Friday, February 8, 2013

Joined Sentiment about Legal Joints

Citing the Pot Czar position still waiting to be filled in Washington State, Neworth whittled off a number of liberal talking points: Obama won by a landslide (no!), the expansion of victories for women (tell that to women struggling under massive unemployment), and more states endorsing gay marriage (hardly gay, and marriage has never been about equality). Then he mentioned the Colorado and Washington State initiatives which decriminalized recreational use of marijuana. Throughout Neworth trumpeted his support for ending the War on Drugs. Oh My God -- Are you high? I thought to myself as I was reading “The Big Bong Theory”. Fast times at SaMo High, maybe? Where’s Sean Penn when you need him?
Joint, er. . . point of fact, Jack Neworth and I agree on something else. I have either hit “Cloud Nine”, or gotten lost in the “Purple Haze” of lefty guitarist Jimmy Hendrix, or Jack Neworth’s “Crystal “Blue state Persuasion” has taken over. Now, for the second time this year, I find myself agreeing with this polar (or bipolar?) opposite on another policy issue.

Without a doubt, drugs never should have been criminalized -- never!
Granted, it was never the smartest idea to allow a former Confederate General to market a “soft drink” laced with Cocaine (that’s “Coca-Cola” to you and me). Then again, legal versions of cocaine (novocain, anyone?) are readily available.
I had resisted the notion of decriminalizing drugs. In those days I believed that more laws, more penalties, more enforcement would stop people from using drugs. Telling wolves not to eat meat made more sense.
I freed my mind when free market Milton Friedman argued t hat drug laws were “immoral.” Then I studied the history of Marijuana Prohibition. Depression-era pencil-pusher Henry Anslinger wanted to stay working during the FDR administration. Anslinger cooked up (no spoons) a scheme to create a nuisance to prosecute and keep himself employed: criminalize marijuana. Fresh off of alcohol prohibition, the United States federal government, under Democratic leadership, proposed that MJ should be “Not OK”. Just to stir up anti-MJ sentiment,Anslinger helped produce the now laughable movie Reefer Madness. The horror! The horror!
Respectfully, Neworth acknowledged in his piece that it was “National Review” conservative William F. Buckley who said Decriminalize! God bless that "Krypto Nazi", (according to liberal goad Gore Vidal). Then again, joint. . .er, point of fact, the Nazis and other nanny-state socialist tyrannies have long supported drug control, along with every other form of control possible. A long list of libertarian-Conservative-Republicans have favored decriminalization: ABC radio host Larry Elder, former Congressman David Dreier (R- San Dimas), and the two Pauls, father Ron (Congressman from Texas) and son Rand (Senator from Kentucky). What better way for Republicans to flex their “anti-establishment”muscles and burn Democrats as out of touch (or just plain out of it).
Of course, even if I want to sink the legal wrangling, micromanaging liberals among us, I must conceded that it was a Republican President who pushed (pun intended) the War on Drugs on this country. Richard Milhous Nixon was an ambitiously immoderate moderate to many GOP operatives, and one of his worst legacies was the DEA, along with the EPA and price controls. And there was that Watergate thing, too. Perhaps Nixon has been using gateway drugs in those days. Was he a member of a different “Silent Majority” of abusers?
Besides, I never liked First Lady Nancy Reagans’ “Just Say No!” campaign against drug use. Neither do the growing numbers of youth who still get high. In the South Bay, I often overhear high school students talk about going home and getting high in broad daylight, either at school or at McDonalds (I’m not lovin’ it!). One high school graduate, clothed all in white, even outlined to me which drugs are most popular, and where. In the local paper, I read about two teen deaths on the same obituary page. Imagine how much easier it would be for anyone to get help once they know that there will be no condemnation, no incarceration for using (or rather abusing) a controlled substance.
Decriminalization is fast upon us, from statewide to nationwide. Colorado, Washington state, and as we speak even little Rhode Island is on track to decriminalizing marijuana. Strangely enough, former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy resigned from office because of drug abuse, yet he resists decriminalization. From “Chappaquiddick” to “Getting-high-ain’t-chic”,this double-standard cannot stand for long. Next to California, Rhode Island has high taxes, higher regulations, and one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Very soon, they will be getting “high” on MJ without going to J-A-I-L.
Once again, a liberal and conservative are feeling their way through the purple (or green) haze. Here’s to more consensus in the future (but I won’t smoke on it).

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