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Pot-Head Nation: A Truckful Of Turnips

Recently I came across an article on the long-term effects of marijuana use and as any and all of us would predict, the academic paper was not illustrated with a yellow smiley Happy Face.

People who’d been using marijuana heavily and for a long time were the target of the analysis. The only humor I found in the article was that the people running the study considered use “heavy” if using marijuana once a week or more.

The results were published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, and duly noted everything from reduced IQ to learning and processing deficits, cognitive impairment, lowered motivation and a smaller hippocampus area in the brain.

And surprise surprise, weed is much more potent now than when we were smoking Mexican ditchweed in the 1970s. Back then THC was pegged between 1 percent and 4 percent; today it ranges at 15 percent to 30 percent with even higher levels for edibles.

Eat pot gummies and you’ll be able to feel your IQ running down your leg. IQ decreases 6% with sustained marijuana use, says the study, but at least your chances of dementia go up.

As if all this isn’t bad enough for those of you with expanded consciousness and the ability to hear secret messages in Led Zeppelin songs, sustained ganja inhalations are worse for your mental well-being than long-term alcohol or nicotine use.

None of this comes as a shock or surprise to any of us, even if we don’t know a hippocampus from a rhinoceros. We know about reduced motivation and lowered ambition and lethargy and brain fog because we’ve all experienced it. Big science just serves as amplification.

I’d like to see a similar study over a long period of time about the sustained impact of watching daytime TV shows. What happens to the IQs of viewers exposed to Gilligan’s Island, the Jerry Springer Show, Oprah, Wheel of Fortune, Scooby Doo, The Shopping Channel, Maury Povich, The View and Big Time Wrestling.

Do viewer IQs suffer immediate, dramatic cognitive loss from watching these and similar programs, or does it require several weeks of daily exposure?

Youngsters who scroll on their cellphones must be susceptible to various maladies that also beg further study. Enlarged and calloused thumb surfaces, for starters, then on to stunted relationships, obesity and sustained viewing of daytime TV programs.

Is it too late to get kids interested in stamp collecting, Nancy Drew novels or Ham Radio?

Institutional memory

“Don’t take a fence down until you first know why it was put up” is a good piece of advice from G.K. Chesterton, a writer known for much good advice.

Not knowing why an action was taken by a previous Board of Supervisors or County Administrators ought to be a warning sign to proceed with caution.


Not long ago, perhaps 10 or 12 years, the county was in a fiscal fix partly of its own making, exacerbated by the economic downturn starting in 2008. Housing prices fell, money was short and Mendocino County, acting as proactively as it is sometimes able, decided renting space for county departments was a long-term losing proposition.

The cry went out that county offices and departments would, from that day forth, be located in county buildings, saving all kinds of money. Made sense, so the Office of the Alternate Defender, something of a little brother to the Public Defender’s office, was moved from rented space on North State onto the county campus at Bush and Low Gap.

Not an ideal location as it forced attorneys to drive to the courthouse multiple times daily, but oh well.

Now a new crop of Supervisors and another Administrative boss have come to town, ignorant of their predecessors’ immediate history and the county’s precarious fiscal condition waaaay back in 2012.

And, for reasons that they probably think make perfect sense, the Alternate Defender office has been moved out of its county-owned facility and back into rented offices on South State Street.

The obvious question is this: Did anyone think it might be prudent to determine why the Alternate Defender’s office came to be parked at Bush and Low Gap in the first place? I doubt it.

But when the next revenue crunch hits, some budget wizard will impress co-workers with the clever notion of having all county departments installed in county offices. At which point Mendo history, even in tiny 10-year increments, will once again re-do what it undid before re-doing what it did in the first place.

The obvious next step for the county, says TWK, is do an about-face, declare marijuana illegal, fire all its expensive administrators and code enforcement officers, sell their vehicles, put the Alternate Defender in the vacated office space, and watch the local economy grow when small (and largish) pot farmers get back to work buying pickup trucks, soil amendments and second houses along the south coast. Tom Hine says crazier plans have been tried.

One Comment

  1. izzy March 1, 2023

    Maybe a ‘Dispensary’ and smoking lounge and wine bar could also be worked into the County complex, and everybody involved could get to know each other.

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