Big Daddy

Big Daddy: Should we legalize it?

Hey Big Daddy,
This week, the governor said it was time for a debate on legalizing marijuana. Is this the way out of our budget crisis?

–Inquisitive in Ione

Hey Inquisitive,
It’s amazing what happens when social mores come into conflict with fiscal circumstances. Guess who usually wins those ones.
That said, you’ve got to hand it to the governor for at least suggesting we have a debate on the issue. This gives the knee-jerk folks something to overreact to, and the stoner advocates cause for premature celebration. But really, does anybody think smoking pot is worse that drinking alcohol?

Of course, what I think doesn’t matter. But the collective lack of response from Californians, at least lack of initial response, means that the state’s residents have a rather blasé attitude about legalizing pot or that their so focused trying to make ends meet and they’ve become immune or totally indifferent to anything that may seep out of the governor’s mouth these days.

Perhaps it’s some combination of the two.

In any event, the short answer is that we’re not going to legalize pot any time soon. Heck, use of marijuana has essentially been decriminalized in San Francisco. Walk down Market St. on any given day, and you’re likely to get a whiff of funny smoke. And it’s just as likely to be eminating from the young lady in the Chanel suit as it is the homeless guy on the broken mountain bike. Call it a sign of the times.

Heck, we sure have come a long way since the times when smoking a little pot disqualified you for the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, we have a president who openly admitted to using cocaine in his 20s – a fact that rarely came up on the campaign trail. Whether or not that’s progress, I’ll let you decide, gentle reader.

That collective shrug when it comes to an individual’s drug use is becoming more and more common. That said, this is low-priority. Sure, the advocates will point to the tax revenues the state could receive from legalizing pot. And we’ll get lots of bad jokes about additional sales tax revenues on Oreos and Ben and Jerrys. But trust me on this one: On the homeland security color scale, this is a Code Purple issue. Given a choice between this and a Assembly floor speech, the floor speech is probably more important. That’s how low priority this is.

Really, all this talk about legalizing pot should be taken about as seriously as a Brett Favre retirement announcement. But kudos to the governor for at least speaking his mind on this one. There’s nothing more galling than politicians who think one thing privately and turn around and say something entirely different for political expediency. Not many people can accuse Schwarzenegger of doing that. As of now, the governor is in a sort of political netherworld, without many loyal friends from either political party. And that has only made him more candid, in some ways. In fact, that may be the one thing people around here actually miss about the guy once he’s gone.


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