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Legalizing vs. decriminalizing marijuana: It's all wacky tobaccy

March 25, 2013

Don’t look now, but the state of Maryland is on the brink of legalizing weed.

Way to go, grass. I can’t think of anything that’s had a faster turnaround in the history of Earth than you.

You only have to go back to the 1990s to relive the days when the feds would seize your home if they found a couple wacky tobaccy plants under a grow light.

How mad would you be today if you lost your yacht 15 years ago because the Coast Guard discovered a marijuana seed under the pillow? So what’s the government saying now? “Oh, sorry.”

And what about the dudes still serving our a grass-related life term under those zany “three strikes and you’re out” laws that were all the rage in 1993?

You don’t hear a lot about “three strikes” today, do you? That’s because all the howler monkeys who were on the three-strikes bandwagon 20 years ago have moved on to howling about the budget deficits that their very own three-strikes laws helped create.

What? Placing one out of every 30 adults under the care and control of the U.S. justice system costs money? Who knew? Evidently, the only people more stoned in this nation than our potheads were the people who made our laws.

That’s one area where we’ve improved. In the ’90s, smoking marijuana was an instant disqualification from holding public office. Now it’s almost a requirement.

And how stupid do we journalists look now, after spending an entire decade asking every breathing candidate whether he’d ever smoked pot — all because we were too dumb to ask meaningful questions about why the government was in the process of dismantling the banking rules that protected us from financial meltdowns.

So last week the Maryland Senate passed a bill that would legalize up to a third of an ounce of weed by a vote of 30-16. But the lawmakers want you to be clear — this isn’t really a bill to legalize marijuana, it is a bill to decriminalize marijuana.

Let me explain the difference. Legalizing marijuana loses you the church lady vote; decriminalizing it does not.

And if you’re sitting there on the sofa on your front porch thinking, “There goes that liberal Maryland state legislature again,” consider that Maryland’s grass policy is playing catch-up to those already in place in the radical, blue-state bastions of Nebraska and Mississippi.

That’s impressive. Really, the last time Mississippi led the nation on anything it was in Little Debbie consumption.

And no one knows where it will end. Before long, you’ll be looking at a heavier potential fine for lighting up a cigarette.

So — dare I ask? In the “smoking section,” will you be able to ... you know? This gives whole new meaning to the implications of second-hand smoke. With cigarettes you try to avoid it; with grass you might have to pay for it.

We’ve all been in those college apartments where the smoke was so thick that even the goldfish would be eating the plastic kelp. Now, we’ll see the flip. Restaurant smoking sections that used to have like three people in them will now be packed. And the only person in the main section will be the balding systems analyst whose weekend it was to take the kids.

Of course we all know where this is headed, right? T-A-X-E-S. Yeppers, it’s a fine line between decriminalization and 40 cents a joint. It’s the perfect circle, you know? The same plant that got the boomers through the ’60s will now pay for their retirements. Is this a great country, or what?

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