Reefer Gladness in 2017

Despite copious evidence that we may be currently living in a dystopia typically found in richly imagined novels, a Kingdom of Stupidity ruled by an overgrown baby wearing bespoke suits over his diapers, here’s a an important bulletin: Everything isn’t falling apart.

At least here in Los Angeles, California, everything hasn’t fallen apart.

Yes, we live under the same White House administration as people in, say, West Virginia and Wisconsin, states whose electoral votes went to the current occupant. And, yes, our local government is controlled by a velvet mafia that favors their wealthy benefactors and decimates neighborhoods in the name of “development.” But, since November 8th, when Californians (and overwhelmingly Los Angelenos) ratified Proposition 64, everything hasn’t fallen apart.

Thanks to Proposition 64, in the state of California adults may buy, sell, and consume marijuana without a doctor’s recommendation. “Recreational use” is the term of art.

People can smoke pot legally.

And yet, we repeat: everything hasn’t fallen apart.

Crime has not skyrocketed. Emergency rooms haven’t been filled with marijuana overdoses. Children haven’t dropped out of school and sold themselves as prostitutes to feed their habit.

Here in Los Angeles, where the local residents have been treating weed as though it were legal for the past five years or so, cannabis hasn’t served as “a gateway drug” to harder, more addictive stuff – like, heroin. (That’s the job of prescription painkillers, doled out by our society’s most esteemed drug dealers, medical doctors.) It hasn’t led to mass indolence.

Life hasn’t changed much, except maybe for the better. Now the police have one less excuse to hassle people they don’t like, and isn’t if funny how often that turns out to be people of color? Now, instead of harassing harmless citizens for holding pot, the police can apply their resources to actually protecting and serving their citizens, by going after actual criminals.

Completely legalizing marijuana and discontinuing the charade of “medical necessity” has been altogether good for my city.

That doesn’t sound like a radical pronouncement these days – except to our anachronistic Attorney General Sessions, whose knowledge and comprehension of marijuana seems to be frozen in a 1939 time warp. He and his Devil Weed cronies ought to take a look at what’s happened (or hasn’t happened) in California. And Washington, and Colorado, and five other states where voters have opted for common sense over stale propaganda.

Back in 2010, when I published my book Reefer Gladness: Stories, Essays, and Riffs on Marijuana, declaring in print that the prescribing process was an elaborate charade, and that we’d be better off simply legalizing it – that was seen by some as lunacy and others as heresy. NORML refused to endorse the book because of my chapter on the medical charade. And otherwise reasonable and highly intelligent friends and family refused to discuss the subject. Pot in 2010 was like gay marriage in 2005.

Seven years ago, envisioning an America where pot is not only legal but smartly integrated into an increasingly gentle and non-violent society  — let’s just say it was somewhat more difficult than it would be today. Back then, there were more Jeff Sessions types foisting their faux morality on the rest of us. Today, the national tide has turned, and dinosaurs like Brother Jeff need to get on the boat or grab a lifejacket, because this tide isn’t turning back.

It’s time to federally legalize marijuana and start worrying about more important things.

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