Though I respect their views and share their concerns, I come down on the other side. My long-standing position is that marijuana should be decriminalized if not made legal. Regulate and tax the tar out of it, please, but let’s stop pretending that pot consumers are nefarious denizens of the underworld. Among those who enjoy a recreational smoke are the folks selling you a house, golfing on the ninth hole and probably an editor or two here and there.
The “war on drugs” (beware government domestic wars) hasn’t made a dent in the popularity of pot. Nor, after decades of common use, has it been proved to be the evil weed of “Reefer Madness.” How much better to have dedicated our resources to education and treatment rather than, through prohibition, to empowering criminals and cartels, not to mention ruining young lives with “criminal” records.
I came to this position not when I was a college student, a time when inhaling pot was a consequence of breathing the ambient air, but when I was the law-abiding, straight-arrow, tough-loving mother of a teenager. Suffice to say, I became aware that marijuana use was common among teens of all hues and stripes.
I couldn’t imagine then or now that children might be labeled criminals for behaviors that mostly required parental attention. This should not be construed to mean I recommend pot use, certainly not by minors, any more than William F. Buckley did when he concluded that it shouldn’t be illegal.
Marijuana isn’t necessarily harmless — abuse is abuse — but adults should be able to consume it without fear of legal repercussions, just as we consume alcohol. Even though today’s weed is much stronger than the stuff we used to smoke, its use is rarely as consequential as alcohol can be. Stoners might become overinvolved in the microscopic ecosystem of tree bark, but they’re unlikely to shoot up a bar over a pool game.