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Don't get high – get real. Article by Tim Lyke, Ripon Commonwealth Press

Printed in the Ripon Commonwealth Press, Issue No. 26 on Thursday, July 1st, 2010.

Tim Lyke article in Ripon Commonwealth Press July 1st, 2010
Tim Lyke article in Ripon Commonwealth Press July 1st, 2010

The contest to represent Ripon residents and others who live in state Assembly District 41 looks to involve the candidacies of at least two individuals with farm-related interests.

The incumbent, Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, is a co-owner of Ballweg Implement, a John Deere dealership that she and husband Tom started in 1976.

Challenging Ballweg is Jay Selthofner, a Green Lake resident and Berlin High School graduate, who announced his candidacy as an independent last week.

Selthofner’s agricultural expertise centers are his advocacy for the legal cultivation of hemp cannabis.  The position pervades most of his issues.

He argues that pot growers could help our state economically while reducing reliance on fossil fuels, comforting patients with medical marijuana and “provid(ing) a safer choice that alcohol.”

On that last argument Selthofner appears most vulnerable.

One could reasonably ask him: “What are you smoking?”

The last thing this country needs is another mind-altering drug injested for recreational purposes.

Even a smoky haze can’t mask the fact that America is enduring some of its more difficult days.

It continues to be fighting wars on two fronts.

Its economy is shaky, with unemployment high and talk of a possible “double-dip” recession.

The Gulf is facing an unparalleled environmental disaster.

Terrorists continue their attempts to kill Americans on a massive scale.

Its national debt is unsustainable yet no one appears motivated to make hard choices to avert the financial crisis that threatens America’s freedom and the futures of her children.

Meanwhile, leaders in Washington and Madison from different parties gaze at each other from opposite sides of a Grand Canyon of ideological differences, subordinating public interest to political one-upsmanship.

This is no time to get high or get drunk.

It’s time to get serious.

Selthofner argues that “we need to decriminalize marijuana for personal recreational use by responsible adults, in the interest of fairness, personal freedom and compassion.”

Note the contradiction in the sentence above; Responsible adults don’t smoke marijuana recreationally.

They’re too busy trying to earn a living, raise a family and serve as a role models for children they raise to believe that the world already offers more than enough behavioral diversions.

Some are beautiful: A walk in the woods, captivating a book, inspiring a piece of music, time spent with friends and family, opportunities to help others, hard work, appreciating a painting, exercise, worship, laughter.

Some are risky: Smoking, drinking, lying, cheating, drugging, driving and casual sex.

We don’t need more risky diversions.

The world is sufficiently dangerous, thank you.

But isn’t marijuana a victimless drug?

No. A substance that alters the mind certainly changes behavior – no minor the matter on the highways, at the workplace or event in the home, particularly with children.

But isn’t marijuana, as Selthofner contends, safer than alcohol?

Let’s say it is, even despite the gateway-drug argument – that is, if you enjoy getting high from a joint, how large a leap is it to then smoke hashish, eat mushrooms, drop acid, etc.?

Does the fact that product A is safer than product B mean that Product A should be permissible?

The logic is specious.

If Johnny throws stones, does it make sense to permit Janey to throw sticks, since they are less lethal?

That fact that it is legal to consume one substance, under regulated and controlled circumstances, doesn’t hold a society duty-bound to, by extension, open the gate to all other substances, even if they are deemed less potent.

But best reason to reject Selthofner’s campaign argument to legalize marijuana for recreational use is that such a suggestion is fiddling while Rome is burning.

Wisconsin faces real challenges – structural deficit, school financing, health-care affordability, mass transit – that require clear-headed thinking from leaders in Madison but also from their bosses, the constituents they represent.

The last thing Wisconsin residents need to do in the face of growing concerns is to escape by themselves in a cloud of marijuana smoke.

Is it too unreasonable to suggest that we owe it to ourselves, if not our children, to act in ways that are more, not less, mature, responsible and sober?

—Tim Lyke


Care to share your thoughts about how and under what circumstances marijuana should be legalized?

Email your thoughts to: ians@riponprinters.com

Submit them via:  www.RiponPress.com

Or address your letter to:   Letters to the Editor, The Ripon Commonwealth Press, PO BOX 344, Ripon, WI  54971


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