"Recreational" marijuana? What? Do you get a bowling ball and a tennis racket with your purchase?

"Recreational" marijuana?  What? Do you get a bowling ball and a tennis racket with your purchase?
CNN--Illinois Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton was among hundreds of early morning customers at a Chicago marijuana dispensary on the first day of legal recreational sales in the state, according to a release from Cresco Labs, owner of Sunnyside Dispensary.

Now that it's perfectly legal to buy pot, I'd like to know why it's called "recreational?"  What other drug goes from prescription drug to recreational drug via government sanction?  Do you get a box of ping pong balls and a boxing glove to go along with your purchase?  Why "recreational?"

How marijuana smoking (and eating) went from the greatest scourge of humanity to great sport over a century or so, I guess you have to be a baby boomer to figure out.  (Like me.)

And follow the money, too.

When I was in grammar school, my mother burst through the door of my room one day, as she was wont to do from time to time with some advice. "Do not ever take a drug from anyone who wants to give you one.  Because if you do that, you will never be able to stop taking that drug and you will spend the rest of your life being dependent on that drug and you will be begging people for money so you can get it.  And then you will die. Young."

Well, I had no idea what she was talking about.  But it worked.  I never took a drug because she scared me to death.  I stayed away from everything from heroin and cocaine to Advil and aspirin.  I never took anything anyone tried to give me.  And I am the only person on earth who believed Bill Clinton when he said he never inhaled.  I never did either.

Booze was another story. We had a house full of booze.  And my mother never warned me about that.  Never.  No matter what.

However, I know why my mother felt the way she did.  She spent a lot of time in jazz clubs.  She was friends with some of Chicago's greatest jazz musicians and those who made it all happen.  She and my father hung with everyone in the jazz world.  She knew from that world what could happen if someone pushed a drug up your nose or into your veins or down into your stomach.

The mother of one of my brother's friends who lived a few doors away used to pay a regular visit to my mom, asking to "borrow" money.  She was a heroin addict.  And my mother felt sorry for her.  So she "lent" her the money whenever she asked.

Today, she would probably insist that she go to a rehab, and maybe even help her pay for it.  But in those days, who knew?

My generation is the one that soaked up shades of that horror movie about pot that everyone still laughs heartily about:  Reefer Madness.  My generation is the one that had marijuana portrayed as a gateway drug that would lead to everything from white slavery to early entry in a coffin.

And let me say this:  In the 60s, I did know some very promising people who I went to college with who started with pot, progressed to harder and harder drugs and who ultimately choked on vomit or had an inexplicable heart attack in their beds and died.

But they were a special minority.  They were the kinds of people who had an inherent and organic propensity to drug addiction and drug abuse (studies say there is a substantial percentage of us who do) and who have allowed  street gangs and drug companies, both of which discovered this weakness, to cash in.

Pot, of course, has a very interesting money story.  Like jitney cabs and policy games, weed sales--traditionally run by black entrepreneurs--have been taken over by mainstream business people and politicians and turned into Uber/Lyft, the Lottery and now recreational pot, respectively.

One problem that may be solved by this, though, is the pot--for the most part, at least--won't be cut with lethal poisons.

Why let them have all the money, when we can have it? I'm sure JP Pritzker said when Springfield gave the A-OK.  Better those who want to buy it get it cleanly and safely and that the money helps the State's bottom line.  And that people's lives are no long going to be spent in jails and prisons (some for life) as collateral damage from an illegal drug trade. In fact, Pritzker says the people most harmed by pot being illegal will benefit the most from it being legal.

Four years ago, legal pot entered Illinois' stream of commerce as medicine. A prescription was required.  Marijunana was suddenly deemed to cure everything from depression and digestive disorders to seizures and PTSD!

And that is good!

But what I couldn't figure out is why the pot industry wasn't turned over to Walgreen's and CVS like all prescription drugs?  Why did it need its own dispensary?

Maybe so the politically connected could get yet another state-sponsored payoff with a license to sell?

If it had been turned over to the official legal drug trade via drug stores, it would now be considered an over the counter drug, taken whenever the mood strikes.  The same way one decides to take meds for colds, headaches, aches, pains and vitamin deficiencies.

I guess there aren't any drugs at Walgreen's that say "strictly recreational," though.  (Snicker, snicker.)

Which I guess gives pot a special designation that doles it out by dispensaries for "recreational" purposes.

And why our Lt. Governor was standing in line at a dispensary on Day One of sales with a giddy smirk on her face.  Think of the same picture at a liquor store waiting in line to buy a bottle of Johnny Walker Red or a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon?  Not that there's anything wrong with standing in line to do either one.

But....

Pot:  A new day, a new world, a new life.  A new drug.  And a new value judgment?

And a totally new adjective:  recreational.

One thing I don't remember in the old days is this:  No one was much up for a bowling game, a ping pong match or a volleyball tourney after smoking a little pot.  They got a little too mellow for that.

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