Monday, May 11, 2009

Peer Pressure May Help

A quick disclaimer: I have never used illegal drugs, (e.g., pot, cocaine, meth, heroin or any number of illicit substances) finding them to be a ludicrous waste of time and money as well as not having any social or conventional value. That being said, I am sick of our country using valuable resources, i.e, our tax money, to fight a senseless and hypocritical War On Drugs.

Remember back in high school when your friends got you to do stuff by pressuring you with ridiculous and empty phrases like, “everyone else is doing it, why won’t you?” And my favorite, “Don’t you want to be cool?”

Even though I never fell for those ridiculous and insipid siren songs of hip “coolness,” I think it’s time channel our inner high school, using it to pressure the state of California to decriminalize marijuana.

Always wanting to be the coolest place in the country, if not the world, the Golden State with its perpetual tan and beautiful people, is flat broke and has been for awhile. There is no end in sight as the land of fruits, nuts and flakes sinks deeper into debt to the tune of $15.6 billion.

So when Governor Arh-nuld suggested that his state look into legalizing marijuana for recreational use and thusly, tax purposes, I immediately think back to high school and the irony of goading Cali into being the first state in the country to pass major legislation, making the possession and use of marijuana not only legal, but a taxable commodity.

And it would make them “cool.” What’s not to like?

Unfortunately, the Governor is being a buzzkill by not fully endorsing the prospective change in the laws. He endorses studying how much money could be derived from taxing pot. “Well, I think it’s not time for (legalization), but I think it’s time for a debate.”

Dude, that’s so lame! Don’t you want your state to be so “rad” and “cool” to be the first place to legalize the mary jane? How awesome would that be, dude?

Let’s be honest with ourselves. The so-called farce called the “War On Drugs” hasn’t accomplished anything. We are siphoning off billions of dollars to fight a crop that was demonized by the government back in the 1930’s because African-American musicians were the primary users of “reefer” and lawmakers in a Jim Crow era didn’t want their white children to be exposed to that drug (or the music) at that time. So elected political heroes not only demonized cannabis with propaganda pieces that were shown in movie theaters across the country, (check out the earnestly hilarious “Reefer Madness”) they made it illegal.

Yet tobacco products (which like hemp, was grown by our forefathers) are legal and kill more people every year than pot.

According to a study by the California Board of Equalization, legalizing marijuana and taxing it like cigarettes and alcohol would bring in an additional $1.34 BILLION dollars to California’s coffers. Also, the state would save money on law enforcement because the War On Drugs would only apply to hard-core stuff like heroin, cocaine, meth, etc. Local jails would be emptied of people serving sentences for pot possession, saving money on incarceration expenses like jail upkeep, maintenance, staffing and feeding prisoners.

Still not convinced, Governor? Go back to your native Europe and look at Portugal. In 2001, the country became the first on the continent to abolish any and all criminal penalties for personal possession of not exclusively cannabis but cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine as well.

The biggest fear among Portuguese lawmakers was that their country would be a tourist destination for total stoners, turning Portugal into some kind of Spaniard Holland. (Holland, by the way, has never legalized possession of marijuana; they just don’t enforce their own laws).

So has Portugal become a pit of open-air drug use? Has crime and debauchery increased, flooding their courts and jails with collateral crimes in the wake of decriminalization? According to the American Cato Institute, a Libertarian-leaning think tank, their answer is after five years of decriminalization, drug use among teens has declined. The rate of HIV cases caused by sharing dirty needles has also declined. And Portugal has the lowest rate of personal marijuana use of any other country in Europe.

So, like, Governor Arnold, dude, it’s time for you to stop talking and take some action. If you continue to believe the fallacious and tired argument that banning marijuana is good for your state, then it’s time we resort to Beverly Hills 90210 tactics and just say, “don’t you want to be the coolest guv, ever, dude?”

And if you are not a 90210 fan, Jeff Spicoli would think you’re “totally awesome” if you signed into law the decriminalization of marijuana. But you won’t do it, because deep down we know you’re a total narc.

1 comment:

  1. I, too, have never tried illegal drugs (no desire to, never), but keeping things like marijuana illegal just makes it more enticing to people. You always want what you can't have, right? Take away the mystery, you'll decrease the incentive. Not for everyone, of course, but it will decrease overall. The war on drugs has been a joke, I agree. And especially in a place like California where they are discussing letting some of the lesser offenses prisoners out of jail due to budget cuts with the economy.....getting all the small time druggies out of jail would save costs.