Wednesday, June 06, 2012

High & Mighty

Just for the hell of it I decided a couple of days ago to post my month-and-a-half-old piece on marijuana culture, with a fresh lede, over on the Huffington Post's politics page. I figured if nothing else it'd be fun to see the reaction from the HuffPo peanut gallery. Unfortunately, for the first time in my four-year history of writing for the site, a piece of mine got kind of buried instead of being afforded pretty good placement. Not quite sure why but I'm certainly not going to read too much into it.

Anyway, I've managed to eke out around 30 comments or so, so far, and as you can imagine they're all highly indignant -- and some of them, as expected, are pure gold.

Here now, a few of my favorites:

"You need to crawl out from under the rock you're buried in and spend ten minutes to actually get educated. I don't use pot in any form right now ... Hemp isn't a legitimate reason to legalize cannabis, even though you admit it's got merits? Medical use isn't legit in any situation because you have seen people abuse the system? I'm sick to death of my tax dollars being wasted imprisoning people for no good reason, big pharmaceutical companies controlling dangerous medications that are less effective, and the most green crop, hemp, being outlawed for absolutely no good reason. Do some reading, maybe you'll even manage to accidentally learn something."

-- Jeremy Echols (who then proceeded to post six links to articles, more than a few of them from NORML and such, that supposedly proved his point; by the way, Echols is, as it turns out, a serial commenter on pot legalization issues over at HuffPo)

Thanks for the advice. And it's not like there are a handful of people abusing the system here in California -- the system itself is a joke and everyone knows it. My contention is that the reason for this is that the entire notion of a medical marijuana system is a joke. Either legalize it and accept that it's something people enjoy and that they have the right to or don't -- but don't pretend that it's "medication" that some people need and others don't.

"This kind of misinformed propaganda actually does damage to the movement. This Chez guy has got to be a little embarrassed for exposing his ignorance. Peace Chez!"

-- Adobewan

And peace right back at you, hippie.

"The only damage Chez has done is to his reputation as a compassionate human being, if he ever had one that is."

-- The Walker

I didn't.

"You should of gotten high before you wrote this, it would have been more authentic."

-- madkoz

That'll do, madkoz. That'll do.

"'Pot is popular because it messes you up good -- everything else is incidental.' So? 'in the end, you're pushing for the legalization of pot because it makes you feel good.' So? Keep in mind that Morphine is legal. Valium is legal. Alcohol is legal. Recreational sex is legal. The first two have medical uses, as does Marijuana. The second two don't - they just makes you feel good. The fact that something creates a pleasant effect should not make it illegal, and unless it affects you personally, it should be none of your business."

-- DocJoseph

Yup. And I acknowledged all of this in the piece.

"'Maybe pot-smoking can ease the pain of terminal cancer' Not maybe. Not only terminal cancer but the wasting effects of HIV/AIDS patient and those with arthritis and glaucoma. 'Maybe there are religions that require it as part of their ritual' Not maybe. Just because your beliefs don't embrace this ritual, does not mean it is not valid. 'Maybe it's been used throughout the years by brilliant minds and its history is so interesting that university-level classes can be taught on it' Not maybe. Try throughout the history of mankind, Years make it sound like this spans a couple of decades."

-- Peace-riding

It eases the pain of terminal cancer because it fucking feels good. There are undoubtedly a hell of a lot of other things can perform this same impressive feat. Again, not saying marijuana doesn't have its benefits, only that if one of them wasn't the fact that it gets you high, nobody would be arguing. It's promoted for, ironically, the exact same reason it's inexplicably prohibited. As for the religious aspect -- yeah, couldn't care less about that. It's not a legitimate concern. A lot of stupid religious rituals have demanded a lot of odd and even grotesque acts and furnishings throughout history, it doesn't mean they all deserve to be made legal or considered moral.

"I guess bothering to google the facts before you blog is to much to ask of Chaz. I guess the Federal Goverment has run a Medical Marijuana program because the Feds really enjoy getting 4 Americans super messed up."

-- Nicon (whose profile icon is a guy smoking weed)

Wow. Seems like a surprisingly small program.

"Personally, I prefer some lying old fossil with his horror stories of gateway drugs to this kind of faintly patronizing hipsterish put-down. For the record, I've been smoking pot for 55 years. I don't have a medical marijuana card and wouldn't--I can get better quality, cheaper, and the government doesn't know who I am or where I live, and the respect I have for law enforcement on any drug issue has long since evaporated. The issue of legalizing marijuana, to those of us who aren't first-time users, who don't believe that it's a universal panacea, and who aren't giddy with the idea of being able to smoke it in public (because we already do), to such as us, it has less to do with obtaining the government's permission to toke up and almost everything to do with ending forfeiture, the corrupt practice of seizing property, and getting tens of thousands of otherwise harmless people out of jail. And Mr Pazienza, who is apparently unaware of the teenybopper eidolon evoked by his ecstasy use, should be ashamed for hanging his argument on the lamest of stoner stereotypes."

-- flanardiente

Yes, the lamest of stoner stereotypes. Please see several of the comments listed. As for the argument that legalization would end a governmental practice that's ruined the lives of people for no good reason -- no shit, that's self-evident and I even said so in the piece. And yeah, I did ecstasy. Did a hell of a lot of other drugs, too.

"Why doesn't he care about injustice? Or innocent people going to jail? He can't possibly think pot is worth locking people up over! That doesn't make any sense to anybody who isn't a terrible bigot and/or making money off of it. First they came for the potheads and nobody cared ..."

-- Sister Lauren

I want a bumper sticker with that last line on it.

"Oktoberfest? st patricks day? cinco de mayo? happy hour? alcohol poisoning, dui, date rape, fighting... gooooooooooooOOOOOOO alcohol!!!!"

-- sean omearar

Because it's obviously one or the other. Besides, I could easily say, "mild hallucinations, sloth, giggling like an idiot, making shitty music, being a general annoyance to anyone not high, faux-philosophical arguments that make sense only to you, your whole house smelling like hell, sitting on your couch watching How High? for the 138th time and actually thinking it's funny... goooooOOOO weed!!!" and it'd be just as dumb.

And drum roll, please -- my personal favorite:

"What is getting high?? Getting high is altering your consciousness. Altering your consciousness is a form of travel . Travel is a breaking with the routine in order to explore the enviroment in novel ways. Deviating from the preconceived routine is crucial to gain insight into our relationship to life,others and our place in the cosmos. It also provides us with the knowledge that there is more than one way to experience and live life. This is crucial in nourishing curiosity, flexibility and tolerance, all important attitudes in decreasing tensions and promoting sharing among humans. Perhaps Chaz snickers at the pairing of the word cosmos with getting high. Yet mainstream religions are well respected when they promote a quest for the Divine. Unfortunately they then hand out rules saying "And this is the only way". End of curiosity and tolerance. Would Chaz say that prohibiting travel is a legitimate issue determining who you vote for? He would say that travel is a human right, I'm sure. That only dictatorships limit travel. Yet not all of us have the means or ability to travel.Fortunately our centuries of human ancestors have passed down the knowledge of plants that can allow the most humble of us that experience."

-- tbone99


Well that's just, like, your opinion, man.


Michael J. West said...

The last commenter is actually the best poster child I've ever seen for keeping marijuana illegal.

pknaack1 said...

I'm always frustrated by the idea that being "liberal" means that you should support legalization of pot. I was watching a Bill Maher segment a while back where he was enumerating what it means to be liberal, and for each point I was like "yeah.." "Yeah!" "YEAH!" and then he got to legalization of pot, and I was like "...oh.. um, crap."

I wouldn't have a problem with legalization, if it was treated like alcohol. You know, if it's illegal to drive drink, it should be illegal to drive high, if it's okay for an employer to fire you if you drink on the job, then they should be able to fire you for being high, etc etc etc.

But I've known a few people who you could describe as "potheads" and they always swore up and down that pot has absolutely no downsides, that it's a perfect drug, that it doesn't cause any reduction in physical abilities or reaction time or quality of judgement. One guy I knew in college even claimed he could *only* do multivariable differential equations while totally stoned, and therefore everybody should smoke pot because it would make them smarter. Of course, He also talked about colored fish swimming in the air in front of his face, too, though I suspect that was something else...

The people who support legalization are so... myopic about it. And fervent. Some of the most vitriolic words I've ever seen on the internet are either from a fundamentalist christian talking about an atheist, a fundamentalist christian talking about global warming, a bicycle enthusiast arguing for bikers to ride on the street alongside cars but not to have to follow car traffic rules, and potheads insulting people who argue against legalization (in that order).

Chez said...

A fanatic of any kind is often a dangerous thing. I actually kind of echoed your sentiment on the podcast a while back. My argument was that the people who are militant about weed -- pot leaf stickers everywhere, "Legalize It" t-shirts, celebrating 4/20, all that crap -- are really just the opposite end of the spectrum from the gun-worshiping NRA types. They've hit on a one-note political cause and have allowed it to completely define them.

Anonymous said...

Oh the Hufftards... They'd be so adorable if it wasn't so tragically goddamn stupid...

Marc McKenzie said...

Great one, Chez. Honestly, reading the comments you posted made me think of bad comedy.

You wrote a great piece, and you defended your points well. And you're right--these chaps are the opposite ends of the spectrum from the NRA types.

Do I want weed legalized? Sure...but it's not a major priority for me now, and for the rest of the damned country. There are other issues that take precedence (like jobs and the economy and trying to prevent the GOP from running the country off the damned cliff). Legalization is way, way down on that list.

Matt said...

Ughh, brings back memories of the jackasses who wanted to smoke up and listen to endless hours of the Grateful Dead. Or worse, Phish. *shudder*

Janean said...

This made me laugh hard:

"The only damage Chez has done is to his reputation as a compassionate human being, if he ever had one that is."

-- The Walker

I didn't.

Drew said...

Wow...with all the political depression lately this was a big breath of [contact high] fresh air! Thanks Chez...or is it... Chaz (just kidding)?

J. Dack said...

"You need to get out of $x and get educated."

I'll take "Smug internet commenter's favorite thing to say for $1000, Alex."

Chez said...

Really I keep going back to my favorite line in this: "First they came for the potheads and no one cared..."

Yeah, especially not the potheads.

TheReaperD said...

I'm all for legalizing pot and putting it in the same legal category as alcohol but, these nutjobs can't seem to realize that they are part of the problem. Is it anywhere near as dangerous as Meth and heroin? No. Should it be dismissed as completely harmless? Hell no.

If there was only some way to silence fanatics so we could have a civilized conversation about, well, anything.

namron said...

Hey, wait a minute, tbone99. You plagarized that from my 1968 senior thesis.

nietzsche's peach fuzz said...


I think you make some excellent points however, I have to respectfully disagree on a few of them. I work in the 'MMJ Community'(or if you want to be honest "people who get really high a fucking lot") in Colorado where this is the hot topic du jour. And yes, they do it because it "messes them up real good" but I disagree that there are people who don't do it strictly for medical purposes. I have met plenty of patients who have serious physical problems and take cannabis to make it through the day. I'm talking about people with chunks of bone missing from their backs or severe muscle deformations and cancer patients. And it works. I've also seen people who are on Oxycodone (hillbilly heroine if you will) for similar pain issues or they just use it recreationally and let me tell you, pot has fewer damaging side effects or that wonderful addicted trait of stealing anything that isn't nailed down and selling it for a few pain pills. (thanks, BIL. I didn't need that set of golf clubs anyways)But again that's just anecdotal and we can agree to disagree. (<--most over used phrase ever)

But as far as hemp, which you site to have no beneficial qualities, you are not completely informed. The hemp plant is very useful, besides the fact that like organic cotton it is a very 'green' source for clothing and other materials, the crop itself has many positve qualities. The biggest one is that hemp crops rehabilitate soil that has been chemically damaged with, for example radiation or uranium deposits, 3 times faster than other crops. In Colorado, we have been working on trying to legalize industrial hemp, not only would that be a new agricultural boon to the economy for struggling farmers to have a new crop available to them, but the construction sector as well who can't build on certain land because of the chemical exposure. growing hemp in those areas would rehabilitate the land and make it available for building or recreational uses like parks. Right now, the furthest we have gotten is a study to measure the effects of hemp rehabilitating the soil in the Rocky Flats area...which still puts us years behind where we should be.
One client I consult for is a hemp clothing company and they make quality gear that is miles above what you find at any "high end" chain clothing store. The clothing is detailed, durable and fashionable. But the one thing they have in common? they import their clothes from China too because you can't grow hemp in the States. Just one more advancement in the myriad of economic footholds that China has over America. the shitty thing is, they don't have their goods made in China because it's cheap (though it's a bonus) it's because they don't have a choice.
I suppose what I am saying is that the argument for legalizing hemp/cannabis/marijuana is more nuanced than "it messes you up real good" and you have always been extremely apt at grasping the vast nuance in political issues. Fuck, that's why I love reading what you write.

NoxiousNan said...

DocJoseph is wrong about alcohol and sex; they both have medical benefits (couldn’t help myself). And Chez, if you make that bumper sticker, I want 3!

Anonymous said...

Are you getting sick of people calling you "Chaz" yet?

Chez said...

In this particular case I think it's especially funny -- and telling.