Eventually barriers do fall to those who are committed to breaking them down. — NJ Governor Phil Murphy
In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. — Mark Twain
Predictably, do-nothing NJ lawmakers have sunk the legalization of recreational marijuana this week, and not by striking it down, but by NEVER GETTING TO A VOTE! And so, in the interest of actual democracy (remember that kids?) I propose we do it the democratic way and have a vote. What a concept. Let the ballot box decide if we’re going to drop this delusory, over-officious, money-grubbing, half-assed nonsense about a plant and get down to the business of business. I will stand by the tally. I only ask that we have one.
Governor Phil Murphy and the Democratic-led legislature have failed, miserably. Republicans are, as always, useless. I will spend the next two years campaigning against all of them, but this is not about repercussions for abject failure, this is about moving forward and taking matters into our own hands. The will of the people, as our founders framed it.
No sense going over why this gutless body didn’t even put the matter to a vote—a myriad of the same crap you hear all the time, whether it is to keep minorities or women from voting, recognizing same-sex marriage, religion, taxation, antiquated, bigoted, irrational fears for the moral destruction of society. Stupidly, I have put my faith (is that even the right word?) in the self-serving myopic machinations of politicians, and they fucked up. Again.
Thus far I have made it a point that, unlike the zombie Trump zealots who continue to somehow support him despite a spate of broken promises he used to narrowly win the presidency throughout the Rust Belt, not the least of which his constant ranting on about repealing and replacing the ACA with a cheaper, better alternative health system, and my favorite boondoggle—bringing manufacturing jobs back and (chuckle) expanding the coal industry, I will hold Mr. Murphy accountable for his only campaign promise I cared two licks about: legalizing recreational marijuana.
Of course, the sensible commentator side of me realizes that the governor was motivated and had plenty of state senate support, control of most of the legislature, and even pushed hard these last months to get a vote, but let’s be honest, there are no medals for trying. This is not about wanting to do something. I would guess that Trump, beyond his infantile tweeting and defending himself against forty investigations, may wish to bring jobs back, he just can’t, and has not, and for this he should be held accountable. Same goes for Murphy. Whether he is a showbiz clown or a progressive Democrat, results matter. Not talk and tweeting and posturing and desire. Everyone wants something. Politics and governance are about getting it done.
This is why it is imperative now that this state put the matter on the ballot this November. I believe it would have a far better chance to pass and thus no one has to feel like their damning children (God forbid people actually parent their miserable offspring) or pissing off God or doing whatever frightens politicians. Take it off their desks and lay it on ours. Let us decide. Once that part of it is done, they can bitch and fight over how to tax, regulate, or enforce laws dealing with it. Apparently passing controversial bills has become an anathema to lawmakers. With elections looming, they wilt in the bright light of actually doing their jobs. Not even a vote? No public debate or forum? Just a bunch of suits in rooms deciding what’s legal so they can divvy up the tax revenues? Well, that revenue comes from us, so let’s decide how we wish to use it.
Truth is money is what this is all about for me. I barely smoke weed. I don’t care if it’s legal or not beyond cashing in. If and when I want contraband, I get it, like my former insane consumption of pure French absinthe. However, why should drug dealers and drug lords profit? Why not firefighters or teachers, or using funds coming in to fix roads and bridges? Hence, I do not subscribe to the civil rights concept of this. It is not a right to feed your head. Ask the poor bastards that passed the Volstead Act. Marriage equality was indeed a civil rights issue. This is a common sense issue.
This is not like, say, climate change, which is real, and it is embarrassing I have to state this, but since an entire political party chooses to ignore scientific fact for economic posturing, I guess I do. People are going to believe what they believe. I assume humans are doomed and no matter what we do about the environment, it will come to pass. Thank goodness. We’re a virus and we need to go. No, this is direct line to simply monetize or if you will exploit a thriving industry. This is how we built this country—free land grabs and slave labor. All I’m asking is we get down to the nitty gritty here, and to—what part of the proposed bill proffered—get those people out of jail doing serious time for smoking a particular plant. We spend enough money with jailing the poor in this country, drugs should not be part of it.
Common sense needs to be on the ballot. And I am far from saying I think this will solve anything. Holy shit, a moron is president. Regardless of that electoral debacle, I will, as stated, stand by the decisions of the citizens of New Jersey, because what else do we have left?
The frightened and weak members of our legislature have had their day.
Put weed on the ballot.
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James Campion is the Managing Editor of the Reality Check News & Information Desk, and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus, Midnight For Cinderella, Y, Shout It Out Loud—The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon, and Accidently Like a Martyr—The Tortured Art of Warren Zevon.