How not to write a pro-Marijuana article for a police magazine
By Eddie Vega

At 1 a.m. on a school day several years ago, I was crossing a bridge with half a keg of a single malt in my gut. But that was not the problem. I was fine. It was the poultry truck in front of me carrying cage upon cage of white ducks. It was swerving like a kite caught in cross currents and with each tacking motion a duck or two catapulted over the railing into the water below. At some point I decided to pass the thing because the ducks were now slamming against the windshield and I was afraid it would crack and I’d get a ticket for a moving violation. It was no pretty thing for the ducks either, and if they had lived, they would have testified to that effect later at my DUI trial. In the interest of full transparency, I was in a rush: I had to get the vehicle I was driving back before anyone knew it was missing.

As I passed the truck, I blew a tire and the truck continued on the road in full freedom, leaving enough feathers in the air and on the ground to fill a factory’s worth of down pillows, and I got pulled over for driving on a rim. I’ll save you the embarrassing details, but let’s just say that the toxicology report showed a BAC of 50 percent Scotch highlands, 25 percent cocaine, 25 percent Crystal Meth, 25 percent Benzedrine, and 25 percent of a substance that fried the breathalyzer machine to such an extent it could not provide an accurate breakdown of percentages.

That story had a happy ending—for me. Sorry ducks. The breathalyzer test was not admitted in court because of its math problems, and I returned the school bus in time to pick up the first batch of third graders.

The moral of the story: Don’t smoke pot.

If somehow you can’t see how any of the story elements logically lead to that moral, and in fact are absurd, you now know first-hand the kind of confusion people who support the decriminalization of marijuana in this country regularly face. Existing laws fly in the face of established scientific consensus, unassailable fact, and common sense. I’m not alone. Six-in-ten Americans, a solid 61 percent, agree that marijuana should be legalized, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. That’s double what it was in 2000 when 31 percent of U.S. adults thought every grass baggie should include a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Currently recreational tokers in eight states and the District of Columbia can light up without fear of getting cuffed by local LEOs. Those with medical prescriptions can do so in 30 states and several U.S. territories, and in some cases have been doing so for twenty years. And for good reason: plenty of hard evidence exists—documented in over 26,000 scientific papers—that pot and its derivatives provide effective treatment for chronic pain, for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and for improving multiple sclerosis spasticity, and for the debilitating side effects of the potent cocktail of drugs used to treat AIDS.

The problem is that federal law still prohibits its sale, importation, and possession in Anywhere, USA. There is some chatter that the current U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, a conservative Republican, will take a hard line on enforcement, though conservative Republicans have for at least a generation
argued that such matters, abortion included, should be up to the states. But that’s all it is—chatter. Given the challenges facing the Department of Justice, in particular the Russia election interference investigation, which has made the department itself and the FBI targets of bipartisan ire, I do not think Mr. Sessions will expend his department’s resources on fighting not only the popular national will but also the libertarian wing of his party, which has historically favored legalization. He has a tough bridge to cross, but not as tough as the one that millions of Americans must cross to get relief from chronic pain, and from chronic life, its daily anxieties and harangues, ducks and all.

Eddie Vega is a journalist and tech media entrepreneur living and working in New York City.