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Up In Smoke

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Times change, attitudes change, and (thankfully) hairstyles change. In the last few years we’ve been witness to one amazing change that is surprising in its speed – the idea that adults should be allowed to smoke marijuana, either for medical purposes or because they want to. There’s no reason to think this trend will ever reverse itself.


In the interest of full disclosure, while it’s been more than a decade, I am intimately familiar with marijuana. I didn’t experiment with it, I majored in it in college. But, like most people, I grew out of it. I didn’t make a conscious stop, I just stopped. There comes a certain point when you just don’t do the things you did when you were young, I suppose that’s a roundabout way of saying we grow up.

There also comes a point where everyone (or at least most people) decide they’d rather be able to pass a drug test for a job or not get arrested for possession and walk away. When I think of all the stupid things I did in my 20s, not only were I and my friends lucky to avoid arrest, we’re lucky to be alive. I’m not unique in that.

When I “smoked down,” I knew I was breaking the law, but I never gave it a moment’s thought. It was usually at parties or with friends, it was just what we did. We’re older now and we don’t do those things anymore – parties have seen joints and keg stands replaced with wine and dinner, and we now have kids. We’ve changed. And so have attitudes.

In last week’s election, weed was on the ballot in 4 states – Michigan, North Dakota, Utah, and Missouri. The pro-pot sentiment won in all but North Dakota.

Michigan, where I grew up, essentially legalized pot (where was this when I was a kid?), while Missouri and Utah (UTAH!) legalized medical marijuana.


I’ve always been in favor of medical marijuana, I think the sick and dying should be able to do pretty much whatever they want to alleviate their suffering, and even if it just increases their appetites, more power to them. But I have had reservations about recreational use.

Part of me, cynically, likes to joke that when I was young I had to know a guy who knew a guy and go to a place, etc., in order to buy an eighth, so why should kids nowadays have it so easy? I risked arrest and more, and now people want to be able to go to store? It helped, I joked, meet people and learn to read and trust or distrust people – there was one friend I knew in college I’d not only never buy from again after one experience, I avoided him altogether.

But the less-bitter answer is I would have been fine with marijuana being legal if there was a way to know whether someone was driving while high, meaning high at that moment and not the weekend before. To my knowledge, there still isn’t a test to tell the difference – it’s either in your system or it’s not.

That’s neither here nor there. As is often the case with societal attitudes, they change even if you don’t. I have.

Through a combination of inevitability and my libertarian streak, I’m now on board with legalization. I don’t know if it’ll be a good thing or not, but people have to be free to choose. It’s available and at least decriminalized throughout the country and there’s no going back.


Think of it like gambling. When I was a kid there was Vegas and Atlantic City, with the occasional small Indian casino on a reservation here and there. Then, kind of quickly, they started popping up everywhere. Detroit, where I grew up, now has 3 big casinos, for example. The predictions of doom and gloom didn’t come true. Of course, some people were hurt, gambling is addictive, but by and large it didn’t make much of a difference. People who want to gamble now don’t have to hop on a flight to Nevada or Jersey, they can get in their cars. Marijuana is going to be the same, sooner or later.

I’d rather have the tax revenue and have it above board, out in the sunlight, than run out of a skeevy apartment or bathroom somewhere. I’m not interested, but I don’t want to tell anyone else how to live because I don’t want to be told how to live by anyone else. And that’s the irony of last Tuesday, to me at least. Areas where individuals have won the right to smoke weed if they want have embraced authoritarian liberal politicians who seek to impose so much on those people who voted for personal liberty. Marijuana laws are going up in smoke, hopefully the people who support that will wake up and realize they’re electing people who want most of the rest of their individual rights to do the same.

Derek Hunter is a columnist at Townhall, podcast host, and author of “Outrage, INC.: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood.” To combat how the political left manipulates unsuspecting Americans to the point that they’d believe their lies and act on them, you have to understand how liberals weaponized important institutions against the American people. The book has been praised by Mark LevinAnn CoulterKurt Schlichter, and David Limbaugh says, “Outrage, INC., is thoroughly researched, and offers keen insight and biting humor. It's an important book documenting the left's manipulation of all aspects of our culture to advance its radical agenda.”


And don’t forget to subscribe to his daily podcast, it’s informative, funny and it’s free! Together, his podcast and book will keep you sane and just might help you deprogram friends and family who’ve fallen prey to the mob mentality. Plus, you’ll laugh a lot too.

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