Marijuana Is A Gateway Drug…To Junk Food, Pink Floyd and “Clifford the Big Red Dog””

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According to the Chicago Reader, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez doesn’t want to legalize marijuana because it is a “gateway drug.”

The latest to hedge is Cook County state’s attorney Anita Alvarez, who says she’s opposed to “decriminalizing” or legalizing marijuana possession even though budget cuts have left her office stretched thin. “I think marijuana can be a gateway drug,” she says.

In a sign of where things stand, Alvarez and other stakeholders aren’t just concerned about changing marijuana policies—the very word “decriminalization” has them on edge. Technically it means that criminal penalties for possession have been removed or even lessened, but to nervous politicians, it sounds too much like endorsing the use of dope.

Alvarez, for instance, says she’s “willing to discuss” giving police the option of issuing tickets to some pot possessors instead of arresting them, an idea that's been floated by Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy and a group of aldermen. That’s essentially what Evanston approved, and it was widely understood as a form of decriminalization.

Alvarez is correct that marijuana is a gateway drug, but since people who study law and plan a career in politics rarely endanger their futures by smoking a joint, she’s unclear on what it’s a gateway to.

Your Ward Room Blogger got high a few times a long, long time ago as a teenager, so I can tell you: Marijuana is a gateway drug to…junk food.

After I smoked that joint, my mouth felt pasty and dry. My stomach felt empty. I drank a Pepsi to lubricate my tongue and ate a bag of tortilla chips to satisfy my hunger. It’s also a gateway drug to Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. In high school, I went to a college friend’s dorm room, where we got high and listened to the all of Dark Side of the Moon, followed by Natty Dread and Legalize It. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s probably happened in a lot of dorm rooms. Marijuana is also a gateway drug to watching Judge Joe Brown, Anderson and Clifford the Big Red Dog all afternoon. And a gateway drug to sitting in your room surfing the Internet for hours. As well as a gateway drug to getting fired from your janitorial job and living with your mother at age 45, which is what happened to the biggest dope dealer I ever knew. That’s why I quit. Maybe I'll try it again when I'm retired.

Leaving aside the actual effects of marijuana, Alvarez doesn’t want to decriminalize marijuana because it would be bad for business. Fewer pot busts means fewer court cases, which means fewer assistant state’s attorneys, which means fewer jobs for Alvarez to hand out, and fewer employees to work for her re-election. So it’s in her interest to call marijuana a gateway drug. Let’s just be clear that the gate leads to a very comfortable couch.

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