A CNN/ORC International survey released today suggests that a majority of Americans (55%) support legalizing pot, while only 44% oppose it. This follows a New York Times report on Sunday, indicating that Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to legalize medical marijuana in his state. Oh, and unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere without 24-hour cable news, you are probably aware that on January 1 Colorado became the first state to fully legalize recreational marijuana for residents 21 and older.
So, what’s the verdict? Is it high time, or does legalized pot stink to high heaven? (Ha, see what I did there?) According to erudite New York Times columnist David Brooks, these changes will have sobering consequences. (There, I did it again!)
In his January 2 op-ed, Brooks sought to walk the fine line between 60’s freethinking bohemian and dowdy prig. He reminisced about smoking pot as a teenager, and the embarrassing things he and his friends got up to. There was something about going to honors English high and COMPLETELY bungling his recitation of Chaucer in Middle English. I mean, can you imagine? The HORROR! A cautionary tale, boys and girls, if ever I did hear one.
OK, I’ve long had a teeny crush on Mr. Brooks (or David, as I like to call him) so I feel a smidge guilty for lampooning him, and embroidering his story for my own blogging gain. But when he moralizes that government should encourage “the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature” over smoking weed… He couldn’t possibly mean OUR government, could he? The 113th do-nothing Congress? David Brooks was born in Canada, which may account for his unfounded optimism. Or else, he’s smoking something.
I make light of this subject because the truth is, I don’t take it very seriously. I feel much more passionately about marriage equality, and I’m straight!
Every argument for criminalized marijuana I’ve ever heard could also logically be applied to alcohol. “Smoking and driving is a good way to get yourself killed,” writes Brooks. True, but so is drinking and driving – and texting and driving, for that matter. Both are illegal, and still prevalent.
“Young people who smoke go on to suffer I.Q. loss and perform worse on other cognitive tests.” Granted, I’m not a doctor, but I suspect teens who abuse alcohol suffer the same effects. Plus, no one is proposing legalizing pot for teenagers.
No, I don’t worry that society will go to hell in a handbasket if recreational pot is legalized. I don’t predict that unemployed stoner zombies will roam the streets, bloated from gorging on Fritos bought with food stamps. Once the media turns its collective attention to some other chicken little-type story, and the novelty has worn off, I think usage will normalize. People who smoked pot before will continue to do so, probably in similar quantities — and unless a pot dispensary sets up shop in their lobby, pretty much everyone else will just drink wine. (Wine has a nice “nose”. Pot stinks like a skunk — which I can prove, because my downstairs neighbor is a stoner and his smoke permeates everything. It’s an olfactory offense.)
One thing David Brooks and I agree on: We’re too old to party like rock stars. That may be because we’ve matured, or maybe it’s just because we have work in the morning. Either way, no law change or ballot initiative will reverse it.
And do you know what? I wouldn’t want it to.
Put that in your pipe, and smoke it.