Its Just a Dead Goldfish Tom….


“Please decriminalize simple marijuana use, or just make it ‘ok’ that an adult can ‘burn one’ without fear of society’s wrath before I die.”


Could you imagine standing in some public place and make such a statement?!  What a daring effort it takes for many to consider making or to even write such a harmless statement without some fear of retribution.

As I sit in a very public workplace and ponder the implications of this statement, my thoughts are drawn to a nearby desktop.  On my associates desk sits one of those small skull sized “aquariums,” and within this tiny ‘habitat’ floats a goldfishbelly up, and plenty dead.

Why does this feel so similar?

Fortunately for me this is just an English exercise (2003) and I am allowed to leave the security of this very professional ‘bowl’ for a few moments to swim freely among these thoughts.

What I find is a river of harmless memories stirred by the currents of reality – the currents of being eaten by society’s ‘shark.’

The decriminalization of marijuana is undeniably a complex issue; a flowing stream impeded by the placement of public fear, misconception, biased facts, and supposed immorality.  For many years I have conformed, contributed, and lived under the scrutiny of society, and for just as many years I have been forced to suppress this harmless vision of freedom for adults.

In society’s school the simplest of gestures such as raising ones hand on the issue, puts the individual under increased scrutiny.

Please take a moment to consider the following comments from the perspective of a 50 year-old that has conformed to the rules of society’s fishbowl.  The issue that I carry is with limitations imposed in the area of personal use of marijuana.  My purpose is to convey the message that individuals deemed mentally capable through our educational system, enlightened, and within the boundaries of their own personal properties, should be respected as adults to pursue personal choice in the matter.

The summer after my high school graduation in 1970 brought several enlightening experiences two of which were marijuana and beer.  Smoking a ‘joint’ (or ‘burning-one’) certainly seemed like a safe way to swim in society’s ocean, and at that time found myself ‘swimming’ among this school of fish.

At the same time, this generation expanded a responsible awareness of our ecosystem and spawned innovative ideas such as refining computer language, the Internet, and pollution standards; these are just a few of the many industries and ideals attributed to creative thinking.  Sure smoking a ‘joint’ was illegal, but it was also a peaceful and harmless form of expression – alcohol then was associated with more aggressive behavior and left for other schools of ‘fish.’

Lets define something here too, I’m not talking about sitting down and smoking an abundance of marijuana – my emphasis and experience is based on the reasonable consummation of a cigarette sized ‘party-favor,’ a ’joint,’ and likely not all at once….  The individual that sits down and consumes a quantity of marijuana may have deeper issues, as I’ll mention shortly.

I hear the arguments that marijuana is; detrimental to our society by inducing crime, as an avenue to harder drugs or even addiction, and that use diminishes productivity within our economic system.  My real-life experience through 35 years of the same close friends tells me differently, and I carefully disagree.

It has been stated that strong-arm robberies have occurred because the robber was ‘high’ on marijuana.  It is my contention from experience that a person high on marijuana would never enter a public area and demand everyone’s undivided attention.  The effect of marijuana increases and enhances the awareness of ones surroundings, including the sense of fear commonly referred to as PARANOIA!  Paranoia is a contributing factor to why so few supporters speak publicly on the matter.  An event such as a “high” robber participating in an active robbery would be cluttered with awkwardness – as humorous as unlikely.

It has been stated that marijuana leads to harder drugs and addictions (issues).  Recent advances in the understanding of DNA have identified that for many there is a genetic predisposition to their addictions.  For more than thirty years my friends have been respectable citizens of conformity in our society, business owners, associates, teachers, pilots, jewelers, and public servants – each peering outside of their own little fishbowls.  My experience through these friends indicates that the casual use of marijuana has not and does not create addiction nor lead to the lifetime use of ‘harder’ drugs.

It has been stated that marijuana use motivates crime and clogs our legal system.

Defining and decriminalizing the simple use of marijuana would greatly reduce the substance of this statement.  The material wealth that our society promotes has a greater influence on the detriment of crime than the smaller number of ‘profiled’ crimes.

Officials have stated that marijuana users decrease the productive level of our economical system and cost employers millions of dollars each year, yet the same officials provide U.S. companies tax-breaks while relocating to other countries – talk about lost production!

I agree that use has no active place in a Safety related workplace, in the same regard as alcohol.  I support the current drug urinalysis procedure only because it is policy in my fishbowl – a fault with the current urinalysis procedure is that employers are allowed to monitor personal time – including vacations far away from the workplace.  I would be more enthusiastic supporting a test that indicated active use (such as in the last eight hours) instead of violating personal privacy and terminating employees for last weeks ‘swim.’


I contend that ‘simple’ use of marijuana has spawned creativity and innovation, and has increased production through new products and businesses.  I contend that casual and the simple use of marijuana is harmless to society.

I do believe that marijuana is detrimental to the mental development of our youth and similarly as cigarette smoke possibly a second-hand health nuisance.  This belief does not deter my conviction that adults deemed mentally capable through our educational system should be afforded the right, freedom, and the respect to make adult decisions on the personal freedom involved here.

So ok, I have chosen to relate to the confinement and damage represented by my associate’s goldfish bowl in this manner –  the goldfish is dead!  Its accomplishments are as limited and visible as the clear water of the small bowl that he floats ‘belly-up’ in – something within me hints that the confinement of it all just doesn’t seem right……

– and from somewhere within I sense my buddy Al’s voice calmly stating, “hey Tom, – it’s just a dead goldfish!”


With this being written, my analogical swim and English assignment is complete.

Tom Haynie – 2003

420 Kayaking


Life at 60 (mph); there just may be hope…


Several states (Colorado, Washington ) have taken the lead; it’s not so bad after all. It never should have been categorized as it was – it’s not ‘taboo.’

The more I learn about Nixon, the less I like him as a President.


2 thoughts on “Its Just a Dead Goldfish Tom….

  1. Pingback: Paddling The Sante Fe River | Life at 60, (mph)

  2. Pingback: Life at sixty | Life at 60, (mph)

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