Dear Stoner: Why are all you potheads so gung-ho about the benefits of smoking weed? I smoke it from time to time, but I don't tell my friends to light up a joint instead of visiting the doctor. It's pot, not magic beans.
Dear Gary: Magic buds, maybe. I'll probably never know what you look like, but I'm envisioning a pencil mustache and a Cardinals T-shirt tucked into jorts. As hard is it is for you to realize, there are people out there who smoke pot and don't clamor for bongs at every dinner table. Most potheads are in disguise, toking in private because the uneducated hand out stoner cards as soon as they find out someone gets high after work. I could tell you about pot's pain-killing, nausea-reducing properties, or note that even the U.S. Surgeon General concedes that it can help some medical conditions — but that might still be too gung-ho for you.
As off-track as some marijuana activists get, you and I can thank them for the freedoms we already take for granted. If they weren't constantly fighting for medical patients and recreational users, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation. And besides, a little overzealousness and short-man syndrome while advocating for something you believe in is to be expected after years of being treated as a joke by politicians and the public. Yes, that guy who says pot can cure AIDS annoys us, too. But that doesn't mean you can call someone Cheech just because he swears by Afghani instead of aspirin for his back pain.
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Dear Stoner: What kind of costs should I expect if I set up a hydro grow in my house?
Dear Kim: The cost of growing your own marijuana can drain your wallet and your patience. After shelling out $700-plus on lights, clones and other equipment, you can expect to spend around $100 to $150 on nutrients for each flowering cycle (that's for three flowering plants), depending on your plant count and preferred feeding schedule. Your utility bills will inflate, as the state-approved limit of six plants can run your water bill up around $25 and your electricity bill around $150 — and those costs will be higher during the summer because of temperature control. And keep in mind that in order to be legal, all of this has to take place in a locked, enclosed area. As time goes on and your standards get higher, however, the real expenses will be all your time and energy. As one seasoned home-grower once told me, "Growing shitty weed is easy; it's a weed. Dealing with pests, mold, and temperature changes to achieve good herb requires diligence that most people don't have."
Have a question for the Stoner? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the potline at 303-293-2222.