Roger L. Simon

Legal Weed? Governor Moonbeam Grows Up

I smoked pot in Jerry Brown’s house.

I know you’re thinking that’s just a showoff lede (and it is), but it happens to be true.

It was back in the 1970s when Jerry had a place in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon. I went to a party there that was pretty wild and virtually everyone was smoking reefer, myself included. We all did in those days, especially we wannabe screenwriters.


Jerry was the California secretary of State at the time, which gave all the cannabis toking an extra je ne sais quoi. As I recall, Jerry wasn’t even there for most of the event, though I could be mistaken. I was a little ripped.

But I did come to know Jerry very slightly over the years. Believe it or not, we had the same girlfriend (not at the same time, but serially — and not Linda Ronstadt). So I did get to hear a lot about him.

When I had the blind luck to be nominated for an Academy Award, he even ended up sitting at the same table as I did for the Governors Ball in the company of yet another date of his who had acted in the movie I co-wrote — Anjelica Huston.

Okay, I’m engaging in disgusting name-dropping, but again it’s true. Furthermore, I always found Jerry an interesting character, much more intelligent than the run of politicians, but frustrating in that his intelligence often brought him to the wrong… often idiotic… conclusions.

But lately Jerry — who is odds-on favorite to be California governor yet again — seems to have grown up a smidge, not in the sense of the famous Churchill quote that would have already made him a conservative at 40, but at least on the commonsense level.

He’s been trying to balance the budget and, surprisingly, has taken a stand against legalized marijuana — and for a reason this longtime pot user (every day for a period of ten years) finds at least partly justifiable. Quoth the once Governor Moonbeam:


“The world’s pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, [then] more than some of the potheads might be able to put together,” Brown buzzed Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

He added: “The problem with anything, a certain amount is OK. But there is a tendency to go to extremes. And all of a sudden, if there’s advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?”

Good question.

I hate to say so because I’ll lose my libertarian ID card and be banned forever from the pages of Reason magazine, but the brother is correct. Take it from me because I have been one: Potheads are blockheads. You can choose to be one if you wish, but you’re not doing you, or anybody close to you, any favors.

Not only that, you are contributing to a creepy zeitgeist that has led to, according to an L.A. Times report Wednesday, a group of third graders being caught smoking marijuana in the grammar school bathroom up in California’s Tuolomne County. Third graders?

Look, I don’t think people should go to jail for possession or even sale of limited amounts of grass. But we should be very aware of what we are getting into. It’s not all “Puff, the Magic Dragon-Kumbaya-pass-the-Fritos.” I actually sympathize with Jerry’s reluctance to jump on the bandwagon with Colorado and Washington and legalize pot in America’s most populous state. Just thinking of the bureaucracy that would entail makes my head spin. The California Marijuana Control Board would end up the size of the Pentagon.


Perhaps the solution is to do what was recently suggested by venture capitalist Timothy Draper and break California into six states. I’m for that, if only for the fun of naming them. West Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Malibu could be “Katzenberg,” the Bay Area “Pelosia,” and the northern counties, of course, “Weedistan.”

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