Recently, I asked my French students if they had suffered any culture shock coming to Chicago. One young woman said she wasn’t accustomed to smelling “weed” being smoked everywhere. I know what she’s talking about. I smell it all over downtown and I smell it on the streets of Forest Park, too. 

This made me think: Let’s see, Illinois is broke, Chicago is broke, many municipalities are strapped for cash. 

Why don’t we legalize weed? It could replace corn and soybeans as our leading cash crop. It could bring in a bonanza of tax revenue, like it has for Colorado.

I hope this proposal doesn’t offend you, but this continued criminalization is getting me upset. So let me fire this up (cough cough). 

Weed has medicinal qualities, it makes people mellow and there hasn’t been an overdose in recorded history. 

Wait! Who’s that? I hear footsteps. Oh, it’s only the dog.

Wow, look at how you can see the tiny dust particles in the sunlight coming through the window? Ouch! Where’s my clip? What was I saying? Wait, my throat is killing me. I need some Diet Pepsi — oh look — there’s one slice of pizza left. But I’m still hungry.

Some of you will say weed is a gateway to hard drugs. Well, I think the chances might be greater if they’re buying it from illegal suppliers — we used to call them dealers. Besides, like my buddy once said, dramatically banging down his bottle of beer: “This is the real gateway drug!”

Wow, a beer would taste great right now. 

I think he’s right. And we all know drunks are more violent than potheads. When I was visiting that stoned-out city of Vancouver, the big crime was a stabbing. That wouldn’t even make the news in Chicago.

Maybe one more hit. 

My brain is fried but I think this stuff really helps my writing. I’m having so many cosmic ideas about the universe right now — I don’t know where to begin. 

So listen up, politicians, the war against weed is over. You lost. Let’s admit the mistake, like we did when we repealed Prohibition. Legalize weed, regulate it and tax the hell out of it. That last part should come naturally to you.

If it wasn’t a forbidden fruit, I believe we’d have fewer potheads and less weed smell in the streets. Don’t forget, alcohol consumption peaked during Prohibition. Once it was legal again, people started drinking more sensibly.

Hold on a second. I can barely keep my eyes open. I need to put some music on and just chill. 

But I still have one important point left. Where was I? Oh yeah. 

If we legalize weed, we have to make sure we keep it out of the hands of teenagers and columnists. 

Their brains are not fully developed. 

 John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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