Jesus obviously knew that his words and the Gospel would be lost on many that heard him speak…no matter how enlightened, holy, and truthful they were. After proposing parables and making poignant statements, he often said:

“Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 13:43, Mark 4:9, Luke 8:8, 14:35, etc.)

Although it must have been frustrating, Jesus seemed to take rejection in stride. He knew that the Holy Spirit had to open ears in order for his words to take root and eventually produce fruit. When he sent his disciples out into the world to preach, he instructed them how to respond to those communities that inevitably would reject them:

And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.
-Mark 6:11

He didn’t invoke any further condemnation against those who opposed or resisted him. He was content with the knowledge that the negative consequences of their actions would eventually catch up with them and would separate the “saved” from the “condemned”…no matter how many naysayers scoffed at him. But his disciples must have been amazed how many refused to accept the teachings of Jesus in light of all the miracles they witnessed daily. Indeed, the rejection must have seemed incredulous, counter intuitive and beyond common sense.

Unfortunately, we haven’t progressed much in the last two thousand years. People are still quite capable of not only rejecting the Gospel, but also turning away from ample evidence right under their noses in regards to other day-to-day issues. One such issue involves the legalization of drugs…marijuana in particular.

It appears voters in California will soon be going to the polls to decide, among other things, whether to ignore federal law and legalize pot in their state. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, a vast number of people have convinced themselves that there is some virtue in getting high and want to do so with impunity. The pretense of legalization for the proposed medical benefits of THC has been largely abandoned now by the advocates who are going straight for the unrestricted use of weed for mere “recreation.” And it seems the proposition is quite popular. “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, boys and girls!”

Now, if common experience isn’t enough, there are ample studies and mounds of documented research that delineate, clarify and confirm all the negative consequences of recreational marijuana use. Aside from the effects of THC, the simple act of breathing smoke (of any kind) into the lungs produces health problems…even cancer. Surprised? Really? Astonishingly, the same people who advocate for laws restricting tobacco use, especially in public, are indifferent when it comes to inhaling marijuana smoke. Despite the claims of those who espouse the wonders that can be realized with legalization, the basic facts don’t change…drug abuse is bad and we, as Americans, tend to disregard pleas for moderation in favor of the extremes. As a result, we don’t do well with intoxicants. Occasionally, that fact is emphasized by a celebrity who falls victim.

The body count is obvious, hideous, and continues to mount. And yet, many of us are so enamored with intoxication that we are more than willing…some fanatically so…to ignore the body bags. They’ve even made a taunting slogan of sorts out of the 420 dangerous chemicals said to be absorbed by the body from the average joint. Of course, the stuff nowadays is even more potent than the cannabis of the past. They say there is nothing more futile than “arguing with a drunk.” Well, the same can be said of trying to reason with a doper. Even now, I can hear the eventual echoes of some readers who are protesting with all their prepared mantras starting with, “Yeah, but…” Generally, those who get past one or two of those betray a guilty desire to defend their own personal use. In 30 years of police work, it never ceased to amaze me how far people would go to justify their drug use…beyond all reason and rational thought. It still doesn’t.

Incredulously, there are otherwise intelligent people that have fallen for this nonsense. I have spent countless hours defeating arguments by people in favor of legalization and use. They rely on a barrage of well-publicized propaganda and catch phrases popularized by the extremely well-organized and financed pro-pot lobby through the media and entertainment industry. My favorite is the reference to the high cost of the “war on drugs.” My advice is to not quote the price to someone who has volunteered to fight it and help make the payments. No one knows more about the cost of enforcement and the dangers of taking on the cartels and street purveyors of dope than those who have actually been in the trenches, evacuated the victims, and suffered the wounds. The monetary “cost” is nothing compared to the price paid in broken lives, decimated families, abused and neglected children, crushed dreams, and stifled futures…any realistic estimate would be beyond true calculation. If dope remains attractive to some despite these concerns, the idea that abuse can be mitigated without legal suppression is absurd.

And then comes the argument that we have filled the prisons with “non-violent” drug offenders that would be better served in rehabilitation programs. Of course, they ignore the fact that the most effective treatment centers claim less than a 25% success rate and that most of the patients wouldn’t be there if it hadn’t been for the fact that they were arrested and forced into rehab by court order. Furthermore, according to 2015 U.S. Department of Justice statistics, drug offenders make up less than 15% of the population in state prisons and those sitting in those cells are repeat offenders with long rap sheets. The percentage is higher in federal incarceration, up to 40%. However, the overall numbers of federal prisoners pales compared to those in state custody and those drug cases were referred to the federal courts for prosecution because they were significant instances of trafficking. You don’t get to state or federal prison for smoking a joint, people. My sympathy for such individuals is moderated by the simple fact that incarceration is a commonly known consequence of breaking the law…something not considered a virtue by law abiding citizens and a notion lost on the jailbird when they chose to engage in a criminal act! Besides, it’s not a true war, unless you’re willing to treat the offenders as enemy combatants.

“Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”
(Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow, theme song for TV’s, Baretta, 1975-78)

Whoa, what a concept…

Although the jury is still out on the actual medical benefits of smoking marijuana for its THC vs. ingestion by another method (i.e. in pill form such as Marinol or pharmaceutically synthesized vapor), there are scientific studies and anecdotal evidence that suggest there may be some short term benefits for the desperately ill, despite long term risks. But, even here, controlled use is prudent. Unlike other drugs, even alcohol, marijuana is easy to produce for anyone with some soil, water and sunshine…making it ripe for abuse without statutory control.

My former D.A.R.E. students will remember I predicted this day would come. With all the money behind the legalization effort, I figured some states would at least experiment with decriminalization. They’d trot out the same rationales used to repeal Prohibition in 1933, particularly the revenue benefits of taxation, and give it a try…of course, there would have to be the simultaneous intellectual exclusion of the pain, suffering, and death brought to us by alcohol in the last 80+ years. The thing that made Prohibition difficult in the 1920s was the well-entrenched, pre-existing market established by the cultural acceptance of alcohol before it was federally banned. A populace, largely from foreign countries where alcoholic beverages were often the only safe beverages available, normalized its consumption. If the gates are opened in a similar manner for other drugs, that same normalization can take place to establish an existing market that will be harder to roll back when the mistake is realized. I’m no teetotaler, but I’m not delusional about intoxication…of any kind…and have never found it to advance human dignity.

Colorado was first up to bat in establishing a statewide free “get high-stay high” zone with predictable results…an increase in all the anticipated consequential troubles affecting the entire state and those sharing their borders (health, traffic, domestic, economic, criminal, etc.). The upside declared by the proponents has been some increased tax revenue and content dopers…as if that was hard to anticipate considering the demand when it was suppressed by law. Where pot availability and dopers are concerned, one truth is evident:

“If you build it, they will come.”
(Field of Dreams, 1989)

But no issue such as drug use exists in a vacuum unto itself. There are always tangent affects and cross-contamination with society’s other problems. The naïve notion that we need not concern ourselves with what others do in the privacy of their own homes fades when we realize the potential predicaments don’t always stay at home, nor are they confined to the isolated occasional user. There’s a whole toxic industry waiting for the green light…just as organized crime prepared to pounce on the windfall that came with the repeal of 1933. Mobsters, rumrunners, and bootleggers didn’t go away, they just became legit. They say one even put his kid in the White House. But, as long as these things remain theoretical, they don’t seem that critical and are easily dismissed.

I have no illusions that anything I say will have an impact on those who support legalization. The casual potheads are gagging for legalization. The average guy and gal on the street have tired of the debate and shrug. You’ll hear some cops voice their ambivalence. Their weary of taking flack and suspending drug enforcement is one more way of reducing their risks…despite knowing they’ll be the ones asked to mitigate the consequences. Even conservative pundits have thrown in the towel and capitulated to the decriminalization of personal use…a few are already flirting with the idea of total repeal of laws on controlled substances “to save tax dollars and reduce the national debt.” The only good coming from such vulgar stupidity will be population control in a world where overcrowding has only begun to create real crises with unsustainable demands on food sources, natural resources, and financial stability.

If Darwin was right, those sensible enough to avoid the pitfalls of intoxication and addiction may outlive the rest to reestablish sanity if they’re not otherwise slaughtered by the angry, hungry, and desperate mobs. People who think this is a stretch are kicking at snow piles at the top of the mountain and laughing at the idea of an impending avalanche. Future generations will look back at our collective shortsightedness as they dig out of the mudslide we only considered a slippery slope and shake their heads at our dismissive attitudes. How easy has it been to minimize catastrophic predictions throughout history that came to fruition at the expense of millions? Do you doubt the capacity of harm the chaos factor has on the human experience? Have you considered the recent exodus from the Middle East or looked at the current presidential campaigns? Who would have guessed? Right?

Yes, reality is a bitch. I once asked a good friend, who didn’t object to legalization, if his daughter’s life was worth the price to be paid for the freedom to partake in the proposed pleasure of cannabis…say, when some stoner ran a red light and broadsided their car on the way to the beach. He shrugged and said he thought that possibility was too remote to be a concern. I assured him, based on three decades in police work, that it would inevitably happen to someone and asked, “Are you saying as long as it’s someone else’s child it doesn’t matter? Really?”

Well? Does it or doesn’t it, folks? Can we afford to close our eyes and ears to the obvious for the sake of a current minority (while it remains a minority) that want to get high? Can we afford to bury our heads and ignore what can be avoided? Will it suffice to wash our hands of the consequences, wipe away the blood of the victims or “shake the dust off our feet?”

Ah, don’t mind me. I’m just sayin’…

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Photo by Katheirne Hitt via Flickr