Today is 4/20, and when I left the Legislature today the grounds were thick with marijuana smoke - strong enough that it permeated my vehicle. Hundreds of Albertans gathered to...well, I can't actually assign a motive with any authority, because as square as it may sound, I've never used recreational drugs. But from what I've read, a lot of folks would like to see pot legalized.
Given the cost to life, limb, property and civil liberties the war against drugs has cost North American society so far, I'm comfortable with the idea. On balance, legalizing cannabis seems like less trouble than prosecuting people for using it. (Although I'd have to read some peer-reviewed studies to see if that's actually true.)
Personally, though, I don't see the appeal of recreational drugs. Cigarette smoking is disgusting enough; to my nostrils, marijuana is even worse. And like alcohol, cannabis alters your mental faculties, and that's what I really have a rough time understanding. Back in my teens and twenties, I was encouraged more than once to indulge. But I always refused, not because I'm a puritan - I'm certainly not - but because the idea of willingly surrendering control of my faculties holds zero attraction for me. I do and say stupid things often enough without wanting to risk doing or saying something even stupider while under the influence.
Other people - most people, I guess, if you include folks that consume alcohol - have made a different choice, and I respect that choice. I've never judged anyone for using any sort of drug. In fact, somewhat hypocritically, I've been entertained by the antics of people under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And I have to admit, it looks like fun. But it's not for me, and I'm honestly puzzled by my inability to even understand the appeal.
Some folks say that drugs open up new worlds of creativity, new ways of seeing the universe. But that happens to me every night when I dream. Are drugs really so different? Why buy what I can get for free, without the side effects? (And on the other hand, without the fellowship of the shared drug experience.)
On a day like today, I feel more like an outsider than ever, a stranger not only to my own culture, but my own counterculture. Sometimes I think that understanding yourself is the biggest challenge of all. Maybe there's a drug for that.