February 17, 2014
I was driving through the Hollywood Hills on Laurel Canyon yesterday, which now is bedecked in signs announcing that smoking is banned in the canyon. There's been a drought for a year and a half, so somebody tossing a smoldering butt out the window might send the small patches of indigenous forest left up in flames, and some of the increasingly seedy houses along the two-lane winding highway, too.
The most interesting sign was on the little (and extremely expensive) convenience mart in the depths of Laurel Canyon. In the spirit of Frank Zappa, the sign emphasized that the smoking ban included "spliffs," which, these days, needs restating. With marijuana legalization ongoing, dope smoking is being transformed in the (weed-addled) popular mind from a vice to something that's good for you (you couldn't buy it at a Medical Marijuana dispensary if it wasn't medicine, right?) and no doubt the environment as well. Similarly, all the cultural opposition to smoking shouldn't apply to dope smoking. It's totally different. It couldn't cause a brushfire. It's good smoking, not Bad Smoking.
As the marijuana legalization movement strengthens, you can see hints of how hard it is to hit the libertarian sweet spot where something is simultaneously legalized but remains rare and distasteful. People, especially young people, pick up messages from society about what is winning and what is losing more than they pick up nuanced messages. Smoking tobacco is losing so it seems reasonable to ban smoking it even in your own car while driving through a brushfire zone. Smoking marijuana is winning, so it doesn't seem like the ban on smoking in Laurel Canyon applies to dope.
For example, legalizing pornography leads to a situation in which participants are referred to not as "performing whores," but as "porn stars." Above a certain IQ level, the emphasis in that phrase falls ironically on the first term, but to a fair number of teenage girls with two-digit IQs, the "star" part sounds most intriguing.
By Steve Sailer on 2/17/2014