Votes Have Consequences – And Now Pot is Legal

Votes Have Consequences – And Now Pot is Legal

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.

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  • Jodi says:

    My two cents: The difference between a libertarian and a legislator is that a libertarian wants the government, at all levels, to leave them the hell alone to make their own choices, stupid or otherwise. A legislator (particularly of the Leftist persuasion) wants to control, regulate, and tax the daylights out of it, whatever “it” may be. That’s not freedom. That’s nanny-state doling out the crack it expects votes in return for.

    Another future consequence (one of those unintended consequences our legislators mostly fail to consider): Class action lawsuits in the tradition of hot coffee spills and Big Tobacco. And guess who will pay the inevitable settlement to those who choose to inhale harmful toxins into their lungs. You guessed it. The taxpayers.

  • Dana says:

    My libertarian bent stops at the point of legalizing drugs. Why? My darling bride (of 34 years, 7 months and 18 days) is a registered nurse on a pediatric wing, and she says that she has never seen a case of child abuse — and they have to be hospitalization bad before she sees them — in which drugs and/or (usually and) alcohol were not involved.

    The vast majority of adults wind up having to care for children at some point in their lives, and the last thing we need is yet more f(ornicated) up people doing that. And, quite frankly, if you just have to mess with your mind in order to have a good time, you have problems.

  • GWB says:

    This is a prime example of the dictum that a democratic republic is only a viable government for a moral people. Once the people lose their virtue, it becomes a free-for-all.

    I think Jonah has a good short column here about the laboratories of democracy idea.

  • Robin H says:

    The first test case of the legalities will be when a Coloradoan with a bag of pot tries to go through TSA security. State, meet Federal!

    I’d like to be there with some popcorn.

    • Dana says:

      That won’t be the first issue. The first issue will be with commercial drivers; federal law mandates that anyone who has a job which requires a commercial drivers license be tested upon employment, and subject to random testing thereafter, for drug use. When a CDL driver in Colorado tests positive for pot, he’s going to lose his CDL, which means losing his job, but now he has a lawsuit, claiming that he’s being fired for using something which is perfectly legal in Colorado.

      Unlike alcohol, the tests for the recreational pharmaceuticals are tests not for current intoxication, but for the waste metabolites from the drugs; the tests only show that a person has used those drugs within the period covered by the test method.

      Driver Snodgrass Q McGuillicuddy just happens to hit some little old lady’s car, gets sent for a whiz quiz, and tests hot for pot. Right now, the assumption taken is that Mr McGuillicuddy was intoxicated when he had the accident, but now, he will argue that he was engaging in a perfectly legal act, on his own time, and was not under the influence when the accident occurred. I can see this getting really ugly, really fast.

  • Nina says:

    Believe me – I didn’t vote for this crap in Colorado. Hell I didn’t even want the medical marijauna issue passed. The consequences are and will be greater than anyone thinks with all this. I’ve seen it in person. Was called to sit on a jury. Felony murder trial of someone who wanted to steal a guy’s 15 marijauna plants, and killed him. **guy who had plants had a ‘medical marijauna license’ and was growing the things in his home. From that one felony murder the consequences were: 1 guy dead, 7 people in prison serving sentences of 5 years and all the way up to life with no parole. That’s just ONE case

    So tell me . . .how is legalizing this crap going to be ANY different?? How is legalizing this crap going to fix the crime issues Colorado has already been experiencing with the medical marijauna situation?? Bueller?? Bueller??

  • Marcopohlo says:

    Although I am aware of a number of responsible pot users, I do understand the concerns about the irresponsible ones. But if the alternative is the status quo (with its perversion of the criminal justice system and other unintended consequences) then, well, to quoted a great man, “Don’t compare me with the Almighty, just compare me with the alternative.”

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