Often it's frustrating to live in Salem, Oregon.
Nestled in an Uncool Zone between the more with-it towns of Portland and Eugene, our city officials are prone to archaic attitudes that belong more to 1955 than 2015.
Case in point: Salem Mayor Anna Peterson believes that marijuana kills brain cells.
I'm frankly fed up. It's against the law federally. The science proves that it kills your brain cells. Why would we be saying that it's a good thing to distribute and encourage people in fact, just because it's so readily available, to encourage people to use a product, a drug, that's really detrimental to them?
But Peterson is wrong. Marijuana doesn't kill brain cells. In fact, cannabis has many health benefits, both physical and mental.
Those opposed to marijuana sometimes argue that the substance fries your brain, but new research published earlier this year in the Journal of Neuroscience found that marijuana does not kill brain cells. In fact, marijuana can actually have a positive impact on a person’s mental health, as ATTN: has noted before.
A few days ago a Salem City Councilor, Warren Bednarz, made a less dramatic, but also highly questionable, statement about marijuana grow sites. During a discussion of where adult/recreational sites should be located, Bednarz said:
I know that NE Salem has had its problems with crime … I’m not trying to deny [imply?] that there may be a direct link between the manufacture — the growing of marijuana — and crime, but again, being cautious, I think the more conservative approach would be not to include the IC zone at this point …
For those not in the know, "IC zone" means Industrial Commercial. That sure sounds like an appropriate area for marijuana grow sites, since the City of Salem description of this zoning says that agricultural uses are permitted (as is "tobacco products manufacturing").
But Bednarz appears to think that, directly or indirectly, marijuana = crime. Which, given the experience of Colorado after adult marijuana use was legalized there, isn't true. After a year of retail sales:
Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1st, 2014, the state of Colorado has benefitted from a decrease in crime rates, a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs.
Well, like I said, Salem and Marion County are behind the times.
Our clueless county commissioners have banned the production of marijuana in unincorporated areas (Marion is the only county in the Willamette Valley to do this), leaving other parts of Western Oregon with the jobs and economic activity that comes with the burgeoning marijuana industry in this state.
And Salem's Mayor, along with several city councilors, also don't understand that marijuana legalization is a powerful train that isn't going to be stopped by a few public officials. Putting roadblocks in the way of marijuana production and sales just means that money and jobs will go elsewhere.
Like Portland and Eugene.