April 21, 2010
Mr. Willie Nelson has always had a soft spot in my heart, a very soft spot. I first fell in love with that voice when my dad bought a generic Best Of Willie Nelson audio cassette tape, probably from a TV info-mercial. It was the late 80s, Best Ofs and info-mercials were big. My dad would play it as we drove around in his big-ass brown and beige dually truck. I insisted that we play “On the Road Again” 18 million times, which took awhile considering we had to wait for the tape to rewind each time in order for the song to repeat. But that voice! It was something else, and I totally felt it even as a 9-year-old. It was like a gorgeous, wise old man. Like a god almost. But a nice, nurturing god. I developed a strange (non-sexual) obsession with old men, old men shoes (like Willie’s signature Wal-mart sneakers), old men clothes (pleated, work jeans and pearl-snap shirts and worn-out t-shirts), etc. when I became a teen-ager, and I’m 100% sure it was due to Willie Nelson’s aura of cool-as-shit. Plus, he looked like my red-headed, freckled grandpa whom I adored.
When I grew up to be a sparkly-country-eyed college girl in New York City, I wasn’t off the boat from Oklahoma more than a week before I began to see the downside of the big city that I had always idealized. It was a stiff and dirty martini, and I just wanted a Coors Light. Then I saw a poster in the live music section of the Village Voice for a Willie Nelson concert. He was playing in a little mid-town bar; the show was 18+ to enter and I was 18.5! Also, he was playing with Merle Haggard (whom I honestly didn’t know except as the other voice in “Poncho & Lefty”) and his little sister Bobbie per usual on piano (“Whenever our band plays, Sister Bobbie is the best musician on the stage,” Willie says). So I called my dad, told him the deal, and asked if he would buy me a ticket. He said of course, be careful, I love you, princess.
I hiked a couple of miles up the island of Manhattan at dusk, and I got to the bar as early as I could. I brought my camera and a pocket tape recorder to record the show for my 5 roommates who were like, “Dude, Spring, you’re crazy. Some old trucker is gonna kidnap you!” And I was like, “Um, I’ll sell my firstborn if the Willie Nelson concert tonight is not the safest place in all of NYC for a young country girl to go by herself.” And they were like “Whatever. Wake us up when you get home.”
Inside the bar, I was standing at the back of a small crown of about 30 middle- and upper-aged folks that all looked like they rode motorcycles and drank Coors Light. They looked like people I had never seen in NYC before. They were wearing denim, the ladies had big perms and highlights in their hair, and they all had beer bellies. They looked like they were from Holdenville, Oklahoma, and clearly so did I. I wasn’t standing at the back of the crowd long when a buzzed-up 50-year-old angelic barfly touched me on the shoulder and asked me if I had ever been to a Willie Nelson show before. I giggled and wrinkled my nose, raised my eyebrows and said nope. She grabbed my hand. Then, “Excuse me, coming through, we got a virgin here!”
And so I watched my first Willie Nelson show in a smmmmmokey bar in NYC at the foot of the stage, and then I waited after the show for him to autograph the tape that I made and… then he kissed me on the cheek! And I haven’t washed it since
I don’t care if his new album Country Music (released on 4/20 by Rounder Records) is being sold at Starbucks. I don’t care that he is a bit financially irresponsible, a bit of a pothead (seriously, people, legalizeit!), and/or a philanderer. He’s TOPS in my book!!!
Let’s talk about weed. And about how it is time for it to be legalized and taxed. And about how that tax money will help our economy. And about how Oakland, CA, (notice how OAKLAND sounds a little like OKLAHOMA? Or is it just me and my optimism?) recently approved a tax on medical marijuana.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland residents overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to approve a first-of-its kind tax on medical marijuana sold at the city’s four cannabis dispensaries.
Preliminary election results showed the measure passing with 80 percent of the vote, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.
The dispensary tax was one of four measures in a vote-by-mail special election aimed at raising money for the cash-strapped city. All four measures won, but Measure F had the highest level of support.
Scheduled to take effect on New Year’s Day, the measure created a special business tax rate for the pot clubs, which now pay the same $1.20 for every $1,000 in gross sales applied to all retail businesses. The new rate will be $18.
Oakland’s auditor estimates that based on annual sales of $17.5 million for the four clubs, it will generate an estimated $294,000 for city coffers in its first year.
Pot club owners, who openly sell pot over the counter under the 1996 state ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana use in California, proposed Measure F as a way to further legitimize their establishments.
“It’s good business and good for the community,” said Richard Lee, who owns the Coffee Shop SR-71 dispensary and Oaksterdam University, a trade school for budding dispensary workers. [...]
Advocates of legalizing pot for recreational use hope to use Oakland’s experience with Measure F to persuade California voters next year to approve a measure that would legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol. (from huffingtonpost.com)
So, clearly, I think weed should be legalized–I think all controlled substances should be because they are actually very easy to obtain if you’ve got the cash and because who am I to tell someone what to do with his/her body. I get uneasy about anything that doesn’t originally come from the earth as a plant, I’ll admit. But right now I have to say that people are going to get whatever they want and the War of Drugs is and always has been a joke–even Walter Cronkite knew it.
I understand that some folks have moral concerns because they worry what kind of behaviors drug use will lead to. Well, here’s some commentary from alternet.org’s Drug Reporter, Ryan Patterson, about Marijuana Prohibition and morality:
While our current economic climate has prompted many Californians to look toward legalized marijuana as a solution to our near-legendary budget woes, there are those for whom the potential revenue from marijuana is no compensation for the further erosion of our morals. In their eyes, the prohibition of marijuana must continue, lest our society drown in a tidal wave of vice. But what about the morality of prohibition? [. . .]
Although prohibition seems to be the clearest way to achieve this goal, this simple plan is fatally flawed. In practice, total prohibition is the total abandonment of control. Prohibition has given rise to a clandestine marketplace completely out of the government’s reach, thereby increasing youth access. Drug dealers don’t ask young buyers for ID.
By banning distribution of marijuana anywhere, we have given up control of distribution everywhere. By limiting our responses to marijuana distribution to criminal punishment, we have failed to protect the consumer’s safety through regulating the product’s quality and encouraging responsible use.
Most important of all, by failing to maintain a legitimate, regulated market we have given incentive to violent criminal enterprises motivated by the lucrative, unfettered profits, thereby jeopardizing the safety of all.
The regulated legalization of marijuana should not be viewed as acquiescence to a depraved subculture, but the reclamation of control. Through regulated legalization we can control distribution. We can control its quality and potency. We can address the harms caused by its abuse through constructive treatment, rather than destructive punishment. We can usurp the power of the black market by eliminating their profits. And for those who consider marijuana consumption an immoral personal choice, we can ensure that society’s response is a moral one.
Read the full article, “Love Thy Neighbor: The Immorality of Marijuana Prohibition,” if you like!
Also, here’s a link to Oklahoma’s NORML Chapter. NORML, as you probably know, is the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. This pages provides information about Oklahoma’s current marijuana laws, issues, and efforts.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Compliments?