Pubdate: Fri, 23 Aug 2013
Source: Virgin Islands Daily News, The (VI)
Copyright: 2013 Virgin Islands Daily News
Author: Lane Filler
Note: Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board. Page: 27


In 1969, a Gallup poll showed 12 percent of Americans said marijuana
should be legal in the United States.

In 2013, a man who first smoked marijuana in 1969 at the age of 21
would turn 65 and claim his Medicare. If our hypothetical friend is
still toking, he's probably also bringing the line at a convenience
store to a screeching halt daily, trying in vain to claim a senior
discount on taquitos and cheese popcorn as those behind him grow
mutinous, then murderous.

What else happened while our far-out friend aged, worked, bought a
home, paid taxes, raised kids and, perhaps, got gently stoned before
"Saturday Night Live"? The percentage of Americans in favor of
legalizing the good herbs got as high as Americans themselves,
reaching 52 this year, says a Pew Research Center study.

Pot has been much in the news of late, with a New York City mayoral
candidate, John Liu, proposing to legalize marijuana in the city and a
New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, getting into a fracas with a
parent whose ill kid needs but cannot access pot. Medical marijuana
has been legal in Jersey for three years, but the implementation has
been painfully slow, and Christie hasn't done all he could to speed it

Christie's argument with a voter is certainly not news: In New Jersey
they call that "Tuesday." But when a (sort of) legitimate mayoral
candidate in our nation's most important city says we ought to allow
the use of the dread weed, it ought to be big doings.

It isn't, though, because he's calling for the launch of a ship that's
already sailed.

The war on weed, or the war on the 100 million Americans who've tried
weed, just hasn't worked out, any more than the war on liquor from
1919 to 1933, or attempts to stop vices like gambling and

That realization is sinking in, and things are changing. Medical use
is now legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and at times
the medical reasoning can be pretty ... loose, along the lines of: "I
have crippling anxiety when I run out of high-grade bud. Please treat
me, immediately."

And more states are decriminalizing or out and out legalizing
marijuana for admittedly nonmedical purposes: partying, relaxing and
really, really digging into the deeper meaning underlying "Tosh 2.0."

In a strictly "land of liberty" sense, laws against marijuana were
never justifiable. In a strictly real-world sense, they were never
meaningfully, or at least not fairly, enforced. Unless he was dealing
or smoking big spleefs in the middle of the street, and as long as he
was white and not too noticeably poor, our 65-year-old far-out friend
probably never had the law come down on his habit.

What anti-marijuana laws have done is empower a criminal element,
create probably the largest tax-evading industry in the nation, prop
up the price of what is truly a weed above reasonable levels and, by
leaving it unregulated, made pot more easily available to minors than
cigarettes and beer.

As passionate as I sound, I haven't had a dog in this fight for
decades. Any time I used intoxicants of any kind, I turned up
thousands of miles from home, in a cell, charged with lewd and
lascivious behavior, disorderly conduct and, once, improper
transportation of a water buffalo across state lines. Twenty years of
that was as much fun as I could stand.

But I know we can't win a "war" against a pastime that 52 percent of
Americans support legalizing. It's impossible to succeed. It's immoral
to try.

Once the hippies turned into the AARPs, the war on marijuana was over.
Even for die-hard anti-pot people, continuing this fight makes about
as much sense as, well, "Tosh 2.0" does to a sober viewer.
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MAP posted-by: Matt