Marijuana grows up

Dr. James Alford, the former President/CEO of the NKU Foundation, is set to appear in court this week to face charges of marijuana trafficking.

He was arrested Dec. 19 after police found marijuana, plastic baggies and a .38-caliber revolver in his home during a warranted search.

His case provides an interesting backdrop for discussion of the legalization of marijuana.

At 52, and the former head of the fund raising arm of a growing university, Alford seems like the last person who would be facing such charges.

Marijuana is a drug associated with high school and college students in their teens and twenties, not older, professional persons.

In fact, people in their thirties, forties and fifties who use or sell the drug for recreational purposes are seen as stunted and immature.

This belief stems largely from popular culture.

Marijuana is, arguably, one of the only drugs that bridges a generation gap between parents in their forties and fifties and their children in their late teens and early twenties.

It is a drug that both generations are familiar with if not from first-hand experience then from friends or schoolmates, or more likely from some facet of popular culture.

The generation of people now in their forties and fifties laughed at Cheech and Chong, even if they had never used marijuana.

A younger generation now has similar drug movies, including “Half Baked,” which follows the misadventures of four friends who smoke marijuana and get in trouble with a local drug dealer.

Because of theses movies, as well as some music and television shows, marijuana is slowly moving out of the category of uncontrolled substance and into the realm of nicotine and alcohol.

But should it be treated the same way?

The legalization of marijuana has become a hot, and confusing, topic in some states.

In San Francisco last month a jury first convicted an outspoken marijuana activist on drug charges then publicly renounced their own verdict saying the man had not received a fair trial.

Members of the jury said they had not been told the man was growing marijuana as part of Oakland’s medical marijuana program.

Advocates extol the medicinal virtues of the drug while the ad council recently began running commercials warning against marijuana use and it’s ability to prohibit some functions.

Is it worth fighting marijuana growers, dealers, sellers and users, or would making it legal create a slope for people to fall into other, more dangerous drugs?

At NKU, would it be worth it to have Alford back if he is, in fact, convicted, to work on raising funds, especially while the university faces monumental budget cuts?

These are the decisions we’ll be forced to make as marijuana matures alongside the population.