Adding legal pot to NY streetscape would be ugly

A view of Times Square on August 8,

A view of Times Square on August 8, 2013. (Credit: Getty/Tom Pennington)

William F. B. O'Reilly

Portrait of Newsday/amNY columnist Bill O'Reilly (March 28, William F. B. O'Reilly

William F. B. O'Reilly works as a corporate and political

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A ridiculously beautiful young woman stood alone one night a few years back on the corner of 76th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan, just outside a liquor store. She was even more drunk than attractive, and that's saying something.

She was around 25, and looked like she had stumbled out of cocktail party for Vogue models. There on the sidewalk she teetered, like a circus performer on a wire, while fellow revelers passed her by with jeers and finger-pointing. One could have approached her and said, "Hello, I'm here to sell you into international sex slavery," and she probably would've consented. This was the shell of a person.

I crossed the street away from her and then crossed back. It was a situation begging for a tragic ending and I felt I should do something. But I didn't want to look like a creep whisking away an incapacitated beauty. So I asked a couple of young women if they'd help me with her. They didn't want to get involved.

Ultimately, I went home and called 911. I lived right across the street and thought that was the best I could do. When I came back out, she was gone. I have no idea what happened to her.

I thought about that young woman this week while reading a story and watching its accompanying video on the New York Post website. The story was called, "A birds-eye view of Manhattan's drunkest day drinkers," and it featured a 10-minute video of New Yorkers crawling, stumbling and zigzagging from an all-you-can-drink lunch place in the Flatiron District. It was mostly young women, which I mention only for reasons of accuracy -- young men get drunk, too -- and to explain why it made me think of that woman from years ago.

These scenes are not unusual in New York City. They happen often. Sometimes young women like the one I tried to help end up on the cover of New York tabloids in tragic tales. Most of the time they make it home safely, somehow.

Aren't they worth thinking about as some, including editorial boards at other papers, press for full pot legalization in New York? For all the arguments in favor, do we really want to add legal marijuana to the mix? Don't we have enough problems already?