Weed is not just an Inner City Phenomenon

Some people might have been surprised by the recent arrest of a 45 year old mother in Scarsdale, NY.  The woman, and her two daughters, were living in an affluent area that boasts spectacular homes and prominent neighbors.  Growing up in a low income area, most people dream of the day that they could own a home like that.  Purchasing weed should be the furthest thing from the minds of anyone that lives in such a great situation.  One of her neighbors indicated that a single mom needs to make ends meet.  Can that reason be utilized to justify wrongdoing in any situation?

I guess life imitates art in many situations.  The premise for cable series Weeds, that ran eight seasons, follows:

Nancy Botwin's family lives in Agrestic, the fictional suburb of Los Angeles. Her husband, Judah, died of a heart attack while jogging with their youngest son,[1] a few weeks before the series' pilot. Nancy's children, Silas and Shane, both attend Agrestic's public school system in the early seasons of the show. During season 1, Silas was 15 years old and Shane 10.
To support her upper middle class lifestyle, Nancy begins dealing marijuana to her affluent neighbors and friends. Andy Botwin, Judah's younger brother, moves into the house after Judah's death to help Nancy out, though he also seems to be there to freeload, and often disrupts Nancy's life. Nancy's supplier is Heylia James, a major distributor in Los Angeles' West Adams district whom she met through Heylia's nephew, Conrad (who is Andy's friend).[2] After losing customers to a medical store, Nancy begins baking and selling pot-laced brownies. Acting on the advice of her accountant, city councilman Doug Wilson, she opens a retail bakery, stocked with Costco baked goods, as a front for her drug sales. Silas begins dating Megan, an attractive deaf girl at his school. Shane, troubled by his father's death, acts out, such as biting the foot of another child in a martial-arts tournament, earning him the nickname "Strange Botwin" from his classmates.

The thing that is interesting to me is that a spouse dying, or in jail, is the reason that many people find themselves in financial crises.  Lack of insurance and poor financial planning are the reasons for bankruptcies and foreclosures throughout the country.  It seems like a sexy choice to then begin selling illegal drugs.  I never watched the series because I saw legal drug dealers up close and personal growing up in South Philadelphia.  Guys would stand on the corners or there would be houses where people would go to purchase weed.  When the Jamaican Shower Posse showed up, it could be purchased at corner stores with candy or gum.

I work in the Social Science arena now and I realize how strong an individual has to be not to succumb to the temptations of drugs and alcohol.  The wealth gap has and will be an issue in out society for a long time.  Philadelphia, in particular, has one of the highest poverty rates in the country.  To ease the pain of not being able to pay the bills, go on vacation, or living in substandard housing, many people smoke a joint.  In spite of the physical damage it does to your body, it is a cheap escape and helps with the coping mechanism needed to survive.  The real problems begin when an individual needs to take a drug test to get a job.  Golden Seal and other products made some manufactures rich because employment was hard to find after a failed drug test.

I wonder what the motivation is to smoke weed in upper income communities.  Most families have their children in private schools.  There are ballet and horseback riding lessons to be taken.  And some of the houses are right out of Good Housekeeping magazine.  I was driving as a FedEx Delivery worker when I drove up on some properties where the driveway was a block long.  I delivered to one house where the guest house was at least three bedrooms in Chester County.  Individuals in these situations don't worry about paying the electric bill.  They could spend Friday to Monday morning tending the plants or at the shore.  The hustle and bustle of the city are a distant memory.

I know know that there are medicinal uses for marijuana.  Many individuals suffering from cancer smoke marijuana to ease the pain of chemo treatments.  I am quite sure there are other uses also.  In the situation with Andrea Sunderlin, the warehouse that was used to run her $3 million a year operation was solely for profit making purposes.  I know her clients were not knocking on her door looking for weed either.  Her clientele probably included doctors, lawyers and other individuals for whom smoking weed is a pleasurable past time.  As she begins to ponder alternate choices to support her family, in the wake of a potential 10 year sentence, a regular job might have been the best solution.

The lifestyle of the drug dealer is seemingly stylized in the promotional picture for Weeds.  An attractive woman is sitting on a flower pot looking like she's living the good life.  What she and other people are selling is fueling addictions and altering people's sense of reality.  Mexican cartels are taking over national perks throughout the country because of the demand.  An unknowing person just received an 11 pond shipment of weed from FedEx.  They called the police and posted a sign for someone that might come looking for the $15,000.00 gift.  Maybe the 10 year sentence that Ms. Sunderlin might receive will deter other suburban moms from looking at weed as a viable source of income.  It hasn't suppressed the trade in the city and other boroughs in Pennsylvania though.  More treatment and jobs would be a solution.


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