Cannabis energy drink brings back the days of Cheech y Chong

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Though I may be putting my 2016 presidential campaign at risk, I believe it’s about time I made the following confession: I’ve indulged in Cannabis.

Now, before you call out the drug-sniffing dogs, text my pastor or attempt to revoke my D.A.R.E. credentials, let me explain.

Cannabis is a brand name for one of those perfectly legal energy beverages out on the market, similar to Red Bull, Rockstar and others. It comes in a shiny aluminum green can with a marijuana leaf prominently displayed on the front.

I encountered this provocative product on a summer trip to groovy Boulder, Colo., a state which recently joined Washington in legalizing the possession of small quantities of pot. Medical use of marijuana had already been approved by Colorado voters several years ago.

This high-octane Cannabis drink is sold on the shelves in Colorful Colorado and the clever marketing tactic served its purpose by stopping me square in my tracks and compelling me to spark up, I mean open up, a can…or two.

Turns out Cannabis is made in Austria and distributed by a company in California. It contains something called “hemp seed extract” but claims to have none of marijuana’s active ingredient, THC. I figure the real buzz comes from the 80 mg of caffeine in one can, about the same amount as in a cup of coffee.

Then, there’s a long list of other mysterious, ominous-sounding substances that make the real cannabis seem perfectly innocuous by comparison: Glucuronolactone, inositol, niacinamide, calcium-pantothenate, pyridoxine and some artificial colors to boot. Makes me hallucinate just reading these names.

Cannabis, the leaf not the drink, seems to be on the minds of a lot of folks lately. CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta was in the news last month announcing he’d “changed his mind” about whether marijuana should be used for medical purposes. Gupta drew some controversy when he said he was backing off the 2009 Time magazine article he penned entitled, “Why I Would Vote No on Pot.” In making the rounds of the TV talk shows, Gupta explained his reasons for changing his position.

Though the celebrity doc cites reams of scientific studies, his conclusions are similar to a woman I talked to out in Colorado whose father died before medical usage was legalized. She described how disease had diminished her dad’s appetite and he lost too much weight. She told me that if marijuana could have restored his hunger and contributed to the quality of his last few months on earth, she would have been all for it.

Sooner or later these issues are going to be brought before Louisiana voters, though I don’t see how it would be much of a battle. You’d think nearly 100 years after Prohibition this could be the one issue to bring together everyone across the political spectrum.

I can’t imagine the left-wingers having a problem with legalizing marijuana and then having more tax money to spend. As far as the right-wingers and libertarians who always carp about government interfering with their lives, how could they oppose a person’s right to grow a small piece of God’s natural floral splendor in their own back yard, then roll it up and smoke it?

If there’s an objection on moral grounds, perhaps the battle might be more effectively fought from behind the pulpit than in front of the head shop or the statehouse. Besides, there are already enough “seven deadlies” to try to stamp out: lust, gluttony, greed, envy, etc. Try taking a whack at those.

Personally, I think if you’re in the throes of battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer, your chemo treatments are making you miserable, you’re afraid and wracked with pain, and you reach for this plant to seek some relief, who am I to hop on my moral high horse?

Regarding the recreational use of pot, when I was growing up in the age of disco it was hard to find a teen-ager who didn’t indulge. To me, it always seemed to be more of a juvenile pastime. Potheads were always a cartoonish laughingstock at high schools and colleges and in the movies with their long unkempt hair, goofy grins and glassy half-closed eyes, a source of comic relief, sort of like Puck in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The antics of Cheech y Chong made the neighborhood kids howl with laughter, and Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High cracked up my college friends when he portrayed the stoner stereotype to a tee.

If I had to lead a campaign against legalization it would be rooted in a more generalized and pragmatic call for sobriety. There’s enough crack cocaine, meth, heroin, ecstasy, Vicodin and – what the experts say is the most abused drug in the land – alcohol out there, it’s a wonder anyone can function.

I stay away from mind-altering substances not because I’m afraid of getting busted or suffering eternal consequences but because I have enough trouble recalling my street address. If I did a line of coke, my cranial hard drive would grind down to a complete halt. My allergies are so bad I’d probably sneeze out $200 worth of angel dust onto the floor.

In the 70s there was a popular black-light poster titled “Stoned Agin!” where a line-drawn toker holds his head in his hands and his face falls progressively into a heap of iridescent flesh. That would literally be my face. Or else I would turn into a deranged werewolf, like a character out of the 1936 propaganda film Reefer Madness.

Pot also made the local news last month when the Baton Rouge Advocate ran a story about an LSU researcher studying the impact of marijuana on anxiety and the doctor called for volunteer subjects. I don’t know anyone who expressed interest, but I’m sure Willie Nelson ought to be available.

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