I Lost On This Issue, But I Was Right

The New York Times tells us today, “Psychosis, Addiction, Chronic Vomiting: As Weed Becomes More Potent, Teens Are Getting Sick.”


Who could have predicted such a thing?

Some of the more intense discussions on Ethics Alarms, primarily with libertarians, arose from the unshakable position here that the government’s capitulation to marijuana legalization efforts would accomplish nothing but short and long-term damage to vulnerable populations, the young, and the nation generally. I saw the writing on the cultural wall long ago, when arrogant elites in entertainment, politics, journalism and other spheres declared pot “cool,” and my college associates began seeking to sit around bleary-eyed and moronic to actually having interesting discussions and doing things.

The cultural message had once been clear and unequivocal, but once opinion leaders and “respectable” adults decided that they liked their joints and didn’t care about the collateral damage to people they didn’t know and communities where they didn’t live and businesses they didn’t care about, the point of no return was inevitable.

As with gambling, another social poison that our governments have embraced and encouraged in order to make money for themselves, legalized pot is regressive in its effects. If black lives matter, why don’t black minds matter? It has been demonstrated in many ways that when endurable negative side-effects of conduct to the wealthy and white, the less affluent and “of color” communities suffer longer and worse without easy fixes. We could see this 60 years ago. Eh, whatever. Pass the joint.

What is and was always so infuriating about our ethically lazy society submitting to the demands of the Pot Generation (yes, mine) is that their arguments were never more than rationalizations, beginning with #22, “It’s Not The Worst Thing,” and bad analogies (no, banning marijuana was not “like Prohibition,” but it would be now).

I’ll take my share of blame. I never got myself into a position of influence where I could have any impact on this obvious societal blunder. I just watched—the smartest guy in my high school class literally frying his brains after pot led him to try more toxic drugs; a college room mate with short-term memory problems today stemming from t when he began every morning with a bong hit in the Seventies; family members who have wasted resources, time and brain cells getting stoned and ending up in legal trouble.

Add to that the devastation wrought by alcoholism among my friends and extended family, and I think, “There had to be some way I could have made the case that adding another destructive, addictive legal drugs we already suffer from wasn’t ‘cool’ or ‘just’ but rather irresponsible, reckless and so, so stupid.”

Maybe there was, but I wasn’t smart or diligent enough to discover it.

I was right, though….for all the good it does me, or anyone else.

13 thoughts on “I Lost On This Issue, But I Was Right

  1. “I’ll take my share of blame. I never got myself into a position of influence where I could have any impact on this obvious societal blunder.”

    You can’t be an expert on everything and you are not responsible for other people’s choices.

      • But, if you tried to get yourself into a position of influence on everything important, you wouldn’t have enough time in the world to accomplish it all. There’s only so much you can do.

      • Why is your generation’s foray into mindlessness your individual fault? Isn’t that a lot like screaming faxcefirst into a hurricane? While I agree that the late 1960s and early 1970s are the bedrock of most of our societal problems, it simply cannot be the responsibility of one person to hold back the tide of lunacy that is/was to come as a result. You, I am sure, did your part to stem the flow of the waves but forces beyond our control were hard at work implementing plans for future “growth”. You nurtured and protected your Garden but others chose to let weeds grow and overtake the harvest.


  2. I’ve wrestled with this issue the same way I’ve wrestled with porn. Should society be allowing obviously harmful and destructive activities because enforcing laws against those activities can potentially put certain constitutional rights at risk or perhaps enlarge the government’s power too much? (The war on drugs destroying the right to privacy, for example).

    As a social policy, I think a ban against alcohol in most circumstances (an occasional drink with dinner isn’t bad) and all drugs makes sense to me. It also makes sense for the government to block access to porn websites (I wouldn’t be in favor of prosecuting anyone, just civil fines for distributors). The civil libertarian side of me does wonder how far morals legislation should go though.

    Our society failed somewhere because of the large number of people who have smoked/continue to smoke pot. If the laws were rigorously enforced, almost everyone I know would have a minor record because of smoking pot. I’ve never smoked it, but I am almost always the outlier. It’s usually me and the ultra conservative Christian who only watches PG movies who haven’t smoked it. Most younger people are completely open about smoking it.

    Perhaps the 60’s ushered in an era of decadence that’s consequences are finally being seen. Unrestricted premarital sex has produced widespread STD’s, teenage pregnancy, and way too many out of wedlock births. No fault divorce has produced a divorce rate that is ridiculously high and a certain attitude toward marriage that encourages selfishness, a get mine or get out type of mentality.

    People have also (not completely yet) lost the rules of public decorum, such as not cursing in public or wearing skimpy clothes in public. Most bating suits today are almost like underwear. Some retail outlets now even sell thongs to children! Our society is flat out losing it.

    Perhaps the 40’s ad 50’s were a little too rigid, but the overreaction is much much worse. I would prefer a society with Leave it to Beaver that is stable compared to what we have now.

  3. I come at this from more of a federalist stand-point: unless you are talking about importation or commerce across state lines (not Commerce Clause jurisprudence as it now stands, but as it should stand), marijuana laws should be left to the states. I can fully rely on my state to take the fun out of anything enjoyable (3.2 Beer, non-explosive fireworks, and medicinal marijuana treatments that can’t be smoked).


  4. Big government needs big profits from pot sales. That I and of itself makes them no different than the dealer on the corner. Government is the kingpin.

    My solution is to get rid of narcandy which enables addicts to consume all sorts of drugs consequence free. I know police officers who have told me they have administered Narcan multiple times to the same addicts some on the same day. Test positive for THC without a medical script- you’re fired and no unemployment benefits.

    More people have died last year from overdoses than all firearm homicides and still the government incentivizes it.

    I’ll support tax dollars for getting people off drugs but I am tired of financially supporting programs that facilitate habits destroy lives.

  5. I am absolutely aghast at the proliferation of smart phone gambling. Unbelievable. And joint ventured with sports leagues and teams! Charles Barkeley and Kenny Main educating us on what a parlay is? I’m surprised MLB hasn’t loosed Pete Rose on the public as an expert. Mind boggling. But hey, gambling on sports is FUN! When did losing money become fun?

  6. Like Jack, I could recite a rather long list of friends, classmates, acquaintances and relatives whose marijuana use was either physically/mentally debilitating or led to cascading poor choices and decisions that ruined their lives or at least derailed them for significant periods of time. I know of nothing good that ever came from using marijuana or any other illegal drug. I was taught from childhood that drug abuse was a problem of the weak-willed. My dad used to say, “There’s a reason they call it ‘dope.'” I came to think of “recreational drug use” as an obvious oxymoron.
    I worked in drug enforcement for a state agency for a couple of years in the late 1970s. This was just before cocaine became ubiquitous, and our biggest drug problems were heroin, LSD and pharmaceutical amphetamines. Marijuana use was common among young people then, but my unit rarely bothered with building marijuana cases unless the quantity was pounds of the stuff. I helped bust several dealers moving significant amounts, but never just casual users. As a sheriff’s deputy both before and after my brief foray into full-time drug work, I made many arrests for marijuana possession, often in conjunction with other offenses like drunk driving, larceny or burglary. I know that the local courts were never very tough on marijuana possession unless evidence of intent to resell was strong, or the offender was a career criminal. Even felony marijuana charges (larger amounts) were often pled down to misdemeanors. Simple possession of small quantities (one ounce or less) of marijuana was made a ticket-able offense, like speeding, in my state around 1980. I honestly never knew of anyone actually going to prison (serving a year or more in a penitentiary) for simply possessing marijuana. I would like to think that some of those busts I made for drug offenses helped those arrested to turn their lives around, but I have serious doubts that it was very many who did so.
    That being said, by careful cultivation marijuana has steadily become more potent over the years so that the marijuana of today is a far different drug than that of nearly fifty years ago, and the health concerns, side effects and social policy consequences are accordingly more concerning. Law enforcement has a hard enough time dealing with the fallout from alcohol use, never mind adding another legalized street drug to the mix.

  7. The word I use to describe this problem is “decadence”. It’s the underregulated form of stagnation. Stagnation is the fundamental liability that takes the form of predictable motivational limitations. A stagnating person succumbs to limitations on their thoughts and volition which prevent them from accomplishing what they might otherwise want. Decadence describes the development of bad habits, addictions, impulsiveness, instant-gratification, loss of discipline, et cetera.

    Removing substances and stimuli that most effectively promote decadence will help up to a point. However, theoretically anything could become the object of an addiction. If we don’t draw a line somewhere, we’ll wind up with dogma: the overregulated form of stagnation, in which people forbid themselves and each other from harboring certain thoughts or feelings.

    Unfortunately, there is no magic balance between these two tradeoffs: any middle ground will have some of the problems of both.

    Fortunately, we don’t have to settle for a mere middle ground. We can do better than that. With the constructive virtue of transcension*, we can practice discipline and self-knowledge that allow us to keep our minds and wills strong, so that we can explore ideas and experiences while avoiding becoming enthralled. We can continue to challenge ourselves and become more than who we are.

    If the plan for freeing people from the dependence on drugs doesn’t involve replacing that dependence with transcension in some way, then it will not work very well.

    *”Transcension” was formerly called “transcendence”, but the latter also has connotations of “too sublime to explain” so I resurrected a perfectly suitable and intuitive word for “the act of surpassing one’s limitations” that nobody was using.

  8. I was against Oregon legalizing weed. Then I saw people who did benefit from consumering cannabis, especially CBD, for medical purposes (nausea, migraines, arthritis). Those who use it that way are different from your average toker.

    I have also seen the damage from using pot. A family member had chronic hyperemesis to the point he couldn’t travel or even go to dinner without ending up throwing up for hours (sometimes days). I know a guy who who worked at a dispensary who ended up in the hospital several times for getting sick from cannabis.

    Today’s weed is much stronger than the stuff from the 70’s. This adds to the fallout from overuse and I suspect may be behind some mental health issues.

    The other interesting thing about legalized pot here in Oregon,
    was that the black market got worse. Before the vote to legalize, advocates for legalization said it would make for less black market activities. None of them now admit that not only is it worse, we’re now seeing environmental damage because illegal pot farms are taking away water from rivers and other bodies of water. These depleted water sources effect the wildlife, etc. Where are the environmentalists on this issue?

    Speaking of the environment, cannabis is a bio accumulator, so if pesticides and other chemicals are used to grow it, the plant takes it all in, which then ends up taxing our bodies and harming the planet.

    Personally I’d like to see weed go back to only being legal for medical use. It’s probably too late to go back so I think the next best step is getting more education out there on the negative ways misuse of weed impacts health, the economy, and planet.

    But the cannabis lobby has money and influence. Governor Brown has certainly benefitted from their donations. I’m guessing a public health campaign encouraging discernment when it comes to using pot wont be coming anytime soon. Let’s just hope not too many brains and hearts will break from the harmful aspects of cannabis and the industry that pushes it.

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