I was heading into the grocery store today and I walked past the “smoker’s bench” placed 25′ from the door, as required by law. There’s always someone there on a break from work, or waiting for a friend or family member who’s inside shopping. But the whiff of pot as I passed by caught me off guard, caused a hitch in my step and wrinkle of my nose, before I thought huh,that’s going to be a lot more common.
Because I live in one of the two states who’ve so far legalized marijuana, a long overdue change in law for which I voted yea. Personally, I don’t like pot and the state won’t be getting any cannabis-tax dollars out of me, but then, I don’t like cigarettes, either. I do like wine. They get plenty of my tax dollars there.
A lot of people I know—a much higher number than I was aware of before it became legal—smoke pot (or vape it, or consume it in any number of edibles) at least on occasion. It does strange things to my brain so I steer clear, but I find it hard to comprehend the push to keep marijuana illegal and on the black market. By my completely unscientific estimation (in other words, by my observation), weed is less dangerous, to both the user and others interacting with the user, than either cigarettes or alcohol. I don’t, for example, personally know anyone who’s died of marijuana-related lung cancer, although maybe it’s happened and I was just unaware. It could be argued, I suppose, that marijuana-related disease numbers skew low because it’s an illegal substance, thus making the disease connections under-reported. Still, I feel confident in saying it’s not WORSE than alcohol or cigarettes. No, I’m all for legalizing it, taxing it, regulating it, letting those petty drug offenders out of jail and not locking up any new ones.
I’m eager to watch how this plays out across the country, to see how fast or slow the legalization process goes. Oregon, Alaska and California are on our tails, and though I’m not as familiar with attitudes on the east coast, it seems Maine is close. I assume there are other liberal or libertarian-leaning states contemplating the potential cash cow that is legal weed. Washington has been overly conservative and micro-managing of the process to get stores open, but Colorado announced it thinks it will out-pace their cannabis-related tax revenue estimates by 40%, the federal government is quietly turning askance a few degrees, and the United States As We Know It is not coming to an inglorious, hippified end.
That said, I don’t think I’ll get used to the smell of pot wafting by on the air. I probably won’t like walking by the “smokers bench” inhaling the second-hand smoke of a plant I find smelly and makes my head fuzzy, same as I don’t like being in the presence of tobacco smoke. So when I scurry past, I’ll probably still wrinkle my nose, but I assure you, it’s not because you’re a pot-smokin’ weirdo. In fact, in my heart, I’m glad for you. Any extra money you want to contribute to the state’s coffers is fine by me.
Photo Attribution: By Rotational (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons