Privileged White Pundits Agree: Rocky Mountain High, Bad

by lizard

Sean Azzariti, an Iraq combat vet, was the first person to legally purchase marijuana in Colorado (an eighth of Bubba Kush and some cannabis-infused chocolate truffles).

I’ve written quite a bit on the inevitable de-criminalization of cannabis, including a personal experience of white privilege in midwest suburbia.

It appears I’m not the only one who decided to write about their youthful experiences with weed, because David Brooks wants us all to know that he’s been there, and done that:

For a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I smoked marijuana. It was fun. I have some fond memories of us all being silly together. I think those moments of uninhibited frolic deepened our friendships.

But then we all sort of moved away from it. I don’t remember any big group decision that we should give up weed. It just sort of petered out, and, before long, we were scarcely using it.

Before I go any further, I want to mention that I think this is pretty typical of how young people experience cannabis—as a phase that eventually becomes uninteresting or counterproductive. And David Brooks essentially says the same thing.

But because he’s David Brooks, he concludes his piece with this moralizing heap of garbage regarding the experiment Colorado is embarking on:

The people who debate these policy changes usually cite the health risks users would face or the tax revenues the state might realize. Many people these days shy away from talk about the moral status of drug use because that would imply that one sort of life you might choose is better than another sort of life.

But, of course, these are the core questions: Laws profoundly mold culture, so what sort of community do we want our laws to nurture? What sort of individuals and behaviors do our governments want to encourage? I’d say that in healthy societies government wants to subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship. In those societies, government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned.

In legalizing weed, citizens of Colorado are, indeed, enhancing individual freedom. But they are also nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be.

Moral ecology? That sounds serious. I better consult another white, privileged columnist from a major news publication, to better flesh out the perils of legalized pot:

On balance, society will not be better off with another legal mind-altering substance. In particular, our kids will not be better off with another legal mind-altering substance.

As the American Medical Association concluded in recommending against legalization in November, “Cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern.” It added: “It is the most common illicit drug involved in drugged driving, particularly in drivers under the age of 21. Early cannabis use is related to later substance use disorders.”

And this point, for me, is the most convincing: “Heavy cannabis use in adolescence causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ, and use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood, and psychotic thought disorders.”

Yes, totally agreed. Pot may be the mind-altering substance that pushes us over the edge. Let’s stick to legal depressants and stimulants, like booze and Adderall (“properly” prescribed, of course).

David Weigel does a fine job putting Ruth and David in their place. Read the whole thing, it’s spot-on.

I began this morning making a mistake I haven’t made in awhile: watching Morning Joe. I watched Joe hem and haw in a sorta folksy over-simplification of an actually serious issue, and it was the perfect start to what turned out to be a really shitty day. Here’s a good summation of the clown show:

The rolling out of legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado has sparked endless cable news filler (and probably a befuddling uptick in traffic to The Blaze), including the occasional revelatory moment. For example, on Friday morning’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough made the shocking revelation that he’s never tried the stuff, because it “makes you dumb,” then predictably defended his recreational substance of choice on the basis that weekend binge-drinking never leaves you an incapacitated moron come Monday morning.

After some banter about regional price differences, which Mark Halperin explained has to do with “quality, I’m told” (ha, ha, get it?), Scarborough offered that he doesn’t “get the legalization thing. I don’t want to get too deep into it, but seriously. It makes you dumb. Pot just makes you dumb.”

Scarborough explained that he used to hang around with people who smoked a lot of weed, then, in his best Chick Publications Bible tract character voice, said “Never once did I say ‘Hey, man. That looks like something I want to do.’”

Willie Geist then enacted the next scene in this familiar conversation with your dad in the 70s, asking “Does drinking make you dumb?”

“In large amounts, yeah, it makes you dumb,” Scarborough allowed, but observed that he never saw any of his weekend-drinking high school buddies hurting come Monday morning, unless they “wrapped their tree around a car.”

Ha fucking ha ha, Joe Scarborough. For those of us who have had people we care about killed by drunk drivers, your idiotic comparison is duly noted.

There are simply no compelling arguments against ending cannabis prohibition.

  1. Big Swede

    I like the decriminalization of the stuff to use an example of free market economics.

    Illegal weed on the street $100/oz.

    Legal, taxed, regulated weed $400/oz.

    Now lets talk Health Care.

    • Frank N. Beans

      You obviously are clueless.

      • Big Swede

        Yahoo News Jan 2nd.

        “The price for high-quality weed at some shops was around $400 an ounce. That’s about four times what smokers are paying on the black market in Colorado, according to crowd-sourced Internet surveys. Much of the extra cost was attributed to state and local taxes in excess of 25 percent.”

    • Greg Strandberg

      Unless Colorado can get prices under control a lot of people will just call up their old dealer and get an oz a lot cheaper. Instead of driving down the black market, those prices only encourage it.

      They need more supply. Washington is going to have big headaches come March.

      States better get their laws changed and get into contact with some of those counties in BC and down in California. Just an idea.

  2. Turner

    I want to grow it in my garden and give it away to my neighbors. I do this now with tomatoes and squash, both of which are about as harmful as marijuana.

  3. larry kurtz

    icymi: the Bozeman Chronicle is hosting a poll.

  4. Greg Strandberg

    Colorado’s looking at $67 million in additional tax revenues this year, that that’s just projected so far. We saw what demand was the last few days.

    Now how long before our legislators do the right thing and end this silliness? How about the Missoulian article about the guy fighting pot charges? This whole thing in Colorado kind of makes that look like a joke, don’t you think?

  5. Craig Moore

    Given your extensive youthful experience, can you confirm this report’s findings?

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