Opinion

WALLY'S WORLD: Legalizing pot would create more users

By Wally DuChateau

Last week I initiated a discussion about marijuana. I concluded by saying the “war” against it has been an absolute failure on every level, much like Prohibition failed to eradicate booze in the 1920s. Pot should be legalized. We really haven’t any choice. Furthermore, given all the mind-altering drugs currently available in the streets – including anti-depressants, amphetamines. booze, codeine, heroin, cocaine, LSD, mescaline, Oxycontin and a host of other chemicals – legalizing pot won’t effect the public’s sobriety to any noticeably degree.

Nor will legalization solve many of the problems related to loco weed. Not by any means.

How a person reacts to booze or pot – and, for that matter, all the psychedelics – depends to a large extent on what the person brings to the experience. Some people fall asleep. Others become violent. Some people tell me pot is just like being drunk, but without the hangover. Others attest to a very profound spiritual state and an expended consciousness. In between, you may experience a heightened sense of taste and a severe case of the “blind munchies.” Or a keener sense of smell. Or a dazzling and bright array of color, which artists seem especially attuned to. Or more acute hearing, particularly when listening to music. There may be an increased awareness of touch, including sexual feelings. Some people claim to enjoy all these sensual qualities simultaneously. Then again, you might just get giddy as hell.

In many cases, marijuana disrupts a person’s perception of time; a few minutes becomes an hour and vis-a-vis. It can disrupt your short-term memory and, consequently, you might forget what you’re talking about in the middle of a sentence. Still, even more extreme, some people tend to forget what they’re doing or even forget where they are. This can be funny or scary, depending again on what they bring to the experience. In many cases, warped time and memory account for intense bouts of paranoia.

But, whether the initial experience is fun, insightful or scary, many people are ready to try it again – and will continue to use it occasionally for years. If the drug is rather difficult to obtain in their normal social circles, people will go out of their way to get it. Make no mistake, if pot is readily available at the corner liquor store, people would use it more often than they do now.

It’s easy to recognize when certain people are stoned, just as it’s easy to tell when they’re drunk. They may stumble a lot or easily lose their balance. They might have slurred speech or have difficulty talking at all.

If this was true of all pot-smokers many of the detrimental social consequences would be eliminated. But it isn’t. Some users can be completely wasted and yet show no obvious, outward signs. Therefore, stoned people can report for work and look perfectly normal.

Which means a Boeing worker in charge of quality control or other important, assembly-line components might have no idea what he’s doing for large parts of the day. Would you want to fly on that plane?

A police officer might stop a stoned driver who’s speeding down Interstate 5 at 70 mph. However, if the fellow can touch his nose and walk a straight line, the cop would probably write him a ticket, tell him to slow down and send him on his way, even though the the guy can’t find the brake and doesn’t even know where he is.

Alas, the problems and repercussions of legal marijuana have just begun.

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