Have you ever had the experience of knowing immediately and without question that something was wrong, and have everyone around you argue, and smirk, and yell, and posture, and insult, and mock, and still know you are right, and then be ignored only to have the fact show you were right all along, as you knew you would be?
That’s been my experience with marijuana. At this point, I’m no longer angry about it, frustrated or even sad. I’m resigned. I’m not accepting, because that’s not how I’m wired. This isn’t even the only issue like this: I will not be surprised when in future years there will be other cultural suicidal decisions that I (and many others) warned about and tried to explain why they were utterly, stupidly, indefensibly wrong. We may just open the borders. We may gut the First Amendment, or try to ban guns. We may swallow the poison pill of socialism, or worse. I won’t be surprised. I have learned that the entropy of society drifts toward idiocy, ignorance and self-destruction. I know I am lucky that I was born quite a bit smarter than my typical fellow citizen, but they are not lucky that they so, so overwhelm me and people like me when it comes to guiding our cultural ship.
The New York Times article, authored by Kenneth L. Davis, the president and chief executive of the Mount Sinai Health System and Mary Jeanne Kreek, head of the Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases at Rockefeller University, is titled “Marijuana Damages Young Brains.”
It essentially outlines a public health crisis, and more: it explains that we are not merely legaizing but preparing to market and promote a “recreational drug” that will make the public even dumber and less intellectually capable now than they already are. They write,
Numerous studies show that marijuana can have a deleterious impact on cognitive development in adolescents, impairing executive function, processing speed, memory, attention span and concentration. The damage is measurable with an I.Q. test. Researchers who tracked subjects from childhood through age 38 found a consequential I.Q. decline over the 25-year period among adolescents who consistently used marijuana every week. In addition, studies have shown that substantial adolescent exposure to marijuana may be a predictor of opioid use disorders.
Wow! Pot makes people who started smoking it like they were chewing gum when they were teens and kept doing it through college and their early twenties become less capable than they would have been if they didn’t? Who suspected that?
Oh, just everybody who thought about it, watched and listened to some of their stoned pot-happy relatives and friends, and weren’t ideologically committed to lies and denial, that’s all.
We have a perfect analogy for this script: cigarettes. It was common knowledge that cigarettes were addictive and caused serious health problems in the early 20th Century. American joked about it, even wrote songs about it. Never mind: smoking was cool, so the culture accepted and endorsed behavior that killed, and is still killing, millions.
Wide and deep pot use won’t kill that many, but it might hurt society more… by crippling so many individuals’ ability to reason that our ability as a nation to make good decisions is similarly disabled, by wounding so many workers’ productivity and skill that business and the economy falters, and by lowering the IQs of so many potential leaders, thinkers, artist, intellectuals, educators, scientists and essential professionals that life is less rich and promising. We knew that pot was bad for society a long time ago too, but promoting it as a harmless, fun, cool drug that made life more mellow was part of the mantra (as in “bullshit”) of the Sixties. Musicians, pop culture figures and arrogant intellectuals began a relentless campaign to undermine what had been a powerful and effective cultural taboo, and they wouldn’t stop until it was gone.
Since marijuana was cool, the government’s efforts to stem its use were reresented foolish, square, hysterical (Have you seen “Reefer Madness?”) oppression. People weren’t jailed very often for using or selling pot because not many did it—until opinion-makers and role-models were telling kids how great it was. It was like free sex (breaking that cultural taboo worked out well, too): adults were just keeping the good stuff away from kids, by not letting them find out how great it was. The law of supply and demand took over: soon so many people were breaking the law that trust in all laws and the system that made them eroded. The prisons filled up, lives and families were ruined, and billions were spent on policies that couldn’t reverse the cultural tide. All over a “harmless” drug!
I saw all of this coming, developing, and knew how it would turn out. I told people too, at all those parties surrounding by giggling, inarticulate fools who by day were my smart, witty fellow students. No, I said, literally a thousand times, I do NOT want to try a joint “just once.” I am not “curious,” and yes, the fact that it is illegal is enough for me, and would be enough even if it wasn’t so ridiculously obvious that nothing that smells like that, is used like that, and makes people talk and act like that can possibly be anything but unhealthy for individuals, society, and me.
All my experience from that time onward showed that I was right and the pot advocates were wrong. One by one, all of my marijuana enthusiast friends noticed that they were having memory and motivation problems, and stopped. (I didn’t have to stop, because I never started.) Even pop and rock stars announced that it was time to clear their brains, but it didn’t stop the propaganda at all: what did they know? They were old.
Little by little politicians caved, because that’s what they do; besides, there was money to be made and budgets to balance. I, meanwhile, continued to explain—no, it’s not an argument, because there isn’t another valid side—that once a culture legalizes what it had made illegal, the reversal more than changes a law. It declares that the government now believes that what it thought was wrong and harmful is good and right. That genie does not go back into the bottle. That’s why Prohibition failed: at the point it was enacted, alcohol was already so embedded in the culture that trying to remove it was futile and destructive.
Pot was not embedded in the culture 50 years ago, but the progressive process was compete once decriminalization began, and then legalization, pointing to, inevitably, commercialization. Just as alcohol makes America unquestionable less healthy, effective, happy and successful, so will pot make it worse as well.
This completely avoidable development has caused horrible pain and tragedy in my own immediately family (as has alcohol abuse). I cannot go through life blaming and being angry at everybody, but anyone who expresses surprise that everything those of us who were paying attention said was dangerous about pot was pretty much true had better be willing to duck. I don’t want to hear it now. I just hope they enjoy the diminished nation and culture they helped construct.
And mow a song, from the late, great, Ray Charles…