Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What's the deal with Weed? Or Abbie Hoffman?

What is the deal with weed? Why is it such a forbidden and offensive herb? This cured plant that causes grown men to get the munchies was always a questionable scourge! Why do the ‘Congressionals’ and Legislators have such a ‘hard-on’ against the transportation, possession, sale and use of Cannabis Sativa?

I have pondered these edicts and have come up with no logical basis. The only arguable purpose is to save the lungs of the common man, while perpetuating the “Reefer Madness” myth demonizing dope for the sake of hooch. I don’t smoke anything, but if I had the choice, and ‘Maui Wowie’ was decriminalized, then it would not be a pack of Marlboros.

I mean . . . why is it that grown men in uniforms or walkie talkies chase teenagers, waste tax payers’ money, and isolate them for selling or smoking Columbian Gold? Why did our Government punish the populace with paraquat? The answer lies! There is no rational answer!

For hundreds of years man has hybridized, subsidized, and smoked commercial grade nicotiana only to get lung cancer. Yet, we cannot face the fact that not only is there medicinal uses, but also recreational, and even commercial uses for hemp.

We are so married to our depressing Budweiser that we forget that drinking and driving kills more than toking with the Toyota. Obviously, irresponsibility is inevitable and that requires law enforcement’s attention. Currently, we have codified away a freedom that may not necessarily impact others with rational controls.

In the Seventies, I had the pleasure of meeting quite a few intelligent people, who occasionally smoked grass without fabled enduring side effects. I enjoyed my days spent in the Aragon or the Uptown. In the eighties, I finally met Abbie Hoffman at Northwestern University. Abbie ‘was the movement’ to legalize weed.

Hoffman shocked the nation by sending weed to the middle class and middle aged in number 10 envelopes each containing two joints and instructions. He was one of the most humorous and politically astute people that graced this Earth with their presence. The recent Looney Toon like cartoon called Chicago Ten makes Abbie 'look like' Don Imus, among others, but that is not the point.

I am glad that Abbie published before he passed on. However, he was a zealot. Regrettably, in his ultimate moments, he was a deeply depressed dude desiring to die. I am proud that Abbie was a Reform Jew. I like to say that Abbie was a ‘reformed Jew’ in that he was totally oblivious to the unrighteous stigmas created by society. Sometimes, I wonder if Hoffman’s mailing list came from his Temple.

I am sure that it brought disappointment for Abbie to hear about Jerry Rubin’s last jaywalk after Hoffman resurfaced to face Court. However, it was unfortunate that Abbie refused to look for a logical way to overcome his agony and depression; his humor brought tears of joy to many of us. I mean he was ‘right on’ so far as his sensitivity to political realities; his humor hit home. This is how he and others instilled the ‘Woodstock Nation;’ it was and is a state of mind.

I wonder whether Abbie had ADHD, among other things. I wish that we had the opportunity to see Abbie grow more humorous. On the day that he passed away, I drove to Lincoln Park. I walk in what I believed was the location of the ‘Watermelon site’ organized by the Woodstock Nation. I was the only one in the Park at Midnight. I pondered as to what was next as I walked the cement tightrope wall by the monument. Where do I go from here? I have taken the ‘Abbies’ of this world for granted.

Well, I stopped smoking weed just before I quite smoking cigarettes in the early ‘80s. My justification for one was no different than the other. I prized my lung capacity more than the tar, THC and nicotine. That was over twenty years ago. It had little to do with the law, but more to do with the fact that I did not want to play Russian roulette with my lungs.

Later on, a colleague encouraged me to smoke a cigar or two every six to eight months. However, that ended about two years later when an angiogram found plaque over ten years ago. I also quit to avoid disqualification under a new life insurance policy. Frankly, when I woke up in the morning on those few occasions, I dreaded the sensation of cigar tar in my stomach, so it was not much of a sacrifice.
Now, in 2008, we have come full circle. We have finally banned tobacco smoking. Now, the Marlboro man is anathema. He died, but not before his lust for smoke ended. Near the end, the less than magnificent cowboy model for Phillip Morris personally refuted his poor judgment. He did this while attached to the oxygen tank keeping his emphysema under control.

In spite of this edict and that of John Wayne after he, too, kicked the cow dust too much, we still have people smoking and square dancing at NASCAR into the new millennium. They are still puffing on their pack of Palls or hacking on other ‘coffin nails’ as Ronald Reagan did in the fifties. Some probably wished that Reagan continued, but no such luck, since we learned why Bush lost to Reagan. Unfortunately, Gore and Kerry were too blow dried to bellow brilliantly from their buttresses, as well, but Nader never nudged enough either.

Well, we still have Chicago’s finest chasing a few kids with a joint, while trying to tackle Thai stick on Touhy. All that we have done is to create a market whose price escalates for no other reason than to get a rise out of society. We also have a market that encourages those who’s reasons to smoke are to question authority or seek solace. In exchange, we have trained dogs and delved into people’s privacy for the sake of social control. Has the experiment worked? Well, our expanding detention and prison system says enough about our conception of justice.

One of the few comparable nations recognizing the realities of this challenge is the United Kingdom. In a system that provides addicts with options, true drug abusers seem to have figured the situation out in the U.K., but it takes time. Some of us appreciate that Pot is an herb that can be used for many purposes for commercial gain. There are ways to imbibe that create a high, not a die in many people without the need to even smoke it.

Yet it, among other substances, is illegal, which is an unfortunate fact that awaits eventual objective re-evaluation. A conscious parent can objectively explain the ups and downs to a receptive child, who can make reasonable choices given good judgment and the current laws.

It does not take a rocket scientist to proclaim that controlled substances, including whiskey, in excess, can hurt you. I appreciate the effects of THC, but I don’t think that we have to continue to label tens of thousands of people as criminals. This does not stop substance abuse. It seems prejudiced in that those without a good attorney or prestige get convicted. Some who are oblivious to the consequences of a criminal conviction mess up their chance at getting employed or get deported, among other things.

The idea that a few joints on your free time create havoc at the work place is questionable at best. I wonder about current scientific data and the objectivity of the sources. No, I don’t donate to NORML, nor am I a criminal attorney. Frankly, I prosecuted cases at one point. If I decided to resume doing so, then I would obligate myself to enforce all criminal laws including the more questionable ones. Perhaps, that is why I don’t prosecute, nor do I savor representing anyone charged with drug crimes.

In my halcyon days, I had no horror stories with herb. The euphoria worked for me, because I kept one thing straight. If you cannot party with good acquaintances or friends, then just don’t party. Passing the peace pipe was not passé. That and the fact that our home must now be excessively clean is probably why my scotch bottles remain relatively full. The phobia for guests seeing 'our dust' overwhelms the significant other. Instead, I drink tea from Assam to Zulu, because its legal, not a depressive, and the flavor will not diminish my depth perception.

May our nation get brilliant and legalize, abandon its most materialistic urges, and may we begin to appreciate the finer points of a democracy with lasting peace. Anarchy is cute with its scarlet letter, but a relatively organized yet non-conformist house need not always be divided for the hell of it. Although, I don’t plan to smoke cannabis or tobacco, I don’t see why a person cannot do so in the privacy of their home or some open field as long as the smoke does not reasonably offend or seep too far out.

This is for Aron, Ben, Kim, and Larry, Ron, and Steve, but not necessarily in that order.

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