You knew it was coming. It was always coming. And, to their credit, those who organized and pushed–emphasis on pushed–medical marijuana in Arkansas told the truth about the end game. They always wanted medical marijuana to be the first step on the road to legalized recreational weed.
They said as much to the papers all those years ago when so many of us voted to allow marijuana only for those with a doctor’s note. And now the next logical steps are laid out before us. We can’t say we weren’t warned.
Earlier this month, yet another group filed a proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution to allow recreational marijuana. The Arkansas Adult Use and Expungement Marijuana Amendment is looking for a place on the 2022 ballot.
Another group has proposed the Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment, and yet another group has said it’ll file something soon. One of the outfits is called Responsible Growth Arkansas. Another is called Arkansas True Grass. And another is the Arkansas chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. They all have something in common, and you may have already figured out what.
It can be funny, even while sober, to hear some of the names these people give themselves and their efforts. For if these efforts are responsible, what would irresponsible look like? And once weed is legalized, how keep it limited to adults? Are cigarettes and alcohol successful in that way?
It reminds some of us of the names of fictitious federal agencies in Ayn Rand novels/temper tantrums/simplistic (but at the same time) long-winded hardbacks. Remember the legislation that would ruin many a livelihood called the Preservation of Livelihood Law? Or the bill to confiscate property, which was called the Fair Share Law. Or the law that would shatter public stability, aka the Public Stability Law.
Whenever the topic of legalized marijuana comes up in polite conversation, we are always taken back a few years, specifically five, when Little Rock had a police chief named Kenton Buckner. In 2016, he spoke to an audience about his thoughts on weed, and we remember him saying: “Will marijuana fix that?”
The nation, this state, his city, has problems, but will marijuana fix that? Crime. Will marijuana fix that? Education. Will marijuana fix that? Business. Will marijuana fix that? The same question(s) could be asked today. And with the same answers.
Lest we forget, this isn’t your father’s marijuana. What’s going around today isn’t the grass you might have tried in college in the 1970s, in which you got the munchies and wrote something silly to your congressman. Today’s stuff isn’t going to have you holding a quiet dorm session on whether trees dream. It’s nasty stuff.
Researchers at King’s College in London studied today’s marijuana and how it affects the brain. Researchers found that this isn’t your father’s grass, or your older sister’s. High-potency marijuana, or skunk, is becoming commonly used. And strong dope can lead to brain damage in frequent users: “Brain scans of people who regularly smoked strong skunk-like cannabis revealed subtle differences in the white matter that connects the left and right hemispheres and carries signals from one side of the brain to the other. The changes were not seen in those who never used cannabis or smoked only the less potent forms of the drug, researchers found.”
No, this isn’t your father’s marijuana. But it could be your kids’.
Speaking of kids, they will always get into the stash, even if the law is called the Adult Use Act or whatever. Studies in Colorado showed that of the kids in addiction centers who used marijuana, most of them got it from somebody who got their stuff with a medical marijuana card.
Doubtless there are enough people in Arkansas who will sign a petition to put any number of these issues on the ballot. So be prepared, Gentle Reader. After all, cities are starting to make marijuana low-priority misdemeanor cases.
The other day the paper said there’s a bill expected before Congress–to be filed by a Republican congresswoman–that would legalize marijuana on the federal level. But tax it at a lower rate than a Democratic bill. This is where we are now: Arguing about a drug’s tax rate.
This is all going in the wrong direction. It’s not progress.
The idea of recreational marijuana isn’t “dope,” the way the kids mean. It’s dopey. Always has been.