Let Us All Bow In Gratitude To Colorado For Generously Sacrificing Its Children And The Safety And Welfare of Its Citizens To Prove What Responsible People Knew Already: Pot Should Stay Illegal

Hey, Que pasa! You idiot...

Hey, Que pasa! You idiot…

I’m probably going to stray a bit from strictly professional rhetoric here, but this really makes me angry.

According to a report released this month by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, there has been a 29% increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits and a 38 % increase in pot-related hospitalizations during retail marijuana’s first year in Colorado.

[ NOTE: This is a correction. The original version of the post gave the wrong impression that hospitalizations were up: this was not my intent. Thanks to Humble Talent for being persistent. Ethics Alarms apologizes for the error. We’ll try to do better.]

Now 11% of Colorado’s 12 to 17 year-olds use pot,  56% higher than the national average.There has also been a 40% increase in drug-related suspensions and expulsions in school, primarily from marijuana.

Mercy, what a surprise! Who could have predicted that? Well me, for one, as well as others neither dedicated to getting their periodic recreational buzz nor addled by moldy Sixties cant.

Of course making pot legal and widely available for adults would cause an epidemic of use by kids, who, the evidence increasingly shows, may suffer long term adverse effectsOf course it is causing accidents. Of course adding a third harmful legal drug to the devastating and deadly duo of alcohol and tobacco is going to make society dumber, less safe and less productive.

Diane Carlson, co-founder of Smart Colorado—a group that neither opposes nor supports pot legalization but that is dedicated to minimizing the harm due to legalization—agrees that what is going on with pot use in Colorado schools is “an epidemic.” “Kids have no idea how dangerous or harmful Colorado’s pot is,” she says. Of course they don’t: why would they? The government says it’s legal, which means it’s fine, safe, virtuous, just like the Beatles said it was. The government doesn’t make dangerous things that have no crucial purpose legal, and look! All the adults are saying how great it is to be stoned. What did Colorado expect?

Carlson blames commercialization. “Marijuana might have been legalized in our state; it did not have to mean massive commercialization and promotion of marijuana use,” she says. Of course it had to mean that. Wasn’t that one of the arguments? Let people sell it legally, so the money goes to the state in taxes and the profits don’t go to criminals! This is the United States: if a commodity is salable, there will be commercialization, and a lot of it. Not promote it??? Is she kidding? The cool people, actors, comedians, professors, liberals, artists, intellectuals, Hollywood—they have been promoting pot use for fifty years when it was against the law! You think they will stop promoting pot now that it’s legal? Wow. Smart Colorado, you say? Of course this was going to unfold this way.

Of course, of course, of course!

All the upper-middle class whites who wanted their Rocky Mountain high refused to admit any of this, though, relying on the same lunk-headed rationalizations and false logic that have driven pot acceptance to this point. We heard one of them from Rand Paul last week: recreational drug use is a “victimless crime,” he said—except for all the children whose education is devalued and whose social skills are retarded, the families that are ripped apart, the businesses that suffer because their workers are stoned (visit a car repair place in Colorado), and the people killed in accidents. Does Paul think alcohol and tobacco abuse cause any suffering other than that of the users and abusers? None of the intellectually sluggish Republican candidates were awake enough to ask him that question, but Paul being a Paul, he probably does think that. Never let obvious facts interfere with ideology.

Or don’t let them interfere with your selfish pleasures, if you like your evening toke.  There are a lot of legal, safe, productive ways to relax and have fun that don’t require placing children and the underclass at increased risk—reading, blogging, charades, chess, watching the Rockies, having non-addled conversations with your non-stoned friends, sex, star-gazing—but never mind, damn it: these self-absorbed, arrogant brats wanted their highs, and they were determined to get them no matter how many truths they had to ignore, how many rationalizations they had to mouth or  how much society, especially the young, would suffer.


So here we are. Thank you, Colorado. Thank you for having the courage of your convictions and throwing your children’s brains to the wolves and society to the stoned. I can only hope that your state gets what you had no excuse for not knowing you were going to get good and hard, and that the results are so catastrophic and unequivocal that future states will be able to look at what happened in your schools, on your roads and in your workplaces and say, “Holy crap! The ones who said legalization was a stupid and irresponsible idea were right!”

Of course we were.

Of course.


Source: CBS

93 thoughts on “Let Us All Bow In Gratitude To Colorado For Generously Sacrificing Its Children And The Safety And Welfare of Its Citizens To Prove What Responsible People Knew Already: Pot Should Stay Illegal

  1. Living in the other spearhead state for pot legalization, this does not surprise me, it just saddens me.
    And as a parent, legalization makes my job even harder. Thanks, I guess… We could have stopped at decriminalization – which I would have reluctantly supported – but we had to go full, err, pothead.

  2. Nice piece, Jack. I’m tempted to forward it to my thirty-nine year old son. Maybe now he has a seven year old son, he’ll begin to rethink his virulent “alcohol’s much worse” and “John McCain’s money comes from his wife’s Budweiser distributorship” opposition to drug laws.

  3. My dad once favored legalization of all drugs, believing the market would then eliminate the criminal aspect (never mind that Johnson and Johnson aren’t playing hand grenade catch with the cartels), it’s evidence like this that has convinced him that would be a terrible idea.

  4. I think there’s more than a little bit of bias here, at every level, that these statistics show at best correlations without causation, and at worst intentionally misleads it’s readers.

    For instance “there has been a 29% increase in emergency room visits and a 38 % increase in hospitalizations during retail marijuana’s first year in Colorado.” Is a misreading. There was a 29% increase in marijuana related emergency room visits and a 38% increase in marijuana related hospitalizations. The importance of that difference is that the number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations per capita has not actually increased, in fact, not only has the per capita numbers decreased, in some areas the raw</b. numbers have decreased.


    RMHIDTA makes no bones about being biased, and if you look at their methodology, they count in every instance of a person who tests positive for THC as being 'marijuana related'… And seeing as marijuana is now legal, doctors are now required to test for it, and it can stay in a body for up to a month, of course that number with that methodology will show an increase in both usage and frequency. But what they haven’t shown is that the number of accidents have gone up or that marijuana was the cause of any of them.

    In fact, using these statistics along side the hospital utilization statistics, with an increase in marijuana usage but an overall decrease in emergency room and hospital usage, there is just as much legitimacy to say that marijuana usage actually decreased accidents Of course, I can’t prove that. Correlation is not causation. I know that. And so should you.

    • Keep rationalizing, baby. Keep spinning. I believe the correlation/causation argument was the mainstay of the tobacco industry for decades. How many people died in the meantime? When the product has some actual, substantive value, then the hardest evidence necessary is crucial to make utilitarian trade-offs. Here, there’s nothing but elitist self-indulgence and ethical abdication on the “plus” side.

      • Did you miss the point that the statistics used absolutely do NOT represent a link between marijuana legalization and accidents? From the report:

        “Marijuana-Related: Also called “marijuana mentions,” is any time marijuana shows up in the toxicology report. It could be marijuana only or marijuana with other drugs and/or alcohol.”

        This has the same issue the term “alcohol-related” does. It serves to inflate the number for reporting purposes, but doesn’t actually demonstrate what the anti-alcohol/marijuana activists claim. Further, since marijuana shows in the bloodstream up to a month later when it has no measurable impact on ability, all these numbers can show is that total usage is up. The fact that total emergency room visits are down IS however a proof that the people predicting an increase were wrong on some point. Maybe it’s just that an overall decline is offsetting the effects of increased usage but you’d have to show the usage rates before an after and look for an inflection point, or compare the trend with the trend in neighboring states.

        Jack, have you considered the possibility that you have a cognitive bias here? You NEVER show any skepticism for any numbers antagonistic to marijuana legalization, and go into full attack mode on anyone who points out the actual flaws in those numbers. I’ve been staying away from this for the most part since the cheese post, but I think you should at least consider the possibility that you are factually wrong on some of legalization’s practical effects.

        It’s almost certainly true that legalization increases use among teens, although I haven’t scrutinized the numbers. That is a bad thing, for all sorts of reasons that I don’t feel the need to explain here. But by seizing on faulty data relating to accidents and emergency room visits you weaken your legitimate points.

        • “Jack, have you considered the possibility that you have a cognitive bias here? You NEVER show any skepticism for any numbers antagonistic to marijuana legalization”

          THANK YOU.

        • I didn’t seize on anything. I quoted a news story from a legitimate (if CBS is legitimate) source and linked the study. If you want to deny that the jump in those stats was related to pot, go ahead…I would accept another explanation, but one hasn’t been offered that I know of. Do you have one? Why are those figures up? For that matter, why is heroin use soaring in the wake of increased pot legalization?

          Of course I have a bias. I was around when this took hold. I saw it happen. I argued into the night with friends who smoked their brains out, and now have memory issues. I defended pot users who smoked all day rather than looking for jobs. I have seen what the drug has done to the children of my friends and family. I have extensive experience with victims of tobacco and alcohol. I knew the executive director of NORML. I had a room mate who tried pot and it it triggered a psychotic episode, because he had other problems. Ive seen bright, creative people become withdrawn and lazy. I’ve seen adults spend so much money on drugs that they can’t afford more critical things.

          I rejected pot decades ago, and predicted exactly what is happening. Yeah, I have a bias, and it’s caused, like many biases, by experience, study and objective reasoning. I know what drugs do. I’m open minded: if there is evidence that shows they do NOT make people slow, silly, irresponsible and worse. I can be convinced. I can not be convinced that being slow, silly, irresponsible and worse is a good thing, or something society should foster and encourage because of “commerce.”

          • There was no jump in stats. The study does not cite an increase in emergency room visits or hospitalizations, it was that more people who are admitted have THC in their system. Now that use has increased in adults by 30%, and THC can stay in a body for weeks, I’d like to add: Duh.

            But the raw and per capita numbers of emergency room visits and hospitalizations is decreasing. The data doesn’t say what you want it to say.

          • You neither quote nor link to CBS at any point in your post. This comment is the first reference to it that I can find. Was the first link supposed to go to CBS reporting on the report rather than to the report itself?

            • 1. Check again. You see that little link that reads “CBS” at the end, under the line?
              2. Which does not change the fact that I still relayed it wrong, which is fixed.
              3. Nonetheless, I INTENDED to relay CBS’s description.

      • Are you saying that pointing out a correlation/causation fallacy is rationalizing? I mean… Really? If these self evident truths you believe in are based in science, there should be science connecting it all together, otherwise, you’re no better than the flaming liberals looking to govern with their feelings. You just took the face value of a special interest group, and interpreted it to mean something it didn’t actually say, which just happened to coincide with your bias, and I’m spinning? Ok then.

        • I’m saying that when predictable results are born out in correlations, it is reasonable to presume a causal relationship, as in the cigarette scenario. There is a thesis. If the thesis is true, these things would occur. They have accurred and are occurring. Government declaring that conduct is legal, as in safe and good, increases the incidence of that conduct. We know this, we don’t have to prove it.

          YOUR bias, as with the tobacco executives, leads you to discount the obvious connection and demand the smoking gun, which has not yet materialized. I maintain that we prove legalizing a drug won’t cause serious harm before legalizing it, and not legalize it because of druggie propaganda and see what happens.

          • Jack: “Government declaring that conduct is legal, as in safe and good, increases the incidence of that conduct.”

            You said this above in the article too, and I don’t understand where you’re getting the idea that “legal” equates to “safe and good” in the eyes of the law. Gambling is legal. Alcohol and tobacco are legal. Pornography is legal. Racist speech is legal. Not all things that are legal are “safe and good,” and if we tried to outlaw everything bad, we’d end up with a very unfree society. The claim that by legalizing pot, the government is declaring that it is safe and good, simply has no merit to it.

            • I’m not going to make this point in detail again…it’s all over the blog. But briefly…Law and mortality, and thus ethical guidance, are linked. Governments use law to approve of conduct as beneficial, or to disapprove of it as harmful. That’s a classic role of government, though one that libertarians reject. I don’t. When governments move from disapproval in the law to approval, that sends a clear message that government no longer disapproves of the conduct, and indeed endorses it. Gambling is a great example. Now that states are encouraging gambling, it is epidemic. The government prohibition against gambling served a vital purpose in limiting it for the good of society.

              Where I am getting the link between law and morality is about, oh, a hundred or so treatises and books. It’s not in serious dispute.

              • Government and morality are linked, but to what degree they should be linked is definitely in serious dispute. “The government should only legalize things that are a net positive good” is a much stronger link than I think most Americans are comfortable with; the examples I gave are more “the lesser of two evils,” with the greater evil being the consequences of prohibition.

                • “The government should only legalize things that are a net positive good” …who said THAT? I didn’t. I don’t believe that. I know that when a government has made something ILlegal, and then legalizes it, that is seen as a change of moral/ethical stance.

                  The dispute is substantial only if one regards libertarianism as a legitimate and practical theory of government. I don’t. It can’t work, and this area is one reason why it can’t work. Government cannot abdicate its duty to lead the culture. An amoral government easily becomes an immoral one. It supports the contention that good leaders needn’t be ethical people. Rejected, at least here.

          • Yes Jack, obviously I suffer from the same bias as the billionaires that owned big tobacco. Obviously.

            I want to repeat this:

            “You just took the face value of a special interest group, and interpreted it to mean something it didn’t actually say, which just happened to coincide with your bias”

            You LITERALLY made your statistics up, because they aren’t based on the study you cited, the correlations ACTUALLY shows that as marijuana use has increased, per capita injuries have gone DOWN. And not only are you arguing that correlation is causation, but you’re accusing ME of bias?

            I want an apology. I’ve never asked for one before. But this is stupid.

            • I didn’t say that. (And I made up no statistics, nor were the correlations mine. What are you talking about?)

              I said the argument that there was no causation is, and it is, exactly what the tobacco companies SUCCESSFULLY argued regarding mortality rates and cigarettes. No proof of causation, only correlation. And they were right, until the causation evidence arrived. Just as you are right.

              I did not say that correlation is causation.

              • From you:

                “According to a report released this month by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, there has been a 29% increase in emergency room visits and a 38 % increase in hospitalizations during retail marijuana’s first year in Colorado.

                What the report actually says:

                “Section 4 – Emergency Room Marijuana and Hospital Marijuana-Related Admissions:
                • In 2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating, there was a 29 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related emergency room visits in only one year.
                • In 2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating, there was a 38 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related hospitalizations in only one year.
                • In the three years after medical marijuana was commercialized, compared to the three years prior, there was a 46 percent increase in hospitalizations related to marijuana.”

                What the difference is:

                Marijuana-Related only means that people who were admitted happened to have THC in their system. It does not mean that THC the visits.

                Nor does it say that the actual number of total visits has gone up, in fact, if you look at my link, the total number of visits (in at least per capita numbers, but also in some locations in raw numbers) has gone down.

                In fact, with a 30% increase in usage you would expect a 30 increase in people with TCH in their system during visits, so it’s possible that marijuana usage doesn’t actually make people any more likely to use an emergency room. At the very least, the data doesn’t even show a correlation.

                So when you say “there has been a 29% increase in emergency room visits and a 38 % increase in hospitalizations during retail marijuana’s first year in Colorado”

                That is NOT in the study, and your refusal to correct it makes it your own.

                “nor were the correlations mine.”
                “’I’m saying that when predictable results are born out in correlations, it is reasonable to presume a causal relationship, as in the cigarette scenario.”

                The total number of emergency room and hospital visits has gone down. Your statement assumes a correlation that doesn’t actually exist.

                I think marijuana is too close to you. If the number of adults with chicken pox increased by 30%, and there was a 30% increase in the number of adults displaying chicken pox at the Emergency room, we wouldn’t say that chicken pox causes emergency room visits, we’d say that there was a 30% additional penetration on adult chicken pox.

                • My summary was essentially a paraphrasing of CBS’s summary, since when I wrote the post I hadn’t completed the entire report, which is long. But I botched it, and didn’t know I botched it. I’m correcting it now. I did not intend to give the false impression that that all emergency room visits were up. This is why I linked the report…so there was backup into. Let me fix this now, and get back to your point….

                • OK, I’m back. Fixed it, gave you credit, put it in red. I’m sorry: the correlation/cause argument was the same regardless of how I phrased that sentence, so I didn’t catch on to what you were talking about. YES, the fact that “marijuana-RELATED” hospital visits are up does not prove causation, and the correlation may even be innocent. Got it.

                  The report does contain individual and other examples of causation…like…

                  “Emergency room doctors are treating more small children for accidental overdoses of marijuana, says Kathryn Wells, president of the Colorado chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora have treated 12 children for marijuana overdoses just since January, when recreational use became legal in Colorado. Doctors treated eight children in all of 2013. Of those treated this year, seven needed intensive care, says hospital spokeswoman Elizabeth Whitehead. Children also may be exposed when their mothers use pot during pregnancy or breastfeeding, Wells, says. She says a number of women now tell her that they’re trying marijuana for morning sickness or other uses while pregnant. Other parents bring their children to the doctor, reeking of marijuana smoke. Wells says parents tell her, ‘it’s legal, so there’s nothing wrong with it.’”

                  But these, while the percentage increases are large, are not enough to prove anything either. But we do know that SOME hospitalizations were due to pot’s availability, not just to the fact that more patients are using pot.

                  Of course, since there is no use to this stuff sufficiently beneficial to accepting even 12 cases of child ingestion, I regard this as supporting my point. However, as to the over-all causation argument, yes. You are 100% correct.

                  • Thanks. For some odd reason this topic works me up, and I’m sorry for being more aggressive than I should have been. It was rude and unworthy.

                    I also think you have a point with the increased use among minors and accidental infant consumption rates, that isn’t acceptable, I don’t have a good answer on how to deal with it, and it bothers me. I still don’t like the idea of infringing rights based on the experience of 12 kids a year, it seems like an “if it only saves one child” argument. By that logic we should ban (I was going to use guns, but that’s not right… guns have utility… fireworks maybe? Yes.) fireworks, shoelaces and pornography. Regardless, I’m going to take a giant step back for a bit. Thanks for putting up with me.

      • Jack: “I believe the correlation/causation argument was the mainstay of the tobacco industry for decades.”

        Jack, do you believe tobacco should be illegal? Should alcohol?

    • I’ll add to this.

      RMHIDTA is a law enforcement task force that receives money to fight the war on drugs. That doesn’t necessarily mean their report is wrong, but it’s definitely a source of bias that should be kept in mind.

      The increase in youth usage is concerning, although it should be noted that the study indicates that even before legalization, 30-day marijuana use by Colorado youth was 8.75%, which was higher than the national average at any time during the study. Not all of the high youth usage in Colorado can be blamed on legalization.

      Regarding the increase in emergency room visits and hospitalizations, as Humble Talent points out, these are “marijuana related” also described within the report as “marijuana mentions,” meaning that marijuana use is mentioned somewhere in the medical file, perhaps as part of the patient history or a test result. It doesn’t mean marijuana was the cause of the ER visit any more than mentioning the patient’s weight means the visit was caused by obesity. And since adult usage of marijuana has gone up about 30%, it only makes sense that there would be a similar increase in the subset of adults who end up in the ER.

      It’s also important to note that this report concentrates on the disadvantages of marijuana legalization while ignoring the advantages. (The report does mention increased adult usage, although I get the impression the authors would not consider that an advantage.) Most policies will seem like bad ideas if you ignore their benefits and consider only the costs.

      Finally, Jack’s characterization of advocates of marijuana legalization as “upper-middle class whites who wanted their Rocky Mountain high” in the pursuit of “selfish pleasures” is misleading because for many advocates of legalization the goal is not to get high but to put an end to violent police raids, warrantless vehicle searches, and the mass imprisonment of drug users.

  5. As a veteran of the “war on drugs,” I witnessed immeasurable harm done by marijuana (not to mention other drugs). I have taken a lot of flack over the years from non-police friends over my opposition to drug legalization. I wondered how long it would take for the folly of Colorado’s course to become obvious. I got a hint a few months ago. One of my daughter’s friends, a recent art school graduate, was hired as a graphic designer for one of the Colorado commercial pot firms, her first job out of college. She lasted four months before quitting in disgust and coming back home. “Almost everyone was stoned almost all the time!” she told me. This included the bosses, she said. All the work had to be done by the few who managed to show up at work sober and stay that way during the work day. To hear a naive young twenty-something call such conduct “nonsense” is a damning indictment indeed. Like you, I can only hope that the results of legalization trend toward catastrophe strongly enough to deter other states from following suit. Idiocracy is looming!

    • I’m sure your daughter’s friend would have had a better work experience if her coworkers hadn’t been stoned all the time, but how exactly would throwing them in jail have improved her working conditions? Or better yet, what makes your daughter’s friend so important that people should be thrown in jail to improve her working conditions?

      • Because if we don’t throw them in jail, then I have to pay for their upkeep anyway and that is a message I don’t want send (smoke pot and get paid to not work). I used to think the Libertarian position on drugs was naive, but once I read it in full, I understood the logic of it. It is selfish and elitist, but it serves as a good reminder of why illegal drugs are illegal.

        Under a legalize all drugs, the Libertarian way system, you can get a permit to use any drugs you want. All you have to do is complete a few simple steps to verify that you aren’t going to hurt anyone else in the process ( make sure this really is victimless).
        (1) Turn in your diver’s license and prove that you don’t own a car.
        (2) Waive rights to all social programs. You must show that you can pay your own stoned way. No welfare, subsidized healthcare, subsidized rent, food stamps, etc for you.
        (3) Show that you have no dependents. You must either have no children or give up all parental rights and allow them to be immediately adopted.
        (4) You must show that you are permanently sterilized or are past childbearing age.
        If a person can prove all of this, then yes, this will be a mostly victimless (beyond them) act and they will be issued a drug-user license. Penalties for committing crimes while issued a drug-license will be increased.

        I think having such a program would be wonderful for drug education. You can point to parents who will give up their children for adoption in order to use drugs as an illustration of what drug use is like. You can point to young adults who give up any chance of having children in order to use drugs. You could point to the drug users starving to death in the ditch and tell your children that is what really happens if you use drugs. Sure, rock stars can get away with it, they have plenty of money and people to see to all of their needs, but the average drug-user is not going to fare very well at all without the government safety net.

  6. By all means, let’s (1) make our moronic/undereducated/motivation-challenged youth more so with legal marijuana use; and (2) add to the already billions of dollars lost annually in the national workplace because of alcohol alone. We certainly are on the right track, here.

    This idiotic and potentially disastrous decision must have been pushed through by Denver/Boulder and environs: a hotbed of liberalism surrounded by a basically conservative state. That, I don’t get…

  7. I’m in favor of all drugs being legal – anything you want, but you will be held accountable and responsible for your actions. And that will be Big Time.

    • Irresponsible and naive position, in the extreme. “Being accountable” means nothing to the businesses the drug users harm, the consumers who pay higher prices because of the lost productivity, the kids and relationships they neglect, the insurance premiums they raise, the more dangerous drugs they encourage…how is the adult drug user “accountable” for the fact that his right to get stupid leads kids into thinking its cool to be stoned? This is a position that epitomizes “my mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with facts,” and always has been. It’s libertarianism’s Achilles heel, along with its belief that the US should have sat out WWII and let Hitler take over the world. Can’t respect a belief system that cockeyed.

      • Smoking is way down in America. Most of the profits now come from sales overseas. The reason that each generation is becoming smarter and less inclined to use tobacco is a combination of state regulation and education. The same will happen to marijuana. There is a big surge right now in marijuana use because it is new and cool, but let education take its effect.

        Our border problems from certain problems fleeing drug cartels and gang violence also will slow to a trickle — not to mention how much money will be saved on enforcement generally. Take that money and pump it into education.

        • We already had this experience in the ’90’s. We saw the terrible damage that drug use did to society and to families. We instituted the drug laws then because of what we had learned. Unfortunately, our ‘hip’ new generation denigrates all that came before them and refuses to learn from previous mistakes. We are doomed to repeat history and I don’t think we will learn this time. Our current liberal philosophy has a long history of not learning from their mistakes. Take a failure like Detroit, where they tried to soak the rich with high taxes to pay for all their wonderful policies. The result is that the rich and middle classes left. They were then left with the poor who were addicted to the welfare state and the city had to beg the state for money to support the policies. Eventually, they bankrupted the entire state and the liberals complained that the federal government should pay for Detroit. You think we would learn from this but..oh!, hello Chicago!

          Read a history of drug use in the 1890-1920’s. We banned the stuff for a reason.

      • Lack of reality, in the extreme. Are you channeling Nancy Reagan? Accountability and responsibility are currently in place and that would not change one iota if drugs were legal or illegal. I have a son that is an airline pilot and he is subject to random testing.

        Did I say “kids?” Where is that, Jack? So let’s go to kids. Are you aware that kids experiment with drugs, fast cars, sex and other risky behaviors? That will happen with or without legalization and I would expect strict standards in place.

        A certain segment of our population will be addict and it is time to address it as a disease.

        Yes – my mind is made up – just like yours is.

        • So, since they want to do it, we should just let them? Kids sometimes want to kill other kids too, they want to join gangs, they want to bully other kids. Are you suggesting that it doesn’t matter if such activities are legal or not? If we legalized murder, street gangs, and physical harassment, do you really believe it would not make it more difficult to keep children from engaging in such activities?

          • Didn’t say that. Read my post. Expect strict standards in place. Has nothing to do about legalizing drugs for children, Don’t read into it what you want. Drugs are available to children just and booze and butts are – illegal or not some will experiment.

            If an adult wishes to have access to drugs so be it. If the adult abuses it and causes harm to another individual by their actions then send them to a Turkish prison.

            • I agree in principle, but the only way a drug user doesn’t harm anyone or society itself is by making exactly as much money and paying exactly as much taxes as he would if he didn’t use drugs, not have a family, and live alone in Mammoth Caves.

              • That is quite simplistic, Jack. The drug user is an addict. What is your addiction? Mine is ice cream.Others it is smoking, booze, fatty foods, porn or thousands of other things. So let’s go to the fiscal and emotional devastation of what an addict leaves behind. And I’ll be quite clear on this – I have some serious doubts about recovery – and I am limiting it to drugs. And take the fact our prisons are loaded up with addicts and sellers. That our country and a dozen others are totally screwed over failed attempts on drugs. I’ll go personal because it is and it will top anything on this board.

                My son Matt was a heroin addict. Started at 18 and he had paid a visit to every room at Highpoint and a dozen other rehab facilities. A member of Local 7 or the Iron workers with a nice flow of cash. When he went on a binge it was like a rock star. I cleared my mother’s estate and gave him a check for over 200K. He signed it, left a note and hung himself – money to his wife and he (thankfully) had no kids. A great kid and a workaholic.

                My son Josh is 28 years-old. He collects SS and a military disability. He is a combat vet of campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Josh was given Oxy. He is now in his 15th (I am serious) rehab. His brother and I have control of his finances so the bills get paid – WTF! How can you clear $3,000 a month and always be broke? But the issue now is the need for Suboxone that is his Heroin substitute. He can’t get any until he goes through a procedure with the VA in Fenway area of Boston since he went off the rails a few weeks ago. So he needs it and it costs. Street value can be $10-$25 a pill. I refuse to send extra money for it and so does his brother. But his mother has been sending $100 via Western Union three times a week. I know it since I am savvy at technology and she is not. Eventually he will die. When he needed bucks for heroin I cannot begin to describe the fiscal hole he created. In the past I have brought his sorry azz to assorted dealers and, trust me, if I packed there would be some bodies on the street. Dealers are total s!!ts.

                I could tell you horror stories about both Matt and Josh. Josh attempting to sell a car valued at $13,000 for $50 to get heroin. Matt breaking into her grandmothers car when it was a wreck (she died in the accident) to steal anything possible to raise cash. The crap stolen through the years. The strain on our marriage and with siblings. I could fill up half the F’in servers on the planet with stories.

                In Brockton, MA two years ago 12 folks were busted as part of a drug ring. The usual suspects were involved except for seven people that didn’t quite fit the profile. They were a plumber, housewife, auto mechanic, hair dresser and a few others. Hooked on pills and then onto hard stuff or really maxing out on pills. So they sold drugs, stole, prostituted themselves and so on. If this crap was readily available their lives would be significantly better. They may also eventually end up like Matt.

                Best man at my wedding, Norm. Have not seen him for years. Run into him at Cumby’s and he looks a mess. Had a knee replacement and that means – Painkillers-Oxy-Heroin-meth and even a hot shot to try and kill himself. Went through a quarter mil in a few years. Been sober for a two years, but family? Long gone.

                So to some I may be naive, unrealistic or anything else they can dream up, but from my own experience a low cost option with no legal entanglements (Josh plays the military card) would have made one part of the equation manageable. The second part, recovery, I have little hope for long term success for addicts. I have seen that with former students, Joshua’s friends and from attending a zillion support meetings.

                Sorry to toss out something this extensive and personal, but I feel it is important for a first hand story and why it has caused this rigid old White guy to do a 180.

                • Thanks for this, and it is a brave and honest post. I have my own family addiction stories, though yours are more harrowing and thought provoking.

                  I’ll let your comment speak for itself, except to address your first couple sentences. I have no addictions, but that just luck….I’m not addictive by nature. However, being addicted to an illegal substance is a conscious choice: you break the law to get addicted. Getting addicted isn’t a choice, but breaking the law is. I like ice cream, but if it was illegal, I wouldn’t touch it.

                  • I’m with you, Jack, on the legal and addiction issue. The ice cream is something. I got up to 180 pounds and cut out ice cream. In six weeks I’m at 168 so, I guess, I’m not an addict, but have a compulsion. I happen to have a world of self discipline, so I can step away from many bad choices.

                    My mother’s side is littered with drunks. There is an addictive personality trait that is passed down. I do not have it. Two sons did with dire consequence. Three other sons and a daughter have no issues. I always warned the kids about the potential.

                    The illegal is the result of the legal so is that a conscious choice? As stated with Josh he was given pills for an injury suffered in the line of duty. That started it. I will say the military did everything possible regarding treatment – NJ, West Point and a few other places. Nothing worked. Same with many others who get – say Oxy – legally and then comes the spiral when they need it and can’t get it. That starts the illegal.

                    Illegal ice cream? Over my cold, dead spoon!

  8. Which do you estimate is worse: the results of legalization, or the results of the drug war?

    There could surely be some kind of effective enforcement of drug laws that don’t result in cops busting down doors to random innocent people and killing them, mistaking them for drug barons.

    But cops never like giving up privileges, no matter how badly they are used or abused. If there is no way to enforce drug laws without putting citizenry in as much danger as the drugs present (and there must be SOME way to do that), then I say to hell with them. That cure is worse than the disease.

    What I wonder is what it has done to the crime statistics in the state. I mean, obviously, there are going to be fewer arrests for marijuana possession, since that’s not a crime anymore. But I wonder if there’s been a reduction in crime periphery to the legalization.

    I detest marijuana. I cannot stand the smell of it. And yet… I find myself generally supporting legalization (or, at the very least, decriminalization) only because I think drug enforcement is simultaneously ineffective and out of proportion to the crime. I’m glad we have a place that is giving legalization a try, so we can see how it will really effect a society. If it turns out worse than the enforcement, then we can get rid of it. On the other hand, I doubt anything will put this genie back in the bottle.

    • Weren’t the war on drugs and enhanced sentencing instituted back in the 1970s at the behest of the leaders of the mostly black ghettos that were then being devastated by heroin addiction? What’s the logic of blaming high incarceration rates on bad laws? Might those rates be a result of high amounts of criminal conduct?

      • If the mandatory minimum sentence for jaywalking was 10 years, would you argue that the criminal deserved those 10 years because jaywalking was illegal?

          • Using excessive punishment is a condemnation of the law. You’re a lawyer Jack, “A law must address a need, a law must be enforceable and a law must ________.”

            • That was certainly a lawyerish spin, Clintoneque, even! Uh, yeah, the excessive punishment is a flaw in a law. It does not invalidate the REASON, RATIONALE or JUSTIFICATION for there BEING a law. So to argue that there shouldn’t be a law against rape because the law’s prescribed punishment is being lowered by degrees into a tank of piranha is absurd, just as arguing that pot should be legal because the penalties are excessive.

              • What I’m against is the quid pro quo. The war on drugs is failing, it’s casualty list is unacceptable, and it has very few if any redeeming features. I would be in favor of legalization, generally…. But there would have to be a lot more thought put into it than the Colorado system. In the meantime, fixing the insanity that is the mandatory minimums for drug crime would be a lovely start. I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but there are people service 40 year sentences for carrying marijuana. Google it, I’m not making that up. That’s the system you’re defending. It’s ugly.

                • Again, I’m not defending the system, I’m asserting that the prohibition is necessary. The solution to the misfiring system is to address that, not make the act legal. The war on drugs isn’t failing, because society would be much worse off without it. I do not want to see people’s lives destroyed by a single drug crime. On the other hand, nobody made them do the crime, and the rhetoric that tells them this isn’t really a crime helps cause more of it. See Rationalization # 30. The Prospective Repeal: “It’s a bad law/stupid rule”

  9. Jack, I have said this before, and every time you post on this subject, I’ll say it again. I am an ex-user. Started on pot, graduated to almost literally everything else. Only thing I managed to miss was crack/cocaine. I know first-hand what pot addiction causes. And don’t bother telling me marijuana isn’t addictive…it may not be physically, but it damned sure is, as is getting high, psychologically. And it’s a damned hard habit to break. I managed it, but it cost me, my ex-wife and several of my friends a lot. So if you (not you personally, Jack. I know you’re against it) want to advocate for legalization, go ahead. When the law of unintended consequences kicks in, you may believe I’ll be standing right there, screaming at the top of my lungs “I told you so. Jack tried to tell you.” Then I’ll turn my back and walk away.

  10. So….if you feel that alcohol and tobacco have taken such a huge toll on humanity, why are you not pushing for prohibition and banning tobacco products as the ethically-correct course of action? Neither of them has ANY medical benefits and both have been proven to be lethal when consumed in large quantities or over a long period of time. At least pot has legitimate medical uses and no one has ever overdosed from it. If you ask me it is the safest of the three.
    Let me start by saying I am not a cannabis user. I don’t like the stuff – I didn’t even like it back in high school in the 70’s when baggies of “homegrown”, consisting mostly of stems and leaves were surreptitiously sold on campus. I also don’t drink or smoke. I never liked those either.
    What changed my view on pot happened as a result of what it has done for the chronically ill, both human and animal. I have a friend who is a hospice nurse and she tells of the incredible relief and good it does for her patients. I have a rescue for geriatric, special needs and hospice dogs. On an internet group I belong to I lamented about one of my charges who had been battling cancer which had now spread to his liver. His time was short. A woman on that site traveled all the way from far Northern California to Southern California to deliver to me a bottle of oil in a dropper bottle. Unfortunately it arrived the day after we let him go.
    I left that bottle in the back of my medication cupboard, nearly forgotten. Later we had another one, Kobe, a 15 year old pug, with a tumor deep in his chest. X-rayed in April it was very small, by July it had grown hundreds of times in size. It was pushing on his esophagus, lungs and stomach, causing him discomfort. The vet gave me a pain killer, but it didn’t help him. Unfortunately it was a Thursday evening and my vet would not be back in the office to perform a euthanasia until Monday morning. Desperate to make him comfortable until I could take him in Monday, I was scouring my medications and came across that bottle. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I gave him some. He was visibly more comfortable. Within two days he was a new dog. Monday I took him to the vet, not to put him down but to show him the amazing transformation. He was impressed. We were both curious as to whether it’s actions were purely pain relieving or if it would impact the fast-growing tumor. He told me to keep going with the cannabis and if he was still doing well in a month we would do new x-rays to check the status of the tumor. In a month he went in and it had shrunk. He was still doing great. Tomorrow will be his two month check. He is still doing wonderfully. No matter what the images show, he has had at least two, comfortable, happy months he never would have had if not for that bottle.
    Since then I began to try it on other canine chronic health issues – collapsing trachea and canine COPD it seems to work beautifully on. It also helps generalized and separation anxiety. A cute little one came in with a large cancerous tumor on her paw. We were going to remove her leg, but she was too obese for surgery, so while we had her on a diet, we applied the oil topically to the tumor on her paw and it shrunk down to a tiny little bump. Once the weight was off the vet was able to just remove her toe instead of her whole leg. She is not on it anymore and there has been no recurrence of the cancer thus far.
    I still don’t use it myself, but after seeing what it has done for the dogs, I wouldn’t hesitate to try it if need be. I know it can cause some chronic users to lose their drive and ambition. I used to think it had that effect on ANY chronic user, until I began to talk about it and have met so many responsible, successful people who use it and manage to keep their drive and ambition intact.
    How much would hospital visits and cancer-related deaths go DOWN if we banned tobacco products? How many lives would be saved, costs cut, less police and domestic violence counselors would we need if alcohol was banned again? Is it not ethically responsible to advocate for that? I think you are picking on the wrong substance in this case…at least if you are considering it from an ethical and not a political standpoint.

    • Stopped reading after this:

      “So….if you feel that alcohol and tobacco have taken such a huge toll on humanity, why are you not pushing for prohibition and banning tobacco products as the ethically-correct course of action?”

      And I don’t “feel that alcohol and tobacco have taken such a huge toll on humanity,’ they have. Or do you want to deny that?

      One of the top ten false and illogical ratioanalizations used by advocates, who have no bullets to fire. The old “WE can’t stop everything, so why stop anything” canard. But its also apples and oragnges. Once a drug is imbedded in the culture and has been legal and accepted for long enough, the law can’t ban it successfully. That was the lesson of Prohibition. Liquor was locked into dining, ritual, religion, and recreation. Too late. The shaming and warning approach was better and mores successful with cigarettes, but it was still too late to ban them.

      The bottom line: if we could ban them, it would be a good thing to do.

      • Ok, this is an idiotic rationalization. Does smoking impair your driving significantly? Does smoking make you incapable of holding a responsible job? It is dangerous, it is damaging, but it is a more minor and much slower moving danger than say heroin. Would you demand a different surgeon if you knew he had a cigarette an hour earlier? What if he had a glass of wine with lunch some time ago? What if he shot up heroin or smoked a couple of joints? See the difference?

        You can smoke cigarettes without getting high. You can drink alcohol without getting high. No one smokes weed for the taste.

          • I think he was trying to make a point that tobacco and alcohol are less intoxicating than marijuana…. Which might even be true. I don’t think I’d want to be under the knife of a high surgeon (although I definitely wouldn’t want to be under the knife of a drunk surgeon either, my god.). I don’t know that that should be the bar though… I mean….I think we have to give common sense a little bit of opportunity here and accept that just because something is available and intoxicating, it doesn’t mean someone will imbibe at work. Otherwise… My god. How do people get through the day without chugging a bottle of rum three times a day?

            • “How do people get through the day without chugging a bottle of rum three times a day?”

              I’ve asked this question many times…but I can’t give you a clear answer…do you mean chugging from the same bottle thrice in a day or chugging three entire bottles in a single day? Lemme know, in the meantime, I’m back to landscaping…

    • Jack has actually come out against alcohol earlier, the only thing keeping him from being a full blown prohibitionist is that the history of prohibition has shown that not only did it not work, but it was more costly than what was the status quo. I don’t know him well enough to understand where his bias comes from, but I think it might be personal, because he’s never quite connected the dots that his ‘prohibition didn’t work’ is more parallel than not to my ‘war on drugs isn’t working’ stance.

        • How about I’ll read yours, and you read mine? Of course I’m not suggesting doing nothing! We didn’t start handing liquor out to kids on street corners after prohibition ended either. My stance has consistently been that I support the idea of a moderated system, preferably legal, acceptably decriminalized, I’ll even meet you to talk about a criminal system that doesn’t have 40 year prison sentences for non-violent crime. But the status quo is unacceptable.

          • First, the status quo is, agreed, unacceptable. However, it is a myth that drug use, drug dealing, growing, manufacture, etc. is nonviolent. Think in terms of Mexican drug cartels.
            Re: your invitation to meet, you are one of the many people I would love to meet someday from this site. Generally, we are in agreement on most topics, but we will never be on this one. I have seen first-hand what drugs, pot on up, do to peoples lives, including my own. Besides, you’re in Canada and I’m in Texas. Logistics would never work. We’d wind up having to meet in Chicago, and I’m NOT going to Chicago, ever.

            • Hey, who knows? You could come to Canada, I could go to Texas (I’d like to some day…. I hear everything is bigger in Texas.) But to the point about non-violence…. Illegal acts tend to trend together… Prohibition is a great example… If you’re going to sell illegal hooch, why not go all the way and rent out some hookers and run an illegal gambling ring? I believe that the vast majority of violence associated with marijuana is the product of it being illegal, and not because there is something inherently violent in marijuana. So I’m not talking about cartels… If marijuana was legal, there wouldn’t BE cartels, there would be farms. And even in the current system, the people serving these semi-centennial sentences aren’t all Mexican gangsters.

              • I’m like a fine wine…I don’t travel well. Too old, among other things. However, if you ever do get to Texas, let me know. Happy to buy you a beer.

  11. I have already responded to this (early on the the “discussion”), but really, you all can fall all over yourselves accusing Marshall and each other about various aspects of this — why not ban tobacco and alcohol, if you don’t want to legalize marijuana, e.g., but the facts is these. 1) Alcohol has existed in civilized culture for thousands of years, and in the US — for both religious and social reasons — since its founding and before. It is a drug, yes, and it is estimated that about 20% of the population abuse it or are alcoholics — with tremendous personal, social, and economic costs. (2) Tobacco — no cultural rationale there, but in the past 10 years much social and government pressure (i.e., tax on tobacco products, increasing numbers of non-smoking areas, media education spots) is bringing the use of tobacco down.

    In both cases, it would be virtually impossible to shut these industries down legally — they are entrenched in our society, and only through awareness of their use and abuse will make their cost to society lessen.

    But… I agree with Marshall re Colorado and marijuana for recreational use. And my question is: why add yet another drug to the mix here? We can’t yet calculate the personal, societal, economic costs of legalized recreational marijuana. It will be years until we can do so. But if/since medical marijuana has been proven to be beneficial, then keep it a prescription drug — don’t legalize it for recreational use. Note that morphine is used regularly in hospitals for pain relief: who wants to legalize that drug? It is on the streets illegally today for “recreation” — and with terrible effect. So if we go beyond medical marijuana and allow it as another, legal if questionable recreational drug, are we then on the road to legalizing morphine, oxycontin, and all the others which have medical uses, were never intended for recreation, but are attractive because some users want only the “high”? The possibilities are endless here, and legalizing marijuana is a slippery slope.

    Frankly, and finally (whew!), so few people in this country think clearly now (respondents to this blog are a teensy, weensy minority, and some of them can’t think clearly, either), that between the current horrific educational system and the increasing use of drugs for fun and/or escape, I dread the continued dumbing down of our young people. Let’s see where new recreational drugs (marijuana being the first) take us. Go USA! Let’s hear it for the future of informed voting and productive living.

  12. Drugs.

    Drugs beats abortion in terms of topics that EXPLODE faster than the Big Bang on Ethics Alarms.

    Abortion may create larger discussions in the long run, but drugs makes them faster.

    Gone 24 hours and bam.

    • I’ve averaged 2.3 bannings per post on this topic. Last time, you’ll recall, Scott ripped himself into two like Rumpelstiltskin. Same sex marriage goes bananas quick too.

      This post hasn’t been found yet by the pro-pot lobby…when it does, usually via one website, we’ll be inundated with single-issue commenters.

      • Hahaha yes, I think he said “I’m done with this shit show” or words to that effect. SSM doesn’t go quite as bananas as it used to, although if you want me to up the “ap-peel” just say so…

          • You are wasting your time. Reading that was just one more reminder to me as to what I DON’T want to become. I am at least functional, but if I give in to that kind of hair-trigger rage and hate, then I might as well pack it in. There’s no place in this world for rage-a-holics.

            • Well, Scott had his facts straight and his arguments sound on literally 90% of his commentary. He was quick with replies too, whereas I have to go and dig up data or do research, he had a vault of information ready to go.

              • And he was a bitter, nasty, rage-a-holic who couldn’t put a sentence together without cursing or insulting someone. If you can’t make your points without that, you have a problem.

                • And I’m probably still about 50 or so followers light, most of them women, because I decided to defend AMS’s ugly rhetoric as a matter of principle. My reward for that was being flamed for disagreeing with him in terms he didn’t like. Smart guy—hope he gets some perspective.

                  • I doubt it, Jack, speaking as someone who is all too familiar with anger and anger issues. If you get angry and stay angry too long or too often, or stoke the anger by ranting or arguing or fighting eventually you reach the point where anger becomes your default setting and you aren’t happy unless you are unhappy. People like that can be masters at skewering or attacking people, and sometimes public figures need to be skewered. The problem is when it becomes all-attack-all-the-time and you just can’t turn it off, same with humor, same with a lot of traits if they become what you are all about.

                    Oscar Wilde I’m sure was a riot in small doses at a party, but he was probably hell to live with due to his constant sarcasm and defensiveness. I very much enjoy Victor Davis Hanson’s writing and I’m sure a one-hour lecture from him would yield a lot of great information, but his thick prose and over-making of points would be impossible to handle all the time. Dan Savage and Matt Walsh (who I think is his counterpart on the right, although minus the foul language) write articles that are good for getting stoked up, but listening to them speak for even a few minutes? Ugh.

                    I’m not absolving myself, either, depending on the day I can be a bore (too many obscure stories), a clown (bad puns), or frightening (rage), but eventually I usually snap out of it. AMS never snapped out of it, and it became impossible to credible say things like “maybe he was just having a bad day.” Everybody had to face up to the fact that he was “just that way” except that “just that way” included constant anger, not just foul language but a great deal of extremely foul language, and unconcealed gender bias, which in turn led to the use of more terms that are not just not appropriate for reasoned discourse, but never appropriate. Eventually you stop trying to deal with someone who’s “just that way” and tell him to be “just that way” someplace else. You can’t change him, you can only change the way you deal with him, and if he won’t exit, then sometimes you do. So here we are. I know I’ve been not so great either (blatant homophobia, targeted cruelty) but I hope I never get to where he was.

                    • I don’t think Scott was a rage-aholic, I think it was performance art that he put on every single day. That being said, that type of language a has its place — but that place is NOT an ethics blog.

                    • Uh huh, and I used to specialize in homophobic rhetoric that was ah, just slightly over the edge. It wasn’t a good part to play.

  13. I smoked on a regular basis for almost 15 years until I quit 7 years ago and will gladly argue with anyone who thinks that regular smoking of pot is harmless and doesn’t effect you. Even when I hadn’t smoked any and was totally straight, its after affects effected my drive, my decision making process, my discipline and my focus.

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