It's not easy to look in the mirror and not recognize the person primping or combing. But it's also difficult to see someone who used to be gorgeous, fit and bright 50 years ago when you first met. That image is imprinted in my memory.
We moved to Columbus almost 50 years ago. It was an exciting time for us. New friends, new careers, new city. The possibilities seemed endless. Everyone we met was so nice, so friendly, so moving ahead in their careers, and it was inspiring for us. The older people--in their mid-40s--were positive and helpful, willing to assist the youngsters and newbies. And so I met a young man, son of a colleague, who was about 20. He was moving between his divorced parents' homes, dropping in and out of colleges, going between girlfriends and he seemed aimless. He was drop dead gorgeous--had movie star looks and body. But something was a little odd, and I couldn't place my finger on it because I was young and naive. Finally, I realized by talking to others it was drugs, more specifically marijuana, and maybe some worse stuff used when his brain was befuddled. He wasn't a criminal--that's pretty much a myth even 50 years ago. People who are regular users of marijuana don't go to jail--unless they've been caught committing another crime or the police need them as informants, then it might happen, but with well off parents and a good lawyer, the most they'd get was a week in jail and maybe probation. The damage was being done inside his head--he had been a brilliant engineering student, and by 20 was just sort of stupid--in the sense of not caring about his class work. Even the party crowd he hung out with eventually moved on; he didn't. So when I see him today with bad teeth, big belly, saggy flesh, I know it isn't just age. He didn't finish college, did support himself all these years at fairly low level, low responsibility jobs. He's not a problem to society--just as you legalization folks promise. But it's still sad.
The pro-marijuana crowd, all with financial interests, will glowingly praise the benefits of the drug, and claim it's not as bad as cigarettes. Although most users I know do both. Do cigarettes make you stupid? Do they steal your future? Do they destroy relationships? Do they make you happy to spend your free time on the couch rather than socializing or learning or progressing? Do cigarettes lie to you the way weed does? I know the manufacturers did for decades, and I suspect it's starting all over again.