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Am I the Only One With Questions on the Contradictions and Implications of Legal Marijuana?

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Alamy
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I have lots of questions about new state laws regarding weed. With U.S. nonsmoking laws among the most restrictive in the world, I can't help but wonder if recreational marijuana smokers in Washington and Colorado will regard smoking marijuana as an exception to our nonsmoking rules. In these two states, will smoking marijuana be tolerated in public while smoking cigarettes in public is, for the most part, clearly restricted? A few days ago in Seattle, as people gathered in the streets to celebrate the legalization of the use of marijuana, police asked those smoking pot not to smoke in public. For now, Washington police officers are limited to issuing verbal warnings to smokers but nothing more. Those police requests didn't seem to dampen the party, though. I can't be the only one with questions on these new twists and turns in the law.

How do the nonsmoking laws in California and New Jersey, where the use and purchase of medical marijuana is legal, affect the smoking of medical marijuana for medical reasons? In my frequent trips to California, I haven't noticed many people smoking marijuana in public places; could this be because California has the most restrictive nonsmoking laws in all 50 states?

There are contradictions in the air. At the same time that we frown upon those who legally smoke cigarettes, especially in public, are we to cheer for those who legally smoke marijuana in the streets? Do the lungs of a marijuana smoker look any different from those of a cigarette smoker? You've read the reports that any kind of smoke ingested into the body is carcinogenic. Cigarette smoke, even smoked meats, it's been said, carry the toxins that come with smoke of any kind. Just because something's legal, should it be public?

I'm confused. If the federal government says marijuana is illegal in all states but specifically prohibits it on federal land, what about other zones? Will police stop drivers who appear to be impaired and require breathalyzer-type testing for both alcohol and marijuana? Do the new marijuana laws allow smoking pot around kids? In states where medical marijuana use is legal, do children have the right to smoke marijuana for medical purposes?

Here's my personal preference: Consume marijuana however you wish -- bake it, vaporize it, chew it -- but please don't smoke it where I can smell it. It's not my business whether you smoke marijuana or why you smoke it; I just don't want you to smoke it around me. For me, smoke is smoke. Released in public, it travels through the air and into the bodies of bystanders. I don't want to be one of them. What's your personal preference?

I know I'm not the only one with questions. There's one thing I'm guessing we can all agree upon, though: A smoke cloud will linger in the minds of nonsmokers and smokers of all kinds until our questions are answered and those contradictions rising in the air are addressed.