High regard for Oregon pot laws

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at ask420@newsreview.com.

I hear Oregon has legal recreational marijuana these days. How does it work?

—Jefferson Stater

So far, so good. As of July 1, adults (meaning people over the age of 21) are allowed to possess and use marijuana recreationally! Woo hoo! Not only that, but the great state of Oregon is expected to allow medical cannabis dispensaries to sell cannabis to recreational users starting in October. You heard me. While the legislators are working out the rules and guidelines creating recreational cannabis facilities, people will be able to buy cannabis at their local medical cannabis dispensary. Did I mention that the cannabis will be TAX-FREE? That’s right! Oregon weed has no sales tax! At least until 2016 when the new rules kick in and folks will have to pay a 17-20 percent tax. Wow. Oregon is so cool and smart, you guys.

These are the basics: Oregonians can grow up to four marijuana plants, can possess up to 8 ounces at home, but only 1 ounce in public, and they are allowed to give someone up to 1 ounce of cannabis without any penalties. This is all so awesome! I hope all of the people looking at creating recreational cannabis laws in California are taking a good look at how Oregon is handling its business. Way better than Washington, and even better than Colorado. California can be better than all of them if we can get our shit together.

In response to Ngaio Bealum’s answer to a reader’s question about smoking cannabis before or during pregnancy, I have to comment on the use of one study and anecdotal information to formulate the answer. A recent review of the literature, (http://dfaf.org/assets/docs/
) summed up the following concerns about marijuana: a six- to seven-times increase in cannabis potency over the last several decades, an association with infertility, placental complications and fetal growth restriction, as well as long term neurobehavioral effects (poorer executive functioning, conduct and behavioral problems and poorer school achievement). Smoking marijuana results in five times greater carbon monoxide exposure compared to smoking tobacco! The developing human brain is much more sensitive than the adult brain. There is an exquisite orchestration of nerve development, growth, migration and communication that is easily derailed when exposed to toxic chemicals or even high levels of substances for which there are natural receptors. Yes, smoking cannabis may offer health benefits in certain circumstances, but not during pregnancy, despite the awesomeness of Mr. Bealum’s siblings and children.

—Joanne L. Perron, M.D., Master’s in Public Health

Thank you for your note, doc. I do believe I mentioned two things: I am not a doctor, and my evidence is anecdotal. I looked at the studies you cited, and I guess they are cool, but the problem I am having is that most of the studies you cite deal with children exposed to marijuana, tobacco and alcohol. Can you point me to a study that says cannabis by itself is harmful to fetuses?