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January 22, 2014

PARKER: The pot-smokers' confessional

Everybody’s doing it — confessing their youthful, pot-smoking ways — so here goes.

I don’t remember.

Kidding, kidding. Anyone over 30 recognizes the old adage: If you remember the ‘60s, you weren’t there. Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk.

It is true that marijuana smoking tends to affect one’s short-term memory, but the good news is that, while stoned, one does relatively little worth remembering. At least that’s my own recollection.

So, yes, I toked, too. This doesn’t mean anyone else should, and I haven’t in decades, but our debate might have more value if more of us were forthcoming.

Would I have written this when my children were young? Probably not. I was furious when an Episcopal priest, while speaking to my son’s then-fifth-grade class about his ‘60s experience, shared that he had dropped acid in college. My concern then was the same as parents’ now: If a priest (or a columnist) can drop, smoke, drink and become an accomplished adult, how do you tell your children that it’s bad for them?

And then there’s the question all parents dread: “Mom, did you ever ... ?”

Mom: “Absolutely not.”

The correct answer to all such questions is that any drug, including alcohol, is bad for children, hence a drinking age, even if many ignore it. Children’s brains aren’t fully formed and they are not yet aware of the dangers that accompany impaired judgment. Mind-altering chemicals are bad for adults, too, if abused. But adults at least can make informed choices. Besides, who knows? Maybe I was supposed to become the secretary of state.

Among columnists confessing are The New York Times’ David Brooks, who voiced his objections to legalization, and my Washington Post colleague Ruth Marcus, who noted parental concerns and her own reluctance to endorse legalization. This isn’t hypocrisy, which I embrace in the service of civilization, so much as perspectives developed through maturity and experience.

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