Time for ‘revolution’ to end?

It may be time to call off the revolution. It certainly is time to reflect that the person who recommended we “question everything” didn’t say “change everything.”

Jim Justice is governor of West Virginia and Donald Trump is president of the United States because discontent with politics as usual boiled over last year. Both men ran as non-politicians. Both have serious disagreements with leaders in their own political parties.

As I pointed out last year, anger with “the establishment” runs very deep, right down to the local level. Here in Wheeling, it was responsible for election of a new mayor and reconstitution of City Council. Candidates for local office, including boards of education, take note.

Anti-establishment sentiment extends to social policy, too. Who would have expected a couple of years ago that one of the big controversies in Wheeling politics would be whether to extend anti-discrimination safeguards to the LGBT community? As far as that goes, how many people would have known what LGBT stands for?

Another manifestation of the change everything mentality is occurring in the West Virginia Legislature. A year ago, who would have expected lawmakers would even consider allowing people to smoke marijuana in our state?

Members of the House of Delegates and state Senate have been hashing out (pun intended) a bill to allow use of the THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, for medicinal purposes. There’s some evidence it can help people suffering from diseases such as cancer.

As approved by the state Senate, the bill would have allowed those with prescriptions to get their THC by smoking marijuana. They also would have been permitted to grow their own.

As a friend of mine sometimes comments, “Have we lost our minds?”

THC can be ingested in any number of ways ranging from pills to patches. Allowing people to actually smoke marijuana and grow their own stash is an open invitation to abuse.

Fortunately, the House of Delegates amended the bill to retain current bans on growing or smoking marijuana.

But here’s what’s worrisome: The original bill, allowing growing and smoking, was approved by a vote of 28-6 in the state Senate. Well over four-fifths of the senators saw nothing wrong with it. The six who objected, by the way, were Sens. Mike Azinger, R-Wood; Donna Boley, R-Pleasants; Mike Maroney, R-Marshall; Dave Sypolt, R-Preston; Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha; and Ryan Weld, R-Brooke.

Now, I know some of the senators who voted “yes” on the original bill. They’re intelligent, thoughtful, reasonable, prudent, responsible folks. So what possessed them to say yes to smoking dope for any reason? My guess is that, like so many of us, they’ve just gotten caught up in a “change everything” movement.

It gets crazier. After the medicinal marijuana bill was sent to the governor’s desk, a reporter asked for a comment from Joseph Cohen, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia.

“We hope this is a sign that the state is ready to turn the corner on how it views addiction and that we are now ready to end the absurd war on drugs in West Virginia,” Cohen responded.

You can’t make this stuff up. Ask the families and friends of the hundreds of West Virginians killed by the opioid epidemic whether they view efforts to stop it as “absurd.”

Here’s something about which to worry: For years, many Americans have demonstrated they don’t understand the Constitution. Specifically, they don’t realize how important its protections of our freedoms are. Consistently, around 40 percent say the government ought to be able to ban speech — in all its forms, ranging from the conventional press to the internet — someone in power considers “offensive.” It already happens on some college campuses.

In this new anti-establishment revolution, is there a chance that could become policy?

At first, the French Revolution seemed like a great idea. Then they started lopping off heads by the wagonload and setting up communes.

Mike Myer can be reached at mmyer@theintelligencer.net.