Guest Column: Response to Reggie’s column about marijuana

Editor’s note: The following is in response to Reggie Roberson’s Nov. 3-9 “Ramblings from Reggie” column “Weed and seed?”

By M.J. Aukes

Trying to understand the argument Rambling Reggie [Roberson] was attempting to make against marijuana legalization in his recent column, I found it troubling that he dismissed most of the relevant facts so easily. To begin, “strong sentiment for legalization, safer than alcohol, not addictive, significant tax revenues, etc.” seems to say it all.

The “not as simple” and “deeper issues” turn out to be drug war propaganda and lies. An accident would be an appropriate time to raise the question of impairment. The cost of proper tests might be a bit higher, but more rarely used. As compared to the problem-prone, cheaper “common tests” now used, they give most reliable results. For the record, there are tests that can establish recent use timelines.

Regardless, a system based on close examination of reckless behavior would be more appropriate than mass screenings. There are various situations that would be inappropriate to be “using marijuana.” Work would probably be one, although there are many tales of benign work-related pot use. My favorite, the writing of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest while working night shift in a mental hospital.

As for “American farmers converting HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of acres from food to pot,” this is ridiculous! Anyone who wants to get high at present can. I doubt if that much additional product could be absorbed even if people who previously hadn’t tried it, tried it after legalization and liked it. That is not to deny the possibility of that occurring involving hemp for food and/or fuel.

I’m not sure what legalization of marijuana would do to the Mexican and South American economies. But it sure as hell would reduce border violence here. Exactly why immigration would be adversely affected seems an unclear bogeyman.

“The economy of the United States”? “Billions of dollars spent in our economy from the illegal trade of drugs and our economy may be crushed if it all stopped immediately.” I would point out that is the goal of the drug war.

Milton Friedman felt there would be a $200 billion positive minimum economic benefit from legalization of marijuana.

I would agree with Reggie, although for different reasons, that “the government is not serious about the war on drugs.” But the “war on drugs” is very serious for the victims, participants and victims of crossfire killed.

It seems that the point of legalization is lost on Reggie. Yes, the jails would be emptied of non-violent drug law violators, making room for violent criminal predators and making everyone else a little safer in the process.

His assertion that prohibition’s end would create a tax revenue issue is most likely true. Old American tradition, there! This flies in the face of the collapsed economy argument.

I am amazed that someone who, it seems has not experienced personally or been intimate with normal individuals who are users, could be so opinionated. Sort of like an ostrich dealing with turmoil.

But we agree that the answer is education and accountability. The true facts might confuse someone who has only absorbed the “drug war” propaganda line as evidence. I wonder what the founders of this country would say about drug testing for employment?—which Reggie so heartily endorses?

The isolation and economic injustice caused by this tactic marginalizes individual groups. To paraphrase several government commissions that studied prohibition, particularly marijuana (La Guardiz through Nixon): “The oppressive laws are the most harmful effect of marijuana use!”

Just how does “making it legal makes no sense because all it does is make the problems worse in our society” work? In what way does it make it worse? “Strong sentiment for legalization, safer than alcohol, non-addicting revenue source” pretty well covers the issue.

Nowhere does he address the ongoing violence the illegal smuggling economy creates and sustains. Which, to most observers, is the issue.

The hippies getting high and playing video games all day is a problem to Reggie…? Why? Are they eating all the Twinkies at his corner market? I just don’t see the problem. I would rather the hippies be home enjoying whatever, than out shooting up the neighborhood to control drug turf. Anyone familiar with the situation around the Grand Hotel on Broadway before Zion Development intervened will relate to and appreciate my sentiments.

The part that bothers me most is the idea that because something is controversial, it shouldn’t be TALKED about. The opposite IS the American Way.

We come to the most telling revelation from Reggie, “Stop the liberals from forwarding this discussion.” Establishing his credentials as a reactionary, somewhat fascist ideologue. Try as I might, I could not fathom the intent in the statement, “The legalization process seems to have tracks and needs to be stopped.”—a train derailment or treatment for addiction? Hmm?

When Reggie ran his downtown tavern, I know for a fact that some of his patrons got high and went to his bar to socialize. From what I read in his column, he was unaware and would have been astounded had he known. After one-half century in and around the bar and restaurant business, I’d bet that a fair number of his employees smoked a doobie before their shift. If he made an issue of smell, his employees ate onions, chewed gum, smoked tobacco, used perfume and after shave (even bearded ones) to mask any odor. Or smoked before showering and dressing. Odor doesn’t cling to naked skin, only clothing.

Could it be the youngsters (stoned) were hogging the video games and refrigerator, driving the stoned adults to his place?

In all seriousness, perhaps Reggie might broaden his understanding of this social control experiment (prohibition) by reading Sheriff Masters’ book Drug War Addiction detailing his conservative take on the drug war after over a quarter century on the front lines of law enforcement.

In fact, any of the information available from L.E.A.P. (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, drug warriors speaking out), i.e., Judge Gray, etc., would hopefully open Reggie’s and other anti-legalization zealots’ eyes to the reality of present policies.

One last point addressed to religious figures.

How can man justify telling GOD—“You’ve made a mistake putting this plant here for mankind’s use, but—don’t worry, Lord, we’ll fix your mistake by outlawing it and waging a war against it.” With all the usual trappings of war, death, destruction and collateral damage. Amen! Explain why this isn’t heresy, blasphemy, etc., sending all who support this policy straight to hell.

M.J. Aukes is a resident of Rockford.

From the Dec. 1-7, 2010 issue

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