Marijuana Legalization Has Spawned a Career You've Probably Never Heard of

The marijuana industry is going through major changes, and it's the inspiration for is what inspired Emmy Award-winning Christopher Productions' new documentary, "New Marijuana." 

Set in New Mexico and Colorado, New Marijuana examines the history of marijuana criminalization over the past half-century, while also acting as a discussion guide for educators and parents in the new legalization era.

"The program is built to inform, in a nonpartisan way, where we are with cannabis and how we got here (and frankly, all the knowledge holes that exist about the plant and why, thus the history sections and elements about prohibition not allowing research)," New Marijuana producer Chris Schueler told AlterNet. 

In addition to including the most recent research on the affects of cannabis, the program also provides interviews with a wide variety of personalities, from vendors to law enforcement to medical professionals. Christine Frank, a New Mexico-based "drug recognition expert" and detective discusses how law enforcement deals with the hazards of users driving while stoned. 

"Field sobriety tests are a little bit different on people under the influence of cannabis because they forget your instructions," Frank says in the film. "It’s a much slower reaction time. The biggest thing with cannabis is time and distance distortion. That’s why they’re stopping prior to the stoplight, they’re driving very slow."

Marijuana DUI is a real problem and drug recognition experts such as Frank have been actively recruiting for years.

"We see legalization sweeping across the country but there are collateral consequences to it," explained Chris Halsor, an expert in legal marijuana from Golden, Colorado. "I created these series of classes called Marijuana DUI Investigations. And one of the components, perhaps the most controversial component, is the green lab [in which volunteers determine whether or not someone should drive]." 

Stephen Lewis, an Albuquerque-based psychiatrist, speaks in the film about developmental effects of marijuana over decades. 

"What drug is most likely to trigger schizophrenia?" Lewis asked. "It’s cannabis."

"Obviously millions of kids smoke pot and don’t get schizophrenia," Lewis added, "but schizophrenia’s such a bad illness, people get sick and they stay sick for their whole life. The best figure is about .7% of the population of the world will get schizophrenia. So if you could prevent that from doubling, increasing by 50%, by just putting off [smoking pot] until adulthood, that would be worth it."

As a parent and business owner in the marijuana space, Meg Sanders sees both sides of the story. 

"The product-ization of what’s happening now, it’s amazing what companies are coming up with and how much more reliability there is in the dosing," Sanders, the CEO of Mindful, a cannabis supplier from Colorado, said. 

"As a parent, we have lots of things that we have to worry about, right? I mean there’s cyber issues, right? There’s that cell phone. There’s alcohol. There’s driving. This is just another topic, and this is a topic that you should be discussing anyway, whether you’re in a regulated market or not, because I can promise you this stuff is available," Sanders pointed out. 

Watch the trailer for New Marijuana


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