Distracted Driving, Pot, and “The Great Debate”

As balm for Christiane Amanpour’s bruises from being kicked off her ABC Sunday show back to CNN, the network honchos let her try a different format this weekend (since nobody was watching anyway.) Styled “the Great Debate,” it pitted conservatives Paul Ryan, the GOP House intellectual, and columnist George Will against soon-to-be-retired Democratic Congressman Barney Frank and Clinton’s former Labor Secretary and perpetual Munchkin Robert Reich for the full hour, exchanging familiar talking points on the usual suspect national issues. The debate wasn’t so great, for several reasons, prime among them being the natural motor-mouth tendencies of Reich and Frank, who, I would guess, took up approximately twice the air time as the conservative pair. The teams were similarly unbalanced in cheer, with Reich as perky as his Lollipop Guild training would suggest, and Frank full of his trademark wisecracks, while Will was dour as ever (when faced with liberal cant, the columnist always looks like my high school Latin teacher did when I was botching the day’s translation) and Ryan radiated the charisma of a certified public accountant.

The most interesting exchange was when George Will derided proposed federal regulations against “distracted driving” as the latest installment of the nanny state encroachment on personal rights, saying that individual freedom should trump the government’s concern for public safety except in the most extreme circumstances. One of the good uses of absolutist reasoning is that it raises a very high bar before breaching a valid principle can even be considered, since it has to be considered as an exception if it is to be contemplated at all. Barring unsafe conduct that increases the likelihood of automobile accidents, however, is not the place for absolutism, but for utilitarianism—rational balancing.

Will’s argument makes some sense when applied to mandatory seat belt use: not using a seat belt is a personal risk that does not endanger others (at least directly: more on that shortly.) Talking on a cell phone, texting, reading a Facebook update and other forms of distracted driving do endanger others, and making laws that punish fools who think keeping up with the Kardashians is worth risking the lives of my family is an easy call, ethically speaking. So a driver has to pull off the road and park before answering a call or reading a text…big deal. George needs to get out more: if he was behind the wheel with any frequency, he would know that the number of inattentive drivers weaving in and out of traffic, shifting speeds and missing lights and signals because of the Blackberry in their hands is frighteningly high.

Ethically, the trade-off is minor inconvenience—-in most cases, minor to the point of irrelevance—versus human lives saved. I have listened to the conservative talk-show chorus mocking the proposed ban, and it is an extraordinary example of placing abstract principle over common sense and reality. Ethics, in the end, are determined by rational conclusions, based on observation, experience and analysis, about what kind of conduct and standards most benefit individuals, society and civilization. Doctrinaire elevations of minor infringements of principle to priority over undeniable risks to human life are not ethical. Ideological purity divorced from reality is no friend of ethics.

Barney Frank’s cause was, predictably, legalizing marijuana, which he analogized to gay marriage. I wouldn’t say his argument was worse than Will’s, but like Will, he Will-fully ignored the harm prohibited individual conduct does to others. Pot use is not like gay marriage. Same-sex marriage harms no one; prohibiting it harms the loving couple that is stigmatized and handicapped by laws that prevent them from enjoying the same legitimacy and respect in their union as traditional spouses. Pot advocates like Frank, and I have been listening to them most of my life, pretend that recreational marijuana use consists of single, unencumbered, financially secure and mature individuals with no obligations and no responsibilities to others sitting in their homes or dorm rooms toking away and being blissfully and harmlessly stupid for an hour or three. If pot use was restricted to this, I would agree with him. But it is not, and cannot be.

In society we are all bound to each other by bonds of mutual dependence and trust. A bus driver who smokes pot is risking the lives of young children. A student who smokes pot is sabotaging his education, and making it likely that you and I will have to pay the costs of his progressively unsuccessful life as a result. A husband who smokes pot and makes mistakes at work is jeopardizing the welfare of his children and family. Every hour stoned on a recreational drug is one less hour spent on productive activity that could benefit one’s dependents, colleagues, community and society. Every dollar spent on getting stoned is one less dollar that could be used to start a business, feed a child, pay a debt, or save. It is purely selfish behavior with real social costs and minimal benefits.

Like getting drunk, using marijuana may be relaxing or fun, but there are many, many ways to have fun and relax in America that don’t undermine the rest of society. Once again, the ethical trade-off is an easy one—a society without people wasting their time and money making themselves periodically slow-witted, inarticulate and stupid is undeniably a better society to live in than one that encourages such conduct, and making the conduct legal does encourage it.

Frank’s sneering mockery of those who, unlike him, think responsibly about the unavoidable and almost entirely negative consequences of permitting another alcohol to take permanent root is society, is even more obnoxious that Will’s airy dismissal of thousands of highway deaths as insignificant when compared to losing the freedom to Google “crash” while you are crashing. Barney likes his weed; it poses no danger to him, he can handle it, and he’s annoyed that he has to break the law to get high. And all the less intelligent, less responsible, younger, vulnerable Americans–and those who support or depend on them— whose lives will be diminished by free access to pot? Barney just doesn’t care, so he talks as if they don’t exist.

Sometimes giving up a small amount or personal freedom to promote a more stable society and to protect fellow citizens is the most ethical course. The fact that neither of the ideological opposites in this Great Debate seemed to understand that is troubling.

I think I’ll smoke a joint to calm myself down, and then chat with my sister about my concerns on my cell while I drive to the supermarket.

175 thoughts on “Distracted Driving, Pot, and “The Great Debate”

  1. one last comment… I’m afraid Jack neither knows how, or cares to engage in civil discussion. I’ve asked one question twice. The first time I was told, “race arguments are really pathetic” and the second time ignored completely.

    It’s basic… Jack wants to talk ethics and I am asking what’s ethical about laws founded on racist hysterics – as in lacking any moral, ethical or factual base but relying instead on playing to the lowest common (in this case xeniphobic) denominator. That’s history. Read it.

    And of course Jack knows 100% compliance is an absurd notion. He also knows we live in a world with 7 billion people and that only the most repressive of regimes could consider such prohibitive notions as a good thing.

    Because too many are as yet incapable of understanding the responsibility inherent in their exercising of personal freedom and liberty does not mean we throw out the baby with the bath water.

    Besides, the studies overwhelmingly show that the most serious side effect from driving under the influence of cannabis is increased caution. That’s why the droog Kzar is pushing per se dui laws… science, facts and common sense have no place in US drug policy. Or this blog. Apparently…

    • Race arguments are really pathetic, at least in this context. This has nothing to do with civility. This has to do with insulting my intelligence and everyone else reading your comment. If you want to engage in fantasies about how reasonable laws banning harmful drugs are invalid because some supporters of those laws used absurd racist arguments, go ahead, but they do not advance the discussion, or encourage reasonable debate. Race baiting as an all purpose nuclear weapon in any controversy is a deplorable, and unethical, tactic; I’m sick of it; I resent it; and I’m going to call it what it is. There is nothing uncivil about designating nonsense as nonsense.

      • It’s true that the motivations for cannabis prohibition are no longer as blatantly racist as they once were, but systemic racism is still quite evident in cannabis law enforcement.

        http://mapinc.org/url/41Tc1UXS

        With respect to road safety, because cannabis is an economic substitute for alcohol and other drugs, when cannabis use goes up, drug-related traffic accidents go down. That is not to advocate driving under the influence of cannabis. Cannabis is combination with alcohol is more impairing than alcohol alone. Much depends on the experience of the driver, both behind the wheel and with cannabis. Sleep deprivation, cold remedies and, as the article notes, distraction are much more significant road safety problems than cannabis.

        • Enforcement of laws is a different issue from the wisdom of the laws themselves. A common mistake. Racist enforcement of a good law doesn’t make the law a bad law—there is racist enforcement of assault and murder laws too, but I presume you don’t want to legalize those activities.

          As to your pot/ alcohol traffic comparison, I just called an associate at the Highway Users Association, who tells me that the research data is pretty thin on that trade-off, and they don’t believe it at this point. Could be true, but we don’t have enough data.

          • Yes, ongoing “systemic” racism is quite different than the racist origins of most drug prohibitions. I understand that, and I attempted to make my understanding of the distinction clear.

            Cannabis laws, and drug laws in general, are enforced with far greater disparities than the laws prohibiting violence and predatory crime due the ratio of law breakers to law enforcers.

            I never advocated legalizing cannabis, but as it happens, I support the recommendations of a special senate committee here in Canada.

            http://senatereport.ca/

            Evidence in support of the “substitution effect” is increasingly robust. Consider this article from the NYT from 1992.

            http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v92/n000/a01.html

            It is interesting to note that the warning label on Marinol, the legal, synthetic THC pill, merely advises consumers to avoid driving or operating machinery until they have become accustomed to the drug.

            Again, much depends on the experience of the motorist, both with driving and cannabis. Experienced cannabis consumers develop a “tolerance” for what little impairment cannabis causes.

            As already noted, cannabis consumers tend to over-estimate their level of impairment, and over-compensate for it by slowing down and driving more defensively . They wait for stop signs to turn green as the joke goes. Alcohol has the opposite effect.

            No one knows how many traffic accidents did not happen because someone, having consumed cannabis, elected to order in a pizza rather than go out.

            The hazard drivers under the influence of cannabis pose on the road and cannabis prohibition are only slightly related. The law prohibits possession, not being under the influence, which means it behooves the cannabis consumer to consume all of their cannabis before hitting the road.

            Cannabis availability and usage rates rise and fall with no apparent statistical relationship to drug laws and their enforcement. Citations on request.

            However, cannabis prohibition prevents us from employing the usual public-health and education techniques we apply to other hazardous substances, such as tobacco and alcohol. Note that tobacco use has been falling for decades and that teens consistently report that cannabis is easier to obtain than alcohol. There are no potency or warning labels on sandwich baggies, and no motivation on the part of merchants to check the age of their customers.

  2. Wow, did I come late to the party!

    RE: Distracted Driving
    The whole thing reminds me of “hate crimes”. It doesn’t matter to me whether you murder someone because that person’s skin color or sexual orientation is different from yours. To me it is no different than if you murder someone because that someone is a cheating spouse or just because you’re a psychopath who enjoys it. You’re guilty of murder, full stop. It’s the murdering that we want people not to do.

    Similarly, it doesn’t matter to me whether you ran the red light because you were using your cell phone. To me it is no different than if you run the red light because you’ve been drinking, you’re stoned, you have screaming kids in the car, you’re listening to loud music, or concentrating too much on listening to a particularly interesting NPR guest on “Tell Me More”. You ran the red light, full stop. It’s the running of red lights that we want people not to do.

    I agree with the premise that it should remain a secondary offense. This strikes the right balance between deterrent and preventing police abuse.

    The presence of a distraction is different from actually being distracted by it. One can have the first without the second.

    Because frankly, isn’t the fact that I drove somewhere and didn’t break any laws and didn’t have an accident (nor near miss) prima facie evidence that I was not too distracted to drive?

    (But just to show you how crazy I am, I seriously think that speeding should be a secondary offense. Now I’ve gone and ruined my whole position!)

    RE: Marijuana
    While I disagree with Jack on the first point, I’m pretty much in complete agreement with him on the second. So I’ll just add something that nearly never gets brought up in discussions about medical marijuana:

    Have you ever heard of Marinol? You probably haven’t. It’s a synthetic THC in a pill form, and legal in all 50 states. It is used to treat all of the same symptoms (glaucoma, et. al.) that smoked marijuana is used for, and is just as effective. But in a pill form, you can actually control the dosage, which is important in any medical application.

    Name for me one other prescribed drug that is administered by smoking it. Can you?

    –Dwayne

    • Dwayne, I appreciate the reasonableness of all you have shared here. Superb wrap-up, in my opinion. Your closing, on Marinol, was the touche’ I have been thinking of posting about for the past day. I would like to think your posting shows how one can never be too late to a (pot) party.

      • Thank you. You’re very kind.

        And for the record, I’m not here to debate any sort of drug legalization, and I won’t. Full disclosure: I’ve mentioned it here in the past but it bears repeating that I hold a security clearance and have done work for the DEA for many years. Espousing any kind of pro-legalization opinion would put my clearance, and thus my livelihood, in jeopardy. So with that conflict of interest in place, the best thing for me to do is not engage, regardless of my opinions (which, in fairness, are in line with DEA’s policies and positions).

        –Dwayne

        • So your familiar with “Mike Ruppert – CIA and Drug Running (1997)”

          “Narcotics police are an enormous, corrupt international bureaucracy … and now fund a coterie of researchers who provide them with ‘scientific support’ … fanatics who distort the legitimate research of others. … The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents.” – William F. Buckley, Commentary in The National Review, April 29, 1983, p. 495

    • Smoking is just one of the delivery methods for cannabis. Many people here will find it strange that you’ve never heard of vaporizers, tinctures or cannabis edibles.

      As far as Marinol/dronabinol is concerned, reducing cannabis to just THC, minimizes efficacy and greatly increases side effects.

      Many people, including scientists, believe that Marinol/dronabinol lacks the beneficial properties of marijuana/cannabis, which contains more than 60 cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), thought to be the major anticonvulsant that helps multiple sclerosis patients, and cannabichromene (CBC), an anti-inflammatory which may contribute to the pain-killing effect of cannabis.

      It takes over one hour for Marinol to reach full effect, compared to minutes for smoked or vaporized cannabis. Patients accustomed to inhaling just enough cannabis smoke to manage symptoms have complained of too-intense intoxication from Marinol’s predetermined dosages. It’s also difficult to keep a pill down when one is nauseated. Many have also said that Marinol even produces a far more acute psychedelic effect than cannabis.

      Cannabis vs Marinol http://tiny.cc/alxy0
      Marinol (Dronabinol) = 1344 USD per month
      Marijuana = free if you grow your own outdoors.

            • I don’t know. My controls show who each comment is a reply to. Your comment says its in rely to Dwayne, and my comment says it was in reply to you. Since I’m playing several games of ping-pong at once, I often can’t find comments easily in the actual posts, so I get all comments to all posts in a chronological stream. They are supposed to note who a replay is to, but unfortunately don’t say WHAT it was in replay to. Usually I can figure it out, unless the comment is in replay to an old comment. Then I have to go to the actual post. It’s a pain, actually.

                • “we don’t see what you see”

                  No, it appears that most of us here don’t see what Jack sees. But based on his description, those new clothes sure dosound pretty…

                  • The “most” is a skewed sample…welcome for variety and lively discussion, but also sent here by an advocacy website or two. Still, its a lot of info for those who want to read full-throated support of pro-drug propaganda….and they should. For me, it’s a walk down memory lane.

    • Dwayne, the problem with the distracted driving argument is that it rests everything on moral luck. Tow drunk drivers, one has a careless pedestrian step in front of the car, the other gets home without incident. One goes to jail, the other is free. Yet the condition that made one driver a convict was really beyond his control. You have to punish the condition that creates the precedent for the crime, if the danger is significant enough. If using a cell phone (and clearly texting while driving) has been shown to be as dangerous as driving drunk (I am not going to try to mediate the disagreement over the data), then it should be prohibited, and the prohibition should be enforced. Recklessness should not be predicated on luck—it’s an irresponsible risk to others. Not secondary. Primary.

      • If using a cell phone (and clearly texting while driving) has been shown to be as dangerous as driving drunk (I am not going to try to mediate the disagreement over the data), then it should be prohibited, and the prohibition should be enforced

        This is based on the assumption that the drunk driving laws (at .05/.08) are good, and that that amount of distraction is worth criminalizing.

        Recklessness should not be predicated on luck—it’s an irresponsible risk to others

        You’re trying to eliminate distracted driving, but your dragnet picks up people who are not distracted. That’s against the spirit of the constitution. I’d prefer to have evidence that someone actually committed the sin that the law is designed to prevent.

    • “[Marinol] It is used to treat all of the same symptoms (glaucoma, et. al.) that smoked marijuana is used for, and is just as effective.”

      No it isn’t. Cannabis contains over 60 cannabinoids, including CBD, as well as terpinoids and flavinoids which have moderating effects. Sativex, on the other hand, is a whole-cannabis extract, complete with all the active ingredients, and it is arguably as effective as whole cannabis, but it is much more expensive.

      “But in a pill form, you can actually control the dosage,”

      No, you can’t. Orally consumed cannabis results in wildly varying levels of absorption, and takes up to an hour to take effect. Smoked, or better yet, vaporized cannabis is much easier to titrate because the effects are immediate, which allows patients to take a puff, gauge the effect and take another as required. Sativex is faster acting than Marinol because some of the ingredients are absorbed within 10-15 minutes through mouth tissue, but it is still not as good as smoking or vaporizing with respect to dosage control.

      “Name for me one other prescribed drug that is administered by smoking it. Can you?”

      Cannabis is an herb, not a pharmaceutical, and had it not been prohibited for entirely racial and political reasons, it would now fall under the DSHEA, grandfathered into the approved formulary. Some therapeutic herbs are smoked and vaporized. Cannabis may also be consumed orally.

  3. aaah… the nature versus pharmaceutical manufacturers argument. Yeah, mankind is expert on improving nature…

    Dwayne, you really need to go do some more research on cannabis. I’d recommend going here as a starting point (Jack, this would be beneficial reading for you as well):

    http://www.drugwarrant.com/articles/why-is-marijuana-illegal/

    What many of us that have studied this issue for many years have found is that cannabis is REALLY dangerous… it’s been known to drive those who have never smoked it crazy.

    And Dwayne… Marinol is a synthetic THC. Cannabis is a virtual mini-pharmacopeia within itself. But, since the US government allows only research that intends to show cannabis’ harms, we are decades behind in real study of this wondrous plant.

    To prove my point… in the early ’70s in Virginia, a study was being conducted to find those harms. What the medical researchers found instead was that cannabis was a highly effective cancer fighter. Not until the end of the 20th century was that research resumed.

    http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n572/a11.html?310095

    Further… virtually every US government study done has called for no less that decriminalization. And that list includes a US Army study conducted in Panama.

    http://druglibrary.net/schaffer/Library/studies/studies.htm

    For a deeper read see:

    http://druglibrary.net/schaffer/Library/studies/vlr/vlrtoc.htm

    There is no winning a debate on ending cannabis prohibition (and by default, all drugs prohibition).

    Unless you believe – as some seem to – that sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “La la la la…!” as loud as you can is effective debate/discussion.

    • “There is no winning a debate on ending cannabis prohibition (and by default, all drugs prohibition).”
      A more arrogant and frightening statement would be hard to imagine. Useful, however, to have a flat admission from the Stoned America zealots that unrestricted use of all dangerous drugs would follow from this suicidal prescription. I appreciate the candor, if not the reckless position.

        • The “evidence” is unrelated to the post! There are studies supporting all sides, and pro-pot advocates (and anti-pot supporters) cherry-pick. Some studies dispute pot’s medicinal value too—I don’t care one way or the other. If its a medicine, make it available by prescription—fine. That wasn’t the topic.

          The topic is recreational use. A study or studies that recommend decriminalization…so what? You’re the one who is always, correctly, inveighing against appeals to authority. If that’s the position of “virtually” every government study, then “virtually” every study is misguided. The studies listed are also mostly old, and the most positive ones were run at the height of the pro-drug period on campuses and among elites.

          How do you study the likely future consequences of making a major societal decision that can’t be undone if it’s a disaster? The recommendations of some of those studies are jaw-droppingly irresponsible, essentially encouraging a full-blown drug culture. All were made before the costs of caring for addicts at public expense were known, and when the US wasn’t in debt up to its eyeballs. There’s a reason that the recommendations of these studies haven’t been implemented. Several. One is that studies like these are primarily funded and operated by those who want to legalize drugs. The bias in the text of some of them isn’t even hidden.

          I can’t conceive of any study that answers the questions that would need to be answered before it would be responsible to unleash more useless, addictive, destructive drugs on the population. Meanwhile, we have the results of a long term embrace of alcohol, and can see the tragic consequences. That’s plenty of evidence for me, and should be for anyone who isn’t biased on the subject.

          You know, I live with addicts—I’m close to them. I watch what they go through. I deal with the consequences of their relapses. I listen to them when they tell me that they want to die.I spent hours and hours and hours with stoned students, and I defended drug dealers and users. I am not in some kind of parallel universe, and studies that say, “nah, despite what you know and have lived with and observe, it’s really no big deal” don’t impress me much.
          People like Allan are directly—DIRECTLY responsible for the conditions that created the addicts and damaged people I know intimately. People like Allan ignore THAT evidence because, you know, getting high is fun for them. It’s despicable.

          I don’t usually know what is true, but in this case, I do. I have more than enough evidence, thanks.

          • Scientific study requires approval from the NIDA and the DEA. And they don’t grant that permission.
            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=marijuana-research

            You could replace the word alcohol, any prescribed substance, gambling, online chatting, even food and sex into your above post and all would be absolutely true. Marginal people need help but the fetish is not the cause.

            You are confusing a fetish with the behavioral problem that needs counseling and care. Creating a less free society will simply result in replacement fetishes.

            • A recreational drug-free society is not a “less free” society. It is a more healthy, safe, respectful, smarter, productive, sane society. Lumping all behavioral problems into one issue muddies the issue. Every problem is different. Food is nutrition. Sex continues the species. On-line chatting is communication. Alcohol does not need to be abused; you can enjoy a drink without becoming intoxicated.

              • “Alcohol does not need to be abused; you can enjoy a drink without becoming intoxicated.”

                Ah yes, the “you can drink without getting drunk, but everyone uses pot to get high” argument. Classic. Plus, don’t forget to point out that you can enjoy alcohol for the “taste.” (I mean, who DOESN’T love the taste of beer the first time they try it? That delicious beer taste also explains why the non-alcoholic variety is such a huge seller compared to the drugged kind.)

                Look, I hate to break it to you, but if you consume alcohol, you’re a “recreational drug user.” (Don’t worry, you’re in good company.) When people say that you can drink alcohol without getting “drunk,” what they really mean is that in their experience, 1-2 beers don’t cause a person to become crazy off-the-wall impaired. (That amount of alcohol DOES, however, have measurable effects on cognition, emotional state, motor control, etc.) They recognize that they might hold a conversation with someone who is simply a little “buzzed” without being able to detect that the other person has been drinking. And they also recognize that many people who enjoy alcohol often do so without attempting to get completely sloshed. But the “high” of marijuana is unfamiliar (and therefore scary). Of course, the same rules of dose and effect apply. (Well, except for the possibility of fatal overdose.) But to the uninitiated, only two states are recognized as possible: “sober” and “high.” And these people JUST KNOW (from TV and movies?) that EVERY TIME someone enjoys cannabis, their goal is to get completely baked out of their minds. I mean, you could NEVER hold a conversation with someone who has been smoking pot without being able to tell that they were “on drugs.” Heck, you could probably even tell instantly if an online commenter were typing his comments while “high.”

                • I’m sorry, Francis, but this is just pure, unadulterated hogwash.A glass of wine with dinner doesn’t make anyone drunk, and people drink wine (or a beer) because of the taste as often as not. There are thousands of varieties of alcohol because of flavor—the drunks I know use vodka or Listerine—they don’t care about taste. The want anesthesia. Don;t give me your snotty and condescending “classic”—you’re the one distorting facts. The majority of alcohol users do not drink to get drunk. Nobody uses pot for the taste. Your argument is extraordinarily dishonest…and also pointless. I wasn’t defending alcohol at all—I wish it could be wiped off the face of the earth. Criticizing alcohol does not advance a pro legalization argument–just the opposite.

                  • I get a definite and perceptible psychoactive effect from a single glass of wine. Of course, I very rarely consume alcohol so I’m sure I have a relatively low tolerance. If you don’t feel it anymore, well, I’m not trying to be a busybody, but that might be a sign to consider cutting back… 🙂 (That was a joke.) But I AGREE that most alcohol users frequently drink without getting “drunk” – if we’re defining that as significant impairment. Reread my comment. But I’m sorry, I don’t buy the argument that the intoxicating effects of alcohol are a minor component of the drinking experience for most users. Having 1-2 drinks might only produce a relatively subtle feeling of relaxation, elevated mood, increased extraversion (the “social lubricant” aspect), etc., but that’s still using a drug to alter your consciousness. And it’s also the way that many, *cough* MANY people enjoy cannabis. (And btw, many *cough* people DO enjoy the flavor of cannabis, which can vary widely by variety.)

              • A recreational drug-free society is not a “less free” society. It is a more healthy, safe, respectful, smarter, productive, sane society.

                You’re confusing a society where something doesn’t exist with a society where something is banned. All the adjectives are dependent upon the belief that people who use recreational drugs would not do something else that you find unhealthy, dangerous, mean, dumb, unproductive, and insane.

                Alcohol does not need to be abused; you can enjoy a drink without becoming intoxicated.

                But you implied that if had a drink while driving, that was sufficient to say I was impaired. Has your position flipped?

                • 2. If I said that, its not what I meant to say or thought I was saying. If you have a drink and there isn’t sufficient alcohol to be intoxicated or impaired, then there’s no offense. Your rejoinder (I’m reading your mind now) that you can be texting while driving and be similarly unimpaired doesn’t follow. It is reasonable to presume that a person whose eyes are not on the road is impaired (distracted0 as a matter of law.
                  1.) Not confusing them at all. The goal is to eliminate the behavior. As we have shown with cigarettes, we do that by 1) social stigma and 2) making it harder to do. You don’t eliminate undesirable behavior by making it easier and less burdensome. The pot advocates, on the other hand, have successfully eroded the social stigma, and want remove barriers.

              • “A recreational drug-free society ” How are you going to get to your “drug free society”, Jack? Are you planning to make drugs ILLEGAL?
                A drug free society, where leprechauns and unicorns can do lunches out, and everybody has a pet dragon and a fairy godmother.
                Reason ceases to be reason when it does not bend to basic reality.

          • The topic is recreational use. A study or studies that recommend decriminalization…so what? You’re the one who is always, correctly, inveighing against appeals to authority. If that’s the position of “virtually” every government study, then “virtually” every study is misguided. The studies listed are also mostly old, and the most positive ones were run at the height of the pro-drug period on campuses and among elite.

            I’ve shown you mine… I seriously doubt there are any anti studies equivalent to those at the Schaffer Library. Even the DEA Jack… judge Young’s study… but when an agency can say, well we didn’t like the study and then ignore it, is neither practical, nor ethical. And the point (it musy have missed you) about these studies “mostly old” is that in 100 years the study results reach the same conclusion.

            People like Allan are directly—DIRECTLY responsible for the conditions that created the addicts and damaged people I know intimately.

            Horse manure. Failure of the system Jack… when addiction is criminalized the addicts become marginalized.

            How do you study the likely future consequences of making a major societal decision that can’t be undone if it’s a disaster? The recommendations of some of those studies are jaw-droppingly irresponsible, essentially encouraging a full-blown drug culture. All were made before the costs of caring for addicts at public expense were known, and when the US wasn’t in debt up to its eyeballs. There’s a reason that the recommendations of these studies haven’t been implemented. Several. One is that studies like these are primarily funded and operated by those who want to legalize drugs. The bias in the text of some of them isn’t even hidden.

            Are you aware of the Swiss HAT program? Your fears fly in the face of practical application.

            And Jack, we have a full blown drug culture that has blossomed under…. are you ready for it… a full blown drug war. Just as the roaring 20s was spawned under Prohibition so is that “full blown drug culture.”

            Every country currently having less punitive drug policies also has less drug related crimes.

            And just one more… if heroin, methamphetamine… the whole gamut of currently illegal drugs were legalized tomorrow, would you go buy some Jack? Thought not, me neither.

            When the US finally embraced reducing tobacco use did we raid homes of smokers with SWAT teams? Did we bust 7-11s and all those stores selling tobacco? No… we educated people. Education Jack…. teach them, don’t threaten them. You’ve a pretty grim view of human nature senor…

            • You’re hopeless, Allan. How many people do you have to see die in pursuit of futile “education”? Cigarette use has declined as a result of public disapproval(after millions of deaths and billions of dollars lost to the economy)—exactly the opposite of what you are doing with drugs. No doubt–a smug drug culture that promotes dangerous drug use in the media, entertainment and elsewhere will greatly undermine enforcement efforts. You can own that, Senor. Drug use “blossomed” from the “60’s” when a bunch of rich kids who the poor looked up to started promoting drugs as cool, and anyone who opposed them as fuddy-duddies. It wasn’t the enforcement.

              “And just one more… if heroin, methamphetamine… the whole gamut of currently illegal drugs were legalized tomorrow, would you go buy some Jack? Thought not, me neither.”

              God. The Ron Paul argument. First confusing Switzerland with the US, and now Ron.

              For the record, I’ve had over a hundred joints thrust into my fingers, and I’ve never taken a puff—not once. And I had to endure hours of cretinous conversations with smart stoned people at hundred parties. Let’s have out debate: You have to be blasted, and I’ll be straight. That’s only fair.

              • “For the record, I’ve had over a hundred joints thrust into my fingers, and I’ve never taken a puff—not once.”

                For the record, my fingers have rolled over a hundred joints, and I’ve taken many, MANY puffs. But I’ve never had a joint “thrust” into my hand. “Grudgingly passed”? Sure. “Thrust”? Not once. (I guess you have better friends than I do — those bogarting punks.) BTW, you wouldn’t happen to still have those “over a hundred” unsmoked joints, would you? I’m just saying, if you’re not going to use them, it seems sort of wasteful to just throw them out. (I don’t know about you, but I consider waste to be extremely unethical.)

                “Let’s have out(sic) debate: You have to be blasted, and I’ll be straight. That’s only fair.”

                I don’t know, man. I know Allan. Would his being “blasted” level the playing feel a bit? Maybe. But if you really want to make things fair, he’d have to be pretty blasted. Let’s not kill the guy.

                • Good. That’s useful to know—you are a habitual scofflaw, and believe that you can just violate duly passed laws that you don’t agree with, that interfere with your desires, or when you think you won’t be caught. This would disqualify you for membership in some bar associations, because it proves that you cannot be trusted. I shows poor citizenship and arrogance, and a lack of responsibility—not to mention probable diminished cognitive skills. On that basis, your opinion has limited credibility, if any.

                  But I appreciate the candor.

                  • So… you don’t still have those joints or you’re just not willing to share?

                    “you are a habitual scofflaw, and believe that you can just violate duly passed laws that you don’t agree with”

                    Pretty much. To quote from Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all’.”

                    “This would disqualify you for membership in some bar associations”

                    *wistful sigh* Life is certainly full of tradeoffs. For example, your support for cannabis prohibition disqualifies you from being a member of my club.

                    “I[t] shows poor citizenship and arrogance, and a lack of responsibility–not to mention probable diminished cognitive skills. On that basis, your opinion has limited credibility, if any.”

                    Perspective is a funny thing. From where I’m sitting, your willingness to send men with guns to arrest your fellow citizens and lock them in cages in a futile attempt to prevent them from possessing some dried plant matter shows: “poor citizenship,” “arrogance,” “lack of responsibility,” and “probable diminished cognitive skills.” On that basis, your opinion has limited credibility, if any.

          • The “evidence” is unrelated to the post! There are studies supporting all sides, and pro-pot advocates (and anti-pot supporters) cherry-pick.

            I actually don’t know of any studies that back anti-pot supporters. I know of ones that say the world would be better without pot, but but not any that say the world is better with pot illegal. Can you point me in the right direction?

            A study or studies that recommend decriminalization…so what? You’re the one who is always, correctly, inveighing against appeals to authority.

            That’s not an appeal to authority. The pissing contest about credentials, and claiming rightness because you’ve been there? That’s an appeal to authority.

            If that’s the position of “virtually” every government study, then “virtually” every study is misguided. The studies listed are also mostly old, and the most positive ones were run at the height of the pro-drug period on campuses and among elites.

            Do you know of any problems with the studies? It looks like you’re trying to poison the well. If the studies are valid, it doesn’t matter if they were done when more or less people were pro-drugs.

            How do you study the likely future consequences of making a major societal decision that can’t be undone if it’s a disaster?

            How about looking at places that have already undergone those steps. What you’re backing here is stasis based on fear of the unknown.

            The recommendations of some of those studies are jaw-droppingly irresponsible, essentially encouraging a full-blown drug culture.

            Citation needed. Which already cited study does the above?

            All were made before the costs of caring for addicts at public expense were known, and when the US wasn’t in debt up to its eyeballs.

            That’s actually a point for decriminalization. How much money do we spend enforcing drug laws and caring for drug offenders?

            There’s a reason that the recommendations of these studies haven’t been implemented. Several. One is that studies like these are primarily funded and operated by those who want to legalize drugs. The bias in the text of some of them isn’t even hidden.

            Poisoning the well, followed by an unsupported statement. Which study that has been cited is clearly biased?

            I can’t conceive of any study that answers the questions that would need to be answered before it would be responsible to unleash more useless, addictive, destructive drugs on the population.

            Circular reasoning. Also, there aren’t going to be new drugs, just decriminalization of the existing ones.

            Meanwhile, we have the results of a long term embrace of alcohol, and can see the tragic consequences.

            What tragic consequences? I think the consequences of the drug war (compared to the open alcohol market) are pretty tragic themselves.

            That’s plenty of evidence for me, and should be for anyone who isn’t biased on the subject.

            New true scotsman.

            • 1. Here’s a useful starting point. http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NHSDA/1997Main/toc.htm
              2. You think experience is authority? Baloney. I dispute that. First hand information is clearly more reliable than abstract studies. People who have no experience with others who are addicted have no business deciding from afar that we can encourage drug use with minimal consequences. Drug users and scofflaws…like 90% of the commenters on this post, are also biased. My bias is that I believe in obeying the law, and wouldn’t trust a habitual drug user to mail a letter.
              3.You act as if criminalization has no effect on use. That just bats, tgt. And of course there will be new drugs, One after another.
              4) What tragic consequences? Of alcoholism? 75,000-100,000 people die from alcohol use every year, and untold more suffer from the addiction of family and co-workers. Are you kidding? There are over 17 million alcoholics. You want to double or triple that.

              • “75,000-100,000 people die from alcohol use every year, and untold more suffer from the addiction of family and co-workers. Are you kidding? There are over 17 million alcoholics. You want to double or triple that.”

                How many people die from cannabis use each year? The answer is ZERO. The use of cannabis (unlike the use of alcohol) has not been shown to increase mortality. Again, you haven’t addressed the argument that we’d simply be making a safer alternative to alcohol legally available.

                And again, criminal prohibition doesn’t eliminate the very real problems associated with substance abuse. It simply adds new problems. There’s no question that alcohol abuse has devastating effects for some individuals. When it comes to recreational drugs, alcohol is one of the worst offenders in terms of its health consequences and the societal damage it causes. I can absolutely understand why this country once had a successful populist movement calling for its ban. And that movement wasn’t based on racism or yellow journalism (well, not entirely anyway). The U.S. voters that pulled the lever in support of prohibition did so with an intimate, generally first-hand, knowledge of alcohol and its effects. And the prohibitionists actually succeeded in amending the constitution. That’s no easy feat. And what’s even more amazing is that a little less than 14 years later, a new super-majority consensus had emerged and the constitution was amended a second time to repeal prohibition. Again, I can understand the impulse that led to alcohol prohibition, even though it proved to be a mistake. What I CAN’T understand is our country’s eagerness to continue repeating that mistake with drugs-other-than-alcohol prohibition. Fortunately, that eagerness appears to be waning rapidly (exceptions like ol’ Jack here notwithstanding).

              • “First hand information is clearly more reliable than abstract studies.”

                That explains quite a bit. If you think personal anecdotes are more reliable than empirical evidence and peer-reviewed research, then I’m guessing you believe in alien abductions too.

                “You act as if criminalization has no effect on use.”

                The empirical evidence and peer-reviewed research tell us that cannabis usage rates rise and fall with no statistical relationship to cannabis laws and their enforcement.

                • If I were a victim of an alien abduction, you are damn right I would believe that over “peer reviewed research” that said it was impossible, and you would to, unless you’re a weak-minded idiot. What an asinine statement. Just read what you wrote, and think about it. A good exercise for you.

                  • Make no mistake, most of the people who claim to have been abducted by aliens sincerely believe it. It’s the same story with past-life regression and bleeding statues of the virgin Mary. I strongly recommend you read Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan, who incidentally was a regular cannabis consumer.

                    My point is, there are several reasons why personal anecdotes should not be trusted. As a lawyer, you should be familiar with most of them.

                    For example, in your case, you claim to have some insight into cannabis because you have been around drug addicts. Cannabis is less physically addictive than coffee. Less than 5 per cent of cannabis consumers use daily. Most use casually and sporadically for a few years before giving up the habit with little if any discomfort.

                    You mischaracterize anyone who opposes cannabis prohibition as being “pro-drug.”

                    You wrote: “A bus driver who smokes pot is risking the lives of young children.”

                    I assume you meant a bus driver who drives under the influence.

                    “A student who smokes pot is sabotaging his education, and making it likely that you and I will have to pay the costs of his progressively unsuccessful life as a result.”

                    It turns out that cannabis consumers have, on average, higher educations and incomes than abstainers. Higher educations and incomes are also strongly correlated with the belief that cannabis should be legally regulated, what you call being “pro-drug.”

                    “Every hour stoned on a recreational drug is one less hour spent on productive activity that could benefit one’s dependents, colleagues, community and society.”

                    The same can be said of most recreational activities; watching TV, playing video games, etc.

                    “Every dollar spent on getting stoned is one less dollar that could be used to start a business, feed a child, pay a debt, or save.”

                    The same can be said of every dollar spent on most recreational activities and luxuries.

                    “It is purely selfish behavior with real social costs and minimal benefits.”

                    The same can be said of cannabis prohibition. Real social costs, which I would be happy to itemize for you, and minimal benefits.

                    • I missed something:

                      And of course there will be new drugs, One after another.

                      Going from prohibition to non-prohibition does not create more drugs (like you claimed). Will there be more drugs in the future than now? Most likely yes, whether or not the existing drugs are prohibited.

              • You think experience is authority? Baloney.
                That’s the opposite of my position. I am saying that your individual experience (along with the individual experiences of allan, Mathew Elrod, etc) is not evidence. Entertainingly, you’re projecting. It’s clear from this statement: “People who have no experience with others who are addicted have no business deciding from afar that we can encourage drug use with minimal consequences.” that you do believe that experience is authority through it’s contrapositive. I reject that. I don’t need first hand knowledge if I have accurate information.

                biased. My bias is that I believe in obeying the law, and wouldn’t trust a habitual drug user to mail a letter.

                The first is totalitarianism, not ethics. The second shows that you are not open to evidence.

                You act as if criminalization has no effect on use. That just bats, tgt. And of course there will be new drugs, One after another.

                No, I’m sure criminalization affects use, but it’s not simply Criminalization -> Less use/bad stuff. I don’t make that unwarranted assumption like you appear to.

                What tragic consequences? Of alcoholism? 75,000-100,000 people die from alcohol use every year, and untold more suffer from the addiction of family and co-workers. Are you kidding? There are over 17 million alcoholics.

                First, the 75,000-100,000 is an overestimate bound of the number of people who’s death MAY have been caused by alcohol, not the number of deaths caused by alcohol.

                Second, how many neighborhoods are destroyed by alcohol? How much money is spent policing alcohol? How many crimes go unsolved as they are not important? How many civil rights are violated due to alcohol policing? Are you accounting for the drug war mostly destroying innocents, while the alcohol deaths tend to be self inflicted?

                You want to double or triple that.

                This is a completely unsupported assumption. If we went from a society where only XBoxes were legal to wear XBoxes and PS3s were legal, we wouldn’t expect to double or triple the number of people who play video games or double the amount of time gamers play games.

                —-
                I am looking into the link you sent. So far, I don’t see any evidence that it would be better for drugs to stay illegal. Can you point me to what you think supports your side?

                • You said you wanted a starting point. I don’t trist social science research, which is quasi-scientific at best, and cross-cultural comparisons are garbage: Switizerland to the US? Useless. The study is hard to get through (I thought) but the data showing that children of parents who disapprove drug use use drugs significantly less than children of those who shrug it off is right where I would expect. Disapproval by authority figures makes a huge difference, and the law is a major authority.

                  Merry Christmas. When the year end awards come out, I’m going to owe you a dinner, and unfortunately, you’re close enough that I’ll actually have to pay up.

                  • The study is hard to get through (I thought) but the data showing that children of parents who disapprove drug use use drugs significantly less than children of those who shrug it off is right where I would expect. Disapproval by authority figures makes a huge difference, and the law is a major authority

                    Disapproval of parents is considerably different from disapproval by government. Did illegality make me want to not drink as a teen? No. Did my parents overt disapproval? Yes. I know, it’s anecdotal, but extrapolating the effects of government disapproval based on parental disapproval is unwarranted.

                    […] cross-cultural comparisons are garbage: Switizerland to the US? Useless.

                    I wouldn’t go that far. Do postive consequences of action Y in Switzerland mean we’ll have the same positive consequences of action Y in the US? No, but it is good evidence that we can’t assume there will be negative consequences of Y in the US.

                    When the year end awards come out, I’m going to owe you a dinner, and unfortunately, you’re close enough that I’ll actually have to pay up.

                    How about http://www.dickslastresort.com, where the gimick is unethical, rude behavior? 😉

          • My dear Jack, kindly peruse hardly a small portion of the many studies the Feds wish they’d never commissioned:

            01) MARIJUANA USE HAS NO EFFECT ON MORTALITY:

            A massive study of California HMO members funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found marijuana use caused no significant increase in mortality. Tobacco use was associated with increased risk of death. Sidney, S et al. Marijuana Use and Mortality. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 87 No. 4, April 1997. p. 585-590. Sept. 2002.

            02) HEAVY MARIJUANA USE AS A YOUNG ADULT WON’T RUIN YOUR LIFE:

            Veterans Affairs scientists looked at whether heavy marijuana use as a young adult caused long-term problems later, studying identical twins in which one twin had been a heavy marijuana user for a year or longer but had stopped at least one month before the study, while the second twin had used marijuana no more than five times ever. Marijuana use had no significant impact on physical or mental health care utilization, health-related quality of life, or current socio-demographic characteristics. Eisen SE et al. Does Marijuana Use Have Residual Adverse Effects on Self-Reported Health Measures, Socio-Demographics or Quality of Life? A Monozygotic Co-Twin Control Study in Men. Addiction. Vol. 97 No. 9. p.1083-1086. Sept. 1997

            03) THE “GATEWAY EFFECT” MAY BE A MIRAGE:

            Marijuana is often called a “gateway drug” by supporters of prohibition, who point to statistical “associations” indicating that persons who use marijuana are more likely to eventually try hard drugs than those who never use marijuana – implying that marijuana use somehow causes hard drug use. But a model developed by RAND Corp. researcher Andrew Morral demonstrates that these associations can be explained “without requiring a gateway effect.” More likely, this federally funded study suggests, some people simply have an underlying propensity to try drugs, and start with what’s most readily available. Morral AR, McCaffrey D and Paddock S. Reassessing the Marijuana Gateway Effect. Addiction. December 2002. p. 1493-1504.

            04) PROHIBITION DOESN’T WORK:

            The White House had the National Research Council examine the data being gathered about drug use and the effects of U.S. drug policies. NRC concluded, “the nation possesses little information about the effectiveness of current drug policy, especially of drug law enforcement.” And what data exist show “little apparent relationship between severity of sanctions prescribed for drug use and prevalence or frequency of use.” In other words, there is no proof that prohibition – the cornerstone of U.S. drug policy for a century – reduces drug use. National Research Council. Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us. National Academy Press, 2001. p. 193.

            05) PROHIBITION MAY CAUSE THE “GATEWAY EFFECT”?): U.S. and Dutch researchers, supported in part by NIDA, compared marijuana users in San Francisco, where non-medical use remains illegal, to Amsterdam, where adults may possess and purchase small amounts of marijuana from regulated businesses. Looking at such parameters as frequency and quantity of use and age at onset of use, they found the following: Cannabis (Marijuana) use in San Francisco was 3 times the prevalence found in the Amsterdam sample. And lifetime use of hard drugs was significantly lower in Amsterdam, with its “tolerant” marijuana policies. For example, lifetime crack cocaine use was 4.5 times higher in San Francisco than Amsterdam. Reinarman, C, Cohen, PDA, and Kaal, HL. The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy: Cannabis in Amsterdam and San Francisco. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 94, No. 5. May 2004. p 836-842.

            06) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART 1):

            Federal researchers implanted several types of cancer, including leukemia and lung cancers, in mice, then treated them with cannabinoids (unique, active components found in marijuana). THC and other cannabinoids shrank tumors and increased the mice’s lifespans. Munson, AE et al. Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Sept. 1975. p. 597-602.

            07) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER, (PART 2):

            In a 1994 study the government tried to suppress, federal researchers gave mice and rats massive doses of THC, looking for cancers or other signs of toxicity. The rodents given THC lived longer and had fewer cancers, “in a dose-dependent manner” (i.e. the more THC they got, the fewer tumors). NTP Technical Report On The Toxicology And Carcinogenesis Studies Of 1-Trans- Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, CAS No. 1972-08-3, In F344/N Rats And B6C3F Mice, Gavage Studies. See also, “Medical Marijuana: Unpublished Federal Study Found THC-Treated Rats Lived Longer, Had Less Cancer,” AIDS Treatment News no. 263, Jan. 17, 1997.

            08) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART 3):

            Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients for nearly a decade, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had massively higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn’t also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers, though the difference did not reach statistical significance. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728.

            09) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART 4):

            Donald Tashkin, a UCLA researcher whose work is funded by NIDA, did a case-control study comparing 1,200 patients with lung, head and neck cancers to a matched group with no cancer. Even the heaviest marijuana smokers had no increased risk of cancer, and had somewhat lower cancer risk than non-smokers (tobacco smokers had a 20-fold increased Lung Cancer risk). Tashkin D. Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer: Results of a Case-Control Study. American Thoracic Society International Conference. May 23, 2006.

            10) MARIJUANA DOES HAVE GREAT MEDICAL VALUE:

            In response to passage of California’s medical marijuana law, the White House had the Institute of Medicine (IOM) review the data on marijuana’s medical benefits and risks. The IOM concluded, “Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana.” The report also added, “we acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting.” The government’s refusal to acknowledge this finding caused co-author John A. Benson to tell the New York Times that the government “loves to ignore our report … they would rather it never happened.” Joy, JE, Watson, SJ, and Benson, JA. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. National Academy Press. 1999. p. 159. See also, Harris, G. FDA Dismisses Medical Benefit From Marijuana. New York Times. Apr. 21, 2006

        • It’s just a standard issue straw man fallacy to invoke the hysterical rhetoric of “unrestricted use of all “dangerous” drugs and to use the inflammatory descriptor “suicidal” without any basis other than isisting that it would be so.

          What Mr. Murphy seems to not grasp is that we’re simply not limited to a binary choice between either summary execution of anyone suspected of involvement with substances on the naughty list or being forced to allow the sales reps from the heroin factory to set up promotional displays to hand out free samples in the lobbies of our elementary schools. There’s a very wide range of choices in between the two. While one can’t say precisely where the ‘sweet spot’ is we can most certainly state without doubt that the place where we are is an epic failure of public policy. It’s abject stupidity to insist that we continue to embrace guaranteed failure because something else might fail.

          Suicidal? Perhaps Mr. Murphy would like to compare the number of American dead due to the absolute prohibition of heroin vs the Swiss HAT model. This number would include fatal overdoses which include heroin, the number of fatalities due to the spread of HIV and hepatitis A, B, and C, the number of law enforcement officers that have sacrificed their lives in the pursuit of the embrace of the proven failure of absolute prohibition, deaths because of crime caused by the pursuit of money to cover the risk premium, etc, etc, etc. That doesn’t even begin to cover ancillary costs in terms of human lives that result because we’re squandering our finite public resources in the pursuit of making failure work.

          Say Jack, perhaps you could tell me why in 2008 that the Swiss voted by a margin better than 2:1 to keep heroin legal and supplied at taxpayer expense to their ever dwindling cohort of junkies? Why is their cohort of junkies dwindling? Hint: it isn’t because they’re dying off. Is it your contention that it’s the Swiss that are idiots despite the fact that by every objective metric their program is succeeding compared to ours? I’d sure like to hear you rationalize why failure is better than success. But even moreso I’d like to hear you acknowledge that the proven failure of absolute prohibition is a failure. There’s no shame in acknowledging that something that doesn’t work in fact doesn’t work. As a matter of fact, it’s the only way we’re going to be able to move on and figure out something that does work.

          • 1. I was not the first one to raise the specter of the elimination of all drug laws. It was a legalization advocate, and that can be expected as the next objective. It is no straw man.
            2) I don’t accept your definition of failure at all. Fewer children are using pot now than thirty years ago, according to data. That’s a success. I realize the failure mantra is useful politically, but its not that simple.
            3) If you want squander funds, drug enforcement costs are waaaaaay down the list.
            4) Switzerland is not the United States. You do know that, right? Because cross-cultural comparisons are useless in this area.
            5.) You know what? When I do to a party, nobody’s stoned, and nobody’s toking. I work in may circles and recreational drug use is minimal, and practically invisible. (Alcohol, drunks and alcoholics, I see a lot of.) Without the drug laws, this would not be the case. That’s a success in my book.
            6) Hey Duncan…Alaska decriminalized pot, and use by juveniles about tripled. Then they criminalized it again. Alaska is also not Switzerland.

      • Jack, please quit being snarky. I may be just a blue collar guy but I guarantee you I am far better educated on drug policy than you. As one in the legal profession surely you can answer my question… if a law is falsely founded, especially under the flag of racism, is it valid? Or, as with much of the rest of the civil rights law progression, should it be protested and allowed to stand while folks suffer under it?

        And “Stoned American zealots”… really? Ad hominem is all you have? I am hardly a zealot and have a long history of social and civil activism across a broad spectrum of issues. You wish to discuss? Let’s do it. I could make lawyer jokes ’til the cows come home (most of ’em close to true), but I’d rather not.

        You speak of passing laws to protect the innocent from the harms of those distracted by action or substance… yet what is the difference between them and folks – innocent citizens – killed by Prohibition II? Are you familiar with the litany of names that exists there? Peter McWilliams, Donald Scott, Zeke Hernandez, Veronica and Charity Bowers, Kathryn Johnston, Annie Rae Dixon, Patrick Dorismond, etc etc etc ad nauseum…

        There is a deeper layer here as well. The erosion of civil order under Prohibition (I or II) is a consequence with broad harms – disrespect for law, corruption of LE and gov’t officials, the rise in power of the criminals and their organizations under Prohibition…

        And yes, the debate supporting Prohibition loses – unless you are of the belief that government can and should do all it can to accrue and maintain the most power and the most control over its citizens, including the use of lethal force and mass incarceration.

        I’m not sure how old you are Jack, but I remember when the phrase “the land of the free” was held close by those around me. And if the reality may not have been as glossy as the ideal can you say that going from “the land of the free” to “the land of the most incarcerated” is what you want for the U.S.?

        And the fact behind my opinion that prohibition loses? Look at the results 40 years on since Nixon’s declaration of war. Pot? How’d that work? It seems Prohibition II was so successful cannabis is now our nation’s number one agricultural commodity. Yeah… I call that failure, don’t know about you. In fact that’s spectacular failure. That should be put in the dictionary as a working definition of failure…

        And btw… why is hemp illegal? Talk about drug war stupid…

        • You are not better educated about drug policy than I—you just care about it more, because you want to undermine it. I have no interest in dueling credentials.

          The only question is whether the law is a good one or not. The motivations of its ancient supporters in the Southwest (according to researchers determined to discredit the laws generally) mean nothing now. Good laws are passed for bad reasons, and bad laws are passed for good reasons. Your obsession with this is just strange. “if a law is falsely founded, especially under the flag of racism, is it valid?” I presume you mean if it was based on false assumptions originally. The answer is: It depends on whether there are valid reasons for the law now, regardless of the original intent. There are. “Or, as with much of the rest of the civil rights law progression, should it be protested and allowed to stand while folks suffer under it?” An irrelevancy. The law as it now stands has nothing to do with civil rights. That is why I said that the race angle you keep coming back to is ridiculous. Many good laws were enacted for silly, corrupt or bad reasons. It’s the law that matters, not its supporters, not the wheeling dealing behind it, not whether there were sinister or ignorant motives at the beginning, middle or the end.

          I do not accept your equivalency between Prohibition and the anti-drug laws, because of context, period, and social conditions. They are not comparable.

          I’m afraid I am snarky–I’ll cop to that– because your position embodies not just one, but several points of view that I find, frankly, obnoxious, destructive and misguided. Perhaps my least favorite is the canard that the number of prisoners in US penitentiaries is the fault of anyone other than the criminals themselves. In a land where freedom is a high value, it is to be expected that more citizens than in most countries would misuse that freedom to commit crimes. The crime rate has not risen, because the criminals are in jail–good. Reducing crime by legalizing it—“Marion Barryism”—should be a self-evidently absurd solution, yet that is what you are advocating.

          I believe that crime and disrespect for reasonable laws is promoted and facilitated by people like you. I don’t think it is noble. At best, I think it is tragically wrong-headed. If you and your compatriots do win “the argument,” the nation will suffer horribly for it

          • aaah…

            You are not better educated about drug policy than I—you just care about it more, because you want to undermine it. I have no interest in dueling credentials.

            Dueling credentials, you win. I’m blue collar, community college educated, not Harvard (altho’ I can say I’ve been published at Yale). But you know where my credentials outweigh yours? I’ve been there. I’ve seen the drug war from the inside and the outside. I’ve a PhD from the school of hard knocks.

            The only question is whether the law is a good one or not. The motivations of its ancient supporters in the Southwest (according to researchers determined to discredit the laws generally) mean nothing now. Good laws are passed for bad reasons, and bad laws are passed for good reasons. Your obsession with this is just strange. “if a law is falsely founded, especially under the flag of racism, is it valid?” I presume you mean if it was based on false assumptions originally. The answer is: It depends on whether there are valid reasons for the law now, regardless of the original intent. There are. “Or, as with much of the rest of the civil rights law progression, should it be protested and allowed to stand while folks suffer under it?” An irrelevancy. The law as it now stands has nothing to do with civil rights. That is why I said that the race angle you keep coming back to is ridiculous.

            And I keep trying to point out to you that the law(s) is/are not good at all. And it’s not my obsession. You do realize the NAACP has weighed in in opposition to the war on (some) drugs… that there are two presidential candidates weighing in against the WO(s)D… that conservatives like George Schultz and the late conservative Wm F Buckley, or former police chiefs and a growing segment of the LE community adamantly oppose(d) the WO(s)D?

            And to say “the law as it now stands has nothing to do with civil rights” is untrue and dishonest. Have you read or are you aware of the book, The New Jim Crow, by Michele Alexander? Do you understand the crack – cocaine sentencing disparity? Are you aware that we currently incarcerate young black males per capita at a rate multiples greater than S Africa at the height of the Apartheid regime?

            I do not accept your equivalency between Prohibition and the anti-drug laws, because of context, period, and social conditions. They are not comparable.

            hmmm… some did not accept that the world is round either… I DO accept that they are comparable. And again, I am hardly alone in that: http://www.leap.cc/

            my least favorite is the canard that the number of prisoners in US penitentiaries is the fault of anyone other than the criminals themselves. In a land where freedom is a high value, it is to be expected that more citizens than in most countries would misuse that freedom to commit crimes. The crime rate has not risen, because the criminals are in jail–good.

            Really? How about the rates at which LE is solving crimes compared to say 40 or 50 years ago… like that in the early ’60s the closure rate on homicide cases was 91%, today that rate is down to 61%.

            Law enforcement has incentive programs to pursue so-called drug crimes, Byrne Grants, HIDTA, etc. There are nearly one million arrests for cannabis in the US annually and agencies w/ drug arrests receive federal dollars and lotsa fancy equipment, armored personnel carriers, fancy black ninja uniforms… and there nearly 50,000 SWAT raids per year, mostly on minor drug offense warrants, a far cry from the original intent of SWAT.

            And to hear you say that our world highest incarceration rate – higher even than communist China (both in per capita and total numbers) – appalls me.

            sentencing disparity

          • “The only question is whether the law is a good one or not.”

            How do you define good in this context?

            “It depends on whether there are valid reasons for the law now, regardless of the original intent.”

            You have argued that the intent of cannabis prohibition is to eliminate the plant from society. By that criteria, the law is delusional at best. There has never been a drug-free society in recorded history, with the possible exception of the Inuit, because they lacked plants, but who nonetheless used a mildly psychoactive lichen tea.

            If you are a more pragmatic prohibitionist, who merely thinks prohibition is intended to suppress availability and popularity, assumedly with the ultimate goal of reducing cannabis-related harm to both the individual consumer and society at large, then the intent may be noble but the consequences are counter-productive. Surely as an ethicist you realize that good intentions do not make up for catastrophic consequences, and that your ignorance is no defense.

            • Come on, Matthew, you’re a smart guy. Do murder laws and theft laws eliminate murder and theft, of expect to? Are they delusional? By your definition, all laws are delusional. The drug laws, like all laws, seek to 1) display society’s disapproval of conduct deemed harmful, 2) define the conduct, 3) alert citizens that such conduct will not be tolerated and 4) to permit enforcement via due process.

              • I am relieved that you are backing away from the delusional notion that prohibition is intended to make us “drug-free.” It means that you are not an entirely lost cause.

                I am surprised that you do not then argue that cannabis prohibition is intended to suppress availability and usage rates, That is the typical fall back position of “drug-free America” prohibitionists.

                Are we not doing a good job of expressing societal disapproval of tobacco smoking and obesity? Isn’t criminalizing all cannabis production and possession overkill?

                The law is intended to define the conduct? Can you be more specific?

                Isn’t alerting citizens to the fact that such conduct will not be tolerated the same as expressing societal disapproval? Or is this message of zero-tolerance a repeat of objective number one with an underline.

                Given that cannabis consumption is widely tolerated, and in some cases glorified, and made more attractive by virtue of the “forbidden fruit” effect, would you agree that the law is falling short of the third objective?

                The law is intended to permit enforcement of the law? Isn’t that circular?

                Suppose, for the sake of discussion, hypothetically, that cannabis prohibition caused far more harm to both individuals and society than cannabis ever could, even if everyone took up the habit, Would you still support it? I ask because I want to know whether or not your support of cannabis prohibition is ideological or logical before I make an effort
                to educate you.

  4. The major flaw in the “there’s no such thing as smoked medicine” canard is the basic, fundamental fact that cannabis doesn’t require smoking to gain its benefits, whether for medicinal need or just for plain enjoyment.

    However, the fact that there’s currently no such thing as an ***FDA approved*** medicine that’s smoked is hardly proof that there can never be such a critter either. Prior to 2004 there were no FDA approved medical devices which are either necrotic, flesh eating insect laqrvae or blood sucking worms. Today if your doctor thinks they’re needed both medicinal grade maggots and leeches are available to treat your medical condition.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/magazine/11ideas_section2-14.html

    FDA approval does not confer medicinal utility on a substance or even a critter. The medical utility of every single thing approved by the FDA was the same the day before as the day after receiving approval. It’s really something that should be being decided by licensed medical doctors and accredited scientists with no political pressure on their decisions one way or the other. It is not something appropriately decided by Know Nothing laymen playing doctor on the Internet, and is most certainly not the bailiwick of politicians promoting a self serving political agenda.

    Tell me, if Marinol is “pot in a pill” why aren’t there any potheads interested in a prescription? Junkies sure go for that oxycodone and hydrocodone. There are lots and lots of “pill mills” with lines of junkies out the door and down the block, but nary a Marinol “pill mill” to be found. There is a reason for that. If you don’t know what it is, you haven’t even a basic working knowledge of the fundamental facts of this issue and there’s no earthly reason that your opinion should be considered. How about if we leave the doctoring to the doctors?

  5. The federal goverment has no authoirty to regulate driving laws. They should leave that to the states and worry about bigger problems.

    Also wearing a seat belt does more then protect the driver. It keeps the driver firmly in one position and helps them to maintain control of the car before during and after an acident.

    I ownt even get into the whole pot thing as I think its a seperate discussion.

    • The federal goverment has no authoirty to regulate driving laws.

      I think the Commerce clause, as it’s currently interpretted, disagrees with you.

      This is one case where the federated system breaks down. If every state has different rules on distracted driving, since law enforcement and the courts pretty much ignore mens rea, what you (or even Jack) considers safe driving could very well be criminal conduct.

  6. Jack, this is in reply to you.

    I accept your argument about moral luck, and withdraw my “prima facie” comment.

    However, I still stand by my main argument. The actual problem is not distracted driving, but rather injuries due to auto accidents.

    We already have a system of vehicle codes that, taken as a whole, are designed to prevent cars from crashing into each other: drive on a particular side of the road, stop for stop signs and red lights, signal before turning/lane changing, etc. It’s all an effort to make everyone’s driving predictable. Follow all the rules, and no one should ever be surprised by what you do with your vehicle.

    When people break THOSE rules, they should be penalized. Their unpredictable behavior is the problem. If it just so happens that a large percentage of these incidents are the result of drinking or of cell phone use, then it will also just so happen that the exact same percentage of tickets issued will be to those people who engage in that behavior. No further laws are necessary, but it is prudent to make the penalties for certain known behaviors harsher. Thus, secondary offense.

    I also reject the comparison to drinking. The significant difference is that if I’m intoxicated, I do not have the option of instantly (and temporarily) not being intoxicated at will. If you’re drunk, you’re drunk, and we know from experience that you are extremely unlikely to be able to fully keep a car under control.

    On the other hand, if I’m using a cell phone, I have the option of putting the damn thing down whenever I choose and the problem is solved in an instant. Same goes for the lipstick, the book, the cup in the cup holder, the controls on the radio, the conversation with the passenger, or even looking at the speedometer (although, interestingly enough, NOT for the screaming kids in the back seat). It’s a huge mischaracterization to portray cell phone use as a continuous, uninterruptable state of existence. Intoxication, however, is exactly that.

    –Dwayne

  7. As the risk of being in agreement with TGT three times in a row (shudder) . . . .

    Jack, you wrote “But that’s the old “you can’t fix everything, so why fix anything?” argument, Tim.” and referred TGT to the same response. I don’t see it as that argument. I see it as a rejection of the cherry-picking of one particular form of distraction as prejudicial when other forms are given a pass. More on that in a minute.

    You mentioned letting “someone drive without glasses until they kill somebody.” That’s a poor analogy because it’s more like intoxication–a better term would be impairment–than distraction in that the driver cannot choose to have good vision at will. It is a “continuous, uninterruptable state of existence”, if I may be indulged to quote my own self.

    So, why cell phones and not the other things? Simple: the new technology is a thing that many can remember a time before it existed, and easily imagine legislating back out of existence. But that’s a fallacy in that it deals with a new, previously-unseen form of a problem as if it is the problem in it’s entirety. There were bad drivers and auto accidents long before there were cell phones. But cell phones (or any new technology) are an easy target because they are just at that point where people can remember when they didn’t exist but have no notion of what it would be like to go back to not having them. It won’t be the same, and you haven’t done anything about the REAL problem. Conversely, no one alive today can remember a time when cars didn’t have radios, so no one would seriously consider banning them.

    (Side note: this was also the essential failure of Prohibition.)

    There are other things that can and do distract drivers. If we criminalize ONLY ONE of them, then we are also leaving it up to moral luck.

    Two people both drink coffee from a cup and use their cell phones on the way home. One has an accident during the texting and the other has an accident during the drink. The first goes to jail while the second one goes free. The cause of both accidents is the same: both drivers were unable to maintain enough control to avoid causing an accident.

    Imagine a law passed in the early 1900’s that bans driving cars because it was perceived that it would prevent injuries to both horse and rider in the event of a collision with a car.

    –Dwayne

    • well stated Dwayne…

      and if we ban to prevent harm, then should there be a scale of harm? A prioritization of those things with the largest adverse/lethal effects?

      I don’t believe 100 % compliance can ever be accomplished in any human enterprise. I don’t believe that a state can successfully legislate away harm. It can provide the tools/education necessary to the reduction of risks.

      On the grand scale… we lose some 30,000 people each day on the planet from starvation and malnutrition related disease. It can be argued that neglect should be illegal.

      Cigarettes cause more deaths than war.

      Here in the US alcohol annually kills 100,000. Auto accidents cause 30,000+ deaths per year (we are driving safer now than ever – more people, more cars, more miles driven and fewer accidents).

      If cannabis Prohibition kills more people than cannabis…? (and it does)

    • RE: Marijuana
      This is for Dwayne: Well, it looks like a couple of partiers here, later than you and me, shared some information I did not have before. I can appreciate how you would have an obstacle (if ethics could ever be called such) to respond regarding whether all that’s been shared is credible. The touche’ I was thinking of posting may have been an off-the-mark, dull and weak poke, after all. I knew about vaporizing and edibles, but not tinctures. I can buy vapor therapy (I mean buy, as in, allow, accept as admissible etc.). I still don’t see justification for recreational use stemming from any medical efficacy. Dwayne, you have all my respect for the law enforcement work you have done, even though I am of a more “libertarian” mind toward marijuana than it seems clear I have communicated thus far. (I just don’t want Jack to ban me!) But, since your and my positions (I mean, professional stations, jobs etc.) also seem far more alike than different with respect to our peculiar obligations to uphold laws, I have to bow-out from here in a manner similar to how you did. I call it ForrestGumping: “That’s all I have to say about that.”

      All: I will never accept as necessary, the sucking-on-the-nonburning-end-of-a-burning-turd method, for ingesting all those (brief sarcasm-by-adjectives coming) must-not-miss desirable, health-enhancing, fun-making, wonder-plant cannabinoids (via bongs included; I’ve long known about those). Some of us got sick enough from secondary tobacco smoke from family members while we were still small children, that we “rebelled” when we grew to being able to establish tyranny over our own private living spaces, and we have consequently managed to sustain healthier, smoking- and smoke-free lives. We nonsmokers have not yet established enough of our tyranny over public spaces and smoking therein, in my opinion, but we’re making progress. That’s just tyranny vs. tyranny. I enjoy the battling; it’ll never end.

      RE: Texting while driving, and “enforcement” of same
      At least a partial solution by technical means, mandated by regulations, seems feasible. My wife’s Garman (GPS) is scary-accurate with “knowing” the car’s velocity. GPS is currently an option in some devices, if I’m correct. (I try to avoid gadgets.) But, I believe the electronics have come so far now, that you don’t even need GPS in a mobile device to compute velocity. All the device needs is a gyroscope-on-a-chip – autonomous, independent of GPS. Regulations that mandate devices to have built-in capability for determining velocity, and that require devices to render themselves inoperable at velocities above 5 mph (a fast human walk), would work in cars, trains, planes, and maybe even on wild rides at theme parks. Fixes like that might even work to the advantage of moms and dads who desire freedom from the secondhand distraction (comparable to secondhand smoke) of their kids’ stubbornly incessant and unnecessary device-play (call it AlecBaldwining, or just Alecing) while riding along on car trips. Sing-alongs or audio books are two examples of safer and more edifying ways to pass the trip time.

      • Proam, I chuckle as I read this because the factory-installed SatNav system that’s built into my car (an Audi) does exactly what you describe: at any speed above 5-10mph (I don’t know the exact number) you can no longer usse the rotating knob to enter text.

        What’s especially frustrating about it is that a front passenger can’t use it either–even though there’s a sensor in the seat to know that someone IS sitting there (so that the passenger airbag is disabled when there is not)…!

        Thank you, Internets, for indulging me in this off-topic sidebar. We now return to your regularly-scheduled out-of-control discussion thread, already in progress.

        –Dwayne

  8. Well, we can discuss all of the philosophies, intent of the law and compare oranges to apples all day and night, but here’s the bottom line from a practical, what’s happening in the streets, our neighborhoods, cities, neighboring countries and to our kids, point of view. No speculation here…all facts.

    Validation first. I have over 30 years of law enforcement experience among three different agencies (Maryland Transit Police, Maryland State Police and the Baltimore City Police Department) where I worked patrol, undercover narcotics, various levels of command (patrol, narcotics, CID, training, human resources, finance, etc.), oversight of 13 multi-jurisdictional drug task forces, commanded the drug and criminal enforcement bureau for the Maryland State Police and training bureaus for both the MSP and BPD.

    Now back to the bottom line. Through our laws of drug prohibition, we have created the most violent society this country has ever witnessed. The foundation for most violent crime in this country, Mexico and others today is by far the illicit drug trade. The illicit trade kills in many ways. We begin with those directly affected, gang bangers (criminals) and cops. I personally knew 6 cops among just two departments who were murdered because of this non-sense of prohibition and many more seriously injured. Then we move to innocent folks – the kids caught in the crossfire of drive-by shootings and running gun battles. The Dawson family of seven who had their home set a blaze in the middle of the night by the neighborhood drug dealer because the mother had enough of his drug dealing escapades in front of their home. She went to the police for assistance and he murdered them all by fire as they slept. This is happening all across this country and how you folks can be ignorant of it I have not a clue. Maybe it’s that you just don’t give a $&#@ about it because it’s not within your gated communities. I know, not all of you live in gated communities. I just couldn’t resist, but I bet some of you do.

    I’m not done with the deaths yet. Thousands of overdoses due to unregulated junk on the streets with no quality control. Users have absolutely no idea how much of the packet is the actual drug and how much is cut. Well, if it’s that dangerous, why do they use? For the very same reason people smoke cigarettes and drink booze – they like it! And cigarettes and booze kill more folks by far – it’s not even close. If it were prohibited, they would still do it and we could double, if not triple, our prison population and homicide rate. On the brighter side, we have been successful with reducing cigarette consumption almost in half over the past couple of decades – no one in prison and no one shot. EDUCATION!

    Many overdoes could be prevented if those suffering received critical care in time. Unfortunately, because cops seek to arrest those who summon help and the person suffering, people are reluctant to call for help and as precious seconds click away, so does another life.

    Over 40,000 people murdered in Mexico over the past four years since they began accepting assistance from the US in fighting the cartel. You cannot defeat the cartel or our criminal gangs here in the US as long as they can make billions from this trade. There will always be someone to take the place of those arrested or killed. You must eliminate the trade and the ONLY way is to move it into a legal, regulated and controlled market.

    I’ve fought this war for decades and it’s only become worse. During my early years of working undercover in the Washington DC suburbs, to seize an ounce of heroin would almost get me promoted. A kilo of cocaine would get me a medal. Today, we are talking container loads of both for any serious recognition. When I seized a kilo or two of coke in the early 80s the street would feel it for about one or two weeks. Today, when 2 tons are seized, not one hiccup in the streets.

    The most serious consequence of prohibition is murder, killings by the thousands. I know for certain that they would be drastically reduced the day after we end the drug war. Life and the saving of it is first and foremost – period! Then we’ll concentrate on use and abuse, just as we have with tobacco.

    As for the long laundry list of other consequences; prisons, racial disparity (caused by inappropriate and unchecked policing practices), financial cost, availability of drugs to our kids (dangerous one man drugstores on every corner), corruption at all levels of government (way too many bad cops), overt violation of fourth amendment rights, communities never to recover due to gang violence, depressed housing markets in these communities (you think your home value has decreased), illegal and unconstitutional seizing of property, SWAT team dynamic entries gone bad, billions of dollars in CASH leaving our borders every year, a dysfunctional and over burdened judicial system, financing of terrorism, etc. OK, I’m tired and going to bed. Good night and have a blessed Christmas week-end. Be safe!

      • so I’m curious Jack… Neill didn’t say anything substantively different than any of the previous commenters… is it that he’s in uniform? Does his experience resonate with you in a way that makes his stance palatable to you compared to others? Others with all the same facts, utilizing the same studies and resources…

        And btw… Neill and his peers are a large part of the reason I say that defending Prohibition II is a losing proposition.

        Thanks for the platform, enjoy your holiday, whichever of the multitude it be.

        • Now you’re attributing bias to my choice of Comments of the Day? Hilarious. It was the last comment in, it was well-written, it summarized the “the law has made things worse argument” better than most, it was passionate, and it wasn’t insulting to the opposing point of view. I like your comments, except for the racist origins angle, which is irrelevant. tgt is the probably most consistently constructive commenter here, and has been for a year, and for some damn reason he’s only had one COTD. Yes, it’s arbitrary—a pure gut call. Don’t be so sensitive. I’m grateful for your contributions to the discussion. I just don’t always act like it.

          • Thanks for that… and re my sensitivity… yeah I am. You (correct me if I’m wrong) have not endured the raw bigotry against my position that I have. I mean really… former LAPD chief Ed Davis once said we all should be shot (or the equivalent). Declaration of self as a cannabis consumer can bring out the worst in others in online discussion. Dealing with people utilizing no intellect and lots of hate gets tiring.

            As to the racist origins thing… we’ll have to agree to disagree on that. But consider that the law was truly founded on nothing more substantial than xenophobia (even the AMA opposed criminalization). Along the way to now, cannabis Prohibition was maintained thru a program of Reefer Madness propaganda so we (drug policy reformers) face the additional burden of 70 years of lies against us.

            I’ll accept that olive branch. I’ll disconnect my snark switch if it’s a reciprocal move.

            So… I plant a seed, I grow a plant, I consume the plant in my home. Where is the crime? The only thing that makes it a crime is the fallacious origins of pot’s prohibition. There is no assault, no theft… only a violation (a conscious and partly civilly disobedient action) of a very very very bad law. To requote the DEA’s judge Young (hardly a liberal university diletante): “cannabis is one of the safest therapeutic substances known to man.”

            • Aw, heck. Maybe I’ve been inspired by Allan’s example, maybe it’s the fact that it’s almost Christmas, or maybe it’s the effects of the White Widow I just vaped, but I’d like to bury the hatchet as well.

              But first I’ll just echo Allan’s comment re: sensitivity. As a cannabis enthusiast, it’s kinda hard NOT to be sensitive about this issue or take it personally. You’re supporting a policy that could result in my losing my job, my house, my savings, and my liberty, a policy that could result in my being branded for life as a criminal — all because I have the temerity to possess a plant, because I refuse to allow the state to tell me what I can or cannot put into my own body, and because I insist upon my fundamental right to control my own consciousness. I understand that cannabis use has risks (although I think they’re wildly exaggerated). All human activities possess some level of risk. I choose to enjoy cannabis because I have concluded, as have millions of other independent-thinking adult citizens of our mostly-free nation, that its benefits (it has those too, you know) outweigh its risks for me. I understand that other adults may reach a different conclusion with respect to their own lives. And I completely respect their choice. I’d just like them to extend the same courtesy to me.

              Having said that, that doesn’t excuse rudeness on my part. And I apologize if you feel that at any point my snark crossed the line from well-intentioned, gentle ribbing which is how it was intended (ok, ok, how it was mostly intended) to mean-spiritedness . I hope you and your family have a fun and safe holiday season!

              • Ditto, in all respects. I am grateful for all the responses (well, most of them); this is what the blog is supposed to do; make people, including me, think about these things, be challenged, and not be lazy about tough topics. I know my replies sometimes cross my own civility lines, and it’s a lifetime problem. I’m working on it. You should have heard me 20 years ago.

            • As I just told Francis, I know I’m unnecessarily (and unfairly) sharp at times. Don’t think that it means I don’t appreciate the thought and passion you and others put into your posts. I do. It’s a huge contribution, and helps achieve the objectives of Ethics Alarms, which isn’t to prove me right, but to keep searching for what right is.

              Merry Christmas. And my son agrees with you.

  9. Pingback: How not to count the costs of drug prohibition | Nobody's Business

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