“Please don’t waste your energy on me my friend / cause we still got a long way to go / We’ll meet again someday / but right now just go away / ‘cause I still got a long way to go.” Michael Bruce, Long Way To Go, 1971
Happy 420, a holiday that, I dare say, gets happier each year.
In the past six months, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota and Virginia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. That means as of this writing, its use is legal for adults in 16 states, the “District” of Columbia, and Guam – not to mention Canada, Mexico, and a rapidly increasing number of industrial nations.
Another 20 states have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana and most of those are entertaining complete legalization. More than two-thirds of all Americans support legalization, and this cuts across both political parties and those who identify as liberal, progressive, conservative, libertarian, and Anglo-Saxon.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, we spend nearly four billion dollars each and every year enforcing the existing marijuana laws. 45% of all inmates in federal prisons are there for drug-related offenses (source: Federal Bureau of Prisons). 1.5 million people are arrested each year for drug-related offenses and over 500,000 are behind bars (source: The Economist). We are spending in excess of twenty billion dollars keeping these miscreants behind bars each and every year.
Of course, a highly disproportionate number of weed inmates are not white men and certainly not white men who are “of a certain age.” It bears noting that a young person with a prison record is extremely likely to be marginalized throughout his or her “career,” and, thus, is equally likely to be a financial burden on society. This should go without saying, but if it did, then it wouldn’t be an issue.
You’d think there would be more productive ways to spend our tax dollars, including (but not limited to) reducing taxes.
But if you did, you wouldn’t be President Joe Biden. He’s opposed to national legalization efforts, and his schedule has been tied up firing some of his staff members who have admitted to prior weed use. This liberal icon has been very busy putting our money where his mouth is. It should be noted that Joe Biden, like his legal predecessor and like this writer, does not consume alcohol.
Of course, there are people who are opposed to legalization. There are the usual religious totalitarians who are convinced their invisible hoary thunderer gets angry every time anybody receives any enjoyment out of life. There also are the self-appointed moral monitors who believe Reefer Madness was a documentary.
And, of course, there’s the prison-for-profit racket, a gaggle of soulless entrepreneurs and investors who are all too happy to feel your pain all the way to their bank.
I firmly believe in the original conservative philosophy that demands we “mind our own business.” Here’s a fun fact: when Benjamin Franklin designed the very first American coin, one side states “Mind Your Business” and the other side declares “We Are One.”
Or… maybe… let’s legalize marijuana just to save the money and to free resources that actually will inure to the benefit of our society. Old school Republicans — who seem to have been purged from the party that carries their name — should embrace this idea just to kick big government in its big ass.
Of course, there are other ways to celebrate 420. Personally, I’m partying down at my local vaccine clinic and getting my second jab. I’m told I will likely get sick for a couple of days, and I appreciate the wisdom of the “but it beats getting Covid” mantra.
Hey… party on, Mike!
And have a safe, healthy, and amusing 420. After what we’ve all been through, we deserve it.