Well, what can I say America? You are, once again, a complete disappointment. I became disillusioned with American politics in general long ago, so to be honest it wasn’t too surprising or upsetting to find that one of the most important pieces of drug legislation was shot down by voters today. Even though I privately assumed this would happen months ago, when I first learned about Prop 19, the possible failure was an unspeakable opinion for most marijuana reform advocates.
Every election season, both parties get caught up in hype, and each time, at least one side is left disappointed. This year, a modestly funded, *ahem* grassroots effort gained arguably more popularity for a cause than anything on the ballot. It clearly wasn’t enough, as 55% of the voting population decided that it wasn’t a worthwhile option for the state of California. And so, the revolution will have to wait a bit longer.
The 19 advocates returned hopeful from the polls, some confident that they would be a part of a new wave of rational drug legislation. But when they checked the outcome, looking upon their computer and TV screens in dismay, it is easy to dismiss the concept altogether. Many may think, ‘this country is beyond hope, the average American is no more capable of rational or logical thinking than the TV that displays their favorite propaganda machine’s rhetoric.’ And this would be a perfectly reasonable mindset, considering the direction the major American media has turned.
However, it is at this time, directly after a bitter defeat, while your opponent is basking in his glory, and you’re still dusting yourself off from a hard-fought uphill battle, that is the most important. And take it from me, someone who refuses to even cast a vote; someone who is so jaundiced by the sad state of affairs we call American politics, that if I even mention politics it is to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Politicians on all sides are in it for nothing more than why you might wake up and sit in a cubicle all day. They are no more interested in what’s “good for America,” as you might be with your own company’s third quarter profits. As long as the company doesn’t go down in flames, whatever makes you more money is the better option. The man with a fistful of money most likely gets your attention more than a man who could use your help on something that benefits you in no tangible way whatsoever. Greed is the most useful trait in the evolution of modern society, and intelligent greed triumphs over all.
Of course, there are the people who legitimately care. People do volunteer at animal shelters, or for various community projects. There are politicians who genuinely look out for what’s “right,” over what’s profitable. Unfortunately, in politics, the only winner is money. If you have no money, you will be absolutely nothing. Many might argue that’s true for America in general, but that’s a topic all its own.
So, why bother voting? That’s the question I’ve asked myself over and over again. With politics, if someone powerful enough really wants something to happen, it will happen. And if someone powerful wants it to not happen, it will not happen. Ballots are forged or lost, money is thrown, and by next week nobody even remembers or cares who Al Gore is. And then four years later, everyone gets all excited, claims that they’ll get more people to the polls, and the same exact thing happens again. Plus, with millions of people involved, the voting process becomes more of a symbolic gesture than a legitimate political tool.
I suggest, don’t vote. Let the country run itself into the ground politically, and leave no trace that you ever even voiced an opinion. Don’t associate yourself with the pitiful condition the country insists on putting itself through over and over. But don’t necessarily give up hope on turning things around. The most important thing in America is the public opinion. And with federal elections hovering around 50-60% since the 70s, the polls don’t necessarily represent the public opinion.
This time in America is the most important of all, for drug legislation reform supporters. You must take this defeat and say, “what did we do that made this ineffective?” I don’t mean what made the vote ineffective, I mean what made the public opinion of marijuana remain ignorant and uninformed. What were the opponents of Proposition 19’s only real arguments? That marijuana shouldn’t be used in the workplace, drugged driving is dangerous, and that marijuana can lead to addiction and use of other drugs (token, “think of the children!” argument).
While these are all excellent concerns, no, they’re actually absolutely ridiculous an blatantly wrong concerns. There have been numerous studies showing that marijuana likely has little to no effect on driving capabilities, and even if they did we already have laws against that so it’s a non-issue to begin with. You are not legally allowed to drive intoxicated in any fashion. Just because you’re not allowed to text in a car doesn’t mean we should outlaw cell phones.
The concept that for no apparent reason people will suddenly show up to work unable to perform their daily tasks due to drug abuse is completely absurd and clearly an argument obtained by simply grasping at straws. It is no more likely that people will be smoking on the job than it is that people will be drinking on the job. People who don’t care about their jobs and don’t value their work will drink or smoke or shoot up heroin at work. This will not be affected by legal concerns.
Finally, the ‘gateway drug’ theory has been addressed and beaten into the ground so many times it’s not even worth more than a light chuckle, but I’ll give it a paragraph. If a magical marijuana gateway (great band name) even exists, it is completely due to the illegal nature of the drug. When a kid hears all his life that smoking a joint is just as bad as using heroin, it’s only logical that he might equate all drugs as equal danger. So, when he finally does smoke one, he may assume the mild effects are shared across the spectrum. If real drug education existed (not just drug-propaganda), teens might realize that heroin, methamphetamines and cocaine are highly addictive and deadly.
Clearly the answer to uninformed citizens is to educate. I think the whole “money” issue will eventually be immaterial here, as there is, in fact, money to be made in America with marijuana. A vast number of corporations are already aware of this, and completely prepared to take advantage of a juicy new market, but wouldn’t risk the negative image of “pot supporting company.” So, when the stigma of marijuana is removed, change will happen. When Obama can say, “I support marijuana reform,” as proudly and confidently as he says, “I support healthcare reform,” marijuana reform will happen. But at this point in time, no politician with any real hope to be elected will ever say that, even if they desperately want it just as much as the biggest stoners in Humboldt.
Now, the time is ripe for the educating. Everyone will have forgotten about showing anti-marijuana ads, and marijuana will be out of the public sight and mind. So what we need is for people to be as active as they possibly can. Take from the Tea Party and make marijuana advocates so loud and obnoxious the country can’t help but listen. Hint about it to your friends and family who aren’t wholly opposed. Bring it up to people who are against it, but in indirect, non-aggressive ways. If your grandpa says, “man I wish Obama and the government would get out of our lives,” say, “yeah I know! I say, if you want to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or smoke marijuana in your own house you should be able to. I hate those politically-correct liberals telling me what to do!”
Don’t worry about the politics. The wins will come later on. You wouldn’t win a marathon by practicing sprints right before a race. You consistently work and work and work, and eventually, years later, you might find yourself atop the podium. Only when you can confidently walk up to the starting line, without any concern whatsoever for the competition, will you have successfully trained. And afterwards, you’ll run over to hug the trophy girl, champagne in one hand, joint in the other.