Today I went to court to tell a judge that I did nothing wrong and broke no rules even though a police officer found four grams of “fresh” smelling marijuana in my car. The judge agreed and dismissed the complaint against me.
“Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac’s buddy, did two years for a joint!,” my good friend Randy Dolinger wrote to me after learning I was given a $150 ticket for possession. “I guess this means that we are winning the fight.”
Yes, we are winning indeed. America’s pot paranoia is going the way of alcohol prohibition: to the dustbin of over-authoritarian jurisprudence that just didn’t make much sense or do any good.
15 states including Rhode Island considers a small amount of cannabis akin to not wearing a seat belt: you get a ticket. Decriminalization will save our state an estimated $12 million a year. Furthermore, the marijuana in my car was someone else’ perfectly legal medicine.
Colorado and Washington have done away with these legally awkward and otherwise meaningless infractions by legalizing it, which is expected to reap billions in new tax revenue and the feds said it’s okay with them. Rhode Island has considered legalization, too. Such a move would boost our economy, shrink our government and help keep good folks like me from clogging up our courts. It’s also a rare instance in which the left, the right and political centrists all agree.
Reefer madness is over and the vast majority of people recognize that marijuana is no worse than alcohol, and in many ways it’s much better. Really, the only question for Rhode Island at this point is do we end pot prohibition before or after Massachusetts.