Rocky Mountain Dope

Photo Credit: U.S. National Archives (Creative Commons)

Marijuana is now legal here in Colorado. Our state government has enacted law providing for its possession, sale, and distribution. You already knew this. Here’s how that happened…

Back around 1968, most everyone between the ages of 15 and 30 saw Colorado as the Mecca for hippies and the cradle of everything ‘cool.’ [California was also considered to be ‘where it was at’ – for a few years, anyway – but they didn’t have the mountains required to retain that title.] By 1970, nearly every hand-painted Volkswagen microbus with an eight-track tape player had found its way to Denver or Boulder (or Aspen, if your parents had any money) and formed the world’s largest, commune-looking, roving trailer park (itinerant dump).

Many of those inhabitants actually found jobs (mostly unskilled labor) to support their drug habits and feed themselves (in that order of importance) while looking at the mountains. A decent, small house could be rented for $100 a month or purchased for $15,000, and an entire day’s skiing cost just 8 to 10 bucks. So, naturally, in 1972, John Denver recorded his career song, “Rocky Mountain High.” It became a ‘state song’ because most all the newcomers were indeed ‘high’ in every sense – the least of which was geographically.*

By the end of the 70s – just as Colorado’s hip status was beginning to wane – California (the former cool capital) had earned a name for its race riots, unprecedented porn production, spotted owl worship, and generally falling into the ocean. At that point, hip Californians yearning for something better rushed to sell their inflated beach property to the Koreans and Vietnamese. Minutes after the closings, they took their gargantuan equities to Colorado and began purchasing dirt-cheap mountain property. Here, for peanuts, they built palatial homes and enjoyed acting like rich people in front of what was left of cash-poor Colorado. That trend lasted for about a week; and then Colorado real estate, construction costs, and most everything else went straight through the ceiling.

A popular bumper sticker here, in that era, was “Stop Californicating Colorado!” But they didn’t.

Okay, so now we finally get to the part about legalizing marijuana.

Just a few years back, the old hippies (many of whom had wormed their way into Colorado government) saw an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone (no pun intended). Finally, there could be a way to legalize their favorite herb under the veneer of its being used for ‘medical reasons’ – and, leaning on the emerging younger crop of druggies, garner additional tariffs for the state’s coffers. The meticulously devised strategy in implementing the drug’s controlled legalization was executed with sagacious and scientific precision. Here’s how it works:

Pretty much anyone can qualify to grow it (a limited number of plants for sale to ‘patients’). If you are at least 18 years old, you can do that in your basement, attic, bathtub, wherever – and your ‘official’ title will be that of ‘caregiver.’ Unlike conventional pharmaceuticals, wherein the potency and dosages of medications for specific ‘treatments’ are carefully controlled and monitored, Colorado’s Marijuana is about as standardized and regulated as is, maybe, the internet. Some of the pot shop salesrooms look more like colorfully packed firework stands than they do legitimate drug dispensaries; and doped brownies, candies, teas, weird novelties, and ‘cannabis butter’ are sold right alongside the bags of buds.

Until recently, you needed a doctor’s prescription in order to qualify for the purchase and possession of marijuana. As the new pot ‘clinics’ started sprouting as fast as the plants, a 90-year-old, semi-retired ‘doctor’ might find an office adjoining a dealer’s store. How convenient – for a fast $100 appointment, you can have the certification for your first baggie of medical weed in about an hour (spending most of that time in line with other people in pain).

It was quickly discovered that the ‘medicinal-use-only’ qualification wasn’t working out as expected because (surprise) apparently some prescriptions were being written too casually, too much of the stuff was finding its way to ‘sick people’ in other states, and the lenient tax revenues were too skimpy. So, what to do? A wizened, magnanimous, and accommodating Colorado government responded by retooling the pot deal for ‘recreational use’ as well (that usage surpasses the medicinal tax rate times ten). Since nothing they’ve done up to this juncture makes much sense (and was it ever really about selling ‘medicine?’), I guess they figured that they may as well just do the whole blunt and get it over with.

Even while its allowance was supposed to be strictly for therapeutic reasons, I noticed that the clientele frequenting the stores generally looked like peak-health rugby players and mountain climbers of both sexes dressed in blue jeans, T-shirts, and stocking caps – mostly between the ages of 18 and 50. No crutches, casts, wheel chairs – just youngsters and silver ponytails shucking and jiving (and writhing in ‘pain,’ of course).

Final effects of Colorado’s legal marijuana….

Bottom line: for no good reason, lots of our struggling children (and parents) will now be sedated and effectively neutralized from being productive humans. Simultaneously, for our young people, any doubt is removed regarding the real mettle of virtues and priorities in the example set by our state’s leaders. Further, people who once had just enough money to buy some beers to go with a Friday night pizza will now dip into the rent money in order to buy a $150 ounce of pot. Nascent, tender families will be undermined due to the new, easily accessible substance abuse now sanctioned by the state. And, law enforcement will have that much more to sort through when a newbie pothead slams his truck into a bus load of school kids.

I am not discounting the legitimate need (by a comparative few) for the relief pot might bring to them – but the way we went about this whole deal was a laughable travesty that ended up far from its originally represented intentions.

With all the foresight and thoughtfulness of Daffy Duck, the purportedly adult leadership of Colorado’s governing is running Colorado with the same care and caution that we are seeing demonstrated in our nation’s capital. So the plumber is right – it all really does ‘roll downhill.’

Sadly, all I can see is that poor, single mom trying to raise her teenage kids clean and sober. On top of all her other challenges, she now has the State of Colorado playing the devil’s advocate. Good luck and God bless, mom.


*The author began his adult life as a Colorado hippy and still resides in Colorado.

Photo Credit: U.S. National Archives (Creative Commons)



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