Monday, June 04, 2012

Quote of the Day

"If you’re basing your vote on who’s going to be president about whether or not they let you roll up a blunt then you’re just an idiot and I hope you don’t have the right to vote anyway."

-- Senior Writer and CNN Contributor LZ Granderson

Yup, that about sums it up.

In case you missed my recent tirade on this topic, here's the full text of the piece that was posted over at the Daily Banter.

"Reefer Madness" (Originally Published at the Daily Banter, 4.20.12)

I’ve never been a big fan of smoking pot. Yeah, I’ve done it a few times, but being that I seem to have lived by the motto “Go Big or Go Home” when it came to kicking off my storied career in drug use — diving directly into LSD and ecstasy rather than going through the various “gateways” — I always kind of found pot smoking to be a bit anti-climactic. Great, so you laughed a lot and ate too much shitty food and were often forced to hang out with idiots who spent hours engaging in long-winded discussions that employed a lot of stoner logic. Sounds like a blast. That being said, I don’t begrudge anyone their habits as long as they’re not hurting anyone else in the process, and I accept unequivocally the absurdity of demonizing a plant simply because it happens to make people feel good; the political pressure to keep marijuana illegal amounts to nothing more than the senseless perpetuation of a puritanical blue law and one that needlessly damages the lives of innocent people. If alcohol is legal I see no reason why pot shouldn’t be as well.

Over the past couple of weeks, though, Bob Cesca and I have had a little debate going on our podcast and radio show about the merits — or lack thereof, in my opinion — of the “culture” of marijuana. I’m not talking about the folks who simply enjoy smoking it on occasion; I’m talking about the organized effort — as organized as a bunch of stoned people can be, anyway — to celebrate marijuana and its many supposed merits in an effort to help it gain wider social acceptance and to essentially destigmatize it. You know, the “movement” full of people who basically take the diametrically opposing side of the argument to those who feel that pot is the devil’s weed, mythologizing it rather than castigating it, claiming that it heals all wounds and has near-magical properties that can be used in the service of mankind if the closed-minded politicians would just give it a chance. The people who actually kind of consider “4/20″ a holiday. The people who always have a dissertation ready on the history of hemp and how it’s different than the part of the plant that fucks you up. The people who swear that marijuana is medically necessary for millions and that they can prove it.

Yeah, that crap.

Here’s my issue with the marijuana culture — the, ahem, “fight” to gain national acceptance of pot beyond the fact that a hell of a lot of people use it or have used it at one point in their lives: it’s for the most part disingenuous. It’s based on a lot of near-comical rationalization, the kind of reasoning a four-year-old comes up with and rattles off when he or she wants to do something a parent won’t allow. Sure, maybe hemp can be made into all kinds of wonderful products; maybe pot smoking can ease the pain of terminal cancer; maybe there are religions that require it as part of their ritual; 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; the fact is none of that would make a damn bit of difference to those who advocate loudly for the legalization of marijuana and who rally around it if it didn’t get you really fucking high. If you removed the “it gets you high” element of the equation, the rest of it would pretty much fall apart because no one would give a damn. Pot is popular because it messes you up good — everything else is incidental.

Again, I have no issue with people wanting to make themselves feel good — I did drugs for years for exactly that reason, although I never felt the need to concoct a “holiday” honoring my use or to create a feeling of solidarity with other drugged-up idiots just like me — but for fuck’s sake be honest about why you like weed. You like to get high. That hemp-is-beneficial-to-mankind and I-need-it-as-medicine horseshit is exactly that: horseshit. If you require proof of the farcical nature of the latter argument, you need look no further than Venice Beach, near where I live in Los Angeles. Got a hundred bucks and a headache? Congratulations, there are 800-some-odd “doctors” available right on the shore who’ll be happy to give you a medical marijuana card — because it’s, you know, medicine.

Yesterday, the front page story at the Huffington Post was, for a time, a mildly outraged report on how the feds had cracked down on a popular Oakland pot business with the amusingly high-clever name “Oaksterdam University” and how it represented the most pronounced salvo yet in “the Obama administration’s nationwide assault on medical marijuana.” The article detailed the ways in which President Obama’s justice department had targeted medicinal marijuana dispensaries and users and even included the inadvertently hilarious line, “There’s no question that Obama is the worst president on medical marijuana,” from Rob Kampia, Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project. While I couldn’t agree more that expending federal resources and tax dollars on fighting marijuana use is a monumental waste, I also can’t work up a whole lot of indignation over the fact that Barack Obama isn’t doing right by the pot bloc. Hitching your political wagon to the singular question of whether or not the President of the United States is friendly to your desire to do drugs is way beyond ridiculous. And again, you can attempt to couch it in whatever supposedly principled terms you’d like — in the end, you’re pushing for the legalization of pot because it makes you feel good.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling good and the government shouldn’t play nanny and decide how good is too good to be permitted. But those who excitedly ballyhoo weed and the use of it like they’re doing important, necessary or admirable work need a serious reality check. You like to get high and it’s nothing more noble than that. Admit it.


Steven D Skelton said...

If one is going to sum up the importance of ending the war on drugs solely as "basing your vote on who’s going to be president about whether or not they let you roll up a blunt," Then that person is an idiot and shouldn't be allowed to vote.

Chez said...

It's a waste of money and it needlessly hurts people who've really done nothing wrong. But if it's your top priority this election year, yes, you're really dumb. I'm done arguing this, though -- I think I said all I need to in the piece.

Steven D Skelton said...

It needlessly hurts all of us. Not only do we pay for the incarceration of drug offenders, but those offenders come out as ex-cons and are virtually shut out of the economy.

Our economy would obviously be doing a lot better if those millions of people were participating productively.

You're right, it shouldn't be the top priority in the election, but it certainly deserves better than to be dismissed off hand as an issue to be cared about only by potheads.

Chez said...

I'll say this for you, Skelton -- your positions are all over the place.

Anonymous said...

Skelton's position is neither scatter shot nor inconsistent, as far as it might be understood from two short comments.
The medical efficacy of marijuana for a variety of analgesic / appetite stimulative and symptom reduction indications has been scientifically confirmed; the pointless expense, in both social and economic terms, of prosecuting marijuana laws is both substantial and demonstrable no matter how you slice the numbers and/or the consequences (not least in terms of the racism inherent in the operation of the justice system).
Blowing off anyone who seeks to end these costs and harms as a misguided stoner who just wants to get high is stubbornly shallow. Stipulating to the laundry list of excellent arguments for ending the war on drugs and STILL insisting that anyone who makes the case is just a stoner who wants to get high is puzzling.
Claiming that there are people out there who base how they vote on this single issue in order to prop up the "Stoner" label is a weak straw man seemingly in support of a wrong-headed desire to be contrary.
Either admitting or boasting about one's own drug history to lend credibility to the argument while castigating the NORML crowd smacks of drug snobbery - the way coke heads looks down on mere alkies at AA meetings.

Chez said...

Let me guess -- you're high right now, aren't you, Avi?

Anonymous said...

Sadly, no...but the day is young.

Would you agree that anyone who determines how to vote on a single issue is equally misguided?
Abortion rights? Immigration? Wall St. reform?

I get your point: That if pot weren't a pleasurable intoxicant, no one would give a rat's ass whether or not it's illegal. That all the medical applications, economic, judicial and environmental harms caused by its criminalization would not draw anyone's attention.
But, of course, IF pot weren't a pleasant intoxicant - if it were just a practically beneficial plant - it wouldn't be illegal in the first place. There's no "need" to criminalize possession of flax, is there?

Frankly, if the government were wasting billions of dollars, ruining lives, incarcerating people for possession of flax, and preventing citizens from sleeping on sheets made of flax...AND anyone who wanted flax could walk down the street and buy flax, I'd be pretty pissed off about it.

Are there really that many single issue voters out there?
If there are, what issues are the sort that might rise to the level of becoming the sole determinative factor?
I have a sense that most single issue voters, assuming there really are such things, are already voting Republican.
I'd be willing to bet the only Pothead single issue voters are in the Ron Paul camp. So, either way, they're a douche.

Colonel Yelgen P. Masters said...

I don't give two shits about the benefits of marijuana. For me, I just like to get high. It rules and it isn't scary like shrooms or LSD. But if going off the rails about hemp and trees and farms and all that nonsense lets me smoke pot, I'm for it! Also, I agree with the alcohol argument.

agrazingmoose said...

I am bummed enough about having to live around a bunch of drunk people. The last thing that I want is to live around a bunch of drunk people and high people.

Do sentencing guidelines need to be changed? Yes. Here in MA, possession of a small quantity is a misdemeanor. But, I certainly don't want my local 99 restaurant to be serving pot.

Crazy example? Don't be silly. There is money to be made in those hills...

Anonymous said...

I'd like to correct agrazingmoose. Possession of under and ounce is a civil offense, not quite a misdemeanor, in MA.

NoxiousNan said...

I love to get high every day, and the only time I won’t admit it is ftf with a cop while I have some on me or in court. Those circumstances have never come up. I don’t have a card; I just buy on the black market. I wouldn’t make it a single issue for voting, especially in the current political atmosphere. I also get irritated with certain “420” types (I thought this was going to be a rant on the Ron Paul 420 crowd actually). Taking all that into account, I couldn’t disagree with you more on this subject. The benefits of legalization to me personally are pretty small; I don’t even risk that much using the black market.

First and foremost is the staggering injustice of sending people to prison and destroying individual lives and futures because said individuals had the temerity to prefer a different high than is allowed by the status quo.

There’s also the corruption of a police force being able to legally rob people of their personal property – all their personal property – and the abundant evidence that LEO take advantage of that to extremes.

I also hate hypcracy and call it out whenever I can, and the illegality of pot is about as hypocritical as an issue can get with people decrying pot over cocktails while discussing voting against pot to keep things safe.

The tax revenue would be nice – my state has pathetic educational scores. Variety would be nice too; I don’t get a lot of that.

So though I’m no activist, I am grateful for them and for their important, necessary, admirable work.