Okay, maybe we won’t be fighting New Hampshire in court over use of that motto. But you can bet that as soon as the post-election punditry settles down and the news channels start looking for “Hey, Martha!”-type topics, our town will draw attention for having passed Measure Y, which reduces the enforcement priority on adult personal use of marijuana in Santa Monica.
I voted in favor of the measure, and obviously so did a lot of other Santa Monica voters. Now that we’ve spoken, saying, I think, that we don’t want law enforcement resources distracted with “busting” adults for deploying joints (with exceptions for minors, sale of marijuana, use on public property and driving under the influence) when there’s a world of other things they could be doing… what else have we said with the passing of Y?
Certainly one is left with the feeling that marijuana use is here to stay. So are we, as a city, striking that off our list of targets in any kind of “war on drugs?” Are we tacitly approving marijuana’s integration into our (what do we say here?) culture of pleasure? Certainly continued purchase and use of the drug is no secret anymore in just about every corner of America.
Discussions about pot inevitably wander, perhaps because users are often having those discussions. It’s difficult to start out talking about pot’s place in contemporary society and not have the conversation skid all over the map of drugs, alcohol, substance use in general and legalization in specific. Assuming that millions turn to this column for leadership on the big issues, here are some thoughts on marijuana post-Measure Y from a middle-aged dude who’s had too much coffee.
While we need to quit wasting time busting medical marijuana outlets and provide those people the comfort they deserve, we should think at least twice about legalizing pot. Not because of anything specific about the drug, but because America’s experiments in legalizing the recreational drugs alcohol and nicotine (delivered by tobacco) have had mixed results to say the least. Add up deaths from lung cancer, alcohol abuse, drunk driving, death and injury related to alcohol-fueled violence, and you have a hard time selling me a “more drugs, please” agenda. Forget the relative mellowness of pot and ask a schoolteacher about making it easier to obtain intoxicants.
We need to widen our definition of a “drug” and begin teaching a larger framework of consciousness and non-consciousness. It’s not enough to provide kids with drug “information.” We need to inculcate awareness of human potential and how its power can be diminished not only by traditional “drugs” and alcohol but also by such things as a costly and often distracting obsession with fashion and brands. Ideally, your kid would get off the sofa and get a summer job. Having done so, does he use the money for new jeans made overseas by exploited workers or does he buy a book about global economics? Or maybe he just scores some weed.
It would help next generations if we learned to be as “out” about our weaknesses as we are now about sexuality and politics. While celebrities have learned to capitalize on rehab experiences, regular folks like us might do well to confess, “I’m fat because I drink too much beer and have a bad diet. Pizza is a kind of drug for me. I eat to relax and not because I’m hungry…etc.” We need the awareness, and the kids around us could learn from it as well.
So pot use is a weakness? To properly answer that, I’d have to tell you exactly how much wine I drink every week. But I drink that wine in many different locations all over the city, without having that act pull law enforcement away from something more important. Now that things are officially more relaxed, maybe we should get together and talk more about why we do the things we do.