The biggest argument I hear against the legalization of marijuana is that weed is a gateway drug. Smoking marijuana, it is argued, leads to harder drugs like heroin.
As a pot smoker for more than 40 years, I can understand why pot is perceived this way.
I tried all the drugs I could. I never used any drug intravenously, but I freely took just about anything handed to me for a few “wasted” years.
My first “high” was hyperventilating on purpose to feel that “head rush”. Cigarettes and cigars were another “high” for a curious preteen. I remember stealing my dad’s table pipe with a handful of Borkum Riff. I remember throwing up in the woods after a lungful of that nasty stale tobacco.
Another reason I was throwing up in the woods? That would be my dad’s well stocked liquor cabinet.
It was only natural for me to seek out marijuana. My bothers were doing it, the Beatles were doing it, even my own mother was doing it. Once I established a “connection”, I could get a bag of weed easier than an unopened bottle of booze. My dealer was always available to fill my pot order, even though he was usually late.
Every suburban neighborhood had a “dealer”. Often clad in an olive drab army jacket and flying a freak flag that flowed over hunched shoulders, the dealer was usually easy to spot and easier to smell. Back in the 70s, it was not uncommon for your local drug dealer to offer a selection of recreational drugs. Of course, any good businessman will tell you, the key to profits is the upsell. Mushrooms, LSD, hash, cocaine… there were lots of choices in his pocket on any given day. As he was taking my money and handing me a “dime bag” in a suspicious exchange, my dealer would always offer up other drugs that were on his “menu”.
My dealer introduced me to many drugs. As if he was doing me the biggest favor, my dealer always used phrases like “I saved this just for you” or “You’re gonna love this”. When the dealer was out of smoke, there was alway a back up “tab” of something.
My trusted dealer kept me wasted whether or not he had weed. It was his “job”.
Legalization could remove this “middleman” and allow me to purchase my pot stash without the that upsell. Buying from a regulated and secure establishment could effectively put the weed dealer out of business and reduce the exposure to the illegal dangerous drugs. The movement to keep marijuana illegal is a movement to keep the dealer in business.
Marijuana isn’t the gateway to drug addiction so much as the drug dealer is the “gate keeper”.
Think of the children, people… As voters, we have the opportunity keep this salesman away from the kids and help to keep that “gate” closed.