Something that’s kind of been on my mind lately is the differences between various types of mind-altering substances.

I’ll take three examples: alcohol, smoking, and pot.

I’ve ordered these in ascending order of regulation. Regulation which corresponds roughly to the perceived level of “badness” each of them has.

The irony of the situation is that it’s likely exactly backwards. But intricacies of that a topic for another day.

This is more along the social stigmas associated with each. In terms of drinking you’re more than able to see it everywhere. You have ads for it. You talk about going out to drinks with co-workers. It’s just part of the ambient nature of society here.

Smoking used to be like that, but (thankfully) people are stopping the stinky habit. That said it’s something that’s normal. People go out for smoke breaks at work. While it’s looked down on by many people, it’s nothing that really has a huge social stigma associated with it.

Then there’s marijuana. (By the way, this is legal here, remember.)

I’ve never once heard about it at work except obliquely. I’ve had a few friends talk about it with me around, but not generally. But as you drive around the city you’re never more than a few blocks away from some place that is legally selling it.

It’s an interesting contrast with how people view these, and how they interact with their friends about each of these substances.