Some people get more crotchety in their old age.
Others get more, um, reflective; they are more able to see the big picture.
I think — at least I hope — I am in that latter group.
I’ve spent a lifetime to date believing we should maintain marijuana’s illegal status. People should be punished for using the devil weed. That was how I used to think. I’m beginning to feel differently about that — and a lot of other things — as I grow older.
The states of Washington and Colorado are about to effectively legalize its use. A recent “60 Minutes” report declared that there are now more medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver that McDonald’s and Starbucks combined. It’s going to be taxed and regulated by the state. Coloradoans will be able to purchase the stuff essentially over the counter.
My home state of Oregon also has liberalized its marijuana laws. Other states have followed suit.
Meanwhile, still other states have continued to drop the hammer — as has the federal government with its minimum sentence policy — on those caught carrying and/or consuming small amounts of weed. Texas is one of them, where state police patrols are picking up drivers of vehicles loaded with grass on those so-called “routine traffic stops.”
I’m now wondering aloud whether history is finally forcing a serious change in societal attitudes toward marijuana.
Full disclosure here: I have smoked it. A very long time ago, when I was quite young, before my sons were born and mostly before I got married. My dad once asked me straight up: Have you smoked marijuana? More disclosure: I didn’t have the courage to say “yes.”
That was then. Dad is gone now and wherever he and Mom are, they know the truth. I haven’t touched the stuff in more than 40 years and, oh yes, I did inhale.
Is it sane to keep prosecuting people for consuming a substance that is no more addictive than, say, nicotine or alcohol? How do I know that? Well, I never became hooked on it, nor on alcohol. I did get hooked on cigarettes, but managed to quit cold turkey nearly 34 years ago.
That’s just me. I am aware, however, that millions of others can make similar claims.
I’m aware that I’m late getting into this discussion. What’s fascinated me over many years has been the advocacy of marijuana legalization by prominent conservatives: William F. Buckley, the economist Milton Friedman and former Secretary of State George Schultz, to name just three, all have spoken in favor of legalization. The conservative movement’s godfather, the late U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, did as well.
It’s not just the flaming liberals out there calling for this sea change.
It well might be time to catch this wave.