Stop it: Marijuana is not the problem

In the movie “Network” (1976), the character played by Peter Finch screams out the window this memorable line that launched an instant cult: “I am mad as hell, and I’m not gonna to take it any more!” This is how I feel about my County Commissioner Julie Westendorff’s recent pairing up with Bobby Lieb to impose a 16-month moratorium on the sale of marijuana in La Plata County.

As a lifelong Democrat, I have few remaining ironclad principles. But these three I consider rock bottom: freedom from fear and undue government coercion; the pursuit of happiness; and the will of the people. In the deafening roar of current blood-sports politics, I also try to cleave to a residual sense of proportion. The people in my eastern district of La Plata County die of many unnecessary scourges, six of them truly lethal: alcohol, tobacco, amphetamines, sugar, poverty and lack of access to medical care. I have watched people die unnecessarily for 40 years now.

Marijuana is conspicuously not one of the killers.

Fifty-odd years ago, I fell in with a generation I still call “Children of the Sixties.” In his seminal study “Coming Apart” (2012), Charles Murray describes my adopted generation this way: They obtained multiple college degrees, launched into life-long professional careers, worked their butts off raising their families in stable, monogamous marriages.

One thing Murray left out, though: The sacrament of choice of my generation was neither alcohol nor amphetamines nor tobacco nor prescription drugs. It was, and still is – you guessed it – marijuana.

Throughout the years of fellow-traveling with my generation, the worst damage from marijuana I have ever seen occurred in 1975, when I chanced upon a 1935 movie produced by J. Edgar Hoover, “Reefer Madness.” I laughed so hard my diaphragm busted. Took a month to recover.

Lay off the grass, Julie and Bobby. Learn to enjoy life and exercise your sweet freedoms. If you need to exert your nanny state regulatory impulses, find a more suitable target, say, the minimal fracking regulations you voted down?

Tom Givón


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