The Parks are Alive with the Smell of Reefer

There’s been a lot of talk lately around the neighborhood about the smell of marijuana that in my estimation is within whiff-shot at almost any moment of the day.

I’ve smelled it coming from people sitting in parks, walking on the street, waiting for the bus, and even from cars at stoplights.

That pretty much means that people are smoking pot on the streets, in the bus stops, and yes, in our parks, all the time – day and night.

If you don’t believe me, just open your eyes and nose a little bit, and there’s no doubt you’ll discover what I’m talking about if you know what you’re looking for.

That’s the troubling aspect of the messaging that has come with pot legalization, and before that, decriminalization.

Count me out of the crowd that thinks it’s harmless, or a victimless crime. Anyone who says that hasn’t taken a trip to Methadone Mile – where I would guess many of the addicts there might have gotten their first taste with marijuana. Others will argue that point with me all day. Let them. I hold firm there.

(Anyone who wants to compare this to alcohol, stop right there. I’m on the same level with that, and I’d even like to see the City ban “nip” bottles – as is being done elsewhere).

No one will convince me that the legality of pot is not simply for rich people who don’t want to break the law and want to do as they please. When rich people years ago didn’t approve of pot, they put the lower classes using the drug in jail. Now that pot is en vogue for the upper classes – well – they don’t want to be hassled by the cops. So now it’s legal and they like to say it’s no big deal – and they tell us that from well-heeled suburbs and plush couches in the State House.

But they haven’t seen the reality on the street – the young people (ages 10 to 25), who have a steadfast belief that smoking pot is no big deal and that they can do so anywhere they wish. That’s the tone of the movement, and it’s what they have come to believe.

So, that’s why we have what many witnessed online this week.

A picture was posted on one of the web pages about the neighborhood calling for some action about a group of young people (some maybe not so young) that have been using a park in the neighborhood as their personal Smoke House every day. Beyond the side arguments of taking the unauthorized picture or the race of those in the picture, the poster had a very good point.

This is a citywide problem, as smoking of anything is not allowed in the parks – tobacco or marijuana – and it’as happening in every park. The poster online and many who agreed were right in identifying this as a problem.

It’s not inviting; it’s anti-social – and certainly no one is going to go buddy up to a dude smoking reefer in the park as an effort to get to know him or her better. It basically re-assigns any such park as an unfriendly place that isn’t for the sober crowd, nor is it for families and children. Honestly no one is going to a park in the neighborhood to smoke pot and get acquainted with their neighbors.

And parks in the city are for neighbors to come together and socialize.

I witnessed two weeks ago some young kids and their mother swinging in a local park.

In the next bank of swings was a group of teens hovering.

However, soon the hovering turned into the flickering of a cigarette lighter, and then it turned into the pungent release of the skunky sulphur smell of marijuana. They passed it around like it was a lemon slushie. I guarantee if one had confronted them about it, they would have expressed that “It’s legal.”

They were about 14 to 16 years old – some maybe were 12.

The mother quickly gathered up her young kids and sprinted to the sidewalk to get out of there. No mother in her right mind wants their kids to be playing in and around people smoking pot.

The teens didn’t really even notice; they just continued smoking their joy stick.

“Hurry up, let’s go,” said the mother to her two young ones as they rushed to gather up stuffed animals and a tricycle. “The park is closing, so we have to leave.”

The children cried, one screamed in disappointment.

The older kids got high, laughing like fools as they unknowingly chased a little child away from the swings.

If marijuana is going to be legal, then the City needs to set a concrete standard that the legality of it doesn’t extend to parks, sidewalks, on people’s front stairs, and unbelievably, in cars. For those of us who don’t desire to be druggies part-time or full-time, we should 3-1-1 this kind of activity in public. And the City should put together some sort of response team that chases away this behavior from our parks quickly and resolutely.

Swings should be for kids to swing high, not to get high.

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