Pot Task Force 101 

Ranger Rich

One day, this whole marijuana debate — currently racing through our village like Doug Bruce on his way to a Social Outcasts Anonymous meeting — will seem silly.

Pot will be fully legalized. I believe it will be so common that Pillsbury will sell marijuana brownies. We'll know that day has arrived when we poke the Pillsbury Doughboy in his tummy and he giggles. Hysterically. For 45 minutes. And then eats his own arm.

But today, our village is facing a big decision about marijuana and will in the coming months address monumental issues such as:

• Who can use it?

• Who can grow it?

• When Olympic superstar Michael Phelps is done, will there be any pot left for the rest of us?

• Speaking of the Olympics, how many tons of pot do you have to smoke before our Mayor Lionel Rivera-led deal with the U.S. Olympic Committee seems like a good idea?

To address those and other pertinent questions in this marijuana debate, two City Councilors convened a meeting to form a pot task force. The leaders were Sean Paige and Tom Gallagher, although you probably know them by their nicknames: Cheech and Chong.

The meeting attracted more than 200 villagers to City Hall. Some said they were patients. Some said they were "caregivers." The guy sitting next to me didn't say anything but was making terrific shadow puppets on the wall. (I foolishly lost $10 on what he said was a female Atlantic herring gull. I had guessed "cow.")

Before we entered Council chambers, however, the mostly laid-back group had to pass through a security checkpoint on the first floor. This prompted villager Zach Harris, 27, to remark: "We're too lazy to have guns." The guy in front of Harris laughed hard, and a handful of Cheetos became lodged in his throat.

Upstairs, Cheech, I mean Paige, opened with a 12-minute, 850,000-word introductory speech covering things such as "funneling ideas" and "winnowing ideas" via a "multi-task process" followed by even more "winnowing" and "at every juncture we're going to need a reality check."

Here now, one of those reality checks: The woman in front of me stopped listening to Paige after 30 seconds and was tapping a pencil against her temple as she labored over a Sudoku number-placement puzzle she had wisely brought along. (Meanwhile, the guy next to me flashed a decent cottontail rabbit onto the wall and then segued effortlessly to a very realistic Franklin's ground squirrel.)

When Paige finally took a breath, he introduced Gallagher, who smiled and said this: "I should have gone first."

Here, as best anyone could tell, was the theme of the meeting: We need a task force of medical marijuana users and growers from our village, along with lawyers to interpret the 2000 Colorado vote approving medical marijuana, and even village officers so they know when it's appropriate to Taser a harmless pot-smoker and when it is not.

At some point Paige — who as the Gazette editorial writer began every editorial, "So dudes, like, listen to this ..." — said those wanting to be on the pot task force should write a letter.

"It doesn't have to be great or artfully written," Paige said, leaving the door open for him to get past the first round. (The no-talent-required rule also means that I, or me, is a big favorite to go deep into the selection process.)

"Try to keep the letters focused," Paige actually said to the pro-marijuana folks, many of whom would soon be wandering aimlessly across the downtown area, looking for their cars.

The task force members, Paige said, will be chosen by him and Gallagher based on the letters. Paige, as you know, was not elected but was chosen by a majority of eight Councilors. I don't think I have to remind anyone how well that's working out for a city that next week will ask Mike Tyson for a loan.

The meeting wound down, and Paige promised to host more task force gatherings. Then, and I'm not kidding, Paige actually said this: "Everyone can hash out their differences."

You should have heard the shadow-puppet hyena laugh.


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