Do you blaze up?

Twenty three states and Washington DC have some form of legal marijuana use.  Among these states, only two allow marijuana use for recreational purposes.  While Colorado and Washington State treat weed like alcohol, the other states permit marijuana use only for medical purposes.  Some of these same states are not only permitting recreational weed use, but they are also allowing possession in small quantities by making the criminal side of possession less of a big deal legally speaking.  In our region, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware have given marijuana medicinal go.  Pennsylvania is our only hold-out; however, it appears that PA isn’t too far behind the regional curve.

So, here’s my question:  would you admit to smoking marijuana recreationally RIGHT NOW?  I’m not talking about during a job interview because I can’t imagine a job interview where this would be a natural question.  Remember, an employer is not allowed to ask questions about your health in an interview other than to ask if you need any sort of accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  I am asking whether you’d admit to smoking in a social setting of mixed company or professional company.  By mixed company, I mean a group of your close friends and somewhat more formal acquaintances or a new prospective romantic interest or to your parents (I don’t even curse in front of the elders in my family, and my younger sister won’t smoke cigarettes in front of me).

If recreational marijuana use becomes legal, does your answer change?  Consider this:  just because the law changes doesn’t mean the social backlash diminishes.  Don’t believe me?  Ask any gay person if his or her life has become all ice cream and cake since his home state permitted gay marriage!  For that matter, ask any ethnic or racial minority if he believes that our society will ever be more inclusive than not.  Our society may create more regulations, and it may become less socially acceptable to spew your hate like Don Sterling did; however, bigotry never goes away.

The factor that we cannot overlook, however, is that marijuana is a horse of an entirely different color!  I don’t think the social outlook on it is even remotely similar social ostracization.  The debate about marijuana use is about addiction and potential social ills.  Marijuana falls into the same family as alcohol and cigarettes:  it is a public health question.  Our society knows the latter two lead to chronic disease, addiction, and can destroy individuals and families; however, major parts of our economy are based on them; therefore, we tolerate their impact.  I don’t know the numbers, but I hope the economic benefit of cigarette-use outweighs the cancer costs and horrible smell!  While I see no redeeming value for cigs, I see how an easier  comparison can be made between alcohol and marijuana:  social consumption does not equal abuse and addiction.  As a wine bibber, I agree for purposes of convenience; however, I think we’re going to see the same types of problems with marijuana as we see with alcohol.  There will be abuses, binges, and addiction.  Who will pay for this, i.e., rehab and family counseling?  We can’t figure out how to pay for healthcare as it is!  Like most things in this country, what is really at issue are money and safety.  By money, I mean, it is getting to be a bit taxing to keep paying to lock people up for marijuana possession. By safety, there is no denying that marijuana impairs people.  For all of you who disagree, let me ask you this:  if you were on a plane that was experiencing turbulence, would it make you feel more or less safe to know that the pilot smoked a joint before take off?  Upon landing, assuming you didn’t die, you’d be beside yourself with anger about all that laughing that was coming from the cockpit!  We saw Flight!

So, back to my original question, are you willing to cop to smoking weed?

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