ALL of these hostage standoffs we have in Hawaii makes you think wistfully of the old days when the drug of choice was pot, not crystal meth.
You cant chill out
on ice, man
I'm not proposing the legalization of marijuana. I'm just pointing out the difference between a naturally grown drug that makes one mellow and the devastating chemical concoction of crystal methamphetamine, which keeps people awake for days, turning them into psychotics.
We just had another standoff in Kalihi this week. I don't know the details. But historically, this is the scenario: A young man distraught over his job/girlfriend/life-in-general starts smoking ice. A few days later, having gotten no sleep, he shows up at the girlfriend's house or job with a gun. The police SWAT team truck -- which by now has more miles on it than Jeff Gordon's race car -- shows up and a bunch of cops in full battle gear fan out.
Roads and schools are shut down, sometimes, as in the case of the recent standoff in Nanakuli, cutting off an entire area of island. The man eventually is either shot by police, shoots himself or turns himself in. Relatives and friends then go on TV newscasts to report what a nice guy the hostage-taker is when he's not drugged up.
It later turns out that the man has 153 previous arrests, including 73 gun violations, but spent only a weekend in jail after promising not to smoke ice anymore. Hawaii judges take a man's word as his bond, instead of the other way around.
OH, yeah, then about four years later the guy does the same thing again and the judge is shocked and hurt.
Now, this kind of stuff didn't happen back in the '60s, when you could get a secondhand smoke contact high simply by walking across the University of Hawaii's Manoa campus.
You can't even imagine a guy toked up on pot getting involved in a standoff with police.
Cops: Throw the gun out and let the hostages go!
Perp: What gun, man? It's a submarine sandwich.
Cops: Throw out the submarine sandwich.
Perp: It's gone, man. How about sending in a couple of pizzas?
Cops: What are your demands?
Perp: About what?
Cops: Why are you holding those people against their will?
Perp: Because, uh, like I, you know, hey man, it's kind of slipped my mind. Could you come back tomorrow? And bring some chips.
Cops: We're going to fire in some gas if you don't come out.
Perp: Is it, like, GOOD gas, man?
Cops: This is your last chance, send out the hostages.
Perp: Why do you dudes have to be so hostile, man? Give peace a chance. Mellow out. Go with the flow. Have a brownie.
The guy finally gives up and the police hold a press conference saying it was the second-longest marijuana-related standoff in the history of Hawaii -- nearly 57 minutes.
Cops: We had one five-hour standoff, but it turned out that the perpetrator was sleeping most of the time.
But times have changed. Now the insidious drug crystal meth grips the state. It's a different generation. A drug that makes you stay up for days? Why? Sleeping is one of the greatest things about being alive.
As the Legislature considers legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, maybe it should include a clause for law-enforcement purposes as well. Hold the SWAT team, send in the brownies.
Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
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