Monday, February 02, 2009

The Marijuana Quadrille

Michael Phelps, the great Olympic swimmer who took home, what, five hundred medals?? at the most recent Olympic games, is doing the "Mea Culpa" stroke with a fury to as many media outlets as he can reach. Here's one.

A British tabloid, using journalism to make the world a better place as always, published a photograph of Phelps smoking marijuana with a pipe at some party in November. Consternation and uproar, Phelps called it "a mistake," regrets behaving "in a youthful and inappropriate way," and called what he did "bad judgment."

The U.S. Olympic Committee could have left this alone. Marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug, and he is not competing in an Olympic games currently. But no, the U.S. Olympic Committee expressed disappointment in his "behavior." They slapped him for failing his duty as a role model.

If the picture of Phelps at that party had shown him with a beer in his hand, would we be talking about this? The U.S. Olympic surely wouldn't, since the 2008 games were sponsored by TWO beer companies: Anheuser-Busch (makers of Budweiser) and the Chinese brewery Yanjing.

Here is another story about our hypocritical preoccupation over pot. And folks, just so you know where I'm coming from, I don't like the stuff. I've tried it enough times to know it does nothing for me. The crap stuff does nothing but stoke an appetite for junk food, and the really really good stuff makes me feel sick and removes my ability to speak coherently. I don't like pot and wouldn't seek it out even if it were legal.

Yet the way we speak of this herb, this naturally-occurring plant that has scientifically acknowledged medicinal value and also has, for many, recreational value, is silly. We are constantly being reminded that we have to fear pot, that smoking a doob is a chute to crystal meth and gang membership, that it is a moral failure to put this herb in a pipe and smoke it.

Phelps's athletic performance was used, in part, to promote alcohol consumption. Now he's prostrating himself before our mercy for puffing some grass in private?

This weekend, a young woman here in Deming lost her life when she rolled her pickup. Melissa, her name was; she worked at the Wells Fargo bank just down the street from us. The police are saying alcohol was involved in the accident. This happens every day in every city in the United States, but we don't see celebrities answering to their drinking habits in the press.

Considering the actual dangers and effects of pot, it should be legal if the wine I drink is legal; and if Michael Phelps enjoys it, he should have it. And you and I really ought to shut up about it. I'll start.

. . .

P.S. I could have gone with a different photograph of Phelps, sure, but it's Tracy's birthday this week. Oh, Tracy, you can click on the picture to enlarge. Bwa ha ha.


Hal Johnson said...

I often wonder if the irrational opposition to marijuana might largely be due to some weird lingering war against the counterculture of the sixties. (The "sixties," to me, means 1964 to 1974. That's when disco, part of an evil Republican plot designed to destroy the counterculture, began to plow under the ideals of the counterculture.) Being objective as I'm capable, it seems that if we had to choose one legal recreational drug between alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, pot would have to get the nod.

That's of course if we could set aside the bias of the supposed cultural mainstream.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the eye candy, Algernon! Best birthday present ever! :)

quid said...

Excellent photo. I'll come back and enjoy it often. I'm with you and Hal; I don't get the overreaction.