Thursday, April 24, 2014

A happy blind haze

I've never been particularly opposed to the use of weed.  I just don't really care that much because it doesn't affect my life, for the most part. Like every self-respecting college student I tried it a few times and the effect wasn't so thrilling that I wanted to keep smoking the stuff.  A lot of folks claim that it "didn't do anything for them" or they "just got a headache," which implies to me that they're like the people who light a cigarette but don't really inhale the smoke.  They just want to look cool.  I'd rather have a Manhattan, which is legal and doesn't smell like the rotting anus of a week-dead skunk.

This week has done a few things to change my mind.  I've been playing host to an old college friend who cannot get through the day without a few bowls.  Since he's ensconced in my spare bedroom it doesn't affect me that much--the stink stays in there with him--but I've come to realize the long term effects of pot. I figure I'm also safe from retribution because the person in question isn't the type who follows blogs and so will, in all likelihood, never read this.

I'll give some credit to weed: it doesn't make you mean, and those who've been around me after a few too many drinks know that booze can turn you really nasty. Weed doesn't do this but its cumulative effect over the course of twenty-odd years can make you damned stupid.

Not to say that our case subject is stupid.  People who have degrees from William and Mary are not stupid.  Academically, the guy is brilliant--but his common sense is so utterly fried that I'm not sure how he finds his way around life.

Actually, he doesn't.  This is his first visit to Richmond in many years, but he's spent time here before.  It is not a difficult city to navigate, but his helplessness started off on Monday as comic and  has degenerated to a big pain in the ass.

Example 1: I get a call as he's driving in.  He takes the Boulevard exit as instructed, but then wants to stay on the phone so he can get step-by-step instructions. OK, that sort of makes sense.
Me: "Drive past the baseball field. You'll cross Broad street and then you'll see Monument Avenue.  Keep going until you see the Virginia Museum, and then take the very next left."
Dude: "There's a statue..."
Me: "That's Monument Avenue. You're good. Keep going."
Dude: "Is that a college?"
Me: "?"
Dude: "Some big brick thing. It has a sign."
Me: (to self) he can only mean the
Dude: "I don't see the street. Oh, wait, that's Ellwood."
Me: "You drove past it. Circle around and come back."
Dude: "How?"
At this point I was ready to send out the Marines, but I was able to talk him back around.

Example 2: After a day touring on his own he was driving back to my place. Once again, he got lost trying to find it despite having been there for two days, but found it on his own.  Another call:
"I'm on your street. Where should I park?"
"Um...wherever you see a parking place."
"But I don't see any."
"Dude. This works like any other city. Find a damn parking place and walk back."
"But where???"
"How the hell do I know? I don't have some magic parking spot finder."

He did eventually park--a block away--which led to Example 3, in which he was so confused by the parking signs which are exactly the same as those in every other city that he took a picture of them to show me so I could decipher them for him. Let me point out that Richmond's parking signs are identical to those I've seen in every other city.

Example 4 was when one of the cats puked in the hallway.  This became a matter of great concern for visiting dude.  Let me point out, here, that he also has a cat.   Cats vomit. It's just something they do.  He not only felt the need to report it, but made it a topic of conversation for five minutes. It's cat barf, man. It happens.

None of these particular examples is anything egregious, but it demonstrates to me that weed will ultimately rot your brain.  So will booze, I suppose, but most alkies I know can still pretty much function as long as they're sober at the time.  This guy is hopelessly lost even when he hasn't had a hit for hours.  Do I know for certain it's the weed's fault? No, but I do know that the man wasn't like this twenty years ago and I don't know what else might have caused it.

So does this mean I think marijuana should remain illegal? No.  It just means I think it's a bad idea to make heavy use of it.  Why shouldn't it be illegal?  I think there are quite a few logical reasons that it shouldn't be.  To me, the biggest problem with illegalized pot is that it consumes far too much time in the legal system, and gets far too many otherwise good people in trouble.  As much as my friend's brain has been addled by pot, he's a good guy and a productive (if often lost) member of society.  However, if his employer did test--he's in the same line of work that I am--he'd lose his job.  If he gets pulled over on his way home from Richmond, he'll probably be in trouble if anyone takes a good look at his car. Not only does this waste police effort, it gums up the court system with things that just aren't that big of a deal.  We have bigger problems.  Marijuana simply does not cause the problems that "bigger" drugs cause.  No drug warfare erupts over pot--it just doesn't generate enough revenue.

What about legalizing other things?  Well--did we learn nothing from Prohibition? You just can't legislate morality.  If people want to do something, they're going to find a way to do it.  And, just like booze in the '20s, making coke and its relatives illegal just means that people will still use them, but that a thriving underworld will blossom.  It has, and it's ruined almost all of our major cities. Even small cities--e.g., Hagerstown--have a gangrenous underbelly because not only do they have their own drug world, they have become distribution centers for the larger cities.

Let's go ahead and legalize all the stuff.  We can regulate it and tax hell out of it, just like we do with booze.  Think of the jobs created: all the stores: "Just Mary Jane!" "Heroin To Go".  And the bureaucracy: by the time the US, in its post-Roosevelt fashion, gets done opening up regulatory agencies in every city, states following suit, and of course Treatment Options for those with Problems, there will be millions of new jobs. Which will mean that the down-and-out who are currently drug users will be able to have productive lives.

Also, we'll be able to play "I Get a Kick Out Of You" on the radio without censoring its lyrics.

1 comment:

  1. If you are talking about whom I think you are, he wasn't too sharp as a young man either. Not to be mean or anything.


Thanks! Now, go get a drink, sit down and enjoy the show.