The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

January 6, 2014

The perils of legalized pot

Marijuana legalization may be the same-sex marriage of 2014 - a trend that reveals itself in the course of the year as obvious and inexorable. At the risk of exposing myself as the fuddy-duddy I seem to have become, I hope not.

This is, I confess, not entirely logical and a tad hypocritical. At the risk of exposing myself as not the total fuddy-duddy of my children’s dismissive imaginings, I have done my share of inhaling, though back in the age of bell-bottoms and polyester.

Next time I’m in Colorado, I expect, I’ll check out some Bubba Kush. Why not? They used to warn about pot being a gateway drug, but the only gateway I’m apt to be heading through at this stage is the one to Lipitor.

Still, widespread legalization is a bad idea, if an inevitable development. Washington state is the next to light up, in a few months. A measure is heading to the ballot in Alaska this year, along with measures in Oregon and California. As with gambling - also a bad idea, by the way - more states are certain to feel the peer pressure for tax dollars and tourist revenue.

I’m not arguing that marijuana is riskier than other, already legal substances, namely alcohol and tobacco. Indeed, pot is less addictive; an occasional joint strikes me as no worse than an occasional drink. If you had a choice of which of the three substances to ban, tobacco would have to top the list. Unlike pot and alcohol, tobacco has no socially redeeming value; used properly, it is a killer.

So the reason to single out marijuana is the simple fact of its current (semi-)illegality. On balance, society will not be better off with another mind-altering legal substance. In particular, our kids will not be better off with another mind-altering legal substance.

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With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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