After saying some things that I am certain have angered some people, and probably completely confused others, I decided to address my stance in as clear a way I know how. Hopefully, I won’t completely enrage some of my haters, but if I do I am certain life will go on.
As a fourth generation Colorado native, I was brought up rarely hearing about marijuana. For as long as I can remember, possession of marijuana was a minor offense. That is unless you are in possession of 8 ounces or more. Then it becomes a felony in Colorado. Selling (receiving money for) the green stuff is always considered a felony, no matter how little or much you are selling.
During my teenage years my father moved out to Sonoma, California. He stayed out there for five years before returning to Colorado. While he was there I lived with him for a little less than a year, and the rest of the time he was there I spent my summers out there. This part of California will always hold a special place in my heart. Being in California showed me a side of the state I couldn’t have seen had I not lived there.
Growing up in Colorado, with one of the most lenient marijuana laws in the country at the time, the plant was never a big deal. Drinking was much easier, and that’s what we did in high school. In fact, every weekend we would get together and drink until someone threw up, starting crying or fighting, or we ran out of liquor.
I remember finding out in my early twenties that my best friend in junior high had some marijuana-growing parents. I had no idea what was going on at the time, and unless my friend had later told me I would have never found out.
Beyond recreational use of marijuana, I saw many friends succumb to the addictive properties of crystal meth, cocaine, and heroin. Crystal meth is probably one of the worse drugs in this part of the country. I knew less people on heroin than crystal meth. Everyone smoked marijuana, but it was seen no differently than if someone smoked cigarettes.
As a young adult I remember spending the last weekend of the month on the State Capital lawn smoking marijuana as the Denver police would watch us from the sidewalk and parking lot. NEVER once did the police bother anyone on the lawn.
The police have held an interesting stance on marijuana in Colorado, and specifically in the areas where I grew up. It never really seemed like a big issue. Seeing police watch you smoke marijuana at a young age leaves quite an impression. It kind of opened my mind to the idea that not all cops are bad, or are out to bust people for fun. After some professional experience, I found the police near my home were busy dealing with murders, shootings, stabbings, theives, and car deadly accidents, and really didn’t care about the trivialities of marijuana (thank god for that!). If someone was caught committing another crime and marijuana was part of it, of course they would get into trouble for the marijuana. Otherwise, I learned from an early age that if you show a little respect, and/or don’t get into trouble, the cops will leave you alone. It seems easy enough to me.
The best way I can describe Colorado is as a place that raises its young to be self-preservers, self-sufficient, taught to leave-no-trace, to have an acknowledged respect for our Constitution, and to always stand up for what is right. We are a small enough state that we can manage our government in a productive manner (at least for the most part). We seem to keep each other in check when it comes to politics, and compared to other parts of the country, we have a very low rate of government corruption.
A lot of these qualities are relevant in a lot of the states near Colorado. It seems to be a sort of old west mentality that has seeped itself deep into the culture of the area. A lot of this is the fact that a lot of ranches and farms are in Colorado, so maybe this is what helps keep this thought process alive.
I am not saying Colorado is perfect. We have our share of crime. Sometimes someone messes up an election by making it impossible for everyone to vote in a timely manner. There are stupid people in Colorado just like anywhere else. We just have different things that we consider bad. Like in Colorado you can kill an intruder simply for entering your home, where on the east coast this is laughable to a lot of people. Contrary to popular belief, guns maintain a certain level of peace, and this is particularly poignant in Colorado and other western states.
The last part of what makes me tick is my education. As a graduate of the University of Denver I was given some tools that I really can’t explain in a short essay. One of the most influential was my study of Psychology, partly because I was required to take Research Methods. This class changed the way I digest information forever. No longer do I buy what someone is telling me simply because they are supposed to be reputable. I read every bill I speak of, read the actual court files, and read the meeting minutes to make sure I understand what’s really going on (as long as it is available). Above all, I read the research I speak of. I don’t just read a news article in response to the research, and I don’t just blindly accept the synopsis of the outcome. Science is about disproving things, not about proving them. This is my attitude when it comes to research and what it all really means.
Have you found yourself asking why I am talking about all this crap? I hope so.
It is important to understand where someone is coming from with their perspective. For the readers of this column to read some of the things I write can be infuriating I am sure. Keep in mind that I may write about things to anger you off on purpose. Anger is an emotion, and I am evoking it. Without emotion we rarely have action. See where I am going with this?
I am pro-marijuana legalization, but I feel we need to be honest about everything. If we can’t be honest about what we are doing then we are no different than those we oppose. You know, the same people who’ve been buying into the lies for over 70 years, and never question anything they’re being told. These are the most dangerous people in the world. Regardless of what side of the fence they are on, and believe me they are on both sides.
I don’t just support something because it has the word marijuana in it. My perspective is steeped in over a year of intensive news hounding and reporting medical marijuana news all over the United States. I have been entrenched in what legislation, law change, and abuses of the law are and have been going on. For someone without the information I’ve gathered, it is certain that I come across as confusing. How could someone who supports marijuana legalization have anything bad to say about a pro-marijuana bill? Again, just like with the opposition, not everyone has true intentions or really thinks things through. Don’t just agree with me because it is marijuana I am speaking about, and don’t disagree with me just because I support marijuana legalization. I ask that anyone respect themselves enough to thoroughly research their own stance. Then when you feel you want to express this to me or anyone else, please back your statements with an external source (hopefully a scholarly resource).
If you’ve made it this far in this blog, thank you for taking the time to read all of this. I hope we can be on the same page, and if not I’m good with just having gotten this info out there.
By Angela Macdonald
August 2, 2009