In the first two parts of this series, I explained the comparative dangers and health risks of alcohol and marijuana. To elevate one over the other is like saying a plain doughnut isn't so bad as a glazed one. The point is that neither of the drugs is good for us or our culture.
We examined both of their addictive natures, the withdrawal symptoms and the hazards they create when those using them operate motor vehicles. We then looked at what science has concluded about their effects on our minds, bodies and relationships. (Of course, there are many other arenas that are impacted by alcohol and pot use -- especially if the latter is legalized in even more states -- such as health care and places of employment.)
Despite its risks and dangers, however, many proponents ask regarding marijuana: "But isn't legalizing pot really an issue of freedom and removing government tyranny over our choices?"
First of all, we can play the freedom card on any issue under the sun -- from polygamy to pedophilia and heroin use to smuggling. But some form of societal civility must be enforced, lest the combustible mixture of hedonism and liberty lead to societal mastication.
Second, we must bear the weight of ensuring societal safety and handing down a republic that is preserving its posterity rather than placing more obstacles in its way. The nanny state is one problem, but so is the guise of liberty that is in reality rampant licentiousness.
Thomas Paine once wrote, "The rights of minors are as sacred as the rights of the aged." But he -- like our other Founding Fathers -- believed not in throwing our youth to the wolves and whims of culture but rather in developing young people into well-rounded moral and responsible citizens.
Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence who helped to establish five universities and colleges and is known as the "Father of American Medicine," wrote about the importance of not exposing young people to corruption before they can handle it. He noted, "In order to preserve the vigor of the moral faculty, it is of the utmost consequence to keep young people as ignorant as possible of those crimes that are generally thought most disgraceful to human nature."
Of course, developing responsible youths is not about keeping them in a monastic bubble. However, it is about possessing enough parental wisdom to expose them gradually to society's amenities and temptations and give them the tools to overcome and control them. But when a hedonistic culture bent on personal license overexposes adolescents to nearly everything in culture, should we expect them then to bear the baton of discipline and responsibility?