At precisely 4:20 a.m. on April 20, the laziest army in Colorado’s history gathered in the University of Colorado’s Norlin Quadrangle. Approximately 10,000 people assembled to pay homage to “Puff the Magic Dragon” on the day that is almost universally recognized as a time of celebration in the marijuana community. Usually, there is nothing newsworthy about stoners flying to the moon at 4:20, but this time the police decided not to hand out citations.
Colorado police were simply unable to arrest anyone at the “demonstration.” There were only 15 officers to monitor 10,000 students—a task that would have taken 300 Spartans to accomplish. It became logistically impossible to enforce the law. Such is the way of the marijuana movement. Thanks to the Internet, “smoking the reefer” has become almost mundane. A Google search for “marijuana” reveals over 23 million hits. There are Web sites devoted to every aspect of marijuana, from the best brands to the greatest ganja-influenced songs.
I will not bother to push the case for the legalization of marijuana. For the six of you who saw “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” you will know the scene where Sam (Tim Meadows), tries to convince the title character (John C. Reilly), to smoke marijuana by pointing out that it is “not habit-forming … cheap as shit … and makes sex even better.” These claims should be digested with an enormous grain of salt, but they encapsulate the feelings of my generation. Telling you about legalizing marijuana is like yelling at a tree to grow. It is going to happen anyway.
I am more concerned with the views from each side of the Colorado incident. Despite being unable to stop the students, the police represent the law, which sees marijuana as an irredeemable evil with an almost comedic intensity. The cops are having relatively little success at “copping the buzz” from the stoner nation, and I doubt they ever will. Meanwhile, the student smokers are banging their bongos and demanding legalization by citing the many suspected health bonuses of marijuana.
My problem (and yours too, because we all know that I represent the people) is that I am no longer sure whom to trust. In elementary school, we were force-fed pseudo-facts from far-too-extreme programs like DARE. Personally, I was given the impression that if I smoked weed, I would become a gun-toting, coke-snorting, anti-American maniac. Once I came to college, extremists fed me a different, THC-soaked point of view. I have heard that marijuana will increase my creativity, improve my lung capacity and practically make me a minor deity.
Both of these extremes are probably false. For liability purposes, let us just say that I have never used marijuana, but if I had, I am sure that I would not have become the monster cited in school. On the other hand, I have seen people get dumber in direct correlation with how much marijuana they smoked, just as I have with alcohol. Also, inhaling any form of smoke is bad for your lungs, no matter where it comes from.
The fact is that it’s important to walk the middle path. Be skeptical of everything you hear, especially on polarizing issues. This article that you are reading—I want you to be skeptical of it. Of course, I will exaggerate truths and omit facts because I want you to believe what I am saying and change your opinion to match mine. The article next to this one—it did it, too. Do not forget the articles above and below.
I will not tell you to shun learning new information and trying new ideas, opinions and activities. The events in Colorado demonstrate the battle between two extreme points of view. Now one is being forced to bend to the other’s might. This is how change occurs. Two sides meet and push the boundaries of what is acceptable. However, I recommend keeping an objective mind as you listen to arguments about issues like these … and trying to get some benefit out of them.
The crowd at the University of Colorado may have consisted mostly of pro-marijuana students and law enforcement, but a third kind of person was better off than either side. Some students sold snacks to the munchies-fueled crowd and made hundreds of dollars that day. Arguably, an extremist view can help you change the world, but walking the middle path, like those salesmen, might be best for you.
Kevin Pease is a third-year psychology and social behavior major. He can be reached at email@example.com.