Other better-known former tokers include our current president and a couple of previous ones, as well as a Supreme Court justice, to name just a few. A complete list would require the slaughter of several mature forests.Michael Wilbon, meanwhile:
This we know: Were Phelps to run for public office someday and admit to having smoked pot in his youth, he would be forgiven. Yet, in the present, we impose monstrous expectations on our heroes. Several hand-wringing commentaries have surfaced the past few days, lamenting the tragic loss for disappointed moms, dads and, yes, The Children.
Understandably, parents worry that their kids will emulate their idol, but the problem isn't Phelps, who is, in fact, an adult. The problem is our laws -- and our lies.
Obviously, children shouldn't smoke anything, legal or otherwise. Nor should they drink alcoholic beverages, even though their parents might.
There are good reasons for substance restrictions for children that need not apply to adults.
That's the real drug message that should inform our children and our laws, rather than the nonsense that currently passes for drug information.
Today's anti-drug campaigns are slightly wonkier than yesterday's "Reefer Madness," but equally likely to become party hits rather than drug deterrents. One recent ad produced by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy says: "Hey, not trying to be your mom, but there aren't many jobs out there for potheads." Whoa, dude, except maybe, like, president of the United States.
Once a kid realizes that pot doesn't make him insane -- or likely to become a burrito taster, as the ad further asserts -- he might figure other drug information is equally false. That's how marijuana becomes a gateway drug.
Phelps may be an involuntary hero to this charge, but his name and face bring necessary attention to a farce in which nearly half the nation are actors. It's time to recognize that all drugs are not equal -- and change the laws accordingly.
It doesn't matter that "everybody else is doing it," because my bet is that everybody else smoking pot at that student party at the University of South Carolina doesn't have endorsement deals worth $100 million. They haven't courted the concept of being a role model and selling cellphones and cereal to mothers and grandmothers and little children.Mothers and grandmothers and little children, who are THE FUTURE!
Weed is fun and harmless. A world in which a miserable guy with a lousy job and a dick boss can knock off and burn one down instead of knocking off, hitting the bar, and then smacking his wife and kid is a better world.
The idea that "everyone is doing it"--at least, a significant plurality is doing it--doesn't constitute a moral defense of the practice is tendentious at best, and even flies in the face of our own Supreme Court, which has in other matters has noted "evolving standards of decency." After decades of prohibition, Americans have roundly concluded that smoking marijuana isn't bad, and the fact that we continue to waste blood (mostly other peoples') and treasure defending ourselves from our own largest cash crop is perhaps our greatest single example of the sunk costs fallacy, the notion that after all those billions of dollars and millions of incarcerations and thousands of lousy ads, quitting now, so to speak, would be giving up.