A vote to legalize marijuana is a vote for choice | AspenTimes.com

A vote to legalize marijuana is a vote for choice

John Colson

We live in an enlightened county, at least politically speaking.Some may object to that statement, thanks to certain strictly proscribed boundaries of thought and tolerance that form the basis of the belief that if a government is wrong about one thing, it must be wrong about all things.Well, I don’t buy that one, and I would like to offer a tip of my hat to the Pitkin County commissioners for their endorsement of one of the most forward-thinking questions on the November ballot – Amendment 44, which would made it legal for anyone 21 or over to possess an ounce of marijuana or less.This is not about getting high, or whether it will be easier for kids to buy pot if this amendment becomes law. It is not about making it easier for drug dealers to purvey a “gateway drug” and thus ensnare foolishly naive consumers in a downward spiral of drug use and depravity.This is about choice, and whether the state has any business trying to legislate morality and good behavior. It’s about control, and whether we want our government to be the arbiter of our most personal decisions about what we do with our leisure time, our bodies, our minds. It is about whether we feel it is prudent and wise to prop up a corrupt bureaucracy of drug agents and social throwbacks who make criminals out of otherwise harmless and productive citizens, and throw them in jail over their choice of relaxation techniques.It also happens to be about a whole range of other issues, such as the future of farming in the United States, the rationality of commerce, environmental preservation, the state of medical care in this country and the world … jeez, the list goes on so long I’m not about to try to get it all down right here.Suffice it to say that the marijuana plant, far from being merely one more drug in the pantheon of pharmacology, is a vigorous and versatile constituent of the plant kingdom, with properties that lend themselves to a stunningly broad range of applications. From textiles to medicine, plastics to industrial lubrication, the potential uses of this plant are more varied than just about any other known to humanity. And we have been robbed to the potentialities of this marvelous gift from nature far too long.A vote to legalize marijuana (that’s how I spell it, though there are variations) is a vote for rational governance, and is viewed as far more dangerous than most people realize by those who sit at the top of our national political dog pile. Because of the nature of the prohibitions against marijuana use, a vote to overturn those prohibitions is seen as potentially a vote against the entire power structure that has been carefully constructed by the elite over the past couple of centuries.A vote to legalize marijuana is a revolutionary act. It represents a refusal to believe the lies handed down since the 1930s, when racist and ambitious agents of what was then called the Federal Bureau of Narcotics figured out that they could use white apprehensions about blacks and Latinos in this country.The campaign against marijuana largely grew from the mind of one Harry J. Anslinger, once a high official of the Prohibition hierarchy who suddenly found himself out of a job in 1932. So he moved over to the Bureau of Narcotics and continued his self-aggrandizing practices. Anslinger and his kind realized that one primary tool in their drive to further isolate and degrade the image of black and brown U.S. citizens could be this relatively harmless and hitherto largely unknown weed, marijuana, which had grown increasingly popular among minorities during the years of Prohibition.From that dubious beginning, the war on marijuana has continued unabated down the decades, despite the fact that it now appears that a majority of Americans favor its legalization in some form. It is a crucial aspect of the War on Drugs, which wastes billions of dollars every year and incarcerates thousands of citizens for no good reason.I first awoke to all this in the mid-’60s, when I was an impressionable young high school student in the cultural backwater of suburban Maryland outside Washington, D.C. I discovered a book titled “The Marijuana Papers,” copyright 1966, edited by David Solomon. It is a remarkable book, containing everything from a famous report commissioned by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia of New York, which basically concluded that the campaign against marijuana is based on lies and distortions, to treatises by doctors, psychiatrists and social commentators on the potential benefits of legalization.I highly recommend the book, although there are others of more recent vintage that might be easier to find. In any event, do the research yourself, check it out online, whatever you think is necessary. But be sure to think this one through before you vote, and be sure to vote on Amendment 44.John Colson can be reached at jcolson@aspentimes.com