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Posted: December 05, 2012

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

Jeff Rundles

"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.

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

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Readers Respond

Retired to Denver from Ann Arbor in 2001. Great town, great people, bad climate, so we came here. Active in community affairs. Enjoyed the article, and also think legalization is a mistake. By Dave Webster on 2012 12 05
I am very happy to see all the negative responses to this article. Each one makes very good arguments. The fact is the federal government would, and will keep marijuana criminalized for as long as they can. Making it a Colorado amendment is a way for the People to speak out and be heard. With 18 states approving medicinal marijuana, and now two states fully legalizing the substance, we see a growing acceptance towards decriminalization and rejection of outdated laws and old beliefs regarding marijuana. One thing to consider is while very few of the 55% of people who voted for amendment 64 will regret it, it is very likely that many of the people who voted against it do not passionately oppose legalization, and after the laws for regulation are worked out and implemented, many will fully embrace them. By David Dodds on 2012 12 05
As Jeff knows, I love his columns but disagreed entirely with his conclusions here. Personally, I'm also disappointed in the news this week that CO business leaders fired off a missive to AG Holder, asking him to essentially ignore the will of Colorado voters. Sadly, the signatories are as out to touch as those who were unbelieving of the Nov 6 results. For some, democracy works only if the majority agrees with ones opinion. Let's step up, tip our hat to the collective wisdom of the electorate, and realize the promise of legalization. By Bart Taylor on 2012 12 05
Jeff; you needed to write this BEFORE the election. Now, you might as well lament for the prohibition era of the 1920's. The fact is the people of Colorado want to give this a try after seeing all the good and ill of the medical marijuana era just past. I too am a child of the 1960's and can only say this has been a long time coming. It appears you survived Ann Arbor, and except for some memory dis-function regarding the reality of the passage of 64, you seem to be doing alright. Think in terms of solutions to make this work in economic terms; it's what you are good at. Personally, society will be much better off under 64 than it has been with the repeal of prohibition. By Rod Proffitt on 2012 12 05
Clear that you desire governmental involvement throughout our lives I personally am tired of nannyism. Shall we illegalize whipped cream in a can because there's nO2 in there? Should we illegalize automobiles because you can drive them faster? Why not teach your children right from wrong, provide them with tangible examples, and more importantly-give them a chance to know the truth and learn for themselves how to choose well in life? Isn't time we stop granting and forcing (through legislation) the government access and into power over every little aspect of our lives? You sir, are part of the bigger problem. I am saddened that the editors of this publication have provided you with such a platform to spread your liberal nonsense. Signed, A true Libertarian (one who believes in PERSONAL responsibility) By Tired F Socialism on 2012 12 05
"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." BAD analogy, talk to middle school teachers & find out that they are ALREADY dealing with alcohol, drug & teen sex issues at that level...I am a fiscal conservative who thinks it's LONG past time for this portion of the "war" to be OVER... By Michael Schmidlen on 2012 12 05
There is a problem with any product that is decriminalized, but only partially. The problem is selective enforcement. Next time you see a car stopped by the side of the road for a traffic ticket, look at who it is. Not always, but a higher percentage of the time than is representative, the perp stopped is poor. This is particularly true in richer neighberhoods. The cop has a vested interest in stoping someone who either does not look like they belong in the neighborhood or has a higher likelyhood of finiding additional violations like no insurance. The same think occurs with drug laws. They are selectively enfored to the detriment of the poor or out of place. The same think happens with other crimes, but at least a crime has occured. By Stanley Johnson on 2012 12 05
Jeff, I wasn't so much against the amendment overall, but feel it does not need to be in our constitution. However, here's a riddle for you, Why do people stop banging their head on the wall?" Answer? Because it feels so good when they stop. The war on drugs is a complete failure and that is the hard, cold truth. In other words when will we stop banging our heads on the wall thinking laws against drugs will stop the use of those drugs? This war has been a waste of our money and years ago I would not have thought I would have ever said this, but my guess is you have heard of the defintion of Insanity. It applies on the war on drugs seems to me. By Gary Harvey on 2012 12 05
I agree Jeff, it just allows another path to self destruction. Amendment 64 should have never been a constitutional right. If the legislature wanted to decriminalize it, fine, but the law should have been totally fleshed out with enforcement of growing, distribution and DUI, including coordination with Federal law. By John Bollinger on 2012 12 05
"...but addictive personalities are addictive personalities and I would rather the potential avenues for destruction be limited." So much for personal responsibility, let's have the government save us! No thanks, please stay out of my business.... By Pat Brown on 2012 12 05
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