'Dude, how can you watch baseball with this strife all around us?" my buddy Reggie asks me.
"Hey," I reply, "I'm working on the issues between innings, OK? You know that California will pass a legalization-of-marijuana law on the November ballot, right? Just give all the voting adults three months of free weed, under one condition: They must either turn in their weapons or commit to community service."
"Hell if that's ever gonna happen," he flashes back at me.
The TV's volume is a bit too high as I sit down and grab the remote, lowering the game's broadcast to a whisper. I proceed to explain the plan, which came to me in a dream on the night of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's peace march through Chicago. Under my plan, police stations all across California will become hubs for community rebuilding. Each gun turned in by the public is matched by the police force relinquishing a weapon. Any time a citizen feels threatened by his government or wants to go out hunting, he has 24/7 access to claim his firearm from storage for personal use.
Those choosing instead to commit to community service are in charge of organizing monthly neighborhood potlucks, supporting the homeless, environmental enhancements and forming volunteer rosters for local organizations that need the most help. Murals are painted outside the police stations. Boys & Girls Clubs become staffed with dads, grandparents, uncles and mentors, as people will do anything to receive their free three-month supply.
As a further incentive, those turning in a weapon are rewarded with a grant toward college tuition. Each handgun equals a free semester of community college; assault weapons give you a four-year education, all expenses paid: room, board, books, tuition. Where does the funding come from? The tax revenues created from the legal sales of marijuana will cover the costs for those too poor to attend college.
Reggie grabs the remote and turns off the TV. Ringing from the speakers of a neighbor's house, we hear Bob Marley's plaintive plea:
"One love, one heart . . . / Let's get together and feel all right."
"You got a name for this plan, Einstein?" he asks.
"DOPE: Departmental Operations for People's Education. Do the trial run in Vallejo first," I reply, reloading the pipe with Humboldt Gold.
Cliff Zyskowski is a state-licensed psychiatric technician who lives in Sonoma.
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