TIME Culture

Pot Is the New Normal

Demand for marijuana edibles is pushing several Colorado manufacturers to expand their facilities or move to larger quarters.
Steve Herin, Master Grower at Incredibles, works on repotting marijuana plants in the grow facility on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Kent Nishimura—Denver Post via Getty Images

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv.

Face it: marijuana is legal, crime is down, traffic fatalities are declining and fewer teens are lighting up

If you want to know just how crazy marijuana makes some people, look no further than the race for governor of Colorado, where Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper is neck and neck with Republican challenger Bob Beauprez. They’re high-profile examples of a growing backlash against pot, even as none of the scare stories about legal weed are coming true. Drug-addled addicts embarking on crime sprees? Not in Denver. Stupefied teens flunking tests in record numbers? Uh-uh. Highway fatalities soaring? Nope.

About the worst you can say so far is that New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wigged out while high. But she does that from time to time when she’s sober as a judge too.

Neither Hickenlooper nor Beauprez has cracked 50% with voters, which makes sense since neither candidate can stomach the fact that 55% of Coloradans voted to legalize recreational pot in 2012. “I’ll say it was reckless” to legalize pot, averred Hickenlooper at a recent debate. Beauprez goes further still. When asked if it’s time to recriminalize marijuana, he said, “Yes, I think we’re at that point … where the consequences that we’ve already discovered from this may be far greater than the liberty … citizens thought they were embracing.”

In fact, sales and tax revenues from legal pot continue to climb, and more people now buy recreational pot than medical marijuana, even though the former is taxed at much higher rates. Pot has kicked about $45 million into tax coffers since it became legal this year and is projected to come in between $60 million and $70 million by year’s end. Murders in the Denver area, where most pot sales take place, are down 42% (so is violent crime overall, though at a lower rate) and property crime is down 11.5%.

There’s more bad news for alarmists: Pot use by teenagers in Colorado declined from 2001, when the state legalized medical marijuana, to 2013, the last full year for which data are available. When medical marijuana was introduced, critics worried that any form of legalized pot would increase usage among kids, but the reverse happened. It remains to be seen if that trend continues in the face of legal recreational pot, but Colorado teens already use dope at lower rates than the national average. So much for the Rocky Mountain High state.

Yet Colorado pols are in good company in harshing on legal weed. The recovering addict and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy heads Safe Alternatives to Marijuana (SAM) and categorically argues, “we cannot promote a comprehensive system of mental-health treatment and marijuana legalization.”

Researchers who find that regular marijuana use among teenagers correlates with mental problems, academic failure and other bad outcomes get plenty of ink, even though such studies fail to show causation. Underperforming students and kids with problems abuse alcohol and smoke cigarettes at higher rates, after all. In any case, even advocates of legalization argue that teens shouldn’t be smoking pot any more than they should be drinking. Given the drug’s pariah status for decades, it’s not surprising that the science is both unsettled and highly politicized.

Will legalizing pot increase access to a drug that law-enforcement officials concede has long been readily available to high schoolers? “Criminalizing cannabis for adults has little if any impact on reducing teens’ access or consumption of the plant,” argues the pro-legalization group NORML, a claim supported by declining teen use during Colorado’s experience with medical marijuana. Certainly pot merchants who are registered with and regulated by the state are more likely to check IDs than your friendly neighborhood black-market dealer.

At least this much seems certain: In a world where adults can openly buy real pot, you’re also less likely to read stories headlined “More People Hospitalized by Bad Batch of Synthetic Marijuana.” And support for legalization isn’t fading. The market-research firm Civic Science finds that 58% of Americans support laws that “would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana like alcohol.”

That figure obviously doesn’t include either candidate for governor of Colorado. But just like the rest of the country, whoever wins that race will have to learn to live with pot being legal, crime being down, traffic fatalities declining and fewer teens lighting up.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Music

Afroman Remade Because I Got High to Convey That Weed Won’t Actually Ruin Your Life

"I had problems with glaucoma, but then I got high"

If you think really hard, all the way back to 2001, you might remember Afroman’s hit song “Because I Got High,” which basically outlined the rapid nosedive your life will take if you ingest too much cannabis. First, this song explained, you’ll blow off small tasks like cleaning your room, and then you’ll be missing bigger responsibilities like class and work. As things continue to escalate, you’ll soon start missing court appearances, blowing off child support payments and, eventually, just messing up your entire life. All because you got high.

But 13 years later, the rapper is back to recant that message. He partnered with Weedmaps (considered the “Yelp of weed dispensaries”) and Norml (a marijuana reform nonprofit) to put a pro-legalization spin on the classic tune. Now, Afroman is telling us all about the benefits of ganj. Smoking it helps with everything from glaucoma to anxiety attacks, he explains, and legalizing it would help the economy.

Also, if this video is to be believed, smoking weed also means you get to ride around Los Angeles on a couch with wheels, which is definitely the biggest selling point.

MONEY stocks

Why Pot Stocks Are Too Hot to Handle

marijuana plant
Alessandro Bianchi—REUTERS

If you're waiting for the right time to invest in some "green gold," keep waiting.

The relaxation of U.S. laws prohibiting the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana has created a host of new public companies hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, and for good reason. According to industry experts, legal cannabis is on track to post 60% growth this year, raking in over $2.5 billion in revenue. Even more impressive is the fact that the plant’s use is still banned in most states, and completely at the Federal level. In short, the marijuana industry has ample room to grow going forward.

Because the recreational marijuana market alone could potentially quintuple in value by 2019, “marijuana stocks” saw their market caps explode northward earlier this year. Now that the inevitable problems associated with any new industry have reared their ugly head–such as banks refusing to provide loans, we have seen most of these same stocks fall, almost as rapidly as they went up. That being said, the industry appears to have momentum on its side as more states consider decriminalizing marijuana. So the question, then, is simple: Is now the perfect time to buy marijuana stocks?

Marijuana stocks have had a turbulent year

The rise and fall of marijuana stocks is perhaps best captured by the medical marijuana company GW Pharmaceuticals GW PHARMACEUTICALS PLC GWPH 7.1384% , and by Medbox MEDBOX INC MDBX 16.6667% , on the distribution side, illustrated by the chart below.

ae8f582420aa9ab6de6324af81af4fc8

At one point this year, GW shares had risen close to a mind-boggling 1100% in roughly a year’s time, but have recently dropped by nearly 30% from their former highs.

Medbox’s story is equally as impressive. Its shares rose hugely from their 52-week lows this year, only to crash in stunning fashion.

Given that marijuana stocks have been rapidly declining for some time, we can’t point to the general market correction as the underlying cause, although it probably is helping to drive them even lower at this point.

Should you invest in this powerful new industry after the recent pullback?

Options for investors looking to get in on some “green gold” appear, to me, extremely limited by the dearth of reputable companies, and the huge roadblocks that remain.

Among the few that are on the level, GW Pharmaceuticals is easily the top name worth considering. By the same token, this stock helps to illustrate some of the problems associated with investing in this sector at this time.

GW is in the business of developing medicinal products based on marijuana-derivatives called cannabinoids. The company to date has gained regulatory approval for Sativex in 11 countries as a treatment for spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. However, Sativex has yet to be approved in the U.S., which is by far the biggest market for this indication.

Although GW has a promising clinical pipeline headlined by Sativex and Epidiolex indicated for rare types of pediatric epilepsy, the company still looks, to me, massively overvalued, despite the recent pullback. For example, GW shares are presently trading at 30 times 12-month, trailing revenue. Perhaps more problematic is the fact that earnings per share are expected to gap down by over 60% next year due to climbing clinical trial costs. In sum, most of GW’s valuation appears to be linked to the general marijuana craze, an issue I discussed a few months back, prior to the stock’s huge decline this quarter.

Turning to stocks involved more on the recreational side of marijuana, Medbox should serve as a warning to investors looking to exploit this novel business segment; i.e., biometrically encoded dispensing machines. Because banks have largely slammed the door on financing for the marijuana industry in general, Medbox, like most of its peers, has had to rely on dilutive financing to fund its operations. Specifically, Medbox has performed two separate capital raises in just the last three months, putting the stock under serious pressure.

Safely waiting

Although the marijuana industry appears primed for jaw-dropping growth over the next decade, the limited financing options for start-ups, the lack of reputable companies, and the massive overpricing of the few decent ones, makes this industry too risky at this stage in its development, in my opinion. Personally, I am content waiting safely on the sidelines until better financed entities enter the marijuana game, and the process of widespread legalization matures. In my view, these two events are years away from coming to fruition.

TIME States

Oregon First Lady Bought Land To Farm Pot

Cylvia Hayes
Cylvia Hayes, fiancee of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, speaks at a news conference in Portland, Ore. on Oct. 9, 2014. Bruce Ely—AP

“I was never financially involved with it"

Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes said late Monday that she bought land in a remote part of Washington state in 1997 to grow marijuana, just a few months after she illegally married an Ethiopian immigrant who paid her $5,000 in exchange for receiving his U.S. citizenship.

Patrick Siemion, a retired real estate broker, told the Oregonian that Hayes bought a 60-acre plot of land in Okanogan to grow pot with another, unidentified man. Hayes later released a statement saying that she was “involved in an abusive relationship with a dangerous man” and had little money.

“We lived together for several months on the property in Okanogan that was intended to be the site of a marijuana grow operation that never materialized,” she told the Oregonian. “I was never financially involved with it. I did not pay any part of the down payment or mortgage payments. I had no money. … In the spring of 1998 I began to make plans to get away. In July 1998 I moved to Central Oregon and began building a life and career that I am very proud of.”

Hayes told the public about her marriage to Abraham B. Abraham, her third husband, last week. Hayes, standing alone behind a podium, said that at the age of 29 she illegally married Abraham, then 18 years old, so he could get his American citizenship. Hayes’ fiancé, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, said Friday that he had only learned about her third marriage that week and had “some processing to do.”

TIME Drugs

Denver Police Warn Trick-or-Treaters of Marijuana-Infused Candy

"Once that candy dries, there's really no way to tell the difference between candy that's infused and candy that's not infused"

Denver police have warned parents to beware tricks rolled inside Halloween treats this year: marijuana-infused candy.

The Denver police department posted a YouTube video on Monday that shows how difficult it is to tell ordinary candy apart from knock-off candy that edible marijuana manufacturers buy in bulk and spray with a hibiscus hash oil.

“Once that candy dries, there’s really no way to tell the difference between candy that’s infused and candy that’s not infused,” said Patrick Johnson, proprietor of Urban Dispensary, one of several marijuana retailers that have cropped up across the state since the substance was legalized for recreational use last year. “There’s really no way for a child or a parent or anybody, even an expert in the field, to tell you whether or not a product is infused or not.”

His recommendation? Trash any candy that isn’t sealed in a recognizable, brand-name wrapper.

TIME Drugs

Colorado Court to Decide Whether Smoking Pot is a Fireable Offense

Brandon Coats
Brandon Coats works on his computer at his home in Denver on Dec. 6, 2012 Ed Andrieski—AP

A quadriplegic man who uses medical marijuana says he was unfairly dismissed from his job for partaking in a legal activity outside of work hours

Colorado’s Supreme Court is set to rule whether an employer can fire a worker for using medical marijuana, which is now legal in the state.

The court was due to hear arguments Tuesday in a case that will test the boundaries of state laws to legalize the substance. Both medical and recreational marijuana have been made legal in Colorado.

Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic user of medical marijuana, sued his former employer, Dish Network, for firing him in 2010 after a drug test came back positive for marijuana, Colorado Public Radio reports.

Coats maintains that he needs the drug to alleviate debilitating muscle spasms, and that he has struggled to find a steady job ever since being fired. His attorney cites a state law prohibiting employers from firing employees for legal activities outside of work, while Dish Network argues that marijuana remains a federally prohibited substance.

Neither the state’s medical marijuana law nor the statute permitting recreational marijuana use require employers to tolerate marijuana use, and lower courts have sided with the employer in the Coats case.

“There’s a lot of people out there like me who would like to have a job but cannot,” Coats said, according to Colorado Public Radio, “because their impairment requires them to use marijuana, and because marijuana’s looked down on for employment, they’re not able to get jobs,”

[CPR]

TIME 2014 midterm elections

Drugs, Minimum Wage and Gambling: Inside 2014’s $1 Billion-Plus Ballot Initiatives

Demand for marijuana edibles is pushing several Colorado manufacturers to expand their facilities or move to larger quarters.
Steve Herin, Master Grower at Incredibles, works on repotting marijuana plants in the grow facility on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Kent Nishimura—Denver Post via Getty Images

Bored with the midterms? There’s a lot of (expensive) drama on the ballot that doesn’t involve candidates

The 2014 elections are shaping up to be the most expensive in history, not for electoral campaigns, but for ballot initiatives. More than $1 billion has already been spent on them, according to the National Institute of Money in State Politics. And all that money could swing some key races.

Studies have shown controversial ballot initiatives can boost turnout as much as 8% in midterm elections, which typically see lower turnout than polling during presidential elections. Since Oregon first kicked off ballot initiatives in the early 1900’s, the practice has grown steadily — that is, until this year. Despite the increase in spending, 2014 actually has the least number of total initiatives — only 155 in 41 states, down from 188 in 2012—since 1988, reflecting state efforts to limit legislating by ballot.

Some of the millions already spent were intended to keep certain measures off the ballot. In Alaska, for example, oil and gas companies spent $170 per voter to block a bid to raise oil and gas taxes. In Colorado, energy companies also spent millions to keep fracking initiatives off the ticket. Also not making the cut this year: gay marriage and a push to break California into six states that, while strange, gained a lot of attention early on.

Perhaps the main issue on ballots nationwide this cycle is marijuana. Two states — Oregon and Alaska — plus the District of Columbia have initiatives to follow Colorado and Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana. But it’s a push to make Florida the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana that could impact an electoral race. Former Democratic Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s bid to get his old gubernatorial seat back could see a boost from the measure, as left-leaning voters tend to support marijuana reform. Crist allies have already spent $4 million on the initiative with opponents, including incumbent Florida Gov. Republican Rick Scott and Sheldon Adelson, spending $2.5 million to defeat it thus far.

Another big issue is minimum wage, with four red states—Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska and South Dakota—considering raising the minimum wage. Since 2002, all 10 ballot initiatives to raise state minimum wages have passed, and polling shows these initiatives look like they have good shots at approval as well. The pushes could help embattled Democratic incumbent Senators Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Mark Begich in Alaska.

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, another Democratic incumbent fighting to keep his seat, is hoping that a personhood amendment —which defines life as beginning from the moment of conception — will help him stick around. His opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, also opposes the amendment, but has voiced support for personhood initiatives in the past, creating an opening Udall has been exploiting. North Dakota has a similar initiative on the ballot, and Tennessee has a measure that would allow the state legislature to amend the state constitution to strip out abortion rights.

However, some of the most expensive ballot issues are not national ones. In California, two initiatives — one to increase the limit of non-economic malpractice damages from $250,000 to $1.1 million and another requiring state approval of changes in insurance rates — could see as much as $100 million in combined spending to sway voters. And Oregon and Colorado have controversial initiatives mandating the labeling of certain foods that contain genetically modified organisms. Last year, companies like Pepsi, Coca Cola and Monsanto spent $22 million defeating a similar push in Washington where proponents spent $9 million trying to pass it.

Oregon also has a controversial immigration initiative that would uphold a law allowing four-year driver’s licenses for those who cannot prove legal presence in the U.S. Another big-spending item is a spate of gambling initiatives in seven states expected to draw more than $100 million, including a hard-fought initiative in Massachusetts that would repeal a 2011 law allowing gambling resorts that would halt construction on sites.

A gun rights conundrum could happen in Washington, which looks poised to pass two initiatives that countermand one another. One would require universal background checks for all guns, and another forbids more extensive background checks than those required at the federal level. Officials say such a situation has never happened before, and no one is sure what would happen if both pass. Also on guns, Alabama is also looking to become the third state after Louisiana and Missouri to pass a “fundamental right to bear arms,” making it harder to restrict firearm access.

Alabama is also seeking to become the eighth state to forbid state’s recognition of laws violating its policies, including all foreign law. This measure is a follow up to a bill introduced by state Sen. Gerald Allen last year that specifically references Sharia law.

Missouri and Connecticut are looking to joining 33 other states and the District of Columbia in early voting.

And, finally, Maine is looking to ban bear baiting, trapping or the use of dogs to hunt bears. Long live Smokey.

TIME Drugs

I Don’t Want to Smell Your Pot Smoke and I Don’t Think it Should Be Legalized

Marijuana
Bruce Bennett—Getty Images

One person’s “right” to smoke pot shouldn’t trump other people’s right to breathe clean air

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

This isn’t going to make me any friends but here goes: My experience of pot is that it makes people very self-centered. And the last thing this world needs is more self-centered people walking around. I’m sick of the onslaught of articles and infographics justifying legalizing a substance that will harm the people who smoke it and annoy the hell out of non-smokers in their vicinity.

My first run-ins with pot were in high school. Alex, one of my best friends, would get stoned at parties and then take off in his car. (Alex’s name has been changed.) My other friends and I would go after him, driving around town all high school afterschool-special-style, like, “Oh my God, we have to find Alex! He’s going to hurt himself! What if something happens?!?” Drama aside, we were legitimately really worried, and always more relieved than we were angry at him when we finally tracked him down.

In college, my freshman year roommate smoked pot. She and her stoner friend from down the hall would get high and come back to our dorm room late at night when I was already sleeping. Then they’d jump on my bed, cackling with laughter. Seriously annoying.

The summer after my sophomore year, I lived in Cape Cod with five other girls. Two of them were allegedly lifeguards, although they never seemed to leave the basement, where they smoked pot in their room every day. Since I lived on the second floor I barely ever saw them and their pot smoke didn’t drift up to my room, so this generally didn’t bother me. But occasionally, all my roommates would get stoned together except for me. And everyone knows how fun it is to be the one not-stoned person in a room.

On one such night, one of my roommates became paranoid that our next door neighbors were spying on us, and possibly had our home bugged. She squatted in the shrubs in front of their house so that she could, in turn, spy on them. My other roommates raced back and forth from our place to the spy outpost in our neighbors’ shrubs, laughing hysterically. Without actually having smoked with them, I skipped straight to the munchies, drowning my irritation in a carton of cookies ‘n cream ice cream.

Lest you think I’m a total goody-goody (I am one, but only partially), I have tried smoking pot. Three times. Although it’s unclear if I’ve actually inhaled.

The first time was my junior year in college as an experiment to find an alternative to drinking beer, which gave me terrible hangovers and made me puke violently the following day. The morning after my first foray into pot-smoking, I happily wasn’t hungover or hugging the toilet bowl. But it wasn’t good enough to convince me to adopt the stoner lifestyle.

The next time I tried it was when I was in acting school in my early 20s. Huddling with some of my classmates in a doorway next to the now defunct restaurant America, by Union Square, as a joint was passed around, I mostly participated so that my teacher, who had initiated the passing, would like me. So even in my public pot-smoking rebellion, there was an undercurrent of Type A-ness.

The third and final time I smoked pot was on the last night of acting school. Before meeting the rest of my class at a bar in midtown for our end-of-year celebration, I was pre-partying at the apartment of a guy I had a crush on. It was just the two of us, and when he offered me a hit off his pipe I took it as an opportunity to bond with him, which could possibly lead to hooking up.

It didn’t. What did happen was that the pot rendered me totally mute and unquenchably thirsty. So, although I’m usually super-chatty, I sat in the corner of the bar at my acting school party, unable to do anything but silently nod and take huge gulps of water.

This sucks, I thought, because even though spoken words were eluding me, I could thankfully still think. I’m never doing this again.

Through the rest of my 20s and 30s, I was able to mostly avoid the pot-smoking scene and had very little contact with the controlled substance.

Until earlier this year.

I smelled smoke in my apartment the first week my new downstairs neighbor moved in, and my heart sank. But I protected myself by immediately going into denial.

Maybe it’s just contractors working on the place, taking a smoke break, I reasoned.

But when the smell continued, I had to accept that my new neighbor was a smoker. Although it smelled pot-y, I wasn’t ready to accept that my neighbor was a pot smoker yet.

At first it was just a couple of times a week that the smell would drift up and infiltrate my apartment. It was February, and I cracked the windows and shivered convulsively under my covers while binge-watching “Girls,” trying to convince myself that it wasn’t that bad.

It will be spring in a few months, I repeated in my head like a mantra, thinking that when April rolled around I’d be able to throw my windows open wide and would no longer smell anything.

A month later, when I returned to my apartment from a long weekend away, I was met with the stale, smoky smell.

I had to admit that it actually was that bad. So I called my landlord to complain.

“Is it cigarette or pot smoke?” he asked.

“Um…” I said. “Cigarette?”

I wanted to give my neighbor the benefit of the doubt and didn’t want to accuse him of smoking pot if I could avoid it, plus I wasn’t totally out of denial yet.

Anyway, it worked, and the smell stopped for six weeks. And then it came back in April with a vengeance, undeniably weed.

I live in an old building with cracks and crevices so there were a lot of places for the smoke to seep through. It smelled like it was coming up through the radiator, through the crack between the floorboards and the wall at the head of my bed, by the kitchen, and in the closet. Also, I live on the top floor, so the smoke would float up to my apartment and get trapped there with nowhere further to go.

It’s impossible to describe how suffocatingly strong the smell was, even with both windows wide open.

My neighbor was now smoking pot every night. He’d light up at around 9:30 p.m. and it would keep going for hours. Each time that initial whiff of weed wafted up into my apartment, my heart sank all over again. Also, he appeared to never leave his apartment. Every day as I walked home I’d glance up at his window hoping he’d be out and I’d get a little respite, but I’d see the light on and steel myself for another night of choking on his fumes.

I’d wake up in the middle of the night unable to breathe, and get out of bed every morning feeling like I’d smoked a pack of Marlboro Reds in my sleep. I had a persistent cough and shortness of breath that lasted throughout the day.

I complained to my landlord again, now acknowledging — to myself and to him — that it was pot, not cigarette smoke. Luckily my building took my complaints very seriously, but this time the pot smoker didn’t stop smoking.

Apparently, my neighbor was annoyed, and felt like his privacy — and his right to smoke pot in his apartment — was being violated.

Things continued to get worse and worse. Being in my apartment at all was becoming intolerable. I tried to spend as little time there as possible, holing up in coffee shops and making phone calls to friends about my living situation from my perch on a park bench.

I worried that my neighbor’s daily pot smoking was going to start affecting my performance at my job. I’d go to work exhausted from not being able to sleep through the night and feeling sick from constantly breathing in pot smoke. I’d have headaches during the day and jokingly think that outside of my pot-saturated apartment, I was going through withdrawal. I was distracted, in a constant state of rage about how violated I felt in my own home, trying to figure out how long I’d have to reasonably wait until I could call my landlord to complain again, and mentally rehearsing what I would say.

One night I woke up at 1 a.m. gasping for breath. Throwing the windows open, I still couldn’t breathe. Around 3 a.m., I left a voicemail for my super in a panic. I tossed and turned until 4, when I was finally able to fall asleep.

Wrecked the next day, I vowed to never spend another night like that, and I stopped staying in my own apartment. Instead, I went to my mom’s place in the suburbs for the weekend and during the week I stayed at friends’ apartments nearby. I’d sleep over at their places, wake up at 6 a.m. to come home only long enough to get ready, and then go to work.

One morning I went home and as soon as the elevator opened I was assaulted with the smell of pot. When I got to my door, I realized that the stench seemed to be emanating from my apartment — the smoke had travelled through the cracks and crevices, filled up my apartment, and was now spilling out into the hallway. The smell was so strong I couldn’t even stay in my place long enough to shower and change — I just dropped off my bag, grabbed a couple of things, and took off for a coffee shop.

My neighbor was now smoking pot all night and day, making my apartment completely uninhabitable. Several days later I went out of town on a well-timed vacation, but I dreaded coming back to my apartment and the cooped-up pot smoke that was going to greet me upon my return. I continued to lodge complaints about my neighbor but it didn’t seem like things were going to change any time soon, so before I left for my trip I’d gone to a couple of realtors and started looking into moving. I’d found out that a comparable apartment in my neighborhood was going to cost me significantly more money, and on my budget I’d probably have to leave my neighborhood altogether. I loved my apartment and my neighborhood and was furious that this pot smoker was driving me out of my home of nine years, while he got to stay and get high all the live-long day.

A few days into my vacation I got a call from my super that my neighbor had moved out.

It was a miracle.

Before this experience living above an out-of-control pot smoker, my stance about pot was that it was annoying, and I didn’t want to be around people who were smoking it. Since this nightmare happened, I’m revolted by the slightest whiff of it and have become staunchly anti-pot.

I don’t want to smoke pot. I choose not to breathe this toxic substance into my body, and I don’t want to be subjected to someone else’s pot smoke either. One person’s “right” to smoke pot shouldn’t trump other people’s right to breathe clean air, or comfortably inhabit the apartment they pay rent for. And I can only imagine that legalizing pot will make it that much more prevalent, and leave those who are affected by the secondhand smoke with that much less recourse to protect themselves.

Jennifer Garam is a coffee-shop-loving, bookstore-browsing Brooklyn-based writer. She’s a blogger for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today, and has been a regular contributor to The Frisky. Her writing has also appeared on Health.com, TheFix.com, YourTango, and elephant journal.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Drugs

Pro-Pot Group Giving Free Weed to Colorado Vets

A worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo. on Feb. 7, 2014.
A worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo. on Feb. 7, 2014. Brennan Linsley—AP

The organization Grow4Vets is giving free marijuana to veterans Saturday

Marijuana-smoking veterans may find themselves flocking to Denver, Colorado Saturday, when a pro-pot organization will host a weed giveaway to get grass in the hands of military veterans who seek it.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Quality Inn in Central Denver, the group Grow4Vets will give out cannabis products worth more than $200 to veterans who RSVP for the event by noon Friday. Others will be asked for a $20 donation at the door and get more than $100 in pot products in exchange, organizers told ABC7 News Denver.

Grow4Vets exists to “reduce the staggering number of Veterans who die each day from suicide and prescription drug overdose” by providing vets “with the knowledge and resources necessary to obtain or grow their own marijuana for treatment of their medical conditions,” the group’s website says.

A repeat of the event will be held September 27 in Colorado Springs.

TIME Drugs

1 in 10 Americans Has Gone to Work High on Cannabis, Poll Says

Are your co-workers high on life — or something else?

One in 10 Americans has turned up for work high on marijuana, according to new statistics.

A joint Mashable.com and SurveyMonkey poll of 534 Americans found that about 9.7% of U.S. workers have gone to work after smoking weed.

Some 81% of those people bought the drug illegally, the poll found — that is, did not purchase it in Colorado or Washington, where the drug is legal for recreational purposes, or were not taking it for medical reasons in one of the 23 states where doing so is legal.

The poll also found that 28% of poll respondents have gone to work under the influence of a prescription drug, and 7% of those people took it for recreational, not medical, purposes. About 95% of people who have been at work while on a prescription drug got the medicine from their doctor.

Last month, a poll from Blowfish (the company sells a tablet to treat hangovers) said that half of all Americans have gone to work hungover.

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