Even as Northern Californians were rooting for the San Francisco 49ers in their playoff game against Seattle on Sunday, a few were secretly hoping that this year’s Super Bowl match-up would be from the two states that have legalized marijuana: Washington and Colorado. Stoners got their wish when the Denver Broncos defeated the Patriots and Seattle’s Seahawks bested the 49ers.
The great irony is that even as excellence and liberalism demonstrably can co-exist, politicians and pundits are hand-wringing over pot legalization and what it will mean for the US workforce.
First, the newly Americanized woman who takes down every magazine she works for – Tina Brown – tweeted, “legal weed contributes to us being a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation even less able to compete with the Chinese.”
Then, California Governor Jerry Brown told the Washington Post, “I do think America’s under a certain amount of competitive pressure. … So I think we have to stay alert and heads up. I don’t know if everybody’s going to pot that that’s going to be a positive path forward.”
But is that true? A recent article in Time magazine asked, “China makes everything. Why can’t it create anything?” pointing out, “Many of the products China manufactures today aren’t really Chinese at all. Apple iPads might be exported from assembly lines based in China, but the Chinese themselves do little more than piece them together.”
Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs, published in 2011, documents Jobs’s use of marijuana and LSD in his youth. Isaacson, who also wrote biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, called Jobs “a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. … In August 2011, right before he stepped down as CEO, the enterprise he started in his parents’ garage became the world’s most valuable company.”
Isaacson adds, “At a time when the United States is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build creative digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness, imagination, and sustained innovation. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology, so he built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering. He and his colleagues at Apple were able to think differently.”
Bill Gates also indulged in pot and LSD, and Silicon Valley remains high on pot, and innovation. When our other pot-friendly and productive industry, based in Hollywood, took on Jobs, the actor chosen to play him was Aston Kutcher, the stoner/jock from “That 70s Show.”
Meanwhile, prosecutor-turned-TV-host Nancy Grace has practically been foaming at the mouth over the issue, so much so that Saturday Night Live spoofed her this weekend. Grace called cannabis consumers “lethargic, sitting on the sofa eating chips. Pot, it makes you fat and lazy.” She recounted a story of a stockbroker she’d seen in court who “got addicted to pot” and lost her job, home and family.
Meanwhile on Wall Street, Merrill Lynch circulated a memo recommending junior staffers take off at least four weekend days a month, a move that was necessary because young people are working nonstop (even as 22% of 18-24-year-old men report they’ve smoked pot on the job in the past week). The sad part about Leonardo’s post-Gatsby movie The Wolf of Wall Street is that he had to tell people it’s meant to criticize, not glorify. Maybe that’s because the fictional Gatsby is punished for his excesses that lead to Black Friday and the great depression, but today’s Wolfs are still on the loose.
When LeBron James admitted is his 2009 autobiography that he’d tried marijuana, he completed the triumvirate of MVPs (football, baseball, and basketball) who told all they’d toked that year, the same one top-Olympian-ever Michael Phelps admitted he’d hit the bong too. The world’s fastest man on land, Usain Bolt, also smoked pot in his youth.
Conservative Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker asks us to “Give marijuana smokers a little leeway,”writing, “let’s stop pretending that pot consumers are nefarious denizens of the underworld. Among those who enjoy a recreational smoke are the folks selling you a house, golfing on the ninth hole and probably an editor or two here and there.”
Add to that, innovators, business scions, and sports champions.