Gather ’round, young’uns who don’t personally remember 9/11. This Gen-X toker who’s puffed reefer since before you were born has something to say about your current handling of the marijuana legalization he sacrificed a comfortable middle class life to help provide for you. Come closer, kids.
YOU’RE BLOWING IT.
During my time promoting the end of marijuana prohibition, I debated the issue thoroughly. As I was taught in high school debate, you prepared both your side of the argument and the other side. You could be called on to debate either side, so you best know the strengths and flaws of each.
All along, I cataloged the prohibitionists’ arguments. WATC – “What About the Children?” SMOF – “Stoned Mayhem on the Freeways!” The Gateway Drug. The Lazy Stoner. All arguments with the huge inherent flaw of being argued in a land that promotes and celebrates alcohol.
I waited for the other side to finally see the huge inherent flaws in our argument but only rarely did I ever find prohibitionists approaching it. And that flaw is this:
Not to me, of course. It’s among my top five favorite smells (my ladylove, Vanillaroma Little Trees, frying bacon, and cinnamon pine cones, if you’re wondering). Nonetheless, there is no denying that Cannabis Sativa L. gives off a pungent aroma both raw and when smoked.
So, we get stories and op-eds about how New York City and Las Vegas are inundated in every public space by the smell of sweet sticky icky and it makes me very nervous about the future of cannabis legalization.
Because I’m also old enough to have been your age when the acrid smell of cigarette smoke could be found in every public space. How often do you find that these days?
States that haven’t yet legalized now have that argument. “Look, we can reduce criminal penalties for pot, maybe no jail for first offenses, but if it’s legal, then the smell is legal, and there will be no way to stop it. Our little town will smell like New York City.”
The states that have legalized will decide that can’t be true, there must be a way to stop it. Then they’ll remember how they did that with cigarettes. In New York, where toking’s legal anywhere smoking’s legal, look for “Clean Air” lawsuits designed to enact policies to restrict both. In other states, renewed enforcement of no public toking laws that will target the same folks prohibition did.
What we need is tokers – statistically speaking, mostly young people – to develop our own cultural taboos against public toking that most polite cigarette smokers employ. Sure, light up at the Ed Sheeran concert (is that a thing? I’m old). But maybe not at the park upwind of the square family and their kids picnicking.
The other story that caught my attention is New Yorker’s pets getting stoned because they’re eating discarded roaches dropped by tokers.
Really, people? We’re going to adopt all the worst features of cigarette smokers? Why, back in my day, you saved those roaches to later make the Roach Joint! Now you think because there’s a pot shop on every corner you can just toss your roaches on the street? No wonder the pigeons have been so aggressive for junk food lately.
“What About the Puppies” wasn’t an argument I had ever scoped out. But there again, we’re handing to the remaining prohibition states an argument to settle only for a high-fine decrim. “Look, we don’t want to jail people for weed, but if it’s not illegal, then there’s no reason for people to hide its smell or properly dispose of its evidence. Do you want to see discarded marijuana roaches as often as you see discarded cigarette butts?”
Finally, besides turning legal marijuana into the next source of awful smell and harmful-to-pets litter, we have the ongoing effort on the Left to turn marijuana legalization into Reparations by Another Name.
Again, I’m for it; I’m on record as saying legal weed should’ve been the Indian casinos for Black people. But to the remaining prohibition states that are almost all red states, we’ve turned what should be a simple issue conservatives can embrace (less gov’t interference, personal liberty, entrepreneurship) and turned it into everything conservatives hate (gov’t choosing winners, identity politics, affirmative action).
I know all y’all don’t see how the pendulum could ever swing back now on marijuana legalization. But I have very good friends in marijuana legalization who were certain it would be legal by 1980. I also remember well how ubiquitous cigarette smoking used to be, and not a single cigarette smoker was arrested to make it the huge taboo it is today.
OK, that’s all. Now get off my lawn.