When I was a kid, I remember sometimes going to a family restaurant with my grandparents where there was a cigarette vending machine in the lobby. Since they smoked, occasionally I’d be sent on an "errand." Of course, technically, I wasn’t supposed to do this. And they might have caught some trouble (from both the authorities and my parents) if I weren’t discreet and had been discovered while on one of these missions. But I was discreet and they didn’t get into any trouble. The last time I checked, I wasn’t carrying any moral scars and--as I’ve mentioned before--I don’t smoke or even, particularly, like smoking. At some point, however, the people decided that this easy access to tobacco might not be in the best interests of all children and parents trying to raise their children not to smoke, so the machines were pulled.
But there are always new twists on old themes. Now, in California, there’s something of an opposite movement. To be sure, no one is proposing adding cigarette machines to restaurant lobbies. Heaven forbid the demon tobacco find any toleration or sanction in health-obsessed California! No, here, we prefer Mary Jane, Hashish, Pot, or whatever you like to call it. Granted, you need to have a "prescription" and you have to use your fingerprint to make the machine function. But the argument for these machines is curious: its defenders argue convenience but also, oddly, anonymity. The machines are not in restaurant lobbies, but tucked away out of sight. So where’s the convenience? If convenience were the issue, then we’d have them in at least as many places as we have Starbucks, right? There’s still some sense of shame surrounding the purchase of pot? Imagine that!? There’s still some sense of shame (or at least embarrassment) surrounding the purchase of condoms and feminine hygiene products too, but that doesn’t prevent nearly every restaurant and bar from placing those vending machines in their restrooms. In many restrooms, you can even purchase aspirin and allergy medication from vending machines--so why not this "medication?" Why not Viagra vending machines? Or oxycontin? Penicillin anyone? (You can put that next to the Viagra, of course!) So I think these guys are making a mistake. The extremes the machine’s manufacturer took to prevent kids from being sent on an "errand," make it seem unlikely that there will be many accidental purchases by unauthorized individuals. So why not just put them everywhere? If marijuana use is just as innocuous as aspirin use, why not put them out in the open? And then, before you know it, society will accept it in the same way it now appears to accept illicit sex.
Just make sure--no matter what--you keep that tobacco behind the counter in a locked glass cabinet. Otherwise kids might get the wrong idea.