While marijuana is still illegal under federal U.S. law, most states have either legalized or decriminalized the drug for recreational and/or medical use. I have mixed feelings about that.

Growing up in New York and throughout my college years, pretty much everyone got high, some more regularly than others. That was par for the course in the 60s and 70s. When it came to possession, the cops pretty much looked the other way.

I actually sold a little weed in college. Not for money, mind you, but to cover the cost of my own stash. Don’t judge me; that’s just what we did back then. After graduation, my girlfriend asked if I could get her an ounce. Actually, it was for her dad, the CEO of a high-tech startup. I thought that was a little creepy, but said, “Sure, why not?”

Since I’ve told this story a hundred times before, here’s the abridged version: One day the dude took me in his Porsche, showed me around the company and got me all excited about a career in tech. That was 1977. I went back to school, got a master’s degree in electrical engineering and the rest is history.

I also met the company’s VP of research and development that fateful day. He eventually ousted my girlfriend’s dad and took over as CEO. I ran into him at a trade show many years later. He said his predecessor ended up moving to Florida and trying to make it as a standup comic. True story.

Maybe pot is a gateway drug, but for me, it was also the gateway to an extraordinary career in the high-tech industry. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to make a general point here. It was just an odd series of events that changed my life in a big way.

For your average sane adult, there’s nothing wrong with catching a buzz now and again. Weed, alcohol, whatever: in moderation, it’s not that big a deal. The question is, how many of us can legitimately claim to be sane adults? Fewer than you’d think.

Those with addictive personalities have a hard time doing anything in moderation. And pot offers yet another alternative for people with issues to self-medicate and try to hide from their troubles. That just makes matters worse.

Not to be one of those “do as I say, not as I do” kind of guys, but I have to admit that marijuana can be concerning when kids use it regularly. The song Because I Got High by Afroman comes to mind. It starts with:

I was gonna clean my room until I got high
I was gonna get up and find the broom but then I got high
My room is still messed up and I know why
‘Cause I got high

The song goes on in that vein, then ends with:

I messed up my entire life because I got high
I lost my kids and wife because I got high
Now I’m sleeping on the sidewalk and I know why
‘Cause I got high

I suppose you can say pretty much the same thing about alcohol, and yet, nobody in their right mind wants to go back to the days of prohibition. And yet, I’ve seen countless lives destroyed by drugs and booze. It is what it is.

Back in the 70s, there was a little store in Coney Island that sold artsy stuff … and nickel bags of weed out of the backroom. I’m sure the cops knew about The Pot Store, as we used to call it, but it was too small-time to bother. The place was around for years. We used to think it was pretty cool.

Now that we’re heading inevitably in that direction, as I said, I have mixed feelings. However you look at it, marijuana legalization is a mixed bag. We could probably use a lot more research, education and communication about its effects, both positive and negative. Then it’s up to parents, adults and kids to make their choices. I suppose that’s as it should be.

  • My son is here from Baltimore. He’s the Ops Mgr for a mobile microbrewery custom canning service (they’re opening a shop in Sacramento, which he is overseeing). After a night pub crawling with him in Santa Rosa Saturday night (Russian River Brewery in particular), I took him on a long ride up the 101 to Geyserville and back down 128 and 29 to Napa (we stopped at Brix for the champagne brunch). I commented as we drove down, “look at all this amazing wealth and upscale stuff, Nick. Testament to the powerful urge of consciousness alteration, ‘eh? Even the animals dig it, getting buzzed on fermenting fruit.”

    • Steve Tobak

      Just goes show: There’s more that unites us than divides us.

  • Anurodh Sharma

    Agreed Steve, That’s exactly the way it should be!!!