Marijuana Debate Smokes Up Controversy Across Country

Earlier my mom calls me and we’re talking about life in college; she brings up drugs.

Go figure.

I love my mother, but like the majority of concerned parents, she often gets carried away by the first 60 Minutes segment she sees.

This time she nagged me about the increasing number of college students who smoke marijuana.

After many tedious reassurances that I’m not a druggie, she was finally satisfied enough to hang up.

The conversation caused my curiosity to peak and I decided to do some research about what the good ol’ press was saying about the little leafy plant these days.
Here’s what I unearthed about the drug.

Marijuana has been legalized for use in several states (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington), albeit for medical use only.

There are vending machines dishing out marijuana in California operated by a fellow who goes by the name of Vincent Mehdizadeh.

He came up with the idea of putting several of these nifty little pot machines in several key places so that people who use reefer for medical purposes don’t have to risk going to a dealer or paying outrageous prices.

It turns out that medical marijuana helps alleviate chronic-pain syndromes, cancer pain, multiple sclerosis, AIDS wasting syndrome and the nausea that can accompany chemotherapy.

What is the price of this vending-machine-green you may ask?

It costs about $40 for a 1/8th ounce package and getting that little package can be troublesome.

One has to be put in Mehdizadeh’s system and then present a prepaid card with a magnetic strip (for scanning) and fingerprint certification (also involving a scan).

This all sounds good, of course, but you know that the federal drug agents have something to say.

In a quote found on, Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Jose Martinez was caught saying, ‘Somebody owns [it], it’s on a property and somebody fills it. Once we find out where it’s at, we’ll look into it and see if they’re violating laws.’

We’ll keep an eye on that and see where it goes.
With all the debate about the pros and cons of this controversial vegetation, things can get confusing.

Just to try and keep things from getting too mixed up, I’ll outline a bit of what I uncovered about cannabis.

An overview of what I’ve discovered can be summed up in this clever little pro-con list that was found on

Though there are 11 pros and seven cons on the web site, the marijuana debate is too multifaceted to be so simply represented.

Anna Burrell may be reached at

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