NEW YORK: The title of a New York Times profile on well-known author Catherine Hiller, “Smoking Marijuana for 50 Years, and Turning Out Just Fine,” says it all: Hiller uses her life successes to validate a sustained heavy-use lifestyle. I couldn’t help but wonder if an article with the title, “Smoking Tobacco for 50 Years, and Turning Out Just Fine,” would pass through the Times’ editorial review.
After all, the majority of tobacco smokers never develop lung cancer. Some live far longer than the average life span. But it is generally accepted that anecdotes of certain smokers with positive health outcomes should not be publicized in deference to the mountains of evidence showing that smoking tobacco generally leads to a decreased quality of life. The same should be true for marijuana.
Catherine Hiller’s book, Just Say Yes: A Marijuana Memoir, chronicles her experience “smoking the herb” for the past 50 years (since she was 18 years old) and her subsequent life accomplishments. Indeed, she has achieved more in her life than most — she holds a Ph.D. in English from an Ivy League university, is a best-selling author, has produced a well-received documentary, and has raised three successful kids. But her message is unlike what you’ll hear from drug liberalization advocates: It’s far more dangerous.
What differentiates Catherine Hiller from most marijuana legalization or decriminalization advocates is that her stories and interviews seem to actually encourage heavy marijuana use, even by young people. The majority of organizations touting a pro-marijuana agenda have a policy statement like that of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy: that the organization “neither condones nor condemns drug use.” Hiller’s message seems to be distinctly different — that long, sustained marijuana use from an early age is certainly okay and possibly even desirable.