A reader writes:
I'm a 21-year old college student in California on a campus where smoking weed is more acceptable than cigarettes and nearly as common as drinking beer. For myself I don't like weed at all, but I'm one of a handful. My father is a 50-something academic who teaches at a smart little college in New England, and over the vacations he had a dinner party for some colleagues. Afterward, they retired to his office and got stoned. It was a reminder of their days as students, but the only student present didn't want any.
I'm in my mid-twenties, and without reservation I’d say that, at minimum, half of the people I know like smoking weed. Also, many people my age and younger, including myself, say they'd often rather have a joint than go out drinking; we consider it to be an edifying way to have an altered consciousness, as opposed to amnesic destructor of our mental and physical health and a ruiner of countless Saturdays. That's encouraging, especially for an age range in which binge-drinking is thoroughly out of control.
During the week we all work as respected employees, colleagues, or young entrepreneurs. Everyone else either abstains without passing judgment or hides it. But I’ve never met anyone my age who’d scold you about it.
My younger brothers find themselves in an even more accepting social environment. The youngest, who just graduated high school in a politically middle-of-the-road town, once estimated that not a single person in his grade hadn’t tried smoking weed at least once. Obviously the virtues of smoking pot at this age are debatable. But I’m quite sure that attitudes are moving in the right direction, albeit in a maddeningly slow fashion.
Six days before leaving for my first year at college, a few of my friends and I decided to spend a few final, treasured moments together. To enliven what might have ended up a dull evening, I brought some bud with me. We live in New York, and spend most of our time on the Upper East Side (where we also went to high school). While we were standing around waiting for a friend, four undercover cops (each wearing bulletproof vests, I might add), parked in a taxi, mistakenly took our loitering for drug dealing activity.
As we were walking to Central Park, these undercovers chased us down, frisked us, and sat us down in cuffs in broad daylight (this created a most unusual sight for the wealthy passerby of the Upper East Side). After sitting in a jail cell for a few hours, my friends and I were released to our frowning parents (the charges were eventually dropped due to the illegality of the cops' search).
This blatant misuse of tax dollars is not only cause for worry, but incredibly frustrating. Most of my friends and I -- all college freshmen at top-tier institutions -- enjoy toking on a J more than guzzling down obscene amounts of alcohol, yet for some reason are stigmatized for our preference. My parents have at times offered to buy me a beer or two, but unleashed their full fury when they found out my marijuana habit. It is this deeply-embedded loathing for pot in the Baby Boomer Generation that is the main obstacle toward Marijuana Policy Reform.
(Photo: cannabis female flowers from Wikipedia.)