5 Reasons Legalized Marijuana Might Be Bad for Pot Smokers
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.
Medical Marijuana Is "Legal" Enough
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.
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 ...
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."
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 ...
Weed Will Be the New Cigarettes
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.
Weed Commercials Will Be Obnoxious
By a wide margin, the most annoying thing about marijuana is the people who smoke it. Not all of u- them, of course, but you know the kind. I'm talking about the weed smoker who doesn't just take to it as a means to catch a buzz, but instead adopts marijuana culture as a lifestyle. They grow white person dreadlocks and hang Jamaican flags in their dorm rooms and shit.
"Chant down Babylon!"
They are, in short, stereotypical stoners, and being associated with their shenanigans is one of the unfortunate downsides of smoking weed, much like anyone who drinks Budweiser is presumed to be racist.
Or a professional driver.
When across the board legalization finally clears the way for corporate America to start peddling pot, is there any reason to expect that they'll hit on anything but the most stereotypical and embarrassing aspects of weed culture when it comes time to advertise their brands to the public?
There's already an early frontrunner for the title of most annoying marijuana ad of all time, courtesy of Seattle-based company Prohibition Brands. Watching this past the one-minute mark with the sound turned on should be enough to make even the staunchest of marijuana activists consider giving tequila another try:
Even with the sound off, the images that unfold in this Ca$h 4 Gold-style plea for funding sets any progress toward making marijuana seem like anything other than the drug of choice for the emotionally stunted back by about 20 years. It starts off with this fucking guy:
Ha! Sheriff Roach, right?!?!? He's in the desert, because weed grows best when there's as little water around as possible. Also, chicks!
Kitty and Galore! Get it? When you put their names together, it's like "Pussy Galore" from the James Bond movies, except "Ms. Pussy" would be crass, so now it's "Kitty Galore" and the reference doesn't make a goddamn lick of sense anymore. Four-twenty stay high all day y'all! Speaking of that, there's also a stuffed horse named Blazer, because you're too stoned to give a shit.
The rest of the commercial is an alternating nightmare of this guy ...
... screeching at the camera with all of the eardrum-splitting shrillness that the look on his face in that picture implies, and this woman ...
... reading her lines so awkwardly, I can only hope she's just doing a spot-on impression of a terrible actress in a marijuana commercial.
This is where we are already with marijuana advertising, and the shit isn't even completely legal yet. Just imagine what it's going to be like when the real corporations set their advertising teams to work.
That's not the only thing about marijuana that corporations will ruin, either ...
The Profits Will Only Work Their Way Up
I used to joke that I didn't want drugs to be legalized because I wanted to always have the option to sell them myself if my financial situation ever called for it. I don't really mean that, according to the legal department, but it does speak to my biggest concern when it comes to legalizing marijuana. At its heart, medical marijuana is a farming business. Legalization at the federal level means there's no longer anything stopping corporate America from entering that market and running all of the little people right out of business.
If for some reason you think this would never happen with marijuana, I'd ask you to consider the fact that it already has to some degree. Northern California has been a mecca of marijuana farms since well before California Proposition 215 took effect.
The only farmer Willie Nelson really cares about.
In the days before storefront dispensaries, a lot of that delicious weed made its way to San Francisco, where the last remnants of the hippie movement would sell it at premium prices in places like Golden Gate Park.
Legalization brought an influx of new farms to the area. Increased competition meant lower prices, which is good times for smokers, but bad times for those idealistic dealers who never thought their utopian weed communes would be competing with "medical clinics" for customers. Suddenly, the pot trade that kept dusty street kids in all the hacky sacks and acoustic guitars they could ever need was a lot less profitable. You wouldn't expect it to be the case, but as this article points out, marijuana legalization will likely be the final nail in the patchouli-scented coffin of the movement that started way back in 1967 during the Summer of Love.
Of course, plenty of pot advocates would point to this as one of the benefits of marijuana reform. Putting illegal drug dealers out of business is a major part of the point. The problem is, it wasn't questions of legality that put those hippie drug pushers under. It was nothing more than business, a larger competitor taking out a smaller competitor. When weed is legal at the federal level and Big Tobacco and other assorted corporate evildoers are free to cash in, those same dispensaries that took out the flower children will be cannibalized themselves by whatever entity emerges as the "Walmart of Weed."
This is what Target will look like in 10 years.
Sure, there will still be a smattering of independent dealers and growers and such, just like there are currently people who still show up at the local farmer's market to sell their homegrown foodstuffs. Keeping profits up when a big box department store comes to town is a challenge that proves to be insurmountable for most mom-and-pop operations, though. If you're currently running one that involves medical marijuana, federal-level legalization is the last thing you should be hoping for. The legal gray area you're currently operating in is probably the only thing keeping The Man from crushing you.
Adam hosts a podcast called Unpopular Opinion that you should check out right here. You should also be his friend on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.