IRL News: Altered States’ Rights

January 11, 2010

First the bad news: production has started, so expect even less content in our already-rather-sparse blog for the next week or so. Now the good news: writing blog posts is a good way to procrastinate.

Now to business: I, for one, am fervently looking forward to this year’s midterm elections. Not because of the surely riveting spectacle of Democrats losing a few seats in Congress, normal for a ruling party, and watching conservative pundits trumpet it as the Year The Liberals Were Utterly Destroyed In Our Righteous Triumph, or even for the hilarity of watching the California GOP run two ex-CEOs as its exemplars of the New Republican Party, thus giving up all pretense of not being the party of CEOs, shortly after the least CEO-friendly year since the ‘80s ended. No, it’s because someone managed to get pot legalization on the state ballot. I say this not because of my own stance on the issue (fer it) but because of the glorious circus that is sure to arise.

First off, there’ll be the obligatory unveiling of the ancient Legends of Pot by strict law and order types and the religious groups who condemn smoking pot as morally wrong for reasons I’ve never quite understood. Pot as a gateway drug. As addictive. As conducive to mental illness. All the old Reefer Madness stuff that never really made sense but sounds good if you’re already afraid. Keep an eye out for an avalanche of anti-pot ads and speeches, which will provide prime comic fodder for those with a stomach for the infuriating.

And suppose it passes? Then we get the real party: a full-on states’ rights hoedown! No doubt the DEA won’t take a state bucking federal drug laws lightly, and California’s suffered in the past from federal raids on otherwise legal medical marijuana dispensaries. What’s great about this is that we’ll be witness to one of the periodic swings of ideological polarity on the subject of states’ rights. See, that term has pretty much always been a code word, representing anything from “Yo, fuck tha tariff” to “No one can take away my right to deny black people rights!” No one really has a permanent stance on it outside of constitutional scholars, so how you react to it depends entirely on how you feel about the issue on which your state and Congress have a difference of opinion. In regards to marijuana, this means that diehard liberals who would never in their right minds have, say, voted for the States’ Rights Party may well find themselves trotting out the 10th amendment against conservatives who’ve been using similar arguments against abortion and suchlike for decades.

The bad news (for comedic purposes, good news for people with brains) is that Eric Holder is the attorney general, and he’s made it pretty clear that he doesn’t care about prosecuting stoners. So it is not inconceivable that next year California could face a horrible future in which people continue to smoke pot, far fewer young poor people are in prison, and the state has millions of dollars in additional revenue. Voters of California, ball’s in your court. Bring the crazy.


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