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There Is A First Time For Everything

November 7, 2005 Drug Policy, Politics/Policy 12 Comments

Everyone goes through a long list of first times in their lives — walking, going to school, riding a bike, flying, etc. Over the weekend, at age 38, I took my first hit of pot.

The when and where isn’t important. Neither is the how and why.

Marijuana is not an urban drug. Cannabis can be found throughout the world everywhere from the most rural places to the most urban and everywhere in between. Even in the posh suburbs.

Unfortunately our laws don’t seem to distinguish between a simple joint and crack. The dealers, users and social implications in an urban context are radically different.

Drugs — hard drugs — are indeed an urban problem. Not that crack & cocaine don’t exist in other places. It is the open presence of drug dealing in the city that you simply don’t see in other places.

I’ve witnessed, first hand, various drug transactions. In at least two former residences I have had drug dealing across the street from me. Spotting the deal became routine — you can see a lookout on the corner, the person that takes the money and then another person that is radioed to give them their merchandise.

If I wanted any sort of hard drug today I can think of several corners within a mile where I’d find plenty. The police know the same locations but seem helpless to do anything about it. These dealers move from place to place seemingly on a monthly basis yet hang out at the same corners.

I’m not even going to pretend that I have a full understanding of the complexity of the issue. I do not.

What I do know is I have many friends that partake of a hit of pot now and then. They are responsible citizens and far from being pot heads. They do not drive around looking for some dealer on a street corner. Their suppliers likely don’t carry guns or engage in gang warfare to protect turf.

Another first happened last week. Denver, known as the mile high city, became the first U.S. city to decriminalize the possession of a small amount of marijuana. Colorado law, however, still criminalizes the possession regardless of quantity. From USA Today:

Mason Tvert, who led the Denver campaign for legalized pot, said he will encourage people who are charged under state law to fight their arrests in court.

In Colorado, having an ounce of marijuana or less is punishable by a $100 fine but no jail time. “It’s like a speeding ticket, and only a fraction of people end up going to court over it,” said Tvert, founder of SAFER, or Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation.

Tvert said his group also will seek a state initiative to license and regulate the sale of marijuana. His campaign argued that legalized pot is a safer alternative, considering the problems that arise from alcohol abuse such as violent crime and health risks.

I think it is time we differentiate between soft and hard drugs in our laws and enforcement policies.

– Steve


Currently there are "12 comments" on this Article:

  1. Most of the people who buy hard drugs in the city are white people from the county.

    Here’s a story about heroin that ran on KSDK a couple of years ago.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Our neighborhood is conveniently located between I-44 and I-64 (US40) and is an ideal location for residents of the county to make a quick deal. I wish they would come to our neighborhood for more constructive reasons.

  3. anonymous says:

    party at steve’s tonite

  4. anonymous 2 says:

    just don’t bogart the snax

  5. Did you all catch what time Steve posted this entry?

  6. Michael Allen says:

    Thought you were afraid of heights…

    [REPLY – LOL. Yes, I am afraid of heights and I have had fear about getting high. But, “a life lived in fear is a life half lived.” – SLP]

  7. Claire Nowak-Boyd says:

    “Most of the people who buy hard drugs in the city are white people from the county.”

    As former Forest Park Southeast resident, I have to second Brian’s post. A lot of the people we saw patronizing the creepy dealers on the next block were white folks in SUVs who quickly drove in the direction of a highway onramp when they were done.

    I also wonder, as someone who lived in a suburb for quite a few years, if the lack of open dealing in the burbs is partially due to the complete and utter lack of street life in such places.

  8. maggie says:

    “Their suppliers likely don’t carry guns or engage in gang warfare to protect turf.”

    Hmmm,is there really such a thing as a “responsible” drug dealer? I’ve had this discussion before and would like more input.

    I really don’t care if an adult wants to partake, my concern is with the criminal element that’s been created as a result of the War on Drugs. Even if the guy you buy from isn’t packing heat, what about the guy he got it from? Drugs often go through many hands before it reaches the end-user. Any thoughts?

    [REPLY – I don’t know enough about the inner workings of the drug trade to say one way or another. What is interesting is the argument put forth by groups trying to legalize marijuana — that pot is far less dangerous than alchohol. Based on my own observations I’d say that is true. People home brew beer all the time. If marijuana is legalized at certain quantities you might get someone growing a plant or two for their own consumption.

    During prohibition on alchohol you got the criminal element running moonshine from coast to coast. Once prohibition was repealed the criminal element was significantly reduced if not eliminated altogether.

    I think it is time for a healthy and open discussion on the subject of marijuana. – SLP]

  9. jyoseph says:

    Alcohol, in my opinion, is far more dangerous. We could start there. . .

  10. serious this time says:

    look all I know is that weather it be white people, black people, or what ever color in between; people like drugs. It does not matter what way the drugs are served to the community, weather it be with or without a gun and people standing on the corner, everybody in every community is getting their share. Also one reason that you may see people standing on the corner serving drugs is because that is their job. selling drugs is their 9-5 (and later than that). The people that sell drugs in those rich white commuinties or country white communities dont have to worry about money flowing in to their household and them being the only person to keep the rent or morgage paid. they go sell their drugs and go home to sleep with their wifes or husbands. they kiss their kids goodnight in their sweet suburban homes and even go to a real job in the morning. selling drugs is some extra money on the side.

  11. T says:

    How much of the “alcohol is more dangerous” argument is really related to the availability and social acceptability of alcohol? If pot were made legal there might be just as many problems.

  12. MG Hathaway says:

    Legalize St. Louis! launches decriminalization initiative in the City of St, Louis on Feb 21, 2009.

    weed 2.0


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