Drawing Lines in the Sand: Personal cultivation versus Marlboro Green

Jul 08 2009 Published by under Cannabis, General Politics

I'm going to indulge myself on this one. First, I just plain find it funny when drug advocates start arguing amongst themselves. Second, there are interesting general issues here for advancing an agenda, developing a majority consensus and achieving partial victories at the cost of full victories.


Drug Law Blog has an entry up which argues that the forces in favor of the legalization of cannabis for personal recreational consumption should not insist that personal cultivation rights be pivotal. Instead, the author argues that having Marlboro or some other company produce cannabis cigarettes for sale would be peachy.

I don't care if you can "grow your own" as long as somebody is allowed to grow it for you, legally, and sell it to you legally, and you are permitted to use it legally, as an adult. I don't even care if the market that results from that system is somewhat exploitative and doesn't entirely eradicate some percentage of black market trafficking, because -- guess what -- that's capitalism.

I should note that this was written in response to our occasional commenter Pete Guither of Drug WarRant who apparently endorsed up a NORML opinion that:

those of us who lobby on this issue must insist on amendments to permit personal cultivation.

An interesting question, is it not? It echos people who are currently angry that Obama is not sufficiently left-wing in his agenda. Resonates with the what-is-the-proper-feminism arguments. Even has parallels to those who seem to feel that any advice given around these part about how to optimize a career path within the system is evidence of endorsing and perpetuating said system's deficiencies. I wonder if the cannabosphere will come to any reasonable resolution...

86 responses so far

  • Stephanie Z says:

    I'd think that anybody worried about the "purity" of their movement right now would maybe think again after watching how that strategy's playing for the Republicans.

  • Roland says:

    There's been talk of tax/regulate "like alcohol". I can produce 100gal of beer & 100gal of wine per year at home, no regulation/permit. And I can give it away, but not sell it. And if there are 2 or more adults in my household, those limits double. So, what is to be the hemp equivalent of that? Until I get a straight and reasonable answer, I won't support tax/regulate because claiming it's "like alcohol" would be a lie. 6 plants per person/year would put the criminal element out of business.

  • O. B. Server says:

    re: "people who are currently angry that Obama is not sufficiently left-wing in his agenda"
    I like that: shoehorning everything down to a one-dimensional "left" vs "right". Keeps things easy. Simple. No nuances or distractions. If its not "left", why, it must be "right", of course. Yeah, don't let them tell you anything else: a policy is "left-wing" or "right-wing".
    (Give us another dimension, and at least we could have a Nolan chart, maybe. But no. Everything is projected down to one dimension.)
    They are angry Obama is not sufficiently left-wing? Maybe they simply want to not be jailed for pot?

  • Curt Fischer says:

    O.B. Server makes a fine point, and it is valid not just for the Obama left/right dimension, but for your other examples as well. Apparently NORML has views on both legalization and corporatism. Drug Law Blog has views on both legalization and capitalism. (Although, it sounds like Drug Law Blog is having some problems distinguishing corporatism and capitalism to me.)
    So, once you allow for a second dimension, you see that the differences between DLB and NORML lie in their attitudes toward corporatist vs. individualist economic tendencies, and not so much along the dimension of legalization.

  • Matt Platte says:

    I'm sleepy and lazy so maybe I've gotten you mixed up with one of the other Sb-lings, but aren't you the one who argues against legalization based on "the science" yet simultaneously tries to stay completely out of the policy/politics argument?

  • Alex says:

    Loud and proud legalizer here.
    I'll worry about personal cultivation vs. corporate cultivation once we get to the point where it's no longer made and sold by criminal gangs. My main goals in supporting legalization are (1) bankrupt criminals and terrorists and (2) stop giving the police an easy pretext to lock countless black men behind bars. Once you can buy your opium from somebody other than the Taliban, once you can buy your coke from somebody other than the cartels destabilizing northern Mexico, and once you can buy these things without worrying that armed men might drag you to a cage to be raped by the other inmates, then we can worry about the exact form of the new drug economy.
    I suspect that environmental concerns would weigh in favor of local organic growers, but those who are more concerned about social control might prefer to keep the trade in the hands of large corporations.

  • Isabel says:

    First, I just plain find it funny when drug advocates start arguing amongst themselves.
    why is that?

  • Isabel says:

    It's a fucking plant.
    People should not be prevented from growing plants, unless they are known to be highly invasive in the area or something.
    It grows easily, cheaply. anywhere.
    It hasn't been shown to cause societal or environmental problems.
    It is therefore a bad candidate for a government cash cow.
    If the price ends up really high, and personal growing is not allowed, you will still end up with a black market because it will be so easy to undercut the commercialized, highly taxed price.
    However the fiber and seeds could be very profitable crops for American farmers, and great for our nation's health and the environment, as well as supplying tax revenue.

  • becca says:

    "I'll worry about personal cultivation vs. corporate cultivation once we get to the point where it's no longer made and sold by criminal gangs." So would cannabis grown by slaves ("like tobacco") be A-OK?
    It's as morally bankrupt to ignore the socio-economic consequences of "just capitalism" as it is to ignore the health consequences of legalization or the social justice consequences of the status quo.
    Of course, all of my infernal complexifying the issue at the cost of Real Answers about what Should be done is just going to annoy people who have already made up their minds.

  • Alex says:

    Um, slavery is illegal, and legalizing drugs would not involve legalizing slavery.
    If it was legal to grow drugs here, there are any number of shapes that that market could take, but most of those shapes would bear at least some sort of resemblance to current agricultural models. I have no interest in those in the legalization movement who want to stake ideological purity on adherence to some particular agricultural model, be it uber-capitalist corporate farming or local, organic, fair trade, blah blah of the left. Likewise, I have no interest in arguments that involve taking a huge straw man (e.g. Virginia weed plantations with slaves), setting it alight, and inhaling the fumes.

  • Alex says:

    Less testy answer:
    I actually do think about the economic consequences of legalization, but I'm not about to craft purity tests and banish people from the big tent because they subscribe to a different economic vision. The truth is that it's hard to say what will work best, and a post-prohibition market will probably have to be the result of evolution rather than planning. The repeal of alcohol prohibition provides hints: We might see some states with very strict laws on distribution, some with very loose laws, some with batshit insane laws (e.g. Pennsylvania), some markets dominated by big corporations, some markets served by the drug equivalent of microbrews, etc.
    The corporate model will probably appeal to an unlikely coalition of (1) prohibition sympathizers who want to at least see centralized and easily-monitored distribution channels and (2) the uber-capitalist wing of the legalization movement (believe me, they exist). OTOH, there will be those who only support a legalization model that involves local, organic growers who package their product in boxes made from organic hemp fiber and use a Prius to transport their product to the co-op. And there will be everything in between.
    As long as the Taliban and the gangs are bankrupted, and as long as the cops lose their pretext to lock up so many young minority men, I'll be content to let the situation evolve rather than prescribe a particular economic model.

  • fyodor says:

    There is a kind of humor inherent to seeing what looks like a monolithic block from the outside arguing (perhaps even bitterly!) from within. And of course, you're generally on the outside when you disagree, so Schadenfreude comes easily. But it's intellectually dishonest to talk about such a phenomenon as if it reflects badly on the group in question since it's pretty much inherent to all groups, across the board. Hell, do any two humans on Earth agree on everything? Nothing to see here, move along....

  • Warren says:

    Legal pot without legal cultivation would be much better than prohibition. That said, it would still trample on our freedom, and deliver only the most pedestrian product to the market.
    Think of the pisswater that once passed for beer in this country. Craft brewing exploded as soon as home brewing was legalized. Today America enjoys much greater variety and much higher quality of beer, both on the grocery shelf and at the tap.
    There is simply no valid reason home cultivation of marijuana should be prohibited by law, save one. We already live under tyranny that prohibit mere possession. It may be more politically feasible to lessen that tyranny if there's a payoff to the corrupt crony capitalist alliance between big government and big business.

  • The Angry Optimist says:

    Ha! Perhaps instead of "indulging" yourself, you should have the courage of your convictions to plainly state where you stand, and why. It's easy to be a terminally cynical critic; it's hard to actually believe in something and advocate for it, because it exposes you to criticism.
    When you ask whether the "cannobosphere" will come to a reasonable resolution, what would you consider a reasonable resolution, and why?

  • jojo says:

    ----
    People should not be prevented from growing plants, unless they are known to be highly invasive in the area or something.
    It grows easily, cheaply. anywhere.
    ----
    You have just defined an invasive species. šŸ™‚

  • dhex says:

    the political landscape would have changed considerably to even get us to the point of "marlboro greens", so much of our musings would/will seem foolish. that said, it's certainly not impossible to imagine a kind of corporatist solution due to regulatory capture, where only the big players get to sell the weed. that would be shitty, but compared to the current regime of arresting the shit out of people, kicking in their doors and shooting their dogs and all that...it would be heaven.
    on the plus side, it would be that much harder to really keep track of. all one would need to do is hold onto your tax stamped marlboro greens package and say "see, officer?"

  • Mo says:

    There are disagreements in every movement over the way the system should be. Look at the green movement. Should there be a cap and trade system or a carbon tax? Are nuke plants the problem or the solution? Is buying local the best way to do things or does the efficiency of the global supply chain make things unintentionally worse? &c.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Angry O, perhaps you should actually read my blog. I do advocate for stuff all the time. Just not on the specific issue of whether or not recreational drugs should be legalized or not. "Courage" of my convictions? Whether one is fer or agin cannabis legalization, one will have company a-plenty. It hardly requires "courage" to come down on either side my friend.
    fyodor, did you read the last bit? There is a general issue here having to do with making progress on an agenda. It is not topic specific. hint: http://scientopia.org/blogs/drugmonkey/2008/09/repost-emeye-on-the-prizeem
    Matt Platte: Where you go wrong, as many do, is assuming that I argue anything about legalization policy. Otherwise, yes, you probably are thinking of me.
    OBServ and Curt: Nothing I've said implies that policy decisions are uni-dimensional. In fact the point of my closing comments is precisely to consider the prioritization of dimensions in one's thinking and advocacy. see, link above, I'm an "eye on the prize" kind of person. A compromising sellout in some views. Ideological purity tends to be a recipe for continual ranting in the wilderness without significant progress. IMO, of course.
    Roland, according to this site:

    Prohibition was repealed in 1933 and brewing once again prospers. For unknown reasons, however, homebrewing wasn't made federally legal until 1978

  • The Angry Optimist says:

    Perhaps in a theoretical internet world, chock full of anonymity, there's no "courage" in choosing a legalization position, but try standing up and saying in front of your grandmother. Or among your friends.
    Look, if you want to be "above the fray", then be above the fray and stay there, but the reason that there is "infighting" in the camp is because these are difficult policy questions that have to be wrestled with, and I find it off-putting that you're basically going "HA! SEE! There's no easy answers, so I'll just laugh at the whole thing!"

  • D.A. Ridgely says:

    Yes, it certainly is strange when principles and pragmatic considerations conflict politically, isn't it?
    Needless to say, decriminalization that permitted only personal cannabis cultivation or that permitted only licensed corporate cultivation and sale would be a victory of sorts over the status quo. And, of course, the good is often the enemy of the best and vice versa, the vagaries of politics being what they are.
    If one believes, as I do, that Wickard v. Filburn was a case of gross overreach on the part of the federal government, then it becomes evident that there are more issues at stake than whether or not Johnny can get high when he wants. Perhaps, however, that is too complex an insight for those who tend to characterize questions of drug control into tidy looking dichotomies.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Perhaps, however, that is too complex an insight for those who tend to characterize questions of drug control into tidy looking dichotomies.
    Well, yes, DA, the legalize-eet types do tend to have a rather constrained view of complex issues, I'll grant you. If there is any subversive policy-related motivation to my blogging on topics of drug abuse I suppose it is an attempt to put a layer of complexity into their traditional repetitive and, might I add, somewhat disingenuous* ranting.
    __
    *"I just want to take drugs, damn the torpedoes and effects on anyone else" being the actual position, I find. A perfectly honest and debatable position but unlikely to be expressed as the major rationale for policy decisions. Except the odd commenter willing to say on blogs that "smoking weed kicks fucking ass" or similar.....

  • fyodor says:

    fyodor, did you read the last bit? There is a general issue here having to do with making progress on an agenda. It is not topic specific.
    Yes, I read the whole thing, and I'm still not sure what you're saying here, but *if* what you're saying is that you weren't intending to be critical or dismissive per se, I'll say well then fair enough but only note in my defense that you can see I was hardly the only one fooled.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Perhaps, however, that is too complex an insight for those who tend to characterize questions of drug control into tidy looking dichotomies.
    Well, yes, DA, the legalize-eet types do tend to have a rather constrained view of complex issues, I'll grant you. If there is any subversive policy-related motivation to my blogging on topics of drug abuse I suppose it is an attempt to put a layer of complexity into their traditional repetitive and, might I add, somewhat disingenuous* ranting.
    __
    *"I just want to take drugs, damn the torpedoes and effects on anyone else" being the actual position, I find. A perfectly honest and debatable position but unlikely to be expressed as the major rationale for policy decisions. Except the odd commenter willing to say on blogs that "smoking weed kicks fucking ass" or similar.....

  • The Angry Optimist says:

    D.A. wasn't agreeing with you, DrugMonkey. well, that's how I read that, anyway. I find it funny that you say "Well, yes, DA, the legalize-eet types do tend to have a rather constrained view of complex issues, I'll grant you.", in comment where you make fun of the complex viewpoints of the legalization crowd!. Are you reading your own writing?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Angry O, the only thing I did here is say that I find this amusing. I'm not making fun of any complex viewpoints. I am, perhaps, making fun of the more rigid, idealistic position which you may deduce from my eye-on-the-prize stance toward other issues that blow up now and again on this blog and elsewhere in the blogosphere of science and science careers.
    You guys are cracking me up. Most of the time I post about science and y'all legalize-eet types go on and on and on about how I "have" to discuss policy implications. While, I might add, generally failing to grapple honestly with the scientific topic at hand. Here, I finally serve up a nice thread for discussing policy and what do we get? "move along, nothing to see here..."
    ]sigh*.[
    *ok, ok, that wasn't honest, what I really mean is HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Alex says:

    "I just want to take drugs, damn the torpedoes and effects on anyone else" being the actual position, I find.
    Does smoke from burning straw cause lung damage?
    Plenty of reform advocates are interested in taking this complex societal problem and moving it out of the black market and the prison system, and into the open where it can be dealt with more effectively. Some of the problems can be dealt with by public health measures. Some problems might be ameliorated by moving activities into a taxed and regulated environment. Some problems might have to be dealt with on the micro-scale rather than policy scale, through families and friends helping troubled individuals work through their problems. And some problems might have to be accepted as inevitable but also an acceptable cost of bankrupting the Taliban and ending a policy that has a disparate impact on poor minorities.
    That's a lot more nuanced than the strawman that you constructed, rolled into a joint, lit, and smoked.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I'm full willing to believe that some have thought these issues through Alex but you apparently do not speak to a lot of the street-level, run of the mill advocates.
    There is also a little diagnostic we can use to help us- for any of these nuanced questions is "legalize it" always the answer? Always going to lead to improved societal outcome? Well, that questions the degree to which someone is considering evidence and rationale seriously versus pursuing a pre-determined agenda.
    example: I suggest that since dependence goes up with exposure, legalization will increase dependence-related health concerns. The inevitable counter from the advocate position is that "no, no, all the addictive personalities are already self selected and there will be no change whatsoever in addiction numbers in the population".
    In contrast to this you may take the usual arguments about the hordes of innocents locked up in prison on simple possession raps that pose no danger to the society. Do you see me arguing against this? nope. Do you see most other actual scientists involved in drug abuse work arguing against this? nope. who argues in favor of severe treatment of any drug use? those coming from an ideological political position.

  • Mu says:

    One argument against the "homegrown" strategy is lack of standardization. Large scale manufacture can test for THC content, and provide a consistent product. This becomes important for the inevitable DUI cases, when some number X of THC concentration will be set as legal limit for DUI. If you smoke homegrown, you have no idea what you get, if you use Marlboro green (so I'm more of a Camel guy myself) you can at least be sure that driving the next morning will not put you over the limit.

  • The Angry Optimist says:

    I guess, then, that we have come to the point where it is acceptable to say that some ideologies are right and others are wrong.
    "for any of these nuanced questions is "legalize it" always the answer? Always going to lead to improved societal outcome? Well, that questions the degree to which someone is considering evidence and rationale seriously versus pursuing a pre-determined agenda."
    Did it ever occur to you that the ideology arose because this evidence was already evaluated, and "legalize it" is the resoundingly correct answer from both an ideological and the utilitarian POV you expound? After all, your "improved societal outcome" is a pretty meaningless phrase without an evaluation of what it means to be "improved" in the first place. In other words, the "legalize it" crowd may be saying that phrase in response to your queries not due to unthinking dogma, but because they view the principle of rights to use ones' body in the way one sees fit as an overarching principle that would improve society far and away from any rise in dependent persons. So, in short, we've evaluated the costs/benefits already, and found prohibition (in toto) wanting.

  • The Angry Optimist says:

    I am also curious: why are you defending a corporatist model for marijuana legalization? It will be the wealthy who can afford Marlboro Greens (taxed as highly as they inevitably would be); it would be the poor who would still be forced to grow their own/buy homegrown on the black market.

  • Alex says:

    example: I suggest that since dependence goes up with exposure, legalization will increase dependence-related health concerns.
    If all other variables are held constant then your hypothesis is quite likely to be correct.
    If, however, moving the activity out of the underground also changes other variables besides penalties, then we might see different patterns of usage, different products, etc. For instance, drinking old school Coca-Cola in moderate amounts in social situations, whatever might be said about it, would probably not lead to the same pathologies as snorting powder cocaine on a regular basis.
    Finally, public health costs must be weighed against the benefits of driving criminal organizations out of business. What if Afghanistan's economy was no longer so reliant on a black market commodity? What if northern Mexico were no longer teetering on the edge of collapse? What if drug dealers didn't control territory in American cities? And so forth. These problems cost our government hundreds of billions of dollars a year and inflict untold human suffering. Those variables have to be weighed as well.

  • dhex says:

    "Finally, public health costs must be weighed against the benefits of driving criminal organizations out of business."
    /insert joke about the DEA here.
    there would be some serious fallout from reducing the intake of the prison industry, for starters. what would happen to the DEA in a situation where cannabis was legalized? that's a pretty large chunk of their business, since that's the largest chunk of illegal drug use in this country (and elsewhere, i'd guess).
    there are definite downsides to eliminating the black market in america, too; who knows what it would do to the gangs in mexico. what would they do for revenue then?
    again, i think we'd be looking at a world where things were mighty different than they are now to even begin considering these scenarios. the current handwringing/panic over the economy has driven the pot legalization issue into the mainstream, if only for a few moments. when that subsides we'll know if this is more of a social/generational changeover or the fluttering of scared birds.

  • Alex says:

    there are definite downsides to eliminating the black market in america, too; who knows what it would do to the gangs in mexico. what would they do for revenue then?

    Are you saying that we'll need to bail out the gangs, the cartels, and the Taliban because they're too big to fail? Damn. I thought it was bad enough handing cash to auto executives and bankers. If we have to start handing cash to the Taliban to prop them up in a collapsing opium market, I am going to have to find a different planet to live on.

  • becca says:

    "Um, slavery is illegal, and legalizing drugs would not involve legalizing slavery."
    I'm just saying that large scale farming of big tobacco has a long and sordid history in this country (and truthfully it's not exactly all rainbows and puppies now either); anyone who says it doesn't matter if we do the same thing for cannabis is ignoring an important dimension to the decision.
    For the record, Alex, I can see that you'd consider some of these complexities in whether the ends of legalization justify the means proposed (though I'm not sure the original blogger at Drug Law Blog is on the same page as you).
    I know it's pretty difficult to mandate a particular economic model, but rabid capitalists be damned, making personal cultivation illegal is certainly not allowing a free market. It seems to me that the only real advantage of that approach would be "if we set up a larger incentive for corporations to lobby, it'll get done faster".
    "OTOH, there will be those who only support a legalization model that involves local, organic growers who package their product in boxes made from organic hemp fiber and use a Prius to transport their product to the co-op."
    LMAO. Oh yes. I know them well.
    Also for the record, if the cannabis laws went the way of the batshit crazy alcohol laws in Pennsylvania, it might be time to emigrate to Canada...
    "Today America enjoys much greater variety and much higher quality of beer, both on the grocery shelf and at the tap."
    Well, for those of you in parts of America where you can get it on the grocery shelf.

  • Alex says:

    becca, my bottom line is quite simple: Any change in policy will have its drawbacks and will no doubt require some adjustments to find the best model. However, if we enter into that unknown territory with bankrupted criminal gangs as our starting point, I'm confident that we'll be able to navigate the complexities and find something that works.
    I'm sure that the tobacco industry isn't exactly rainbows and puppies, just as I'm sure the alcohol industry isn't either. I'd still take our current alcohol industry over the one that Al Capone ran. That's what it boils down to.

  • Alex says:

    Oh, I might add that if we want to talk about the problems of the tobacco industry, subsidies might be a starting point. I totally oppose that, just as I'd oppose subsidies for growers of any other plant.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Alex @31, there are some of my readers (and Ed Brayton's) who dispute this reality about increasing numbers of dependent individuals. They may eventually show up. Pete G? Klem? hellooo?
    AO: because they view the principle of rights to use ones' body in the way one sees fit as an overarching principle that would improve society far and away from any rise in dependent persons.
    I have essentially zero problem with someone who comes to the same predictions I do about increased health burden related to dependence and is still arguing "it is still worth it to legalize" when it comes to the issues I blog about. Balance of factors is a legit policy issue. Lying, distorting or denying the best possible evidence about the health burden is where I come in. I can contribute in some small way to that part of the understanding. Policy, not so much.
    why are you defending a corporatist model for marijuana legalization?
    I am not. All I'm saying is that I favor progress over ideological purity in most cases in which I have an interest. This says nothing about which side I might be on with respect to this specific issue. or if I even give a crap for that matter.

  • Art says:

    First, the assumed effects have to be gauged against the effectiveness of the present law. As far as I can tell anyone, anywhere, can find weed to smoke for as little as five dollars. The main effect of the law is to make things people sell and consume illegal and to keep a percentage of people in jail. Illegality, as far as I can tell, stops nobody who wouldn't be stopped by a wagging finger and a stern look.
    So the difference in actual use of legalization should logically be minimal. The legal consequences are more mixed. Yes, there would be fewer people in jail on related charges. But dealing isn't a career choice because you like the weed. People sell it because they want to make money. Unable to sell grass for a profit they will shift to other products.
    Will this change consumption? This remains to be seen. I suspect that in the main, as with marijuana, availability of virtually all drugs is universal and so those who want it already have it. Only limited in their consumption by available funds and the limits of the bodies to consume. More people selling would seem to just drive the cost down. Which might slightly reduce drug related thefts. It might increase conflicts over drug territories as the big fish seek to limit the numbers of little fish in their area. Fewer burglaries and, for a time, more shootings.
    As for the form of legalization I think allowing the majority of sales to be through corporate means doesn't seem unwise. Tobacco is legal to cultivate and it is highly addictive. But how many smokers, dippers or chewers grow their own? The simple economics of the situation means you can head down to the local five and dime and pick up a pack or pouch less expensively, and with far less trouble than you could grow your own. Same with alcohol. Most people just buy the mass produced variety.
    Of course once you have legal sales as an inexpensive commodity there will be a few who would like to grow their own. Which will be far easier once commercial growing and sales are legal.

  • JasonL says:

    I don't really understand the point here. Everyone advocating legalization is an irredemable ideologue, except here there is a discussion of pragmatics, so my premise must be wrong, no wait they must be confused isn't that hilarious! Maybe it's a bit too inside?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    The main effect of the law is to make things people sell and consume illegal and to keep a percentage of people in jail. Illegality, as far as I can tell, stops nobody who wouldn't be stopped by a wagging finger and a stern look
    Example of what I'm talking about. This is just not supported by the available evidence. You go to the epidemiology and population incidence is related to legal status. You look at adolescent populations and use correlates with availability, which correlates with legal status. There are surveys where people refer to the legal status and penalties as one of their top reasons for not using a given drug. Heck, we even did a fun little poll on this blog with results not too dissimilar from real surveys I've seen.
    People who think that "anyone who might possible use illicit drugs post-legalization is doing so already" are either expressing their own biases or their occupation of a selected drug-using subculture, not paying attention to the available general population-level evidence.

  • dhex says:

    at the very least, portugal and the netherlands offer us two competing models of the first step forward. particularly portugal, whose experience has been remarkably free of catastrophe or utopia, as one might reasonably expect. (and seems to run counter to the notion that "You go to the epidemiology and population incidence is related to legal status." as a hard and fast rule in all cases.)
    If we have to start handing cash to the Taliban to prop them up in a collapsing opium market, I am going to have to find a different planet to live on.
    you may wish to get crackin' on a biodome; just as cash to not grow coca/opium has been tried in a few places, it's not too far out of bounds to think of payoffs to various localized despots as a way to control gang violence. it would probably represent a serious savings, too; millions versus billions spent.

  • lunchstealer says:

    Is there any law against home cultivation and use of tobacco products? Seems like tobacco is a better model for regulation. Tobacco products are taxed, but I have never heard of ATF agents raiding backyard gardens for tobacco plants.
    Ultimately, I think there's nothing wrong with taxing commercial marijuana operations, while expanding the 'home brewing' beer/wine hobbyist exception to include any taxed recreational or medicinal agricultural products.

  • Isabel says:

    "I am not. All I'm saying is that I favor progress over ideological purity in most cases in which I have an interest. This says nothing about which side I might be on with respect to this specific issue. or if I even give a crap for that matter."
    Then why don't you just STFU, smatass? Just like being a smart ass, eh? "No opinion" on the subject you don'y "give a damn about" but ya just LOVE to stir the pot. Ruined lives be damned, they're not your problem. It's all a fucking laugh riot isn't it? And all those large scale studies for over 100 years and the brilliant DM has NO OPINION. And clearly no conscience either.

  • D.A. Ridgely says:

    All I'm saying is that I favor progress over ideological purity in most cases in which I have an interest.

    Me too. I even favor it in cases where I have no interest. I have no interest in smoking crack, for example, but I favor letting other people smoke it if they want or at least not spending billions on trying to prevent them from doing so, incarcerating them for doing so, etc.
    Then again, that's pretty much my take on the extent to which illegal drug use is a public health issue in the first place. It's only a public health issue insofar as the public assumes responsibility for what would otherwise be the private health consequences of, say, overdosing on some narcotic.
    As for dhex's point, the U.S. has long been in the business of propping up foreign governments or at least providing plenty of lethal military hardware to them in return for "helping" our "War Against Drugs." And that's gone pretty well so far, hasn't it?

  • Art says:

    "People who think that "anyone who might possible use illicit drugs post-legalization is doing so already" are either expressing their own biases or their occupation of a selected drug-using subculture, not paying attention to the available general population-level evidence."
    Cite all the learned evidence and polls you want but the fact is that I can take you to a half dozen sites within a five minute drive of my location where for a few dollars, no questions asked, you can get whatever you want. If you wish to drive another ten minutes you would find a dozen more. These locations are not secret. If you new to town just ask around. Everybody who is not living in denial, including most of the police, know where they are and what is going on. Availability is not an issue.
    It is popular for people to show 'respect for the law', particularly on polls where respect is dirt cheap, by claiming it makes a difference but few people who are intimidate aware of the issue see it that way. Denial, a matter of survival for drug users, and a way of voting their aspirations for the surrounding community, is a way of life. Why do you think it would be any different on a poll?
    The idea that legality has any great bearing on use are referencing a time when drugs were still rare in small towns and rural areas. When drugs were still primarily an urban issue. Not even in small towns of 200 you have small time dealers in the playgrounds and schools and drug corners open to all comers. Let the pols say what they will. The facts on the ground are telling a different story. Belief in the law is like belief in God. It is easy to assert, pretty much accepted as the norm, but pretty meaningless in defining behaviors.
    The kids, as young as eight, buy their $5 sacks of weed. The only thing keeping them from buying crack, same price from the same dealer, is that they know what crack does to people. People control the types and amounts of use independent of the law. If kids don't do any drugs it is because their mother or uncle, sometimes their drug dealing cousin, told them not to. The police planning their next useless sting operation around the corner have nothing to do with that decision.
    The law is no more a threat to drug dealers than Cheetahs are to antelopes. The law doesn't keep people from doing drugs any more than Cheetahs keep antelopes from eating grass. They just raise the cost of doing business and, directly, or as an handy excuse, increase the violence. The prospect of jail has lost most of its deterrent value. Jail has become just another right of passage. Contempt for the police and the law is a way of life in many communities.
    As for my "own biases or their occupation of a selected drug-using subculture" I know what I see, you might put down the journal article and get out into the field (Just be careful not to end up in the police dragnet), and, as if it wasn't insulting to have to say it, I neither drink nor do I do drugs. Go figure.
    There is a war going on. Counting the bodies, wringing your hands, and asking people how they feel about it won't get us anywhere. Hasn't made any significant difference in over fifty years. Debates over which side is winning and what might work are meaningless. The war is the problem.

  • Mo says:

    The reason people don't grow their own tobacco is that it's a pain in the ass to grow and requires very specific climate and soil to grow. It's not exactly set it and forget it.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    As for my "own biases or their occupation of a selected drug-using subculture" I know what I see, you might put down the journal article and get out into the field
    Ok, d00d. You do understand that scientists such as myself are actual people right? With, you know, friends, neighbors, families and acquaintances... just like anybody else? So if we're battling anecdotes of personal experience, I got all of mine backing up the notion that there is a not-insignificant fraction of people who don't , for example, smoke pot almost exclusively because it is illegal. I'm not saying all of them would end up in the 8-10% dependent subgroup post-legalization but legal status is indeed a motivating factor for some people. The fact that I have actual stats on my side does, I submit, support the validity of my anecdotes over yours if we are using them to make general statements.
    particularly portugal, whose experience has been remarkably free of catastrophe or utopia, as one might reasonably expect.
    We took this up in a prior thread, and the data seem to show that Portugal has a very low rate of marijuana use prior to the legalization, compared with other EU countries and certainly with the US. That makes extrapolation less certain. I'd like to know what factors resulted in this low use rate in Portugal. The last I heard from the Netherlands was the reports of many city councils outside of cannabis tourist mecca Amsterdam halting the cannabis bars/zones/cafes/whatnot. What's up with that?
    Isabel, I'm tempted to tell you to smoke a doobie and chill out.... šŸ™‚

  • lunchstealer says:

    Point taken, Mo. I grew up where it did grow like a weed, so the idea didn't seem all that far fetched to me. Still, the other big point there is that the curing of tobacco to make the really enjoyable forms is best done on a relatively large scale. It's possible that mass-cultivated marijuana would be of sufficiently improved quality, be it on taste/aroma or potency (although anecdotally it seems unlikely on the potency, given the technobabble I've heard from pop-culture discussions of cannabis hydroponics) and that commercial jane would quickly supplant all but true hobbyist homegrowers, just like the beer and wine markets.
    Interesting note on homegrowing/homebrewing. Australia and a few other countries freely permit home distillation without horrific increases in poisoning and blindness, and I think the social costs of alcohol are far more strongly tied to the commercial stuff than to any home-grown movement.
    So ultimately, banning home growing would just be a waste of regulators' time and taxpayers' money.

  • Alex says:

    DM, you said that you don't support incarceration for users. What about sellers? And what about all of the harmful side effects of arresting sellers, including the disparate impacts that law enforcement efforts have in poor and minority neighborhoods, the profits generated for gangs and terrorists, and the money that might have otherwise been spent on treatment for those seeking it?

  • lunchstealer says:

    Alex - Yeah, the whole home-grow vs commercial aspect does largely only impact the well-to-do user, and the industrious-but-budget-conscious user populations. Does little for the biggest victim set of the drug war, which is the huge impact this has on the economically disadvantaged, especially minorities. Either model would be of tremendous benefit to alleviating that suffering. The rest is just arguing over a fairly small tail of the curve.

  • Alex says:

    This isn't just about who has to pay how much for what, lunchstealer. It's about the fact that enforcement falls harshest on the least privileged members of society, perpetuating all sorts of inequities.

  • lunchstealer says:

    Also, DM, how can you be for the drug war while accepting advertising revenue from World of Warcraft? I've lost far more friends to that particular addiction than I ever did to 'teh ganja'. šŸ˜›

  • DrugMonkey says:

    DM, you said that you don't support incarceration for users
    No, I said you don't see me arguing in support of this. I made no comment on what my political views might be.
    ..nice try though.

  • lunchstealer says:

    It's about the fact that enforcement falls harshest on the least privileged members of society, perpetuating all sorts of inequities.
    Alex - Sorry, that was my point as well, in a roundabout way.
    DM - So you don't PUBLICLY support incarceration of drug users. That kind of denial seems to indicate that you privately support of incarcerating nonviolent users, although it really could just be caginess. Do you, from an epidemiological standpoint, see incarceration of users as helping them?

  • Warren says:

    Lying, distorting or denying the best possible evidence about the health burden is where I come in. I can contribute in some small way to that part of the understanding. Policy, not so much.
    So you don't concern yourself with they systematic oppression of the disenfranchised? There is overwhelming evidence that drug laws are enforced disproportionately against minorities. Not to mention the way prohibition funds crime.
    Wealthy white suburbanites can wring their hands over the drug problem without even being menaced by it. But the criminal market created by prohibition destroys poor neighborhoods. The profit in selling drugs necessarily makes the drug market the dominant force in poor neighborhoods. It brings violence and destroys rule of law and respect for authority.
    Look at the racial makeup of the prison population and the crimes that put them there and tell me prohibition isn't just a tool of oppression. Or don't you think incarceration is a health burden?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Do you, from an epidemiological standpoint, see incarceration of users as helping them?
    helping what? The only things that are really in my domain are those associated with the drugs themselves. And I know very little about the actual availability of drugs within prison populations...and probably less than I should about the rates of dependence in the subset those incarcerated that the legalize-eet folks would include in their innocent, minor possession groups.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    So you don't concern yourself with they systematic oppression of the disenfranchised?
    Not on this blog, no. Why?
    Or don't you think incarceration is a health burden?
    sure it is. So is infectious disease and a whole bunch of other stuff that other people blog about. Why does it bother you so much that I mostly stick to the topics which I know something specific about?

  • Spaulding says:

    You go to the epidemiology and population incidence is related to legal status. You look at adolescent populations and use correlates with availability, which correlates with legal status.

    I don't think polls would be as useful here as international comparisons. I also think that it's always a mistake to conflate "use" with "abuse."
    Frankly, if decriminalization increases casual use then I don't much care. If abuse is increased, that's undesirable, and must be weighed with other pros and cons.

  • Isabel says:

    "Lying, distorting or denying the best possible evidence about the health burden is where I come in. "
    this is a lie! You haven't even read the literature, the Commission Reports of your own government. They showed little or no public health costs.
    Where is the evidence you are contributing? What health burden? What ideological purity? Talk about a straw man.
    "The fact that I have actual stats on my side does, I submit, support the validity of my anecdotes over yours if we are using them to make general statements"
    I would be doubled over laughing if this wasn't such a serious subject.
    You are the worst example of a scientist I have seen on science blogs.
    Why are you running off to Europe for your stats?
    Why won't you respond to my comments?
    Because I am right about this one.
    You are being an asshole DM. And not a funny one. YOU should be locked up!

  • Isabel says:

    "If abuse is increased, that's undesirable, and must be weighed with other pros and cons. "
    The large scale Commission Reports have repeatedly shown that even where Cannabis users show evidence of dependence, they cause far, far fewer problems than other drug abusers.
    this is like a fucking twilight zone episode, where everyone (both pro and con) keeps wanting to start from a clean slate. WHY???? That's what is making me so crazy DrugMonkey. What is your justification for ignoring the large studies? They seem extremely relevant to your arguments. It is YOU who is being disingenuous, damnit!

  • wenchacha says:

    I don't know how to weigh the greater amount of health costs associated with more users of marijuana, but I do think use would be moderated in many cases.
    If you can smoke a joint any time, you don't have to sneak some time away to go do so. You don't feel so interested in hanging out with the jerks you do now when you get high. You know: the people who are just more comfortable with breaking the law, any law. You don't need to "show off" to friends how "street" you are and drive into a gang neighborhood to get your pot. (A neighbor of mine lost two sons to just such a crime a few years back. They could have easily bought pot here in our suburban enclave, and lived to smoke another day.)
    I think making it legal, and letting the happy gardeners grow their own takes a lot of the criminal activity out of it. Which makes it less a magnet for more criminal activity.
    Like anything else, there will be downsides to it. But so there are with birth control pills. Women are more in charge of their own bodies, couples can avoid pregnancy and still enjoy intimacy. Good or bad depends on your cultural point of view. Also, women can have strokes as a result of using The Pill, which I think most anyone would agree is bad.
    It is sort of funny that in the US, one can grow papver somniferum and morning glories, but not marijuana.

  • WotWot says:

    Interesting note on homegrowing/homebrewing. Australia and a few other countries freely permit home distillation without horrific increases in poisoning and blindness, and I think the social costs of alcohol are far more strongly tied to the commercial stuff than to any home-grown movement.
    So ultimately, banning home growing would just be a waste of regulators' time and taxpayers' money.
    Posted by: lunchstealer. July 9, 2009 5:32 PM

    Er, the only country that explicitly allows home distilling is New Zealand. It is definitely illegal in Australia to distil alcohol without a licence, and pretty well every other country on earth. However, in most countries, if you are only making small amounts for your personal use, and do not sell it or hurt anybody, then you are effectively below the radar of the legal system.
    Home distilling is an interesting case to compare to cannabis. Home distilling is not legal, but it is a rapidly growing hobby, with several English language forums, and a bunch of non-English language forums, all doing very well thank you.
    There is clearly no possibility of governments stopping home distilling of alcohol, or home growing of cannabis, they can't do it now when both are highly illegal.
    I would suggest that making cannabis a legal product for licensed producers would have the additional unintended effect of de facto legalisation for home growers. The government (ie justice system) just could not be bothered with such trivial offences.

  • Alex says:

    The government (ie justice system) just could not be bothered with such trivial offences.
    I dunno, big companies might pressure the government to go after anybody who challenges their oligopoly status.
    OTOH, I'm pretty sure that local organic co-ops would lack the resources to rope the cops into their schemes.

  • WotWot says:

    I dunno, big companies might pressure the government to go after anybody who challenges their oligopoly status.
    You think the government is going to waste time and resources going after home growers of a legal product, even though home production would be technically illegal? Sure, there will be the occasional opportunistic prosecution, like there is now with home distillers and home growers of tobacco (mostly those who get caught selling it, I might add, not those who are genuinely just producing small amounts for their own consumption).
    If the production and sale of cannabis is made legal for licensed producers, home growers will be pretty safe, a lot safer than they are now, (provided, of course, they keep it small scale, and do not sell, especially to minors).

  • Dan J says:

    So if we're battling anecdotes of personal experience, I got all of mine backing up the notion that there is a not-insignificant fraction of people who don't, for example, smoke pot almost exclusively because it is illegal. I'm not saying all of them would end up in the 8-10% dependent subgroup post-legalization but legal status is indeed a motivating factor for some people. The fact that I have actual stats on my side does, I submit, support the validity of my anecdotes over yours if we are using them to make general statements.

    In support of DM's statement:
    I used to smoke marijuana regularly (about twenty years ago). I don't smoke marijuana now. Why don't I? Because it's illegal and I don't want to go to jail for smoking it. If it were legalized would I smoke it or grow some for personal use? Yes, and yes.

  • Alex says:

    If it were legalized would I smoke it or grow some for personal use? Yes, and yes.
    If it were legal, would you characterize your most likely personal use scenario as occasional recreational use, or as something more destructive?
    I'm not concerned with consenting adults who use responsibly. I'm concerned with those who abuse it, and the last thing I want to do to those unfortunates is send them to prison or drive them into the criminal underground.

  • Dan J says:

    If it were legal, would you characterize your most likely personal use scenario as occasional recreational use, or as something more destructive?

    It would definitely be occasional recreational use. Heck, I still have two bottles of beer in the fridge from a six-pack that I bought months ago. I enjoy a little recreational mood-altering once in a while. Consciousness-altering (hallucinogens of various sorts) used to be an occasional vice of mine as well, but I haven't done that for twenty years or so either. The legality issue is still what keeps me from doing it now.

  • Alex says:

    So, the law is not stopping you from doing anything that is likely to harm you or others?

  • Isabel says:

    "Like anything else, there will be downsides to it. But so there are with birth control pills. Women are more in charge of their own bodies, couples can avoid pregnancy and still enjoy intimacy. Good or bad depends on your cultural point of view. Also, women can have strokes as a result of using The Pill, which I think most anyone would agree is bad."
    Cannabis does not cause anything remotely as serious as strokes!
    Exactly WHAT are these downsides you are expecting? Be specific please!
    Stop talking out of your assholes people! Look at the evidence for a change. There have been a number of large scale studies, which include original research as well as surveys of the literature and indepth interviews with medical officials and law enforcement. Set an example for DrugMonkey. Read them before shooting your mouth off.
    The jury is not out. The verdict is in. But I guess if you don't like the results, if you're a government shill for example, just keep looking til you find what you're looking for, however flawed the study (remember - all studies have caveats - it's nothing to worry about)
    Jeez, talk about cherry picking DM.

  • Dan J says:

    Alex said:

    So, the law is not stopping you from doing anything that is likely to harm you or others?

    I don't really understand your question. I choose not to smoke marijuana because the legal ramifications outweigh the enjoyment for me. Remember: the law doesn't stop people from doing anything. It simply adds to the risk/benefit analysis of what they desire to do. Moral implications are another factor. Most people refrain from murdering others because they feel that it is morally wrong to do so, not because they're afraid of being arrested for it. The same goes for currently illegal/illicit drugs for many people. They refrain from smoking marijuana because they feel it's morally wrong for them to do so, just as followers of the Mormon faith abstain from caffeine.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Not entirely sure what you are on about Isabel but my issue of primary concern is dependence. It happens, and to a clinically diagnosable degree. More prosaically, people want to stop or cut back because they are not happy with their current state....and find that they are unable to quit.
    Are you disputing this?
    Otherwise, just tell us which putative harms you are referring to, perhaps we agree.

  • Alex says:

    It happens, and to a clinically diagnosable degree. More prosaically, people want to stop or cut back because they are not happy with their current state....and find that they are unable to quit.
    And the whole point of the legalization case is that we can address this problem without locking human beings in cages, creating a massive black market that funds crime and terrorism, and giving the cops an excuse to go after the least privileged members of society. Defending Prohibition today is as idiotic as it was 80 years ago when the subject was alcohol.

  • Sandy says:

    helping what? The only things that are really in my domain are those associated with the drugs themselves.

    DrugMonkey, thanks for clarifying that a) you're a person, and b) the left-wing critiques of scientists hiding behind narrow specialization to avoid really obvious social implications of their work actually have merit. It's fine not to take a position. It's not fine to pretend you shouldn't think about it and at least have a Scientific American-level understanding of the research...especially if you're going to blog about "legalize-eet."

  • Stephanie Z says:

    You know, DM, the one thing I didn't immediately get about the OP was why you found it funny when the legalization lobby argued among themselves. After seeing again how determined they are to argue with you, even to the point of assigning you and opinion they don't like, I'm starting to understand a wee bit better.

  • wenchacha says:

    Isabel, you came across a bit harshly in your response to my post. Did you see the rest of it? I'd love for pot to be legal to grow and use.
    I referred back to DM's "downsides" because there's no doubt that some unintended consequences will result from legalization. Unexpected might be the better word. Do I think people will stroke out from pot? No. I was pointing out that even very beneficial things like The Pill or vaccines or whatever can harm some people rather than improve or have neutral effects.
    DM posits that national health care costs will increase due to some people having adverse reactions caused by their use of marijuana. So it is with just about anything you can name. My argument is that the removal of the illegal status allows for better (honest) information for users, as well as keeping all the thousands or millions of casual and not-so-casual users out of the prison industrial complex. And I think that far outweighs the costs incurred, whatever they may be, of increased use.
    Lighten up.

  • dhex says:

    We took this up in a prior thread, and the data seem to show that Portugal has a very low rate of marijuana use prior to the legalization, compared with other EU countries and certainly with the US. That makes extrapolation less certain. I'd like to know what factors resulted in this low use rate in Portugal. The last I heard from the Netherlands was the reports of many city councils outside of cannabis tourist mecca Amsterdam halting the cannabis bars/zones/cafes/whatnot. What's up with that?
    for the first part, i'm tempted to say "culture", which is a perfectly reasonable and yet perfectly useless answer. usage rates may very well vary depending upon a dizzying variety of factors. i don't think access alone is it (dutch pot usage rates tended to be lower than american rates, iirc, for example), just as portugal did not see an explosion in drug usage from their decriminalization scheme. while no doubt some people are prevented by the fear of imprisonment - and my sense may be skewed by living in a major city where drug delivery services are available and it is not uncommon to see older americans smoking pot more or less openly - i think some of it is a taste thing. i could get cocaine if i wanted it, but ewww cocaine! ewww!
    what trends govern drug use (and types of drug use) are probably complicated in some ways, especially when trying to separate the effects of the black market/government interference in a "natural" market like mind-altering drugs from the substances themselves. would crack have ever come into being were it not for cocaine prohibition? or shulgin's work, for that matter?
    for the second part, according to dutch friends, it's a combination of changes in the makeup of the government, an emergent nativism (i.e. a variation on anslinger's quote about "negroes, jazz music and white women" but aimed at arabs and turks) and a cosmopolitan/country cultural split.

  • Alex says:

    DM-
    You said that you limit your blogging on this topic to the health issues because that's what you do research on. However, elsewhere on this blog you frequently talk about issues of race, gender, equity, and opportunity. Those are laudable things to talk about and I'm glad that you do, but as far as I can tell you don't do research on those topics. (Correct me if I'm wrong!) You don't go out and conduct systematic studies comparing cohorts of minority STEM students in different institutions, you don't do large-scale interviews with hundreds of recent female Ph.D.'s to understand the factors influencing their career paths, and you don't personally compile the statistics on the leaky pipeline. But despite not being directly involved in the research you are at least aware of many important results and the experiences of the people you interact with, and as a result you are comfortable blogging about those topics.
    Now, there is a large policy that is directly related to the topic of your research, its history and present-day consequences are easy enough to learn about (even if one doesn't do policy research with reams of statistics), and it is clear that this policy has a disparate impact on minorities. Despite that, you studiously avoid blogging about those issues, claiming that they are not in your expertise. It seems to me that they are at least connected to your area of expertise, and directly related to social issues that you are (rightly!) vocal about.
    So, why the silence about the disparate impacts of a policy directly related to your research?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    You said that you limit your blogging on this topic to the health issues because that's what you do research on
    Nope. I say that I know a little something about it. I blog about all kinds of data from the epidemiological (monitoring the future study) to the laboratory (various kinds). I don't specify what I actually work on as a matter of fact, nor give any guarantees that I ever blog on anything very close to my actual interests in lab.
    elsewhere on this blog you frequently talk about issues of race, gender, equity, and opportunity.
    Yup. Also things that I care to blog about. You may read this as "things I am interested in- when it comes to blogging"
    Despite that, you studiously avoid blogging about those issues, claiming that they are not in your expertise.
    I also point out that this is a matter of preference, it is not solely the lack of specific research expertise.
    So, why the silence about the disparate impacts of a policy directly related to your research?
    The reasons are many and varied. You can start with the recognition that this blog inhabits, vaguely, the science blogsphere, not the political one. I'm interested in communicating drug abuse science topics, to the extent I talk about actual science as opposed to careerism.
    Why is this so hard to understand? Do you go over to Cog Daily and insist that Dave simply must talk about neuropharmacology, neuroanatomy or neurophysiology instead of all that squishy behavior crap? Do you insist that Isis simply must blog about earrings instead of shoes?
    Look, I just gave you all a thread to blather on about policy. even though I wanted to use it to talk about discourse and agenda-advancing, this is a better place then the ones talking about scientific findings. Now that's not good enough? There's a problem unless I chime in on the policy front as well? Obsess much?

  • becca says:

    Well, DM, you see... you are just so articulate and interesting as an individual and scientist that of course we all want your opinion on political and policy matters pertaining to these issues which you are clearly well informed on. Inquiring minds!
    Srsly, you obviously *don't* find policy "uninteresting"; you just don't seem to be willing to take a stand on policy on this blog.
    Mind, it's occurred to me at least that it might be career suicide to be seen as a NIDA-funded pro-drug-legalization hippie, I don't know (I'd actually be rather curious about your views on potential career-impacts of blogging certain political views, for that matter). Or you might have other perfectly valid justifications for keeping mum about this. But I don't think they truly include "oh policy is so BORING".
    Anyway. You know what the problem is with this thread? Not enough crazy. Alas.

  • Isabel says:

    "Not entirely sure what you are on about Isabel but my issue of primary concern is dependence. It happens, and to a clinically diagnosable degree. More prosaically, people want to stop or cut back because they are not happy with their current state....and find that they are unable to quit.
    Are you disputing this?"
    Of course not. And this issue is dealt with in depth in all three of the large studies I keep referring back to, such as that done by the Shafer Commission.
    It is you, not me, who keeps connecting your research interests to the issue of legalization. You seem to feel that it is relevant, and should be considered. Why?
    My point is the issue has already been evaluated. Do you disagree with the Shafer Commission's report and recommendations? Do you feel that they are somehow inadequate, that you have new information that would change their recommendations? The commission found in fact that there was no justification on any grounds for the illegal status of the plant. As has every governmental commission that has historically looked at the drug. The continued prohibition is entirely political; it is not a health issue.
    Even the small percentage of users who do become psychologically dependent by and large (according to the above reports) do their jobs adequately, support their families, raise their children, and do not run up large medical bills or commit crimes, or cause traffic accidents.
    The other distinction that seems to go right over everyone's head is between the above reports and recommendations and the "pure ideology" of libertarian type "drug" (meaning ALL drugs) legalization advocates. These are two separate issues. Even Richard Nixon's hand-picked cronies were forced to admit, once they had reviewed all the evidence, that the criminalization of cannabis use is completely unjustified according to the current, accepted "ideologies." In other words, cannabis is being unfairly held to a different standard than other drugs, to an even higher standard than many popular foods.
    I hope that helps.
    And my Twilight Zone analogy was not quite right - a better analogy would be the movie Groundhog Day. Can you blame me for losing patience with people intent on continually forgetting the progress we've already made?

  • Isabel says:

    "Isabel, you came across a bit harshly in your response to my post. Did you see the rest of it? I'd love for pot to be legal to grow and use.
    I referred back to DM's "downsides" because there's no doubt that some unintended consequences will result from legalization."
    Um, okay. Sorry I hurt your feelings. But next time you come up with a comparison, try something a little closer as far as the harmful effects go. If that's even possible. Offhand, I can't even think of another drug with cannabis' safety record, can you? However, it's not my area of expertise. Anyone?

  • Pete Guither says:

    Sorry, DM, I was out of town this past week, and missed this post. I think Alex did a fine job in my absence. I tend to agree with him about 90% of the time.
    And yes, oddly, those who favor legalization don't agree on everything. What we do agree on is that prohibition is a disaster that causes violence, death, destruction and pain, and that it has to be ended. We also agree that prohibition is not an effective or appropriate tool for dealing with drug abuse.
    It baffles us that people are willing to accept all the destruction of prohibition (with no evidence of it having any actual effectiveness in its stated purposes) in order to avoid an unprovable assumption that there will be some increase in voluntarily assumed drug dependence, despite taking the regulation and control of drugs out from the hands of criminals.
    And that assumption is clearly unprovable as long as prohibition advocates (and defenders) are so uninterested in evidence that they to fight to stop the possibility of a laboratory as envisioned by Justice Brandeis.

  • Isabel says:

    Pete,
    The Indian Hemp Commission and the LaGuardia Commission both took a broad scale look at Cannabis use (the topic of this thread) while it was legal and very shortly after prohibition began respectively. Isn't this useful data? They looked at personal and societal effects over wide areas and found no significant problems related to Cannabis.
    Talk about being uninterested in evidence....

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Maybe you could summarize that and point to specific points Isabel instead of your ranting cut/paste jobs. Consistent with the topics that I discuss that you apparently don't accept, feel free to focus on the issue of dependence in those studies. That being one of the major health issues with cannabis and essentially the only topic of discussion of harm around here, of course.
    What was the protocol for assessing "personal" harms?

  • Isabel says:

    I responded on the New NIDA Blog for Teens: Go Fight Over at The Intersection thread but I will say here I have summarized the reports repeatedly.
    If you are referring to the comments you pulled when you say cut and paste - I spent hours finding all the most relevant parts of all three reports - I didn't just lazily cut and paste entire sections. Why does it have to be in my own words?
    Are you saying you can't be bothered to read them??? How am I supposed to know which parts specifically you are objecting to? There are many references in all three major reports to dependent individuals. Read them!
    And I briefly summarized the conclusions of the reports which was, once again
    Even the small percentage of users who do become psychologically dependent by and large (according to the above reports) do their jobs adequately, support their families, raise their children, and do not run up large medical bills or commit crimes, or cause traffic accidents.
    So how does your research interest relate to the prohibition issue?
    I suspect we will never get an answer to this.

  • Isabel says:

    I was also the only person on this entire thread to offer any real insight into the conflicts within the pro-legalisation groups that you alluded to in your post, namely that two distinct issues have been conflated:
    The other distinction that seems to go right over everyone's head is between the above reports and recommendations and the "pure ideology" of libertarian type "drug" (meaning ALL drugs) legalization advocates. These are two separate issues. Even Richard Nixon's hand-picked cronies were forced to admit, once they had reviewed all the evidence, that the criminalization of cannabis use is completely unjustified according to the current, accepted "ideologies." In other words, cannabis is being unfairly held to a different standard than other drugs, to an even higher standard than many popular foods.

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