Photograph by Dewey Decimal Crafts

Just Criminalize It

California looks to legalize pot in November—and that, in many ways, would be a crime. An argument against political causes involving dreadlocked alien masks.

It’s true: Legalizing marijuana will heavily reduce crime, collect millions in taxes, and bring joy to the depressed and cancerous.

And sure, it’s a travesty that someone can legally poison himself with a Xanax-Klonopin cocktail, yet someone dying of AIDS is worthy of jail time for using a drug that, at worst, might make you hungry. But if you’ve ever stayed up all night drinking bong water with a guy named Stream, then you understand full well the dangers of legalization.

As California voters head to the polls on November 2nd to vote on the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, maybe they could at least ban jam bands from playing within a 1,000-foot radius of schools. Or criminalize the righteous indignation that comes with thinking hemp will solve the world’s problems if we just used it to make more rope. Declare a moratorium on ending sentences with the words “man” or “dude.” Since marijuana culture is eating away at California’s soul, perhaps there should be a prohibition on the goofy, baby-surfer babble that constitutes ganja lingo: fluffy nugs, primo skunk, hoobastank, primo schwag. Why do marijuana strains always sound like the nicknames that two-year-olds give their feces during potty training?

Marijuana doesn’t turn smokers into arrogant infants any more than alcohol makes drinkers loud and stupid. But it sure does give people an opportunity to blame anything but themselves for their terrible decisions. I have every reason to be bitter; I’m guiltier than most.

During the years I spent in a mid-college haze of marijuana smoke, I pondered inane science-fiction theories about the similarities between molecular structures and planetary orbits, and how we all might be microscopic bacteria on somebody’s thumb. The world was full of endless detail. Birds were fascinating. Garbage was fascinating. It was all such great, peaceful, self-indulgent noodling, and it seemed unconscionable to me that something so harmless could get you thrown into prison. Then I had to leave my house.

Injustice doesn’t sell to the base. The base likes things with wizards and flaming skulls.In the haze, I forgot that the world is filled with the everyday madness of other people and their psychoses. Marijuana doesn’t prepare you for that. The world has many problems, not including your own, and it is a real downer to have to deal with them. The best option for the marijuana smoker in that situation is to regress as fast as possible. Talk about stupid cartoons instead of surgery. Avoid anything of any importance: career, family, or friends. Aim for self-preservation at all costs.

I would have put those lost days behind me had I not recently heard about this recent campaign to legalize marijuana. It reminded me of the good times I’d had, when smoking marijuana was little more than an excuse to hang out with friends in the woods. And if I currently think of myself as a rational, politically oriented citizen, then certainly I can stand up in support of a group of which I was once a member.

So I looked up a credible organization aimed at the reform of this unjust prohibition, signed up, and donated some money. It felt good to think that here might be an opportunity to fix a long-standing flaw in our judicial system. This particular organization offered inspiring tales of cancer victims rallying for medical marijuana, and political organizers struggling to overturn marijuana bans in various states. They even held a contest to name their new ad campaign. What a great way to get people invested in a good cause while being creative!

The winner, it turned out, would get a crocheted dime bag with skulls on it.

My heart sank. Maybe the reformers don’t realize there are voters in America who want to stand up against injustice, but don’t feel the need to crunkify the world. I guess injustice doesn’t sell to the base—and the base likes things with wizards and flaming skulls.

Here’s why something as basic as marijuana reform never gets anywhere. Legalization supporters tend to be marijuana users who don’t want to stick their necks out for fear of being arrested. Those still interested in reform who aren’t scraping resin from a Coke can are left to rally the population at large into caring about pot injustice, or they can switch causes and go work on poverty issues instead. Or gay marriage. Or foreign assistance reform. Or any number of causes that enjoy a huge groundswell of support and energy from people trying to make a difference in the world, and don’t benefit those who only use their bathtub as a gravity bong.

I could be wrong. Numerous polls find more support than opposition in California for legalizing marijuana, and it stands a good chance of passing next month. Which is good. There are a million things that should be illegal long before marijuana possession. Drinking bong water might just be one of them.