Marijuana Reuters

A poll conducted by the Rochester Business Journal revealed that more than 60 percent of people in New York state approve the legalization of marijuana up to an ounce.

For the country as a whole, more than half, or 52 percent, favor the legalization of pot, according to a national survey by Pew Research Center. Already, Washington and Colorado have legalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and the sale of a similar amount of pot for “recreational use.”

I have heard all the arguments for the legalization of pot -- that it’s no more harmful than cigarettes or alcohol (which the state eagerly sells and profits from); that it would remove the huge profits in drug dealing generated by organized crime; that taxation of a regulated marijuana industry could ease the financial debt of virtually every state in the union; and ease the overcrowding in courts and prisons burdened by non-violent drug cases.

But there is something else to be considered here -- and it has nothing to do with dollars and cents. If you legalize pot, it will no longer be “cool.” It'll become as mundane an activity as drinking a beer or lighting up a Marlboro.

I have friends who have been smoking pot since they were teenagers, more than three decades of marijuana consumption. For the most part, a portion of the “high” they get from it is that they are doing something that is against the law.

They are otherwise nice, normal, law-abiding people with conventional, bourgeois lifestyles, but their weekly (or daily) toking of pot makes them feel “free” and “unbound” by society’s strictures.

If what they do is suddenly legalized, their very reasons for smoking dope will have been undermined. Of course, they will not quit (they are addicted, though they won’t admit that) and they will simply be lumped in with overweight beer-guzzlers and choking tobacco smokers.

And there is nothing “cool” about that.

According to Marijuana Facts and Stats, at least 100 million Americans have tried pot at least once in their lives, making it the most common illegal drug used in the country. So, in a way, pot smokers are already the mainstream. Legalizing their favored drug of choice will officially make them part of the unwashed masses.

And then what will they do? Graduate to the harder stuff like cocaine and heroin?