“By this time the soma had begun to work. Eyes shone, cheeks were flushed, the inner light of universal benevolence broke out on every face in happy, friendly smiles.” — Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, 1932
On Jan. 1, Colorado legalized the sale of recreational marijuana. In 2012, Washington State legalized marijuana; the State will begin permitting pot shops this spring. Alaska may vote on a marijuana ballot measure in August, while advocates are working for legalized pot in Oregon, Arizona and Massachusetts.
A public announcement from Colorado should say: “Be calm. Feel free to become distracted. Do not focus on how miserable you are or the fact that for the first time in 70 years, middle-class job opportunities have seized up.” Then they could ask: “Are you ready for some football?”
We are 11 days shy of Super Bowl XLVIII and all the distractions that come with it. The Super Bowl is more than just a ritual. It is that celebrated Sunday when the multitudes:
- Gamble on the mundane (whether a team will score a safety).
- Wear expensive and unaffordable clothes to impress others at the party.
- Feast on fattening foods and chug down copious amounts of alcohol.
- Cheer for former ghetto kids — who are now spoiled millionaires who read at a fourth-grade level — while they crash into each other in a cycle of violence that can lead to early brain disease and death.
Never mind the Monday hangover. Two months later is the NCAA Final Four. You’ll get to do it all over again. Between February and March, there are plenty of legal substances to keep you from complaining. There’s liquor, of course. And if you have a physician who is more like a dealer than a doctor, you can always nail down some drugs like diazepam or painkillers for your itches and aches.
And in Colorado, you can now legally buy pot. (It could be worse. We are talking about legalized marijuana, not street drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine — at least not yet.)
Fear Not Reefer Madness But Mass Complacency
I don’t want to get into libertarian arguments that maybe all drugs should be legal for adults, but I do think that the legalization of pot is not so much libertarianism at work but Big Brother at work. The good news is grass will not cause reefer madness. I have a mild-mannered friend who for years smoked marijuana weekly until his doctor told him that if he kept using, he would end up sucking on an oxygen tank. He quit stone-cold. He once told me that, unlike alcohol, people don’t get high on weed and pick fights.
I couldn’t smoke grass because of my asthma; but when I was in high school in the early 1970s, a great many kids did grass and hash. My friends and I called them stoners. If they had not smelled so bad, you wouldn’t have known they were even there. Not one of them played sports or was in drama, dancing, yearbook or any other clubs. They didn’t bother anyone, and not much seemed to bother them. They were complacent.
Our Government’s Real Chemical Warfare Program
If the Federal government is not directly involved in the planning of our chemical society, I believe it is thrilled that millions of us use substances. That leaves so many people without the sharpness of mind to focus their grievances. It leaves millions of people in a fugue state, all trapped in a Brobdingnagian-sized insane asylum. This creates a mass apathy that our government depends upon for its survival.
This didn’t happen overnight with the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. For decades, addictive prescription drugs were passed out like Chiclets. And, of course, tens of millions of other people are to some degree placated by alcohol and tobacco. But for a whole new generation, it may be legal pot. Government will find it easier to herd sheep than to govern people.
For those not obsessed with sports or taking chemicals, there is technology. I went to the doctor’s office to get a checkup last week. Five people there were glued to their cellphones, busily texting for the entire hour I sat waiting. One young mother was so into her texting she ignored her sick little girl, who tripped and fell face-first into a wall. After she screamed out, a kindly old lady picked her up. The mother was just finishing up her text.
Given all the drugs, booze, gambling and social media, do you believe for an instant that Americans are willing to protest en masse? Nowadays, you may get a few dozen people out to save the whales or a black rhino, but you never see anything close in size to the protests that were stunning during the anti-war movement of the 1960s. And just try to imagine the strength of spirit it took for mass revolts that happened during the American, French and Russian revolutions. That zealotry doesn’t exist today. As for the new leaders we elect, they typically become co-opted.
Now that so many millions of us are hooked on the opiates of the masses, how can we force our Federal government to change? How long will it take before we detox ourselves and demand that Big Government will no longer abuse us? The sad part is we won’t rise up. What better example exists than the fact that most Americans accept Barack Obama’s explanation that he must spy on us for our own good?
Unless things get far worse (so bad that no addiction makes us feel better), we are stuck living in what used to be a free country protected by the Constitution. So the big story this month is not about legalized dope; it’s the fact we are dopes for letting our government strip away our liberties without so much as a whimper.
Yours in good times and bad,