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.