The blog has gone international! This is a result of posting my previous entry on the IMDb message board for Batman Returns. I've garnered hits from Canada, Australia, U.K., Sweden, Iraq, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, and New Zealand! I've listed all of them because I'm a dork, and these newest hits excite me. And I do hope at least some of these international readers come back to the blog!
(Begin cheap segue.) I'm not sure how laws regarding marijuana differ in each these countries, but here in the good ol' US of A marijuana is illegal on a federal level. The push to make weed an illegal substance began in the late 1800s, when many states began considering it a poison. Due to the zero annual reported deaths from marijuana use, in conjunction with our healthcare system being dominated by pharmaceutical companies that want to fill you with drugs that cause side effects that must be counteracted by consuming more drugs, the once-legal and natural substance is illegal. Because things make sense here.
According to Uncle Sam, marijuana is a 'Schedule I' drug with no medical use, and it is not safe to use under medical supervision. People who disagree with this stance include fucking doctors and fucking soldiers who risked their fucking lives for our country and use the drug to treat PTSD. A lot of legislation seems to be based on misconception, with a big dose of straight-up hogwash.
You may have been told by a high school health teacher (who was also the driver's ed teacher and maybe the field hockey coach) that marijuana is a "gateway drug". This means that if you start smoking it, you're more likely to eventually switch to harder drugs like cocaine or heroin. Maybe you'll even start using 'bath salts'and eating people's faces. So just don't even try it kids! The problem with this 'theory' is that there is no conlusive evidence that this is true. In fact, research has shown that tobacco use is actually a better indicator of an eventual turn to harder substances. But the government has no problem with regulating and selling that. I'm not saying the government is run by a bunch of hypocrites who serve the lobbyists that line their pockets rather than serving the public that elects them, but... Oh wait, yes I am. The government is run by a bunch of hypocrites who serve the lobbyists that line their pockets rather than serving the public that elects them! (That exclamation point proves it.)
Another bit of rubbish I hear from time to time is that marijuana use can lead to mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Instead of just believing that because it sort of sounds like maybe it makes sense, we can once again just look at actual statistics. There is no correlation between use of cannabis and cases of mental health disorders. Think about it: despite what could be seen as evidence of insanity based on clothing choices, your aunts and uncles are sane enough now to be embarrassed by those old photographs of exposed chest hair and vaguely Indian-looking headbands. I say your aunts and uncles because your parents never smoked weed! They've never even seen it! Now go to your room and don't ask questions anymore, godammit!
I often hear (from people that I'm reasonably sure have never actually tried it) that marijuana is addictive. Guys, for the sake of this article, I began researching this on my own many years ago. I can tell you that, yes, it can become a habit. But then again so can biting your cuticles or collecting Pez dispensers, and so far both of those things are still legal. I wouldn't use the word addictive to describe weed, though. If I'm not broke and I can get some, great. If I can't, which is most often the case, I'm okay without it. There's no withdrawal. There's no overpowering cravings. There's no beating up an old lady in a wheelchair to steal her money so I can get a 'fix'.
So, why does it become a habit then?
Short answer: Because it's awesome.
Longer answer: If you know me as a friend, you might say I'm a person who loves to laugh and have a good time. That is certainly true when I'm with friends. But most of the time I'm irritable, grouchy, or downright miserable because I have to be in some stupid public place dealing with stupid public people. In this scenario, weed has done quite the opposite of causing a mental disorder for me. It would be safe to say that it may have prevented me from being institionalized on more
than one occasion.
Here's how the same scene can go down in two different ways: I'm at a fast food restaurant because either I'm broke or have no respect for my bowels that day (or both). Since society still grapples with simple concepts such as forming a line, I'm standing in a clusterfuck of people jockeying for position to order their McArteryclogs or Super Quadruple Bacon Deluxe with extra bacon. Or a bacon sundae because we're out of control as a people. Anyway, some chump walks in after me but takes up that classic stance like he's determined to cut me. Maybe he's in a hurry, but most likely he's going to sit down and eat there anyway so why do you have to be first, guy?
In version one of this scenario, I am stoned (which is probably why I'm there in the first place). I think to myself, "Maybe he's in a hurry." or "Who cares? He's just some asshole that I'm never going to see again." I don't let it bother me. I might even let him go first just to be the better person. I go on with my life, get my awful food, and think that it tastes heavenly, duuuude.
In version two, I am stone sober. Depending on how cranky I am, my thoughts may vary from "What a douchebag!" to "I'm going to get in this guy's face and start biting his nose like Rowdy Roddy Piper!" to "Does this guy think he's better than me? Like we're in some sort of caste system and he's ranked higher than me? Fuck this guy. Fuck society. I'll blow society up, motherfuckers! Then you can be first in line to hell, you son of a bitch and a bastard!!" I go on with my life but keep thinking about the lack of manners and respect in our world, get my awful food, and sit there not enjoying it while I think about how much our civilization sucks.
Which is the scarier of the two? I know I prefer to be the guy from the first variation of the story. I'm sure society at large appreciates that version of me, whether they know it or not.
Aside from preventing me from doing something utterly crazy, like building an atomic bomb in my garage, marijuana benefits me on a creative level like nothing else I've ever experienced. I've always been capable of coming up with lots and lots of ideas, but they're usually scattered and often half-formed. Ingestion of 'the devil's herb' helps me connect the dots. This idea and that idea and yet another idea are suddenly part of one big idea that I somehow overlooked, and once I have a solid idea, I can make it a goal to get it done and then actually accomplish my goal. There is a stereotype of the lazy stoner who spends his days lying on the couch, eating mass quantities of Slim Jims, and playing GoldenEye on the N64 all day. While I am guilty of all of those things while 'doing pot' sometimes, I'm more often busy furiously scribbling down my ideas or editing a film that just sat there while I was in Sober-Land.
But Uncle Sam is not for this. Uncle Sam points at me and says "I WANT YOU (to build an atomic bomb in yourgarage)!" That's not on the actual poster, but it's implied.
There is a saving grace, however. Many states are bucking the federal laws in favor of being tubular. The most tubular states are Washington and Colorado, which both legalized possession and sale of cannabis for recreational use. A handful of other states have decriminalized possession and/or made medical usage legal. I'm not sure if there's any relation, but sales of Funyuns have skyrocketed in these states.
I live in Pennsylvania, where currently marijuana is illegal but the state controls the sale and taxing of tobacco products and alcohol (both of which are proven to kill their consumers). Honestly, I thought PA would be one of the last states (actually it's a commonwealth!) to legalize pot, but Senator Daylin Leach (whose parents must have been hippies, I mean, Daylin? What the hell?) has ridden in like a sterling knight on a tie-dyed horse to propose a bill that will legalize cannabis, giving it the same status as cigs and booze.
This makes sense. Whether you're a pothead, enjoy smoking ocassionally, or don't plan on ever trying it, you will still benefit. How? Taxes. The drug will be regulated and taxed, just like your cognac and your delicious, mild Camel cigarettes. And since pretty much everybody who wants to smoke weed already knows where to get it, these same people could now do so without running the risk of legal repercussions. I haven't driven through much of the country, but in Pennsylvania just driving on the highway may result in the need for new shocks or an alignment. The roads are full of more holes than the plot of a Godfrey Ho movie. The bridges seem to be held up by a combination of duct tape and wishes. More tax revenue (that doesn't come from reaming the middle class) would certainly welcome.
How else would you benefit? I just mentioned legal repercussions in the previous paragraph, and even if you've never been arrested for possession or distribution, you still pay for it. Think about all the guys you see playing basketball at the prison when you're driving home. Oh, you don't drive past a prison on your way home like I do? Take my word for it, there's a lot of guys playing H-O-R-S-E in there. And there's more of them lifting weights and standing by the baseball diamond but not playing baseball. I'm sure you already know that the maintenance of their sports equipment, their shelter, their meals, and their cable channels are paid for by you and me with our taxes.
Considering (according to 2007 Dept. of Justice data) there were nearly two million drug arrests that year, and just about half of them were marijuana-related, that's a lot of sports equipment you're paying to have maintained for some pothead that's probably only playing because Pigfucker Charlie will shank him if he doesn't help his team win.
That's not even the half of it. According to one source, the United States spent about 15 BILLION dollars waging "The War On Drugs" in 2010. That's 15billion that could have gone to funding education or feeding the poor, which may in the long run prevent a few people from selling drugs to make ends meet or start using drugs because their lives suck and they live in a country where people who sink companies into bankruptcy make millions of dollars but many war veterans live on the street.
So, legalizing marijuana would create more tax revenue for the state and cut down on the amount of money needed to house non-violent criminals and train dogs to bark at hippies. And if the federal goverment would pull its head out of its ass to take a bong rip, that would in turn create the opportunity to save even more money being spent on "The War On Drugs", which many sensible people have pointed out is an abyssmal failure.
Pennsylvania often becomes an important election state because we stockpile senior citizens but also have lots of hip, young people living in urban areas. Maybe if our state jumped on the legalization train even more states would be quick to follow. After all, we are The Keystone State (The Keystoned State, right dudes? Mah hahhhhh!). It's like the stars have aligned, and they're telling the universe to make something radical happen. That's great as long as there's nothing to stand in the way for no other apparent reason than "just because".
Er... there might be. Here's a little story: Once upon a time a man's pet horse took a huge dump on the front lawn. Just as a goof, the man put a suit on the manure and affixed a wig (color: politician white) on top. In a perfect example of a goof-gone-wrong, the pile of horseshit somehow got elected Governor of Pennsylvania. Naturally, the article in which I read about the marijuana bill also included information that Governor Horseshit has already made it known that he will oppose legislation that makes marijuana legal. (Also, he hates education and will stop at nothing until it is eradicated. That's not in the article, but anybody living in the state knows this.)
I'm hoping that the universe is already in the early stages of enacting a plan to make him change his stance. Maybe the universe will give him a free bag of weed and a copy of Nilsson Schmilsson, and that will be enough to get the job done. Or maybe he'll just apply some logical thought to the situation, and he'll decide that more tax revenue for something that people are already buying coupled with less spending for law enforcement and the incarceration of people who smell like patchouli would be a good thing.
Maybe. Hopefully. But whatever the case, I gotta get back to GoldenEye. I'm trying to beat that level where Natalya always runs into the middle of a gunfight and gets killed. Oh, that's every level she's in. The one where she works the computer really slowly...