Last week, Alaska's esteemed lieutenant governor, Mead Treadwell, ordered state officials to put a citizen initiative on the ballot for Aug. 19 to legalize marijuana in the State From Which Sarah Palin Can See Russia.
Treadwell didn't ask or advise those officials to add the measure to the ballot. He didn't suggest it. He ordered it, because about 45,000 voters up that way decided the other voters should join them in a vote on the issue. So they ordered the good lieutenant governor to order the state to let the voters decide. And odds are good they'll decide marijuana is maybe a tiny bit more dangerous than dust mites, and they'll start selling it to us adults as they should, openly and freely in stores right out in the open. I support legalization in Alaska and elsewhere, even here. Or I did, anyway, when we passed it.
Wait ... what? Arizona passed marijuana legalization?
Yes, we did. It's a little something called the "Arizona Medical Marijuana Act," and it allows us to freely buy and own and carry around in our pockets, if we want to, up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use. We can walk right into stores and plop down cash and walk away with cannabis brownies or suckers or bags or jars full of flowers. We are allowed to have a fuck ton of medication in our little stash boxes and on the trays under the couch—more than most of us would ever need. Maybe you can't, because maybe you don't have a medical card, and if you don't have a medical marijuana card, then you're kind of half-assing your support for legalization.
Because medical marijuana is legal.
Right now there are about 40,000 medical cardholders in Arizona, which is far, far fewer than the number of people who qualify and are already using cannabis. I've met dozens of people who say they support legalization, but have no medical card. They all have reasons, most of which don't fly.
It's too expensive: Getting a card costs roughly $250 the first year, then $215ish for renewal years. Trust me, I understand being broke. That sounds like a lot of money to me, too, but not in the scheme of things. I spend much more money than that on PBR every year, so much more I think I'd be afraid to see the numbers. Add Cabernet, and it's ridiculously more than $250 per year. I spend more than that on coffee. Many of you probably spend wildly more than that on coffee. So it is expensive, but if you support legalization, you should support the legal system we already have.
I don't qualify: You might be surprised to learn how easy it is to qualify for a medical card. There are more than a dozen qualifying ailments, including chronic pain. Chronic pain is the simplest entrée. It's basically defined as pain that last three months or more and keeps you from doing things you want to do. That's a pretty low bar, and if you've been in a car wreck or work at a desk or are older than 40, you probably qualify. Most people have some chronic pain. And don't be scared by the word "debilitating." You don't have to be disabled to get a card. If your pain prevents you from doing things you want to, it's debilitating.
My pain keeps me from a long list of hobbies. Can I get out of bed and go to work every day? Yes. Can I do it without pain? No. I shy away from rock climbing, because it completely fucks my neck for a week every time I go. I skip the lat pull-downs at gym for the same reason. That's debilitating, according to my doctor.
I get a little weary listening to people who refuse to be part of our legal system complain at length about their dream of legalization. They point north to Colorado and Washington and soon Alaska, and they say, "Jeez. I wish we had legalization." They rail against the man, claiming the medical system is costly, that it's too restrictive, that it's unfair. They stubbornly refuse to support it. These are the same people who will complain about prices, even after legalization.
Maybe you do have a good hookup now, folks, and maybe your pot dealer is a great guy with great prices and convenient hours of operation. But if it isn't a legal hookup, if your pot dealer isn't a medical hookup, you're not a real supporter of legalization.
You're just talking smack at the bar.