to describe the seriousness of the Pot Issue in America today. If it is good enough for President Obama, it is good enough for Me. There are those who would hold, with Andrew, that
It is about freedom and it’s deadly serious.
But this is true about many things. Wearing certain attire to school is about freedom. Smoking cigarettes indoors is about freedom. Public urination is about freedom (especially urination atop patches of ground that could benefit from some energy-efficient fertilization). Freedom itself does not decide the issue, even when it is weighed against harm.
There are also many things that are deadly serious — like, I am warned, talking on the cell phone in the car, even with a hands-free set. Policy settled? No — no matter how adamant The Experts and The Science may be about the probabilities and the correlations involved. Don’t like it? That’s politics…in a society, anyway, where politics is About Freedom, which is to say where freedom raises so many of the important issues instead of settling them.
We are stuck with the fact that some degree of criminalization of pot is, to some degree, reasonable — from the standpoint of political freedom, if not microethics. (And it’s the former standpoint that counts.) The Pot Empirics are different from what they were back when pot was first outlawed — and yes, back then, as my alma mater’s star lecturer Charlie Whitebread (RIP) explained, the process by which pot was banned, and the ‘reasons’ behind it, were incontrovertibly ridiculous.
But this is not enough to create a Matter of Life and Death. There can never be a Tom Paine of Pot.
But if there was…
Who can doubt that even a Ron Paul of Pot — even a Sarah Palin of Pot — could, with a motivated enough group of devotees, cause a cascade effect among indifferent, permissive voters? Then why not? Why not already? Because, like all too many Paulites and all too many Palinites, the Pot People are too kooky. Too adamant. Leaflet-pushers. Acid-legalizers or no. If pot is a matter of life or death, people will keep on choosing death. Pot will never be banal enough to sell its own decriminalization.