It's a bizarro time for weed. Never has it had more success — legal even in many tooth-deficient states — and never more bonkers criticism.
Mason Tvert knows. He is one of the main reason weed was legalized in Colorado in 2012. Now with the weed consulting firm Vicente Sederberg, he's been through it all: dressing up in a toga for some reason, challenging Mayor Hickenlooper to a substance-use contest. He's the P.T. Barnum of getting high. But he seemed thrown by a recent appearance on FoxNews's Tucker Carlson Tonight.
"It was weird," Tvert said, shaking his head.
Tvert was prepped for Carlson's show with his usual points: weed is safer than alcohol, no one should be put in jail for a plant, etc. But Carlson came at Tvert from a squirrelly angle he couldn't have seen coming if he was psychic.
“I would concede that in a lot of ways alcohol is more threatening than marijuana, but it’s also less deadening. And that’s the point," Carlson said. "The government wants to make money in tax revenue, but it also wants to keep young people passive and stupid and less likely to complain and revolt when the economy they're created doesn't serve young people. You don't see this?”
It's a crazy conspiracy theory for so many reasons, one that doesn't seem to have a ton of support anywhere but Carlson's show. The government, which outlawed weed for two generations, put millions in prison for it in part because it was tied to radical young people on college campuses, is now legalizing pot so kids will be pacified and subdued and conquered?
Never mind that there's zero evidence for this conspiracy, not a single email or tweet from any legislator snickering about the dumb kids, never mind your personal experience that it's more often old boozers and pill-poppers who are complacent and easy to fool, never mind that weed is not, in any way, less deadening than alcohol, a drug that literally deads people, never mind that weed is famous for lateral thinking, never mind … well, never mind.
Like any reasonable person, Tvert was caught off guard from Carlson's first (unanswerable) question: "Does it bother you when big business and government align to make young people more passive and compliant?"
"Well … " Mason starts. Marijuana tamps down revolution and makes people controllable? What wormhole did he crawl through? Then he finds his footing. "I think it's kind of an absurd notion, seeing as marijuana has long been associated with younger people revolting. I mean, marijuana became popular in the Sixties during the anti-war movement."
"You think it's this conspiracy to dumb down America?" Tvert asks, trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle that can only be seen by the insane.
It's unclear whether FoxNews Nation is buying this particular conspiracy theory. Mason's clip has five times as many downvotes as upvotes on YouTube, with comments like "Tucker, you are a fool" and "Tucker is the snitch that got stuffed in lockers."
But Carlson was still plowing ahead with this wackadoodle narrative just this week. The House passed a bill to help weed shops have access to banking, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which cruised through the House in a 321-103 vote. Carlson saw a massive shuck job.
"You mismanage the country this badly," Carlson said, "you want people to be so out of it they don't respond. This is really true. They want you to be dumb."
Somebody always wants you to be dumb so they can make money off you. The question is, who's doing it here?