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Decriminalizing the possession of marijuana (the latest vote by the Albuquerque City Council and signed into law by Albuquerque's new liberal mayor) is pushing the city another step closer to the hallowed ground of a liberal utopia like California and Colorado where people are encouraged to unplug from reality and where forgiveness for a massive flight from personal responsibility is the mantra. I suppose this was inevitable for Albuquerque, a city that was proud to be associated with a despicable TV series that glorified drug use.
I am definitely an advocate of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes as it helps alleviate real pain and suffering, but I draw the line at so-called 'recreational' marijuana. The use of marijuana by ordinary persons without a bona fide medical need for it has no place in our society. Neither does heroin, cocaine, PCP, methamphetamines or any of their chemical relatives. We already have enough problems in our communities with alcohol abuse without gentrifying and legitimizing this gateway drug that serves no real purpose other than to separate us from our connection to our friends, families and the rest of the world. I have never tried marijuana nor have I ever taken any illicit drugs. Truth is, I hate medication of any kind, but I do understand and accept the need for it in certain situations. It would be foolish to think otherwise.
One of the reasons I try to avoid pills is their side effects. If you need proof of the dangers, just read the disclaimers on the bottles or better yet, tune in to cable TV programs that advertise a plethora of medications to their aging viewers. Those disclaimers that warn against everything from dizziness to death are enough for me to just say no. How have we gone from being a proud nation of hearty pioneer stock to one of pharma-dependent weaklings? Marijuana is an excuse as much as it is a stimulant and depressive - an excuse to escape the humdrum and the uncomfortable aspects of living in a modern world. It is an enabler and a crutch as much as it is a release from reality.
While users advocate for its acceptance, what they are really telling us is how they feel about their world. Many can't or won't cope with the demands placed upon them so they need a 'mood enhancer' that boosts their confidence and self-esteem. The problem with that is that their mood, confidence and self-esteem are improved, artificially. Marijuana-induced confidence is phony and short-lived. It is not based on a person's accomplishments and is dangerous, especially when its users are behind the wheel of a one ton vehicle or operating even the most basic machines. (We still have no reliable tests to determine a driver's 'intoxication' due to marijuana use.)
Marijuana impairs judgment and slows down reaction times, and it is addictive. This is especially true with those suffering from addictive personalities. Knowing that, why are we then green-lighting another way to avoid the enormous challenges we face by decriminalizing marijuana? Have Albuquerqueans finally thrown in the towel and admitted that life is just too difficult; that we ought to adopt the fetal position, ignore our responsibilities and roll a joint or two and just tune out?
We all need our wits about us - every single day - if we're going to solve the many problems that plague us as a community, and encouraging more marijuana use is not the solution. Those on the City Council that voted for Albuquerque's decriminalization of marijuana must have been high on it when they did. These are precisely the types of issues that demand a public referendum not a public rough-shodding.
Stephan Helgesen is a retired U.S. diplomat and now political analyst and author. He has written nine books and over 800 articles on politics, economics and social trends. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org