David Brooks On NYT’s Pro-Pot Editorial: What Have They Been Smoking?

Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

The New York Times editorial board is down with pot legalization, but David Brooks is still pretty uncomfortable with the idea.

On the same day the Times ran an editorial calling on the federal government to end the prohibition on marijuana, Brooks, one of the paper’s most high-profile columnists, questioned the wisdom of his colleagues.

“I disagree with them on the larger issue,” Brooks said of the editorial board during an appearance on “Meet the Press.”

“I don’t know what they’ve been smoking up there. The office, the haze,” he added, drawing a hearty laugh from the other panelists.

Brooks went on to detail his “two basic issues” with the editorial.

One, the effects on the teenage brain really are pretty significant. They acknowledge that in the editorial. And I just don’t think we can sanction, say, “Adults, fine. But if you’re 18, you can’t do it.” That’s just not going to work I don’t think. Second, I just don’t think the government should be sanctioning activity that most of us mature out of, most of us age out of.

I just don’t think it’s the way we want to spend our minds. But and here’s something I do agree with my colleagues on. I could be wrong on marijuana. And so I wouldn’t mind some state experimentation. And really, what the editorial is calling for is federal legalization. To allow some states some leeway. So even though I’m opposed to it, I think allowing — throwing it to the states might be the way.

Brooks said later in the segment that although the country is “getting more libertarian on a lot of these issues,” he worries that legalization could have a deleterious effect on the country’s “community” and “culture.”

“We’re affected by each other’s views and each other’s values,” Brooks said. “And to me, there’s some role in government playing some role in restraining some individual choice just to create a culture of healthiness for especially the teens.”

Brooks employed many of those same arguments in a column that ran after Colorado opened the nation’s first recreational pot shops in January, a landmark moment that brought on a case of reefer madness among many Baby Boomer pundits.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said at the time he didn’t “get the legalization thing” and offered a pithy defense of prohibition.

“Pot just makes you dumb,” he said.

Former Newsweek/Daily Beast editor-in-chief Tina Brown said that “legal weed” will make the United States “a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation even less able to compete with the Chinese.”

And the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus — who echoed Brooks during “Meet the Press” on Sunday — expressed hope in a January column that the country would not follow Colorado’s lead.

Latest Livewire
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: