Sunday, April 24, 2022

Of legal weed and monkeys on the wing

         Why did Texas Gov. Greg Abbott back down and revoke the wrench he threw into truck traffic at the border?

          Because it caused produce to rot and manufacturers to gasp for precious parts?

          Because it broke the law – trade and borders being Congress' responsibility?

          Because it was the biggest black eye since policy makers had to admit Texas was not impervious to winter?

          All are theories. Here's mine: New Mexico just legalized marijuana.

          That's right. And you know what that means: Texas has some arresting to do.

          So, summon all flying monkeys. Get the dungeons ready.

          On the subject of trade, New Mexico is about to have a harvest. Texas will show though steely resolve that incarceration is its most important product.

          New Mexico is acknowledging that pot shops are a ton better for public health than people behind bars.

          Colorado came to realize this 10 years ago with legalization – voters making an end run on the Legislature with a referendum.

          No doubt New Mexicans observed the amazing commercial revival of Trinidad, Colo., the first Colorado city to its north on I-25.

          The better times are about more than weed, but it is the most obvious jolt, as any visitor will see with all the refreshed storefronts there.

          So, get ready for better times, Clayton, N.M. Get ready, Tucumcari, Clovis and Hobbs.

          And get ready, Texas penal industrial complex.

          A lot of Americans are aghast at what has happened to Texas' own Brittney Griner, the Baylor star locked in limbo in Russia for alleged possession of hash oil.

          What say, Texans? How about you, Arizonans and Oklahomans?

          The fact is, what she now endures differs only by degree from what happens in the Land of the Free.

          A few years ago, I interviewed an Oklahoma man who was sentenced to 93 years in federal prison in Texas for growing marijuana in his basement for medicinal purposes.

          His hands had grown purplish and gnarled from rheumatoid arthritis. He didn't want to be amped up on opioids to deal with it. That didn't matter to prosecutors.

          A judge finally reduced his sentence. Yet his horrible crime cost him four years of his life. How ridiculous.

          Colorado recently expunged wholesale a mass of arrests and incarcerations for crimes involving pot.

          What a waste of taxpayers' money. What a waste of human potential.

          The people who fought legalization have not been able to convince Coloradans that they made a mistake in 2012. Meanwhile, the industry produced a windfall that helped the state balance its books and pay for schools.

          Yes, legalization is good for the economy, not just because of the new business it generates but also because of the wasted law enforcement and corrections costs.

          Generations of hypocrisy have trailed the prohibition on pot, with alcohol causing far more human destruction.

          It is particularly outrageous for anyone to have a criminal record for an act that now is legal in 18 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

          Back to Texas embarrassment at the Mexico border.

          It was highly reminiscent of Greg Abbott's quest as attorney general to demonstrate that his state was awash with illegal voting. No, it wasn't.

          This time a pointless, showboating Abbott's caused trucks to stack up for miles but found zero drugs, no contraband, no illegal entrants.

          Rats! So, send the winged hordes up to Texline, to Farwell, to Pine Springs and all Texas points along the New Mexico state line. Surely someone smelling funny can get hauled into headquarters and Texans can be made to feel safer.

          Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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