With the election now over, it's time to take a look back and see what happened. We saw Referendum C pass while D failed; everyone knows this was the most discussed issue on the ballot. The most discussed issue now, though, seems to be Initiative 100. I-100 passed with a 53 percent vote "legalizing" the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.
I know the legalization of cannabis (let's see how many different terms I can use today) is a high-priority grassroots issue for Coloradans (pun intended). With this in mind, I decided to write a column about the issue after interviewing a prominent member of the weed community here in Fort Collins who smokes "copious amounts of ganja" and also happens to be a good friend, known as the "Weasel."
I asked the Weasel about his thoughts on I-100 and the legalization of marijuana and he thought the I-100 measure would do little to help legalize marijuana other than making the issue a hotly discussed topic right now. The initiative hasn't done much more than that, because although the voters in Denver have spoken, state laws supersede city laws. Denver police will continue to write citations for the petty offense.
On the issue of the actual legalization, the Weasel said the hypocrisy at hand is that the state looks down on cheeba, but has no problem with alcohol. Indeed the I-100 campaign even raised these same talking points about being high versus being drunk.
The Weasel asserts being high is different for everyone, but it's not near as debilitating as being drunk. He also told me the government clearly has an alternate agenda with pot because of the propaganda they put out against the substance.
The examples he points to are the ads of a kid wrecking his dad's car into a tree and someone shooting himself as a result of being high. These are gross exaggerations of a high experience, says the Weasel. He did caution the legalization of Aunt Mary would indeed have to come with some sort of legislation regarding the use and abuse thereof.
"I don't want Woodstock in the street man, I just want to smoke some ganja," he said.
Public use of yandi would be a bad thing, the Weasel told me, but it would be a hard thing to enforce as there's no "breathalyzer for Buddha." He said it does make sense to limit people's interaction with something that alters your state of mind and a car, which I fully agree with.
What I don't agree with is the legalization of marijuana, even though I see a very convincing argument for it. Indeed, alcohol is a much more harmful substance with addictive properties – there's no question. The issue I have with it is that I just don't see any good that could come from it. There are obvious economic gains that could be derived from legalizing the substance, but I don't see anything of importance after that. I don't smoke reefer and if I ever drink, I never have more than two drinks.
I'm not saying I never drank or anything, but the point is that I don't now. All that to say, I don't promote the use of one substance over the other; I think you're better off not using either of them. The Weasel told me a strong culture exists for grass-smokers, and a government that ignores them and oversteps their boundaries to outlaw it is not doing what it should be doing. I recognize the Weasel's arguments as valid, even good, but I think whether you're going to smoke some bud or drink some Bud, you're better off just staying sober. I know this is a daunting reality for many of you and yes, it's a brave new world when you have to actually use your personality to socialize, but I think every one of you could do it if you wanted to. I'm not advocating prohibition, I see nothing wrong with a glass of wine here or a beer there, but I do see plenty of things wrong with getting drunk. While getting high is not as debilitating as getting drunk, the point is it still is debilitating. People do drink not to get drunk; I don't know many people that smoke without the intention of getting high (someone out there might but I've never met them). Being that as the case, I think we should keep it illegal. The Weasel thinks differently. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
Tyler Wittman is a senior speech communication major. His column runs every Tuesday in the Collegian.