The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's a bad idea and that's why I think it's a bad idea.

The following was apparently printed in the Omaha World-Herald, the major newspaper in the most culturally diverse city in our (Black Hills) sphere of influence. I am aghast that the writer is listed as a "World-Herald Columnist." Robert Nelson is either a semi-functional moron, or this is the most cleverly-disguised satire I've ever seen.

Nelson: No rush to legalize pot

By Robert Nelson

I'm not into stereotypes, except for pot columns, but when I was in college in Lincoln 20 years ago, I knew some stoners, so I figured Lincoln was the place I'd find stoners trying to make being a stoner in Nebraska totally legal.

But as I drove around the Capitol and UNL and around the whole city, there was not one petition-like dude out even though, just a few days earlier, people could start gathering the 112,000 valid signatures it would take to get Proposition 19 on the ballot in 2012. If approved, the measure would — get this — make marijuana totally legal in this state. The effort is patterned after California's failed Prop 19 of 2010.

This is, for the most part, separate from a medical marijuana issue. I have a different opinion about people trying to cope with chronic pain. This is a “my 18-year-old could grow weed in my backyard and smoke it and everything would be totally groovy” constitutional amendment.

I know you could argue alcohol is more damaging than pot, but have you watched a really stoned dude in action? They may not be violent, their health may be fine, but they still can be dangerously stupid.

Well, don't get too jacked up, fellow squares. Seems that famously bad work ethic one associates with stoners is also present in the world of pro-stoner petitioners:

It looks like hardly anyone is showing up for work on this thing, at least not yet.

I checked out the Taco Bells, where you could bag signatures as people sated their munchies. I couldn't find a White Castle. In Omaha, I hit Benson, the Old Market, around UNO, even some of the hot spots for Suttle recall petitions.


Turns out, I learned from a Facebook page dedicated to the cause, that at least now, there exist only a few petitions here and there. They will be available a couple of places for a few hours at a time. There's a lot of excitement about getting more petition circulators.

At least 20 signatures have been gathered in Lincoln. One guy in Bellevue learned to become a petition circulator, and that guy was at McDonald's for a while with his petition, but then another guy who wanted to sign the petition couldn't make it to the McDonald's when the guy with the petition was there, so the petition didn't get that signature.

Things seem a little haphazard right now.

You can learn these things and more — like how to actually become a petition circulator, sign a petition or donate money — at the Facebook site “Nebraska Prop. 19 Cannabis Initiative.” There is also an organizational meeting planned July 2 at — sure — McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe.

There, you will probably learn, this is not anything like the well-financed, professionally organized and executed push to get marijuana legalized in California, where Prop 19 lost in 2010 in a surprisingly close vote (46.2 percent for, 53.8 percent against).

I didn't get a call back from the Prop 19 advocates associated with the Facebook page.

But I did receive a call back from the McCook-area attorney, Frank Shoemaker, who filed the paperwork for the initiative.

He was reluctant to talk to me because he figured I'd be bent on making broad pot jokes like the ones already in this column.

So he was right. But we did end up talking. And although I think his initiative is a bad idea on several fronts, the longtime defense attorney did make me feel like a heel on several other points.

“Do you know how many families have been torn apart, lives ruined, since cannabis has been targeted by the government?” he asked. He also argued that increasingly harsh penalties for relatively minor drug offenders have overloaded jails and prisons.

As for my argument that his initiative, beyond being a bad idea, is a laughable waste of time because it lacks the organizational and financial infrastructure to get the huge number of signatures needed:

“We have an initiative process in this state that was a well-meaning attempt to set the bar high to keep out out-of-state interests,” Shoemaker argued. “But what's happened is the bar is now so high only out-of-state interests can afford to succeed at the petition process.

“This is a petition by Nebraskans for Nebraskans. Period. No outside money. Just old-fashion populism in a state with a populist heritage.”

Of course, it's scary to think how many amendments we might have if there was no bar.

So, then, what? Maybe it is sad that this pot initiative is (I believe) hopeless even though I'm glad it's hopeless in this case because I think total legalization of pot is a bad idea even though I also agree that too many people are sent to prison on relatively minor drug offenses and that there may be some legitimacy to an argument for medical cannabis.

Now my head is spinning. I remember this feeling. I was a kid sitting in the nosebleed seats at a Van Halen concert at the Civic. There was smoke in the air. ...

Now I'm totally freakin' out.

Contact the writer:


Bob Newland said...

This quote from within the editorial kills me.

"Of course, it's scary to think how many amendments we might have if there was no bar."

What possible ballot question do you think Nelson has in mind? I think he is afraid that someone might succeed in placing on the ballot an issue that, voted "YES," might outlaw dihydrogen oxide.


taco said...

Sounds like the author is, like most Americans, poorly informed on the issue. This guy would probably be up in arms if the US to prohibit alcohol again. Ignoramus.

Thad Wasson said...

In Nebraska you drink beer. Marijuana isn't part of the culture, that's the reason for a lack of signatures.

larry kurtz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
larry kurtz said...

Here is a Montana blogger devoted to the cause beating up on the President. You'd probably like it. H.R.2306.

Don Price said...

Before you go and write an article against this movement you should actually get some decent facts as to why you think this is a bad idea. it's a bad idea because i think it is is a pretty weak argument and quite frankly makes you sound ignorant. The article never answered any questions as to why it's a bad idea so maybe you should reevaluate. you'll probably going to delete this comment but thats okay at least you'll get to read it once. oh an by the way all your stereotypes about pot heads are bull shit i smoke weed everyday, maintain a 3.5 GPA, and run college cross country and track and excel in both.

Bob Newland said...

Don, your thoughts might have more effect if you wrote them to the Omaha World Herald.