Pubdate: Wed, 08 Jan 2014
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2014 Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst Newspaper
Author: Maureen Wharton


Regarding "Legalization of marijuana won't bring out our best," (Page 
B7, Saturday), David Brooks is a common-sense journalist who grinds 
no axes, and he is correct to say that intoxication can, and often 
does, deplete human accomplishment and self-respect. But that is not 
to say that all things that might be misused can or must be against the law.

Dietary health ills cannot be tackled effectively by criminalizing 
fat, sugar and refined flour. Prohibition of alcohol famously proved 
futile. Many would say that laws against pot foster the allure of the 
forbidden and promote a lucrative drug trade that costs lives.

Some have long claimed that pot is medically beneficial, and it 
appears to have no significant negative health consequences when 
adults use it in safe circumstances. Certainly, pot's lasting effects 
on adolescents, if any, must be fully understood, and the appropriate 
regulations must exist to minimize underage use, much the same as with alcohol.

But Brooks' admirable vision of a "moral ecology" that "encourages 
the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and 
discourages lesser pleasures like being stoned" can only be 
furthered, not by legal prohibitions, but by our collective human 
preferences for "higher" choices based on our aspirations and 
principles, even in the face of lesser available alternatives.

Maureen Wharton, Houston
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