LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: Why is Gov. Moonbeam so afraid of legalized marijuana?

Here is my cartoon this week for The Los Angeles Times:

Stay Alert!


The statewide legalization of marijuana in Colorado, for recreational as well as medicinal use, has prompted serious consideration of the drug’s health effects and socio-political ramifications. Well, that sure took awhile.

On the pro side, it’s been pretty much established that driving stoned isn’t nearly as dangerous as driving drunk. Since 7% of California motorists are cruising the state’s freeways with cannabis in their systems, that provides some comfort. (Sorry, no word on what percentage of the stoners are drunk as well.) Pot also has proven medical benefits; for example, parents of epileptic children are flocking to Colorado.

But the legalize hemp crowd’s timeless rant that pot is harmless is taking some hits.

A recent study claims to have documented the first two known cases of pot-related fatalities. Other studies find that beginning to smoke weed as a teenager — the most common age to startcan affect brain development, causing memory loss, permanently impaired judgment and even reduced IQ.

In musings that might surprise those who remember his “Moonbeam” period (but not those who have noticed there’s no squarer square than an old hippie), Gov. Jerry Brown took to Sunday morning TV to worry aloud that emulating Colorado could leave the state defenseless against (a) foreign business competition and (b) terrorism.

“How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?” Brown mused. “The world’s pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together.”

The governor didn’t say whether his garbled grammar was attributable to pot or the shortcomings of his secondary education.

I’m always interested in policy appeals motivated by fear. Politicians have unleashed an awful lot of threats — a few real but mostly imagined — during the last decade and a half. And they haven’t exactly made us a better, stronger or more economically successful nation. Brown’s thoughts are nowhere close to the depraved paranoia of Dick Cheney; the idea that California will be morally and economically weakened, its security undermined, because a tiny minority of the state’s residents regularly indulge in the evil weed seems about as serious and substantial as a puff of smoke.

Stay alert? What’s going to happen if we don’t, governor? Are Chinese sweatshop workers going to take a fiscal victory dance on the bones of our stoner-sapped competitiveness? Will our collected stonedness open up the one big chance radical Islamists have been waiting for?

Californians won’t have the chance to vote for legalized pot until November 2016 — if they’re not too wasted to remember.


7 thoughts on “LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: Why is Gov. Moonbeam so afraid of legalized marijuana?

  1. The British found the use of cannabis so extensive in colonial India, that they commissioned a large scale study in the late 1890s. They were concerned that the abuse of cannabis was endangering the health of the native people and driving them insane. The British government asked the government of India to appoint a commission to look into the cultivation of the hemp plant, preparation of drugs from it, trade in those drugs, the social and moral impact of its consumption, and possible prohibition. Over 1,000 standardized interviews were conducted throughout India by eminent British and Indian medical experts. The commission was systematic and thorough. It sampled a large and diverse group of people in a range of situations, from farmers to hospital psychiatrists. After years of detailed work, The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report produced six volumes of data and conclusions. Commissioners were particularly concerned with whether or not cannabis caused psychoses. After years of through and well conducted research, The Commission concluded that suppressing the use of herbal cannabis (bhang) would be totally unjustifiable:

    ” To the Hindu the cannabis plant is holy. A guardian lives in the bhang leaf. To see in a dream the leaves, plant, or water of bhang is lucky. No good thing can come to the man who treads underfoot the holy bhang leaf. A longing for bhang foretells happiness.

    Bhang has many medicinal virtues. It cures dysentry and sunstroke, clears phlegm, quickens digestion, sharpens appetite, makes the tongue of the lisper plain, freshens the intellect, and gives alertness to the body and gaiety to the mind. Such are the useful and needful ends for which in his goodness the Almighty made bhang. Bhang is the Joygiver, the Skyflier, the Heavenly-guide, the Poor Man’s Heaven, the Soother of Grief. No god or man is as good as the religious drinker of bhang. The supporting power of bhang has brought many a Hindu family safe through the miseries of famine.”

    Bhang is so common in some parts of India that it can be found in government licensed street stands.

  2. I’m surprised Ted! Have you caught a cold or something? Because you’re missing the obvious here:

    First, pot vs. booze and cigarettes? Finally, two people have been found who died from pot? That’s not how you do science, that’s not how you (are supposed to) make national policy. Booze, cigarettes? They’ve killed millions in this country.

    See all the AIDS ribbons at the Oscars/Emmys/Bullshit Awards Ceremony X? Every single person who has died in this country as a result of AIDS, the whole 35-or-so years of it? About 600,000. In the whole 35 years. How many people die in a year in the U.S. from smoking? About 500,000.

    Know why? No. It isn’t the usual bullshit rhetoric about how “AIDS devastates the gay community where so many creatives come from.” You want devastation? Cigarettes and booze have done more to destroy the gay community than AIDS ever did. Line up the corpses and count: AIDS isn’t even CLOSE. But everyone gets behind it. Why? Because it’s easier to hide from the hypocrisy effect. (With very few exceptions, no one’s going to know if you actually are using condoms or not. But a cigarette? Booze?) So let’s all rally round the AIDS ribbon and smoke, smoke, smoke while we drink our martinis at the opening night party for our latest piece of crap movie!!!!

    No, what made AIDS unforgivable was that, instead of killing you in your 50s or 60s, like cigarettes, it killed you in your 20s, when you were still attractive and of value. And it made you emaciated and covered you with lesions. But if AIDS killed only after 40 years of unprotected gay sex? You’d have Betty White making PSAs and that would be it.

    Gov. Moonbeam’s concern “How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?” is ironic because he’s misusing great. Reread the statement with “great” like politicians use the word. The “great” United States, with no universal health care, illiterate students, a significant fraction of the population on food stamps, the highest incarceration rate in the world, etc. None of this is “great,” but if you try to argue that point, you are — 9/11 — shouted down at every — 9 — turn, regardless — 11 — of how valid your points may — America means freedom — be.

    The real concern with pot isn’t that a few people will die from it. The real concern is that if it becomes accessible, people are going to try it, and, possibly, a lot of people are going — if I may use a 1960s phrase — get their minds blown.

    “Dude. I just realized. I hate my job. I mean, I really, hate, my job. I work 50 hours a week. My boss is a complete dick. I haven’t gotten a raise in three years.”

    A lot of things, you can make peace with, as long as you are able to distract yourself from them. But what happens if a bunch of mild potheads, under the influence, end up thinking about the job things they’ve been distracting themselves from for so long?

    Nothing. Until they sober up and start realizing, perhaps for the first time in years, how utterly miserable their jobs make them.

    That’s what the people in charge are afraid of.

    • The elites are afraid of epiphany? A moment of clarity in the common drone? Don’t most of us already know we hate our jobs? Modern life is awful, and the elites employ special peons to contrive distractions for us. Pot is just another distraction, and one that many already make use of. Seriously, these poor people. Lottery tickets, pot, tobacco, alcohol, astrology, reality TV, celebrity gossip, most expensive car they can get…they have wasting time, money, and mental power down to a science. Poor is eternal. It is a state of mind. They’re hopeless.

      • Actually, yes, the elites are afraid of epiphany. (You’ve got everything else right. Especially your most-excellent point about poverty. Poverty isn’t just money-starved. Poverty is also an empty, stunted mind.)

        The reason the elites fear epiphanies? Here:

        1. Right now, pot is associated with stoner culture. Someone on pot is stupid and giggly and useless. And, it’s illegal. The cumulative effect of this is to negate the pot-user’s experience. It’s a garbage culture, so ignore it, wash your hands and move on.

        2. Who is the “average” pot user? It’s an annoying 20something or a teenager. For heaven’s sake, these are the two most annoying groups there are (on average — I have known many fine young people, but I’m sorry, the shit we all got up to before our 25th birthdays? It truly is like most of us are two different people: the pre- and post-25.)

        3. So now, let’s legalize pot. I can run down to the CVS and, after struggling mightily to get the clerk’s attention away from her cellphone, buy a really nice, premium-grade light marijuana. I can go home, light up, watch some cartoons. Or sit on the porch and watch the sunset. And have those epiphanies I was talking about.

        4. Now, when I talk about those epiphanies at work or wherever, they are no longer coupled to stonerdom or illicitness. They now have greater legitimacy. It stops becoming a “Yeah, we all hate our jobs, but you figured this out while you were (cue the evil) high. Weren’t you listening? Nancy Reagan told us to just say ‘No.’ ” It becomes a “Gosh, Harry down at accounting — you know, Harry, who pulled that old woman out of that burning house last year? Harry who works at the no-kill shelter on the weekends? Yeah, he smokes pot. He was talking about some guy named Marks. It was confusing, but he made a lot of sense. Something about production and workers.”

        5. After 10 years — heck, I’ll say just 5 — people will be incorporating pot into a mental-wellness regimen. It will turn out that just as a couple of glasses of wine once in a while is beneficial (and a couple of bottles every night is not), a toke on an occasional basis will do wonders for a lot of people.

        6. Look at gay marriage. Look at civil rights. In each group, it was the same basic pattern. ACT UP and MLK did a lot, but the people who really won the fight? The everyday members of those groups, going through their dull little lives. “Jesus, there’s Martha/George. What’s her Black/his gay ass doing here?” “Christ Fred, I don’t know. Maybe she/he has to pay the bills and feed herself/himself, just like the rest of us. She/he does her/his job alright. Why don’t you climb off her ‘Black ass’/his ‘gay ass’ for a change.”

        It’ll be the same with pot. Yes, we’ll have reefer fiends, but for the most part, it will become an occasional indulgence. It’s legitimization has the potential to oppose a lot of the sociopathic tendencies of our culture.

  3. P-f-f-t. If all the claims made about MJ in my lifetime were true, I’d be an impotent, drooling idiot with large breasts. I started as a teen (which probably wasn’t the best decision I ever made) been smoking for over thirty years, and am still holding down a highly intellectual job, satisfying my wife, and have yet to buy my first training bra.

    Deaths from MJ? I didn’t even bother to follow the link, you can feed enough THC to a rat to keep him and all his descendants stoned for life and it still won’t kill him. “They” have been trying to prove MJ harmful for decades & still haven’t come up with anything more substantial than, “chronic cough.”