It's a good time to be a marijuana smoker. Colorado and Washington have already enacted laws making weed legal for recreational use, and another 20 or so states allow it for medicinal use. With such a huge swath of the nation no longer harshing the mellow of their resident smokers, it appears the domino effect that marijuana proponents hope will lead to legalization at the federal level is finally gaining momentum.
Translation: It's just a matter of time before you're able to walk into your local 7-Eleven and buy a fat sack of Marlboro Marijuana 100's.
If you're a smoker, it's the dream you've always dreamed of, but is it really going to be the stoner utopia some people are expecting? Probably not. Here are five reasons weed smokers shouldn't be looking forward to federally legalized marijuana.
#5. Medical Marijuana Is "Legal" Enough
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Right off the bat, let me make it clear that the point of this article is not that we should go back to the days of full-on marijuana prohibition. If you knew me personally, you'd know I wouldn't make that point. That said, provided Obama cools it with kicking in dispensary doors, I'd be completely content if marijuana reform never goes beyond making it legal at the state level for medicinal use only.
The last part of the preceding sentence probably has a lot of people howling, especially weed smokers in states that don't currently have medical marijuana laws in place. If that's you, please, hear me out. Or read me out, I guess. Whatever the case, you have no reason to be upset.
For one thing, your state will almost certainly legalize medical marijuana well before it becomes "alcohol" legal at the federal level, which is what I'm arguing against in this article. I hope every state legalizes marijuana for medical use immediately. Your state will eventually.
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And then this will be you.
I'm definitely not saying that shouldn't happen, I'm just saying I want it to happen in every state and then that's as legal as marijuana ever gets.
If you're a casual user with no health conditions to speak of, though, that plan might still sound like a downer. After all, there's nothing medical about just wanting to party. Well, speaking as someone who has extensively researched the subject, let me assure you, if you don't have at least one of the "conditions" that qualify a person for a weed card, you're probably built from man-made materials and wouldn't benefit from weed's healing properties anyway.
As for everyone else, if you live in a state that allows medical marijuana, you can find a doctor willing to recommend that you smoke it to alleviate the symptoms of some bullshit malady you don't actually have.
"Ha! I just wrote that you're not into Floyd that much."
Don't let the words "medicinal use" lead you to believe otherwise. If you can't get a weed card in a medical marijuana state, you just plain don't want to get high.
Still, getting that card is a hassle. Recreational marijuana doesn't have any such hoops to jump through, what's the point of keeping that "medicinal use only" requirement in place? Simple, if we don't ...
#4. It Won't Be "Medicine" Anymore
Well, duh, of course it won't be medicine anymore, that's the point, right? Making it easier to buy and all that good stuff? While that's true, what will it mean for people who do actually reap some benefits from using marijuana regularly? If you're the type who smokes several times a day because it "helps your depression," is labeling marijuana the "new beer" really an initiative you want to get behind? That's definitely where things are headed, as evidenced by this marijuana ad that premiered at a NASCAR event recently:
Once that happens, you're no longer that person who treats their depression with medical marijuana, you're that person who treats their depression with beer. Lots of people do that now -- we call them alcoholics. Do you think the label society will place on the habitual weed smokers of the world once Blue Dream becomes the new Coors Light will be any more flattering?
Of course it won't. People barely buy into claims of marijuana's health benefits as it is right now. Putting it on store shelves next to the Colt 45 and implying it's the same thing is definitely not going to alleviate any of those people's concerns. Even worse, that "New Beer" ad isn't the work of some misguided lone wolf marijuana activist with too much production money on his hands; it comes directly from the Marijuana Policy Project, which, according to its Wikipedia page (the only source I trust), is the "largest organization working solely on marijuana policy reform in the United States in terms of its budget, number of members, and staff."
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This is all of them!
With more and more states inching closer to allowing marijuana for medical use, the biggest pot lobby in all the land is pushing a slogan that most people will assume means there's essentially no difference between smoking weed and getting drunk. Smart!
Despite all this, one question remains. How damn great will it be when weed really is the new beer? Won't it be the best when you can just stand around at a bar or sporting event with a lit joint in your hand, just as so many others do now with an open beer?
Sure, but you're out of your damn mind if you think it will ever come to that, because ...
#3. Weed Will Be the New Cigarettes
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Whether it gives you lung cancer or not, smoking marijuana is still smoking. How many places can you smoke cigarettes right now? If you live in an apartment, you probably can't even smoke at home anymore. There are plenty of cities and towns in this country where smoking in open air places like beaches or parks is forbidden.
Simply put, people hate the smell of cigarette smoke. If you think they'll take more of a liking to weed smoke, you're dreaming. It didn't even take one year for Seattle lawmakers to start pushing for bans on public pot smoking. Residents have taken to complaining about weed smoke the same way they do cigarette smoke. Check out this quote from a concerned Seattle bus driver who complained about passengers blowing pot smoke directly in his face:
"Once that takes place, I feel inebriated, I feel lightheaded, I'm no longer safe as a bus driver to operate that bus, and I then have to notify the county to send another driver out."
Kids these days, man.
OK, so obviously that guy either has a drug test coming up that he knows he's not going to pass or is awful at making up excuses to leave work early. Either way, that was a bad example. If you're looking for a more relevant quote from Seattle's push to ban blazing up in public, try this one:
"I'm not a tobacco smoker, I don't like walking through tobacco smoke. I would imagine non-pot smokers would feel the same way."
Also people who hate magicians.
Is that a quote from some stuffy politician who just wants to rain on everyone's pot party? Nope, those are the words of marijuana advocate and Washington Hempfest organizer Vivian McPeak, commenting on the public pot ban.
Again, I'm definitely not saying that decriminalizing marijuana is a bad thing, but those who think it will lead to beer drinkers and weed smokers partaking in their favorite poisons side by side at the bar while watching Sunday Night Football are probably getting their hopes up a bit too ... much.
The smoke won't be the only annoying thing about legalized weed, though.