A few months ago I was walking down the street in Portland, Maine. A few people were wandering around with clipboards collecting signatures for petitions. I have a love/hate relationship with these people. On one hand, I might agree wholeheartedly with your cause. On the other, you’re pissing me off by bothering me on the street and on principle I won’t sign your petition, anyway. I would much rather go to the organizations that I support directly and sign a petition through them. I don’t even know if any of those people were legit.
But anyway, one of them stopped me and asked if I believed that marijuana should be legalized in Maine and regulated the same way as alcohol. I told him I would think about it and we parted ways. Since then, I have thought about it from time to time. My answer is no. I wouldn’t support Maine regulating marijuana the same way as alcohol. That isn’t because I don’t support legalizing Marijuana. I do, and I think this should be taken to the federal level. My problem with his petition is that I don’t like the way Maine regulates alcohol.
I don’t think Maine necessarily over-regulates alcohol. I just don’t like the regulations that we have in place. For example, I firmly believe that by lowering the drinking age fewer people of that age group would drink too much. By no longer making it taboo, they won’t be so tempted. I know it would be naive to expect that change to take effect across the board but it would have some affect. You’ll notice that I’m not spouting off a rhetoric about the freedom to drink at an earlier age. People’s brains are still forming during their teenage years, even into their early twenties, especially the parts that affect their judgement. It’s for that same reason I take the opinion that we should stick an age on energy drinks as well. But I’m also familiar with what Anton Szandor LaVey called “The Law of the Forbidden.”* There’s an age when kids will want to still be kids, and when they’ll want to rebel. It varies from kid to kid and as somebody who’s clearly not a scientist, I won’t offer an age. But surely, if they can smoke at eighteen, why can’t they drink at eighteen as well?
Here’s another thing. in Maine you can’t buy alcohol between one and six in the morning Monday through Saturday, and one and nine on Sunday. What kind of Puritan bullshit is that? If I’m allowed to drink it, why am I not allowed to buy it? You could say that one could buy it ahead of time. That’s true. You could also say that there are probably only twelve convenience stores in the state that are open between one to six in the morning. That’s also a good point, although probably not quite as true. Still, that’s all besides the point. As long as you’re not drunk when trying to buy it, and you’re buying it from a store that’s up to code and has a license to sell it, there’s no good reason to restrict the sale. But hey, I can’t complain about that one too much. If I’m up that late and really want to buy a beer, I’ll just drive to the city next door that’s in New Hampshire.
I also take the stance that we should be allowed to drink in public. I don’t mean to be drunk in public. I’ll give the state that one. But consider this: a bar can serve you alcohol. Then at some point the bar has to cut you off because you’re too drunk. By that point, you’ve crossed the established threshold of when you can be drunk in public. So why should the law be any different when you’re walking down the street or having a picnic in the park? And don’t give me the argument that you don’t want your children watching people drinking beer. That’s a whole other blog post that quite frankly, I don’t have the energy for by this point.
There’s other points I could make but you get the idea. I think we need to loosen up with both alcohol and marijuana. If you take my above arguments, you could substitute the word “alcohol” with “marijuana” and my opinion won’t change any. So no, I don’t think Maine should regulate marijuana like alcohol. I think they should start from scratch with both of them.
*Even though LaVey referred specifically to sex, I believe the same rules apply to anything society considers taboo.