HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Is Pot The New Gay?
Pubdate: Thu, 11 Aug 2005
Source: Los Angeles City Beat (CA)
Section: Mick's Media
Copyright: 2005 Southland Publishing
Note: Also prints Los Angeles Valley Beat, often with similar content, and 
the same contact information.
Author: Mick Farren
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Seems Like It, But, 'Weeds' And Bill Maher Aside, Marijuana Is Hardly A 
Safe Gag

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but 
they've always worked for me.

- -Hunter S. Thompson

After five glorious years, Queer as Folk has hung up its dancing shoes with 
a dark final season that included a stampede to monogamy, a disco bomb 
attack, and Jewish lesbian lawyer Melanie and her WASP girlfriend, Lindsay, 
planning to escape to Canada before the Christian Right holocaust. What 
rose in optimism, and the wicked novelty of an all-gay comedy/soap with 
soft-porn interludes, falls in deep anxiety. A bellwether of the times? QAF 
was conceived under Bill Clinton, but its five seasons aired while Karl 
Rove demonized homosexuals and Rick Santorum was allowed to run loose.

The QAF time slot goes to dreary lesbian soap The L Word, but the big 
promotional bucks are behind Weeds, the Showtime comedy in which 
heterosexual suburbanites discover marijuana may be the cure for what ails 
them. Maybe it's just an accident of programming, but this perceived shift 
from queer to dope looks a lot like a deliberate switch in the risque topic 
du jour, and pot is being turned into the new gay.

Just a few days ago, Craig Ferguson and Method Man spent almost an entire 
segment of The Late Late Show giggling about "glaucoma prevention"; Bill 
Maher, in his new HBO stand-up special, I'm Swiss, again cops to being a 
chronic pothead; and even the venerable David Letterman now and again 
courts the stoner demographic with invisible-joint gestures to the band. 
While the continuing assault on indecency renders sex problematic, reefer 
provides an acceptable substitute. The apparent attitude - with the single 
exception of Maher, who is still mad as hell at the War on Drugs - has 
become one of "what's the harm, pot's nearly legal anyway."

The problem is that marijuana is far from nearly legal. Hundreds of 
thousands of poor bastards are doing time for owning, selling, or growing 
dope. Tommy Chong was released from federal jail a little over a year ago, 
after being victimized by the Ashcroft Justice Department - and that was 
just for "conspiring to sell paraphernalia." Weeds, while coming up with 
the gags, is highly disingenuous about the Californian legal status of its 
core subject. In one episode, a lawyer explains that being busted with less 
than an ounce is only an infraction, but fails to mention how, for 
possession of a just a joint, you can, under the wrong circumstances, spend 
72 hours in some lousy lockup, lose your driver's license, and have a 
damning drug arrest on your record. In another episode, Mary-Louise 
Parker's character visits a medical marijuana buyers' club where all is 
sweetness and baked goods, with no mention of the DEA, jailed cancer 
patients, or how the Feds are still all over states that have legalized 
medicinal pot.

That the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign should mount a national 
what-about-the-children? print-ad blitz in the week Weeds premiered may 
also be a coincidence, but I ain't holding my breath. Parents are urged to 
go to the group's website, where they can find grim pseudo-science: 
"longitudinal research among young people below college age indicates 
[users] have lower achievement, more delinquent behavior and aggression, 
greater rebelliousness, poorer relationships with parents, and more 
associations with delinquent and drug-using friends."

I agree with NYADMC that it's probably a bad idea for kids to start smoking 
dope before they can read, write, and calculate poker odds, but I must 
point out to these overprotected parents, who need so many laws to help 
raise their wretched offspring, that it ain't just the blunt that's to 
blame. Look for broader societal causation, neighbors. The Anti-Drug site 
claims "research shows that kids who smoke marijuana engage in risky 
behavior that can jeopardize their futures, like having sex, getting in 
trouble with the law, or losing scholarship money." Hell, mom & pop, back 
in the day I did all of those at least two years before my first joint, on 
nothing but James Dean movies and Eddie Cochran songs.

Mick Farren blogs at
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