“Aren't you afraid of buying that here?”

 

Fear is one of life's strongest restrictors. It is always easy to find reasons not to do something, and many of those reasons can be traced back to fear, or some element of it (lacking confidence, etc.). Of course, the woman from Cincinnati had a point: a jail in Antigua sounds absolutely terrifying. But the island nation also can't really afford to be locking up tourists for a couple grams of weed. Plus, when it's being sold in the context of, “you guys wanna ride jet skis, go snorkeling or just smoke some weed?” it comes with a certain relaxing legitimacy, which is exactly how it should be everywhere else.

 

Fear is what the American government has successfully installed in its people: Weed is “bad” and the consequences are “scary.” Why? Is it simply to maintain power? Control? Money? Oppression? Racism? It is probably a combination, all meant to maintain the status quo – none more exemplified than while on a cruise ship down to Antigua, sitting at dinner surrounded by at least 90 percent white people when our six Asian waiters threw on some Asian looking garb, hopped on stages and Gangnam Style'd for our entertainment.

 

There is no legitimate reason why the head of the DEA, Michele Leonhart, continues to state that marijuana is equally as dangerous as heroin. Leonhart is aligning herself with the people who believed the world was flat. It is completely backwards. History will not remember her kindly.

 

History will not remember those human beings pulled into correctional control because of oppressive laws that put significant effort into painting marijuana as evil and to punish users according to those lies.

 

No lie is bigger than “the land of the free.” It is borderline brainwashing.

 

As Cornell West wrote in Democracy Matters, “Cheap American patriotism not only reflects an immaturity and insecurity...but also is an adolescent defense mechanism that reveals a fear to engage the world and learn from others.”

 

The inability to question whether America is actually free or whether simply repeating the phrase and words like a high school punishment in the ‘70s constitutes freedom is a problem. Just because you can say you're free in America, but not necessarily in China, doesn't actually make you free, it just makes you less oppressed.

 

America certainly has many economic freedoms not seen in other countries, but those numbers are changing. Largely capitalistic views are taking root, as the world works out the balance between socialism and capitalism. But none of that has to do with individual and personal freedoms.

 

Sadly, it seems those who have mastered the American economy do gain those freedoms. Money mitigates – if not totally evaporates – the rules and fears that constrict and incarcerate others: you don't see the police rolling through my parents' neighborhood in suburban Atlanta unless they're trying to catch people stopping for one second instead of two at a stop sign. That is the distorted reality of the land of the free.

 

But when you're on a beach surrounded by people while a local finds weed, daps you up twice and you get giggle-stoned for the first time in months while walking through the clearest water imaginable, without a care, a view unlike anywhere else in the world, with two of your best friends and a bucket of local beer - which we drank in public - it becomes glaringly obvious that the mirage is not occurring right in front of you – despite what those tingling senses may tell you – but rather at home.