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Marijuana opportunists risk voter outrage

Post by Brian O'Neill on April 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm with 13 Comments »
April 4, 2013 4:21 pm

I warned you about them, didn’t I?

In the heady days leading up to the passage of I-502, one of the main concerns about legalized marijuana were users who, having ignored pot prohibitions for so long, would quickly step beyond the new restrictions. While that may seem a harsh judgment, there is simply no denying that, prior to I-502’s passage, every recreational toke was a criminal act.

Now that Washingtonians can legally use marijuana, a few marijuana opportunists are busily proving that those concerns were well founded.

Lighting up in a bar/
Lighting up in a bar/

A recent AP article (Trib 4/4) relates that at least two taverns, one in Olympia and one in Tacoma, have been allowing patrons to use marijuana on their premises. No one should be surprised by this fact, nor by a statement from one Michael Schaef who runs the marijuana bar above Tacoma’s Stonegate tavern.

He opines that, “people have always been mixing alcohol and cannabis…what we are doing is forcing people to break the law by sneaking to some dark area to do it.”

This brush off is little more than the usual tired rhetoric of the illegal drug culture. In reality, Schaef is telling us that, if the Liquor Control Board shuts the marijuana bar down, then the state is forcing(?!) people to break the law.

Oh, geez. Where to start.

Setting aside the obvious (yet unstated) point that smoking in bars is prohibited, the above comment makes it abundantly clear that some are already ignoring the majority message underscored by voters last November. Those who voted in favor of legalizing pot – and most of us who did do not use the stuff –  did so with a few simple restrictions.

That includes the  guarantee that our fresh air will not suddenly smell like the inside of Cheech and Chong’s van.

In addition to the restriction against public usage, there is also the legitimate health concern from mixing marijuana and alcohol. There have been too many fatal crashes involving drivers under the suspected influence of alcohol and marijuana, and until medical science fleshes out the all the facts, erstwhile “social experiments” like the one at the Stonegate is not worth the risk to public safety.

Despite these and other reasons for shutting down so-called “marijuana bars,” Mr. Schaef’s words captured the essence of a culture which has existed on the other side of the law for decades. For all his sincerity, the truth is that no one, especially not the government, can force someone to break the law. That requires a conscious choice.

In the case of marijuana usage, in the era before I-502 that choice could have meant an arrest for possession. Today it would be a simple infraction for public usage. Then and now, people have the capacity to make that decision.

I wrote on the topic of marijuana opportunists, users who perceive laws as mere inconvenience, in a previous column. What I wrote then remains true: If a small number of marijuana users blatantly ignore the far less restrictive laws graciously passed by an electorate (composed primarily of non-users), then the hard work of legalization advocates could all be undone.

Marijuana users, the choice is yours.

Leave a comment Comments → 13
  1. As a former smoker, it truly sickens me to see people who, in righteous indignation I might add, wholly supported the ban on indoor smoking are the same ones smoking pot in bars. It’s certainly amazing to watch people pick and choose just what civil liberties they will trample on and which they will cry about. It’s bad enough that bus stops in downtown Seattle reek of marijuana smoke – I can’t count how many times I’ve watched someone taking hits off pipes or joints in the middle of the day in public street corners. I don’t care if people smoke pot, what they do is their business. But at least do it within the bounds we all agreed on when legalizing it.

  2. notSpicoli says:

    There are 1000’s of bars in our state. Two are allowing cannabis use. These type of facilities are not part of I-502 nor established under I-502. The number of marijuana users who frequent these places is a miniscule percentage. The LCB is in the process of dealing with these two businesses. While this is a highly publicized story, it has been blown out of proportion and will be dealt with.
    Keith Henson, Director
    Pierce County NORML
    We’re on facebook

  3. Brian O'Neill says:

    Thanks for the comments. It is gratifying to know that there are a sufficient number of responsible individuals (and groups) out there capable of directing the course of legalization efforts. Good luck.

  4. While I voted to approve the legalization of marijuana, I am subject to random UA’s for my employment. Used to partake about 18 years ago. wanna know something? I do not miss it.

  5. simonsjs says:

    Marijuana users have NEVER broken any laws! There are only health and safety codes that are broken. Health and safety codes are not laws. Government doesn’t have and has never had the power to declare marijuana illegal.

  6. Brian O'Neill says:

    Government never had the power to declare marijuana illegal? Did you really mean that, simonsjs? Sorry, but this is not the United States of Anarchy.

  7. simonsjs says:

    Brian, you took an oath to the constitution, did you not? Show us where in the constitution the government has the power to declare marijuana illegal. It took an amendment to make alcohol illegal. There was NEVER an amendment to make marijuana or any other drugs illegal. Government only has the power given to it through the constitution, not to make it up as it goes. Yout took an oath to uphold the constitution. Considering that, you should be an expert on the constitution.

  8. Brian O'Neill says:

    Interesting version of the law, simonsjs. By your logic, Congress can only pass laws by an amendment? That’s not how I read this passage:

    “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof” (Article I, Sec 8).

    I’d like to think the FBI, DEA, ATF, Homeland Security and the other 200 federal law enforcement agencies were not wasting their time and our money enforcing illegitimate laws.

    Fortunately, the Supreme Court (and common sense) disagrees with you.

  9. simonsjs says:

    Brian, I didn’t give you an interesting version of any law or laws. I simply wrote about the constitution. Why did it take an amendment to make alcohol illegal? You see congress wasn’t given the power to make marijuana or any drugs illegal. Congress doesn’t have the power to go after someone who hasn’t committed any harm to others. What LAW declares marijuana illegal?

  10. Brian O'Neill says:

    Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. I suggest you read it, because this is the last time I’m doing your homework.

  11. simonsjs says:

    Ok, then why was an amendment to the constitution needed to make alcohol illegal?

  12. Brian O'Neill says:

    That’s your project to figure out. I’m not going to waste any more time on it. Good luck.

  13. simonsjs says:

    I already know why. Because congress does not have the power to tell people what they can put in their bodies!

    Brian, remember, you took an oath to the constitution, you should know this. What a cop out, no pun intended, to say I should figure it out. Bottom line, you do not understand the document you took an oath to uphold!

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