Smoking Marlboros is now forbidden in Irish bars in New York City. But buying, selling, and smoking marijuana is legal in Colorado.
It doesn't take a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.
But where are we going?
One certain result of the legalization of marijuana is that there are going to be more potheads, more dropouts, and more deaths on highways from those high or stoned -- and more rehab centers.
Scores of thousands of Coloradans may relish the freedom they have voted for themselves. But the costs will be borne by society and the families of future victims of potheads behind the wheel.
So it has been with alcohol. All of us can recall classmates injured and dead in auto accidents, jobs lost by friends, lives destroyed, and families smashed because of booze.
Just as beer opens the door for the young to bourbon, scotch, gin and vodka, marijuana is the gateway drug, the escalator drug, to cocaine and heroin.
And if marijuana sales bring in the revenue Colorado envisions, other states will follow suit, and some state will become the first to decriminalize cocaine.
Undeniably, the cultural revolution is gaining converts and picking up speed. The haste with which some Republicans are deep-sixing the social issues to focus on tax cuts testifies to this.
It was half a century ago that pot first began to replace alcohol as the drug of choice for baby boomers arriving on campuses in 1964. Yet not until the boomers began moving onto Social Security rolls did the first state legalize marijuana for personal enjoyment.
Yet, as with same-sex marriage, now legal in 16 or 17 states, the legalization of marijuana appears to be an idea whose time has come.
What does this tell us about our country?
America is not only diversifying racially, ethnically and religiously as a result of continuous mass immigration, legal and illegal. We are diversifying, and disuniting morally, culturally, and politically.
Not so very long ago, the U.S. government enforced Prohibition, pronounced smoking a menace to the national health, punished gambling as organized crime, and declared a war on drugs.
Now the government has shouldered aside organized crime to take over, tax, and regulate the rackets. At federal, state and local levels, the government rakes off vast revenues from taxes on booze, bars, cigarettes, casinos and, coming soon, online poker.
Government lotteries have crowded out the old numbers racket.
As the poet Alexander Pope wrote three centuries ago:
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,