I wondered aloud on Twitter how usage of pot breaks down among age groups, because I questioned the dismissal of the "old" as non-users.Read More
I'm busy being a step-mom and grandma this week (which means racing around cooking, cleaning, chasing grandson, and generally having the time of my life), so there's not much time for anything remotely resembling work. BUT: I want to note the publication of a new book: Too High To Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution. It pushes SO many of my buttons. (*1)
As readers of this blog know, I favor of drug legalization, and especially marijuana. (See, for example, this.)
I'm also interested in the character of our "free market" economy in the digital age. (See, for example, this or this.) (Part of my interest stems from a book idea that is rolling around in my brain. Green, new, or otherwise, the nature of 21st century capitalism is much on my mind.)
Last Sunday's New York Times Book Review included a review of the book. I didn't read it because I plan to read the book and why would I read a review of a book before reading the book?, plus the book's title/content were enough to get me to buy. (I do so love complex punctuation. One's of life's cheapest, free delights!)
Indeed, I immediately decided to buy it as a way of supporting the author and the idea. (*2) In short: I'm delighted to see this book appear AND from a "mainstream" publisher.
So. Buy this book!
*1: FULL DISCLOSURE: I smoke pot, which in my case works out to one hit from a joint maybe two, three times a week. I'd probably take a hit every day if I could buy the stuff without the hassle I go through to buy it. But even if I didn't imbibe, I'd still favor legalization, as I have for well over thirty years.
*2: Although as I've noted here MANY times, I support buying books as a way of supporting the world's creators of "content." Of which I am one.
I'm no fan of the nanny state (as I've said here before, more than once, I've got a libertarian streak; not enough to support Ron Paul, but yes, it's there). So Mayor Bloomberg's plan to ban Big Sized Soft Drinks In A Few Places But Not Everywhere struck me as idiotic. However --- he's come out in favor of backing off marijuana arrests. And that, in my opinion, is a good thing. There's much reporting on this, but this article from the New York Times summarizes the gist of the matter:
The New York City Police Department, the mayor and the city’s top prosecutors on Monday endorsed a proposal to decriminalize the open possession of small amounts of marijuana, giving an unexpected lift to an effort by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to cut down on the number of people arrested as a result of police stops.
This decision is embedded in New York City politics, which are quite different from those of much of the rest of the country. But the fact that the mayor of one of the world's major cities and the governor of a large state are willing to rethink the dangers of pot (because, in the end, that's what this boils down to) is a good thing, not a bad thing.
When it comes to pot, I had high hopes for a new view after the bust of Michael Phelps a few years ago. (See here and here.) It's time to get over the Reefer Madness conception of marijuana use. Actually, it was time to get over that YEARS ago. How caffeine and alcohol can be legal, and pot not, is beyond my comprehension.
But --- perhaps this new stance by the state of New York and the support of Bloomberg will push matters forward.
And for the record: Yes, I smoke pot --- as in: several times a week in the evening, I light a joint and inhale once. And then go about my business.
Yep, that's it. That's all I do. It's satisfying and relaxing --- far more so than a martini.
And for those who are keeping track: Yes, I'm a responsible citizen who's never been arrested and who works harder than hell every single day and who, most important, lives a life of moral integrity. My inhalation doesn't change any of that.
And for those who also wonder: My view is that some one who has a "problem" with alcohol or drugs or any other kind of "addiction" (sex? shopping? shoplifting?) is gonna have that problem regardless of the law. Most people I know drink alcohol. Almost no one I know is an "alcoholic." Because that's how the human experience works: some of us can handle, and some of us can't (probably for reasons that have to do with genetics and biology), and all the laws in the world won't change the fate of the latter.
So: New Yorkers, please: go smoke a joint. In public. Please. It's the only way we're gonna get some sane legislation nationwide.
This just in from Astute Reader Dexter, our man-not-on-the-beach in Hawaii. As a one-woman walking/talking guinea pig, I concur. (I drink alcohol every day and exercise five to six days a week.) (Currently dealing with a truly nasty case of swimmer's elbow, I might add.) (No! Not drinking elbow. Swimmer's elbow.)
That argument I described in Part 1 is apparently gaining ground. (Mine was a decidedly minority view thirty years ago, which means the rest of the world is getting smarter, or I was dumb long before it was fashionable.)
I mention this because legalization is in the news, thanks to our economic woes. Federal lawmakers are pondering ways to raise revenues, and as is always the case when times are tough, they’re turning their attention to “sin” in all its forms. (As I noted a few days ago, Senators recently heard arguments in favor of raising taxes on a legal ”drug,” alcohol.)
The other is also interesting, but problematic. The author is Michael Winerip, who writes the “Generation B” column in the Times’ Sunday Styles section. (*1) (The “B” refers to “boomer.” Winerip is a Baby Boomer and comments on life for us middle-aged types.)
The essay is worth reading, if only for the comments of Ethan Nadelman, a legalization advocate. But the gist of his essay is the conundrum that drugs pose for many boomers: They did drugs; they’re not sure they want their kids to do them. He muses about his own experience, and his worries about his kids’ fondness for alcohol.
He also interviews David Sheff, who wrote a memoir about his son’s drug addiction. Sheff apparently opposes, or at least fears, legalization because he believes, based on his son’s experience, that “soft” drugs lead to “hard” drugs.
I understand his pain --- no one wants to their kid to become a drug addict. But it doesn’t make sense for him to extrapolate from one case to every case.
The reality is that some people can’t handle drugs, probably because their genes are wired that way. Some people can’t handle alcohol; again, it’s likely the culprit is their genes rather than some character flaw. I can’t handle caffeine. My son-in-law is lactose intolerant. Should we outlaw diary products? Or coffee? I don’t think so.
Here’s the point, such as it is: When it comes to alcohol and drugs, we humans (or, more specifically, we Americans) throw reason out the window.
The facts are that millions of people consume alcohol every day, and they’re not degenerate drunks.
I’ve known, what?, several thousand people in my life? I’d say that most of them drink. But I’ve only known two people who drank themselves to death. And in the case of both, it was clear when they were teen-agers that their relationship to alcohol was, well, different than everyone else’s. They weren’t bad people; they simply couldn’t handle alcohol. That’s sad, and I’m sorry they both died young (age fifty).
But that’s not a reason for me to stop drinking.
Ditto for drugs: I’ve done lots of ‘em. So have many people I know. And nearly all the people I know who did drugs stopped doing them. Only a tiny percentage had a “drug problem.”
Our illegal “drug” problem, however, is gargantuan and harms every member of society. People who want drugs will get them People who want to shoot guns are gonna find, buy, and use guns. All the laws in the world won’t stop them from doing so.
So let’s do the rational thing and legalize drugs. You’ll be safer, your kids will be safer, and we could use those tax dollars to fund schools, parks, libraries, and other good stuff.
*1: “Eh?” you say. “The Styles section? What the hell you doing reading the Styles section??” Answer: It’s my weekly anthropological expedition into the world of the shallow, the vain, the neurotic, the terminally rich-hip, and the fashion-fascists. The inhabitants of the Styles section live in a world remote from my o own, and so their lives are, anthropologically speaking, fascinating. (Well, okay, I'm shallow and neurotic. But not vain. Or hip. And, as anyone who's seen me in the 3-D world knowns, definitely not, um, fashion-oriented.)