Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day three hundred and eight ... High time for a change.

Here I sit, on my couch, on a crisp, sunny New England Tuesday; it's one minute before eleven in the morning and I haven't voted yet.

Not to worry. I will get to it sometime in the next couple of hours. But I'm not too worried which way Massachusetts is going to go. Disregarding the fact that Deval Patrick is the first Democratic Governor since 1990 I have a pretty good feeling about the Commonwealth's outcome.

But there is a question on the ballot that is of interest to me.

The question is about weed.

On the block, in Massachusetts, is an item that, if passed, would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. 

From Boston.com: "Offenders would be subject to forfeiture of the drug and a $100 fine - for those under 18, the $100 fine would be contingent on their completing within a year a drug awareness program with a community service component. Otherwise, the fine could increase to as high as $1,000."

Sounds good to me.

See, as much as I am glad I don't concern myself with smoking the stuff anymore, I think it is absolutely ridiculous to be putting people behind bars for having it. 

The way I see it, there's only so much trouble you can get into by smoking weed. If you do it right you can have a few puffs, settle into whatever you're doing, remember that you're ravenously hungry (but I just ate ... or did I?) and laugh a little harder at a few things that might seem a little funnier.

And that's what I love about weed.

What I don't love about weed is all of the strings that are attached: the need for an honest and reliable dealer, the constant readying of the paraphernalia, the concealment of the substance on one's person, the unavoidable need for a lighting implement, and the subsequent paranoia that ensues from a combination of these stated requirements but also the psychoactive properties of said hootch.

I'm not going to try to convince anyone that marijuana is harmless. Do too much of anything and there will be resulting consequences. I'm also not going to say that I think everyone should smoke the stuff, because I don't. And while I don't agree with the idea that weed is a "gateway drug," I do know that it was the first drug (not including booze) that I tried as a youngster. And because each and every one of the drugs I tried came after weed, I suppose you could say that it was a gateway drug for me. 

And because I could consistently gain access to alcohol, even in my teens, I allowed myself to climb the ladder of substances--my curiosity surpassed only by my rebellious, alcohol-fueled bravado--stopping right before the rung which heroin sits on, and indulge my senses.

If there had been a no-nonsense, candid, honest discussion on the pros and cons about drugs, things may have turned out different. However, I was just told to never, under any circumstances, do any drugs, period, end of story. 


Although many of the forbidden substances became merely a firm footnote in my mind, police record, and DNA, weed always ran alongside me. It was part of my identity. It was a large percentage of my makeup and ideals which I held firmly onto because, for a guy who's pretty docile, my vehemence against "The Man" for keeping weed illegal, and squashing my right to "puff-tough" gave me a feeling of power.

I was saying "Fuck You" in my own way. In my own, pungent, natural, inconsistent, expensive, water-cooled way I was showing my disagreement with America's laws. But, I suppose that seeing I was doing it as secretly as possible I may have been proving absolutely nothing at all. 

Now, I realize that this bill wouldn't make weed legal in any way. I understand that in the eyes of the feds that marijuana would still be forbidden. I also understand that a $100 fine is still a $100 fine and that subsequent offenses would be dealt with on a more serious level. But, I think this all comes from a more psychological place than the press is letting on.

I think that the issue here is more about deescalating the stigma and allure around the stuff, rather than saying everybody can now get away with smoking it. And how many times have we done things merely because people told us we couldn't or shouldn't? Speaking from experience, I know I am certainly guilty of many infractions, mostly as a result of a challenge.

And this gives me hope. This tells me that the place where I live (in conjunction with several states in the union who have already gone this path) has loosened the grip on its baton and begun to think in less literal terms. It is a huge step in our nation's acceptance that the generations which made many of our current laws have less in common with the people who currently have to live by them. And it shows me that we, as Americans, can look objectively at an issue and give both sides equal time and respect, regardless of what the experts say.

And, of course, considering this was put on this year's ballot as a binding referendum due to a majority vote on a previous ballot, I know that it's something that normal citizens have agreed to make a choice on.

I could be happy smoking weed for the rest of my life. My goal, however, is to simplify my requirements for happiness. Therefore, legal or not, I'm not going to add it back into the cache of my activities. I will, however, vote in favor of a shift in thinking for America. Because I believe we have become more willing to dig deeper into the reasons why our laws tell us not to do certain things. We are more accepting in the idea that we may have made a mistake when we allowed those in power to tell us what to do. It is one more step in our ongoing dissection of our motives. From the abolition of slavery, to women's suffrage, to gay marriage, to this (and a few I missed) we have the power in our hands to rewrite history.

People do not change; they evolve. 

That said, I'm going to get out there and join the rest of my fellow Americans to show how far we have come on this issue, and a few others that have been in the news lately. 

From each border of the Commonwealth, to the oceans that bookend America's shores, to the dotted lines that separate us from two vast nations reminding us that we are not isolated, regardless of whether we give the image that we are an island unto ourselves, we can make our voices heard.

Now get out there and change the course of history ... because you can.

Thanks for reading.


I'm F. Alex Johnson and I approve this message, man.

1 comment:

guess said...

Yes we can..yes we did, yes we will!!