So, I made a pledge not to drink alcohol, and a family member made a simultaneous pledge not to consume caffeine. I received pressure from family and friends to abstain from alcohol, but I didn’t really want to abstain. The reason I took this challenge was to give something tangible to the next few paragraphs.
What causes some addictions to tear families apart, while others do not? For instance, when was the last time you heard about a family having difficulties because one of them had a caffeine addiction? I haven’t, really. Why is that? The first answer is that it is legal. Imagine fasting from caffeine, and every time you have a craving, you have to risk death and imprisonment to satisfy that craving. Imagine not knowing if your coffee was fit for consumption. What if we lived in a world where a pound or less was a misdemeanor, and anything above that was a felony, with a 5 year mandatory minimum? Of course, this sounds ridiculous, but it’s what we do to other substances, why not coffee? Caffeine does not tear families apart because people have safe access, and because it is accepted. Drink that beer? No! It’s bad for you! Have this Dr. Pepper instead (which isn’t any better.)
Now, alcohol is a different story. It can be destructive to the individual or family unit, but it is more dangerous than caffeine. It is legal, but it’s not as accepted. Luckily, no one goes to jail for possession. We tried that once. The gang violence, drinking and driving, and underage consumption took over our culture. It didn’t help that we were going through the Great Depression. Fun fact, when the 21st amendment repealed prohibition, it began our ascent out of the Great Depression and the streets became safe(r) again. So, alcohol is destructive, because it is not accepted. 200 years ago, we didn’t have these problems. In fact, everyone, including kids, drank moonshine/beer and other alcoholic drinks all day every day because they couldn’t trust the water. After having my water tested, I vote we still can’t trust it.
Now, to the “evil weed.” Out West, people not only have safe access to this amazing plant, but it is largely accepted. We are seeing this more and more as the walls of prohibition continue to fall. Cities and counties in legal states are starting to have budget surpluses, teens are having a harder time getting their hands on cannabis, and crime rates continue to fall — just like alcohol prohibition repeal. As we move forward, more people gain safe access, and using cannabis becomes more accepted. It is already inherently safer than many other substances, but safe access and acceptance continue to make the world a better place…a safer, more fun place.
Living in Satan’s Belt is difficult. Let’s go back to imagining a world where coffee is illegal. Under a pound (which is roughly the size of a standard bag) is a misdemeanor and anything over that is a felony, with a 5 year mandatory minimum. Plants yield a 10 year minimum. You can’t deal with the headaches and the sluggishness, so you start getting a pound, and you buy a small coffee pot that you can hide from guests, but there is no hiding it from family. In fact, you and the spouse argue about this addiction frequently, and it is causing significant problems. It seems like the easy answer is to quit, but then your eyes are opened to the reality that coffee was freely consumed by people for thousands of years, and in some parts of the country, people can still consume it freely, without fear of imprisonment or social stigmas. Imagine having lived in one of those places and having visited a few more — keeping in touch with people via social media. They share their excitement and liberty by showing you pictures of coffee shops, coffee, and even their own plants. So you become a writer and an activist, continually working toward the right to safe access and acceptance, once again.
Now, to escalate this, there is little medical benefit to consuming coffee. Cannabis, however, is literally saving lives. It’s difficult to watch people in other states gain safe access and acceptance while it continues to be demonized by your home state…by your own family. Meanwhile, people are dying, and the ones that you anticipated to show compassion due to their faith, are the very ones that continue to halt progress. Honestly, if I hadn’t had some powerful encounters with the Creator, I would have become an atheist by now.
In this country, we have the right to life and liberty. Liberty does not mean that anyone has the right to tell someone else how to live. The religious right needs to understand that they have the freedom to live their life the way they see fit, but they do not have the right to dictate to others how to live…no one does. That’s the beautiful thing about this country…small government, small control. Of course, we have gotten way off course, but I will save that for another day.
In summation, the two things that make a substance safe versus dangerous…for the user and for the community…are safe access and acceptance. To those reading this that find yourself on the prohibitionist side of things — could you grow to accept your family members, neighbors, church attenders, businessmen, college students, hippie baby boomers, and other people in your life? I encourage your to entertain the idea. You might find that you have been lied to about the dangers of coffee/cannabis. You might find that the status quo is actually causing the problem. Wagen, over and out.