I lead a busy life with strange hours (that happens when you have a baby who is recovering from a cold), and I was watching last Friday’s edition of “The O’Reilly Factor” last night (mostly for the Greg Gutfeld segments), when the “Pinheads of 2013” segment came up. O’Reilly, in his everlastingly pompous sagacity, declared the voters of Washington state and Colorado his Pinheads of the Year for voting to legalize marijuana.
That annoyed me. First of all, I live in Washington state, and I didn’t vote for legalization (though I know people who did). Second, even though I didn’t vote for it, I have to live with the consequences of that vote. And trust me when I say, it stinks – literally and figuratively. Third – hey, O’Reilly, that legalization vote was in 2012. Shouldn’t we have been pinheads last year, instead of now? Yes, I know, the laws have just gone into effect. It was still last year’s vote.
In Washington state, the measure to allow recreational use of marijuana passed by an 11% margin. I live in a county that passed it (the county-by-county breakdown can be seen here), but geographically, only about half the state voted to approve it. It just happens that the half that approved it are the more populous counties in the state.
I’ll never forget the day after the election, my husband walked outside to see one of the neighbors (who has a long history with drug abuse and poor decisions) lighting up a joint and saying, “Hey, it’s legal now!”
That incident encapsulates everything that is wrong with drug legalization. The people who have made poor decisions all their lives when it comes to drugs now feel like they have the legal freedom to keep making those poor decisions. The libertarian streak of thought in Washington (and in Colorado) says, “it’s none of my business what people do with their bodies, so long as it doesn’t harm others.” I can understand that train of thought for certain activities, but drug use isn’t one of them. Because the second someone who is high gets behind the wheel of a car, other people’s safety is at risk. And I have read tons of people commenting on local stories saying how “unfair” the THC limits written into the law are, because it’s not testing for “active” THC or some other such drivel. There are even the trolls who insist that people who smoke pot are too relaxed to go driving, or, insanely, that using pot actually makes for a better driver. I’ve read it all.
Then there is the huge issue that marijuana is still an illegal drug at the federal level, and the legal maneuvering required to reconcile these new state laws to the federal rules is going to be excessively complicated. Not that Washington state politicians cared. They just saw an opportunity for a slice of some more sweet, sweet tax revenue. Never get in between a politician and tax revenue.
And, of course, there is now the delicious irony that Washington state voters who passed this law, proving how “tolerant” and “progressive” they are… are now suffering from a massive case of NIMBY-ism. No one seems to want a pot shop in THEIR town, or THEIR neighborhood – the mantra is “put it somewhere else!” And then, there are cases like this, where some idiot making hash oil out of his marijuana blew up his apartment, which naturally, affected all of his neighbors, who were none too pleased. I wonder how many of them voted for legalization.
All of this to remind us all that votes have consequences. And that even though you can campaign against something, argue against it, and vote against it – we still live in a republic, and if a vote passes, we have to live with it. Legal pot is going to be a logistical and legal nightmare for Washington and Colorado for years to come. The rest of the country should take note. Don’t try this at home, please.