Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Legalize the Stuff

Some things are just wrong. You can’t steal candy from a baby. You can’t intentionally run over a stray dog, and you can’t put grandma in jail.

I know there are some exceptions to the rule. You can lock granny up if she walks into a public place and opens fire on everyone in the room. Lock her up if she gets stopped for drinking while drunk after running over kids crossing the street after school. There are some crimes that are so despicable that age is thrown out the door. Sometimes you have to shake your head and tell the judge to lock grandma up and throw away the key, but boy it’s hard to find a reason to justify locking granny up for the rest of her days.

That’s why it was hard for me to read the story of a couple in their 60s getting busted after sheriff detectives discovered marijuana plants worth a quarter of a million dollars growing in their southwestern Durham home. Benjamin Franklin Harrington, 61, and Annie Harris Harrington, 60 were arrested after detectives found 42 marijuana plants with an estimated street values of $244,440 growing in their home. It’s safe to say the weed wasn’t for personal consumption.

In addition to the weed, detectives confiscated one gram of powder cocaine, two 30-caliber rifles and $760 bucks. No biggie on the rifles and cash. Yeah, I have problems with the cocaine, but the real issue is the cannabis. Grandma and Grandpa may go down for the manufacture and distribution of weed. There is something wrong with this picture.

It reminds me of the arrest of a 65-year old rural Wake County woman on charges of growing five marijuana plants back in 1993. The arrest of Alta Belle Mills sparked a debate that led the News & Observer to write an editorial supporting the legalization of marijuana. Mills was arrested after helicopter surveillance revealed the plants. She received only a suspended sentence, but federal officials sought to seize her mobile home and her eight acres of land under federal forfeiture laws.

The thought of sending a person to the penitentiary for peddling pot is hard for me to swallow. I stopped smoking the stuff back in the early 80s, so I don’t a horse in this race. I had to give it up due to my addiction to more potent drugs. My own issues with recovery aren’t enough to offset the argument in favor of legalizing marijuana.

With that being said, the legalization of marijuana hits me at home due to the number of my personal friends who get high. Many of them function in high places, and would shock the world if word got out about their love of the whacky weed. My opinion has shifted over the years. There was a time when I felt the need to preach abstinence. I taunted the consequences of getting high-jail time, brain damage, poor role modeling, you know the list.

My opinion changed because of all of those friends who use the stuff. That combined with the young black men I know who are either serving time or facing a court date because of weed. It is certain that crimes need to be punished, but, given all of the evidence out there about marijuana, I would rather see law enforcement spend more time dealing with more pressing concerns like unsolved murders.

Given all of those fine outstanding citizens who smoke pot, why not legalize and tax marijuana instead of putting them in jail? There has to be an economic advantage. I’m told that since weed was legalized in California for medical purposes, there are more smoking houses than Starbucks coffee houses. That’s a business success story if I ever heard of one.

I can hear my moralist friends shouting about the need to uphold family values. The problem with that argument is all of us don’t share the same values, and the last time I checked that constitution protects freedom of expression. Our desire to make American a fine Christian nation often gets in the way of making decisions that make good sense.

I have a problem with locking grandma up. Call me insane. Call me too liberal. Call me whatever you want, but putting grandma in jail isn’t a good family value.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Don't Get Sick

There’s nothing worse than being sick when you have work to do. The pile of papers set stacked on my desk begging for attention. The phone kept ringing as people in need begged for me to come out and fix their problems. I was reminded of the scripture, my freaking spirit was willing but my body said no!

It felt like a conspiracy to keep me annoyed and inefficient. The remote control needed batteries and I was too weak to get up and change the channel. Woe is little ole me. Do you feel my pain? I couldn’t write. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t…well, I just couldn’t.

My friends kept calling with their own remedy for the flu. “Get you some Ginger and Coconut Milk soup from Whole Foods and some..,” my friend Dionne demanded. “Get you some vitamin C and chew them,” Tamara, another good friend and member of the church suggested with a passion that made me afraid to say no.

The get you this and get you that exercise was always followed with the same question. “Have you been to see the doctor?” That’s when things got tricky. Given the throb of my head and those dreadful body pains, this was the point I had to consider breaking one of those lofty Commandments. To lie or not to lie, that was the question.

No, I didn’t go to the doctor. I wanted to, but I couldn’t, or, should I say, I wouldn’t because this dude doesn’t have medical insurance. My plight forced me to rethink the national debate on Healthcare reform. Those Tea Baggers and theorist of a socialist takeover have made an assumption that demands a voice stuck on a couch with no remote control. I’m educated, part of that middle class crowd, a respected member of the community (depending on who you ask) and at the age were things like health benefits should be in place.

Like so many others forced to make the decision not to go to the doctor, my situation is the result of a major shift in my life. Gone is the benefit package that protected me from the fear of the bug. It all left me when those good folks decided to get me out of my former life, forcing me to do my own thing. There are countless men and women desirous of the security of healthcare lacking it because of circumstances that make it hard to find a way.

Given my good health, good eating habits and exercise regiment, I get by. President Obama and Michelle talk a lot about prevention. My obsession with locally grown, organic food, my disgust at fast food and my love for food that taste good and that is good for you, keeps me healthier than most my age. With that being said, there is no way to keep that bug away and none of us knows what could come our way.

Alan Grayson got it right when he said the Republican healthcare plan is for you not to get sick. I tried my best to abide within the margins of their agenda-eat right, exercise, don’t smoke, no drugs-but dang it, I still got sick. I got sick and couldn’t go to the doctor because I don’t have health insurance.

Is there a doctor in the house?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Not My Team!

I can take a deep breath and relax now. The past few weeks have been incredibly stressful. No, it wasn’t the ghastly flu that had me trapped on my couch with fever, body aches and a headache that refused to go away. Battling the bug was nothing compared to the outlandish prospect of Rush Limbaugh becoming a minority owner of my St. Louis Rams.

Don’t laugh at me for being a Rams fan. I know the teams play looks more like a scrimmage squad than a NFL team. The only question related to my home team is if they’re worse than the pathetic Oakland Raiders. I take great joy in the demise of the Raiders due to the nasty rivalry they have with my team from the West side of my home state-the Kansas City Chiefs. I hate those Raiders as much as I hate meatloaf. Yuck! Can’t stand the stuff.

My love for the Rams has nothing to do with the Rams. The team of my youth, the St. Louis Cardinals, betrayed me by moving West to Arizona. They packed their bags and left me void of a team on the East side to root for on Sunday’s. That’s a serious heartbreak for a kid groomed in the magic of the Cardiac Kids. My love for Mel Gray began after old dude came to my school and autographed my notebook. Gray was a star for the University of Missouri. He went on to become an all pro with my Cardinals. When he played I remembered that day in class when he took the time to talk to me about the importance of education and having a dream.

After my Cardinals left the Louie, there was talk of the Sweetness becoming a partner in bringing a new team. I lost it when I read the story in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. As much as I loved my Cardinals, the thought of Walter Peyton owning MY team was enough to remove the pain of the exodus to the desert.

So, imagine what it must have felt like when I read the story of Limbaugh’s move to purchase MY team. No he didn’t. No he won’t. I will boycott. I will pick another team. I will fight this one all the way to the…Get my point. I was ready to go to my closet and pull out those fighting gloves. I simply can’t support a team that has that man as a partner.

I’m sure my conservative friends will argue against my passionate refusal. Good ole boys and girls from across the country have come to the Baugh’s defense. To all of the supporters of Black Man Public Enemy Number One, let me make myself perfectly clear. Let me make it so clear that you can feel the angst of a colored man working through some serious issues. That dude disgust me. I’m ashamed he’s from my home state. I understand the genesis of his philosophy. Like I said folks, I’m from Missouri and I have witnessed firsthand the disregard folks like Limbaugh have for people who look like me.

I didn’t call him a racist. I will call him confused. I will challenge anyone to convince me he cares about the state of race relations in this country. Help me get past his attack on Donovan McNabb. Help me move past the anger stirred when he said, on ESPN, that McNabb was over-praised as a quarter-back because he was black. Why would a black football player want to play for him? Why would black fans want to continue to support that team? How could the city of St. Louis get behind a team that has such a divisive voice as one of its owners?

This is different than Jay-Z owning the Nets or Jennifer Lopez and Mark Anthony owning the Miami Dolphins. It’s not the same as Venus and Serena taking their seat as part owners of the Dolphins. I get a thrill out of celebrities participating in the games of life. I’d purchase season tickets to watch the Bobcats get spanked on the court if Janet Jackson was a part owner and showed up at most of the home games. I’m just saying…

I can’t support a man I want to fight because of what he says about me. I can appreciate his right to say what is on his mind. I admire him for making stacks of cash by saying what all those Hillbillies and closet hate addicts want to say in public. It doesn’t take a Harvard PhD to see his popularity is fueled by folks who want to keep folks like me in their rightful place. Do your thang Mr. Baugh. I just don’t want him owning MY team.

With that being said, I would be more than happy if he talked to Al Davis about buying those Oakland Raiders. On second thought, give him a six pack of Bud Light, a plasma TV and a remote control and tell him to watch Monday Night Football. I’d rather not see him in the stands.