Opponents of marijuana among the elites are those who have maintained enough contact with Middle America — David “Bobos in Paradise” Brooks has this all over his résumé! — to realize that the experiences of élite urban Americans can’t be extended to all America without catalyzing a crisis of stoner lethargy.
My regular readers know that, unlike Dreher, I’m a product of a Palm Beach upbringing, and that during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. It was certainly the era of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” and the beautiful people’s children, by and large, pursued it with gusto. (The ugly ones kept up pretty well, too.) The overuse of these produced the destructive effects one would expect; the difference was that their parents (or step-parents or nanny or whatever…) could throw money at the problem in the form of rehab, etc. So, with exceptions, these problems were manageable.
Crossing the Flagler Bridge (currently being replaced) and getting out into the “real world” showed me one thing: people on the other side of the lake (and I’m using that generically; I found people who really lived on the other side of Lake Worth who could throw money like their Palm Beach counterparts could) didn’t have the resources to manage the blow-back as their wealthier counterparts could. They instead turned to God (or at least did it his way more or less) to have the discipline to dodge the disaster that a life awash in sex and drugs would bring.
As Dreher rightly points out, the sexual revolution has taken a serious toll on those in the lower-income strata, making income inequality more unfixable in our society while those at the top whine about the evil and pursue “rights” causes that will do absolutely nothing to make it better. His idea is that legalising marijuana will have the same effect.
While I think he’s right in principle, the reality is that the war on drugs is like the civil war in Syria–there is no real winner no matter which side comes out on top. The ridiculously high incarceration rate is driven by drug related offences more than anything else, and that’s taken its toll on the rest of us. Perhaps the best result is that it ends up like smoking: it’s so regulated and taxed that it’s unattractive to pursue.
Given that our elites are pretty good at getting their way these days, the best response for someone who finds him or herself outside of this higher status in the world is to a) realise that those at the top really don’t care about the rest of us, b) that God does and c) to do it his way as opposed to theirs. Our churches could make gains on that basis, but they would have to ditch the “God and country” approach they’ve taken for many years.
But don’t wait for them–or the elites–to prevent disaster in your life.