14 02 2010

More local bad news/good news….Councilman Lonnell Matthews has apparently decided that there’s a great future in playing Step n’ Fetchit for the May family. (NOTE: a friend of mine who has actually seen movies in which the character Step n’ Fetchit appears points out tht this is an extremely offensive thing for a white guy like me to say about a person of color.  My apologies.   I’m embarassed about being white,  but that doesn’t make me black.  More on this as I think through it. The point I was trying to get across is that the Mays are cynically using the black community to get something through that will be of much more benefit to the Mays than it will be to any person of color in Nashville, and will in fact take energy away from projects that could help our city go through the big transition that is beginning to take place.) He is attempting to get Metro Council to override the Planning Commission’s rejection of Maytown.  Jack May’s persistence in trying to put through this godawful idea, which seems completely at odds with where the economy is headed and what Nashville’s priorities need to be, just goes to show that being rich doesn’t make you smart.  There will be a public hearing about this sprawling proposal at the Metro Council meeting on March 2nd at 6PM at the usual location….

Good news–activist Bernie Ellis has gotten a medical marijuana bill introduced into the Tennessee legislature.  Bad news:  you’ll have to be really, really sick to qualify, and you won’t be  allowed to grow your own.  Good news:  under Bernie’s plan, you could buy greenhouse-grown   Tennessee bud from your local pharmacy for only $60 an ounce, a price which allows the grower to make a decent but not outrageous living, and $60 bucks for a whole freaking ounce is something even a person who has been thrown off Tenncare could afford.

The Nashville Scene did a great job of describing the program…here is my response, somewhat edited and expanded:

A great plan for the few who qualify, but it buys in to the prohibitionist myth that the general population is better off without marijuana, which is baloney. Millions of responsible adults use it (and millions more would if they were not oppressed by drug testing), not because they are enslaved to the demon marijuana or some other unfulfillable inner compulsion, but because it works for them, in much the same way that drinking coffee works for so many Americans. For millions of people, things go better with grass. Why should we continue to alienate and criminalize such a huge proportion of our population?

Think about it–if we kept track of how many people involved in accidents of one sort or another were “jacked up” on coffee at the time of their mishap, it would make marijuana look as safe as it really is. Coffee makes people jittery and rude, and causes them to be in a hurry and take chances they wouldn’t take with a clearer head–maybe we should ban coffee and legalize marijuana? Just kidding…but hey, deprive a java junkie of his fix and you’ve got an emotional crisis on your hands….while even prohibition-minded psychiatrists have had a hard time defining “marijuana-deprivation syndrome” for that psychiatric bible, the DSM.

Truth: there is no evidence that marijuana is addictive. Legal, widely available coffee (and tobacco!), on the other hand….

The high-security growroom mode that Bernie’s plan suggests is another manifestation of the “marijuana is a dangerous drug” myth. Those healthy enough and possessed of the inclination to grow their own should be allowed to do so–although I suppose there could be problems with outdoor grows and marauding teenagers….kind of a cross between raiding somebody’s watermelon patch and swiping the beer from a tub of ice in an unguarded back yard….(oh, and legal, widely available alcohol!? Don’t get me started…)

On the other hand, Bernie’s plan is a carefully thought-out, rational way to introduce legal marijuana in Tennessee, and I especially applaud the economic aspects of it, which ratchet down the insanely high prices that have been brought about by prohibition.

Our legislature has demonstrated plenty of chutzpah lately, on issues from guns in bars to repealing verifiable election laws. Do they have the nerve to “get the government off peoples’ backs” on this issue? We’ll see.

music:  Drive-by Truckers, “Zoloft




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