Royally stoned

All hail the return of the Sacramento Kings, who debuted last week with a big win over the Utah Jazz, bringing big-time hoops back to the River City. Bites just gets giddy seeing the boys back on the court.

Jason Williams has some hair now, and for some reason, his eyes just don’t look so red. Ah, yes, it’s gonna be hard not to take pot shots this season at Phattie J, whom the NBA is benching for the first five games of the regular season because he tested positive for marijuana.

The crowd just couldn’t resist throwing out stoner jokes whenever Jason missed a shot or made a bad pass. “What’s the matter, stoner boy, can’t play straight?” “Will somebody please give him his bong back.” “Nice pass, Mr. Short-Attention Span, but he’s not there anymore.” You get the idea.

But if Jason heard a few head jokes at ARCO, it’s gonna be worse on the road. Luckily, Williams’ game is still nails, turning the kid into a symbol for stoners everywhere and proving that he can have a few bong hits at night and still excel on the job the next day.

And Jason wasn’t the only high point. Vlade, C Web, our new Turk—the whole royal court electrified at the opener. But it was backup center Scott Pollard and his new ‘do that really made the scene that night.

He looked like a hipster samurai warrior—ponytail gone vertical, chin beard, soul patch and a couple of hamhock sideburns. It’s a great look, but nobody’s gonna convince Bites that this guy couldn’t find his way around a bong, not with that kind of nonconformist flair.

The night before the Kings game, the Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 to support Prop. 36, the controversial drug-war reform measure that will keep Williams out of jail if he ever gets arrested for toking up.

In a town filled with influential law enforcement associations—all of which have lined up to oppose 36 in favor of our current lock-’em-up approach—Bites was happier than a junkie in the evidence locker to see city leaders calling for a change.

The rancor over 36 has been a fascinating, if sickening, study of the drug-war ethos, demonstrating how thoroughly out of touch the criminal justice community has become from the people they’re supposed to be protecting and serving.

Drug-war rhetoric has turned users into enemies of the state, while cops, judges and prosecutors increasingly see themselves more as tools of state power than servants of the people. If Thomas Jefferson is watching all this on some kind of EarthTV screen up in heaven, he ain’t happy.

But then again, Tommie J had revolutionary predictions about what happens when government becomes hostile to people’s pursuit of liberty and happiness. Because the question of whether it should be legal to smoke a joint, order a pizza and settle in on the couch in front of the Kings game is about nothing if not liberty and happiness.

Sure, there’s probably more to write about than just drugs, but since a new study released last week shows that California leads the nation in locking up drug users, we might as well make a clean sweep of this column.

A well-sourced study by the Justice Policy Institute shows that California’s rate of incarcerating its citizens for possessing drugs is the highest in the country, more than twice the national rate. In the last three years, California has locked up more people for simple possession (38,716) than for sales and manufacturing combined (35,276), reversing historic trends.

This is your war on drugs, ladies and gentlemen. It used to be about dealers and traffickers, even as recently as 10 years ago. But with our impossible goal of ridding the country of drugs, it is now about you, me and Jason Williams.

The Bites bottom line: If Jason can smoke dope and still be one of the best point guards in the NBA, let the kid smoke. And don’t throw stoners in jail just for eating pizza and watching their hero.