ALEXANDRA PETRI

Colorado, shame on you

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Seeing what is going on in Colorado is enough to make any self-respecting member of society sit down and scream “Heavens!” and demand smelling salts — well, not smelling salts. Something less mind-altering. Toast.

It’s legal there now, if you’re over 21. Yes, it’s legal for recreational use, not just medicinal, willy-nilly to anyone who asks.

Look, I understand that sometimes we as a society come across substances that we decide are enough fun for us to use as adults that we ought to make them legal. But what about the kids? Whenever anything is legal for one person to use, you might as well assume that it is legal for everyone, especially if the only thing keeping some folks away is the porous membrane of an age restriction.

Like many young columnists, I experimented with the stuff when I was younger. And I made a right fool of myself. Not hip enough to try it during high school or stumble woolly-tongued through any English presentations, I had to wait for college for my turn. But then I leapt into it with the same kind of abandon anyone with a not yet fully developed prefrontal cortex leaps into anything. How well I know the slippery slope!

You start socially, surrounded by friends, but then you keep going. Oh, the music I listened to under the influence. The phone calls I made! I fell into the delusion that the things I was saying and thinking were interesting. The trouble with this delusion is that it persists only for a few hours and then you get hungry.

My point is that the substance is terrible. It ought to be sequestered. It leads to all kinds of regrettable behaviors. One time, after over-indulging, I tried to write a paper. I turned it in and it got a decent grade. OK, this is not a good story to illustrate my point.

In fact, most of my stories are not going to be good stories to illustrate the point I am making, which is that young people should not be allowed to experiment with the substance that I experimented with as a young person, because they will grow up and not reach their full potential, just as I did. Er, didn’t.

Look, I see what is happening in Colorado now, and I quail. The impact of this substance on your cognitive development. The impairment it produces in drivers. The easy payoff it provides in the form of cheap momentary pleasures, offering satisfaction in the present at the cost of anything more subtle.

I understand its appeal. Everyone does. That’s why it should still be banned. Yes, there are plenty of responsible adults who enjoy it without doing any harm. But the cost is just too high. We need to bring back the laws to the way they were before.

We need to bring back the 18th Amendment.

What were you talking about?


Alexandra Petri is a columnist for The Washington Post.


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