Legal Marijuana – Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

Hey Yogi, it’s Déjà vu all over again. Almost two decades of being bamboozled by the likes of Corzine and Christie and now here comes Phil Murphy. In “Guys and Dolls”, Sky Masterson reflected on his father’s words, “Son, someday a man will walk up to you with a deck of cards and he will bet you that he can make the jack of clubs jump out of the deck and spit cider in your ear. But do not take that bet for as sure as you’re standing there you will have an earful of cider.” A father’s advice to his gambler son: don’t make lousy bets.

From what I see, the jack’s already out of Murphy’s deck so before I reach for the earplugs I need some details. Let’s start with giving a free college education to every graduating high school senior. A page out of the Bernie Sanders playbook? Sure. But put your thinking cap on. Does that mean we’re going to bankroll every kid whose last completed homework assignment involved fingerpaint? We’re told this brainstorm will cost $400M. Times are not that flush, Phil; we’re a little light. And even if we did have the dough, do we want to toss it at someone majoring in XBox and Facebook? These kids will have no skin in the game. It’s a free ride for two more years on Mommy and Daddy’s couch. I’m a huge fan of the work ethic. I like people who earn what they have. A lot of young people work part-time to put themselves through school. They have my admiration and I’d like to help them out. “Help them what helps themselves”, as the saying goes. So when they send in their transcripts, staple on a couple pay stubs. Bottom line: no freebies. That’s only encouraging lottery tickets as a career path. Why not match their contribution dollar for dollar or at least offer a zero-interest loan? That should make things affordable.

Obviously the biggest criticism of this grand giveaway is where’s the money coming from? Bernie was hitting up the top 10%. Murphy doesn’t have that flexibility; our 10% has been jumping ship to the more affordable Florida and the Carolinas for years now. He concocted a better plan: let’s legalize and tax marijuana. How can you argue with that? Send Junior off to his first day of college – backpack, lunch bag, and a couple dubes – the perfect storm! Rocky Mountain High in Colorado works well where the buffalo roam but the Garden State might not be ready for this. We’re not as youth-oriented and a lot of folks are novices at the mellow-yellow side of life.

Four hundred large is not exactly chump-change. We all want to be good citizens and do our part, but even at premium prices, that’s a lot of joints. OMG, Phil, how much weed can we smoke?  Some folks never even fired up and some, like myself, were simply no good at it. We’ll need some seminars and an orientation program. With each purchase, I’ll need a can of cough suppressants and a list of in-network pulmonary specialists. I’m willing to do what I can but after two hits, I can barely keep my eyes open. After three I’ve been known to sleep through my nap. To smoke enough to cover even one two-credit course, I’d have to find a nice warm cave for the winter.

Rolling a bone will have to be an ongoing hands-on instructional series. I’ve tried it and it looked like I rolled it with my feet. There was more grass on the carpet than in the paper. And you have to learn a whole new lexicon. It is a gender appropriate language: everyone, male or female, is “Dude”. Also you can’t just say “Would you like to smoke some marijuana?” It sounds too proper, like “Would you care for a spot of tea, my dear?” No, you need to be hip; but not too hip. “Wanna’ spark up?” That’s cool. “Let’s burn.” Overdone. You’ll sound like a potsy.

Where to set up shop can be perplexing. No doubt committees will be formed, marketing firms engaged, and middlemen paid off in the process. I suggest just a simple kiosk in Monmouth Mall as an intro. Be sure to limit the offerings. Choice can be overwhelming and scare off the normal people. I can’t decide between regular and low-sodium baloney; now I’ll have to wade through Hawaiian Haze, Lemon Skunk, Pineapple Express and White Rhino. All in search of that elusive “perfect high” and I have absolutely no idea what that even means.  

Looking at it from all sides, there are some serious downsides to the plan. We already chafe at the inability of our state politicians to enact anything meaningful. How productive do you think they’re going to be when they’re stoned? On the other hand, we might just wind up with some novel legislation. How ‘bout “Free Beer”? Anyone care to second the motion?

I’m not saying abandon your platform, Phil. You tell me it’s in my best interests to cough up my paycheck for universal college – fine. Shake the change out of my pockets for pot? Who am I to argue? Open the barn doors on public pensions (if that’s what you decide after the election)? Have at it. A sanctuary state? I’m stuck here anyway.  But just do me a solid, Phil; with all of this throw in a box of Q-tips. I think I’ve got cider in my ear

Originally published in the Asbury Park Press on Oct 19, 2017

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