I recently attended some of “The Chico Great Debate,” a series of speeches, discussions, and debates on whether California should legalize marijuana. I heard speeches from five Chico State students in the morning and two debates in the evening, including a team debate with grownups.
Most quoted numbers in support of their positions, often numbers manipulated enough to be statistics. The speakers seemed to expect all of us to know a good number from a bad one, and to be in favor of changing bad numbers into good ones, sometimes at all costs. I think numbers are trivial by nature and tools of the Great Satan.
Here’s what I learned: “Taking money away from criminals is good,” even though that means simply not calling what they do a crime anymore. Government determines how many criminals there are. People evolve whether they’re free or not and can end up locked up.
“More tax money to government is a good thing.” I don’t want to give any more money to any government for anything. They’re all greedy and irresponsible. Let ’em get a part-time job. One student thought ending “bloody wars” between drug cartels in Mexico and giving the money to the government was a reason to legalize marijuana. Arming cartels, bad; arming cops, good. A Czech proverb—The big thieves hang the little ones.
The pro-legalization people predicted that new, green jobs for people and a tax bonanza for poor government would result from marijuana’s legalization. Actually all of the speakers can see into the future. They all predicted what will happen if marijuana is legalized, how society will change. Pretty funny. If we were willing to see what happens when it happens, there wouldn’t be much to talk about. The students told us their sources—Rolling Stone, The New York Times, etc.—but the grownups often just said “studies have shown” and let it go at that.
The anti-pot contingent seemed to be fueled by fear of some change in society if pot use is no longer just medicinal, that and a thinly veiled distrust of altered states of mind. Getting high was made to sound like an unfortunate side effect, rather than the core of pot’s usefulness and popularity. In support of his argument, one of the anti-pot debaters alleged a correlation between pot use and dropout rates. “Escapees are bad.”
Nobody questioned the right of government to control our bodies; the disagreement was about how much oppression is the right amount.
Marijuana is likely to be legalized in California this autumn, and in other states as society continues evolving no matter what. When that happens, every person in prison because of marijuana’s former illegality could be released and paid reparations like the Japanese. The corrections system could actually correct. Wouldn’t that be something?