The Marijuana Monologues

The mess all started last November when Colorado and Washington voters decided to make marijuana virtually legal(you still can’t smoke in public) in their beautiful states which became effective January 1, 2014. This was followed by tons of news reports showing the lines of people waiting to legally buy pot in Colorado, which was followed by three journalists confessing to marijuana use earlier in their lives. Now there are reports about these journalists confessing to marijuana use back in their teens and early twenties. The youngest of the three is now 34(Chris Hayes from MSNBC) and the oldest 67(David Brooks columnist from The New York Times). The third, Jeffrey Goldberg is 48. This represents a nice age sampling but there’s one problem: they’re all white and prominent.

First there was David Brooks’ article in which he analyzes his relationship to marijuana as a youngster but then called out Colorado and Washington for encouraging drug use which he says is counter to the qualities that help us “become more integrated, coherent and responsible people”, a process that “usually involves using the powers of reason, temperance and self-control — not qualities one associates with being high.” I thought the article was honest and a valid argument for the problematic future for the populations of Colorado and Washington, and our country.

David Brooks’ article was followed the next day with confessions from Goldberg and Hayes with their own angles of the legal ramifications, current and past.

Before commenting on the other two guys, I should confess that I read David Brooks frequently, have read one of his books and read his article first. I like him and confess that prior to any of this I’ve never heard of Goldberg or Hayes.

Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg’s confession was short but I thought the rest of his article was a little dishonest. I don’t know of ANY white people that smoke dope(outside of Washington and Colorado) and have no fear of incarceration. Yet Goldberg states “And because I am white, and was a college student at the time, I had no fear of arrest or incarceration”. This guy either didn’t smoke pot or his parents were so rich he didn’t CARE about arrest or incarceration because they would bail him out which is a big difference from having no fear of arrest.

After reading Goldberg’s opinion, I came away with two things: he’s mad at David Brooks for coming up with the idea of confessing publicly and that pot should be legal because too many “blacks” as opposed to “whites” get arrested for it. His piece, while the facts may be true, seemed petty in tone. Not to mention that if you were Hispanic and reading his article, you couldn’t help but feeling left out.

I happen to think it’s ridiculous to argue that something should be legalized because too many people of a particular race get arrested for it, which is Goldberg’s main point. If you, like me, think that the most obvious way to resolve this, if it’s true, is by stepping up enforcement of the law among whites, he wishes us the best… “good luck with that. In reality, here on Earth, that isn’t going to happen, mainly because whites in power would never allow their children to be exposed to the criminal justice system in that way.”

The last confession is from Mr. Hayes, the host of All In One with Chris Hayes, who’s on-air confession about almost getting arrested was reported by Warner Todd Huston on and contains the link to Hayes live confession where he makes a Philadelphia cop out to be a racist for not arresting him for possession of “about thirty dollars worth of weed”. Hayes says “the best case” for being let go was because he was white and possibly a senator’s son. And he goes on to imply that a “white kid with glasses” could be a senator’s son while a “black kid with corn rows” could not. Isn’t it entirely possible that the cop simply exercised grace? But it’s his tone toward Mr. Brooks that caused me to wonder again Why’s this guy so mad at David Brooks?

Before going any further I’d like to apologize to ‘black” people for Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Hayes’s attempt to make this a racial issue, specifically against “blacks”. Both men used “black” in their weak attempts to sound concerned about the pot-smoking rights of African-Americans and their incarceration rates. They want to ride the coattails of the what they see as the next wave of freedom for blacks and try to count themselves as champions of the cause. After reading the articles, ask yourself why these men seemed so hostile toward Mr. Brooks. Was he being too white in his confession? Goldberg touches on how white discussions about pot differ from black discussions. So by his own statement, he should decline to make a statement for the black race. They both should have called their best black, journalist friends and discussed this and encouraged THEM to post something similar in their stead or at least interview them for their thoughts. But their confessions were just as white as Brooks but were made worse by throwing in the racial aspect and sounding a lot like white guys saying “some of my best friends are black!” when we know they know none.

Did it ever occur to you that a lot of the black population doesn’t want pot legalized? How do I know? I have dear African-American friends that see dope as a major problem for the advancement of their communities and race for the same reason Mr. Brooks chose to stop smoking: being high does not create the characteristics of a person who wants to succeed personally. By the way, I think he implies that this would be someone that continually smokes dope not the occasional user.

One of my friends is a black pastor ministering to the children of a very low-income community in Memphis where he teaches them to stay away from dope of any kind and here come you white guys, saviors of the black race, trying to say that the problem is not drug use, it’s the unfairness in the arrest rates for blacks.

The bottom line is that I have a problem with wealthy, white people speaking for black people and acting as if we are the only ones that can help. I would venture to say that they deal with real life issues while we play on the internet and watch talking heads tell us what to believe.

So what’s my solution you may ask. I think in 2014 us white folks and anyone else that cares need to come along side some not-wealthy black people, Hispanics, Asians, homeless…see how the use of “black” stands out Mr Goldberg and Mr. Hayes…, personally, instead of talking about mythical issues you know nothing about, and ask how you can help IF they will allow you.

Nevertheless, we should carry on in the great words of Jefferson “Hey! You know, we left this England place ’cause it was bogus; so if we don’t get some cool rules ourselves – pronto – we’ll just be bogus too! Get it?”. Oops, that was a famous doper Jeff Spicoli interpreting Jefferson. Sorry.


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