Reefer Madness author Eric Schlosser has a decent op-ed in today's New York Times titled "Making Peace With Pot." I'm always heartened to see the argument made in a mainstream media venue, but it is a little disheartening to note that the general argument—citing slightly different data, of course—could've been (and was) made a decade ago. Yet, as Schlosser notes, we still have the office of the drug czar putting out memos claiming:
"Marijuana is addictive…. Marijuana and violence are linked . . . no drug matches the threat posed by marijuana."
One element we're increasingly seeing in pieces like Schlosser's that is new, however, is the examination of the growing number of countries that have managed to adopt a more sane approach without appearing to invite utter social collapse. That, I think, may be crucial to turning the tide.
I suspect in the U.S., there are plenty of people whose anecdotal experience is roughly like mine: We knew quite a lot of people who smoked quite a lot of pot in college, then somehow just fell out of the habit of using this "addictive" drug once they went out and got jobs. The handful of college acquaintances I can think of who still smoke with any regularity are all extremely successful. But for sound prudential reasons, you won't find a lot of them willing to stand up and say: "Hey, I'm a high-powered, well-paid lawyer at a prestigious firm, and I enjoy a spliff in the evening without any terribly harmful consequences." But it's a different story in countries where that admission doesn't risk legal reprisals. As more and more countries decriminalize, the association of pot-smoking with Cheech and Chong lifestyles will go the way of equating alcohol consumption with mob activity.