I’m the epitome of the marijuana legalization “movement” that Chez Pazienza mocks and demeans in his latest Huffington Post piece entitled “Reefer Madness”. Pazienza seems to think those of us fighting to end our War on (Certain American Citizens Using Non-Pharmaceutical, Non-Alcoholic Tobacco-Free) Drugs are just unabashed hedonists hiding behind lofty rhetoric to get our wacky tobaccy legal so we can get doped up in peace.
Here are some of the relevant excerpts from Pazienza:
A couple of weeks back, though, Bob Cesca and I had a little debate going on our podcast and radio show about the merits — or lack thereof, in my opinion — of the “culture” of marijuana….
You know, the “movement” full of people who basically take the diametrically opposing side of the argument to those who feel that pot is the devil’s weed, mythologizing it rather than castigating it, claiming that it heals all wounds and has near-magical properties that can be used in the service of mankind if the closed-minded politicians would just give it a chance.
Here’s my issue with the marijuana culture — the, ahem, “fight” to gain national acceptance of pot beyond the fact that a hell of a lot of people use it or have used it at one point in their lives: it’s for the most part disingenuous…. for God’s sake be honest about why you like weed. You like to get high. That hemp-is-beneficial-to-mankind and I-need-it-as-medicine horseshit is exactly that: horseshit.
Pazienza goes to great lengths in the piece to indicate that he actually does want to see marijuana legalized. He accepts that it does have medicinal properties and that hemp is an amazingly valuable crop for its myriad of industrial uses. He even posits that its none of the government’s business to police the habits of citizens so long as they are doing no harm to others.
So why the vitriol toward those trying to get marijuana legalized?
It seems to me that marijuana legalization is the only civil rights issue in America where it is still acceptable to mock the oppressed by questioning the selfish motives of those fighting for equality. Can you imagine the uproar if Pazienza were questioning the motives of those fighting for acceptance of equal marriage rights for gay people by observing “You like to get laid, and it’s very likely nothing more noble than that. Admit it.” Or if Pazienza castigated a woman fighting for health insurance coverage of birth control as just “She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.” Or if he demeaned those fighting against “English only” laws as just “too lazy to learn English”.
Yes, indeed, many people who support marijuana legalization just want to get high without having the police, clad in body armor and toting automatic weapons, breaking down their door in the middle of the night, throwing flash-bang grenades into their living room, and shooting seven times inside our homes, killing our family pets while our children are asleep in the next room. How disingenuous of them to want an end to that, just because they like to smoke weed.
Certainly, many of the people getting their medical marijuana recommendation in California are doing so to treat Arrest Anxiety Syndrome – who wouldn’t take the opportunity to avoid arrest, incarceration, and seizure of their assets for the “crime” of choosing to get wasted on a drug whose advertisements don’t fund Super Bowl telecasts and is far safer to use? But Pazienza seems to think that’s the case in the other 16 medical marijuana states, where, in fact, it takes a whole lot of medical documentation to qualify under an extremely limited set of medical conditions.
Part of the reason medical use is limited in sixteen other states and forbidden in the rest is people like Pazienza who seem to understand the need to end prohibition but mock the people who are fighting for that “important, necessary or admirable work”. Pazienza demands that legalization proponents abandon the larger societal points regarding the devastation of prohibition and base their arguments on a single selfish right to get high without government interference.
OK, Chez, you got me – I like to smoke pot and I don’t want to be put in a cage over it. You’re right, my motivation is extremely personal. Kind of like how a black man marching with Dr. King in the early 1960′s probably had a very personal motivation to not be firehosed, attacked by police dogs, or lynched by rednecks. Kind of like how a gay man protesting in the 1980′s probably had a very personal motivation to not die from HIV while a president ignored an epidemic. Kind of like how a student protesting with Occupy in the 2010′s probably has a very personal motivation to just be in the center of some public civil disobedience for the fun of it. Regardless of the personal motivations, they do not make the societal cause any less just or those fighting for it any less noble.
Whether you’re the twirling hippy at the hempfest for the high or the suit-and-tie activist at the hempfest for the chance to organize voters, standing up to fight injustice still carries the same personal consequences. Because I like to get high on marijuana and proclaim so openly and fight for the same right a beer drinker has, I will be discriminated against in hiring, housing, and many other aspects of daily life. Few corporate employers are going to look past my dirty pee test because I’m cognizant of the greater devastation of global cannabis prohibition; to them, I’m just a guy who breaks the law and their “drug-free workplace” policy.
Marijuana prohibition in America has contributed to the torturous murders of over 50,000 Mexicans and the terrorization of Latin America. It has denied to our farmers our heritage crop of hemp that could ease many of the environmental and energy problems of this nation. It has contributed to the suffering of millions by denying them “the safest therapeutically active substance known to man”. It has enriched criminals, gangs, and terrorists and imprisoned mothers and fathers whose only crime was choosing marijuana over martinis, Marlboros, or Midol. All these things are true even if the tattooed, pierced, dreadlocked kid protesting at the marijuana march for a solution to it all just wants to get high.
The right to one’s own consciousness and self is the most personal of civil rights. This isn’t about getting high, it’s about who has the jurisdiction over my brain and body. If a woman has the right to do with her uterus as she pleases, why is it any less a right for me to do with my brain and lungs what I choose? Whether that woman uses a “morning after” birth control pill because of an honest mistake and desire to prevent an unwelcome pregnancy or because she’s a careless nymphomaniac with six abortions in her past is irrelevant; we recognize her right to control her own body. So whether I’m fighting for my civil right to be as stoned as a beer drinker because I’m trying to commit police resources toward actual crimes or because I simply prefer a marijuana buzz, it is irrelevant – I’m fighting for a just cause.
One final thought, Chez. You seem like a reasonable guy, so try to understand that what you’re railing against is a “tip of the iceberg”. There are 26 million people in America who will consume marijuana this year, about 17 million of them this month, with about 2.5 million of them consumers like me who use marijuana almost every day. The “movement” you see is that tip of the iceberg that have nothing to lose by being “out of the closet” for ending marijuana prohibition – either the “alternative” crowd with artistic or low-wage jobs that don’t care about pot smoking or the “professional activists” like me whose jobs are about ending prohibition. You don’t see the part of the “movement” who can lose their careers, kids, assets, businesses, friends, and family for espousing an end to prohibition, because they are forced into silence for self-preservation. I think if you could see them, you’d be less likely to dismiss their concerns over the Prohibition War as just a bunch of stoners “pushing for the legalization of pot because it makes you feel good.”