Friday, October 1, 2010

Why can't we all just get a bong?

     I caught a bit on the news the other night regarding the (likely) impending legalization of marijuana in the state of California. It seems that one of the groups opposed to this measure are... brewers.
     Yep. And their rationale is that pot smoking represents a significant public health hazard. The rebuttal from the marijuana camp is, of course, that alcohol is a far more harmful drug to individuals and society in general than pot will ever be. No really, dude. Like, seriously.
     And this is actually true, but does not address the specific claim by the brewers. They're not saying that pot is physically worse for you than alcohol, they're saying that if pot is legal, then employers can't drug-screen for it anymore, and we'll all be run off the roads by drug-crazed truckers or somesuch.
     Bullhockey. Everywhere I have worked, any on-the-job moving equipment accident of any degree got you mandatory drug and alcohol testing. Depending on what showed up, you were either fired, or fired and arrested. And really, from a law enforcement standpoint, driving impaired is a big no-no whether the departure from sobriety is a beer, a joint or an iPhone.
     Since the brewer's argument doesn't seem to hold up, this is being painted as a matter of competition. Competition? Since when have pot and beer been an either-or situation? Did these people not go to high school or college? Is "cottonmouth" just a snake to them?
     California's take on this is perfectly pragmatic: make marijuana legal, then regulate it (i.e.: tax the hell out of it). In a state where the marijuana bud is the state flower, and where the state's budget is being shored up by selling autographed copies of "Hercules in New York" on eBay, this makes sense.
     My take? I'm one of those libertarian-types. If you're not hurting anyone, I say you should be left alone. I'm personally agnostic on the pot issue - I was the guy in high school who hung out with the stoners, but passed the joint on to the next guy and drank my beer. I will say that none of those guys ever got violent or belligerent. Silly, yes, but not belligerent. And they were the ones listening to Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and reading Siddhartha and Stranger in a Strange Land.
     Alcohol, on the other hand, is another story. I love beer, consider myself a beer "snob", and was a homebrewer for a while. But when you start getting sloppy drunk and beating your babymomma in front of the kids, it's time to back off. Or smoke a joint.
     The late, great Bill Hicks had a routine where he said pot should not just be legal, but mandatory.   "HONK! HONK!**roadrage**HONK! HONK!".
     "Here, take this": (puff, puff).
     "Oh, man, sorry, dude. Must have been taking myself seriously for a moment..."
     So what's the deal with the brewers? I honestly have no idea. For what it's worth, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has gone on the record saying that they are not part of the stonewalling affort. Good on them. I consider their pale ale kind of a standard for a good micro/commercial pale ale. Not quite hoppy enough to be an IPA, but enough to make you smack your lips and say "Yum".
     So you want to look out your back door at all the happy creatures playing on the lawn? Fine, let the brewers stick to what they do best and make you something cool and tasty to wet your throat while you do.
     To each their own. And sometimes, "D - All of the above", is a perfectly acceptable answer.

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