Here’s a suggestion for Mason Tvert and his fellow pot-smoking advocates: If you want the rest of us to take you and your agenda seriously, don’t treat us like we’re stupid.
Tvert, of course, is the executive director of SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation). The group sponsored the recently-passed bill legalizing marijuana possession, up to an ounce, in Denver. Yesterday, his group kicked off their campaign to pass similar legislation on a statewide level. Assembled on the steps of the Capitol building, they began collecting the 68,000 signatures needed to put the initiative on the ballot.
And on the steps of the Capitol building, Mason and company confirmed what I’ve suspected all along: they’re willing to do or say absolutely anything, as long as it advances their agenda.
“Simply signing this petition to put it on the ballot means you think it should be debated,” Tvert said in one of this morning’s local dailies. He made similar promises to bystanders, assuring them that a signature did not necessarily imply advocation of legalizing pot. The truth of the statement is questionable, as the petition will become part of public record and is generally viewed as the first wave of people willing to say that they think the initiative should be passed. Tvert’s claim references the fact that, once the petition is signed by the requisite number of residents, the initiative would still have to be approved by voters before it would become law.
A year ago, it might have seemed pointless to even present voters with such a notion. The line seemed to be drawn at medical marijuana. But legalizing pot just for the sake of recreational use? It would have been (and was) scorned mercilessly.
Until it passed.
All of a sudden, the tide appeared to be turning. It was a narrow margin, but the initiative passed and Denver voters legalized the possession of a small amount of marijuana. Lawmakers were quick to label it a fluke and to say that it “slipped under the radar.” (This, too, is a highly questionable statement, as it’s hard to imagine voters accidentally voting to legalize pot.) But the effect of the initiative was minimal, as on the first day after the vote, police continued to apprehend those found with now-legal dope. Prosecutions continued, citing state law, which supersedes local law and still deems marijuana an illegal substance.
That’s why Mason and pals are taking it to the next level. If passed statewide, possession would still be a federal crime, but apprehension would become a matter for the FBI. And the common speculation, with which I am likely to agree, is that the Feds have more important items on their to-do lists than nailing dope smokers.
So what’s the reason for my apparent hostility toward Mason and his SAFER crew? I’m not particularly opposed to marijuana. I smoked a fair amount myself in my late teens, and though I don’t run with a pot-smoking crowd these days, I don’t begrudge someone else who wants to sit on his back porch with joint in hand.
My beef with the reefer has to do with the tactics being used to pass the legislation. The organization’s acronym says it all: SAFER. That’s their allegation, that pot is safer than alcohol. And while this may be supportable by evidence like impairment studies and automobile accident statistics, I take issue with statements like, “By banning pot, you’re FORCING people to use ALCOHOL for recreation, even though alcohol’s more dangerous.”
It would be like me saying that because Uzis are so expensive, Dick Cheney was FORCED to use a RIFLE which had much worse accuracy and may have led to the accidental shooting of his hunting companion.
That’s so stupid, even Dubya might be forced to admit it.
Nobody’s forcing anyone to use alcohol. Like any potentially dangerous substance, consumption is at the user’s own discretion. It’s a laughable assertion that without the legalization of pot, I will be forced to sit around and drink cheap beer because there is nothing worthwhile to do for entertainment or recreation beyond altering my mind. That’s the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard.
Is alcohol dangerous? Of course. Is it more dangerous than pot? Probably. But does that mean pot should be legal? I don’t think so, and I’m betting that Denver voters don’t, either. The real question we should be asking is whether or not alcohol should be legal, but that question will never be taken seriously. We already like alcohol, and it’s already been legalized. It’s much easier to make something legal than to make it illegal, which is why we should think twice before we rush to legalize pot. What if legalizing pot ends up making things worse, despite the assurances of SAFER that the world would be a better place to live? What if we later want to change our minds? We’ll have a hell of a time getting it banned again, that’s what will happen.
Is it a double-standard? Yes. But the simple fact of the matter is that legalizing pot isn’t going to make the world a safer place. It’s just going to give people one more thing to abuse. And yes, there are plenty of pot-smokers out there already, but if it becomes legal, there will certainly be more.
So I take issue with Tvert’s claim that marijuana is safer, because “safer” doesn’t mean “safe.” And using this logic as his justification for the initiative doesn’t hold bong water.
What pushed me over the edge was the newspaper’s assertion that SAFER actually took advantage of a nearby, Capitol-step party the Democrats were having nearby to celebrate the gubernatorial candidacy of Bill Ritter. People were confused, thinking that Mason’s party was Bill’s party, and Mason did nothing to clarify the mix-up. He just pressed everyone for signatures and gave the line, “it just means you think it should be debated.”
And that, in my mind, speaks volumes about the integrity of the people trying to pass the Pot Bill. If you have to cheat and sneak around to get your legislation passed, your legislation’s probably not worth passing.
We already saw this a couple of years ago when PETA, along with their celebrated, 15-year old advocate Heather Herman, tried to convince us that circus animals were mistreated so badly that we should ban circuses from Denver. What happened when we found out that the video clips of elephant beatings weren’t even filmed in America? That circuses in the States are regulated by the Department of Wildlife? That PETA doesn’t love animals, they just hate humans? We got pissed off, that’s what happened. And we voted that initiative down by an 80-20 margin.
If Mason and pals want us to take them seriously, they should quit insulting our intelligence. They should say that they want our signatures because they want to smoke pot, they like smoking pot, and they would rather grow their own than buy it off of guys who smell like piss in dark alleyways. That’s the end of it. If they want to drop the “safer” crap and call a spade a spade, I’ll offer my signature.
But don’t treat us like we’re stupid.