NEWS FROM THE WOODS
By Bob Ketchum
Originally Published November 7, 2012
"The Day After: The world continues to turn"
Well, it is the day after Election Day. We are still an Obamanation - at least for four more years. And yet… the world is still turning, the sun is shining, the fall color in the Ozarks is the most stunning I have ever seen in my life, and an eagle just soared past my window……. Life continues.
I was sorry to see Issue #5 on the Arkansas ballot defeated. It was a very close vote, with 51% against the use of medical marijuana. Although it was defeated, it DOES show that people are warming up to the idea of compassionate care. I think a lot of uninformed people voted against this important issue just because of years of misinformation, or maybe they were afraid this would open the door for future legal recreational use of pot. For the record I am FOR that as well, because after years of being around pot (in the music business) I know first hand that it is NOT a gateway drug, and besides, there is already a legal drug which is MUCH worse that pot. Why not just legalize, control and tax marijuana like we do with alcohol? Isn't this a double standard?
I noticed in the past month on the Internet that MOST of the people who voiced violent opposition to medical marijuana were current or former law enforcement personnel. This does not surprise me in the least. First of all, their world is centered on all of the "bad" in people. All they see day after day are the abusers. What about the judges, doctors, lawyers, truckers, businessmen, and normal law-abiding regular citizens that smoke a joint occasionally behind closed doors ?? They are careful. They are discrete. They do not wallow in the drug culture. They have jobs, careers, and things to accomplish in their lives. Law enforcement will not ever "see" those people. All they see are the perps that abuse the drug. That goes for alcohol as well. All they see are the drunks. Responsible drinkers do not give them cause to scrutinize suspiciously. This is a simple fact. So I suppose they get a skewed view of drug abuse. Is beer a "gateway drug" to tequila? No.
I cannot imagine the impact legalization would have on our country. What would this do to the privately owned prisons? "Attendence" would drop drastically! What would this do to the drug market? It would critically cripple it. The only thing left would be the REAL dangerous drug trafficking !! Relative innocents would not be thrown in with hardened criminals. And the taxes!!??? OMG! How much money does the AT&F Department take in on taxation of liquor and cigarettes??? What would legalization DO to the booze and cigarette market? How many people would throw away their cigarette habit or their dependence on booze and instead smoke an occasional joint ?? Would there be abusers? Of course there would, but would it be any worse than people going to the black market for their source? Besides, the war on pot is statically a failure. How long has it been going on? And what progress has REALLY been made? Kids (and adults) in every corner of the US can easily find weed today… EVEN KNOWING that they stand to get caught!! Also, if you take the "mystery" and "rebelliousness" from something a lot of people just turn away from it…….
As of today, there are 17 states (and D.C.) that have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana. Colorado and Washington have approved RECREATIONAL marijuana use. FOURTEEN States have decriminalized marijuana. This sends a clear message that people all over the nation are getting fed up with the current tragedy perpetrated on the American public. It's taking a bit longer that it took our parents generation to say "Enough!" . . . but in the end I believe that more and more states will adopt similar attitudes until it will become a national issue. I hope I am still alive to see this pass nationally, just so I can say "I Told You So!" to all those uninformed people who thought smoking pot would send you straight to hell, and to those who have been responsible for dragging their feet over something that forced SO many people into the closet to escape their stress for just a few hours. Back when I smoked pot I can remember how much relief I would get from the days troubles in just a five minute smoke break.
Funny thing: You go into a bar full of drunks and eventually a fight is gonna' break out. You go into a living room with pot smokers and the worst that happens is they clean out your refrigerator. Also, I was a MUCH more careful driver when I was high, so don't tell me about the horrors of pot smokers careening around in cars crashing into bus loads of nuns and children ! Let's leave that fear where it truly belongs: The DUI and DWI.
These days it is very easy to inject misinformation into the mainstream of social consciousness, using blogs and social networking. Facebook, for all its social benefits, can also be used to spread lies, deceit, and propaganda. The marijuana issue has had a long history of "information abuse", starting with William Randolph Hurst and "Reefer Madness", filmed in 1936. Back in the 70's it was popular among my circle of friends to have "Reefer Madness" parties, and to sit and watch the movie while wiping the tears of laughter from our faces, because we knew better. It wasn't so funny when later on we realized that some people actually believed what they saw on the screen. The stigma of "Reefer Madness" still lives on, fueled by an outdated and corrupt set of laws.
I love this country. I cannot think of many other countries where you have the freedom to speak your mind on volatile subjects without fear of harassment or incarceration. In the United States, you may "take on the establishment" and are afforded the right to express your opinion without recrimination. Sometimes it seems that our rights are slowly being chipped away, and in many cases I agree with that assessment. Freedom of speech and the right to bear arms are the cornerstones of our republic. Let's keep it that way.