DURST: The Guru of Ganja


Straight off, I got to tell you, I don't smoke pot. Used to. Used to deal it. Bad midwestern weed. Indiana gold. $95 a pound. We'd roll skinny little toothpick joints and smoke all day long. Right around 8 at night, we'd start to wonder, "Hey, am I actually getting high?" The answer of course, was no, you had just spent the entire day hyper ventilating. I quit smoking around 1978 when the heathen devil weed got too good. Every couple years I give it another go. Not for me. One hit and I turn into chattering paranoid monkey drool. But you know what, I miss it. Not for the high. For all the wrong reasons. I miss rolling a joint one handed while driving. I miss being illegal. I miss being a rebel. Fortunately, for folks like me, it seems the US government is determined to maintain that rebel status for its estimated 80 million pot smokers.

You wouldn't be accused of being one toke over the line if after US District Judge Charles Breyer refused to sentence Ed Rosenthal on federal charges of growing over 100 plants you assumed it was a victory for the pro-pot movement. After all, the Bay Area's 58 year old guru of ganja faced 60 years behind bars. So his suspended one day sentence and $1000 fine seems like a winking slap on the wrist. Rosenthal may leave court a folk hero but he's still a convicted felon no longer eligible to vote. Not that it seems to do any good. After all, Californians already passed a proposition that legalized medical marijuana and the city of Oakland gave him a license to grow the pot as part of a city- sponsored medical marijuana program but because the Feds were the prosecuting party, the jury wasn't allowed to hear any of that evidence.

And if you think this action will cause the Bush administration to slow down their feverish crackdown on medical marijuana, you might want to hold off on investing all your money in rolling paper manufacturers. Richard Meyer, spokesman for the San Francisco division of the DEA, said the sentencing would have no effect on the agency's work. "The so- called medical marijuana initiative was a smoke screen the real agenda of these people was to legalize not only marijuana but all drugs." Speaking of marijauna advocates, Meyer said, "We are not listening to them. We will continue to protect the public from the dangers of all illegal drugs."

Can you believe these guys? After spending billions to make Afghanistan safe for your local neighborhood opium lord, our government continues its ludicrous domestic drug policy of lumping all drugs together. A third grader can tell you that crack is to pot like an Uzi is to a banana. Crack kills, pot giggles. Say you do run into a crazed pothead, what's the worst thing that's going to happen? You might get fleas, that's about it. Okay, there's Twinkie creme on your shirt, wipe it off. Can't get the song "Stairway to Heaven" out of your head? Deal with it.

Right now, it's nine states with some form of medical marijuana legislation on the books. But what happens when another seven or eight get wiggy with it? You telling me our government is willing to spend the Gross National Product of Bolivia to yearly equip thousands of SWAT teams to ram through lines of wheelchairs just to bust a couple of grey pony tails filling baggies full of righteous herb?

Don't these people get it? It's called "grass" because it grows in the ground like a weed. You don't need to refine it or distill it or brew it. You pick it, dry it and smoke it. And it's illegal. That's crazy bad stupid. You talk about gateways. It's not like you can walk out to your backyard a pull a cocktail off the Daiquiri bush. Although that stuff is legal. And heavily taxed. See, there's your answer right there. All we need is one state financially desperate enough, they decide to legalize it and throw a state tax on it. Now I ask myself, who would be willing to piss off the Bush administration that bad? Which state with Democratic majorities would want to incur the continuing wrath of the Feds just to pull themselves out of a money hole? Hmmm. Davis, can you hear me?

Will Durst can still roll a joint, he just won't smoke it.

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