WASHINGTON -- Turning once again to what the sociologists call "coping mechanisms": There is marijuana and then there is alcohol. They are increasingly the civilized options.
Consider alcohol. Consider a suave scotch and soda. One does not sit down to a scotch and soda to get blitzed, unless one is a veritable drunk. One sits down and sips a scotch and soda while conversing with friends. Perhaps one reads a book. One enjoys the scotch for the taste. With scotch there are scores of different tastes. One drinks a single malt. One drinks a blend. The same is true with bourbon and all manner of alcoholic drinks. One imbibes for the taste, then for the refreshment, finally for the relaxed feeling it imparts. Very, very finally, some drinkers drink a scotch and soda to get blitzed and drop out. Maybe the pathetico drinks to pass out or to throw up. A true alcoholic is a sad spectacle. A drunk is a person who has ruined many a good drink.
Consider the increasingly civilized option, marijuana. One smokes a joint to get stoned and steadily to dropout. Is that really civilized? I have never heard of a connoisseur savoring a joint for the taste. One smokes it for the effect. One takes it in a brownie or cookie for an even more immediate effect -- sometimes a deadly effect. Colorado, which has legalized recreational marijuana, has already reported at least two casualties and many more hospitalizations. Possibly the marijuana smoker becomes more convivial at first, but mainly one becomes steadily more isolated, more alone. Is this really civilized? A pot party, as opposed to a cocktail party, can be a pretty gray affair. With contemporary marijuana, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) rate, that is to say the psychoactive ingredient in the drug, is about 15 percent higher than it was in the 1960s or 1970s. The increased level of THC makes the drug at least five times more powerful and brings with it increased medical problems. This little known fact hints at how widespread our ignorance of marijuana really is during the current debate about marijuana, or I should say the current non-debate?