Everyone is making confessions about drug use and I figure I have a slightly different perspective than some so I’m going to share it. There will be a point I promise but you’ll have to bear with me for a bit of backstory.
I hate drugs. I always have. Growing up in the Virginia suburbs I had older brothers who messed around with pot. I didn’t like how they acted. I also knew a few kids who smoked weed and drank heavily. These were not high school dropouts or anyone’s typical image of a stoner. They were smart kids. At least they were at first.
After several years of heavy drug use one of these kids–probably one of the smarter kids I knew–seemed to have lost his edge. I remember thinking at the time that it was a terrible waste. I wasn’t sure what his future was, but I knew him well enough to think it would have been pretty bright. I lost touch with him completely after high school. Maybe he straightened out enough to accomplish something with all the natural gifts he was born with. I hope so but I honestly don’t know.
In college I once again wound up surrounded by people I liked, some of whom used drugs. Sophomore year I made an impulsive decision to live off campus with a couple guys I didn’t know very well and one I didn’t know at all. It turned out the guys I didn’t know very well were serious stoners. They smoked pot every day and, I soon learned, had a small grow operation in a closet where we lived. In fact, that was probably the main reason they wanted to move off campus–the farming.
The 4th roomate (it was a 4 bedroom apt.) wasn’t just a stoner, he was a hard core user of everything he could lay hands on. He used shrooms and coke when he could get it. He drank. He smoked as often as possible. He was straight out of central casting. One night I went out late for a gallon of milk so I’d have something for breakfast the next morning. When I woke up I found my brand new gallon of milk crushed into the kitchen trash can. My 4th roommate had come home stoned and hungry and sat on the couch drinking the entire gallon by himself. He though it was hilarious of course. In retrospect it’s sort of amusing but at the time I just thought he was an idiot who owed me $3.
I tried pot once. I inhaled. I sat there watching my roommate burn grain alcohol off his hands with a lighter (a great party trick btw), then I got a headache. That was my first and last drug experience. I’d much rather have a glass of wine for a whole variety of reasons.
And that’s sort of the crux of the current argument. I can’t say I’m against relaxing forms of mild intoxication. The truth
is I’m very comfortable having a beer with a friend at a bar but, even after
living with daily users for a year, I’m just not comfortable around
people smoking pot. I’m not sure why. Aren’t stoners just the quiet counterpart to drunk frat guys, the yin to the Delta house’s yang? They’re both sort of idiots in retrospect but is one really any worse than the other?
Even if one is marginally worse, conservatives like freedom and we like being the people who like freedom. Freedom is sexy, not to mention fun when both properly appreciated and responsibly enjoyed. So, for instance, I don’t think society or government should tell me, or anyone else, what to drink. If someone wanted to bring back prohibition, I’d be against it. So why shouldn’t that same impulse apply to pot?
Charles Cooke asked this question yesterday and I couldn’t come up with a good answer. Sure, I’ve seen people ruin their lives with a fixation on pot. But then, the same thing happens with alcohol. In fact, it happens a lot with alcohol. I grew up around adults (not my parents fortunately) who were alcoholics. It wasn’t pretty.
Dave Weigel makes a good point here that I’d expand on a little. Even if we don’t like it ourselves, do we really want people going to jail for smoking pot? Conservatives don’t want government dictating the size of soda we can drink, whether happy meals have toys in them for our kids, whether we can buy incandescent light bulbs or drive gas-guzzling V8s. It’s foundational that government should stay the hell out of our lives as much as possible. Isn’t jail time for pot a pretty extreme form of nanny-statism?
Again, I’m not saying we should all hug a hippie, I’m saying our principles are good and they should guide us. As I’ve explained, I have no interest in pot for myself but if conservatism is about reveling in freedom then that means letting adults revel as they see fit. So I’m taking a wait-and-see approach to the federalist experiment taking place in the mile high state. It seems like the freedom-loving thing to do.