US CONTEMPLATING CANNABIS LEGALIZATION
Wow, we are already on Part 4! I bet I could keep this up another 46 states and add Puerto Rico and perhaps the USVI (that’s the US Virgin Islands, that we sometimes claim, if it suits us). Interestingly enough, I have taken Marijuana TO the Bahamas, Freeport NOT Nassua. I (or rather we, my late husband was the adventurer) took two joints over in his cigarette pack. It was 1992 and we went straight through customs with just a stamp on the old passport. He smoked (I didn’t smoke back then) them in a public park behind a grove of trees, near a golf course. We did not get caught. He smoked them both in the three days we were there and there was nothing left for the little Beagle Drug Sniffing Dog to alert on. If there was any residue, other people’s was stronger because he hardly lingered over our stuff.
And just for fun facts: In 1971, my first husband flew 2lbs of brick (Marijuana) back from Thailand on a commercial flight. It was right before the DB Cooper incident so you just got on the plane, no check points, no security of any kind. Anyway, he bought his mother a “tiki-like” god statue and hollowed it out. He wrapped the Marijuana in foil and stuffed it inside. To that, he added a cement base. Painted the whole thing black with lead based paint. Carried it on like a prized carry on. I hear, no one gave him a look. No reaction … at all. Gave it to his mother who, I believe, had it to her dying day. One night, when the family was out; he took it off the mantle, removed the base and retrieved his “goodies.” Put it back together and replaced it on the mantle. Only very few know of this. Or knew of this. Now, everyone who reads this, knows of this. BUT. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!! Laws have changed DRASTICALLY!! You will, no doubt, go to jail. I am only telling you because this is a blog and I feel a blog is a mix of useful information and interesting facts about the writer.
That leads us to our state of the day, Utah. Why Utah, you ask? Good question! I chose Utah because it is the LDS capital of the world. I say that only because I was interested in how religion, any religion, affects cannaabis legalization laws. Last time, I touched on the Bible Belt but did not really go into the religious angle. This time, I will….
In my research, the first thing I found was, yes there is Marijuana smoking going on in UT. Articles I have read cover both young and old smoking it. But none (if very few) tell their Elders (a ranking within the church itself, not necessarily an older person). The official view of the LDS church is the same as it is with any “mind altering substance” (and this includes coffee), just don’t do it. Just say no! This is based on the biblical view of “the body is a temple.” Haven’t really thought much about it, but doesn’t that pertain to tattoos also? But I have personally, with my own eyes, seen tattooed Mormons. Makes me wonder about the religion itself. Polygamy, for instance. Some (ok, very few and a select sect) do and some don’t. I have seen Mormon kids in my school, when I was a teen, chugging on a cola drink or cup of coffee. I have seen them, God forbid, light up a cigarette. All while attending Sunday services and playing on the basketball team and what ever other fun activities they have to offer. In fact, around Portola CA, the missionaries get use of a small car instead of bicycles (I guess because the houses are pretty spread out and it snows), as I walked by one of their cars, I happened to glance inside. The men inside were passing a joint. Ok, it could have been a cigarette but they were passing SOMETHING frowned upon by their religion.
So taking this from a religious point of view has led us no where. Let’s go back and look at the legal standpoints, shall we? Seems like simple possession of less than an ounce is a misdeamenor and punishable by 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine. This moves up to a felony at 1 pound. That felony will net you 5 years (at this point, my guess is you are doing state time and no longer in county lock up) and a $5000 fine. And sale, any amount, even a joint is 5 years and $5000. Move that sale to within a 1000 feet of a school (or let a kid see it anywhere) and that gets you what is called an “increased penalty” and an “increased fine.” While we’re on the subject, let’s move on to paraphenalia. Possession of, misdeamenor, 6 months, $1000. Sales, misdeamenor, one year (maybe county, maybe state) and $2500 fine. Sell it to a minor (yeah, I know SHE looked 18. He had a bald spot on his head, he must have been 18. Or ok, they had fake ID) and that jumps to a felony with 5 years hard time and $5000 fine. Oh yeah, ANY conviction pulls your driver’s license for 6 months.
Seems that Utah and the LDS church prior to 1915, were more concerned with the polygamy issues. They went back and forth on that until they finally decided against it in 1914. That seemed to leave them free to worry about cannabis legalization. Which they really didn’t fuss about until someone saw someone actually with it. It was then that it was blamed on the Native Americans. “Hey, HE gave it to me!! It’s not my fault!!” That type of arguement. But in October of 1915, Utah passed the very first antiMarijuana law in the country (specific to Marijuana). This may or may not be true. Every site I went to echos this same fact, however several of them speak of it being a “widely spread myth.” None support any other facts to the contrary or offer any other historical facts. For the record, prior to 1915, as early as 1903, there were some Food and Drug Administration laws encompassing Marijuana in a LOT of states.
So there you have it. The current legalities and the history of these legalities.
My views. I have been to Utah. Have never smoked there or attempted to buy. Like I have said, I’m from CA and am used to their laws. Even when the laws were “harsh,” I don’t think they were as bad as the states I am mentioning now in my research. More and more, the more I read and research and study, the more I see the obvious misinformation out there about cannabis legalization in general. The obvious waste of state and federal funds that goes into arresting, convicting and housing offenders. More and more I see that prohibition must be lifted NOW.