Banning Condoms, a Medical Marijuana Analogy

Graham couldn’t understand what the clerk was saying. “What do you mean you don’t have condoms?” Jack asked. “You know what I mean, right? Condoms, Trojans, a Johnnie…”

“Yes, sir,” replied the clerk from behind the counter. “I know full well what a prophylactic condom is. What I’m telling you for the third time, sir, is not just that we do not sell condoms here in this store; there are no condom sales allowed in this entire state.”

Graham paused, wondering if the third highball on the second leg of his first class flight was affecting his comprehension. He’d already texted Gillian out west that he’d be late and he’d hoped to make up some time by picking up the condoms he’d forgotten to pack for their reunion.

“So, condoms sales are illegal here?” Graham slowly comprehended.

“Yes, sir,” the clerk explained, “our state government is very concerned about the scourge of teenage promiscuity and felt that allowing condoms was promoting a pro-sexual message to the children.”

“What the hell!” Graham muttered as he left. “This state has one of the highest teen pregnancy and STD rates in your whole bloody country.”

A few hours of painstakingly boring airport lounging and a short flight later, Graham arrived at his destination, only to receive a text from Gillian that his delay creeped into her previous commitments and she wouldn’t be able to meet him at the airport. Perfect, he thought, now I can go pick up those condoms.

“I would like to purchase a condom,” Graham slurred, walking into the nearest convenience store, a little drunker now and very jet-lagged, parroting a line from his Monty Python namesake that was wasted on the 19-year-old woman behind the counter.

“Don’t got none,” she shot back.

“What? Don’t tell me rubbers are illegal in this state, too,” Graham replied.

“Ha, no, don’t be stupid,” she scoffed, “Ya just gotta go across the street to the pharmacy.”

Graham turned indignantly and began trudging across the street. He barged into the pharmacy and barked, “Can I get a damn condom here?” His nerves frayed and slightly pickled.

“Yes. Certainly, sir, I just need to see your identification and your marriage license,” the pharmacist responded.

“Great, finally,” Graham began pulling out his wallet, then stopped. “Wait… my marriage license?”

“Yes, of course,” said the pharmacist.

Now Graham was getting angry. “What the bloody hell do you need my… I’m not even married!”

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry, sir. But according to our state’s condom laws, we need to see the proof that you’ve registered your sexual relationship with the state.”

Feeling like he’d woken up in a Twilight Zone episode, Graham took a deep breath and tried to understand the situation. “Are you telling me only married people can buy condoms here?”

“Sir, the voters of our state have decided that condoms should only be used for medical purposes, such as a married couple using them for family planning. The government is very concerned about the diversion of condoms for recreational purposes; that would encourage promiscuity.”

“Well, I guess I’ve lucked out, since I’m not married I can’t buy condoms.”

“You’ve lucked out?”

“It means the opposite, it means ‘out of luck’ where I’m from. I’m not from around here,” Graham explained.

“I could tell by your accent. Look, we can also accept a recommendation from a physician that you need condoms for medical purposes.”

“Like I’ve got time to see a bloody doctor at the NHS…”

“Well, I don’t know where this NHS is, but it shouldn’t take you very long. There’s a medical condom clinic down the block; you could probably walk there, see the doc, and be back in a half hour.”

Resigned to the absurdity, Graham left the pharmacy and went to the clinic. He thought it a bit strange that he saw no indicators of a medical facility; the place was more like some standard commercial rental office. A nice receptionist took his name and in three minutes he was sitting in front of man in casual clothing who’d thrown on a white medical coat over it.

“So, you’re here for medical condoms,” the doctor asked, not even bothering to glance up from the form Graham had filled out.

“I’m here for condoms,” Graham corrected, “but for some bloody reason I need your permission.”

“I understand,” the doctor calmly responded. “So what’s your condition? Herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, warts…”

“God, no!” Graham exclaimed. “I just want to have sex with my girlfriend and not become a father!”

“Girlfriend? So you’re not married?”

“Right, I just want to have consensual sexual relations with a healthy adult human female, and I’d like to wear a latex sheath on my John Thomas to prevent issue,” Graham offered again in his Monty Python sarcasm.

“Do you have any genetic abnormalities? Those count as a qualifying condition for the medicinal use of condoms,” the doctor asked.

“Really? Um, OK, I have a third nipple,” Graham said, with even more sarcasm. “Will that do?”

To Graham’s surprise, the doctor replied, “Yes, that’s fine. Let’s see, congenital supernumerary polythelia, and there you go.” The doctor handed Graham a signed sheet of paper. “Thanks, and be sure to pay Sheila the 40 bucks out front.”

Graham left the clinic, a little stunned at what had transpired and shocked the doctor hadn’t even bothered to check if that sarcastic third nipple existed. He returned to the pharmacy and showed his permission slip, and the pharmacist gladly sold him a 12-pack of Trojans.

That story, my dear readers, is how I feel marijuana sales in this country. Like marijuana, condoms can have a legitimate medical purpose (preventing disease), but they can also have a compelling recreational purpose (having sex without making babies). Like marijuana, it worries us to think of teens using — we’d rather they remained abstinent to adulthood — but it only harms the kids to keep them ignorant about condoms. Like marijuana, condoms for some represent negative stereotypes and cultural fears that have no basis in science or reality. Like marijuana, condoms present negligible risks to society and increased use would increase society’s overall health.

It’s just an analogy I thought of this morning to express how ridiculous our hand-wringing over marijuana sales will seem in 20 years. But the analogy isn’t perfect, since a city, county, or state voting to ban condom sales doesn’t lead to the needless pain, suffering, and death of the sick and disabled.

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