David Brooks' Unwitting Support For Legalizing Marijuana

NY Times conservative columnist David Brooks wrote a column denouncing the use of marijuana, but when you read his take on it, he actually justifies its legalization.
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Many people have commented already on David Brooks' sophomoric article about his marijuana use as a teenager and which in the end, he denounces the substance. But in Brooks' rush to castigate cannabis, he actually lists all the reasons from personal experience why using pot should be perfectly fine for the masses. Check it out:

Weed: Been There. Done That
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For a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I smoked marijuana. It was fun. I have some fond memories of us all being silly together. I think those moments of uninhibited frolic deepened our friendships.

But then we all sort of moved away from it. I don’t remember any big group decision that we should give up weed. It just sort of petered out, and, before long, we were scarcely using it. We didn’t give it up for the obvious health reasons: that it is addictive in about one in six teenagers; that smoking and driving is a good way to get yourself killed; that young people who smoke go on to suffer I.Q. loss and perform worse on other cognitive tests.

I think we gave it up, first, because we each had had a few embarrassing incidents. Stoned people do stupid things (that’s basically the point). I smoked one day during lunch and then had to give a presentation in English class. I stumbled through it, incapable of putting together simple phrases, feeling like a total loser. It is still one of those embarrassing memories that pop up unbidden at 4 in the morning.
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So, like the vast majority of people who try drugs, we aged out. We left marijuana behind. I don’t have any problem with somebody who gets high from time to time, but I guess, on the whole, I think being stoned is not a particularly uplifting form of pleasure and should be discouraged more than encouraged.

Most of the people against legalizing pot, like Bill O'Reilly, harp on the assumption that a gazillion new drugged-out drivers will be on the road and tons of new stoners will be created, essentially destroying his white Christian society. BIllo forgets that there's already virtually unlimited access to pot and it's been that way since the sixties. So I doubt there's going to be a huge increase in pot smokers, much less pot drivers.


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Others call it the gateway drug to much worse things. It didn't turn out that way for Bobo, by his own admission, but I guess that doesn't matter. There are several reasons why people are against legalizing it and for Brooks, it's all about the dreaded moral ecology.


In legalizing weed, citizens of Colorado are, indeed, enhancing individual freedom. But they are also nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be.

However his own article disputes his conclusion and explains why legalizing reefer shouldn't be a problem for Americans. If we take a closer look, his history of using marijuana looks like almost any other typical American's experimentation with it:

* When he was a teenager he smoked it.

That seems to be the norm in America.

* He and his pals had a lot of fun getting high and their friendship grew tighter because of the experience.

If you polled baby boomers on this, I'd say 95% would say they shared this experience also.

* After a time he drifted away from it as he grew older and got deeper into his studies.

Even in the lower middle classes, David, many teens who smoked pot often into college eventually tailed off or stopped because they were interested in the next phase of their life or imbibed infrequently because they wanted a college degree (you can't be a student and be a drunk at the same time either) or they began studying a trade (carpenter, electrician) or got a job at UPS, fire department, post office, etc. Legalizing pot isn't going to change that transition for everyone.

* When he got stoned once, he embarrassed himself.

When most people embarrass themselves (whether they are high or not), they usually try not repeat it that behavior again. It's sad that Brooks isn't embarrassed enough to wake himself up in the middle of the night over some of the ridiculously bad and clueless columns he's written since college.

But then he gave the very reason why it should be fine to legalize marijuana:

So, like the vast majority of people who try drugs, we aged out. We left marijuana behind.

In other words, most people grow out of it. He admits that the "vast" amount of people who smoke will just leave it behind. And the word "vast" really says it all:

1. of very great area or extent; immense: the vast reaches of outer space.

2. of very great size or proportions; huge; enormous: vast piles of rubble left in the wake of the war.

3. very great in number, quantity, amount, etc.: vast sums of money.

In closing, I would like to thank David Brooks for his unintentional defense of legalizing marijuana. We can use all the help we can get.

About John Amato

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