Politicians, pundits, letter-writers and law-enforcement personnel have written much about the evils of legalizing cannabis. One cannot help but ponder the futility of their resistance.
After every “legalization is dangerous“ screed I ask, “Do criminal penalties really apply to cannabis?“ Those who answer yes will apply some logic, but for logic to be sound it must apply to situations both average and extreme. Take criminalization to the extreme and everyone who ever used cannabis is a criminal. That means that many of you reading this are criminals or know somebody who is. Lock em’ up?
Arresting every cannabis user includes three previous presidents, and I wouldn’t be so sure about the current occupant. Criminalization has been tried since President Richard Nixon declared his “War on Drugs” in 1971, which we now know was targeted at war protestors and African-Americans, and it has not worked, unless one believes that “Reefer Madness“ is a documentary and enslaving a large percentage of our black population is progress. Every highway patrolman in the country knows when Willie (smokin’ for 65 years) Nelson‘s tour bus comes through there is cannabis present, and he’s not getting arrested. Gross hypocrisy and selective enforcement are not virtues.
But it is a gateway drug you say. We already have one that’s legal and statistically the most damaging drug. Consider two scenarios: 1. A group of teens drinking beer, and someone breaks out a joint. 2. A group of teens smoking cannabis, and someone breaks out a beer. The gateway argument is ridiculous in a culture that tolerates alcohol advertising and use at the level in which we do. Corporations already market our most destructive drug directly to the young. That’s counterproductive at its best and deadly at worst. We should all be opposed to drug advertising of any kind.
Driving will be a problem. Mix people with booze and NASCAR driving and professional fighting become career choices. Aggressive driving makes us all mad, and speed is a factor in almost all fatal collisions; two common problems with drunk driving. Taking this logic to the extreme, I would rather drive through a town full of potheads than drunk drivers. In your pothead town people are going to be arrested for driving too slowly. Say “aggressive potheads” and try to keep from laughing. Impaired driving will be illegal regardless.
But modern grass is much more potent. Yeah, and binge drinking kills quickly. Most cannabis users do a little bit, and that’s it. The sky has not fallen in the 10 states that have legalized recreational use, and adults should be allowed to make their own decisions. “Cheech & Chong” movies were not documentaries and pot is ridiculously categorized by the Feds as being on par with heroin.
It will be easier for young people to get. Go ask your neighborhood kids. They probably know somebody just like you did back in the day.
Legalization will not be perfect. What, we have perfection now? Legalize, educate, control, collect the tax and cut the losses. Overuse of any drug, regardless of your age, is destructive behavior as we all know. Education and treatment work to lessen abuse. If incarceration worked, nobody would be using anything; please look at the number of people in prison for non-violent offenses.
One top cop lamented the amount of cannabis being driven to Wisconsin from North Dakota and Minnesota. I chuckled because I grew up in North Dakota in the 1970s and knew pot was being driven across Interstate 94 back then. But, most of it was coming straight down I-29 from Winnipeg. Say what you will about those Canucks, but I heard they grew good pot in the old days and always figured it explained gravy on French fries. It’s legal there now, and like Prohibition, one can expect boatloads crossing Gitche Gumee. Build a wall?
Lastly, an adult told me about leaning against the police station in the Mall of America and, as police officers walked by, a cannabis gummy was enjoyed. He said, “Remember Jim Stafford‘s 1974 hit ‘Wildwood Weed,’ especially the line after the Feds came and destroyed the plants and drove away? He just smiled and waved, sitting there on that sack of seeds.”
One can appreciate the consistency of those who resist legalization, but being consistently futile is something other than resistance.
Buchholz is a retired teacher who lives in Eau Claire.