A need for honesty about addiction
in the wake of new cannabis laws.
I am intrigued by the science
of cannabis and how it
can improve our lives.
IN MARIN MAGAZINE, it might seem like we are dedicating an abundance of space to cannabis these days. And maybe we are. In a county plagued by all kinds of substance abuse, respon-
sible reporting is something we take seriously.
A few years ago after publishing a roundup
review of Marin dive bars, I received a
Facebook message from an unhappy reader.
He felt that by glorifying these businesses we
were not being sensitive to the fact that many
people in our community struggle with alcohol
addiction. Just like that, my bubble was burst. I
had recently discovered Smitty’s and the Silver
Peso, and while the names had been familiar to
me for years, I had never been to either. Why?
On reflection, I was likely intimidated by the
idea of being a stranger in a crowd of insiders
and of hanging out in a smoky dive. Eventually,
no-smoking laws were passed and after some
time I finally ventured into Smitty’s and
enjoyed a few pathetic attempts to play pool as
the sound system blasted “Gimme Shelter” by
the Stones. Combined with five-dollar vodka
drinks, the experience was too fun not to share.
That was what inspired writer Calin Van Paris
and me to explore and write about six longtime
local watering holes — the story that brought
the Facebook message.
I admit, I do like wine at the end of the day.
This fact was made public in the hallways of St.
Hilary’s during second grade back-to-school
night several years back. “My mom loves wine,”
read the words in the art project, scribbled in
the earnest hand of my then 7-year-old. While
other kids wrote things like “My mom loves me,
my brother and Jesus,” my daughter Natalie
went for the laugh. And as my kids got older and
I foresaw high school and potential teen drinking on the horizon, I tried to explain to them
that I really didn’t start to drink until I had
kids, which is true.
To encourage conversations on potential
alcohol and drug abuse, we have published
various articles such as one on teen binge
drinking (2013), prescription drugs and kids
(2016) and most recently, Anna McNamara’s
account of her struggle in parenting both
her children through their decisions to go
Back to cannabis. This month’s “Where
There’s Smoke: A primer on pot’s new golden
age” turned out even better than I had hoped.
The author, Zack Ruskin, new to us as a features writer, has a column on pot in SF Weekly
and is well versed on the topic. So he was a
natural choice for the task of walking readers through the basics of this newly legalized
drug. Personally, I need help knowing how
much and what I could be ingesting, because
so far I’ve managed to either overdo dosage (I
blame the tasty cookies and slow creep of the
effects) or, more often than not, under-dose,
as in, when I popped a fraction of an edible in
my mouth, hoping for sleep or pain reduction,
I didn’t really feel anything. In any case, I am
intrigued by the science of cannabis and how
it can improve our lives. We hope you enjoy
Ruskin’s useful article.
Taking addiction concerns to heart, I contacted Matt Willis, our county’s public health
officer, whom we interviewed in this month’s
issue regarding opioids in Marin. He sees the
downsides of drug and alcohol use more than
most people do. On the topic of pot, he states,
“There’s a lot we don’t know about the health
effects of cannabis in the strengths and forms
it’s being consumed today. We need to remain
open and let our assumptions be challenged
— on both sides, based on what we’re learning
as we go forward.” With that in mind we’ll do
our best to provide education as well as to hold
a mirror up to ourselves and the community.
As always, let’s keep the conversation going.
We’d love to hear from you.
Mimi Towle, Editor