Sullivan on Pot

Andrew Sullivan has a great piece today discussing David Frum’s article/follow-up regarding cannabis legalization. Frum on Pot

Andrew gets to the right stuff very quickly, rightly criticizing the emphasis on nit-picking details, when the big picture is ignored completely.

What interests me is David’s assumption that smoking marijuana is self-evidently bad for people. He cites a study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. My italics. It has no section for responsible drug use. It does not consider in any way the possible notion that cannabis, like alcohol or coffee, can also be a personal and social good.

Exactly. And all of us need to be reminded of this now and again. Even here, we often get so wrapped up in debunking the latest attack on marijuana or legalization that we forget to remind people (and ourselves) of this very important point:

And what is so dangerous about imagination? What is so fatal about temporarily slowing your mind down and letting it meander creatively in a culture fixated on materialism and anxiety and greed and pride? Are not hyper-competitive, insanely complex modern societies actually begging for some mental relief? And what’s exactly wrong or socially damaging with giggling?

Some of our greatest music was written under the influence: would David stop that? Jazz might not exist without it. All of our recent presidents were stoners at some point – and the current president in his teens was an enthusiast even by Hawaii standards in the 1970s. Does David think that the man who wrote Dreams From My Father suffered from impaired memory? Does he believe that Michael Phelps who smoked pot and became the most decorated Olympian of all time didn’t do one of those two things? Can we not discuss drugs rationally, rather than with this vast super-structure of boomer-era culture-war synapses attached to it?

Very nice job.

Update: In a similar vein, this program airing next Wednesday looks interesting: Thinking Allowed, Intoxication. In a special programme, Laurie Taylor explores the role and meaning of both alcohol and drugs in human life. Why do so many people chose to alter their consciousness with stimulants, whether legal or illicit? Professor James Mills, the author of ‘Cannabis Nation..’ is joined by Dr Fiona Meesham and Professor Chris Hackley.

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