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Is legalizing marijuana dangerous?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 20, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: In "Back of the Book" segment tonight, a permissive culture and American children.

Last night, we reported on a pot festival in Seattle where underage kids were seen openly smoking marijuana in public and the cops did nothing about it.

A few years ago, the late Judge Robert Bork wrote a book called "Slouching Toward Gomorrah" and predicted this kind of thing would happen and children would be adversely affected.

Joining us now from Washington with some perspective, Charles Krauthammer. So, I think this culture that we have now in America is currently harming children. Am I wrong.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's clear that even -- even in Washington State where they legalized marijuana, they thought it's not a good idea for kids to smoke it.

So, they actually have a law that says nobody under 21. They also think it's not a good idea for it to be rampant in a way that sort of says anything goes.

So, they have a law that says it shouldn't be done in public. So, they even -- even they, the most liberal state in the union on this, recognize there ought to be limits.

The problem with what you showed last night is they have no intention of enforcing their laws.

O'REILLY: That's right.

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KRAUTHAMMER: And if so, then why do you pass the limits in the first place. It's an act of pure hypocrisy and sort of covering yourself.

O'REILLY: I think it's a fraud more than hypocrisy. I think it's a fraud.

Everyone in Seattle knows, --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- including the police who have been given orders not to enforce the marijuana laws on any level, -- so if you have a 9-year-old toking in the street, cops are going to go, "Oh," you know, "be safe, sonny," or something like this.

But it's a larger picture. Did you know that in Colorado, they're going to put in marijuana vending machines. Did you know that. That's coming in Colorado.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I'd check them out the next time I'm in Denver.

O'REILLY: OK, but we can be flippant about it. But you know what I'm saying, that once a child gets involved with intoxication, as a psychiatrist, you know this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- and as a former teacher, I know this, once a child gets involved with intoxication of any kind, any kind, the childhood is over, their whole life changes, and not for the better. And this is what's happening here in America.

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KRAUTHAMMER: Well, look, let me stipulate a couple of things. Number one, alcohol is a lot worse. I've seen what it does as a doctor.

It destroys the body, aggression, car accidents, a lot of damage. If I were starting a society from scratch and had to choose the intoxicant, I would outlaw alcohol and I'd allow marijuana.

It's benign compared to alcohol. The problem is this, Bill. You never start society from scratch. Alcohol is ingrained in the culture.

We learned that in prohibition. You have to regulate it. And my question is, do we really want to add a second intoxicant onto that? Because, who knows, it leads to other things.

Look, marijuana is not the worst thing in the world. There's a lot worse, there are harder drugs, there is alcoholism, there's abortion, the crime, a lot of other stuff that I think I would --

O'REILLY: But for a child, for a child.

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, it does --

O'REILLY: The message being sent to children is it's OK. When I was growing up --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- or when you were growing up, all right, as children now, not once the Vietnam thing kicked in and drugs, sex, and rock and roll, but as children, we were taught that this was forbidden. It was not a good thing.

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The exact opposite message is now getting across. And you couple that with what's happening in the entertainment industry, with the rap music and all of this stuff that's coming out of there, and strong, responsible parents can counter it to some extent, but derelict, weak parents cannot.

And I'm telling you, Bork was right. Our culture now is actually actively harming the most defenseless among us, the children. It is.

KRAUTHAMMER: But what's odd is that that was the argument made by Bork and many others, especially in the '80s, when this became rampant.

But what's interesting is that many of the indices of social dysfunction, like teenage pregnancy, like crime, homicide, all these things, they have gone down over the last 20 years. In a way, --

O'REILLY: But they've intensified in certain areas.

KRAUTHAMMER: That's true.

O'REILLY: In certain precincts.

KRAUTHAMMER: But, generally speaking, I'd agree with you. As the culture has become more coarse, there's this paradoxical effect where most of the indices of social dysfunction have actually improved.

So, I'm not sure we really know the correlation. But I agree with you on the point. You don't want children stoned.

You don't want a lot of people in society stoned. I would be very interested. I do think that the states are the laboratories of democracy.

And we -- it's interesting that we should study what happens in Washington and Colorado because we will see, as the social, as soon as it comes in, has this had an effect on addiction to harder drugs, has this had an effect on auto accidents?

And, you know, the one thing you know -- a society where everybody is stoned is not going to do very well, competing with other societies, driving the cars in the street, raising children, being aware and attentive.

The worst thing about a stoned child is they're missing out on the periods of learning, --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- social and moral and educational. They lose thousands of hours of their lives when they need to be developing. And that's what you lose with marijuana.

O'REILLY: All right, Charles, thanks very much.

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