In the “Odyssey,” Homer describes what appears to be one of the first known pot circles in Western history. His ship lands on the island of the lotus-eaters. A number of his men join its inhabitants to partake in their honey-sweet lotus. But a change comes over them. They don’t want to leave. They prefer the ecstasy of the lotus to their distant homeland. Odysseus drags his weeping men back to the ship shouting, “you are high as a f — — kite!”
Er, or maybe that was “Pineapple Express.” Oops.
Either way, not much has changed in the last 3,000 years. Marijuana has replaced the lotus but retained its effects. In the past, the United States has checked its influence by outlawing it. Now, however, some move to ease the ban. Colorado and Washington have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Any sort of decriminalization or legalization would threaten the existence of our nation as we know it.
I have never experienced the effects of marijuana myself so I delved into the darkest, murkiest depths of the Internet to find someone who had. I emerged with this:
“being high makes me feel like im fine one minute, then the next, im in slow motion…almost anything is the funniest thing of your life, even if nothing happened at all…i have no idea what i just did recently. i’ll have these moods when i’ll come-to for a little bit, and i have no idea why im doing something. ie. doing the robot by myself.” [sic]
After reading that, the first thing to come to my mind was, “yeah, dude, I smoked a joint last week and woke up in a voting booth. I think I was about to vote for that old white guy. How whack is that, man?”
That’s not to say that all these people vote sky high, but they do seek refuge regularly from what little rational faculty they have. According to DrugWarFacts.org, 17 million people in the United States, about 7 percent of the population, used marijuana at least once per month in 2009. About 5.4 million of them smoke on a daily basis.
Legalization advocates like mjlegal.org argue that “individuals deserve the right to decide whether or not they should use marijuana. The government should not tell individuals what to do as long as they do not harm others.”
But they are hurting people. A lot of people. According to CrimeInAmerica.net, a third of people arrested in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. are high, and about half in Charlotte are. 87 percent of people arrested in Chicago and 78 percent in Sacramento tested positive for drug use, most commonly marijuana.
These statistics are frightening, dude. Only 7 percent of the country’s population smoke pot every month, but up to half of all people arrested in a big city are high at the time of the crime. If that’s not harmful to society, what is? Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Not too long ago, a popular commercial for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation spilled over into the United States. It depicted a football trainer accidentally spilling a bottle of muscle relaxant into a cooler of game-day Gatorade. The result was funny, but disturbing: the quarterback could hardly stand up, the linemen were more interested in counting their fingers than blocking; the wide receiver took off in the wrong direction; and the running back, when handed the ball, tickled it like a baby.
If marijuana is fully legalized and decriminalized, that football team will be the United States. That may be an exaggeration, but only a slight one.
Full legalization would increase pot use. It may take a generation or two because of the moral stigma around the use of drugs, but it will become more prevalent. More than half of Americans casually drink alcohol. That doesn’t seem to cause too many serious problems. If marijuana is as harmless as its acolytes argue, it’s reasonable to expect about half of Americans to use it casually. Not a big deal, right? We can all get along.
There is one serious difference between alcohol and marijuana: casual drinking doesn’t lead to drunkenness, but casual pot usage causes highness.
Once the cloud of indecency around marijuana evaporates, half of our country will casually resemble the team kicker who just couldn’t resist the desire to know what the referee’s face felt like. A football team can’t win like that, and a country can’t survive like that: crime will increase and people will be more concerned with escaping reality than flourishing in it. In fact, they’ll think they’ve flourished in it when they’ve escaped it.
It may be fun to forget reality every once in awhile, but there is a limit. It’s surpassed when Larry from “Animal House” says, “our whole solar system could be, like, one tiny atom in the fingernail of some other giant being,” and any portion of our country could take it seriously.