When Poker And Pot Are Legal

With the economy stalled and governments unable to keep out of the red, this may be the year we see the widespread legalization of some former unlawful vices: online poker and pot!

Pot for medicinal purposes is already legal in a few states, including Connecticut. I have one friend with a card that allows her to purchase 2&#189 ounces per month for a person with MS under her care. That’s a lot of pot for one person.

There’s no established structure for distribution, so legal pot in Connecticut exists more in theory than fact.

In states like California medicinal marijuana is more a ruse. If you have a real or imagined physical complaint you can score pot! I have been in the car as friends and relatives drove to strip mall pot dispensaries to score. None seemed very sick.

Recently Colorado passed a recreational pot law. Around the nation opposition is fading fast.

For the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans favor legalizing the use of marijuana. A national survey finds that 52% say that the use of marijuana should be made legal while 45% say it should not.

Support for legalizing marijuana has risen 11 points since 2010. The change is even more dramatic since the late 1960s. A 1969 Gallup survey found that just 12% favored legalizing marijuana use, while 84% were opposed. – Pew Research Center for People and Press

Pew Research survery on legalizing pot

Even if it is the evil “Weed With Roots in Hell,” it is ridiculous unconscionable we still arrest and jail people for possessing it. Do we really need to ruin their adult lives by arresting pot smoking teens?

As has been recently pointed out, the last three presidents were once law breakers as was this blogger and nearly every other adult I know!

Obviously there are concerns with kids smoking and stoned drivers, but we’re facing those concerns today with little realistic recourse. It’s unlikely anyone will start toking just because it’s legal, as few were stopped because it was not!


Online poker might actually beat legalized pot in some states. New Jersey and Nevada both have laws. Other states are sure to follow.

Poker is an interesting case, because I can play with friends at home or go to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun for action, I just can’t play online.

At one time online poker seemed to be in some sort of quasi legal no-man’s land. Then the Justice Department shut things down on what’s come to be known as “Black Friday.”

From Wikipedia: United States v. Scheinberg, 10 Cr. 336 (2011), is a United States federal criminal case against the founders of the three largest online poker companies, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Cereus (Absolute Poker/Ultimatebet), and a handful of their associates,[1] which alleges that the defendants violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and engaged in bank fraud and money laundering in order to process transfers to and from their customers

PokerStars, where I played, is still around. I’ve got a play money tournament on my tablet right now. Playing for real money, even the tiny tournaments I played at PokerStars, is different. Players aren’t as cautious without some skin at risk.

When pot and poker are legalized (and there currently seems no doubt they will be) will we look back and wonder why they were illegal in the first place? I will.

Let’s Talk Pot

I have friends and relatives in California who have prescriptions for medical marijuana. I’m not a doctor, but I think they’re legally doing the same thing I did illegally in the 60s and 70s (and maybe the 80s… who can remember clearly). None of them are degenerates… well, any more than they were before they started smoking.

I just read a story on Huffington/Mediaite/Politico about the DEA oversight committee in Congress. The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration was appearing. She was grilled questioned by Congressmen Jared Polis and Steve Cohen. They are both Democrats. They both disapprove of our country’s policies toward marijuana users.

“Is crack worse for a person than marijuana?” Polis asked.

“I believe all illegal drugs are bad,” Leonhart replied.

“Is methamphetamine worse for somebody’s health than marijuana?”

“I don’t think any illegal drug is good.”

“Is heroin worse for someone’s health than marijuana?”

“Again, all drugs…”

“It’s either ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘I don’t know.’”

The scene was scarcely different with Cohen asking these questions.

“Would you agree that marijuana causes less harm to individuals than meth, crack, cocaine, and heroin?” he asked.

“As a former police officer, as a 32-year DEA agent, I can tell you that I think marijuana is an insidious drug,” Leonhart replied.

“That’s not the question I asked you, ma’am. Does it cause less damage to the American society and to individuals than meth, crack cocaine and heroin? Does it make people have to kill to get their fix?”

“I can tell you that more teens enter treatment for marijuana.”

“Can you answer my question? Answer my question, please.”

Neither congressman got the answer they wanted, apparently, before their respective times expired.

I graduated high school in 1968. We all inhaled.

I have friends and relatives in California who have prescriptions for medical marijuana. I’m not a doctor, but I think they’re legally doing the same thing I did illegally in the 60s and 70s (and maybe the 80s… who can remember clearly). None of them are degenerates… well, any more than they were before they started smoking.

As Representative Ron Paul so eloquently pointed out, it’s not legality that controls these controlled substances.

“How many people here would use heroin if it were legal? I bet nobody would,” he said to applause and laughter.

The problem isn’t what pot does to you. The problem is what arresting 18 year olds (or adults) does to them. Does the punishment fit the crime?

Where would my career be if I had been arrested? I suspect many (most) of you could ask the same question and shudder at the answer.

When I was 18 I thought pot would be legal by now. By age 30 I realized it would remain illegal forever. Now I’m not so sure.

I don’t want people driving stoned. I don’t want students getting high (like they don’t already). The only thing legalizing pot will change is how many are arrested. I can live with that.

Note: The marijuana tax stamp pictured above is real.

I Just Got Off The Phone

I was just on the phone with a friend from California. Old friend. Nothing more specific.

We spoke for a few minutes until he said, “Gotta go. Pot store.”

That’s a first for me.

Parents, Apartments And Pot

I know my parents smoked back in the day. I can safely say this because I was there.

I came of age in the sixties. Did I smoke pot? Please! I’m not sure I knew anyone who didn’t. It was a generational thing.

On the other hand the generation before mine, the one Tom Brokaw named “The Greatest Generation,” they were a little straighter… or so I thought!

I grew up in a six story building in Queens. We were in Apartment 5E. Last night my lifelong friend Dennis who grew up in Apartment 5F posted a link to a story which said marijuana “grew like weeds in 1950s Brooklyn.” He followed up by saying…

My father admitted to having smoked pot when he was young privately to me. I do not know if my mother actually ever knew. I assume my brother did, but I don’t know for sure. But he nonetheless did not want me to use it, and didn’t want it in the house

Honest – his dad Sidney was the last person I’d have expected.

I know my parents smoked back in the day. I can safely say this because I was there. It’s possible I was the provocateur (though you know how it is with pot… there’s so much you don’t remember)!

So, we’ve now established pot in 5E and 5F and I assumed that would be the end of the story until I got an email this morning from another one of my neighbors. She grew up next door on the other side in Apartment 5D. No names here as she has asked to remain anonymous.

When my parents moved to Florida and I was helping them clean out the apartment, I found a small prescription bottle with some pot in it and a package of rolling papers. I quickly shut it and thought which one of my sisters was stupid enough to hide this in our parents’ room. Then all of a sudden my mother called out to me, “By the way, did you find that pot on the windowsill?”

I literally almost fainted. She told me that everyone on the news and everywhere was talking so much about it that they HAD to try it.

They got some through a friend, smoked it once, didn’t understand what the big deal was, and left it there on the windowsill and forgot about it! It had been there for years.

Three families living inches from each other with the same silly secret. I’ll bet it’s as much as shock to the ‘kids’ from 5D and 5F as it was to me from 5E.

Memo to kids: Your parents are hipper than you’ll ever know.