Weed Cards, Progress and De-Evolution
I visited Los Angeles for the first time in many years when I flew into LAX on Thursday to be interviewed for a Vice documentary series episode about stoner movies. I’m never one to turn down a free trip, or a free anything, for that matter, but considering the nature of the episode I was taping, I was also excited about the prospect of legally being able to purchase marijuana in the United States for the first time in my life.
So you can imagine how disappointed I was to learn upon touching down that the decriminalization of marijuana in California doesn’t mean that any old tourist can buy weed in a dispensary. Nope, if you don’t have a medical marijuana card it is still illegal to purchase marijuana. Thankfully, I Googled “How to get your weed card quick in Los Angeles” and found a place online that could get you a medical marijuana card in a matter of minutes, for just under forty bucks.
I signed up and ten minutes later, while still in the shuttle to my hotel, I was on the phone with a real, live, actual doctor. “So, what appears to be the problem?” he asked, all professional and legitimate-like.
“Well, I have terrible anxiety and stress and I’ve wrestled with insomnia pretty much all my life and marijuana is pretty much the only thing that’s really been able to help with that” I told the real, legitimate doctor. Thankfully, what I said had the benefit of being true, so I was happy if not terribly shocked when he immediately responded with, “That’s very legitimate. I have no problem giving you a pot card.”
An hour later, a young man showed up at my hotel with marijuana in both edible and plant form. It was my first experience with the de-criminalization of marijuana in the United States and I’ve got to say: it’s fucking awesome. I’m excited about the de-criminalization, and hopefully full-on legalization of marijuana for both selfish and less selfish reasons.
On a selfish level, I’m rooting for the nation-wide legalization of marijuana because I would benefit personally from it, and I think a thriving legal marijuana industry could do wonders for the world, and cut opioid and benzo addiction and abuse by a great deal. That’s one of the main reasons big pharma is against legalizing pot.
But I’m also strongly in favor of the legalization of marijuana because there is an unforgivable epidemic of black men in prison for selling a drug that’s infinitely less harmful and destructive than alcohol or opioids. The drug war is fundamentally racist in its conception and its execution, which is why I’ve seen marijuana legalization as one of a number of encouraging signs that our country is on the right track.
I similarly saw the election of our first Black President, the legalization of gay marriage, trans rights and visibility and Obamacare as further evidence that our culture is evolving. Needless to say, when I talk about cultural progress these days, I tend to do it in the past tense. Our culture was evolving in some pretty important, pretty substantive ways. And that scared the holy living shit out of a lot of people.
So on November 8th, our culture stopped evolving and began de-evolving. We were on the right track and then we reversed course in a terrifying although not entirely unexpected fashion.
Thankfully, history is a continuum. It ebbs and flows. It travels in cycles and I’d like to think that once we get the Fascist orange out of the White House we can continue to grow and evolve and mature and not devolve into reactionary regression. Because progress is worth fighting for, even if it's something as seemingly inconsequential as marijuana de-criminalization, and Thursday evening I got a tantalizing taste of some of progress’ rewards. It tasted damn good, and also got me high. I’m speaking literally and specifically about the edibles I ate, but metaphorically, freedom's rewards are delicious as well.
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