Well before the passage of S.B. 1070 put them on the extreme-right map, Arizona established itself as a modern Wild West outlaw state when then-Governor Evan Mecham only relented to recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in order to host the NFL’s Super Bowl. Today, Arizona is a much different place, separating itself from the dilapidation of the Bible Belt with the balls hanging under the pink panties on Joe Arpaio’s belt.
In Arizona, you can buy any alcohol you want at grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores. You can display a gun on you anywhere that doesn’t explicitly post a sign that says you can’t, but you can’t smoke within 100 feet of any building, pub or club. Spice or K2, a harmful synthesized cannabis product, was legalized prior to medical marijuana, and we’re likely to be the last state to legalize recreational use (I see this state as holding out longer than even the federal government will).
Marijuana Is Stigmatizing in AZ…
I turned 18 in November 1998, and as I was participating in my first national election, I attended a debate at the local library a month prior between Eddie Basha (CEO of Basha’s grocery chain) and Jim Kolbe, the first openly gay U.S. congressman.
After the debate, I approached Kolbe at the buffet table and politely asked him why he previously overturned a law on that current election’s ballot that legalized medicinal schedule I drugs. Kolbe flippantly responded the voters didn’t understand they legalized more than just marijuana in 1996; they legalized all schedule I drugs for medicinal use.
What was important about this law, and the way Arizona handled it, is the majority of the voting population of this state has legalized medical marijuana by an average of nearly 80 percent approval nearly every two years from 1996 to 2012. When a state legislator tried debating the law up in state court, Kolbe, who represented the state in the U.S. Congress, reached over the heads of the most conservative state legislators in one of the most conservative states in the Union and squashed the vote of his constituents all the way from Washington D.C.
Marijuana Defines Arizona…
I never forgot that encounter because I have always been surrounded by different perspectives of marijuana culture. I went through puberty in Sierra Vista, Ariz., a small town outside of Fort Huachuca, the military intelligence capital of the United States Army. It’s where they trained the Abu Ghraib prison guards, tested Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV, or, as you know them, drones), and happens to be nestled down by the Arizona – Mexico border.
Growing up, my friends were the children of the people building and testing drones. We were the children of drug mules and other smugglers. We were the children of Border Patrol (BP) officers. We were the children of NSA, CIA, Special Forces, law enforcement, and soldiers on all sides of the War on Drugs.
When the Minutemen Project came into town, it got even more complicated. You’d almost rather run into BP than drunken armed rednecks from out of town driving trucks all day in the desert heat.
Living History Doomed to Repeat It…
Last month, I wrote about a PTSD study at the University of Arizona, an hour down the road from Ft Huachuca in Tucson. Much like Kolbe in 1996, Arizona State Senator Kimberly Yee single-handedly blocked the study, even after it was approved by the Obama Administration.
History seems to be repeating itself, although it appears Arizona is taking the reins from D.C. this time. Kimberly Yee is proud to stand in front of this bill.
Yee’s opponents have already created a Facebook page, organized a rally, and began circulating petitions and drawing support online. With the battle going digital, and Anonymous (as well as every pot entrepreneur on the planet) eying this decision, Arizona has once again buried both its head and feet in the sand.
It’s time Arizona hosted a new kind of Super Bowl…