Stirring the pot: Shotgun tactics

“Now I have no independent confirmation of this, but…”

This is one of the last comments I heard from two local Cheech and Chongs concerning a President Bush plot to land on a part of the moon where we once found part of a robot head. And there might possibly be pictures of the ancient city that once stood on the surface.

After a few thoughtful words on U.N. policies regarding marijuana and the strategic planning NORML has done to get pot on the Eureka Springs Nov. 7 ballot, this is what the conversation diddles down to – strange superstitions and governmental witchcraft.

Holy Mary Jane. These kids have smoked themselves paranoid.

Somehow a couple of degenerates from the campus chapter of NORML infiltrated my house and were talking marijuana politics as they perverting my lungs. Through the cloud of smoke hovering in the little cellar, I could hear one of them tell me, without the hint of braggadocio, that the initiative has grabbed the attention of the Chicago Tribune and even the Eureka Springs Lovely Citizen.

The two would have reminded me of door-to-door Jehovah’s witnesses had they not been high as kites and talking conspiracy theories. But still, by the end of the night, the invitation had been given to attend the weekly NORML meeting.

And I never refuse an offer.

Coming Down

Sitting at the long conference table welcoming everyone was the NORML president Jordan Dickerson, looking like a commander-in-chief with numerous piles of neatly stacked papers and handouts at his fingertips. Before the meeting even began there seemed to be signs of a fake in the room – a pizza faced kid with a kick-me-I’m-stupid grin on his face. He snorted and chuckled, “So, uh, what is marijuana?”

Jordan didn’t even look up. This unassuming college student with a skinny frame and glasses looks like a poster child for Warcraft and advanced calculus but he spouts off a near-perfect, one minute sound clip of the benefits of cannabis salvias, all the while shuffling and organizing the group’s pamphlets.

Of the 15 kids at the NORML meeting, there were only one or two hemp necklaces and most didn’t look as if they needed a haircut anytime soon. What the hell was going on? Where was the over powering scent of pachouli oil and Bob Marley T-shirts?

Something was wrong desperately wrong here. This wasn’t a group of high-minded individuals who gathered to listen to the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd. These cats were organized and educated – a very dangerous mix for those who have the vigor of youth.

Aside from a few chuckles and suffocating puns that came with the discussion of NORML’s upcoming bake sale, the next hour was spent drilling members on how to respond to anti-pot questions, sharing information on First Amendment Rights and discussing medical marijuana. The material was dry to the point of boring, even if you were stoned.

Daisy Picking

The proposition on the ballot, like the meeting, is boring on paper. But the ingeniousness of it is overwhelming. Jordan said it was taken from a Columbia, MO., initiative that passed in 2004.

There are five parts to the whole initiative including making possession of a “misdemeanor amount of marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia” a purely finable offence with no arrests or prosecution.

Because of federal and state laws, this part of the initiative is null-and-void but another part of the measure says the provisions are “severable,” which means if one part of the initiative is cut it doesn’t exclude the other parts.

And the other parts?

Marijuana is a “low priority” for law enforcement, which essentially makes it as harmless as jaywalking.

This initiative is a shotgun approach to a larger problem with the War on Drugs. NORML is simply throwing an entire piece of legislation of theirs and hoping something sticks. The fact that Eureka Springs was NORML’s second choice shows the tiniest lack of foresight. The town is infamous for having pot gardens and I’ve heard more than one story of kids simply walking into the pastures and picking psilocybin mushrooms like they were daises. But the kids are on to something with the effort they’ve put in.

As Ryan Durham, the main campaigner for the initiative, said, “We just want it on the record … it’s a little more symbolic. It’s going to send a strong message [to officials in Little Rock].”

Ryan was also smart enough to consider the “other” part of the town that caused him a little worry.

“I’m a little concerned. They have a seven-story statue of Jesus there. So I don’t know.”

A Different Era

There’s an interesting dynamic to this group besides defying the normal image of potheads. Although it claims “over 150” registered members, everyone at the NORML meeting was comprised of clean-looking, middle class white men. There were no minorities or women, all of which face more social problems than your average WASP could ever comprehend.

While this NORML group’s critics could and have said that these over-privileged crackers should be investigating more pertinent and life-threatening problems, these little punks are on to something.

The civil rights era is dead, filled now with unimaginative and passé showman like Al Sharpton and mediocre musicians, like Kayne West, who have nothing more than a two-second opinion.

The feminist movement, as well, seems to be defined by outdated 1960s rhetoric and the washout sexual revolutions exposed by Erica Jung.

During an election season in Arkansas where nearly all candidates tout their NRA status to a bunch of backwater, redneck bible humping George Wallace runaways, and a national election where Democrats, who once stood up for blacks and social liberties, scavenge for votes on “centrist” positions by approving “homeland security” and “anti-abortion” laws, it’s hard to tell these kids with a straight face that they should concern themselves with “more important issues” when neither main political party seems to want to take serious issues serious either.

From the conversations that took place at the NORML meeting, the knowledgably boys are voting Green this election. And I don’t use knowledgeable lightly. These guys display an understanding of federal politics and laws better than most Associated Student Government senators. The research they’ve done concerning marijuana laws has connections to so many other policies in international relations, commerce and security.

While I’m sure the senators and their fellow political junkies are fairly informed, their most appealing attribute is that they know how to “look” like politicians. Their heads might be full of crap but at least they can pick out a good suit and put on the right kind of make-up.

If the NORML boys and their proposition are any indication, minority groups in general can start taking a cue and learn that a well-informed, average-looking group can make more of an impact than a smiling Democrat or a draconian Republican.

Of course, if the proposition fails, then NORML boys will have to keep tokin’ it up in hole-in-the-walls while spouting off the latest conspiracies.

[Original piece available here.]


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