Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I still think it's a bad idea

I watched a few of the news stories on "4/20" day in Colorado. (4/20 is some kind of stoner holiday; supposedly it originated with some kids who would go after their high school let out - at 4:20 pm - and go smoke dope).

I still think legalization is a bad and dumb idea. If even one more person starts using because "Hey, it's legal...." I think it's a bad idea. (I'm more okay with decriminalization - not locking up small-time users. But legalization, in a lot of people's minds, is tantamount to the government saying "This is A-OK to do, folks.")

Granted, the news stories showed the worst offenders and the most outrageous people - the ones who claimed they didn't want to do anything, ever, other than get high.

And if that's true, if that's not just the weed or the fact that they're on tv talking, that makes me sad. All you want to do is get high? You don't want to make a contribution to the world? You don't want to be a good parent to a child? You don't want to create something? You just want to sit in a haze that seems to me not all that different from the people in the long-term care centers with reduced brain function?

Makes me think sometimes we should charter a plane to a big island somewhere, put a sign on it saying "FREE POT INSIDE!!!!!" and then fly everyone who gets on to that island, drop them off, and leave them to figure out how to stay alive.

Me? I want to work for a living. I want to feel - at least on my good days - like I'm making some kind of contribution to society, that I'm trying to make things better. And in my free time, I want to create stuff. Or learn stuff. Or make music.

And yeah, yeah, I am sure a lot of that can happen when a person is at least minimally high, but it seemed to me the people intent on partying were pretty inert other than for smoking.

I know I am unduly harsh about this. But I've dealt with people with drug issues - bad neighbors I had one year, a student who came to class hammered, a TA who got kicked out of school for using and for stealing drugs. And I have little patience for any of that. Yes, people should be free to live their lives and I don't freakin' care what someone does EXCEPT when it's so loud in my neighborhood at 3 am that I can't sleep, or I have to throw someone out of class because we're doing a dissection lab with scalpels and he might pose a danger to himself, or when I was depending on someone to cover a class for me when I had jury duty, and they just totally flaked and never showed up.

Many things a person does create ripples in the life of others and it frustrates me when someone else's drug use makes my life much more difficult - or, in the case of the AWOL TA, makes ME look bad, like I was the one who flaked.

So, my experience is: heavy drug or alcohol use makes people selfish and irresponsible. And I don't have time to deal with people like that in my life. (As much as I love my relatives? If one of them was a user, I'd cut them out of my life - tell them I didn't want to see them until they were clean, and I wasn't going to help them out financially or anything).

I will say I'll be interested in seeing how much the black market for marijuana is affected by the Colorado legalization and "official" sales places. I know a lot of other states are kind of slavering over the possibility of "more tax dollars" but I wonder, are there still the low-level dealers who undercut the "official" centers because they don't charge state tax? (And is this going to affect the cartels at all? If legalization totally eliminated the cartels and their violence, I might be more grudgingly willing to accept it, but I suspect the cartels will either double-down on violence, or move on to producing and distributing meth or bath salts or something else.)

The other thing - governments have a long history of taxing "undesirable" behaviors (drinking, smoking, and even some would say, buying gasoline), but when those behaviors are reduced, the government finds they are as addicted to the tax money as the people previously were to the substance. So I'm not sure how that will pay out.

The other issue, as I've worried about before: what if some people take up pot smoking when it becomes "more normal," and then find themselves out of a job or addicted or otherwise unable to work? Are they going to want to go on the dole, and then chumps like me - who work hard and don't want to smoke the stuff - wind up paying their living expenses, and maybe even paying for their weed, seeing as they now claim to "need" it. (I've seen contradictory results on the addictivity of pot, but I can't help but think some people must become at least psychologically dependent on it.)

I don't know. As I said before, any other state that is considering legalization should sit back for five or maybe ten years and carefully study what's going on in Colorado, and decide "Is this worth it to us?" and "What unintended consequences are arising?"

Edited to add:

Because I kind of AM unpopular-opinion puffin, at least a lot of the time.

1 comment:

Dave E. said...

I think pot and alcohol helped me grow up in important ways when I was young, though I admit the use also led to a few foolish incidents. Thankfully they weren't serious, but some of them could have been and I pretty much credit the grace of god.

However, there comes a point when every youth has to choose what they want to make of their life. I can say from experience that pot makes that decision easier to delay and harder to figure out. In college particularly, it often starts to even limit the possibilities.

As you note above, there are obvious times when being drunk or stoned are inappropriate. Perhaps the key in this issue partly lies in laying down the rules(don't show up at "X" drunk or stoned), and then enforcing them.

Maybe the bigger picture lies in teaching kids that being a drunk or a stoner is just an awful waste of one's life, knowing that some will end up on that path nor matter what and we will spend the tax revenue from legalization on trying to straighten them out.

Easy for me to say as a childless adult. Easy for me to say as someone who has had a parental support system, and now other family too, always there in the background, just like I am for them. What does legalization do for those kids who don't have that? Or parents for that matter?