Night Owl Mk. II

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Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

(R) I wish to express my personal views for people to take into account, and choose this as a widespread medium.
(MB) That's why I make it available!

(R) I myself am an avid marijuana smoker, and as such take an interest in these affairs. I am 18 years old and am an honors student in high school (college next year). I have been smoking marijuana in very large quantities for several years, and have settled my opinions concerning this debate.
(MB) I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that I am disappointed that any bright young person should choose to use drugs of any kind or in any immoderate quantity. However, since the purpose of this forum is to give the opportunity to hear and debate all sides of issues, let's hear what you have to say...

(R) First of all, I am totally against drug legalization. While drugs such as cocaine and heroin are commonly portrayed as "hard" drugs, weed is often described, truthfully, as a "softer" drug. This does not mean it is not as bad as the others, but it is true that its harmful effects are far less. For this reason, many people (and most stoners) argue that marijuana, since it is a soft drug, should be legalized.
(MB) One wonders what the litmus test should be to determine whether or not a drug is "hard". I doubt that it would be feasible to invent any sort of table which attempts to quantitatively measure how stoned one gets on any given drug. This is because people can have widely varying reactions to the same drug(s) in much the same way that some people are more tolerant to alcohol than others. The law can set arbitrary blood alcohol levels that are subject to reasonable testing procedures, but couldn't do any such thing for the various chemicals in different drugs that cause one to get stoned. With alcohol, many drinkers drink until they reach a desired level of inebriation. That may take many drinks if beer is their choice of beverage, or it may take only a few if 151-proof rum is their favorite. I suspect that there is much the same behavior pattern among users of marijuana and other drugs. They may smoke more "soft" weed to reach the same "high" that a crack user might get from just one use. Since more weed would be smoked, the overall effects (both positive and negative) would accumulate even though each individual joint itself might not amount to much.

(R) I feel that this would be detrimental to society, not because weed is a "gateway" drug to harder substances, but because we as a society need a softer drug. If marijuana were legalized, it would fall into the class of alcohol and tobacco.
(MB) Given the current troubles in the tobacco industry, I'm not sure that would be a good thing for marijuana smokers. In any case where the main intent of drug use is to get high, the standard pattern of usage for any drug is similar. As the body's resistance builds up, or as the initial effects of the drug are no longer satisfactory, the users will tend either to consume larger quantities of the drug or will move to more potent alternatives. The end result becomes physical and/or psychological addiction -- which is not a good thing by any stretch of the imagination. I am intrigued by your comment that society "needs a softer drug". Indeed, I would first ask why society "needs" any drug at all. I acknowledge the reasons why people use them -- stress reduction, escape from problems, social acceptability, etc. -- but, are the root causes of any such excuse actually solved by using drugs? And, are the side-effects worth the temporary fix?

(R) Kids who tire of these legal drugs would be forced to turn to things like LSD and cocaine in order to experience something new. The fact is that marijuana allows kids who want to do illegal drugs the chance to experiment without the risks involved with LSD, cocaine, etc... .
(MB) Which might be acceptable if they could all show responsibility and discipline in their drug use and if such experimentation could be ended at any time with no ill effects.

(R) Since it is a softer drug, I don't feel it should be treated quite as strictly in court as other, more dangerous substances.
(MB) The courts don't do that. You'll get a lot stiffer fine and/or more jail time for possession of heroin or cocaine than you will if you get busted for marijuana. In some states, marijuana possession is only a misdemeanor roughly equivalent to underage drinking.

(R) As for my own experiences, I use marijuana not to escape reality or solve depression. I am deeply in love with life. As Henry David Thoreau once said, "The majority of men lead lives of quiet desperation". I happen to believe this, and so seek every opportunity to find happiness that I can find.
(MB) Are you unable to find such happiness without chemical assistance? I don't mean to sound moralistic here, but everybody (with the possible exception of certain religious types) wants happiness in their lives. It seems to me that a permanent happiness gained through success in one's career, relationships and accomplishments is far superior to any temporary bliss obtained from a bottle or a chemical. Each "high" wears off and leaves that individual focusing largely on the next one. "Real" happiness is a constant companion.
BTW, when Thoreau wrote that famous line, it was actually a reflection of his own personal desperation at that time. That's why he lived for two years at Walden Pond -- to escape from what he considered to be a failed life.

(R) I do not wish to promote marijuana use, for it is a individual's decision and should not be based on the thoughts or actions of a complete stranger. However, I merely wish to say to the all-out-anti-drug people: I respect your opinion, but please do not make judgements about me based on one aspect of my life. I am not misguided or corrupted. I just happen to enjoy smoking marijuana. And in case anyone is wondering, I do happen to be pretty stoned while I am writing this.
(MB) All anybody can rightfully ask is for you to consider the full set of implications and consequences of what you choose to do. It's easy to feel invulnerable when you are still young.
My own personal experience here is that I got high on marijuana once. I didn't toke, but got a contact high from riding in an enclosed vehicle where two other passengers were smoking. At the time, I was 19 and still undecided as to whether or not I wanted to join my friends who were experimenting with marijuana. I remember having a pretty good time that night although I didn't yet understand why. The next thing I knew, I awoke in my bed feeling as though an elephant was sitting on my face and being completely unable to remember how I had gotten home the night before. This was initially rather scary, as one might expect. When I started backtracking and putting together the chain of events (the ones I was able to recall, anyway) in order to figure out what was wrong with me, the conclusion was clear -- I had gotten stoned the previous night and was now suffering a loss of memory and was experiencing a nasty "crash". I decided right then and there that the night before wasn't even close to being worth the morning after and, from that point on, I had no more questions about the choice of doing drugs.

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