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DON’T SMOKE THE MESSENGER: Goodbye and Good Riddance

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Are you ready everyone? Can you hear A Whole New World,” running on repeat in your head? Because the NASA blastoff countdown has begun. This will be the last appearance of Don’t Smoke the Messenger published while pot is still illegal. As of July 1, growing, possession and consumption will all be above the belt. And the rumblings out of Salem are indicating that recreational purchasing in dispensaries may come much sooner than expected, possibly even in July.

Decades of oppression will be lifted just in time for July 4, our annual fetishization of freedom. #Merrica!

And once it’s all official, here’s some things we can say goodbye and good riddance to.

  • The risk of a jail sentence or debilitating fines for watching TV at home.
  • The risk of that jail sentence sandbagging your ability to go to college or get certain jobs.
  • The risk of losing your right to vote for a marijuana conviction.
  • Police using suspicion of marijuana as an excuse to violate your Fourth Amendment rights.
  • Having to buy from sketchy creeps that may have laced the pot with something, if it’s even pot.
  • Private prison systems ballooning with marijuana offenders and sticking taxpayers with the bill.
  • Police wasting their time on non-violent pot offenders.
  • Legal tools used to disproportionately target and oppress people of color
  • Wacked-out hippie conspiracy theories about why pot is still illegal.
  • The financial incentive for murderous marijuana cartels.
  • Immigrants being kidnapped and forced to live in illegal grow operations.
  • Environmentally dubious grows on public lands.
  • Botanical pioneers being seen as pariahs instead of geniuses.
  • Epically mediocre reggae songs about “legalizing it.”

And that’s just a taste. Marijuana legalization will have numerous ripple effects across our economy and society, all of them positive changes.

For me, there’s one, much simpler thing to say goodbye to that I realized while living in Colorado last year: fear and shame. One night, deep in a Netflix marathon and overcome by an attack of the munchies, I wanted to walk to the corner and get a slice of pizza.

But I was plagued by that old fear: what if they know I’m stoned? Then it hit me: let ’em. Who cares? It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s legal.

It sounds meaningless, the sort of petty philosophical revolution that is a consistent side-effect of marijuana. But it was a major paradigm shift. It no longer needed to be hidden. I could just walk to the corner and get a slice of pizza if I wanted, without fear of punishment for my preferred method of watching sci-fi.

It may not be as noble as the first steps in dismantling a decades-long campaign of racial and social oppression that bloated the prison system and ruined countless lives, but as far as I’m concerned, July 1 cannot come soon enough.

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