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Rundles wrap up: Down to the seeds and stems again, too

"Well, my dog died yesterday and left me all alone.

The finance company stopped by today and repossessed my home.

That’s just a drop in the bucket, compared to losing you.

And I’m down to seeds and stems again, too."

— Commander Cody

Interesting song, sure, one that many of us in college in Ann Arbor in the early 1970s thought was genius. Little did we know at the time – or give any credence to – that the "losses" referred to in the song’s laments probably were attributable to, frankly, the guy singing having smoked too much pot.

OK, I was in Ann Arbor in the hey-day of the so-called Hippie Movement, and, given my liberal sensibilities at the time, I did feel that marijuana should be legal.

I no longer feel that way – I haven’t felt that way in years – and you can count me among the electorate in Colorado who voted in November against the legalization of marijuana, and among the many who believe that our state embracing more liberal pot laws is a mistake.

I know all the arguments. That marijuana is no worse than alcohol, that prohibition is a misguided and ultimately too-expensive exercise that diverts police attention away from more significant legal issues. That regulating the cultivation of marijuana for legal recreational use will marginalize the drug trade and disconnect marijuana from the murder and mayhem in Mexico, Central America and other hot beds of the drug trade. But I’m not buying it. Heck, in many ways you can make many of the same arguments for heroin or cocaine or Oxycodone or meth; that they represent, in the broadest terms, victimless crimes where the worst penalty possible is addiction and the ruination of a life by free will. Laissez-faire and all that, assuming you don’t step over the line into trafficking or operating machinery while impaired.

It simply doesn’t work that way. The drinking age is 21 and everyone knows that 18-, 19- and 20-year olds drink. When the drinking age was lowered to 18, 15-, 16- and 17-year olds indulged. It’s a proximity issue: When something is more generally available, its reach will extend far beyond the stated confines. It is perhaps why we have marriage vows, else we might all act like over-indulged generals. That’s just human nature.

I’m all for some kind of decriminalization of marijuana, but I would prefer it to be a form of policy rather than by constitutional amendment. There is too much law enforcement effort and expenditure for simple possession; that much is true. However, I believe the deterrent inherit in marijuana’s being illegal works and keeps at least a few people on a better path. I’m no prude, surely, but I have to admit that the people I have known – know! – who embrace marijuana did so and do so to the detriment of advancements in their lives. Yes, I also know several people who suffer this same carnage from alcohol, but addictive personalities are addictive personalities and I would rather the potential avenues for destruction be limited. Colorado’s new marijuana law – if, indeed, the feds don’t shut it down – will only magnify the existing problems, not to mention acting as a magnet for the nation’s indulgent.

It strikes me as I read what I have written here that it would be easy for me to make a cogent argument for the legalization of marijuana – as the pro marijuana forces have obviously done, first for medical marijuana and now for legalization of recreational use. I suppose that is why we have the court of public opinion.

But my sense here is that this law is just wrong. That those who find themselves down to seeds and stems will continue to believe that having full buds would be the antidote to misery rather than the cause.

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Jeff Rundles

Jeff Rundles is a former editor of ColoradoBiz and a regular columnist. Email him at jrundles@cobizmag.com.

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