The New York Times editorial board recently and wholeheartedly endorsed the legalization of marijuana. Stop the presses. Break out the herb grinder. Prepare to add a little more vapor to NYC’s summer humidity. Our nation’s bastion of “liberal” opinions has finally whiffed the sweetleaf wafting from every corner in “Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten, from the The Battery to the Top of Manhattan,” since the mid 1960’s.
“We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion” –um, four decades worth?– “among the members of The Times’ Editorial Board,” –most of whom were high as kites in journalism school– “inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states” –well, three, at least– “to reform marijuana laws.” –subtext: to start profiting heavily from them.
Serious profits are already being made from this miraculous vegetation. But astoundingly, only 6% of government funded studies published ever bothered to explore the bud’s medical benefits. Whereas alcohol invariably leads to a disease of the liver, the list of ailments cured by the leafy natural resource chock full of Cannabinoids, continues to grow. Who would have ever surmised that an organism fueled only by sunlight and water, would have the power to slow cancer, decrease anxiety, settle indigestion, delay Alzheimer’s, inhibit seizures, ease the pain of Multiple Sclerosis, lessen the side effects of hepatitis C, relieve arthritis, reduce nausea from chemotherapy, help metabolism, alleviate PTSD, eliminate Crohns disease, improve the symptoms of Lupus, and most importantly, increase the propensity for laughter in repetitively unfunny Will Ferrell movies.
And yet, it’s still illegal in the majority of our states because, frankly, we haven’t destroyed enough lives with outrageously unjust jail sentences, or in some cases, life without parole. For smoking pot? Really? You’d be treated more leniently if you sold banned Chinese weapons to the Afghani Army for millions in profit while publically snorting coke in a strip club. With a decent lawyer, you’re be looking at seven months house arrest. But if you’re caught with an ounce of pot in Oklahoma, for example, you’re going down, possibly for the rest of your life.
Not long ago, a friend and I were in a bar, collaborating on a screenplay. Ideas were fast firing from multiple neurons, and though we were each sipping a beer, it was the puff we took before we entered that had us manifesting on a higher plane. If alcohol is a social lubricant, then pot is most definitely a mental one. Perhaps not for everyone, but for some, the drug is the Ex-Lax of creativity. It oils an entirely different set of cerebral hinges than liquor does, and helps me think outside of thinking outside of the box, or the bottle, as it were.
Not surprisingly, a group of hard cocktailing Wall Streeters were somewhat threatened by the creative synergy emanating from our corner booth, and after shots of something resembling castor oil, one of them stumbled over and asked, “Yo, how do you bring a laptop into a bar on a Friday night?” My friend, a wordsmith extraordinaire, simply said, “The front door?”
That led to epithets appropriate for someone doing Jaeger shots at 7pm. Not sure why these suits feel like it’s okay to drink their faces off, while condemning dope smokers as amoral, other than the arbitrariness of one being sanctioned and not the other. So the legal one must be okay, and the illegal one a breech of universal ethics. Damn the inhaler of cannabis.
But of the two mind-altering substances, only one makes most people progressively duller, and yet significantly quicker to act on asinine impulses: booze. How often have you read about sexual misconduct at a fraternity starting with a group of football players sharing a joint? It’s almost exclusively liquor that fuels that kind of aggression. That’s the nature of the poison. Mix it with youthful testosterone and you have some seriously pernicious chemistry.
Fortunately, I had an actual police badge from an indie film I had just worked on. I locked in a laser glare while subtly dropping the badge and said, “You need to walk away now,” which he promptly did. Had he not been eight beers and three shots into his night, he might’ve noticed it was a 1980’s Transit Police badge found at a flea market by our prop department. Now, had I flashed that to a stoner, they’d probably have looked at it longer, or maybe asked permission for the tactile pleasure of running their fingers over its golden spires. Because pot, more than anything else, makes you curious…
So it’s strange that some people in certain places (congress?) continue to portray marijuana as degenerate, while sipping a glass of something that’s turning their liver into death sponge. In all of my variegated experiences, I’ve never seen a single person start a fight in a bar because they were high. Or resist arrest cause they were totally baked. Or crash a car. Or vomit on themselves. Or piss in a public place. Or sexually harass the opposite sex… because they were stoned to the bejesus-bells. No need for a smoke responsibly campaign, since stoners don’t fuck up over and over again like those who are perennially shitfaced do. Locking people up for this drug is arbitrary at best, racist and totalitarian at worst. It’s punishment for a crime that more often than not, has no victim, or consequences.
The sad irony is that later that week, my creative friend was arrested for smoking a joint on a bench in a park. With alcohol, he would have been fined for an “open container,” or more likely, just admonished, and ordered to throw it away. Instead, he was cuffed and hauled to a holding cell under City Hall, where he was forced to stay the night since the courts were closed. Had it been a Friday, he’d have been stranded till Monday morning. Three nights and three days, funded by taxpayer money, for choosing to relax by smoking instead of imbibing.
So welcome to the par-tay New York Times editorial board. Maybe you’ll put your money where your endlessly chattering mouths are and stop testing your writers for pot. What they do away from work to stay balanced and objective in their egregiously underpaid lives is none of your damn business.
Maybe a decade from now, this ludicrous, costly, harmful, wasteful, antiquated prohibition will be formally repealed and we can redirect our focus to limit the abuse of other easily attainable, far more deleterious drugs instead. You can bet we’ll be toasting each other when that happens…