The New York Times' Brooks created the template for high-brow naysayers with a column burdened with the clunky headline "Weed. Been There. Done That."Brooks begins the piece by making it clear that he has personally inhaled, writing, "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."
However, Brooks continues, he and his buds eventually drifted away from pot -- not because of the many horrible things about it ("it is addictive in about one in six teenagers," "smoking and driving is a good way to get yourself killed," "young people who smoke go on to suffer I.Q. loss and perform worse on other cognitive tests"), but due to the fact that "stoned people do stupid things." After one such incident, he confesses to feeling like a "total loser."
This acknowledgement serves as prelude to his argument that "in healthy societies...government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned." And while "citizens of Colorado are, indeed, enhancing individual freedom," 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."
Presumably, Tina Brown, of The Daily Beast fame, agrees with Brooks's sentiment. Yet she took to Twitter to argue that he had been too polite to say that....
...legal weed contributes to us being a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation even less able to compete with the Chinese— Tina Brown (@TinaBrownLM) January 3, 2014
MSNBC token conservative Joe Scarborough took a less erudite tack in his reaction to sales in Colorado. In a video shared by Talking Points Memo, he says, "I don't get it, man. I don't get the legalization thing. I don't want to get too much into it, I mean, seriously, it just makes you dumb. Pot just makes you dumb."
Not that he's speaking from personal experience. He says he stayed away from weed in part because everyone who smoked the stuff struck him as a moron.
Here's the Scarborough clip, from his Morning Joe program:
Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi subsequently ripped on Brooks, Brown and Scarborough in a recent post. Yep, he's the one who coined the "Yuppie Prohibition League" handle -- and it's likely he'd sign up Ruth Marcus as an honorary member.
In a Washington Post op-ed dubbed "The Perils of Legalized Pot," Marcus attempts to preempt critics labeling her a "fuddy-duddy" by not only admitting to prior pot smoking, but suggesting that during her next visit to Colorado, she may well try out some Bubba Kush. Yet she believes that "on balance, society will not be better off with another legal mind-altering substance. In particular, our kids will not be better off with another legal mind-altering substance." She underscores this last statement by spending much of the piece citing studies about the harm done to kids who toke and brushing off the idea that Colorado's law limiting legal consumption to those 21 and over will make the slightest difference.
Fellow WaPo opinion writer Ed Rogers takes a more political slant. In his take, "Republicans, Just Say No to Marijuana," published today, he advises Republicans against jumping on the pot legalization bandwagon.
"Without question, we will face more human tragedy and ruined lives as a result of marijuana legalization," Rogers allows, adding that "if the Democrats think they have found an issue for 2014, let them be the ones to promise more pot to the population. And spare me the talk about personal freedom being at stake here. You aren't more free if you are a pothead and freedom isn't measured by marijuana consumption."
Depends on who's doing the measuring, presumably.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Marijuana archive: "'Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37' story among Colorado pot satires some take seriously."