Pot prohibition madness
When the latest anti-pot commercial comes on the radio, I grimace. Here’s roughly how it goes:
“I got high and nothing bad happened,” a female voice says.
“I got high and nothing bad happened,” a boy says.
“I got high and …” You hear sirens and a girl crying over a never-revealed tragedy that occurs because somebody smoked marijuana.
The logic leaves me shaking my head. Like a faulty syllogism, the radio bit has an interchangeable proposition. A person could swap “I got high” with any other phrase and leave the rest of the ad unchanged.
“I used my cell phone while driving and nothing bad happened.”
“I jumped off the roof and nothing bad happened.”
“I went shopping at Meadowood Mall and nothing bad happened.”
You don’t hear those ads on the radio. We save our demonizing for low-life druggies who smoke pot.
Marijuana isn’t addictive like caffeine and nicotine. And if there exists a “gateway” drug, it’s booze, far more available and acceptable.
Why do we hate pot so?
Chalk it up to effective reefer madness public relations campaigns that haven’t changed much since the 1950s.
Last week, the Nevada Legislature missed its chance to make things right for Nevadans who’re considered criminals because of their marijuana use.
Though I don’t smoke or ingest illegal substances, I was frustrated on behalf of tens of thousands of Nevadans from whom lawmakers and the rest of the public won’t hear. These individuals fear incarceration. They also value their jobs. Some work in banking, law, advertising or construction. They pursue higher education, create art, pay taxes and cast votes.
One concern expressed by law enforcers revolves around what others will think of Nevada should we legalize marijuana. We’ll be “laughingstocks,” say cops.
A great reason to maintain pot prohibition—to buoy the image of the local police department.
Legalizing possession of up to one ounce of marijuana would save law enforcers time and money. It would free up prison space for violent criminals. And taxing legal marijuana sales the way the state taxes alcohol would add a new state revenue stream that could be used to fund education or to give us property tax relief.
Would the move attract tourists to the Silver State? Ask the folks running cafés in Amsterdam, the “laughingstock” of Europe.
I bring up the idea of profit not because I want to go into biz, but because it seems a language often spoken by lawmakers.
In reality, this is about fairness, about an adult’s right to decide for herself which substances she enjoys. How would you feel if the government decided to ban Diet Coke, Red Bull and caramel macchiatos?
At a reception Friday, a UNR administrator raised a glass of wine in a toast. He was joined by a college dean, business people, community leaders, educators. After consuming a bit of wine, I felt warm and sociable.
At a home I visited in Reno not long ago, a rich organic odor filled the living room. The smell came from a silver-lined bedroom closet with lamps and a forest of chest-high foliage. The owner touched the leaves gently, describing the plants as his “babies.”
This adult wouldn’t get high on the job any more than the university administrator would down a bottle of wine before going to work. Neither would drive under the influence.
But while drinkers, smokers and coffee addicts can legally enjoy their drugs of choice, the marijuana cultivator could go to jail for gardening in his closet.
Nevada legislators lacked the courage to make the right decision last week. The issue will be left in voters’ hands during the 2006 election.
It’s time to end pot prohibition.