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Perhaps pot will bring political parties together

April 13, 2011

So in Maryland, it's going to be easier to gamble and smoke dope, but harder to drink. That's kind of a mixed message, don't you think?

Not that anything the legislature does ever makes tons of sense, but this one has me a bit stumped. The Maryland General Assembly moved to tempt a casino concern into buying the lodge at Rocky Gap, while also paving the way for medical marijuana. On the other hand, it raised the tax on liquor.

Although, to be fair, Del. Neil Parrott introduced an amendment that would have cut the liquor tax by half in the hope that it would, according to The Herald-Mail, "stimulate sales."

Boy howdy, if there's one thing we don't have enough of in this country it's alcohol consumption. Anything we can do on that front is certainly worth the effort. (On that subject, I love the billboard south of town asking the man: "What have you done for your marriage today?" It's right next to a billboard advertising beer.)

But it's the medical marijuana legislation that has me the most puzzled. The legislature more or less decriminalized possession of less than an ounce if it's used for medical purposes, and it set into motion a study to determine the best way to distribute medical marijuana. I don't know why they need to spend all that money on a study; it's pretty well outlined in a Jack Denim song:

"Just find a doctor in the weekly

Don't even have to do it discreetly

Tell him that you got some strange disease.

Hypertension, chronic lymphoma,

Mood disorder or glaucoma,

By 4:20 you'll be taking a puff."

Really, it can be that easy, if my friends out in California are telling me the truth. You walk into a doctor's office and tell him you're having trouble sleeping, and he'll tell you to try to reduce your stress and write you a scrip.

But the other weird thing is that no one's really said a word about this. It is now only a matter of time before Maryland legalizes pot and — I'm sorry, "medical" pot — and these bills sailed right through with hardly a word. Shouldn't there have at least been a preacher chaining himself to the State House watchtower or something?

My working theory is that all the state's potheads got together and floated some volatile red herrings to throw people off the scent. For example, I don't think there ever was a "gay marriage bill" or legislation to give in-state tuition to in-state foreigners. Those issues were just hanging there like bug zappers to distract the Morally Outraged crowd from being a major downer, man.

Unless maybe society is just moving along. Remember, it wasn't so very long ago that conservatives baited the press into asking every last political candidate for every office under the sun whether or not he or she had ever smoked marijuana.

This practice ended pretty fast when it turned out that conservatives smoked as much dope as anyone else, maybe more.

Which is a good thing.

It might be the only way we have of reaching some sort of agreement on the budget.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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