Seed Views

Tru Blu: Seed View for May 15, 2013

20130515-214909.jpgElectronic cigarettes got me thinking about something. I know these have been out for a few years now, but I’ve really started to notice them more and more in the past year. They are a fascinating product that really speaks to the resiliency of our great nation. By resiliency, I mean our need to alter our mind, take wild risks, and get fucked up without being bothered by the “man”. I know e-cigarettes won’t get you zooted, but you get the point.

We are an addictive culture. We absolutely love our vices and we will do anything, invent anything, and buy anything that will allow us the ability to continue with our vices even after the government puts regulations in place to curb our vices. There’s good intentions with the regulations, but people just don’t want hear that shit. I get that too. I rarely get political with my stupid ramblings, but I honestly get both sides arguments. What’s more interesting to me is the unbridled passion and fortitude typically displayed by people who don’t want to be told they can’t do something that probably isn’t very good for them. Again, I get it, but if we’d just put one quarter of the same effort we expend into making sure we can continue to smoke in public places into something like energy efficiency or improved education, we’d be a better society. Where’s the fun in that though, right?

Let’s run through some of the classic vices, the subsequent attempt at trying to curtail it, then the adaptation to work around the system in an effort to continue fueling that need.

We begin with Prohibition. It was illegal to consume alcohol in this country for 13 years. 13 years?!?! That is such a bizarre restriction that it doesn’t even seem as though it actually existed. There’s no one alive anymore who was affected by Prohibition (at least someone who can talk about it in detail), but I do have a personal anecdote of what it’s like (shocking, I know).

During a 6-month Navy deployment in 1996, I was in Kuwait for a week. Kuwait is a dry country in more ways than one. It is dry, as in there isn’t a blade of grass between there and Scotland. It is also dry, as in alcohol is forbidden. Now, go ahead and drop off 800 Sailors and Marines in the middle of Kuwait during peacetime and tell them to enjoy themselves. 800 guys, in unison, were quoted as saying, “No fucking alcohol? Now what the fuck are we supposed to do? This is fucking bullshit!” That’s an actual quote.

We could barely make it a week. I can’t believe an entire country made it 13 years. Oh wait, they didn’t have to. Why? Because everybody drank anyhow. Not only did they drink, but they drank alcohol that was unregulated (hooch, bathtub gin, moonshine, etc.) and actually caused more problems than when it was legal. Prohibition is and was wrong on so many levels that it’s actually easier to comprehend the concept drunk than it is sober.

Let’s look at gambling. Gambling has been around in this country since the first settlers sailed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Topeka, KS back in the 1940’s. People have gambled on everything from the coin toss in the Super Bowl to who’s going to win Best-in-Show at the San Juan Capistrano 10-year-old Girls Beauty Pageant. We are obsessed with gambling, but, for years, it was really only legal to gamble in Nevada and, I think, New Jersey. We fixed that, though, and how did we do it? By talking the Native Americans into another shady deal, that’s how.

We basically said, “Listen up Indians, I know we’ve fucked you over since day one when we landed in Topeka in the 1940’s. I know we’ve promised a bunch of shit, time and time again, about you getting to keep your land, only to kick your ass out so we can erect another strip mall with a Long John Silver’s. I know you’re living obscenely below the poverty level and drown your sorrows in firewater, but we have a deal for you. Why don’t you build a casino on your land, allow us on it so we can spend our factory wages and double-down on 11, and we’ll let you keep most of the money? Does that sound OK with you?” Of course they said yes. Indian casinos are all over the place now and they’re reaping the financial benefits all because we want to play Keno at the Turning Stone. Once again, we found our way around a problem.

How about marijuana? Technically, it’s still illegal in most states, but that’s changing, isn’t it? It’s really just a matter of time before it’s legal across the country. That hasn’t stopped those who love marijuana and THC with finding new and creative ways to get around the regulations. And when I say new and creative, I mean new and creative. Medical marijuana is now legal in roughly half the states. Many more will probably be there soon enough.

It’s obscene how little a patient has to try in order to get a prescription for medical marijuana. “Doc, I close my eyes and all I see is that butt-ugly black-haired Real Housewives of New Jersey and I’m convinced she wants to kick my ass. Can I have some weed?” Or “Doc, my stomach hurts and the only thing that makes it feel better is food and I find that I eat more food when I smoke weed, so can I have some weed?” With the new and creative ways, you don’t even need to smoke weed to get high. You just suck on a ring pop or let a breath strip dissolve on your tongue to get the same sensation. In the words of the great Yakov Smirnoff, “What a country!”. We’ve effectively worked our way around the system so much in the last 20 years that, like Prohibition, we’re on the verge of this being legal forever.  And, at the same time, we’ve put 10 times the amount of effort into getting a minty-fresh high than we have into curbing the obesity issue in this country.

Which brings me back to cigarettes. Tobacco has really gotten the major shaft over the last 15 years. I remember living in San Diego in the late 1990’s when smoking was banned in bars and restaurants. It was almost mass anarchy for a couple months, but eventually became the norm, not only in California, but damn near everywhere in this country now. At the same time, the price of a pack of cigarettes went from about $2.50 a pack to almost $10.00 a pack. But tobacco users are a resilient bunch and they weren’t going to go down without a nicotine-fueled fight.

Now we have the electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. No nasty second-hand smoke as everything is an odorless vapor. Smokers get the nicotine fix they’re craving and everyone else doesn’t have to smell like they rubbed an ashtray on their khakis. Everybody wins. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t that we, as a society, were worried about what people were doing to their own bodies when we banned them everywhere. It was to get rid of that horrific smell that permeated our clothes, our cars, our workplace, and our restaurants. Smokers found a work-around with these new devices. Yes, it is a bizarre contraption and I’d be lying if I said I had no interest in trying one. We shall see how this plays out. I’m intrigued.

Before I conclude, I just want to admit that I’m writing this off-the-cuff, without any fact-checking, so if I’m off with some proclamations, it’s because I chose not to use the unregulated internet to do my research.

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