In today’s The New York Times, David Brooks fondly remembers his days as a teenage pothead. While he finds his experience with the devil-weed did not harm him in any way, he is out to seriously harsh Colorado’s mellow, suggesting that legalizing pot was not prudent and certainly not something government should be doing.
Dear David, just imagine what would have happened if during one of those innocent, frollicky, friendship-deepening marijuana smoking sessions which you fondly recall, you had been busted. Not busted by your friend’s dad, who would have called your parents who would have grounded you for a month, but busted by the police.
Wait. You’re white and middle-class. The police probably wouldn’t have done much. After all back in the 1980s there was that time that Geraldine Ferraro’s son was arrested for dealing coke, and he only got four months in jail, and that was some kind of private luxury jail and that was COCAINE and there was too much publicity for him not to go to jail; plus his mom had lost the election, and Americans hate losers.
The problem with making something against the law isn’t that it discourages use. It really doesn’t. You and your friends were an example of that. (See also, Volstead Act, The) The problem is that laws have consequences and those consequences aren’t always allotted equally. The problem is some kids might get busted and get the shit kicked out of them by police officers. Some kids might even go to jail or lose their ability to get financial aide for college, while other kids will never even get arrested in the first place.
And please don’t tell me it’s all good because you aren’t talking about prosecuting users, just dealers. Chances are your dealer back in the day was one of your peers, someone not very different from you. If the occasional use of marijuana isn’t that bad, then frankly, neither is growing some in a closet and selling or giving it to your friends. If it’s less harmful than either alcohol or tobacco (and it’s pretty difficult to make the case that it’s more harmful than either of those substances) then basically you’re saying it should be a criminal offense because government’s job is socially engineering people to be the best selves they can possibly be as defined by you.
You do know that there are people in prison for selling pot don’t you? Sometimes small amounts of pot. Do you really think this is a good idea? Do you really think as a conservative that this is where you want your tax dollars to go? And your justification is the idea that if it weren’t illegal, prices would go down, and therefore what? Everyone would smoke to the point of idiocy? How expensive was pot when you were a teen? Did you stop because it was too expensive or because you just found better ways to spend your time?
You want to live in a society that “subtly encourages the highest pleasure, like enjoying the arts or being in nature” That’s cool, dude. So I guess that means you don’t want to kill Big Bird or slash arts funding for public schools. But what does that have to do with whether or not pot is legal? In fact, if it’s legalized and producing some tax-revenue, maybe we could afford to pay for arts education and subsidize museums. You do realize your argument stinks of nanny-state rhetoric, don’t you? It’s not even logical nanny-state rhetoric like the kind Bloomberg espoused, which at least had to do with alleviating actual public health issues like heart disease and obesity.
By making pot legal, Colorado is not “nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be.” It’s only legalizing pot. If we followed your logic, that government should be “nurturing” us, then government certainly wouldn’t be paying farm subsidies for growing cheap corn which leads to cheap corn syrup which is making us fat, lazy and diabetic. Because who wants to be that?
(On further reflection is it possible that the purpose of the Op-Ed page at this point is to troll us? That it’s gotten so bad that this is the only way The Times can sell its papers?)
(No tip jar here, but if you liked this, you might maybe like other stuff Marion’s written — perhaps this whacky dystopian novella, or this little parallel universe one, or maybe even this novel of gentrification and is discontents.)