A Case for Legalizing Marijuana from a Non-Smoker
People have always thought that it’s weird that I’m from Colorado but have never been a weed smoker. While the stereotype that everyone from The Centennial State smokes copious amounts of pot is an inaccurate one, it’s not too far off. I remember my friends indulging in marijuana as early as elementary school. My buddy Steve was even kicked out of The D.A.R.E. Program in fifth grade after being caught with a backpack full of pot. I remember it being a backpack full, anyway. It was probably a tiny sandwich bag’s worth. Time and youth tend to distort the mind’s perception of volume in these cases.
Anyway, the comments I get from strangers in San Antonio when they find out where I’m from are always the same. They’ll say things like “Colorado, huh? Why would you ever leave the state, what with all of that legal marijuana, and all?!” or “Oh-ho-ho yeah. I know all about Colorado. The wife and I went to Vail last year to ski, and let me tell ya, we got ‘Rocky Mountain High’ alright! Blasted some Seeger and had ourselves a time!” Then they give this really cartoonish wink, wink, nudge, nudge kind of look, waiting for you to crap your pants with excitement about what’s surely the first story you’ve ever heard of an outsider smoking weed in your home state. The look of disappoint and confusion on their faces when I tell them that I’ve never really smoked weed myself always gives me a chuckle. Hell, it might be one of the reasons that I still abstain from it. I’m not ready to give up these funny little interactions every time I’m on the go.
Bear in mind that I have no moral opposition to marijuana itself. I think that anyone who’s still on the prohibition side of the debate is continuing an exercise in futility, and is participating in a fight that can’t be won. It’s just not for me. I’ve always had this little switch in my brain that reacts to the activities of a crowd by turning me off to whatever the majority of a group is into. It’s not a conscious choice, but if 12 out of 20 people like something, I’m predisposed to not liking it. This being the case, my brain never allowed me to germinate an interest in weed, and instead pushed me toward a youth filled with much more dangerous and ridiculous drugs.
All of these are the thoughts that immediately flooded my brain when legal marijuana became a thing in my beautiful homeland of Colorado. Sure, I’ve passed out piss drunk at many friends houses. I drank the whiskey, they smoked the pot, and their significant others drank enough vodka to find us tolerable to be around. That was the deal.
But all of my friends know that I’m loud, sarcastic, opinionated, and an advocate for the legalization of marijuana nationwide. Every big movement has advocates that aren’t necessarily participants, and, just like how I don’t put wieners in my mouth, but absolutely support gay rights, I don’t smoke pot, but I think that its federal prohibition is nauseatingly foolish and short sighted. I guess, based off of those two examples, if you’re sticking a hot pipe in your mouth and society doesn’t like it, I’m on your side!
I have a lot of reasons to support weed being legal in all 50 states, as does everyone else. I’m going to put my favorites right here. Don’t worry. There won’t be too much in the way of real statistics or studies cited or any attempts at trying to convince people that I’m being objective. This will be biased, editorial, and sometimes sarcastic.
One of the first reasons that I can’t possibly support marijuana prohibition in good conscience is that I love scotch, whiskey, and beer far too much to oppose something that I consider much more harmless. A lot of prohibitionists like to pretend that if the long standing moratorium on marijuana is lifted, the next logical step is allowing people to ingest bath salts before they grab their knives and hop on a bus full of innocent bystanders. This, once again, causes me to draw the comparison between ‘The Devil’s Cabbage’ and gay marriage. It’s not much different from the “If we let them queers get murried, what’s next?! Fellers blowin’ their dogs?!” style scare tactics that the religious right are so fond of visiting whenever these discussions hit the table. There’s always some radical, Nancy Grace style, blind leap to the worst possible conclusion with people who punch logic in the face with a fistful of propaganda.
People die from legal alcohol and the events that are by products of its consumption all the time. It’s become so common place for people to die at the hands (and stupidity) of a drunk, that we actually blame the idiot responsible, and not his beverage. I guarantee you that if someone was high and mowed down a sidewalk full of tourists, it’s all you’d hear about for weeks, and the drug, not the dumbass, would be on trial. It’s a double standard that should disturb us all.
Another reason that I hope we can finally move past weed being illegal, is that I like to shop at Whole Foods from time to time. They have some really good stuff and, when I can afford it, I like to shop there. What I don’t like (though it seems to be in remission for now) is being stopped by someone in sandals and a patchouli cloud, holding a clipboard, looking for a signature. It’s not that I don’t want to participate in some activism, it’s just that these guys tend to be long winded, and I want to get home and put on my gym shorts and watch Golden Girls reruns while I pretend I’m going to actually go to the gym, and I don’t want this process delayed. If we can legalize weed, get Pandas to fuck, and leave women’s reproductive issues to actual women, instead of bloated old white Christian men as soon as possible, then I think that I can shave at least two hours a week off of my pants wearing time.
There are also more obvious (and less selfish and specific) examples that we can examine. Things like this decade long recession and the cash crop that we’re neglecting to utilize, based on ancient taboos.
The simple fact is that all of the companies that are spending millions of dollars lobbying against the marijuana industry are being penny smart and dollar foolish. Re-imagining your business model is expensive and labor intensive in the short term, but it can be extremely lucrative if you move forward with some balls. This industry is already producing millionaires that are so young that they just got their first pubes during Bush’s second term, and a seasoned veteran could build an empire on the back of this new agricultural market. They’d just have to embrace it.
One of the most important pro-legalization arguments that I can think of is from the medicinal side. Most states still don’t allow medical marijuana, and I think that’s a big mistake. It’s borderline unfathomable how much cheaper marijuana is to produce than your more conventional pharmaceuticals, and the side effects are pretty nominal compared to the pain pills that have flood today’s market. I can’t recall hearing a story about weed causing anal leakage, boils, or testicular distention but, since there's very little funding for research as marijuana as a medicine, I might have just missed something.
At the end of the day, you might be like me. Marijuana may not be for you, but it definitely serves a lot of interests that are bigger than your objections based off of Reagan-era sensibilities. Despite what the detractors might have you believe, legalizing marijuana won’t lead to legal meth or legal heroin or guys brutally sodomizing each other in the middle of the street, while runaway teens have coat hanger abortions on the steps in front of the post office. It just means that a few laws will change, the new economy will be flush with more money, while the black market is left reeling, and we can all go into our favorite grocery stores without being accosted for our signatures by nice guys who smell like the inside of wool hats.