Another criticism I received comes down to the idea that my arguments are purely subjective, and that one could simply refute them by pointing to a different experience of smoking pot (i.e. it brings me serenity and clarity of mind). This is precisely why I chose the format that I did in criticizing recreational marijuana. I chose one of the most universal things known to man (viz. music). And in choosing it, I did not look to a bunch of religious moralists to present my critique of drugs, but rather to a bunch of secular moralists. Anybody can endorse anything for any reason, but the endorsement of an artist, coupled with the general populace who evidently find a particular message compelling, is far more of a convincing case than any that I could make myself, no matter how reasonable the claim. Where are the pot songs that celebrate the "clarity of mind" that it apparently brings? Where are those fabulous "pot songs" that make as virtuous a case as did the man who criticized my post? There are not many positive songs out there about marijuana, and the ones that are tend to be profoundly childish and self-serving. However, what you do tend to see (on this particular subject) is a litany of examples which inevitably re-enforce, not how harmless and insignificant the drug is, but rather how dangerous and fundamentally threatening it is to one's own personal development.
|Because we all know that marijuana is what put him over the top|
6. What I Got - Sublime (The Argument From Marijuana as a Gateway Drug)
Let's face it- there are not too many tales of triumph surrounding the use of drugs in music, though there are plenty of tragedies. About the best you can say concerning the use of recreational drugs is that you survived them, or that you saw "some interesting sh*t" while you were under their influence. The worst case scenario obviously involves some kind of drug overdose; "It all comes back to you, you're bound to get what you deserve. Try and test that, you're bound to get served." Just before the band found success, the lead singer overdosed on heroin, which makes the words to this song all the more tragic, and all the more ironic. Nevertheless, whenever someone "dabbles" in drugs, somewhere in the back of their mind they certainly have a sense that they are playing a bit of Russian roulette with their lives. And try as they might, people who defend drugs can really only do so in the negative sense. For example, the dabblers and devotees often say things along the lines of "alcohol causes far more problems than pot," or the "psychological effects of marijuana use are in the end inconclusive", or better still, "there is no direct evidence that marijuana serves as a gateway drug." Many reject the idea that marijuana is a "gateway" drug because, as they say, immediate causation cannot be proven based on the "slippery slope" form of argumentation. Yet making this claim is a little bit like saying that since foreplay doesn't always lead to sex, it is therefore proven that there is no direct link between the two. It may be true to say that there are some out there who have gone straight from never smoking anything, to smoking crack, but how much more likely do you think it is that someone might begin with dipping their little toes in the shallow end of drugs, to subsequently submerging their entire body in the deep end? Does it seem more likely that one would try a "mild" hallucinogen before trying a major one, or vice versa? Things happening in a vacuum seems to militate against everything that the social sciences teach (or the natural sciences for that matter). Obviously on one level it is circular to point out that using marijuana leads to using LSD (or some other drug), but it is not circular to argue that when once someone is willing to try drugs in the first place, they are certainly more likely to up the dosage afterwards. To put it another way, one does not ordinarily go from the ground level to the high dive- they build up the courage as they progress upwards to the various platforms. However, before we conclude that marijuana is simply a kinder, gentler version of the real stuff, we should remember that it is a psychotropic drug, that is, it capable of altering the psychological make-up of your mind in ways that can be quite terrifying. New York Times reporter Maureen Dowd found this out the hard way when she went to Colorado in order to do some "investigative" reporting on the issue. As a result of her "investigation", she wound up having something equivalent to a bad trip. According to Ms. Dowd, she consumed a chocolate pot bar, after which she was firmly convinced she had died (not in the good sense). I am not arguing that this happens to everyone (it doesn't), but any drug that has the capacity to convince you that you're dead is probably not something to play around with. The song What I Got by Sublime is a not so subtle reminder that once you take on a drug mindset, you ultimately shed that healthy sense of fear and trepidation that initially surrounds it; "I've got a dalmatian, but I can get still get high…" There is something frighteningly capricious about the way he regards his life; "Life is short so love the one you've got, 'cause you might get run over or you might get shot…"; it's almost as if he has no expectation of living very long, but neither has he the capacity to take it terribly seriously either (YOLO man). "I don't cry when my dog runs away. I don't get angry at the bills I have to pay. I don't get angry when my mom smokes pot/ Hits the bottle and goes right to the rock… f***ing, fighting, it's all the same. To live with Louie dog (his dalmatian) is the only way to stay sane. Let the lovin' come back to me." The larger point is this: the gateway drug hypothesis is not simply about individual experimentation, but about the gateway culture in the larger sense. If the people closest to you are going down that road, even if you yourself despise their behavior (indeed, who would ever want to see their mother stoned), then how much more of a temptation might it be for you to fall into that same trap? When once you enter into the front door of drugs, the difference between moving onto the next option (as is clearly the case here) is a far smaller leap than the original step of going from never using anything at all to using even the most "minor" of hallucinogens.
7. Because I Got High - Afro Man (The Argument From Pot Smokers Are Not So Hilarious When You Get Right Down To it)
8. Gin and Juice - Snoop Dogg (The Argument From Not Everyone Who Smokes Pot Is All About Peace and Love)
9. Long Haired Country Boy - Charlie Daniels (The Argument From Hedonism)
10. Legalize It - Peter Tosh (The Argument From "Blah Blah Blah, the Health Benefits"… You Just Want To Get High)
11. Who Says? - John Mayer (The Argument From John Mayer)
Perhaps it is true to say that the legalization of marijuana would take some of the exaggerated appeal out of it, thereby encouraging people to use it in a more disciplined and circumscribed manner. Nevertheless, I cannot help but to feel a sense of trepidation, especially when considering just how detached and disinterested we have already become as a society. How much worse will this disconnect become when we legalize a drug that is actually quite effective at encourage a sense of mental hibernation. We are not meant to be perpetually cut off from the world (we are communitarian beings after all), and if the rule of law exists for the purpose of serving the common good (not just the individual's pleasure), in what sense is there anything communally good about its recreational use? In other words, what exactly is being "re-created" here anyway? The face of the stoner speaks volumes as to the vacuity of the practice. If man is defined and distinguished by his reason and will, and both of these are compromised when one is stoned, then why would you make getting blitzed a viable practice. It would be the equivalent of telling a man- not that it is legal to drink beer (which of course it is)- but rather that it is legal to be wasted. Even if it is in a certain sense, then why would you sign that into law? You might as well legalize drinking bottles of NyQuil?
This "man-cave mentality" is already firmly entrenched in our society, why give further credence to it by enshrining it into law; a law that would inevitably invite people to say; "Why not make other drugs legal?" At one point in the Far East, "opium dens" were all the rage. Now in this new age of technology and recreational drugs, we might well be in for a new kind of "den"; the marijuana man cave. Let people find it on their own if they wish, but let us not go out of our way to become a kinder and gentler- more apathetic version- of the type of drug dealer that we were always warned to stay away from as kids.