By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
I am such a downer. Since Election Day, many friends, colleagues, and even my in-laws and family members who don’t fancy one of theirs being a pot writer, called or wrote wanting to know what I thought of Washington and Colorado passing what they’re calling “the legalization of marijuana.”
I should be ecstatic, as many of the well-wishers have commented. I tell them that it is a win. I tell them that it is progress. What I can’t tell them… is what’s going to happen next.
What we’re dealing with here are cultural norms.
The question to me is, what is society going to do? How as a nation are we going to look at marijuana? What kind of resistance is there going to be?
|Former CIA Director David Petraeus stepped down after it was revealed he’d gone out on his wife of 35 years with his private biographer|
To me, this is where it gets crazy. Because I can’t say clearly which way the weed’s going to blow on this one based on our proceeding history or the changes that our society has adapted to while still being supposedly against.
I was reading the comments of many different articles about the resignation of David Petraeus from the CIA. I’d say the majority of the comments said he shouldn’t resign; that adultery wasn’t as big thing as used to be in the past. That it was a personal matter between the CIA director and his family. And my favorite, the thread that argued men and women aren’t meant to be monogamous.
As our values change, so does our beliefs apparently. Even when the Senator on the Ethics in Marriage Committee gets caught cheating, we barely raise a collective eyebrow. David Petraeus stepped down because of a military code that he took. For many, that outweighs his indiscretion. He’s now being lauded for the nobler action of doing the right thing and stepping up on his accountability factor than going out on his wife of 35 years with his private biographer.
|Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the beach scene in “From Here To Eternity”|
We’re kind of okay with us fucking around. I mean, it’s not the end of the world. There’s always been adultery in the military. The movie, From Here to Eternity, is a classic example of that. Acrobatic Burt Lancaster could swing any of the captain’s wives into his tightrope of drama any time that he wanted to, just had to pick which one.
But what were left out of that movie as it transitioned from a book to the silver screen are the gay parts. It was the same thing for James Jones’ other book, A Thin Red Line. I guess America wasn’t ready for Frank Sinatra swallowing for cash or the lonely tales of desperate men being in a foxhole in the Pacific when no one’s around.
My activism within the marijuana movement is directly related to the HIV crisis. I saw firsthand how a medicated brownie did more good than the Costco bag of pharmaceuticals that the first patients were expected to ingest.
I’ve always stated that the campaign for Gay Rights or same-sex marriage is much closer to our fight for the right to smoke marijuana opposed to the debates against Cap and Trade or whether we should raise taxes or not. To me, Gay Rights and marijuana are about personal freedoms. It should be about what I want to do with my body and with whom.
|Photos Las Vegas|
When I was growing up, gambling was bad. It was understood that Las Vegas existed because if we’re going to gamble as a nation, we’ll create a gambling ghetto, where we can control it. Nothing bad can happen if we put it in one place. We rolled the dice and came up with Organized Crime.
Now, you can’t name a town that a casino isn’t a courtesy limo ride away. Every study shows that when gaming comes to a town, houses are lost and marriages are ruined. But we’re okay with that. In fact, like golf courses, we can’t get enough of them. We fear not the change that a $4.95 buffet brings.
Then there’s porn. Once again, studies have shown that the redder the state is, the more porn they watch online. Tolerated? Accepted? It’s hard to say because we don’t know how to, sorry, bring up the subject.
On the other hand, try to have a national conversation about pot smoking without the smirks and sarcasm. When it was reported that Washington and Colorado passed their new, progressive marijuana laws, with the exception of funnyman, Jon Stewart, not one reporter or anchor nor talking head at the controls couldn’t help from refraining from bringing out their inner Cheech and Chong. The News gang didn’t know if they should act like this was real change or giggle about who on the staff was hip enough to know what a bong was.
They treated it like it was a joke that marijuana legalization passed in two states for the first time ever. Alright, it is decriminalization, but that’s for another day.
I was viewing MSNBC when one of the modern Republicans that they employ got into a heavy rant that comparing what happen in Colorado and Washington to Gay Rights, is to downgrade the advancements that Gay Rights has achieved. That it was offensive for the potheads to see these battles being the same.
Obviously, I disagree. But I can see her point. In the same way some may say we’re ready for Gay Rights but maybe not Transgender Rights. They’re saying, “just not right now. Soon.”
Lastly, I was asked repeatedly, “Wasn’t what happen in Colorado and Washington the Tipping Point for marijuana? Haven’t we entered a new chapter and now, there’s no turning back?”
I thought almost a year ago when the Attorney General of Utah was undergoing treatment for cancer and he said that he knew other patients who used cannabis for relief, and it worked. That was from a Mormon lawman who found from his own experience that cannabis had a medicinal benefit.
I thought the Tipping Point for marijuana was going to be when they found that it cured certain types of cancer. That it helped with Crohn’s disease. That marijuana allowed many housebound patients to have full active lives. For a person who never thought they’d eat again, to find their appetite and new zest for life, I thought we all knew someone like that.
The country seems to be heading for greater acceptance of marijuana. Like Gay Rights, polls show more and more Americans are either for it or don’t care and let’s just get on with it. Yet when it comes to voting time, it seems slow going to get them passed.
It’s like we want it, but we’re not sure. We all know people who do it. It’s not that big of a thing. We’re just not sure how to talk about it.
It is the acceptance of change that we need to embrace and not to fear what change will bring.
What did happen in Colorado and Washington is, at some point, we’re really going to have to have a serious conversation about weed. That it can be medicinal and recreational.
Just like sex: Sometimes we’re making babies to start our new lives together and other times we’re doing it cause the kids are out of the house. It can be both. We just need a certain maturity to talk about it.
We are in a battle for the Hearts and Minds of Americans. We know as Americans, our opinion changes. That things that disgusted us… like Vegas? We now want to have our own hometown version.
At the core of this issue is the Feds. Will they reschedule marijuana to a place where we can touch it, own it and hold it? Or will they ignore States’ Rights like in California and make an example out of those that comes forward in these new Green Rushes that I’m sure will come out of Colorado and Washington?
I have to say, after what the Feds did here starting around 2010, just when things were getting good, it will be interesting to see what happens elsewhere. I’ve seen too many lives destroyed for opening a dispensary or trying to provide medicine as part as contract-agreement, only to be told by the Attorney General of the United States that if they come in contact with marijuana again, it’s prison forever.
I’m past the Tipping Point. I’m waiting for the Flipping Point: The day we wake up and find out that everything we feared was actually okay.
|Toke of the Town correspondent Jack Rikess blogs from the Haight in San Francisco|