First, I’m gonna tell you how drugs can be good. Then, I’m gonna tell you why we should legalize drugs. I might even tell you not to vote. It’s gonna blow your mind.
- Coffee Hunter | facebook.com/coffeehuntervegas | 7425 S Eastern Ave #102, Las Vegas, NV 89123
- Komex Express | www.komexexpress.com | 633 N Decatur Blvd H, Las Vegas, NV 89107
- Chef Marc’s Trattoria | chefmarcstrattoria.com | 8615 W Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89117
- Aces & Ales | acesandales.com | 2801 N Tenaya Way, Las Vegas, NV 89128
- Dino’s | dinoslv.com | 1516 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89104
- Cheetah’s | www.cheetahslasvegas.com | 2112 Western Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89102
- A Visit to the Doctor
For our first MIND ALTERING DRUG, we checked out new spot, Coffee Hunter.
That’s right – I was able to LEGALLY obtain 2 doses of caffeine. You may know it better by one of its street names: coffee, joe, java, mud, brew, Go Juice, the quicker picker upper, sweet juju, rocket fuel, unleaded, cup of Chuck Norris, Trumped-Up-Trickle-Down-Caffenomics, or The C. Okay, I made some of those up.
And I didn’t have to approach a guy on a street, or text this friend-of-a-friend. It wasn’t approved by Big Pharma. I just walked in off the street, and made a perfectly legal exchange.
And that’s what this weekend is going to be about. The legalization/illegalization of drugs is an arbitrary line. Which means it can be redrawn.
This particular drug shop boasts itself third wave, which I’m pretty sure is just some made-up hippy bullshit.
But I don’t care – this place is super cute, and is just the right amount of hipster and modern, and made a great product that the employees seemed really proud of, and was definitely a place I want to go back to and spend an afternoon.
You know me and Las Vegas and fusion. This time, it’s Korean and Mexican.
There’s a couple of these places around town. We went to Komex Express at North Decatur and Washington.
This place was so tasty. And exactly as they claim. There was a healthy representation from both sides, as well as some American, of course.
Chef Marc’s Trattoria
We had a fantastic dinner at Chef Marc’s Trattoria, a spot that just opened up about a year ago at Sahara and Durango.
I wish I could tell you about the menu, but we ordered entirely from the specials – an arugula and blah blah salad, some pasta with something something saffron something, and this ridiculously good veal chop over a bed of some other stuff.
Okay, I’m never very good at repeating this stuff. Here. Here’s a picture. Look at it. Look at it!
The Food Show
It’s funny that I can’t remember it all, because fancy restaurants always do that thing where they recite every ingredient in the dish. “Sir, here we have the two all-beef patties, a special house-prepared sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – on a sesame seed bun.” (See what I did there?) Somewhere along the way, that became associated with fancy meals. Like we don’t trust them or something, and they’re gonna sneak some cheap shit in.
Which is ironic, because these are the same restaurants that do “chef’s tastings” where they do ALL the picking and you’re supposed to TOTALLY trust them.
Naw, just kidding. Of course, the idea of performing mini food theater and listing off the ingredients is because affluent diners are supposed to be well-informed in all things, including fine dining, and thus are interested in hearing all the gory details.
But do you think affluent restaurant goers ever really get to the point where they know what the fuck they’re talking about? “This port wine reduction could’ve used 30 more seconds, don’t you think?” “You went light on the thyme tonight, I see? Interesting.” I think it’s all just a charade that 5% of people enjoy and the rest of us are aspirational. It’s the ritual of the modern dining experience. Like having you taste the wine before more is poured.
The real result of the food oratory is creating false education. Some industries have to deal with customers who are confused into thinking that they’re professionals; some industries don’t. Restaurants have become one of those industries.
Okay, Last Rant
Truffle is good, truffle is great – I love truffle, but it’s ONLY priced ridiculously because it can only be foraged. Supply and demand = price is high. (Yay, business school paid off!) Someone (maybe me?) needs to disrupt the truffle industry by figuring out how to farm truffle for CHEAP and undercut the global market with “American Truffle.” Just saying. Whoever does has a lot of money to be made, and probably all the truffle they can consume. And if you beat me to it, I’m coming after you for a finder’s fee.
Okay, ONE More Food Rant
We kind of turned food into a drug, didn’t we? We don’t just eat for sustenance anymore. We eat carefully concocted dishes made by culinary professionals who have studied food preparation their entire life; dishes comprised of dozens of ingredients which were flown in from numerous states and countries. And it comes so naturally to us at this point that we don’t even pay attention anymore.
Next time you’re at a restaurant, look down at your plate. Look at all those ingredients. The meat. The tomatoes. The bread. The cheese. The spices. A little dash of this. A sprig of that… Then do your best Googling to try to figure out where all those ingredients came from. How many human beings do you think have interacted with all that shit on your $10 plate, just so you can enjoy the flavor a little bit more? How many thousands of miles do you suppose all those ingredients traveled?
A culinary masterpiece for the whole family, all for the price of tank of gas.
Aces & Ales
I’ve been wanting to check out Aces & Ales for a while. It finally happened!
We were up north, so we went to the one at Tenaya and Cheyenne. Why was it on my radar? They have an enormous beer selection. They have, like, a million beers, I think.
And the selection came through. And there was a bunch of shit I’ve never heard of, so we were anxious to ask her which one we should try. Unfortunately, she wasn’t very helpful. I think we got the new girl.
Alcohol Is Our Drug
Alcohol is our REAL drug of choice, isn’t it. We do more of it than anything. Maybe that’s a product of circumstance and/or politics, who knows.
It’s just funny. There’re tons of ways Mother Earth has provided humankind the ability to alter our consciousness for fun – some of which naturally have an effect on us right out of the ground – and we’ve all but dismissed ALL of them. Except for alcohol.
And the process for making alcohol is actually pretty fucked up! It definitely doesn’t grow naturally out of the ground.
Single-celled organisms turn regular (useless) liquids into delicious alcohol. It’s a fungus called yeast that feeds on sugar, converting it into alcohol in the process. So basically, alcohol is fungus poo.
Oh, and the alcohol byproduct? It’s toxic to the yeast, so once they’re drowning in their own excretion, they die. Then we drink it – often dead fungus and all. Yum!
So basically, alcohol makers are mad scientists who play god to evil colonies of tiny fungus monsters. Then the result is human poison. Then we pay them top dollar for it. How’d this happen?
Don’t get me wrong – I love alcohol. I mean, I like alcohol. Alcohol is okay, I guess.
It’s just that alcohol makes you do things you regret.
It also inhibits that part of your brain that converts short-term memories into long-term memories, and when I wake up, several hours are missing, and I had to be reminded that we went to Dino’s.
I don’t regret Dino’s. At least I don’t think I regret it. It was a strange place with a strange crowd, but also apparently a friendly one? One of us got invited to an orgy, apparently. I wasn’t the one invited, which frankly, is a little hurtful.
The still-family-owned Dino’s is known for being friendly – always has been, for 50 years. And they’re known for their award-winning Karaoke as well (which was not going on on this particular night, thank god).
It’s when you decide to go to Cheetah’s that you start to regret things. It’s funny, you kind of know you’re going to regret it going into it, and you do it anyway. That’s alcohol for you.
But whatever, there was this girl there that looked EXACTLY like Daenerys Targaryen, so nothing else matters.
That’s right. I got a lap dance from the Mother of Dragons.
I took some pictures, but I won’t share them here.
You’re waiting for me to tie this back in.
Here it goes: Nevada has been legally selling medicinal marijuana for about a year now. And in 2016, Nevada put recreational marijuana on the ballot. It passed. Just as it did in 4 other states this election cycle. More than half our states and Washington D.C. now have some form of legalization. Pot will be legal for recreational purchase and use in Nevada in 2018.
The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.
Carl Sagan, Scientist and all around smart guy
The weight of these events in US legislative history should not be underappreciated. For better or worse, we’ve changed our stance on a drug; a drug that accounted for almost half of all drug crime in America. Twenty-five states have passed some form of marijuana legalization. I’m not great at math, but I think that’s half, folks. Plus D.C., so more than half. They went right around the federal government and the FDA and legalized it, one by one.
A prohibition on pot is being slowly abolished brick-by-brick across our great nation. You’d think we’d all be paying closer attention. How strange it is to watch this ethical shift in the psyche of our cultural bear influence on law. We might never see another transformation like this of this magnitude – something going from illegal to legal. Gay marriage, now this. What else is banned that might be legalized? Maybe the granting of human rights to robots in 2027?
And here in Las Vegas, almost overnight, marijuana went from a thing you bought on the street from a guy named Narly, to buying it from one of 40 legal dispensaries (soon to be 80) spread across the valley that look like this:
Of course, legal weed in Nevada is not for everyone. As of now, it’s only legal medicinally, and there are eight criteria for getting your medical marijuana card. There are some really tough ones, like aids and glaucoma, then other more wishy washy stuff like “pain.”
It seems everyone understands what’s written between the lines when it comes to medicinal marijuana in Nevada – that there’s something else going on. An elephant in the doctor’s office, so to speak. There are rumors that – just like in some other states that are medicinally legal right now – it’s ridiculously easy for anyone who wants to get a medicinal marijuana card to do so, and that many of the people applying for these cards are taking advantage of an obvious (and perhaps intentional) loophole?
That’s where Make The Weekend comes in. Just like anything else, I didn’t want to just read about it from the sidelines. This weekend, I wanted to do some gonzo journalism around this rumor. I wanted to take myself through the entire process. So that’s what I did.
A Special Doctor’s Visit
Step 1: Get recommended. (You don’t get a prescription – you get “recommended.”)
I won’t say which doctor I went to, but it probably doesn’t matter. They all have names like Karma Holistic… Las Vegas Releaf… Getting Legal… Dr. Reefer… Dr. Geen Relief… The crazy nicknames these guys choose, instead of just calling themselves “Dr. [Last Name]” is perhaps reflective of the transitional nature of this entire industry from illegal to legit.
Two minutes. That’s how long we sat in the doctor’s office with the doctor. And that includes the time he spent explaining some logistics.
Faster than it takes me to eat a hamburger from In-N-Out.
The nice girls up front helped us with our paperwork, and with that, we were on to step 2: submit your application to the state for your medicinal marijuana card.
And just like that. We’re off to the dispensary. Where you can buy stuff to smoke. Or chew. Or maybe you want a patch. Or you’d like to drink it. Or absorb it through osmosis in the bath. How about a lotion?
The [Lack of] Power of One
This month, Nevada took the voting plunge. Full recreational legalization of marijuana.
How did I vote on the issue? Doesn’t matter. Not because I don’t care. But because I realize something most people don’t seem to. That voting doesn’t matter.
Well, one vote doesn’t matter, but many do. And therein lies the rub. This simple math trick confuses the average person into thinking THEIR vote matters, but it doesn’t. Mathematically, voting is just a huge waste of your time.
Why? Because over a hundred million people voted in this election. You’re one in a hundred million. Your vote making a difference? …You have better odds of dating Melania Trump. And please, PLEASE don’t tell me that “if everyone thought that way…” crap. Think really hard about why that’s NOT a valid rebuttal, then DON’T tell me that.
If you just want to participate in the democratic process, fine. If you just wanna have the experience of voting, fine. But just do me a favor and know that it doesn’t make a difference. That the illusion of the power of one through the voting process is what makes democracy work. What keeps it going without revolution, regardless of how fair/not fair things are for those at the bottom and middle.
You wanna make a difference? Go make a billion dollars then invest it in commercials that convince large tranches of voters to vote one way or the other. Like the Koch brothers. Struggling with the money part? Figure out another way to sway tons of voters. If you wanna make a difference in our democracy, that’s how. By swaying tons of voters.
A Little Bit of Context
Sorry, I digress. Where were we?
Why is America just now going through this weird acceptance of what was once unacceptable? Why now?
Before I answer that, I just want to pause and provide you an anecdote about how we got to this point with marijuana in the first place. It’s really important to me to do that because sometimes, you think you know where, why, and how a society got its rules, both legal and moral. But sometimes, you’re wrong.
Weed, A Story
Truth be told, we’re not legalizing it – we’re re-legalizing it.
That’s right, cannabis has been legal for thousands of years. Cannabis was legal when this country was formed. Ben Franklin printed revolutionary pamphlets in hemp paper mills, and George Washington grew hemp on his farm. In early America, weed was legal and fashionable. By the 1850’s, every city in America had weed cafes. New York City alone had hundreds of them. Just take half of the nightclubs and bars, remove all the alcohol, and put weed there. That was America.
Then something happened.
The following isn’t a conspiracy theory. It is NOT my opinion. It’s the prevailing thinking of scholars on this topic.
tl:dr – Some guys needed to take down hemp. One way to do that was to couple it with its sister plant, marijuana, and take them both down. There was a perfect storm behind them, and presto, whamo, the demonization of cannabis began.
The Long Version
So there’s this guy, Harry J. Anslinger. He was a major influence over the shaping of our drug policy.
During prohibition, Anslinger was assistant commissioner in the Bureau of Prohibition. Basically, he was an alcohol cop. Surrounded by an environment of corruption, Anslinger seemed incorruptible. His career would be rewarded for that.
Then we ended prohibition. Anslinger, sitting on his thumbs, and now the head of the newly-formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics, needed new purpose in life. His new goal? Complete criminalization of all recreational drugs. He drafted and pushed through the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, effectively taking it off the market.
“But Anslinger, why?” you’re asking? What’s your beef with weed? I know. I wondered the same thing. Because he’s just a big a-hole? Maybe. But there’s more to it.
See, Anslinger was the nephew of a guy named Andrew Mellon. The Mellons, well, they’re this super rich family that’s involved in all sorts of investments and banking, yadda yadda. Andrew Mellon was the third-highest income tax-payer in the 1920’s behind John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford. So yeah, he was a rich fuck. Mellon was also the Secretary of the Treasury, and just so happened to have appointed his nephew Anslinger to his newly arrived position. You could say Anslinger owed Mellon.
Guess what. Mellon had made some investments in hemp’s new competitor, nylon, a DuPont product. Mellon had a vested interest in seeing hemp fail. It’s starting to come together, isn’t it?
“But why would congress pass it?” you’re asking. It takes more than a rich guy and a bureaucrat. Yeah, I wondered that, too.
Turns out there was another guy who wanted hemp to fail, Randolph Hearst. Another rich fuck. This guy owned like a million newspapers, and resultantly, he had large investments in timber. Hemp-based paper was cheap and getting cheaper. It was threatening his investments.
So all these guys get together – Anslinger, Mellon, DuPont, Hearst – and the demonization of cannabis begins. They spin up a bunch of ridiculous propaganda and yellow journalism about how kids are smoking pot and committing murder, suicide, and rape. They create an association between marijuana and violence which had no basis in science whatsoever. They made it up. Seriously, check out the “documentary” Reefer Madness. It’s insanity.
The Weed Killer Team, let’s call them, also leveraged hard times (The Great Depression) and an increase in Mexican immigration as a political device to their advantage. It’s a nod to 1875 San Francisco, when Opium was banned as a way to control the Chinese. Criminalizing “marijuana,” the Mexicans name for cannabis, would effectively be an excuse to search, detain, and deport Mexican immigrants. In the 1930’s, times were tough, jobs were scarce, and Xenophobia was rampant.
So yeah, the evidence was flimsy, and the hearings were sparsely attended, but nevertheless, there was a mountain of rich guy money and societal angst barreling toward the banning of this substance. With the “incorruptible” Anslinger as their puppet to congress, the Marihuana Tax Act passed.
There’s more to the story. But you get the point. Let’s just recap. Drug law has nothing to do with what’s best for the members of our society, and everything to do with politics, economics, corruption, nepotism, and xenophobia. And we’re finally figuring that out. We’re finally righting a wrong we made so many decades ago.
Shaping Society’s Drug Ethics
I tell that story to make a point. That we have in the collective mind of American culture that this thing doesn’t belong. That if you do it, you have to go underground or counter-culture. That it’s somehow an act of rebellion.
And if you’ve never stopped to ask these questions, then you’ve probably just accepted it and believed it your whole life.
When I make the statement, “Drugs are bad,” do you agree? Do me a favor and just stop and ask yourself why you think drugs are evil. Whether you personally believe it to be true, or you at least agree that society believes it to be true.
It’s one thing if you hear something from your parents or a politician or from a celebrity you like. You may question it, right? Jenny McCarthy tells you vaccines cause autism. You might be like, “Hm, Jenny, I don’t think that’s good science.” Cuz you’re smart and you can think for yourself, right?
But it’s a whole other thing if it’s also your teachers and your friends and police officers and that homeless guy you pass every day… All of society was in on it for decades.
Here’s the problem though. “Drugs” aren’t one thing. They’re many different things. Some of them ARE evil, but most of them are not.
Why aren’t drugs evil? And why shouldn’t we try to ban them?
Reason #1: It’s Expensive and Ineffective
America has the largest incarceration rate in the developed world. American taxpayers spend ~$40 billion a year paying for prison inmates, and half of all inmates are in for drug-related offenses. For that, we can thank the War on Drugs.
Over the 40+ years of the War on Drugs, we’ve put millions of our own citizens in jail and spent over a trillion dollars. And despite all that, just about anyone would agree, it’s been a complete failure.
Criminalization has NOT reduced drug use or addiction in the slightest. It IS however, responsible for some shitty shitty shit:
- It has pushed the drug trade to black market, increasing the danger of the transaction as well as the toxicity and potency of the drugs.
- It has created drug lords, and caused murder and other crime in the streets of American inner cities as well as Mexico and Central America where we’ve pushed production. When you can’t settle disputes legally, you must resort to violence.
- It’s claimed tens of thousands of needless deaths, both in America and elsewhere.
- It’s bankrolled gangs, cartels, and terrorist organizations. And it’s cost taxpayers over a trillion dollars.
Take a look at the above chart and guess when we started fighting the War on Drugs.
One unintended consequence of the legalization of drugs? Tax revenue. Probably tens of billions in tax revenue that we could use to pay for addiction-related treatment for those that need it. If you want treatment, come on by and get it without having to worry about facing criminal charges. That’s how some developed countries have handled it, and so far, it seems to be working out okay.
Reason #2: It’s Racist
Above, we covered how the criminalization of opium was actually just Chinese prejudice disguised as good politics, and how the criminalization of cannabis was the same thing for Mexicans. We could tell similar stories for the criminalization of cocaine, which was initially triggered by black prejudice.
We could talk about how the War on Drugs has produced profoundly unequal outcomes blacks and Mexicans, despite drug use rates being comparable.
Reason #3: Pharmaceuticals Alternatives
We’re doing it anyway. We let the pharmaceutical industry hand us behavior-forming, consciousness-altering drugs all the time, and we pawn them off as medicine. Meanwhile, painkillers like OxyContin are addictive, and they do take lives. About 14,000 died from painkiller overdoses in 2014. Then there’s those who get addicted to painkillers and can’t afford to continue, so they have to switch over to heroine.
Death by MDMA is like a few dozen a year. That’s not good, but it’s not a high number either. Death per 100,000 users/year is like 2. No joke. Compare that to death per 100k users/year from alcohol (~50) or tobacco (~400).
Death from overdosing on marijuana? Last I checked it was still zero.
Why are these drugs legal and others are not? Simple: economics. Or maybe Nixon. Or maybe that Anslinger guy.
Reason #5: Quality of Life and Open-Mindedness
At the end of the day, something like half of Americans are gonna find their way to this stuff at some point. Maybe it’s time we recognize that, and make sure that when they do try it, it’s safe and clean.
But I’m not just asking you, “What might happen if these were legal?” I’m asking you to go one step further. I’m asking you to ask yourself, “What’s so bad about these drugs anyway?”
When it comes to pot or mushrooms or MDMA or maybe a few others, maybe you’ve been duped by a system that’s been designed to benefit politicians and businesspeople you’ve never met. Maybe drugs are good for you.
(Whoa, that was the dirty-hippiest, conspiracy-theorist thing MTW has ever said. Sorry about that!)
I love when the War on Drugs claims that weed is a gateway drug. It was the best propaganda they could come up with because otherwise, it’s sooo hard to defend all the costs of fighting it. It’s a gateway drug? Really? Is buying a gun for home protection gateway to buying a tank?
The only reason it’s a “gateway” is because it’s illegal. When you make it illegal, you provide something for it to have in common with the other drugs. They get bought and sold in the same market. It’s self-fulfilling.
Maybe weed is a gateway drug. A gateway to open-mindedness. I mean, our mental state is all we have in some sense. So the ultimate test of open-mindedness is trying something that alters that state. (Go ahead and read that sentence again, I’ll wait.) That takes a level of courage that you can’t find in any other decision in your life. Sure, you can risk your life and climb a mountain or something, but death doesn’t alter your consciousness – it ends it. That’s the easy way out. Altering it is a whole other program.
And if I had to pick one trait that I would say is best for a society, I pick open-mindedness every time.
Then once you do try drugs, sometimes amazing things happen. You explore ideas you might not have otherwise. You form deeper bonds with friends. You create amazing things.
You see, I think drugs have done some good things for us. I really do. And if you don’t believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight. Take all your albums, all your tapes and all your CDs and burn them. ‘Cause you know what, the musicians that made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years were rrreal fucking high on drugs. The Beatles were so fucking high they let Ringo sing a few tunes.
Indeed, different states of consciousness are a good thing. Even those that have NEVER tried a drug in their life would agree that there’s value from the altered states created naturally when you climb a mountain or have sex. I’m not gonna champion Timothy Leary or anything; I’m just gonna say maybe he had a few good points in there.
And if you stacked up alcohol against some of the most popular illegal drugs, say, weed and MDMA – not a chance. Way more upside. Way less downside. And far fewer trips to the strip club.
Am I saying we should all do these drugs all the time until we die a terrible death? No, of course not. I’m just saying, what if we thought about them the same way we thought about alcohol? These drugs are for responsible adults. They’re a recreational activity that improves our lives, and leave it at that.
Nor am I saying legalize them ALL right away. I’m just saying. Let’s start knocking them off one at a time and just see where shit goes. What do you say? Is everybody in?
For every episode of Make The Weekend, visit maketheweekend.com.