"Is it the pot that made him lazy DM?"

"What we need are one-handed scientists!" - Sen Edmund Muskie

The title is a question that is most frequently asked by a parent or close relative of an individual (typically male) who is in the early adult years. Said parent is clearly distressed by the career choices made/not made by their son, grandson or nephew who (they have finally acknowledged to themselves) smokes a lot of dope. Has for years and shows no signs of quitting.
The pot smoker has, of course, turned out to be a disappointment to their relatives in one way or another, typically vocationally. And they ask me, almost pleadingly, frequently with a tinge of self-flagellation, to confirm their suspicion that the pot smoking is at the root of junior's lack of gumption.
I have to tell them that nobody can satisfactorily answer this question for them. Not me, not science. Not with any confidence of certainty, anyway.


The most insurmountable problem, I explain, is the inability to escape non-random assignment of conditions. Plenty of so-called disappointing career choices out there, right? Cases in which the parents have a certain expectation-- be that finishing high school, college, advanced degree or taking a white-collar career arc versus a life of wage labor. Cases in which siblings diverge significantly. This occurs through a host of influences and no-doubt genetic luck, even between sibling pairs. One kid is just the screw up.
And it is not inevitably the case that the alleged screw-up kid is smoking weed. It is also frequently enough the case that the supposedly successful kid(s) in the family are smoking a fair bit of weed themselves, abuse alcohol or whatnot. So no, my dear friend/relative/neighbor/acquaintance, I cannot tell you with any certainty for one particular kid whether or not a specific drug use pattern has "caused" him to disappoint you*.
Statistically, with large samples of people, we might stand to make some general-principle headway. We can look at large numbers of people and say, yes, by your desired measure of "success/failure" the losers smoke more weed than the good upstanding success stories. But that just brings up the next problem...
Familiar to the correlation-is-not-causation triumphalists, we must next address the problem that if one condition/factor/trait tends to consistently cause multiple other conditions/factors/traits to obtain then these secondary caused traits will be correlated with each other.
Suppose, for example, a person exists with an amotivational personality**, whatever that may be. Easy enough to consider that people may just come endowed with different levels of career-related gumption by the time they reach early teens when academic/careerist and drug using traits start to emerge. This will influence all sorts of decisions. Which peer groups they affiliate with, the degree to which they see optional recreational pursuits as conflicting with other goals and simple time-budgeting. So when you see the kid in late teens who has barely escaped high school, won't go to college and also happens to smoke pot, well, it may not be the pot causing loserdom. It may be the amotivational trait established in early development that causes both the vocational slackage and the pot smoking.
For a given individual it is absolutely impossible to sort out these relationships with any confidence (I say).
At this point, we turn to another phenotype of my taxpaying boss. Typically older, usually a Boomer who has anecdotes a-plenty about the people they've known in their lives who smoke a lot of pot. And they absolutely insist that the pot made these folks not just amotivational but out-and-out stupid. I have sympathy for the position. I really do. It is VERY difficult to look at the acute effects of cannabis smoking and the overall phenotype of the dope fans one has known in one's life and not come to this conclusion. Consequently I have much less success convincing these people of the notion that their college buddy Bob, still smokin' every day at age 57, might have been a loser regardless. Nevertheless, he might have been.
Of course, once I've done this song and dance it is fair to end with the observation that yes, it may very well be the case that chronic cannabis smoking contributed to junior's lack of gumption, motivation, ambition and success. Despite certain Readers who wish to constantly refer to ancient, essentially anecdotal datasets you can refer to the current modern-science, peer-reviewed literature and put together a story that cannabis smoking itself is likely to have detrimental effects on career success. You can also deploy the caveats I've been discussing, bear down on methods on a paper-by-paper basis, and insist that there is no demonstrated effect. At end, however, no matter your reading of the literature you have to admit that we still cannot make any sure conclusions about a specific individual.
It's fun to talk about how science works, but this is one area where I think I really, really frustrate these poor parents who are desperately seeking answers, even ones that indict themselves, to the question of why their kid is not more successful. They thank me for talking about it....but I am not really convinced that I've helped that much.
__
*A big problem here lies with the disappointed individual, of course. Frequently enough there is a fair argument to be made that their disappointment in their kid is unjustified. Expressions of upper-middle-class privilege (desire not to see their kid working manual labor for low wages), arbitrary taste distinctions (struggling garage bands and low-level theatre is not respectable) and even rarified snobbery (a PhD is simply not as good as high $$ MD or JD career) are not things that I necessarily credit as legitimate beefs with the kid's decisions.
**In most cases I try stay away from the more-serious examples, e.g., the fact that affective disorders may be the cause. Anxieties and depressive conditions are frequently associated with drug use, the term "self-medication" is a bit misleading but popular and captures the essence. Unsurprisingly, these disorders can also be associated with lower-than-expected career success. It is a bit difficult to say "Hey, have you considered that your kid might have been depressed at age 11?". I prefer to know the person pretty well before I'll get into that can of worms.

64 responses so far

  • Don in Rochester MN says:

    This sounds remarkably like the discussions I used to get in with Dad, except the question there was "Does pot smoking lead to hard(er) drugs?" We went round and round on that one . . . and it would be interesting to hear your take on that question, too. I suspect the answers would be similar . . . .

  • Stephen says:

    "And they absolutely insist that the pot made these folks not just [lazy] but out-and-out stupid."
    If they only realized that their boss, their lawyer, and maybe even their doctor---all upstanding, contributing members of society---smoke pot every day ...
    When all you know of pot smokers is Jeff Spicoli, you get a skewed view of the reality about this.

  • Beaker says:

    As with all drugs, dose and setting matter. Take alcohol for example. Having a couple of beers in the evening after work probably not effect lifestyle, productivity at work, career choice, etc. Being a wino obviously does.
    Likewise, have a one-hit toke in the evening a couple of times a week will probably not affect one's career progress (unless there is a piss test at work). By contrast, getting up and doing Olympic bong hits before breakfast and then spending much of the day hanging out with the other stoners listening to Pink Floyd and then trying to score more or better weed will certainly eat into the time spent doing things like studying for exams, looking for a job, etc. Most of the "anti-motivational syndrome" people I know fall into the second category.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Beaker, I tend to find that the people asking me this are not that familiar with just how *much* or *often* the person of concern is smoking, but you have a good point. Quantity can sometimes refine the discussion...

  • inverse_agonist says:

    The following Bill Hicks quote is relevant:
    "They lie about marijuana. Tell you pot-smoking makes you unmotivated. Lie! When you're high, you can do everything you normally do, just as well. You just realize that it's not worth the fucking effort. There is a difference."
    The weed has just brought enlightenment to the "lazy" people. At the end of the day, sitting around getting high is less destructive to the planet than working as hard as you can to get a big house with a big garage to put your big car in, so you have a place to put it when you're not going shopping or wasting gas in a traffic jam. I'm serious. Bertrand Russell was serious when he wrote "In Praise of Idleness":
    http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html
    The overwhelming majority of work we force people to do really does not need to get done. Spending more than half your waking hours to enrich someone else strikes me as an unwise way to spend the only life on Earth you'll ever have. The person who'd like to spend that time getting high, minding their own business, and enjoying themselves is not the one that needs to rethink their priorities.

  • Duuuuuude, why you gotta be harshin' my buuuz???

  • Stig says:

    Maybe the anecdotal friends of friends, you mention, were actually that stupid to begin with and were exposed as such, only after inhaling, LoL. Seriously however, when I was attending university, I was fortunate to hang with some of the more talented and academically successful students at the school, and when it came to quality of smoke, they tended always to have access to the most brain blistering dubbage available.
    These fiends were not the party animals we see portrayed in popular movies however, but dedicated, involved and highly motivation grad students, who's penchant for the herb and lots of it, made me wonder what the heck I was doing wrong, as they not only scored incredible pot, but also top ten percent grade averages.
    Perhaps a correlation exists, where environment and motivation determine the outcome of the drug's psychoactive potential. Hmmm, I think I will smoke this one ou... I mean investigate, yeah investigate a little further.

  • Isabel says:

    "ancient, essentially anecdotal datasets you can refer to the current modern-science, peer-reviewed literature and put together a story that cannabis smoking itself is likely to have detrimental effects on career success."
    Fuckhead.
    Ancient?? They didn't understand modern science in 1972? Anecdotal?
    You are such an ignorant, pig-headed asshole for not seeing the value of those large studies, studies that would be impossible to conduct today in our brainwashed, hyper-controlling post-prohibition climate.
    You are also amazingly, unashamedly undereducated in an area you claim to have enough expertise in to blog about. You're not an upper-middle class white male are you?:) I mean who else gets away with this shit?
    Said person's son/nephew was likely self-medicating depression or just 'different', or some combination.
    Cannabis can be very stimulating to the mind, and is popular with many artists and scientists. It was extremely popular with the creators of America's most unique and important contribution to the arts: jazz. Hey even Carl Sagan, mentioned a lot around here lately, was a big proponent. It's main connection to underemployment is it has often been viewed as a comfort to workers with difficult, monotonous lives.
    Stop being such a dweeb.
    Cannabis prohibition is the keystone of the repressive, racist drug wars. It is through the modern, post-Nixon prohibition mania that we lost our privacy and civil liberties. People who think it all started with GWB after 9/11 were not paying attention. This is why it is so popular with law enforcement, despite it's total lack of results. Well you're in good company DM. All five gubernatorial candidates in CA are anti-legalization. Examples of their intelligent analyses of the proposal:
    Attorney General Jerry Brown: "If the whole society starts getting stoned, we're going to be even less competitive. And we're going to have more broken families and more angry husbands and wives."
    Former Rep. Tom Campbell: "The principal (Mexican) distributors of marijuana are also dominant forces in meth. If you legalize the one, you run the risk of creating a distribution mechanism for the other."
    ?????????????????????????? And exactly how would that occur? How would the meth tag along with the legal distribution channels? Shouldn't he logically come to the opposite conclusion??
    Utter insanity, on every level.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    They didn't understand modern science in 1972?
    I was referring to your favored india hemp commission whatnot from the turn of the previous century as you damn well know. Nevertheless, it is indeed the case that we know one hell of a lot more about what it means to be dependent on drugs, including cannabis, now than we did in 1972. You bet.
    You are also amazingly, unashamedly undereducated in an area you claim to have enough expertise in to blog about.
    there is a significant difference between disagreeing with you on the merits of particular bits of evidence and being "undereducated". Your apparent contention that science in the area of drug use, harm and dependency has not changed since 1972 does, however, suggest a certain undereducation on your part, not just a disagreement on the merits.
    Well you're in good company DM. All five gubernatorial candidates in CA are anti-legalization.
    Please point to where I expressed myself either pro- or anti-legalization?

  • Funky Fresh says:

    Cannabis prohibition is the keystone of the repressive, racist drug wars.

    Wait! I thought there was no racism and that poor white children are discriminated against as much as brown children. Are you saying white kids don't get stoned???

  • Cashmoney says:

    Some of Isabel's best friends are pot smoking lil' brown ones Funkster. Get it straight!

  • Isabel says:

    "your favored india hemp commission"
    favored? prove that! I mentioned three important studies, and suggested you at least, at minimum, read the Shafer report. You misunderstood (I am generously assuming) at the time, so I corrected you, and now I'm stuck with jabs based on your earlier mistake? I already corrected you!
    :particular bits "
    ?????? I think you are the one focused on particular bits....
    "contention that science in the area of drug use, harm and dependency has not changed since 1972 does"
    I did not say this, nor do I believe it.
    "Please point to where I expressed myself either pro- or anti-legalization?"
    By consistently casting aspersions, usually in a vague, seemingly concerned way. Yes, I'll stand by that comparison; you definitely qualify.
    Why is it so hard for you to understand the significance of history, context (when it comes to using or banning a drug) and the potential failings of science?
    These major studies are not tidbits of information, as your references are, and they are no longer possible. It's as if we were studying an animal that only exists now in captivity, and you were refusing to look at major field studies done of their wild relatives in the past, because science has come a long way since then. Those studies would be a crucial part of the picture.
    In other words, I never said I didn't follow current scientific studies - actually I said that I DID, and said this on several occasions. Jeez, DM. I am saying that history, and knowledge of the drug in pre-prohibition times/other societies is crucial. In other words the environment in which the current studies arose. How can you not value this? Here's ONE SMALL example - there is a lot of reference to increased THC content since the 70's - but if you read the India Hemp report it is interesting to see that various grades, from "shake" to higher quality buds up to purified hash have been available for centuries.
    "suggest a certain undereducation on your part"
    and I'm not pontificating on science blogs either.

  • leigh says:

    dear DM,
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
    -leigh

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Isabel, I realize the memory might be impaired for obvious reasons but do try to keep from attributing things to me that I've actually come out against. I think potency is not likely relevant to much, see footnote http://scientopia.org/blogs/drugmonkey/2008/11/the-marijuana-potency-data

  • Funky Fresh says:

    DrugMonkey, you should try to be more responsible with your pontificating. This is, after all SCIENCEBLOGS!
    This is serious stuff here.

  • Prove that!
    * * *
    I already corrected you!

    LOON ALERT!!!!!!

  • Isabel says:

    Actually, DM, that was an illustrative example, not a particular reference to anything you said. But thanks for the link. I did download the pdf and will read it eventually out of curiosity, but just from a glance your skepticism seems warranted and is appreciated. But it's another one of these distracting topics - basically we knew this already. And we know most of the tables and graphs in the report are non-sensical because they blend all the varieties of product, except hash and hash oil, into one statistic. As I think you point out in your criticism. I just hate wasting time on this shit.
    The current posting seems even more pointless; it seems vaguely skeptical, but keeps emphasizing how we "can't know", etc. Nothing important, timely, or new, and coming at a time when legalization is at least being considered, I can't help wondering what your point is.
    Yes I know you've got all the angles covered by caveats, yes we know about all the caveats, and your famous skeptism, but to even say "you can refer to the current modern-science, peer-reviewed literature and put together a story that cannabis smoking itself is likely to have detrimental effects on career success." This may be the one sentence that sticks in a readers mind. Thanks.
    Speaking of which, why are the readers (or commenters at least) on this blog such assholes? Millions of people are currently in jail, have permanent records, have lost their student loan eligibility....all for doing something many of us do all the time. In fucking JAIL! The same people who have been crying crocodile tears for the esteemed Professor Gates for weeks, because someone was rude to him.
    But when millions are thrown in jail, and otherwise had their lives ripped apart, you have no opinion one way or another, even though you have a professional interest in the drug in question...I never said scientific knowledge of dependency hadn't advanced - I don't doubt it; I challenged you to provide evidence that these new studies had shown enough new evidence of danger to seriously challenge the recommendations of the Shafer commission, and you have provided no evidence of any new dangers, as their are none.
    These reports you mock also contain a lot of historical and cross-cultural information, with, of course, a great collection of references (unlike the NIDA sites).
    Well, I've given up on this subject before, and after reading the insanity of all five CA candidates' positions on the subject, I may throw in the towel again.

  • Isabel says:

    "Isabel, I realize the memory might be impaired for obvious reasons"
    asshole
    I have shown no evidence of impaired memory, the only obvious thing here is your harmful, stereotypical cheech and chong joke. hilarious.
    and fuck you too PP, go back to worrying about real issues like Gatesgate and Fucking Republican assholes. Don't worry about how many people were unfairly (according to all the scientific evidence as summarized by a bi-partisan governmental commission appointed for the purpose) jailed during Clintons's tenure. Gee more than his Republican predecessors! how bout that. And don't fret over the statements of the Democratic candidates for governor of CA, that will result in more ruined lives.

  • Matt says:

    Whoa whoa, Isabel. Take it easy. Please try to adhere to a more etiquete filled argumentation. People are here to gather information and valid viewpoints, not agressive attacks and ramblings.
    For all I try I cannot find an either right or left wing skewed attitude by DM in the original post.
    You seem to be on a very specific mission. Please respect other people's opinion, and engage in respectful discussion. This is the only way to find out what is the "truth" (or as close as we can get).

  • JohnV says:

    I think someone needs to mellow out...

  • Cashmoney says:

    Matt, any discussion of pot which does not conclude that it is safer than sea salt is evidence of the vast right wing conspiracy.

  • becca says:

    What if smoking pot isn't correlated with an 'amotivational' personality trait so much as 'low-motivation-for-socially-approved-pursuits' personality trait?
    It'd explain all those kids today that Grumpy Boomers like to rant about, it'd explain a chunk of artists/jazz musicians/no-good-hippie-beatniks... heck, it might even explain some commenters here.
    Most of the pot smokers I've known have been reasonably passionate, albeit more likely than average to be engaged in futile pursuits such as trying to change the world.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Don @#1: Yes, similar problems obtain when discussing gateway-drug hypotheses. The human lit is not convincing to me. Animal models to test this are not common, but there are some things that would be interesting to try...

  • leigh says:

    i took the post as broadly discussing the following:
    we can't prove pot makes you lazy. we also can't prove that pot doesn't make you lazy. all we can prove is a correlation, which never implies causation without further evidence.
    additionally, maybe the amotivational personality of the pot-smoker is pre-existing, and either exacerbated by pot or makes the person more likely to use pot. we can't prove that, either.
    and you know, i'm in general agreement and can't find anything blatantly inflammatory about any of it.
    it doesn't take much to get certain people all worked up about unrelated topics, does it?

  • Mike Olson says:

    I've been stereotyped for different reasons at different times:
    1. Cold, rational, logical,unemotional, anti-theologic:due to an interest in science.
    2. Freakishly, dogmatic, conservative, engaging in magical thinking and having invisible friends: due to an interest in Christianity.
    3. Commie, socialist, pie in the sky dreamer out to over tax others and destroy the system: due to an interest in liberalism adn the democratic party.
    4. A violent, woman beating, rapist, with the potential to sexually abuse children or kill innocents: An interest in and a consumption of pale ales and mocha porters on the weekends.
    5. An unthinking, blind follower of orders who is a racist, a killer, and a hater of diversity: I was enlisted in the military...the irony is I was in Navy medicine, probably one of the least stereotypical areas of the military.
    My point is simple, I'm capable of stereotyping dope smokers, guilty in fact of believing some of the stereotypes here. I'm wrong to do so. I've smoked a little myself. But, stereotypes happen and frequently folks unfamiliar with the individual or the "culture" (of beer drinking or dope smoking or the military) allow themselves to jump to conclusions of a whole group based on their knowledge of a very limited few.

  • jojo says:

    win
    I'm sending this to my psych major friends that insist that all studies ever PROVE that pot is COMPLETELY HARMLESS.

  • DuWayne says:

    I definitely think that it is important to recognize that a great many people who smoke fairly extreme amounts of cannabis are doing so in part, because they are trying to compensate for neurological issues - often undiagnosed (Isabel?). It is quite likely that many of the "losers" that these concerned family members are asking about, are quite likely in that category. There is often an assumption that merely because someone appears to be "normal," they couldn't possibly be dealing with atypical neurochemistry that could be contributing to a lot of the perceived problems.
    I am not trying to say that there aren't heavy tokers who don't have atypical neurochemistry, I am certain there are. But I think it's important to recognize that neurological disorders tend to feed substance abuse and foster an emotional and mental environment that is not conducive to high power (and high stress) career paths. It is very common for people with neurological disorders to follow the path of least resistance, because that is all the stress they can manage - and even at that, they need something to reduce the perception of stress - such as cannabis.

  • Isabel says:

    "try to adhere to a more etiquete"
    okay, as soon as people stop automatically mocking my ideas and DM stops making snarky (and incorrect) references to my ideas in his posts.
    "This is the only way to find out what is the "truth" (or as close as we can get)."
    exactly what "truth" are you trying to get at? These issues have been discussed to death. And I didn't claim DM was 'right' or 'left', but I do think he pointlessly and disingenuously casts aspersions at very inappropriate times, and yes, that enrages me.
    You don't have to have strong opinions about the 'harmfulness' of pot one way or the other to see the logic of my point of view. If there are some crazy Rastafarians or psych majors or others out there saying pot is completely harmless, well so what? Some nutjobs think it causes men to grow breasts. These opinions are easily dispensed with and are not relevant to the legalization issue: you don't need to agree with any crazy positions to come to a scientifically-based conclusion about the legalization side of things.
    All the harms being discussed by DM have been long recognized, and these recognized harms were considered at length in the 1972 recommendation of decriminalization, just as in virtually all other reviews and governmental commissions over the ages. Since ancient times actually, according to DM:). These recommendations were deliberately ignored over subsequent decades causing great harm to millions and loss of personal liberty to all Americans. All for some crazy, unknown, anti-scientific, anti-cannabis-user reasons.
    As a user, I feel implicated in the fact that so many are suffering. And I always have the fear that it could happen to me. Arrested. In jail. Not seeing their kids. Humiliated at work. Your name in the paper=humiliated in the community. Forced into 'therapy' in order to save your job, based on no other evidence of a problem than a drug test. Rejected student loan applications=derailed futures. These are major traumas, even though the official verdict has long been in that the prohibition is not justified by our existing, or any conceivable, standards. Yet DM claims to have no interest or opinion on the subject, which I find bizarre, since he seems concerned about human well-being as well as other social issues. He even sarcastically refers to the "hordes of innocents," well that is actually a pretty apt description. Some subject for sarcasm.

  • Isabel says:

    "all we can prove is a correlation"
    perhaps, in a tiny subset of users, maybe. So what? It hasn't been shown to have a wider effect although DM implies that the modern:) peer-reviewed!!!! literature would support that view and would allow you to "put together a story that cannabis smoking itself is likely to have detrimental effects on career success" - a statement that does not even mention 'heavy' use. He also makes other vague negative implications: "We can look at large numbers of people and say, yes, by your desired measure of "success/failure" the losers smoke more weed than the good upstanding success stories." and later in a response to me conjures up an insulting stereotype of a user, just in case we didn't catch the implication that pot smoker=loser.
    DuWayne, I don't disagree with your interpretation, but where did you get the idea that I use extreme amounts of cannabis? I definitely think I am using to de-stress sometimes but also for inspiration and to help get into a more creative zone etc at other times, and I am a regular, not heavy, user who like many other users, takes frequent breaks for weeks or even months. btw I would not characterize all people who become overwhelmed more often, who are more sensitive than others to everyday stimuli or stress as 'disordered' If you said everyone who is atypical is disordered you would have far more people classified as disordered than typical.

  • DuWayne says:

    I use the word disorder, because that is the clinical term - one that I find rather distasteful. I use it however, for a very good reason. When I say atypical, I am referring to neurochemistry. While everyone's neurochemistry is relatively unique, there is a great deal of general similarity. When I say atypical, I mean people who fall a significant distance outside that general similarity.
    And I include you, because you have made references in the past, to fairly heavy cannabis use. Quitting for weeks and even months at a time doesn't mean a whole lot - cannabis is easy to manage that with, unlike many other substances of addiction. All that does, is make it easy to pretend that one isn't a habitual user. I managed such breaks on a very regular basis - especially after my eldest was born. Doesn't make me any less the extreme user, excepting that my use over the last several months has dwindled to virtually nothing, since I started on my psych meds.
    Note, I am not accusing you of being an addict. But I daresay you are unquestionably a habitual user. Nothing wrong with being a habitual user (or an addict for that matter) - I am the last person who would ever make moral judgments about anyone's drug use. But being a habitual user, coupled with a great many of your various diatribes - some of which directly contradict others, has indicated to me that you are very likely in need of mental help. And again, there is nothing wrong with that either - I'm fucking bipolar, depressed and have severe ADHD. I also embrace those aspects of myself and what they make me - but also recognize that it is important to differentiate the good from the bad and work on dealing with the bad.

  • Galen Evans says:

    @26
    Now i don't know about your Psych Major friends, they may be exaggerating, but most prop pot legalization people i know don't claim pot is "COMPLETELY HARMLESS" but instead that it is far less harmless than alcohol or tobacco or acetaminophen or countless other legalized drugs. and although i think Isabel may be being a bit brash and rude, the comment is valid, given the current socio-economic situation any conversation on marijuana and its effects must talk about the legalization and drug war. between 2002- 2007 over 20 thousand people were convicted for possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana
    The question that you should ask those who ask you if pot makes your friend lazy is "even if it does do you think your friend should go to jail for it?"

  • Elyse says:

    I started smoking pot and doing other drugs on a somewhat regular basis when I was 14. 3 out of 4 of my college years I've smoked pot every day (several times a day). Now, I'm graduating from a top school with a 3.0....
    Had I not been stoned everyday? Probably would have graduated with a 3.3.....oh the horror.
    Honestly, I believe that at the very least half of regular marijuana users are exhibiting a symptom (substance abuse) of an underlying psychological condition. I've battled chronic depression since I was a pre-teen, and this is probably what lead to the lifestyle. Without drugs around, I wouldn't have been any more motivated on account of the depression - I feel like this is probably the case with many habitual users. The pot probably isn't to blame in most cases - mental disorder is.

  • DuWayne says:

    Elyse -
    I would take your comment further in a couple of ways. First, I would suspect that it is far more than half of users. Second, I suspect that you would have been less motivated without the cannabis use, because of the depression. Bottom line, being high made you feel better and probably made it easier to function. While cannabis may not be the ideal medication, it can function to some degree, in place of many anti-depressants. Throw some caffeine into the mix and you are probably going to be doing rather nicely indeed - not ideal, but a hell of a lot better than your baseline.
    All that said, I am personally doing exponentially better with my psych meds.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Had I not been stoned everyday? Probably would have graduated with a 3.3.
    While it is no doubt comforting to believe this, the point is that you just don't know. Could be true. Duwayne could be right that you would have done more poorly. or..you might have done way better without constant doobage.
    My point of the post is that we will never be able to answer this question for an individual case. The subtext is that your anecdotal confidence leads to generalized assertions that are not justified.

  • Mike Olson says:

    When I was in high school I had a GPA of 2.2. When I was in junior college I had a GPA of 2.6. When I went to university I graduated with a GPA of 3.0. Mainly because my senior year I actually attended classes everyday. I was accepted into grad school on the strength of my GRE scores, but dropped out. After joining the Navy and going to their lab school I went back to college. I was earning a 4.0 and in some classes finishing the course with points above the A level due to extra credit. I attribute this to increasing interest as the classes grew more complex and as I became older I had more discipline in note taking, attending class, doing assignments, and I understood that what I learned could potentially save a life...therefore it was imperitive that I understand it well. At the same time as I got older I partied less. I can't attribute that success to fewer intoxicants. I can attribute it to a different attitude towards education and frankly, I believe that methods used by university professors are much different than those used by high school teachers. Teachers tend to rely on the "because I said so method," while profs tend to go with the, "if you want it, here it is come and get it," method.

  • DuWayne says:

    The subtext is that your anecdotal confidence leads to generalized assertions that are not justified.
    Why isn't it justified - especially in the terms she was making her assertion? She actually admits she might have done a little better without the weed. I am the one asserting that it likely made a positive difference. And I stand by my assertion, btw. I accept that I may be wrong and that studies may be developed that would show that. But I have a high degree of confidence that studies which delved into this would show that I am correct.
    While it is certainly not on a par with SSRIs or even my beloved Wellbutrin, it does perform functions similar to those of dopamine reuptake inhibitors (see Dr. Leigh's piece (yay Dr...)). While it is not consistent and has a great many side effects, it is very likely to make it easier for people with certain mood and affective disorders function somewhat better than they would baseline. Note, I am not claiming it would be nearly what pharmaceuticals would likely do for the same individuals. It's not consistent enough and the side effects are prohibitive in themseleves, canceling out some of the benefits. But there is little reason to doubt that it could have a positive effect and a lot of reason to suspect that it would - even if that effect is relatively minor, when compared to - say, Wellbutrin.

  • leigh says:

    i'm not sure the short-lived euphoric effects of THC (which are likely short lived due to fairly undefeatable pharmacokinetics) are really comparable with other mood-stabilizing types of drugs.
    we do know from those ill-fated cannabinoid antagonist weight loss drug trials that blocking cb1 increases likelihood of depression. it does not appear that a partial agonist provides the opposing feel-good effect on any kind of lasting basis. (this might be a temporal release issue of endocannabinoids vs all-over-brain blunt-force application of THC, or the fact that some ec's are more efficaceous. or one of many other possibilities.) you're right, DuWayne, there are far more effective treatments out there with better side effect profiles.

  • DuWayne says:

    I love analogies and my favorites are construction. Your blunt force comment rather sparked this one. I would liken the effects of smoking pot (in my experience) compared to taking my meds to cutting a 2x4. A hammer will get you through a 2x4 (and I have done this when I needed to get several pieces of 2x4 to hold down tarps on a roof in the rain), it's just that a circ saw is a hell of a lot better tool to do the job.
    Quite often pot made it possible for me to function, when I was otherwise unable to. And short lived is relative to how much one smokes, the quality, the strain and whether one also eats some. When it is what you have and you need something, you find ways to make it all work. Throwing lots of caffeine into the mix seemed to be very helpful, for example.

  • Isabel says:

    "I would take your comment further in a couple of ways. First, I would suspect that it is far more than half of users."
    DuWayne - or Leigh or DM - are you willing to say that about people who drink wine or beer nearly every day? It's a drug you know. Let's analyze them and plan a more appropriate pharmaceutical intervention for all those wine and beer enthusiasts. And the hard stuff too, you know the mother fucking shit PP drinks. The kind of regular drug-taking that receives only fawning social approval on science blogs. And yes, let's analyze those who "can't function" w/o caffeine. I think we're falling into the usual trap of elevating cannabis to some special status again.
    "Bottom line, being high made you feel better and probably made it easier to function"
    This is a common reason for cannabis use amongst working classes in the historical studies of use of the drug, so how do you separate out personal 'disorders' from a depressing lot in life or an alienating societal structure? And I agree with Mike, I was incredibly bored in high school, which undoubtedly influenced my use at that time. One thing not often discussed is how mentally stimulating cannabis can be. And yes, socially enlightening in the sense of facilitating one's powers of insight, one of the reasons the hippies loved it and Nixon hated it so much.
    "better side effect profiles"
    cannabis has few side effects for me, and many positive ones besides euphoria, and it's incredibly easy to control dosage. I'm content and productive without it or anything else most of the day, so why should I go on a drug full time? Would you say this to someone who has a couple of drinks every night, or drinks coffee throughout the day?
    "constant doobage"
    again with the demeaning, insulting terminology

  • DuWayne says:

    DuWayne - or Leigh or DM - are you willing to say that about people who drink wine or beer nearly every day?
    Absolutely.
    This is a common reason for cannabis use amongst working classes in the historical studies of use of the drug, so how do you separate out personal 'disorders' from a depressing lot in life or an alienating societal structure?
    The important question would be, why would you separate that out? The affect is the same and so are the solutions, so why exactly do we want to make that distinction? There are plenty of reasons not to and few reasons to try. And ultimately, depression, whether situational or pathological is a fine distinction anyways. In the field of psychology, there is a growing theory that many, if not most neurological issues are a matter of heredity and environment. Depression is tricky because it is something that can happen to people who probably don't have a propensity for it, but people who live with it in the long term are generally people who do. And before you go off more about lot in life issues, there are plenty of brutally impoverished people, who manage to find a great deal of joy in life.
    cannabis has few side effects for me, and many positive ones besides euphoria, and it's incredibly easy to control dosage. I'm content and productive without it or anything else most of the day, so why should I go on a drug full time?
    I am not personally keen on suggesting that you should. I tend to think that you would probably be quite surprised at the results of going on something else, but I am certainly not moralizing your choice to smoke weed instead. For fuck sakes, I did it for a much greater portion of my life than I did. And I was convinced for quite a lot of that time, that pot was a better way to go. But since going on psych meds, I am finding that I am far more productive and generally far more content. I also tend to have far fewer and far less pronounced cycles.
    Would you say this to someone who has a couple of drinks every night, or drinks coffee throughout the day?
    Yes and sometimes. Coffee is a trickier one, because there are a lot of people who simply do it because everyone else around them does and rarely consider it's effects on them. Too, when one is drinking weak shit coffee, it really doesn't have much of an effect on most people - especially when they drink it a lot. But the alcohol, most definitely.
    "constant doobage"
    again with the demeaning, insulting terminology

    What the fuck makes that statement at all demeaning? It's a little after my time, but I have worked with a lot of kids who make similar statements about their own propensity for toking.

  • Isabel says:

    Well I'm glad you agree. CPP should be on meds also! Listen maybe you're right, but I don't think I'll be rushing to be medicated anytime soon. Since I am persuing science I'm pretty happy, and certainly don't feel hopeless, or have other signs of serious depression. I think you may have taken me a little too seriously in the past.
    >What the fuck makes that statement at all demeaning? It's a little after my time, but I have worked with a lot of kids
    that's my point, all users of cannabis are not kids, nor are we wasted, stoned "potheads" - far from it. We don't refer to all wine drinkers, even regular, enthusiastic ones, as "winos" or refer to their actions as "sucking one down" or whatever or use any cute phrases to descibe their use to THEM especially if we ourselves are not users. And I'm sure if we did those drinkers would bristle as I did. If the city council makes a dumb decision we don't reflexively ask with a wink "what were they drinking?" The drug war has been such a horrible episode of injustice in this country, it's hard to fathom sometimes. But even headlines about legalization or prohibition often contain this "cute" belittling cheech and chong style of humor. It's both ignorant and offensive.
    Incredibly the actual effects are barely known in fact except when overused by teenagers (and even then it's simplified in a demeaning way) - I saw an episode of The Closer the other night, where Kyra Sedgewick's niece was staying with her and made some pot brownies on the sly, which KS found and innocently ate of course. Her portrayal of the effects was ridiculous. She not only slurred her speech and seemed unaware of how strange her actions were when her husband came home (instead of hyperaware as would more likely be the case) but when she got the munchies she ended up with the orange powder from the cheese? (those bright colored crunchy things - cheetos I guess) she was stuffing into her mouth all over her face.

  • luke says:

    DrugMonkey: " I never said I am against legalization"
    Typical passive-aggressive answer without realizing that almost every post on drugs points to the damaging effects of illegal recreational drugs without similarly addressing the ill effects of prohibition of drugs.
    Loser potheads: arguably the last three U.S. Presidents and Swimmer Extraordinaire Michael Phelps just to name a few recent examples.
    @DuWayne: lets forget for a moment whether some pot smokers would be better off on psych meds. Do you think pot should be legalized?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Typical passive-aggressive answer without realizing that almost every post on drugs points to the damaging effects of illegal recreational drugs without similarly addressing the ill effects of prohibition of drugs.
    I eagerly await comments posted by "luke", "isabel" and company on the many, many pro-legalization, pro-use and harm-reduction websites (some of which are, gasp, on the sidebar) which direct the opposite complaint. Why do those sites not accompany each screed on the harms of prohibition with a diatribe about the clearly established health considerations?

  • PTHTHTTPTPTPTPTPTPPPPP!!!!!! That's fucking vodka, man!

  • Isabel says:

    Dm, I haven't spent time on the internet pro-pot sites since my days on alt.cannabis usenet discussions (mid 90's), but you are being disingenuous again. I have pointed out the harms myself, modest as they are in the vast majority of cases and to society as a whole, and the references I have cited in discussions here (the ones you erroneously refer to as anecdotal and ancient) are quite open about the health considerations.
    You also seem to still be missing the point that these harms have not changed significantly over the centuries, and have been deemed to not justify prohibition. So you need (fuck you in advance CPP) to justify your position that the two subjects are related if you want to be taken seriously by people with a wider, more rational and humane outlook.
    An example of the horrors of prohibition and my ealier comment "But even headlines about legalization or prohibition often contain this "cute" belittling cheech and chong style of humor." just today:
    SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Investigators said Tuesday they believe marijuana growers with possible ties to Mexican drug cartels caused an 88,650-acre wildfire in northern Santa Barbara County, and there are many more pot farms hidden in remote areas around the nation.
    "No pun intended, it's a growing problem," U.S. Forest Service Special Agent Russ Arthur said.
    Hilarious isn't it?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    you are being disingenuous again. I have pointed out the harms myself, modest as they are in the vast majority of cases and to society as a whole, and the references I have cited in discussions here (the ones you erroneously refer to as anecdotal and ancient) are quite open about the health considerations.
    Sure you do. By way of dismissal just as you do around here, no doubt. Your position is not well informed by current literature so I doubt it is anywhere else either. Consequently, any balance you might provide is just as deficient as you seem to think my comments are when it comes to issues you are obsessed with.
    Your India Hemp study you refer to was from 1893 and depended on surveying the *opinion* of "witnesses" making my characterization of this as ancient and anecdotal entirely correct.
    Your reference to studies no more recent than the early 1970s is, scientifically if not colloquially ancient. So I'll stick by that. My reading of your various cited commission reports (and a passing familiarity with the peer reviewed research literature) is that we have advanced in firmly identifiable data in the passing interval. Whether or not the conclusions that are to be drawn coincide (as you seem to think) those prior ones were not much better than anecdotal reports from "experts". I prefer the randomized sampling and operationalized criteria of modern human research techniques, myself.

  • Isabel says:

    "Your position is not well informed by current literature so I doubt it is anywhere else either"
    Again, this is wrong, I've just gradually lost interest in the new research (unless my interest is piqued by interesting results) because it's the same shit and biased to boot because independent researchers can't access product and we are living in a poisoned, brainwashed environment.
    "Your India Hemp study you refer to was from 1893 and depended on surveying the *opinion* of "witnesses" making my characterization of this as ancient and anecdotal entirely correct."
    Third correction (fuck you again in advance CPP) I was emphasizing the 1972 report, and recommending the Hemp and LaGuardia reports as well. And I'm not going to repeat the reason again. What have you been drinking, asshat? Your memory seems shot.
    "Your reference to studies no more recent than the early 1970s is, scientifically if not colloquially ancient. " This is ridiculous. I can't even comment it is so stupid! Furthermore, I've explained why a hundred times. I also highly recommended the book "Marijuana facts, marijuanna myths" or whatever that hasn't been updated very recently but does summarized and critique the research up to 1999 or so. Again, please tell us about the new discoveries that completely overturn the conclusions of these careful literature reviews. I've asked you this repeatedly, and you have yet to answer.
    "those prior ones were not much better than anecdotal reports from "experts"."
    LIE. This is a completely untrue characterization of the Shafer report. You mean large epidemiological studies of use in the entire country, reviews of the literature and surveys from other countries, cultures, and historical use, supported by original laboratory research....you would seriously sum this up as 'anecdotal'???????
    "I prefer the randomized sampling and operationalized criteria of modern human research techniques, myself. "
    Like the study where all the participants were also nicotine addicts and most dropped out? Or the one where they reminisced about how bad the cravings were? Both with tiny samples? Oh yes, much more scientific. I don't believe you even read the reports I suggested.
    And for the nth time - what does it have to do with prohibition?

  • PalMD says:

    @Isabel

    Again, this is wrong, I've just gradually lost interest in the new research

    I find this ironic.

  • Neill Raper says:

    @Isabel Why would you want DM to discuss the legal status of marijuana? I'm not saying it is not an important issue. It is quite important for me personally as I smoke lots of pot and enjoy it quite enough without officers having to get involved. That being said I think it is great that there is someone out there who is not coming from a particular position except the desire to communicate information which is as accurate as possible about the health effects of marijuana. I as a pothead I like to know as much as possible the health risks of pot, and as a nerd I like to know as much as possible about pretty much everything, and I prefer any source for this information to be lacking a political filter. I want those political guys out there but I don't want to go to the same guy for my politics and my science. I am also rather confused about your reaction to this post in particular. It seems rather mild, although I assume there is much context here that I am not getting.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Neill, Do note that Isabel is far from alone in the general position, albeit the current exemplar and perhaps a bit more personally combative than the mean.
    There are, from what I can tell, a couple of main flavors. Isabel's flavor is that I am being disingenuous- i.e., that my true agenda is indeed a political/policy one. Other popular flavors included the bread-is-buttered-by-vast-right-wing-conspiracy, the scientists-must-must-i-tell-you-consider-social-implications-aiee and iffn-you-not-for-us-you-agin-us.
    Since I have little trouble distinguishing my policy positions from my scientific-understanding positions I don't see where they have a point. Consequently I tend to accuse them of being unable to interpret science through anything but a filter of their political policy perspective.
    Isabel, one very easily addressable place where subsequent conduct of science differs from your sainted Shafer report is the very large section under dependence where it describes failure to get animals to self administer THC. That understanding was overturned in 2000 and 2003 papers from the Goldberg lab. In the same area, we can point to the development of cannabinoid antagonists (remember the site of action of THC wasn't established until about 1990? aha, a development!) and the essentially current research into precipitated withdrawal. As you well know, the pharmacokinetics are such that THC basically masks it's own withdrawal. The neuropharmacology and behavioral pharmacology of THC is really quite fascinating and tremendous leaps forward have occurred in the past two decades.
    So your contention that nothing new has been learned is as wrong as wrong can be. What you really mean is that you mind is made up that pot is perfectly safe, fun, should be legal and you are entirely uninterested in the science because you know that nothing could change your policy position. That's fine.....but don't try to pretend that we have "no new knowledge" since the early 1970s.

  • Neill Raper says:

    DM: In any case thanks for the science. Oh and in case leigh is reading these that was a great post on the pharmacology of marijuana. Granted I geek out over neurons like you would not believe but it was quite well done. And thanks for linking me to it DM. Not all the potheads out there are resistant to reality.

  • leigh says:

    ya know, i had spent entirely too much time putting together a comment on another related post that evening that the Sb overlords took commenting down, and i missed the deadline by about 2 minutes. the comment disappeared into the great unknown. i had briefly (using a loose definition of the word) outlined some of the major discoveries in the research of cannabis since the 1970s. but i'm a little involved in some other writing and some non-science activities lately.
    thank you, Neill!

  • Isabel says:

    "So your contention that nothing new has been learned is as wrong as wrong can be. What you really mean is that you mind is made up that pot is perfectly safe"
    Okay I give up!
    I have repeatedly stated, here on your blog, that
    1. I DO follow research and was active in legalization until about 2000, and since have casually followed the subject, for the same reasons Neil outlines. Again, I have mentioned this time and again, basically every time it is suggested otherwise.
    2. I do not think pot is perfectly safe - I have said this repeatedly also. I have several concerns in fact and try to keep my use minimal (of all drugs in fact)and I am interested in the research, but it is unrelated to my current field, and Ive simply been too busy working my way through school etc to keep up with it and other interests to the same degree.
    3. I already stated that I do not doubt at all that the study of dependence and other issues has advanced (DM, seriously, are you actually reading my comments?)
    4. The point about the three large studies is that they contain important information that cannot be obtained in the laboratory, nor in a paranoid, post-prohibition society where people don't even feel comfortable discussing their use with their own doctors, and where that use has been pathologized in every respect (eg people with no signs of bad effects being coerced into 'treatment' because of a positive drug test, or children being trained that "drugs" are one of the biggest problems facing society, etc.).
    5. I challenged you to outline how these new discoveries are so major that they undermine the conclusions of the three largest commission's reports of the last 100+ years. The whole point is that the harm of the prohibition is worse than the harm of the drug. Can you summarize clearly why you think this conclusion has been overturned? Do you now actually feel the harm of use is worse than the harm of prohibition? Please explain, I find that pretty unbelievable.
    6. The book I recommended (a couple of months ago, and recently, both times on this blog) to those interested was last updated in 1997, not the 70's!
    http://www.amazon.com/Marijuana-Myths-Facts-Scientific-Evidence/dp/0964156849
    I am very weary of repeating myself.
    "perfectly safe, fun, should be legal and you are entirely uninterested in the science because you know that nothing could change your policy position."
    Fun? No that is not how I have described my use. Where did you get that? Maybe from trying to force me into a "flavor" category? Thanks. Another arguing technique common in these parts.
    uninterested in the science? See above, and virtually all my previous comments.
    nothing could change my policy position - absolutely. When something has been used relatively safely by hundreds of millions for centuries, has been the subject of large-scale studies by scientists and policy-makers for 100+ years who have virtually all recommended legalization, is amazingly non-toxic and has never killed anyone, is far less harmful than the other popular legal drugs (and many foods) - of course I disagree with prohibition! Why on earth should we hold this one substance up to completely different standards than everything else?
    Neil, besides the obvious, i.e. the incredible harm to the entire society (and the environment)of prohibition, confirmed recently in a radio interview by none other than former surgeon general Jocelyn Elders, DM has made a lot of snide remarks about the "legaleeze it folks" in his posts, and otherwise indicated that those promoting legalization should reconsider based on the studies he blogs about. I am happy to discuss cannabis research, but not on those terms.

  • Neill Raper says:

    Isabel: Lets get something straight. I am absolutely for the legalization of marijuana for purely recreational reasons. If DM posted a blog entry in which he argued that marijuana should be legalized I would certainly comment on that. But why does every single person who writes about the plant have to write about its legal status. He is simply choosing to leave it off the table. As for the snide comments, I certainly have noted them. But I have noticed snide comments in many of DM's posts and comments. They may be annoying to you and that is fine I guess but it certainly does not amount to taking a side in the legalization debate. And again I just dont't buy that everyone who talks about marijuana, and certainly the science of marijuana, should be obligated to talk about the politics as well.

  • Isabel says:

    I can't continue this anymore it is just too fucking frustrating.
    You say this "He is simply choosing to leave it off the table." and then you admit he IS continually making snide remarks on the subject? How is that leaving it off the table?
    Then you suggest making snide remarks is just DM's style, and defend him because he's not "taking a side" when he makes snide (negative) remarks (or casts aspersions with misleading statements he's made in this post and others Btw) or negative stereotypical jokes.
    True, he's not technically taking a side, and is very quick to remind us of this often. So what? His remarks seems to imply that he has doubts about the wisdom of legalization, though he will not admit it. That is why I say he is being disingenuous.
    Then, after I make clear I'm happy to discuss the subject as long as he isn't doing the above or in any way suggesting his interests are important to the legalization issue unless he makes a pretty dramatic case for it - in fact I'd take it a step further and say if he really feels that way, the ethics of the horribly inhumane and unjust current prohibition would demand that he make that case, rather than make snide remarks. I stated once again that I am happy to have the 'pure scientific' discussion as long as it is removed from the legalization debate, and you admonish me
    "And again I just dont't buy that everyone who talks about marijuana, and certainly the science of marijuana, should be obligated to talk about the politics as well."
    Gee thanks Neil. Thanks for admonishing me by saying what I just said!
    Well, I'm not surprised. I am convinved it is impossible for people to have rational discussions on this topic. It's total Twilight Zone territory. Or Gaslight. That is why I gave up my past involvement - the more you discuss it with people, the more hopeless the situation seems.
    DM may have some issues with religious Rastafarians, but I've never heard any serious legalization advocates say the plant is harmless.
    And promoting studies that are sensationalist and have unconfirmed negative results, can have real consequences for the victims of prohibition,* so should be done with extreme caution. This post has been featured in the top five posts on this page and on the main science blogs page for weeks, and it contains several inflammatory remarks (besides the title) as I have pointed out, and isn't even discussing anything new.
    *For example there was a window of opportunity in England for legalization, (or some related action, I don't quite remember and it's a whole different system over there) when the studies came out linking pot to schizophrenia. Eventually the idea that cannabis causes schizophrenia was debunked, but too late for the policy change, with those fears cited as the reason. Maybe it couldn't have been avoided in that case, but I think caution is the best policy.
    http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/65/11/1269

  • True, he's not technically taking a side, and is very quick to remind us of this often. So what? His remarks seems to imply that he has doubts about the wisdom of legalization, though he will not admit it. That is why I say he is being disingenuous.

    Just because DoucheMonkey makes fun of potheads doesn't mean he thinks they should be thrown in jail. I make fun of you, and I don't think you should be thrown in jail.

  • Isabel says:

    Likewise, CPP.
    But they ARE being thrown in jail. What I don't get, and suspect I never will, is why that fact doesn't seem to bring "potheads" any sympathy. My concern is that the insulting, dismissive language, such as that used by DM, contributes to an atmosphere where the enormity of this crisis can be shrugged off.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Isabel, it has nothing to do with "insulting, dismissive language" and everything to do with whether the privileged that maintain the loudest voice in the public commons feel that this is a personal threat to them. I would submit to you that middle to upper middle class folks who use recreational drugs now and again (or even fairly frequently) simply do not face a statistical risk of being jailed. This, btw, is not unique to drug possession but applies to a whole host of legal infractions.
    In the face of this situation with the perception of personal risk, the fact that I use terms such as "pothead" or "doobage" is a very small contributor indeed.

  • antistokes says:

    cool little post. i was totally sober while getting my undergrad degree, with a gpa of about 2.6. i smoked through most of my doctoral degree (in chemistry), and got a gpa of about 3.4 (and yeah, i did manage to get a postdoc, even in the failing economy). i'd smoke right before the exams, and my gpa went right up. i did about a half ounce per week, which i think is considered heavy usage. the one time i was totally dry, i had to get on antidepressants just to stop with the constant fucking hiding under the laser bench and sobbing...and i'll be honest, the antidepressants didn't work as well as the THC, not by a long shot.
    legalize it, yes, please. i don't want to be a criminal. i just want to do good research.

  • becca says:

    Interesting you say that, DM.
    Reminds me of one of the more interesting debates in the hippie house (hippie house = a vegetarian eco-friendly cooperative I helped start in and lived in during undergrad).
    Basically, we had the following arguments put forth:
    1) Pot smoking in the house should not be allowed because smoke is disruptive to people, but anyplace outdoors should be fair game (this argument came from the moderate smokers)
    2) Pot smoking should be fine anywhere (this argument came from the most hard-core potsmoker)
    3) Pot smoking outdoors might attract the attention of the police and therefore should not be allowed (from an older white man). This argument was countered with "we simply don't face a statistical risk of being jailed"
    4) Pot smoking outdoors in might attract the attention of the police- can we be more discrete? (this from an international student of color). This argument boiled down to "YOU might not face a risk of being jailed, but I might face a risk of being deported, even if I wasn't the one smoking". (the timing of this in relation to post-9/11 paranoia and the patriot act is somewhat relevant)
    From these arguments, we concluded that discretely counting bicycles in the garage was ok.
    Isn't unanimous consensus based democracy interesting?

  • DuWayne says:

    luke -
    Yes. Not just pot either. I am a pretty hardcore advocate of legalizing virtually every illicit drug and treating drug use and substance abuse far more sensibly. I have developed a really strong interest in addiction and addiction treatment and purely from that perspective advocate legalization...Never mind the other compelling reasons to advocate legalization - including, but not limited to increased tax revenues, less money spent on criminal justice and the stupidity of developing a whole criminal class based entirely on their desire to get high or catering to those who want to get high.
    And honestly, I have come to accept that cannabis is fucking magical...

  • Isabel says:

    I'm not sure where you're going with this DM. Is this a derailing tactic? I couldn't follow the gist of your last comment. Do you feel you are not speaking to those with powers of decision-making here so your tone doesn't matter?
    "This, btw, is not unique to drug possession but applies to a whole host of legal infractions."
    I believe the disparate effect on minorities re arrest and imprisonment is much worse overall because of the drug war. Don't have a statistic for that though but some interesting links and stats:
    from http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7698
    "Police arrested a record 872,721 persons for marijuana violations in 2007, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime Report, released today. This is the largest total number of annual arrests for cannabis ever recorded by the FBI. "
    "Of those charged with marijuana violations, approximately 89 percent, 775,138 Americans were charged with possession only. The remaining 97,583 individuals were charged with "sale/manufacture," a category that includes all cultivation offenses, even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use. Nearly three in four of those arrested are under age 30."
    "The total number of marijuana arrests in the U.S. for 2007 far exceeded the total number of arrests in the U.S. for all violent crimes combined, including murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
    Annual marijuana arrests have nearly tripled since the early 1990s."
    race breakdowns here
    Crimes of Indiscretion: Marijuana Arrests in the United States, compiled by Jon Gettman, PhD is a comprehensive study reporting and analyzing national arrest data between 1995 and 2002. available here: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=6411
    a little older stats but interesting perspectives, scroll down for parallels between the Vietnam conflict and the Drug War
    http://www.hr95.org/dw101.htm

  • Isabel says:

    What if they arrested 20 million Americans and no one noticed?
    http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3918/twenty_million_arrests_and_counting/
    "...That’s one American arrested for pot every 38 seconds.
    Yet despite this massive increase in arrests — by contrast, federal statistics indicate that adult marijuana use has remained fairly stable over the past decade — the mass media and Congress continue to ignore the story.
    By doing so, they ignore the plight of millions of Americans who suffer significant sanctions and hardships because of pot-related run-ins with law enforcement. These penalties include probation and mandatory drug testing; loss of employment; loss of child custody; removal from subsidized housing; asset forfeiture; loss of student aid; loss of voting privileges; loss of adoption rights; and loss of certain federal welfare benefits, such as food stamps."
    ...
    "But the financial and social costs tell only part of the story.
    Up to 70 percent of all individuals in drug treatment for pot are placed there by the criminal justice system, according to statistics published by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In other words, these individuals were ordered by a judge (or a drug court) to attend “rehab” in lieu of jail, or as a requirement of their probation. Of those enrolled in treatment, federal statistics indicate that more than one in three had not even used marijuana in the 30 days prior to their admission.
    Yet, disingenuously, the White House argues that these rising admission rates justify the need to continue arresting cannabis users, even though the policy, not the drug, is fueling the surge in drug treatment."

  • Isabel says:

    How did a dead thread just move up to the #1 spot?
    Oh well as long as I'm here - I came across this recently, it's a sort of cliff notes version of the book I've mentioned several times on this thread.
    http://www.drugpolicy.org/marijuana/factsmyths/

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