Going Potty Over Election Day

Get excited, Electric Light Orchestra fans; marijuana is all over the news.

The November 4 Time Magazine cover story was about the possibility of legal pot in the United States. The main reason for the article was the controversial Question 9, a proposition on the Nevada ballot which would have made having up to three ounces of marijuana in one's possession legal.

The proposition failed, but the very fact that it was on the ballot just shows that Nevada continues to be the notoriously weird state. Not only do they have legalized gambling (which, granted, lots of states have), but they have legalized prostitution and may be on their way to legalized marijuana. Most amazingly (and weirdly) of all, they are doing this under a republican governor.

Naturally, the Bush administration is not crazy about the possibility of legalizing pot, so they sent out their drug czar, John Walters, to warn Nevadans of the dangers of marijuana. In the article in Time, Walters says he has never smoked pot. But he "believes marijuana to be not only a gateway drug but an incredibly detrimental in its own right ­ causing driving accidents, domestic violence, health risks, and crippling addiction."

Let's pick this quote apart, shall we? Walters doesn't believe that something that can cause driving accidents, domestic violence, health risks or crippling addiction should be available to American consumers. By that rationale, both alcohol and tobacco should be banned. The former can cause all of the above, and the latter is certainly linked with health risks and crippling addiction. Hell, by that rationale, McDonald's drive-thru should be against the law.

But just for a moment, let's give Walters the benefit of the doubt. Let's say that pot is a "gateway" drug, that it can cause traffic accidents, health risks and crippling addiction. All of these things may be true; I don't know. What I do know is that there is no way that pot ­ on its own, perhaps with other drugs it could be - could be linked to domestic violence.

Okay, college kids, let's think about this. Most of you have probably smoked pot, and all of you have been around someone that has. When was the last time you were around a high kid who got rowdy and wanted to kick some ass? Right. Never. I don't go to many parties, but I have been to enough to know that there are quite often rowdy drunk kids, but there are never any rowdy high kids. Want to know why? Because they are too busy sitting at home, eating Chee-Tos, listening to Dark Side of the Moon and playing Animal Crossing to leave the house. The high kids I have met at parties are usually very quiet, very smiley, and very intent on hugging people. Does that make me a little uncomfortable? Of course it does. But not as uncomfortable as getting punched in the face by someone who's had a fifth of wild turkey.

Also appeared in November 7, 2002 edition of the MU Student News.