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Monday, Apr 21, 2014
Commentary

The pot-smokers’ confessional

Published:

WASHINGTON —Everybody’s doing it — confessing their youthful, pot-smoking ways — so here goes.

I don’t remember.

Kidding, kidding. Anyone older than 30 recognizes the old adage: If you remember the 1960s, you weren’t there. Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk.

It is true that marijuana smoking tends to affect one’s short-term memory, but the good news is that, while stoned, one does relatively little worth remembering. At least that’s my own recollection.

So, yes, I toked, too. This doesn’t mean anyone else should, and I haven’t in decades, but our debate might have more value if more of us were forthcoming.

And then there’s the question all parents dread: “Mom, did you ever ... ?”

Mom: “Absolutely not.”

The correct answer to all such questions is that any drug, including alcohol, is bad for children, hence a drinking age, even if many ignore it. Mind-altering chemicals are bad for adults, too, if abused. But adults at least can make informed choices. Besides, who knows? Maybe I was supposed to become the secretary of state.

My long-standing position is that marijuana should be decriminalized if not made legal. Regulate and tax the tar out of it, please, but let’s stop pretending that pot consumers are nefarious denizens of the underworld. Among those who enjoy a recreational smoke are the folks selling you a house, golfing on the ninth hole and probably an editor or two here and there.

The “war on drugs” (beware government domestic wars) hasn’t made a dent in the popularity of pot. Nor, after decades of common use, has it been proved to be the evil weed of “Reefer Madness.” How much better to have dedicated our resources to education and treatment rather than, through prohibition, to empowering criminals and cartels, not to mention ruining young lives with “criminal” records.

This should not be construed to mean I recommend pot use, certainly not by minors, any more than William F. Buckley did when he concluded that it shouldn’t be illegal.

Marijuana isn’t necessarily harmless — abuse is abuse — but adults should be able to consume it without fear of legal repercussions, just as we consume alcohol. Even though today’s weed is much stronger than the stuff we used to smoke, its use is rarely as consequential as alcohol can be. Stoners might become over-involved in the microscopic ecosystem of tree bark, but they’re unlikely to shoot up a bar over a pool game.

I quit because it bored me. I’m a caffeinated sort. Having given up nearly everything that made getting out of bed worthwhile, I am healthier, happier, more productive. But both my current abstinence and the indulgences I once enjoyed (and may again, if my cocktail-stoop buddies have any say) were my own. My decisions, my responsibility, my consequences. As they should be — for marijuana as well.

Kathleen Parker’s email address is kathleen parker@washpost.com.

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