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Rick Robinson: Dude, Where's My Column?

Last week, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported about getting totally baked after eating a
 
marijuana laced candy bar. Her insightful column has America asking one basic moral question – what is the name of that candy bar? 
 
In case you missed Dowd’s 2014 version of Reefer Madness, she was in Denver covering the drug scene, when – in the privacy of her hotel room – she gobbled up a chocolate/caramel candy bar legally manufactured by a local marijuana confectioner. The results:
 
I barely made it from the desk to the bed, where I lay curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours. I was thirsty but couldn’t move to get water. Or even turn off the lights. I was panting and paranoid, sure that when the room-service waiter knocked and I didn’t answer, he’d call the police and have me arrested for being unable to handle my candy.
 
I strained to remember where I was or even what I was wearing, touching my green corduroy jeans and staring at the exposed-brick wall. As my paranoia deepened, I became convinced that I had died and no one was telling me.
 
The next morning, over a monster bag of Doritos, Dowd learned during an interview that rather than bogarting the entire candy bar, she was supposed to have divided it into 16 pieces and eat only one bite. 
 
The remainder should have been kept safe in her hotel refrigerator for later -- or, more appropriately, shared with 15 other people from her floor while they watched the Wizard of Oz and listened to Dark Side of the Moon.
 
Dowd did not know the portion protocol and noted the rationing advice was not listed on the label of the candy bar. Instead she apparently ingested enough pot to satisfy a small Metallica backstage after-party.
 
And there’s the rub – legal substances can be misused and abused. From alcohol to prescription drugs, we often abuse what can be obtained legally. 
 
I suspect Dowd’s column would have been received far differently if, instead of eating pot in Denver, she had downed a fifth of bourbon in a Kentucky hotel, blacked out and stumbled through the streets of the Bluegrass State expressing love for each animate and inanimate object in her path before hurling in an alley. 
 
This is not meant to advocate one side or the other on the issue of legalization and/or decriminalization of marijuana. The debate of legal versus illegal in terms of marijuana should accept the fact that even if legalized, regulated and taxed by the government, a black market will always exist for Dowd’s killer candy bar. 
 
At home here in Northern Kentucky we’re suffering from the societal fallout of a heroin epidemic. 
 
Our government has been very good at declaring its use more illegal than before and imposing stiffer penalties. But when it comes to the healthcare issues related to the problem, we’ve fallen short.
 
Let’s be honest. Government is much better at tossing people in jail beds than hospital beds – just ask the families of VA patients who died awaiting treatment.
 
A Northern Kentucky drug court judge recently told me the question that begs to be answered is whether our heroin epidemic should be thought of as a health issue or a criminal matter? 
 
A question that Dowd – and our local lawmakers, for that matter – answered as the latter. And maybe that’s where we need to start over.
 
Rick Robinson is a Northern Kentucky attorney and award-winning author. Check out his books by clicking here.