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Maureen Dowd got so high she skipped her chardonnay — that's a public health win

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Maureen Dowd has an op-ed dedicated to exploring her bad experience with some edible marijuana in Colorado as a window into a larger point about the risks of marijuana legalization (we warned you about edibles but think legalization is going okay). It actually contains one key line that's much more relevant to the big policy question than Dowd thinks:

For an hour, I felt nothing. I figured I'd order dinner from room service and return to my more mundane drugs of choice, chardonnay and mediocre-movies-on-demand.

Dowd has the self-consciousness here to recognize that her alternative to getting high isn't actually to live a healthy drug-free lifestyle. It's to consume alcohol. And while the personal and public health risks of marijuana are real, those associated with alcohol are substantially larger. If everyone started getting high instead of getting drunk, that would be a change for the better.

Of course there's no guarantee that Dowd's usage pattern will be typical. But this is the question smart researchers are looking at. Not is pot healthier than no-pot, but does pot crowd out less-healthy booze or do people just do both?