My fiance and I are relocating to Colorado. We are getting married there. I spent time there as a boy with family on vacation and even proposed to my fiance at the Royal Gorge. After a late night talk by a fire in the mountains, we both decided it should be our home. In the interim, Colorado strutted onto the national stage because of a much different issue – smoking pot. The legalization process for the ownership, sales, and use of marijuana has begun in Colorado, one of two states working towards full legalization. Rather than talk about the pros and cons of weed or those of its legalization, I instead note my observations after having been back this past weekend now that citizens may legally smoke pot in their homes in Colorado.
We loaded up a truck Friday night with the bed tucked beneath a garage under a heavy rain (Doesn’t this always happen?). We got on the road early Saturday morning, and after seven hours and one flying mattress incident we had the keys to our new home. We eagerly (and with slight trepidation) drove towards a house we had only been able to see pictures of, and at 4.p.m. pulled into the drive. Which is precisely when I experienced the “new” Colorado. I smelled my first wiff of pot within five minutes of stepping out of the truck and examining our back yard, floating from some neighboring house.
Five individual times I either saw people smoking pot in their backyards or doorways or smelled it around town in the two days I was there that weekend – and no one died. There was no running about starkers in the street or sprees of murder. There were no gunshots or madness of any sort. People were just, well people. The constant babble I hear from the opposition of legalization is that weed will turn the populace into a band of brain-damaged rabid monkeys, ransacking the town. In reality, people just sat longer on porches or enjoyed their back yards.
I am not telling anyone they should immediately and vigorously take up ganja, and full legalization has a very long road ahead of it as the federal government stands firm to oppose it. What I am saying is that the absolute truth is that marijuana does not lead to the psychotic behavior some claim it to – alcohol does. Alcohol – legal – can lubricate people into beating their wives, their children, or their best friends. Alcohol can ease the trigger finger and drown the judgment of a person that careens across the center line into a family of four. Sexual assault, stabbings, and wrecked marriages. Alcohol. Yet the purchase of booze is so very legal that I don’t even have to visit a liquor store to attain it. I can nab up a 24 pack of whatever when I get gas.
Now, I enjoy alcohol from time to time myself, Irish whiskey is my own plucked poison of choice. I have had just as many good times as bad with a drink or two. I am not advocating the prohibition of alcohol or waiving a teetotaler’s banner. All of our vices have their uses and costs. What I am saying, is that to claim marijuana is a dangerous product that should result in imprisonment for its use while allowing alcohol to be more and more freely sold is nothing more than total bullshit. Alcohol is incredibly addictive and much harsher on your system. The behavioral effects are much more extreme and violent, and it is very cheap.
The truth is always deeper and much more complex than talked about on the surface of political platforms and nightly news. The prohibition of marijuana is not about your health; it is about the profits of alcohol and tobacco companies. And the prohibition of weed is going just about as swimmingly as the prohibition of alcohol did, perhaps worse, now that there is a profit to be made by putting people in prison.
Just legalize the stuff. Colorado isn’t sliding into the abyss right now. Your parents smoked it years ago and might be secretly smoking up right now, giggling away some late night television to the sound of smacking popcorn. And they shouldn’t be in prison for it. Especially when the alternative is this, and this, and this.
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