Brooks is hardly the only example(though he certainly is a good one, staring down at us in his engorged and lofty serenity as a Serious Commentator); but it just baffles me how allegedly-competent-adults, much less Public Intellectuals don't seem to grasp what making something a matter of criminal law means.
He's blithering on with a stream of anecdotes and aesthetic arguments that would be (whether or not they are correct, I'm not wildly interested) suitable in tone if you were giving some friendly-advice-from-someone-who's-been-there to a younger relative or good friend's kid brother or something.
But he's talking about criminal justice policy. Y'know, the set of rules that governs who gets hunted down by armed agents of the state, imprisoned, sometimes disenfranchised for life, denied various educational and vocational opportunities, and so on. This isn't fucking 'Some Heartfelt Advice for My Dear Nephew as He Heads Off to College' territory. And, however much our good friends in law enforcement and 'corrections' try to brutal it up at home, the real meatgrinder is usually in the various lucky locations that handle production and trafficking.
That's the disconnect that I just don't understand (though, obviously, being totally immune to the consequences when he was doing it helped...): There is a world of difference between 'Gosh, I really would advise you to reconsider...' and 'Yup, I, for one, approve of a vast expenditure of public money aimed at equipping our security forces to get their Discipline and Punish on against the stoner menace!'
It's not even a difference of degree, it's one of kind.