Abe Rosenthal, Recovering Pothead


A strange little column by Abe Rosenthal, headlined "I Kicked the Habit" in the Daily News and "Deadly Drug Demon" in The Washington Times, offers a partial explanation for his incoherent vehemence on the subject of drugs. Rosenthal—whose greatest contribution to journalism may have been helping to answer the question, "How boring do you have to be to lose a slot on the New York Times op-ed page?"—confesses that he was a youthful pothead:

I was only a youngster at the time, but I still remember, to the precise moment, the day many decades ago when some rich kids who lived near a lush New York public garden offered some friends and me a fistful of smokes. Their cigarettes turned out to be marijuana–strong enough to twist a life. Or ruin it.

Often the boys smoked enough to supply themselves with days and weeks of throwing up, but I can't remember seeing girls with a joint in their hands or lips. But then, that was a different time.

I turned out to be a short-time pot addict. I cannot testify now how much I smoked or for how long or what those few days of smoking pot did to me. All I remember is that I smoked until I vomited.

The others smoked as long as they could stand it–some a few days, some a month, some a lifetime.

Rosenthal says he gave up the habit by the time he went abroad as a foreign correspondent for the Times. But I guess all that pot-induced vomiting left a bad taste in his mouth.

It's a bit of a puzzle how Rosenthal and his friends managed to induce vomiting with a drug well-known for enhancing appetite and alleviating nausea. But the most interesting question he raises is this one: "Why am I writing this column?" I suspect no one really knows.