John Hazlehurst

John Hazlehurst

In the grand panorama of American history, one thing is very clear: We love to make laws that forbid the sale, manufacture or possession of anything that arouses the ire of transient political majorities. Such laws invariably target millions of citizens who believe that the banned goods are actually beneficial.

Those so targeted tend to close ranks, fight their tormentors and cheerfully continue on their evil ways — and the fights never quite end. Zealots on both ends of the political spectrum have diligently gone after alcohol, cannabis or guns in the past, and do to this day.

Consider our doughty Congressman Doug Lamborn, who is rarely outflanked on the right. Here’s an excerpt from a statement his office released after a faintly bipartisan House majority passed the MORE bill, removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

“In Colorado, we have seen the devastating effects of marijuana. Dispensaries sit on the corners that once held churches, often down the street from schools, and our homeless population is growing by the day. Even worse, our country is in the midst of a serious drug use crisis. We cannot pass extreme and unwise legislation that will only exacerbate this problem as well as infringe upon states’ rights. The MORE Act opens the floodgates to marijuana cultivation, distribution, and sale across America. 

“Furthermore, this bill would retroactively expunge federal marijuana convictions, potentially leading to the early release of convicted drug traffickers. We cannot continue to allow bad actors and criminal organizations to exploit our nation’s addiction crisis or endanger our youth. Even worse, the expanded use of marijuana amongst kids leads to extreme addiction rates and potentially long-term effects on the brain and mental health.”

Compare Lamborn’s stern but measured warning with Federal Bureau of Narcotics chief Harry Anslinger’s 1930s attack on the demon weed, “…the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms. ... Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid specters. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man…”

And what about demon rum? The formal Prohibition movement started in 1826, gained millions of adherents and peaked in 1918, when legislatures in 46 of 48 states endorsed the 18th Amendment, banning the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages. Much to the relief of millions of tipplers, it was repealed in 1933. And although alcohol production, sale and use has since been restricted by every level of government, a return to Prohibition seems unlikely — as unlikely as, say, the elevation of Donald Trump to the presidency might have seemed after Barack Obama’s victory in 2008.

And sure, firearms are deadly and many feel that the country would be a better place without them — but tell that to the millions who cherish their weapons and believe the Constitution guarantees the right to own them.

Despite Lamborn’s despairing plea, cannabis is here to stay in Colorado — as are alcohol and guns. I plead guilty on all counts. In the numbing, endless sameness of pandemic sheltering at home, life is vastly improved by an evening half gummy washed down with a nice glass of California chardonnay. It’s also nice to know that we can protect ourselves if necessary, although our three big dogs are an effective first line of defense. And thanks to decades of slogging on typewriters and keyboards, I’ve got carpal tunnel pain that only a THC- infused salve can alleviate. When the pandemic calms down, we’ll jump

in the red 2004 T-Bird and head for our favorite saloon.

We’d better do it while we can, because a different era of banning stuff is in the works. If well-meaning gasoline prohibitionists have their way, the burbling murmur of the big V-8 will be forever stilled, replaced by the lifeless hum of electric motors. The beautiful little convertible will sit forlornly in the garage, but not now. It’s a beautiful winter day, we’re on the road and we’ll have fun, fun, fun till the guv’mint takes the T-Bird away!

John Hazlehurst, whose great-grandfather came to Colorado in 1859, is a Colorado Springs native. He has worked as a reporter/columnist for the Indy since 1997 and the Business Journal since 2006.