David Brooks, after writing about his own marijuana use in his youth, concludes:
The people who debate these policy changes usually cite the health risks users would face or the tax revenues the state might realize. Many people these days shy away from talk about the moral status of drug use because that would imply that one sort of life you might choose is better than another sort of life.
But, of course, these are the core questions: Laws profoundly mold culture, so what sort of community do we want our laws to nurture? What sort of individuals and behaviors do our governments want to encourage? I’d say that in healthy societies government wants to subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship. In those societies, government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned.
In legalizing weed, citizens of Colorado are, indeed, enhancing individual freedom. But they are also nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be.
I’d probably be less dismayed by the Colorado move if we were falling over modern-day Rembrandts.
Not unrelatedly, I just got done reading Instapundit Glenn Reynolds’ new book, The New School (which is not about Bob Kerrey). It’s worth reading. At it’s core, he’s concerned not just about the financial mess of higher ed and American families’ perpetual credit debt but the spiritual wear-and-tear of some of our modern schooling and what it does to a young creative mind and body (maybe especially to boys?). But more about that next week . . .