The Cannabis Closet

A reader writes:

I am a third-year law student at a top law school and I have never been around so much marijuana in my life, including my time as an undergraduate. The editor of the law review is 730px-Bubba_Kush going to become a prosecutor. He uses a vaporizer so that his neighbors cannot smell the smoke. He says that he enjoys a bowl every evening. The president of the Moot Court Honor Board keeps him supplied. The friend who I smoke with the most is the second-ranking student in our class. He achieved a perfect score on the LSAT, which put him in the 99.98 percentile of law-school bound students.

I am a responsible parent and a homeowner. I can write some of the most complex law review articles and I can syllogistically reason with the best of attorneys. Everyone knows I am formidable in class. However, when I smoke pot, all of my skills and talents evaporate for days at-a-stretch.

If I take a little puff on a Friday, I will produce sub-par work for the rest of the weekend. If I actually get "stoned," I notice my mental capacity is diminished for at least ten days. My answers in class become ordinary. I reason through dense material more slowly. I get that "I wish I had thought of that at the time" feeling more often because I fall into rhetorical traps of law school discourse regularly. If I smoked pot within the last seven days, I will get outwitted by people who I know I could keep up with otherwise.

I know it is confusing to some people that I seem so bright for weeks at a time and then suddenly slow and forgetful. During the high, I access different parts of my brain and drum up some pretty powerful ideas (I've tested them on the sober), but that goes away during the hangover, as do the mental faculties that I originally had. Since we take only a single test per class, we can be graded on anything we covered over the entire term. If the test asks questions from material covered while I was in a haze, I get below-average to average grades. Otherwise, I ace it.

I am not saying that pot should be illegal. My friends say that it doesn't affect them for nearly as long or strongly as it does me. Even if it does (and I suspect they sugar-coat), that's not a case for prohibition. I just think that, in our advocacy, we paint an awfully rosy picture of a drug that induces passivity and inhibits mental function.

I would like to see the legalization of marijuana coupled with a thoughtful program to inform people about the negative effects. I'm not talking about "brain on drugs" nonsense. I want to tell teenage boys that, if they smoke pot, their athletic drive is likely to be inhibited, their communications with the sober may be embarrassing, and their girlfriends are more likely to be made of pixels.