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Ganja Merit Badge?

In a few weeks I'll be voting on whether Marijuana should be legal in the state of California. As a kid I never understood why hippies or California weirdos wanted to legalize it. I agreed with most opponents of legalization that weed was a gateway drug. Smoke grass and soon you'd be up with cocaine and you're screwed.
You could see the junkies on the street, their bodies bony like images out of a pledge to feed Africa, signs asking for money to eat, pan handling at intersections through out the island when I was young. While doing my High School summer jobs I would catch sketchy characters trying to shop-lift t-shirts. And while on the boy scouts I was shown the video of a man breaking a heroin addiction in jail cold turkey. It was worse than any horror movie I've seen -- the suffering was so immense. This thin man lost control of all body functions, and shook like he was possessed. Heroine which mimics endorphine alters the brain chemistry. When you break cold-turkey all the pain receptors in your body activate. Deep pain through your bones racks through your body.

When I went to Film School I realized something very strange. In the US there is a culture of pot use. In the States, weed was not a gateway drug as much as I though and it turns out that it was like the underground speakeasys of the prohibition. A friend invited me to play video games and we went to his friend's house, who turned out to be his dealer. A bag the size of airline pillows was laid across the coffee table where the xbox lay in wait. I freaked out a bit. I told the guy that was crazy, he didn't know me how could he have so much pot just laying there. He replied that if I though that was a lot of pot I should look in the drawer. There were bags and bags like the one on the coffee table. He was rather cavalier and unworried about it.
I think at this point legalizing becomes an option. It will allow for regulation much needed and it would choke off the easy pot money going to Mexican drug cartels that have Mexico (and who else?) in their thrall.  Keeping it in the shadows just allows a whole section of the population to become inured to breaking the law. It become gate-way behavior if not exactly a gateway drug.

(photo by shimriz, used under creative commons attribution license)


  1. I agree. I haven't smoked that much in my life, and if it were legal I doubt I'd smoke it often, but having it regulated, taxed, and legal seems like a smart move.

    As good old Bill Hicks said, "You see a guy at a ball game who's angry, yelling at everyone, and getting in a fight. Is he drunk or stoned?"

    Audience: Stoned!

    Bill: "The one and only correct answer!"


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