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I just got back from a wonderful road trip through Northern California and into Oregon. We stopped for several days in Mendocino County where marijuana is the main cash crop, as it is for most of our northwest counties. People are allowed to grow a certain amount of plants for medicinal use and for sale to herbal pharmacies that carry cannabis. The District Attorney and the Sheriff work together to make sure there are rules that comply with California State Law. Patrons go into the Sheriff’s office, show a prescription from an MD and get a permit card. Easy as that. Very civilized if you ask me. Much of their crop is sent down to Los Angeles where herbal remedy stores carry many different varieties in many different forms. You can buy elixirs, brownies, cookies and any paraphernalia you choose. Vaporizers have become popular for those who find smoking pot too harsh. A recent study has shown that smoking marijuana is the best method, as patients can provide themselves with the perfect amount. It comes on quickly and the results are often dissipated quickly, as opposed to eating it where the effects can linger for hours and the correct portion is often hard to determine.

For years Valium was the most prescribed drug in the U.S., then Prozac and its ilk became hugely popular. All along, marijuana was serving a similar purpose, helping people relax, taking away the tensions of modern life and evening out the up and down moods many people have to deal with. As a friend of mine once said, “There is no such thing as recreational Prozac,” alluding to the fact that marijuana, though often a recreational drug, can also be used for medicinal purposes.

I am surprised there are no medical marijuana clubs in Santa Monica. SMPD Chief James T. Butts and Santa Monica City Attorney Marsha Moutrie have looked unfavorably on that. The word is, or was, that the Feds had the final say on the matter. Fortunately most of the state does not agree, and provides for medicinal use by setting up rules people can adhere to. Perhaps the new chief will lighten up and perhaps Moutrie will give it a break as well. West Hollywood has several thriving establishments and their city is in total support of medical clubs and medicinal usage. Perhaps Venice or West LA, now that we have an enlightened City Councilman in Bill Rosendahl, will finally be reasonable and allow clubs to exist alongside Rite Aids and Sav-On’s where some serious drugs are being dispensed.

After leaving Mendocino and moving up the coast, we stayed at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park where a beautiful river meandered through some of the oldest and tallest living things on our planet. Reality was never far away however, as signs at this very popular park discussed why many of their bathrooms were not working. State Park budgets were not available to fix their sewer lines. Gimme a break. I think Governor Schwarzenegger should sit down and fix that one. I mean really, do you have to make people walk half-a-mile to go to the bathroom because rich Californians can’t pony up a scoonch more of their incredible wealth to support our parks. Jedediah Smith is one of the state’s most popular parks (Rand’s very own Michael Rich has told me that it is one of his most popular camping destinations as well) and it deserves better than that.

When we hooked up to Highway 5 in central Oregon, I was amazed by the amount of trucks on our highways. I have always considered it America on the move, but lately I think of it as America wasting fuel. I mean really, whatever happened to our country’s support of rail? It really pisses me off that we can provide billions to highways, billions more to airports and then starve our rail lines. Energy is now the real national security issue for this country and rail could be a big winner for us. As I traveled through the country I saw very little evidence of any change.

One of my closest friends just got back from Europe where he took the rail from London to Paris to Geneva. He said it was amazing, with the train moving at over 225 miles per hour, which is about 3 1/2 times faster then our highway speeds. I can see it now, Vancouver to Seattle to Portland to Redding to Sacramento to San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Diego. All serviced by clean, fuel efficient and fast rail. Unfortunately our politicians can’t. I read how they tried to present something in Texas where they have wide-open spaces and plenty of traffic between Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. The airlines killed the deal because it would have shrunk their business. Imagine all the oil we could save? Where is the political leadership in this country?

When I finally got to my college buddy’s berry-picking farm on Sauvie Island just outside of Portland, everything was in full ripeness. We woke, walked a hundred yards to the nearest field and ate our breakfast of blueberries, then moved to the strawberry patch, then walked 40 acres over to the raspberry patch and finally to the seven different varieties of blackberries which we saved for our vanilla ice cream dessert. In between picking, we kayaked Scappoose Bay, took hayrides, discussed the next round of planting and watched our two boys stick to each other like glue. And our little 7-month old Corgi was delighted to be running running running all over the 75- acre farm, avoiding the sprinklers, rolling in the dirt and herding the kids.

Portland is a great city and my friend is well-connected to many of the finest restaurants, as he used to provide them with their fresh produce. One of the most enlightened things I learned is the top restaurants in town have vowed to buy as much of their produce as possible from farms within a 100-mile radius of the city. Talk about saving gasoline. The organic folks need to key in on this one, as the amount of fuel it takes for food to reach our marketplace is mind-boggling. By encouraging local farmers to supply local restaurants, diners get fresher food and help the country conserve fuel. What a bargain.

Michael Rosenthal

Publisher

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