Fun_People Archive
21 Feb
Hermann Hates #24

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 97 14:23:17 -0800
To: Fun_People
Subject: Hermann Hates #24



--hey dude, don't bogart that column--
                                 Copyright 1996 by Andrew Hermann

I can remember the first time I got high like it was yesterday, which
right there ought to tell you that it wasn't an entirely successful
experience.  I was fifteen years old and my friend Bill and I had to go
hide in the bushes behind a corporate park to blaze up.  We laughed
ourselves silly, but I think it had more to do with the fact that we were
sitting under an azalea in the middle of a parking lot than it did with
the magical powers of the bag of sawdust and ditchweed Bill had managed
to score in the power tool closet during wood shop.

Since then I've had exposure to better brands of doobage, thank you very
much, but the effect it has had on me has remained much the same.  My
symptoms seem to progress something like this:  overwhelming urge to sit
down; dazed amusement at everything being said and done around me (a
symptom I often manifest, I might add, in the absense pharmaceutical
enhancement); ability to listen to the Allman Brothers and go "hey this
is pretty cool"; ravenous appetite for greasy fried foods.   All in all,
this does not add up to an especially great evening's entertainment.

The fact that marijuana does less to my body chemistry than your average
Hostess product has given me a somewhat unique perspective on the whole
legalize/criminalize debate.  To me it's like, what's the big deal?  Why
send people to jail for possession of something less potentially hazardous
to your health than many items you have lying around the house--nutmeg,
Drano, that Cabbage Patch Snack Time doll your niece got for Christmas?
I suppose if you smoked enough weed it could kill you just as well as
tobacco and nicotine, but lung cancer aside, all it does to you, no matter
how much you toke up, is get you high and keep you there.  In a world of
triple espressos, cigar shops, and bungee-jumping, getting high seems like
a fairly benign pastime.

On the other hand, I know from experience that stoned people, especially
people who's normal waking state of consciousness is stoned, are really
annoying to be around, and in particular to live with.  People who are
stoned all the time forget things, like appointments and which toothbrush
is theirs.  They listen to the Grateful Dead and discuss at great length
how cool it is.  They guffaw loudly at things like shadows cast on the
wall and the sound of you slamming your bedroom door really hard because
they've just woken you up for the twenty-fifth time that night.  They make
three course meals at four o'clock in the morning and then forget the next
day whose dirty dishes those are scattered all over the house.  In fact,
people who are stoned all the time tend not to clean up after themselves
at all, because when you're stoned, filth is actually cool.  There's more
to look at.

Legalization advocates, realizing that any substance is suspect when its
chief contributions to the commonweal are uncontrollable fits of giggling
and cravings for Taco Bell, have long since abandoned the "it's our
constitutional right to get toasted" tack and gone hunting far and wide
for "practical" uses for the wacky 'baccy.  In addition to its much-touted
medicinal properties, we're also told that ganja, in its smokeless
incarnation as hemp, can be used to make paper, rope, fabric, you name
it.  Legalizers are particularly fond of noting that the Declaration of
Independence was written on hemp paper, though they rarely speculate as
to whether the founding fathers were also bogarting some hemp when they
sat down to pen that august document.

There may be something to all those practical uses arguments, but it's
all, if you're pardon the expression, a smokescreen.  What it comes to
down for the legalizers is this:  they want to get stoned.  If you don't
believe me, look no farther than the December 30, 1996 New York Times,
which reports that proponents of California Proposition 215, led by chief
organizer Dennis Peron, celebrated passage of that joke of a sham of a
vaguely worded piece of non-sensical pseudo-legislation by toking up,
citing "stress" as their medical excuse and at no time producing
verification of a doctor's written or oral recommendation as required by
their own initiative.

In fact, let's break down Prop 215 for a second (what?  you mean you
haven't READ it?  God forbid the news media should make their source
documentation available--fortunately Prop 215 has a home page and I got
the whole thing off of there) and let's see just how obvious it is that
this self-proclaimed "Compassionate Use Act" is actually a "Let's All Get
Stoned Act," written and perhaps even voted for (it IS California, after
all, and it only passed by an 8 percent margin) by people who were too
stoned at the time to notice the gaping holes in this thing:

--Prop 215 assures the right to obtain and use marijuana for, not just
your basic laundry list of maladies anecdotally "proven" to be alleviated
by weed, but for "any other illness for which marijuana provides relief."
Presumably this could include anything from heartburn to jock itch, since
the best-known symptom of getting high, besides the munchies, is the
dulling of most physical sensation.

--Prop 215 avows pot use on the basis of "the written or oral
recommendation or approval of a physician"--in other words, my buddy Joe,
doing his residency at San Jose General, could say, "Hey Hermann, I
approve of your use of cannabis," and according to Prop 215, this
declaration would thereby legalize my further doing so.

--Best of all, the language of Prop 215 allows a patient's "primary
caregiver" to cultivate AND USE marijuana, and goes on to define "primary
caregiver" as the individual who has "consistently assumed responsibility
for the housing, health, or safety" of the patient.  Hey!  Your grandma
got glaucoma?  Set up a little herb garden in your backyard!  Smoke some
yourself to relieve the stress of serving as grandma's "primary
caregiver"!  It's all legal!

I couldn't find the original language for Arizona Prop 200, but apparently
it does the California version one better by including some vague language
suggesting that physicians can prescribe just about ANY drug to their
patients, including heroin or LSD.  It's enough to make you want to get

Nevertheless, as absurd as these new ballot initiatives are, and as
cynical as their proponents have been in their propagandizing of the few
tenuous shreds of evidence that pot may help genuinely ill people, they
look positively Lincolnian when compared to the other side of the fence,
Drug Czar Barry "Reefer Madness" McCaffrey.

Now here's a guy whose background consists entirely of blowing up folks
and spending zillions of taxpayer dollars on Stealth Bombers and sandproof
latrines, insisting in his infinite four-star wisdom that pot--which no
one in recorded history has ever overdosed on, and which is well-known to
not be physically addictive--is a dangerous drug with no proven medicinal
value.  In a recent Newsweek, McCaffrey tried to adopt an apparently
moderate viewpoint by arguing that marijuana ought to be tested for
medicinal purposes, and noting that the Office of National Drug Control
Policy has generously "made $1 million ask physicians and
scientists for all that is known about smoked pot, and what questions need
to be asked about it."  But McCaffrey's $1 million is only going to pay
for the cost of some meaningless paper shuffling, or perhaps some legal
fees, because what he disingenuously doesn't note is that marijuana is
still classified as a Schedule I drug--i.e. already determined by the FDA
to have NO medicinal value and therefore not legally obtainable even for
research purposes.  In other words, docs, unless maybe you can prove that
pot cures cancer, heart disease, and the common cold, you'll probably get
charged with drug dealing for giving it out to your test subjects.

My favorite argument from Gen. Barry and other drug warriors is the
"gateway" theory, which basically states that marijuana use among young
people leads to experimentation with harder drugs.  "That isn't Reefer
Madness alarmism," squawks Newsweek, "Reliable research shows that
virtually all heroin and cocaine addicts started out with pot."  Well,
duh.  With a national drug policy that lumps pot in with all the highly
addictive nasties, what reason does your average teenager have to suspect
that crack might be harsher?  You smoke it just like a bud, don't you?
And after all, it's way more expensive, so it must be better, right?

Seriously, though, I suspect the pot-to-hard-stuff statistics ignore a
much more prevalent "gateway" in a society still laboring under the
Reagan-era manditory-minimum-sentence love-fest.  It's called jail, and
it's not a conducive environment for confused young kids to learn the joys
of a chem-free existence.

So for all of pot's irritating properties, I must confess my heresy:  yes,
I am in favor of legalizing it.  It would be hypocritical of me, as
someone prone to the occasional alcohol bender, and nursing a chronic
caffeine habit, to advocate otherwise, even if I never smoke the silly
stuff again.  But what's needed to implement legalization of pot isn't
spoogy ballot initiatives or medical research, but a set of well-enforced
laws for regulating the distribution and use of legal marijuana.  The
scariest thing to me about Prop 215 is that there is nothing in its
language to suggest that a particularly limber AIDS patient shouldn't be
allowed to bring his motor vehicle along for the Magic Carpet Ride.

Unfortunately, the federal government has already pumped billions of
dollars into the chimerical "War on Drugs" and will no doubt continue to
pump more, so they seem to have an ironclad vested interest in keeping
pot out of government-licensed hash bars and out on the streets where it

And by the way, just who the hell are these people still advocating a "War
on Drugs," a policy that has failed on such an astonishingly grand scale
that it makes the American Communist Party look like the Chicago Bulls?
My guess is it's the pharmaceutical industry, lobbying yet again to make
sure you don't ingest anything medicinal that wasn't engineered in a lab
to the tune of five bucks a tablet.  The whole homeopathy craze has got
them nervous enough already, and here comes something that might stave
off the wasting effects of AIDS and it's more widely available at most
high schools than hot lunches?  Thank God it's illegal!  Let's make damn
sure it stays that way!  And while we're at it, let's hold them off with
a synthetic version (Marinol--ask your doctor or pharmacist!) that
vomiting chemo patients can't swallow but that, thanks to our lobbying
juggernaut, is FDA approved!  And remember, folks, the naturally occurring
form of this drug has no proven medicinal value whatsoever!

And if you believe that, what have YOU been smoking, and why aren't you

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