Do The Mets Have A Drug Problem?

I don't know the answer to that question, and neither do you. But I do know
that our entire culture has a problem, and not just with drug use. We have
a problem discussing the whole subject with anything that resembles
intellectual honesty.

In short, we are liars.

Every single day, Americans tell their children that all illegal drug use
is dangerous and immoral. Parents tell it to them at home; teachers tell it
to them at school; advertisers tell it to them on television.

But that doesn't make it true. Nearly 80 million Americans have used
marijuana - 20 million of them during the past year. That makes pot our
third most popular recreational drug, trailing only alcohol and tobacco.

Granted, some marijuana smokers develop a health or social problem as a
result of their drug use. But all of them? Come on. Given how many of us
have smoked pot, it's simply absurd to assume that every drug user has a
drug problem.

That's why 12 states - including New York - have enacted some type of
marijuana decriminalization since 1973. In each of these states, users are
no longer imprisoned for possessing small amounts of pot. Oregon voters
recently upheld their marijuana decriminalization law by a 2-1 margin; this
fall, Nevadans will decide whether to increase their legal pot limit to
three ounces, or enough to roll about 100 joints.

Which brings us back to the Mets. Last week, Newsday reported that "at
least seven" members of the team had allegedly smoked marijuana this
season. Nobody knows how much any given player possessed; if it was less
than 25 grams, it wasn't enough to earn jail time in New York.
Nevertheless, one player allegedly had an accomplice smuggle pot into Shea
Stadium inside peanut butter jars, to evade drug-sniffing dogs.

First came the predictable jokes about "munchies," courtesy of late- night
television and shock-jock radio. Then came the equally predictable outrage.
Some fans quickly presumed that drug use had caused the Mets' awful
performance this year. Others said the ballplayers had set poor examples
for children, who must be shown that all drug use is - you guessed it -
dangerous and immoral.

Is it possible that pot smoking contributed to the Mets' dismal season?
Sure, it's possible. But it's highly unlikely. The three team members who
were named in the Newsday story were role players; one is no longer even on
the squad. Nobody has identified the other four players, but it's hard to
believe that they smoked enough dope to account for the Mets' woes.
Remember, we're talking about a team that went the entire month of August
without winning a single home game.

What about the other complaint - that the Mets forsook their role as "role
models" for our young? Without much evidence, this argument presumes that
kids mimic athletes' off-field antics as well as their on-field maneuvers.
Even more, though, it presumes that any pot smoker-regardless of occupation
- - is a reprehensible person.

Listen to Mets owner Fred Wilpon, who took care to emphasize that most of
his players did not smoke marijuana. "I know many of those guys in that
locker room," Wilpon said. "They are good citizens, they are good fathers,
they are good husbands . . . and they are not involved in any illegal kind
of things."

Translation: If you do smoke pot, you are not a good citizen. Or a good
father. Or a good husband.

Just ask the family of Darryl Kile. Remember Kile? Earlier this summer, the
Cardinals pitcher was found dead in a Chicago hotel room. An autopsy
confirmed that Kile died of coronary artery blockage. It also found traces
of - surprise! - marijuana.

That's right: marijuana. Smoked by an All-Star, who won more than 130 games
over the last decade. Smoked by a consummate family man, who bought a home
in suburban St. Louis so he could spend more time with his 5-year-old son
and infant twins.

After the Newsday story broke, the Mets' Wilpon says, his 8-year-old
grandson asked him about it. Wilpon told the boy "that his role models
should be people who live good, clean, lives."

Fair enough. But let's suppose that the kid had gone on to ask, "Like who,
Grandpa? Like Darryl Kile? Wasn't he a good man? And didn't he use drugs?"

Wilpon seems like a good man, too, and I think he would have told his
grandson the truth: Kile was a fine person and a marijuana smoker. So are
millions of other pot-smoking Americans. They go to work, pay their taxes
and raise their families. And sometimes they even become professional
baseball players.

Pubdate: Thu, 26 Sep 2002
Source: Newsday (NY)
Copyright: 2002 Newsday Inc.