Alcohol Versus Cannabis

Everyone has a friend like Tony. He’s the guy who is really cool when he’s straight. He works hard running a small company. He’s a great single dad to his precocious son. He’s funny. He’s smart. He’s a pleasure to be around during the day. At night, however, he likes to drink. Mostly beer, though if it’s another beverage that has alcohol in it he won’t say no. He doesn’t think he has a drinking problem, and maybe he doesn’t.

He doesnt crash his car or blackout on the sidewalk. He doesn’t vomit in public. He can “hold” his liquor. But when he drinks, which is just about every evening, he becomes an aggressive, frightening prick. He gets in bar fights. He gets loud and pushy with women. His speech becomes profane. When Tony drinks, no one wants to be around him. 

Everyone also has a friend like Derek. He’s the guy who is really quiet and hard to make small-talk with when he’s straight. He’s a professional musician, and he usually doesn’t get out of bed until Noon, sometimes later. He forgets his girlfriend’s birthday, and to pay the phone bill. He’s only funny once you get to know him well. He’s smart, but you couldn’t tell by his DVD collection, which leans toward cartoons and Bruce Lee movies. He’s subdued and introverted, and some folks consider him antisocial and withdrawn. But when he smokes pot, which is almost every day (unless he’s burned through his stash) he’s funny, kind, empathetic, warm, and prone to using the word “incredible” and giving out hugs. He tells outlandish stories that sort of make sense. He laughs often. He makes astonishing improvised music. He’s easily pleased. When Derek smokes, everyone wants to be around him, so long as the pantry cabinets are locked.

With the caveat that there are exceptions to every rule, it’s safe to say that drinkers are prone to get mean and aggressive, whereas stoners can be, at worst, rambling and annoying. Drinkers throw punches. Stoners throw corn chips — and then regret wasting such a delectable morsel.

Drinkers speed and cause fatal car accidents. Stoners drive really, really slow, because they’re fascinated by the orange glow of the taillight ahead of them, which looks, you know, like a miniature sun that somehow got implanted on the back of a municipal transit bus, and, if you think about it, could possibly be an actual sun, the nexus of a tiny universe with microscopic planets we can’t see orbiting around it, which might be the home of even more microscopic inhabitants whose cells are so tiny that…

Drinkers are Walter, the bitter and violent Vietnam vet in The Big Lebowski. Stoners are The Dude.

Soccer hooligans don’t pass around a joint. They chug pints of lager. Imagine a world, though, where rowdy skinhead football ôsupportersö were prohibited from drinking and encouraged to eat hash brownies. They might lose their place in the official Team Song and be forced to begin again (and again, and again), but tears of joy would blind them to the fact that the screaming blokes on the other side of the stadium don’t love their goal-scoring boys as much as they do.

Our elected leaders, we are assured, aren’t stoners. They prefer another drug. Dick Cheney, you can tell, is a drinker. A mean old cuss with a mean old view of the world. Indeed, the United States of America is one of the most violent societies on the planet outside of African and Asian nations enduring civil war and tribal genocides. We’re aggressive. We’re cruel. We’re bullies. We’re a nation of drinkers.

We need to mellow out.

We need to cut down on the juice and take a hit.

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