Before I left Albuquerque
, I marched in its Million Marijuana March.
Oh, wait. Did I say Million Marijuana March? I meant "Forty People Getting Baked as Fuck on the Sidewalk March." My bad.
I think my irritation is showing. Let me explain.
I had called a friend of mine from work, who informed me of the march. I, for one, am very much in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana, and yes, the eventual legalization. I'm also in favor of organized, peaceful protest of these ridiculous laws. So I got up, took a couple bong rips before I left, as I didn't plan on smoking again until after I was back home, and headed out to the march.
You see, prosecuting people for smoking marijuana in the privacy of their own homes is pretty stupid, but I could see why a lot of people wouldn't want to be around it in public. The smoke has a powerful odor, for one thing. For another, it is intoxicating, and we as a society don't particularly have a liking for people drinking in the street either. It is expected that this activity take place either in your home, or in specially set aside places. So there's a precedence. Not to mention, you know, common courtesy. If you're going to get high, do so in your own home, your own car (low doses if you're driving, please), or in a place where such activities are openly encouraged. Not on the street, not on other people's property without permission, and definitely not on public property.
Apparently I was the only person there who had thought of these things.
I arrived at the UNM campus, the starting point of the march. The people I was there with immediately fired up a joint, took a couple of puffs, and offered it to me.
A cursory look around revealed that everyone, with the exception of myself, was smoking, either joints or large colorful glass pipes. Every now and then people would yell out stunning witticisms at bypassers such as "Don't be shy, let's get high!" Eventually some wit came up with "I'm not shy, I am high!"
So it was with this politically charged and insightful commentary that we began the march. I think the group, judging from the haze of smoke around them, could have dropped a rhino from fifty paces.
I hung towards the back, somewhat embarrased to be associated with them. I don't remember much of what was on the signs they were carrying, aside from one with a picture of a marijuana leaf emblazoned with the slogan "Don't Fear the Reefer." I mainly just remember the group walking down the sidewalk, chanting as loud as they could, over and over, "Don't be shy, let's get high!" while steadily leaving a trail of smoke behind them. For fuck's sake, I thought to myself, Getting high isn't the point, you idiots! The point is that people are being prosecuted, people are going to jail, people are being torn from their families, all over a plant that presented a threat to paper and lumber companies. This isn't about getting high, this is about ending the injustice of prosecuting a victimless crime! Don't you GET IT?!
None of them did, I think. At one point, some people took down their sign so they could roll a joint on it. A man carried around a marijuana seedling, shoving it in people's faces and saying, "Don't be scared, it's just a plant." A few people stopped on the front doorsteps of shops to roll a joint, or smoke a bowl. Throughout the march, I was the only person who abstained from smoking on the sidewalk of a public street just a few feet from people's front porches and shops.
Does not one of you understand that it is common courtesy to not smoke, especially an illegal substance, on someone else's property without permission? I thought glumly. Does not one of you understand that honestly trying to make a political statement about the absurdity of prosecuting a victimless crime while openly perpetrating the crime in question, and very rudely, makes us look silly? Civil disobedience is one thing, but this would be stupid and puerile if marijuana were legal!
Occasionally, a police car would drive by, ordering us to stay on the sidewalk. I think they were a bit exasperated with the whole thing. I didn't blame them.
I was beginning to understand why people don't like stoners. If this pack was any indication, we're a bunch of inconsiderate morons with nothing better to say than "Don't be shy, let's get high!"
Finally, the march ended at a park somewhere in downtown Albuquerque. I was somewhat amused to note that a vendor selling ice cream bars noticed our gathering, and immediately brought his cart over to us. There's a man who knew a business opportunity when he saw one, and believe you me, he made a killing. There were a couple of pop/punk bands playing. I quietly made my leave when I noticed that the group was smoking within 20 yards of a playground where young children were playing. A few of the parents took my lead, taking their children with them. Again, I didn't blame them.
I suppose I was hoping for something with a purpose. From my estimation, most of the people were there to get high in public, which isn't an activity I particularly approve of. Your property, yes. Someone else's private property with permission, yes. The sidewalk? Not so much. In a public park, right next to a playground? Fuck no. Discretion is a virtue, I think, a point that was lost on this bunch. The only thing they showed everyone was that pot smokers would be inconsiderate en masse if given the opportunity to do so legally. I would have absolutely no argument if we as a society were to fine people heavily for the type of behavior these people showed. Hell, I might even applaud. Just stop throwing us in jail for smoking in our armchairs, please.
I think the next time the Million Marijuana March comes around, I'll take that time and write to my senator instead.