In order to comment on the marijuana legalization debate, it is apparently necessary to confess to your own history of pot-smoking first, so here goes: While in college, I experimented with marijuana. To be precise, I conducted 132 experiments with marijuana. It might have been 374 experiments. I'm not sure, because I lost my notes. The reason I conducted so many experiments is that I wanted to make sure I could replicate my findings accurately. I was attending the University of Pennsylvania at the time, and standards there are rigorous. One of my findings, by the way, was that I really like Funyuns.
Part of me wishes that I could say that I regret these experiments. I suppose that I would regret them had they led to some sort of bad outcome. But unlike alcohol, pot won't poison you to death. Plus, I'm careful with matches. And because I am white, and was a college student at the time, I had no fear of arrest or incarceration. This is what struck me as I read David Brooks's anti-legalization column, in which he confessed to smoking pot in high school: When white people talk about pot use, we tend to talk not about the law-enforcement hazards associated with getting high, but about the moral and cognitive hazards (and, by the way, it is true that I am downplaying these hazards, but I don't deny their existence).