Walter Mencken 10 a.m., July 23
- Community Blog
- Right Smack Dab in the Middle
TRYING TO MAKE A DOVETAIL JOINT
Fixing a hole in the ocean, trying to make a dovetail joint, lookin’ through a glass onion" - John Lennon from "Glass Onion"
TRYING TO MAKE A DOVETAIL JOINT My vote on the marijuana law is a resounding RIGHT ON, Bro! Make the stuff legal, man, and make it legal now. The argument for legalized marijuana has zigzagged back and forth for eons, while prohibition persists like a blue law. We college kids in the 70s sacrificed liberty and untold brains cells to prove that marijuana—mind-altering in a peaceful way, manufactured in a pot soil, rolled lovingly by hand—was less harmful than beer and booze. I have waited for the day when our research would be put to a public vote. Brothers and Sisters, that day is here. If most of us vote YES, our struggle for legal marijuana will come neatly together like a dovetail joint. And that would be righteous.
Anyway, this article isn't about legalizing pot. Although, I once read how in the 1930s Prohibitionists bemoaned the repeal of the 28th Amendment, a constitutional amendment that prohibited liquor. They cried woe the day. But since then has our nation gone to hell in a hand basket? Not quite. Think our country is losing its morals? Morals come and go, dude. Has our government gone to pot? Let's hope so! The suits are scared to death of legalization. “Smoking marijuana is the beginning of the end,” they'll tell you. “After that first toke, the road leads straight to hash, then opium, then heroin. What will happen to our workforce?” To which I rebut: "Dudes, I'm talking about garden-variety marijuana, Mother Nature’s gift to mankind, proof that God loves us." (People tell me that modern pot has much more wallop than pot in the 70s. Today’s ganja--as they call it--is ultra-potent, perhaps even hallucinatory. Worse, it costs an arm and a leg compared to the nickel bags we bought as college students. Frankly, I am afraid of the stuff.) Cannabis sativa used to grow wild along the roadsides of middle America, and I think it's still used for rope and clothing in some countries. It was a workingman’s escape—free and abundant. So I ask the suits: "Does beer lead to wine? Then to whisky? Then to Four Loco?" No. Once legal, pot will become the high of choice. And a profitable cottage industry will follow. Personally, I’ve always believed that once the government—aka the industrial- military-complex—finds a way to tax marijuana consumption, and R.J. Reynolds finds a way to get a piece of the action, legislation is going to pass like a hookah at a love in.
I know that I can’t change everyone's mind. But look at the Blue Laws that are still around. Did you know that in some states we’re still not allowed to buy liquor on Sundays. Did you know that in California it is illegal for animals to mate publicly within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school, or place of worship; that women may not drive in a housecoat; that no vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour? In one California town it is against the law to wear cowboy boots unless you own at least two cows. In another it’s prohibited to spit except on baseball diamonds. Right here, in America’s Finest City, it is illegal to shoot jackrabbits from the back of a streetcar. And after February, owners of houses with Christmas lights may be fined up to $250? Weird.
I'm sorry. I didn’t mean to go on about the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana, but I get pretty worked up these days. You might, too, if you'd spent a night in the slammer for a couple of plants in your college dorm. It wasn’t groovy, man. Maybe some of us did partake in a little too much weed when we could have been attending classes in Business Administration, or shining our boots for ROTC, and maybe it dimmed our ability to make sound decisions: "Honey? What would you like to eat tonight? I dunna know. How about another bowl of cold cereal." Some said my generation wouldn't achieve anything to benefit society. But that doesn’t mean we aren't right about pot. Sure, I’ve lost my long hair (lost all my hair, as a matter of fact) and my tie-dye shirts have faded and the bellbottoms donated to Goodwill, but I'm still marching on about law-abiding Americans being allowed to smoke pot in the privacy of their own homes. When my first kid was born 40 years ago I got my head together and quit dope. It’s not cool getting busted by the fuzz when the family's watching: "Mommy, where are they taking Daddy? Back to the slammer, kids.” It would have been a bad scene, man. Once is enough, if you get my drift.
Things are kind of a bummer right now on the job scene. But if I had a few extra coins I'd send them to the legalize marijuana dudes. However, there is something I can do to further the cause, and that's what I want to write about. I research and practice hand-crafting cigarettes, an acquired skill, like tying fishing flies. Basically, it's rolling a dinky piece of paper over a pencil of tobacco between your thumbs and index fingers, then "The Tuck." The Tuck is the front edge of your paper gently slipped over and behind the tobacco. Then you wet the gummed edge with the tip of your tongue and fold it over The Tuck and onto the outside of the paper. When you do it right, it's a work of art.
My research has discovered 50 brands of rolling papers, in more colors than a flag in Hillcrest, and in flavors from peppermint to berry to chocolate. One kind is transparent, like cellophane. Blows my mind. Papers come thin and thinner, folded and unfolded, long and short, bleached and unbleached. Some have nipped corners to make The Tuck easier. There are rolling gizmos, too, with the papers inside. With them you can roll joints faster that the suits can say "Wait a minute."
These days you can buy roll-your-own tobacco in more varieties than Sir Walter Raleigh ever could have imagined. Bull Durham isn't around anymore, but there's Bugler (cheap), Drum (too many stems), Bali Shag (good, but hard to find), American Spirit (my preferred) and about seven others. Rolling tobacco comes in pouches, not unlike the nickel bags of yesteryear, and in different cuts; most ubiquitous is "halfzware shag" which means "half heavy." It looks like brown steel wool. Like coffee, there are many flavors, even menthol. When pot's legal, here's my dream: I swagger into a tobacconist and say "A nickel bag of Mellow Yellow Seedless, please. Organic. And thrown in a bag of the menthol for the little lady. A pack of Zig-Zags, too."
O Brother, the times they are a changing. The day is at hand when Joe and Jane Citizen can puff a little pot and listen to The Beatles without breaking the law. When the big day comes—legalization of marijuana, that is—I'll know my generation has finally achieved its purpose on earth.
More like this:
- State Supreme Court grants cities the authority to ban Medical Marijuana dispensaries — May 6, 2013
- Mayor Filner to impatient pot proponents: "Quit harshing my mellow." — Jan. 30, 2013
- I'm Not "420 Friendly," But "420 Allergic!" — July 24, 2010
- Putting America Back To Work — Dec. 11, 2009
- Give Me Back My Baggie — Oct. 9, 1997