“The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything and the young know everything.”

— Oscar Wilde

As someone who is officially middle-aged raising a young one, I can attest to the truth of the above quote. In fact, the older I get, the more I suspect everything and everyone, including myself. I hope that I don’t believe everything when I grow old, for that seems more dangerous than the ignorance of innocence.

I think that our intellect and understanding must evolve as we grow older and amass life experience. To believe at 50 what one believed in at 20 demonstrates a fundamental lack of self-reflection, not to mention maturity. Introspection is critical to mental maturity. Unflinching honesty is a prerequisite of change. Admitting errors and learning from mistakes enables us to move forward.

I am very skeptical and somewhat of a contrarian. These characteristics have also grown predominate with age. Above all, I loathe popular culture, trends, memes and what, for lack of a better description, I will call the “herd mentality.” To put it simply: if everyone is doing it, I want no part of it.

Not only do I steer clear of the herd, my skeptical nature compels me to view societal changes with suspicion. Take, for example, the legalization of marijuana.

Like most of you out there, I have smoked marijuana before. I smoked a lot of marijuana. And I enjoyed it. At times, it was a prerequisite for every aspect of my life, from waking up, to going to sleep and all activities in between. I couldn’t enjoy a movie or a concert without toking up. Getting high actually motivated me to do mundane tasks, like mowing the yard. All things considered, I think marijuana is a better choice than alcohol. If you’re determined to become intoxicated, you could do a lot worse for yourself.

I also recognize the medicinal benefits some people receive from marijuana. The fact that this plant has medical benefits, but is also considered a dangerous drug, is an absurd and glaring contradiction. However, as with any drug, there is a fine line between use and abuse. Marijuana is not physically addictive, and no one has ever overdosed on bong hits (believe me, I’ve tried). But that doesn’t mean it can’t be problematic for some people.

I am no longer a regular smoker. Part of me knows that I can’t be a responsible parent and raise my child properly if I am doing something that I would never allow my child to do. I am also aware that the “do what I say and not what I do” argument is totally ineffective. I know this from first-hand experience; after all, my first surreptitious tokes were stolen from my parent’s stash.

I suspect the recent legalization trend is yet another attempt to control, a means of clouding the mind to prevent rational thought, inhibit understanding and make people more easily manipulated. I believe this is part of the reason why it is still illegal—its inaccessibility and taboo mystique lend to its irresistibility. There is a thrill associated with doing something that is forbidden. Just ask Ted Haggard.

Let me pause here to point out that the so-called war on drugs has not only been a complete failure, the supply of drugs is more plentiful than when Nixon was in office, drugs are generally more potent than they were 40 years ago and more Americans are addicted to legal and prescription drugs than at any other time in this nation’s history. Either the war on drugs is being prosecuted a bunch of incompetent fools, or we have been lied to about the true agenda being pursued. For those interested in the truth, I suggest you familiarize yourself with Michael Ruppert.

Drugs can be used not only to control the mind, but to control the body as well. Look at the shocking number of people in prison for drug-related offenses as a percent of the overall population. Unfair sentencing sets the rich free while poor people accused of the same offenses get long prison sentences. The police regularly employ profiling, stop and frisk, entrapment, planting drugs and more. For-profit prison lobbyists push legislators for harsher sentencing to fill up the cells as fast as they can build them, which contributes to their bottom line. It’s not about rehabilitation, paying a debt to society or even plain old punishment—it’s simply about the money. If you have enough money, you can afford a crafty lawyer who can keep you out of prison, or if you are wealthy and connected, you can call in a favor from a politician or simply pay off the judge yourself.

If you are like me, you don’t have money or a lawyer and your sphere of influence barely extends beyond the kid who won’t brush their teeth no matter how many times you yell at them. But now that marijuana has been identified as having medicinal benefits, and more and more states are legalizing it for both medical and recreational use, we don’t have anything to worry about, right?

Even if you live in Colorado, Oregon or Washington, possession of marijuana on federal property is still a crime. This means that if you are toking up in the U.S. Post Office parking lot, you are committing a federal offense and can be arrested and thrown in a federal penitentiary. Same goes for national parks. In Hawaii, users have to register with the police in order to obtain a medical marijuana permit. And if you have the permit, it is against the law for you to own or possess a gun. Anyone who smokes marijuana knows that, unlike alcohol or stimulants like cocaine and crystal meth, marijuana makes you mellow, peaceful and not at all prone to aggression or violence. It is also well known that people who grow marijuana are targets for theft and home invasions that often involve violence and murder, necessitating the protection of a gun. An interesting trade-off for all you stoner gun nuts to ponder.

I believe we are being herded into physical and mental disarmament, something envisioned by Aldous Huxley who wrote in Brave New World Revisited (1958):

“The impersonal forces of overpopulation and over-organization, and the social engineers who are trying to direct these forces, are pushing us in the direction of a new medieval system. This revival will be made more acceptable than the original by such Brave-New-Worldian amenities as infant conditioning, sleep-teachings and drug-induced euphoria; but, for the majority of men and women, it will still be a kind of servitude.”

That people can be manipulated into embracing the chains that bind them as posited by Huxley is a fascinating and prescient notion. Isn’t this what is happening today? With revelations about NSA spying, with no privacy on the Internet, with smartphones functioning as tracking devices recording our every move, with clear evidence that the U.S. economy—indeed, the entire global financial system—is a giant Ponzi scheme, rife with fraud on a vast scale on the verge of collapse, with the richest 85 people having as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion humans, with the U.S. government now a wholly owned subsidiary of fascist corporate interests and the corporate media a propaganda tool for the same, with the Fukushima crisis likely heralding the end of human civilization, with more and more people finally waking up to the reality that almost nothing we have ever been taught or told is true—is this really the time to be smoking lots of marijuana? From the perspective of those who would prefer we remain distracted, passive and apathetic, the answer is apparently yes.

From here on out, we need to keep our heads clear, our minds focused and our wits about us. Perhaps the legalization of marijuana does not represent freedom. More than likely, it is a trap. It is a deliberate and cynical move aimed at dulling our critical thinking skills, making us more docile and unaware, encouraging the use of other drugs, putting more poor people in prison, instigating more crime and further damaging our health.

Given that Americans consume more than 50% of the world’s pharmaceuticals and 80% of the world’s prescription narcotics, marijuana may seem like the least of our worries. Nevertheless, I am suspicious about what is driving this sudden widespread acceptance and legalization. It may be about more than freedom and profit.

I predict more and more states will legalize marijuana for recreational use. The federal government will continue to outlaw it. Proponents will tout the supposed tax benefits and expanded freedoms, but when was paying tax ever associated with freedom? And how free are you really if you need to use drugs or alcohol to escape reality, avoid problems, cope with social situations, seek revelations or simply enjoy yourself? Dependency is not freedom. It’s high time we see the state-sanctioned use of marijuana for what it may actually be: another set of chains to keep us in our place.