By Rick Walker
Marijuana stores will eventually be in Snohomish. The question of how soon will be on the November ballot.
Democracy is great, and if the majority of my neighbors feel uneasy about the stores, I’m OK with that. But I do think such fears are unreasonable.
People like drugs. Almost everybody enjoys some form. From that big glass of merlot after work to the coffee or caffeine drink in the morning or whenever to give us a kick in the butt. From that cigarette to the fun of watching a “Star Trek” movie after a couple of brownies. Drugs are everywhere.
If I was an alien walking into the Snohomish Haggen, I’d be convinced alcohol was a major source of human nutrition. We have drugs that are psychotropic and therapeutic. Psychotropic prescription drugs regulate disturbing emotions and control “personality disorders.” We take Ambien to ease our sleep patterns and Vicodin to get through broken ankles. Drugs are such a part of human culture that many scientists believe that our reactions to them are evolved.
Marijuana has been culturally and historically ubiquitous. Marijuana was used medicinally and recreationally for at least as far back as a 12,000 years ago in China, as indicated on a tomb. The owner failed to smuggle 300 pounds into the afterlife. In early America, the history is spotty but hemp was never just hemp. Marijuana use was common in Northeastern cities and especially in the South, where it was a big part of black and white culture in the 19th century, especially in music circles. It was in wide use on the frontier.
There’s a racist history of fear of marijuana. Here is a quote from our first Commissioner of our Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger, from 1930 to 1962: “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.” And “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
That and other stuff like the “Reefer Madness” movie takes us to the ’70s when, Brian, a very kind friend of mine, got a criminal record and prison time for selling a small amount of weed. We’ve gotten over most of that nonsense but I’m far from convinced that a great deal of our discomfort with pot doesn’t have deep roots in yesterday.
Practical concerns are also important. Like those in need of marijuana for pain are often disabled with transportation issues. Also, I would rather walk to any store than drive. And there is all that tax revenue that’s just going somewhere else if we don’t take our share.
My opinion is that our energy should be spent on how to talk with our children about the danger to their brain development that pot presents. And on just how to talk with children about any of the big problems like overuse of handheld computers, casual sex and sex-related diseases. We need to discuss bullying, alcohol, tobacco and even caffeine. We should surely talk with them about prescription drug abuse, a national crisis. It is truly a challenge to be a parent these days. But I feel our town has more important issues to fret over than marijuana stores.
So, I say to my neighbors: Do whatever makes you comfortable.
I do take some offense to someone saying that marijuana stores bring the wrong “feel” to Snohomish. But it’s all not a big deal to me either way the vote goes. But what upsets me is anyone thinking having a pot store in the Safeway Plaza or in Snohomish Station is, in itself, a threat to our children or a stain on our town.
The solutions found in this fast-changing culture of ours rarely involve killing the demons presented by our knee-jerk reactions. Most of our problems are solved with clear, balanced, open-minded reasoning. And I feel that after looking at the big picture; Snohomish can do better at having a sane, scientific and effective conversation about drugs in general.
Rick Walker lives in Snohomish.