In the Arena

Higher Times

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My old friend Goldblog–now GoldBloom, I suppose–has an excellent response to David Brooks’s immediately notorious column about marijuana use.

Goldberg is right: the most important thing about the legalization of marijuana is the decriminalization part. Lives will be saved, left uncorrupted by the brutal ignominy of prison life. Money will be saved, too, or spent on more worthy things than sending pot dealers to jail. Brooks uses–I suspect he may be ironic here–the fatuous cliche “experimenting with” marijuana. Goldberg takes him to task for that…but still consigns marijuana use to a distant, if not misspent youth. I have not been so lucky. Chained to this evil addiction, I have inhaled as an adult; it isn’t a big deal, sometimes months on end go by without a rumor of a buzz. It is usually a pleasant, relaxing, giggly experience. But–unlike Brooks, who had to give a presentation while blitzed in high school–I’ve never done it anywhere near work and never when I had anything serious on the agenda, like reading a good novel. I find that it makes reading more difficult; I’ve never tried, but I assume it would make writing or reporting impossible.

I think it is important to be honest about this. We’ve been dishonest for so long. And public disingenuousness on trivial issues like this one compounds the tendency, especially among young people, to distrust voices of authority on everything else. I would guess that the vast majority of those who indulge have had experiences similar to mine. I don’t doubt that some do become mortal stoners–Brooks has it as one in six, which seems rather, you’ll excuse the expression, high to me. But we’ve learned in America that to craft the laws to protect the addictive few, at least when it comes to mild narcotics, is a fool’s errand. (Although alcohol is, palpably, a far more dangerous and vicious drug than marijuana.) Frequent readers may remember that I’ve proposed a kaleidescopic and only slightly tongue-in-cheek exception for the elderly: legalize all drugs for people over the age of 80, if they turn in their drivers’ licenses. My slogan: Turn on, tune in, drop dead.

I am not proselytizing for weed here, although it does seem to have strongly salutory effects for people suffering from a variety of maladies, from glaucoma to post-traumatic stress. I am proselytizing for moderation in all things.  Our societal reaction to marijuana use has not been moderate. It has been extreme, ridiculous and costly. We should be spending our time and money on other, more pressing issues. It is good to know that sanity seems a rising tide.

28 comments
delta5297
delta5297

"Our societal reaction to marijuana use has not been moderate. It has been extreme, ridiculous and costly. We should be spending our time and money on other, more pressing issues."

I would add that our societal reaction to a LOT of things has been extreme, ridiculous and costly.

dyscostic
dyscostic

Disagree entirely about the reading thing. I could not even attempt to get into Hegel or Husserl's Cartesian Meditations before cannabis experimentation revolutionized my brain.

RenoMaestro
RenoMaestro

To DanBruce: you think pot LOWERS libido? Huh?  Memo to DanBruce: pot is a very very very very very strong aphrodisiac. 

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

It is telling about the cowardice of our representatives that the voters must directly address what they (politicians) should have done long ago. That marijuana remains illegal is laughable...that it remains a schedule 1 substance is ludicrous. Marijuana clearly has a substantial medicinal benefit for many classes of maladies, which in and of itself disqualifies it from inclusion on schedule 1.

My wife suffers from chronic neurological pain, and may well benefit from pot, but she cannot legally obtain it in NY. OxyContin? Sure! Vicatin....fentanyl...morphine...tramadol...oxycodone...No problem! These meds are much more potent and addictive than marijuana, but she could have any or all of these if she wished (as long as her urine proved she was using and not selling). Does anyone see a problem here?

notsacredh
notsacredh

Thanks for a realistic view Joe. It is much appreciated.

notsacredh
notsacredh

"I find that it makes reading more difficult; I’ve never tried, but I assume it would make writing or reporting impossible."

Please explain this to Mark Halperin. It does explain much though.

VictoriaWeiss
VictoriaWeiss

You obviously do not work at a hospital where many of your patients come in high from drugs - including marijuana.  Drugs - legal and illegal - is destroying our society.

PhillyCannabis
PhillyCannabis

It's so weird that cannabis has been illegal for so long. We live in a very strange country. Luckily people are giving up silly superstitious beliefs and the religious no longer have a strangle hold on the country. It will take some more time but religious will soon be kick to the fringe of society where they belong. Gay marriage, drug legalization, prostitution legalization and abortion in all 50 states. The people might finally be able to be free.

DanBruce
DanBruce

Like tobacco, pot leaves an unmistakable bad odor in clothes and often on a person's breath, which allows me to not associate with pot smokers. I don't hire them, welcome them into my home, or have any social contact with them if I have any knowledge of their status as users. I feel the same way about alcohol users. From my personal experience over the past 45 years or so, including my hippy days, I have found that pot and/or alcohol, when used on a regular basis, are negatives in social situations, especially for nonusers who are around those who do use. Both pot and alcohol give the illusion of sociability without requiring a real investment in being social.  I hope that restaurants, offices, airplanes, etc., will have non-smoking sections that prohibit both tobacco and pot smoking.

JohnSelf
JohnSelf

I am not sure why any sane person would think of marijuana as dangerous. It calms angry people down, it helps people who are sick feel better. It brings pleasure  and happiness to others. What fun it would be to grow a plant in my yard and enjoy the fruit of my labors without having to engage in all the geo economic nonsence that goes along with the drug business. Commercialization  and prolification of the pot trade is another issue apart from legalization. I support the grow your own movement. No waiting in the line at the Pot Shop or Cops busting your dealer to worry about. Other than a sneaky squirrel or nosey neighbor there  are no worries. Having the freedom and the right to choose is what's really about, given time  people will find their own path on this issue . No one should have to suffer or be humiliated  for choosing to smoke pot. 

maze321
maze321

Decriminalization is what most people have been requesting for DECADES!! Over 9,000+ less busts/arrests would have been made in the last 4 days, if this was a national policy! We all know some will abuse anything they use, but this may be the best alternative to alcohol, etc. Better late than never! Free the people & tax payers from unnecessary burdens.

notsacredh
notsacredh

@HudsonValleyTim, my wife is in the same boat. She has chronic and severe back pain and also has borderline glaucoma. Both of us also get muscle relaxers for back spasms. Between us we get 180 muscle relaxers and 210 pain pills/month. I'd much rather fire one up than rattle when I walk.

JasonKing
JasonKing

@VictoriaWeiss Most of us live outside of the hospital and see many of our fellow citizens use marijuana with safety and moderation. 

Just because you work in the ER and see a bunch of people injured from car accidents does not in any way equate to cars destroying society or mean we should ban cars. 

To blame drugs for society woes is naive at best. It's arguably society itself which drives people to drugs. 

Besides, there's an inherit problem with assuming drug use is immediately bad. There's nothing wrong, especially on a moral level, with a grown adult choosing to relax and enjoy a little cannabis. 


DanBruce
DanBruce

@PhillyCannabis If the studies that indicate lower sperm counts and shrinking libidos among male pot users are valid, it may be the pot users who over time will be making a move to the demographic fringes. Weeders may not be good breeders.

Rockster403
Rockster403

@DanBruce no one is forcing you to be around us and just to let you know I am very successful and I have smoked it for over 30 years.

PacificSage
PacificSage

@DanBruce 


OBVIOUSLY, you have a problem with social skills (and I'm not talking about your like minded nerd buddies from church) To disparage social drinking is the reason why the US has a strong violent Mafia. Thanks Dan.

PacificSage
PacificSage

@JohnSelf Really want to know? The tea/repub types draw from hate. Hate of gays, women, income fairness, respect for foreign citizens…..the list goes on.


Talk to them and you will get a passionate whining list of complaints that mask hurt and desperation of financial ruin.


What they fear the most is confronting their most deepest fears. Cannabis is a very "spiritual' or 'feeling' drug and is simply too much for them to take.


When you hear somebody speak ill of Cannabis smoking, you have met a person who is afraid of self realization, somebody who needs to be told what to think and do.

JasonKing
JasonKing

@DanBruce Tell us how you really feel? When did the bad man touch you? You seem like a hateful person with nothing better to make yourself feel good than talk about 'weeders' and pot users like they are a sub class of people. You are the fringe now and always will be. 

JasonKing
JasonKing

@DanBruce The only fool is you for making such an assumption about somebody you don't know. I don't smoke pot, but I do enjoy freedom. Why are you such a freedom hater? Do you want to ban everything you don't like? 

JasonKing
JasonKing

@DanBruce It's not because your sensory perceptions are 'not dulled' by either, it's because you basically don't know what you are talking about. 

DanBruce
DanBruce

@JasonKing @DanBruce Well, Jason, most of the regular pot smokers, like regular alcohol users, have made themselves a sub class of people. They are the ones who slip off to toke or sip. I can't see any difference in the effects upon one's sociability between the two. Of course. that may be because my sensory perceptions are not dulled by either now.