According to a story on Denver’s 7News, “a recent report from the U.S. Fire Administration estimates there are 2,900 clothes dryer fires every year, causing five deaths, 100 injuries and $35 million in property loss.” Apparently, we consider that an acceptable risk to the community because we haven’t banned dryers yet. But if we did, just imagine the appliance black market that would spring up over night.
We have all sorts of appliances and do all sorts of activities that we know pose a safety risk. Barbecue grills. Chain saws. Prescription drugs. Firearms. Toxic cleaning chemicals.
To put this into context, the National Fire Protection Association reports that frying poses the greatest risk for cooking fires and Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires. But come November, I’m quite certain that I’ll have no problem finding turkey fryers at my local hardware or discount store.
When it comes to anything to do with marijuana at home, however — whether that’s personal use, cultivation, or manufacture — the slightest infraction elicits cries of “public safety” and “the children” as the media fans the flames of fear about the dangers of marijuana in the neighborhood. Suddenly we think we have a right to know everything our neighbor is doing because it just might pose a danger to my family or, more often than not, we just won’t like it.
We know that dryers pose a safety risk. There are safety requirements for manufacturers, but there are no requirements for owners to properly maintain their appliances. Though the risk may be small in comparison to other activities, it still puts the lives of innocent children living in homes with dyers in jeopardy.
So what if we started treating clothes dryers like the dangerous appliances, the threats to the public safety, they are? What if we treated them like marijuana?
First, we’d institute a ban on all drying of clothes in the home, thus immediately creating a black market for clothes dryers. Otherwise, you’d be required to take your clothes to a professional dryer with all the appropriate safety equipment and protocols in place.
Can’t afford a professional? Get a clothesline.
We might consider allowing you to dry your clothes at home, but you’d be required to secure permits and have regular inspections. The smell of dryer sheets or finding dryer lint in your home could be sufficient cause to initiate an investigation of child endangerment by Child Protective Services. Discovery of an unregulated black market dryer could be grounds for immediate removal of your children. You could lose your home, your job, your family and your freedom.
Yes, I’ve ventured far into absurdity with my example, but only to illustrate the absurdity and hypocrisy of our drug policies, particularly as they relate to marijuana. In recorded history, no death has ever been directly attributed to consumption of cannabis. Even the children who have been rushed to the ER after accidentally ingesting cannabis have recovered without any lasting effects.
I’ll even admit that there are plenty of stupid people doing stupid things in our neighborhoods and communities. Unfortunately, you can’t regulate stupid. Should we all pay the price for the stupidity of a few? Or should those individuals who choose to live their lives like they’re starring in Jackass be held accountable?
So let’s be honest here. Efforts to restrict home use, possession, cultivation or manufacture of marijuana are more about reinstating prohibition and reinforcing stereotypes than public safety. They are nothing more than a backdoor way to recriminalize what the voters of Colorado said should be legal when passing both Amendment 20 and Amendment 64. Restricting home use, cultivation or concentrate production would likely have the opposite effect of what would truly be in the interest of public safety by forcing people to hide inside with less ventilation.
I encourage the public and our policy makers to use common sense and restraint when evaluating the real dangers of marijuana (and clothes dryers) in the community. Even regulating “like alcohol” is over-regulation when comparing the dangers to public safety we know come from alcohol.
And finally, I ask all the stupid people out there to please get a clue. Be safe and be responsible. Keep your clothes dryer clean and free of lint. Anything less puts all our rights in jeopardy.