Monday, February 9, 2009
DON’T TOUCH MY BAGS IF YOU PLEASE MR. CUSTOMS MAN
Marijuana. Exhibit “A”. The evil weed. Call it what you will, but you smoke it, you get high. Hi! My name is Max and I’m working off a few community service hours here by writing this little thing for Miss Vero on why pot should remain illegal. First, the arrest of the comedic giant Ron White in our fair city and now Michael Phelps is photographed hitting a bong. I would think that working toward increased lung capacity would be part of any competitive swimmer’s regimen. It seems that every mention of an arrest or incident involving pot cues an outcry of public support for the legalization of cannabis. There are many well thought out reasons to legalize the stuff; taxes, jail space, popcorn sales, etc. But there is one negative that overrides them all.
We are stupid enough already.
Yep. That’s my grand conclusion. If a person is stupid enough to get arrested for possession of marijuana then some discipline is in order. Isn’t Ron White the guy who came up with the phrase “you can’t fix stupid” or is he the “here’s your sign” guy? Either will fit. White’s case was unusual in that it involved an airplane rather than a car. If Will Greenlee would take a detour on his fixation with lower body functions and research the actual marijuana arrests in this town he would find that about 95% (rough estimate) involve people driving around with pot in their vehicle.
People that get arrested for pot call attention to themselves and are stupid. Your typical marijuana arrest begins with a traffic stop for some type of infraction. The officer will smell the odor of burnt or burning cannabis. This gives him cause to search the vehicle and either make an arrest or issue a notice to appear. An officer can issue a notice rather than physically make an arrest on a misdemeanor pot charge if the person is a Florida resident and does not have a history of failing to appear for court.
So if you want to smoke pot, and it seems that many of you do, keep it out of the car. You would be amazed at the number of people who crank up their car stereo system and then fire up a joint. Sharing your music with the neighborhood is a sure invite for the boys in blue. The penalties for first time pot possession is basically going before a judge, paying a fine and being told to stop smoking pot. Technically the crime is not smoking the pot but possessing it. That is why Michael Phelps will not be prosecuted. There is no evidence that he possessed marijuana. There is a photo that makes it appear he was smoking something but you need the little guy in the lab jacket to come in and say that it is indeed cannabis sativa.
Like many of my generation, smoking pot was a rite of passage. There was something about being at the University of Florida in the early 1970’s that just begged for you to try a little “Gainesville Green”. I did try it for a few months and I simply didn’t like it. It made my heart beat fast and my hands sweaty. I imagine the hydroponic supercharged stuff out there today would simply kill me. The marijuana laws were so tough back then that the campus police seemed loathe to enforce them. I do recall students smoking openly on campus and the police ignoring it. Then there was always the mythical person who was doing life in a Texas prison for possession of one joint. Maybe that myth is still out there. Making pot de facto legal on campus didn’t make the world a better place. Students coming to class stoned created some pretty ridiculous scenarios for higher learning. The impaired student would make contributions to class that I’m sure made perfect sense in his chemically expanded brain but to the rest of us it was gibberish. I can’t say for sure if my brief encounter with cannabis had any lasting affect but I do seem to have a lot of Deep Purple music on my iPod. Others have not been so lucky.
I sometimes have contact with old friends who continue to smoke pot and mostly when I see them I feel sad. They are a continued study over quite a few years that marijuana can cause the appearance of brain damage and total lethargic behavior.
But Max, I can almost hear you say, if pot is legalized it can be taxed and the state can make all kinds of money. The user can be assured of a uniform product and the ultimate result will be more people smoking pot in more places. We do not need this. The world will not be a better place with more government endorsed ways to become impaired. If it is legal, there will be more users and we will have more impaired people to deal with. The penalties as written in Florida are not so severe that a misdemeanor possession charge will mess up your life, that is if you are stupid enough to get caught.
Keep it out of your cars folks. You have a lesser expectation of privacy in your vehicle than you do in your home. As Ron White found out, if you are out in a public place, you are subject to a legal sniff by a drug dog.
If you are still skeptical, don’t listen to me. Take it from the man himself, Joe Friday:
Now that Russ Lemmon has found the county administration building, maybe he can discover the courthouse. It would be interesting to know how many people go to jail for pot and what they were doing that was stupid enough to get arrested.
Ron White’s arrest has turned into solid gold for him. Vero Beach, I guess, is part of his act now. Here is a link to a radio interview he did in Atlanta a few days after his big bust. It is in four parts but it is worth listening to especially if you have never heard him before. He seems to have a good sense of humor.
So is pot the scourge of the universe? Of course not. Should it be legal? Other than a couple of Beatles songs, I am hard pressed to find any way marijuana has benefited our society. Regardless of how you feel about the issue, possession is a crime.
Don’t be stupid.