A reader writes:
I've smoked probably a dozen times in my life. I don't do it anymore because for whatever reason, it leaves me in the stupids for about 36 hours, and I usually can't spare that.
But as I've gotten older, I've come to realize just how ridiculously widespread pot use is. The closet of people who either currently or have in the past used marijuana on a semi-regular basis includes probably 75% of the people I know, including highly successful doctors, lawyers, public health researchers, IT professionals, small business owners, architects, local and state politicians, farmers, mechanics, chefs, teachers, researchers, community leaders, my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course the musicians and artists in the crowd too. Yes, I have seen abuse of marijuana sidetrack lives and ambitions, and have true negative impacts on people, but those instances as a percentage of the use I've observed are tiny, and far, far lower than the negative impacts of cigarettes or alcohol.
I recognize that we can't just legalize it and be done. Legalize it with caps on THC levels, blood THC levels for drivers, levels for intoxication at the workplace, tax it at 200%, ban advertisements on TV and billboards, advertisements that target kids, and set a legal smoking age. But all of that is eminently do-able.
If you have to put me in a box, I'm in the "did all kinds of drugs in college, but quit when I had kids" box. I still think most drugs should be legalized.
What do you tell your kids? It seems to me that no matter what you tell them, your actions say that you only follow laws that you agree with, and you are free to break laws that you disagree with. My kids speak contemptuously of parents who smoke pot and attempt to hide it from their kids.
Since I don't do illegal drugs, I try not to mix with people who do. Too much of a hassle. I don't want to risk arrest, and I have no patience for dealing with active drug addicts. So, while I have an active social life, it doesn't include drugs, and it includes very little alcohol for that matter. Yeah, I know that some people duck out in the alley to toke up at parties I go to, but they are not my close friends and I'm not a fanatic about this.
It seems to me that you get the worst of both worlds in the cannabis closet. You get to get high occasionally. On the other hand, your kids think you're a hypocrite, and you're stuck with friends who are more or less drug oriented.
I smoked pot like a fiend in college; when I smoked I did nothing else because I was unable to do anything else. I quit after a pretty co-ed stopped by my dorm room to ask me to go to a party with her and I was too baked to get off the couch because I was engrossed in Caddyshack 2.
Smoking pot -- more than alcohol or shrooms or hash, the three other drugs of choice in my youth -- kept me from achieving anything of consequence. When I stopped smoking pot and, not coincidentally, started drinking coffee, I became more productive. I also became happier about myself. I don't miss pot.