Vail Daily letter: Make it legal |

Vail Daily letter: Make it legal

Bill Sepmeier
Vail, CO Colorado

Medical marijuana? People have told me that to write on this issue is to never work again. Unless you’re against it, of course, which is somehow “mainstream,” even though it was approved by a majority vote.

Larry Brooks, a local emergency-room physician, or more accurately, the doctor whose company provides all of the physician staff members for our local emergency rooms and many urgent-care clinics, recently expressed his thoughts concerning medical marijuana. Brooks said, “The chances that there are 743 people in Eagle County with debilitating illnesses that require marijuana use are non-existent. Their debilitating diagnoses would not be able to be confirmed by any reputable physician in more than 10 percent of these cases, and many have not tried normal evidence-based therapy.” He concluded, “If marijuana is going to be available for care purposes, it should be highly regulated, quality controlled and dispensed by registered pharmacists.”

Disregarding statistics and percentages that are really only opinion and the fact that doctors, by virtue of their monopoly control over the supply of most drugs that actually do something, are “drug pushers” themselves, I agree with Brooks. Medical marijuana, schmedical marijuana. Medical marijuana is a subterfuge. It was the “camel nose in the tent” approach to total legalization – but it isn’t working. “Medicinal” marijuana creates impossible classes of legal pot-consuming “patients” and illegal pot-consuming “criminals” who are no different from each other: They both consume marijuana and get high.

The problem is that marijuana is still illegal in any way. It’s the largest cash agricultural crop in the country because a lot of people use it recreationally, medicinally, whatever – it doesn’t matter. It has been the biggest cash ag crop around all my life, and it’s tax-free money, from seeds to smoke. There are people who are not paying taxes here. If you’re not one of them, doesn’t that bother you?

I’d be willing to bet a week’s pay that a lot of Brooks’ non-ski-accident patients are in the emergency rooms he and his partners staff because they consumed alcohol. Any ER doctor will tell you that alcohol is the leading underlying cause of ER visits, from fights, both domestic and otherwise, to automobile accidents, hunting accidents and just about all emergency-room visits not related to “natural causes,” such as falling on ice before you even got to the bar. (Since a lot of ski-related injuries happen after a shot or two of schnapps on the mountain, you can’t even rule alcohol out of those visits.)

While many people mix recreational drugs, I’d challenge any doctor to produce a comparable ratio of records of trauma suffered by, or inflicted by, people who have done nothing but smoked marijuana compared with people who only drank alcohol. It can’t be done. Pot smokers just don’t go out and rumble. They don’t throw up on you in stadiums and behave like drunken pigs in bars or other public places or even drive fast enough to get into many car wrecks. They do seem to exhibit some short-term memory loss, but so what? There’s probably an app for that. I can’t remember every variety of mountain wildflower, but there’s an app for that. There’s an app for everything … except, perhaps, keeping drunks from throwing up in public.

Is marijuana a medicine?

Is vitamin D a medicine? It’s sold in the health-food section, but you can make your own with a little sunshine.

Medical marijuana is probably irritating most of its detractors because, to get it, you have to sign your name and “go public” with your desire to get away from the stress of being alive by becoming some sort of “patient.” To throw down meaningless statistics that I just pulled out of … the air … fewer than 10 percent of the people who smoke pot regularly would risk doing that yet, and it irks the hell out of them to see other people doing it and getting the really good stuff with no more difficulty than walking into a flower shop. So, the 90 percent who won’t admit they smoke an occasional bowl grouse and grumble and begin to support laws to make it harder to get again. That’s right – you’re all busted. Rather than pay your taxes and live an honest life as an occasional pot smoker, you guys are all, “Gee whiz, this was so unexpected. We can’t have people legally smoking weed when we’re still in the closet,” and it’s deja vu all over again.

We don’t know why catnip works as it does, but cats like it. What’s the problem? Cats don’t do anything important like drive cars when they’re all nipped up? Please. You can’t go to work drunk and expect to keep the job long, yet alcohol is perfectly legal.

You simply can’t pretend that marijuana is healthy and dangerous at the same time. It’s an obvious, outrageous lie to even try. Marijuana’s not a dangerous drug, and everybody my age knows that because we all know people who’ve smoked it for years who have had far fewer problems than the people we know who drink booze. That’s just all there is to it.

The proper solution is not – NOT – to make the stuff “more illegal,” or to restrict its distribution to the same old cartel that controls the Vicodin supply chain. (If you don’t have a couple of Vicodin in your medicine cabinet, you don’t ski or bike or hike or climb or really even live around here, according to the sales figures I’ve seen, so don’t go there.)

Before I collect my Social Security, I’d like for my generation to finally cut our hypocritical crap and just legalize the stuff for anybody of age who would like to use it, including themselves, because most of them have or still do use it from time to time. Come on, folks. We’re all getting old now. We’ve been listening to the same “marijuana is bad” lie for 40 years. Legalization would deliver one fewer big fat lie to live with, and it’s a life full of lies that most people need a break from in the first place when they light up a bowl.

Yours in now-perpetual unemployment,

Bill Sepmeier

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