to get an entire high school high.” With no tracking system in place, Carlson said she foresees buyers virtually hopscotching through her city buying ounce after ounce. "A lot of people have no idea the products that are being sold. There are gummy bears with weed in them." Still, while Smart Colorado openly opposed Amendment 64 and continues to find it problematic, it has no plans to talk repeal. Born from a conversation with a group of teens to find out what was standing in their way (“most said weed”), its goal is awareness. “No matter how anybody feels, the science is there: This isn’t great for our kids.”
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