What’s wrong with getting high?

Scott at Grits for Breakfast has this piece about a former police officer who talks in a new book about his steroid addiction as a cop, and his dealing in steroids and paraphernalia to cops and firefighters around the country.
Here’s the part that blew my mind:

‹The public is clueless about how many policemen and firefighters are on steroids,Š Johnson said, adding that he believes the drugs should be legal.

‹Steroid laws are a waste of taxpayer money,Š he said. ‹I can understand why psychoactive drugs are illegal — they get you high. But steroids help you with recovery from personal injuries.Š [emphasis added]

Talk about rationalization.

Look — I don’t care if he wants to use steroids. But to simultaneously defend laws against recreational drug use is rank hypocrisy.

And what’s this irrational objection against getting high?

Very often I hear that recreational drugs should be illegal because the only purpose they serve is to get “high.” They’re incorrect, of course — many of them serve other purposes as well — but what’s wrong with getting high?

One of the most outrageous examples of this rationalizing hypocri-speak is in this famous tape of Richard Nixon and Art Linkletter:

Linkletter: “Another big difference between marijuana and alcohol is that when people smoke marijuana, they smoke it to get high. In every case, when most people drink, they drink to be sociable. You don’t see people –”

Nixon: “That’s right, that’s right.”

Linkletter: “They sit down with a marijuana cigarette to get high –”

Nixon: “A person does not drink to get drunk.”

Linkletter: “That’s right.”

Nixon: “A person drinks to have fun.”

Linkletter: “I’d say smoke marijuana, you smoke marijuana to get high.”

Nixon: “Smoke marijuana, er, uh, you want to get a charge of some sort, and float, and this, that and the other thing.”

Well, first of all, that exchange is simply bizarre, in a very creepy way. And the attempted claim that alcohol has nothing to do with getting high is laughable.

But what’s wrong with getting high? It’s an important, even essential, part of life.

We all spend much of our time trying to get high. The rush when you have a particularly rich piece of chocolate — you’re getting high. That perfect coffee drink in the morning. Three-inch thick filet mignon that’s charred on the outside and still red in the middle. Sex.

(And I’m not just speaking metaphorically here. All these activities actually cause the body to produce chemicals that make you high.)

Jogging does it for some people (not me, but bike-riding can get me high). Tiramisu with Sambuca and double espresso at Ferrara’s. A sunset. The smell of fresh air. The smell of fresh baked bread.

Solving a puzzle, winning a game, taking a bow at the end of a great performance in a packed theatre with hundreds of people on their feet.

A photograph. A poem. Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Getting an “A”. Getting a raise. Being employee of the month.

Helping someone out.

Getting high is not only part of life — life without it is no life at all.

And these highs are not always consequence-free. Try eating all the chocolate you want.

Then there’s the drug that gives you the most intense highs and crashing lows — the most dangerous addiction of all…

Love gives you wings. It makes you fly. I don’t even call it love. I call it Geronimo. When you’re in love, you’ll jump right from the top of the Empire State and you won’t care, screaming “Geronimo” the whole way down. I love her so bad, I just… whoa, she wrecks me. I’d die for her.

Getting high isn’t always good for you. But don’t you dare tell me that it’s wrong.

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