85 Comments

Not one word about alcohol. What are the chances the author likes to consume alcohol? I'd say pretty darn good.

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Not much point in reading an article arguing for weed prohibition when it doesn't have a single word about alcohol vs. cannabis, which is of course the real issue.

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I think that the case for cannabis legalization and drug law reform can be made without any necessity to resort to whataboutist arguments. Opponents prefer arguing on the merits of comparisons between pot and alcohol to arguing in favor of the Drug War on its merits- which, upon examination, are practically nonexistent.

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It's not the "real" issue. They are two separate issues.

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May 17, 2023·edited May 19, 2023

They are both psychoactive drugs but alcohol has FAR more of a link to VIOLENCE than cannabis does, and excessive alcohol use is FAR more damaging to physical health than excessive cannabis use. How dare people use the more dangerous drug and ORDER their FELLOW CITIZENS not to use an indisputably safer one! And to make it worse, the people giving the orders are the same folks who go on and on and on and on forever about freedom. The only freedom they care about it their goddamn own! Stinking hypocrites without a leg to stand on!

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See "Graham" above.

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May 18, 2023·edited May 18, 2023

came here to say “I’m an alcoholic… that’s it, that’s all I wanted to say.” that attitude is also reflected in the super brief line about how “most people” are not suggesting broader legalization policies for drugs like cocaine. sir…a drug is a drug is a drug is a drug, their physiological effects and addiction rates and addiction outcomes differ, but just because one addictive drug was the choice of the British empire (or more than one- alcohol, caffeine, nicotine) it doesn’t mean other drugs are inherently different in ANY way whatsoever with regard to smart public policy for addictive drugs that maintains a focus on public health and bodily autonomy. I am sympathetic to the idea that marijuana legalization has not been pursued in a nuanced enough way to protect public health and safety, but you lose me completely when your takeaway is “well you know politically it would be hard to do in a better, positive way so instead of this big dumb policy let’s go back to the other one.” marijuana arrests keep people out of work and struggling, and while state prison time might only be slightly more than 1 in 10 (!!!) for drug offenses I think there’s an argument to be made that peoples lives and finances and health (and their faultless children’s) are far more drastically impacted by criminalization than by addiction, which by the way isn’t helped AT ALL by criminalization!!! I’m for highly regulated drug legalization or decrim and I appreciated the link to alternative models, I’ve also considered that it might be best executed through medical care (to where your doctor could “prescribe” a psychedelic or MDMA or a recreational drug in a moderated amount upon request to maintain a usage record for intervention if necessary). consumption limits are not a bad idea. a complete lack of consistency just because that’s what has been done up to this point IS. because our healthcare system is fucked too, and mental healthcare is treated like a joke, over 50% of US counties don’t even have a licensed psychiatrist - so the idea that continuing to criminalize addiction for some substances while allowing people intoxicated on others to spike crime rates, all because we can’t treat and deal with addiction like the public health crisis it is, is maddening. the idea that people don’t care about quality control also drives me crazy, it goes back to your point, people would still be making bathtub gin if safe alternatives weren’t available, and the economic lens is just… “Colorado has had legal weed for 10 whole years and 1/3 still buy illicit” oh shit you mean in one decade the entire nature of buying & selling drugs hasn’t shifted after a century of reliance on illicit networks?? I’m shocked!!! it’s just so goddamn frustrating, I agree with the “more persuasive arguments” that people should be able to do what they want with their bodies and drugs are fun, but I also know with my brain that drugs are addictive and statistically everything that we criminalize from a puritanical mindset becomes completely corrupted and dangerous for people in the absence of regulation. internet porn is addictive, and it can be degrading, and there is exploitation, but the second it becomes criminalized it will be an all out free for all for the people in that world, for consumers, and effecting everyone outside the prison industrial complex negatively. it’s so easy to sit in one life that’s gone one way and go “no no, that’s better, that’s better for all the rest of us” but the continuing pattern is that it’s not, that plenty of men of status and wealth are completely physically addicted to alcohol or cocaine or another drug of choice, they are not exempt from public health crises, they are not exempt from benefiting from the labor of sex workers, they are not exempt from gay sex or other formerly criminalized behavior that is associated with morality instead of physiology, and it’s unfair and gross to act like some things should remain criminalized just because some people can get around that without huge, life altering consequences. it hurts all of us, it really hurts people in recovery because it’s crowded in secrecy… and it’s tiring. rant over ugh I had so much hope for this analysis.

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"you lose me completely when your takeaway is 'well you know politically it would be hard to do in a better, positive way so instead of this big dumb policy let’s go back to the other one.'"

Really. The argument already contained some disputable points, but that was where it completely went off the rails.

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This seems in bad faith.

Myself, I think the marijuana and alcohol are about the same. Soft drugs that aren't good but maybe shouldn't be flat out illegal. Tax and regulate.

It's certainly possible that prohibition might have been a better idea in decades past. It's harder to prohibit things that are already prevalent and have a market, and that has to affect whether you try prohibition. But the cat is out of the bag.

The real problem is that people want to consider pot cool and blame crime on criminalization. It would be better if pot were lower status and everyone admitted that crime had different causes (and possibly that the IQ and inhibition lowering affects of drugs increases crime).

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You can think what you like pal but if you were to look at reality you would see that alcohol causes way more problems than weed. I mean just ask a cop. Fights in bars? Check. Fights at pot parties (or "coffee shops" in Holland)? Nope, not really. For the record I like 'em both. So what?

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A fight in a bar typically only ruins one evening. Like you, many people like 'em both. Do we really need stoned people driving drunk? Isn't being simply drunk bad enough? I've been that terrified passenger with a stoned drunk at the wheel on more than one occasion. I'm grateful and lucky to be here and to have never witnessed other innocent people dying. The only thing worse than a drunk is a stoned drunk.

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So for some reason with someone both stoned & drunk you're okay with drunk. Which is utterly stupid 'cause driving drunk is waaay more dangerous than driving stoned.

But if you routinely ride with drunk drivers you really are quite stupid. I'd rather walk. Actually if someone is gonna drive drunk some pot might be in order since it would probly get them to slow down. Would only work if they were regular pot heads.

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At no point did I claim that I am ok with driving drunk. Period, Jack Stoner.

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If people driving under the influence of cannabis were actually a serious problem worthy of law enforcement concentration, it would have made the headlines decades ago, because millions of people have been doing it regularly for decades. It's only been 'discovered" as a "problem" or "menace" in the aftermath of legalization in some of the states, as if the situation only emerged in the last ten years.

I used to drive a cab in Sacramento, on the night shift for years; I regularly hauled passengers who had driving license suspensions for DUI. I never once had a passenger who had been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana. I've talked to lawyers and police about "marijuana DUI." I used to solicit those observations. In all my conversations, I heard of one case- and it was someone who was pulled over while smoking behind the wheel.

In the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, I attended a couple dozen music concerts in arenas and stadium-sized venues where the majority of the crowd got high before, during, and after the show. I used to stay until the parking lot had cleared out, because if there's one thing a driving professional can't stand, it's being stuck in traffic. In my decades of show-going, I observed a total of one fender-bender in the lot.

If cannabis was as bad as alcohol, the headlines in the aftermath of every one of those shows would have featured multiple collisions and mass carnage on the highways. Or, at minimum, mass arrests for DUI. If cannabis DUI had presented a problem, finding out about it would have required only a glance at the next day's headlines.

The crowd knew this. The cops knew this.

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My argument is not that cannabis is worse than alcohol. My argument is that alcohol can be consumed as a beverage as opposed to a drug. Many people have one or two drinks and then refuse the second or third drink. Sober, no menace to anyone, on the road nor in a bar. Cannabis is always consumed as a drug. The people who claim that they need cannabis to deal with pain would consume it as a drug anyway. The mostly men living on the streets doing opioids are less likely to have started out as alcoholics than to have started out as pot smokers. Cannabis is too often a gateway drug. Alcohol has wreaked enough havoc on society. Why would anyone want to add YET another drug to the mix? There are not too many great "stoners" in history. There are, however, many great happy drunks in history. Winston Churchill, for one.

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As a teenager in the 1970s, I occasionally drove A) drunk, B) stoned, and C) drunk and stoned. C was definitely the worst ... I can't tell which was worse between A and B.

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I agree that the impairment increase from even a small amount of alcohol added to cannabis is significant. I've been known to add a beer or two to a cannabis buzz, but only on occasions when I'm not driving. I'm hesitant to even get on a bicycle if I'm doing that.

But I've had extensive experience and observation of the effects of driving after using cannabis alone, and my conclusions are roughly in lines with those of Andrew Weil, MD over 50 years ago: in the commonly used dosages, cannabis is a catalyst to a mild mind-altering shift that isn't nearly as profound or debilitating as alcohol intoxication, and once people become familiar with the effects, as a rule they're able to perform activities like driving capably. Safely enough that I've never worried about getting in the car with a driver who had been smoking pot...hey, I was a cab driver.

Andrew Weil got it right about weed 50 years ago, in The Natural Mind. There's a reason why sports like snowboarding, halfpipe skateboarding, and surfing have such a long association with weed smokers, even at the elite level. Athletes trained in their skill can do all sorts of fancy gravity defying precision tricks while high out their mind on kine bud. That isn't possible with alcohol. Nobody ever learned how to carve those tracks while drunk. The extreme athletes save the beer for the ski lodge, the backyard, and the beach. At the physical coordination, balance, and athletic performance level, it's no contest: marijuana doesn't impair experienced users, but alcohol follows a very steep increase of impairment with increasing quantity.

This finding has repeatedly shown up in driving simulator tests, incidentally. The researchers keep trying ways to make weed wrong in those studies; these days, studies resort to tactics like force-toking the subjects (including cannabis newbies) for fifteen minutes and shoving them in the simulator ten minutes later- or torturing the data by moving the goalposts of the parameters said to detect impairment- in order to do it. And even then, the experienced stoners refuse to play along.

I'm of the mind that the epidemiological evidence is where the rubber meets the road on this question- there's plenty of data available, and even laypeople with basic math skills (ratios, percentages) can make reasoned and accurate inferences from the numbers without third-order extrapolated meta-analysis, chi-square distributions, or regression plots. Long story short: the smartphone began to add a whole other level of complication to safe driving about 10 years ago, and hopefully the problem will level off and decline. But we've had millions of stoned drivers on the road for around 55 years, and their performance doesn't track differently from the average. There's even some statistical indication that they do better. Even as far as clinical studies, after 40+ years of driving simulator tests, the meta-takeaway is still "the evidence for impairment is inconsistent." A neat choice of words. And not one that's applied to similar studies of alcohol impairment.

( That said, I'm opposed to using per se alcohol levels as sole proof of DUI. I think police cameras and performance tests are more accurate. I heard enough credibly narrated horror stories about overzealous DUI enforcement as a cabdriver in California that I've gotten very skeptical of chemical forensics to determine impairment. Scores of DUI convictions have been overturned and cases dismissed on account of investigations into bad lab work, in some local regions of the US. Peter Lance really booked a case on DUI enforcement abuses in his writings on the topic. http://peterlance.com/wordpress/?p=1214 )

Some skilled skateboarders can handle a bit of alcohol, I suppose. But you'd have to be a hell of a young, eagle-eyed mesomorph- and a practiced drinker- to skate half pipe after drinking a 40 oz. beer. I can't imagine anyone making a regular practice of that.

Mentally, I think a cannabis buzz is about equivalent to a one or two beer high, at most. But I've realized- also through experience- that I don't want a one-beer high when I'm learning a new scholastic skill, or a mental activity like learning a new language or a musical instrument. I want a two-coffee high, at least until I'm able to get a confident grasp of the activity. I want to learn stuff, not be high all the time.

I, too, occasionally drove drunk or drunk and stoned as a teenager in the 1970s. (I'm early 1970s. The HS class of 1973 is on the whole very different from the HS class of 1979, culturally.) It really was a different world...I knew at least one guy who had racked up three DWIs by his senior year in high school. And that's how long it took him to get his first license suspension. His first offense, was, I shit you not, a $50 fine. I think he also got 3 points on his driving record- and, if memory serves, 9 points meant a suspension. He got three DWIs in three years, the last one he wrapped his GTO around a telephone pole. So that was the 70s.

That guy was one of several of my high school classmates to get popped for alcohol DWI. But I never once heard of a single one of my classmates getting into an accident of any kind while driving stoned on pot, much less being pulled over for DWI. That empirical observation also influenced my opinion that marijuana didn't impair good driving the way alcohol does.

Not that I occasionally drove while high on pot, of course. I did it all the time. As did many of my classmates. I've since concluded that getting high on weed all the time at that age was a wrong, bad decision- at minimum, a terrible waste of time, opportunity, and my own resources. But impaired ability to drive safely was never part of the problem.

As for my experiences driving drunk on alcohol: for the grace of G~d, here I am, unscathed and unmarked by guilt. I never got in an accident, and not once was I pulled over by police, not even the time (or two?) when I was so loaded that I had to hold one hand over my eye to stay in my lane. I will give credit to what remained of my good judgement at the time that I had slowed the speed of the car to 15 miles an hour in order to compensate for the delays in my reaction time.

Yes, I was a bust. Even if it was only $50 and 3 points on my record, my parents- whose car it was- would have been scandalized. The weight of a full-scale shonda, only gentile style (more cross-cultural similarity there than is implied by the Yiddishism.) All it would have taken is crossing paths with one patrol car. But I was spared.

As for mixing cannabis with alcohol: if I'm not driving, I can pace a drink every hour while eating and have fun while being happily spaced out on pot. I might do that a couple times a year. Social occasions in the summertime.

But in the days when I drank to get drunk- a practice that predated my pot smoking, and one that I've long since given up- a few tokes of weed, and spin city. The vomitorium, baby. No bueno.

That untoward reaction to adding weed on top of a drunk would probably require only one toke of today's overhyped unsubtle superweed that I don't care for, incidentally. But since I have little use for pseudo-elite ultrahigh THC indoor grown factory weed, and even less use for getting hammered on booze, I don't plan to find out.

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Many bar fights end in death or permanent injury. Many women are killed and raped by violent alcoholics. Cannabis does not have the same link to violence that alcohol does, you're not being fair.

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May 20, 2023·edited May 20, 2023

I've seen my fair share of bar fights ... I don't know where you grew up but in my small Canadian town, no one ever died nor ended up with a permanent injury. I don't doubt that many women have suffered at the hands of a violent drunk (I'm a happy drunk, by the way) but that is no argument for pot, er ... cannabis.

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The alcohol and cannabis comparison is flawed. Alcohol CAN be enjoyed simply as a beverage rather than as a drug (e.g. I have never seen my mother finish her second drink over a 50 year period). Cannabis is ALWAYS enjoyed as a drug even when used medicinally. Full disclosure: I enjoy both of them as drugs.

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You're blowing smoke to try to confuse people. The use of the drug alcohol is so much more likely to lead to catastrophe than cannabis use that there is utterly no comparison.

How many people do you claim cannabis kills in a year? The figure for alcohol has skyrocketed in recent years to well over 100,000 lives a year, many of them innocent victims of murder and drunk driving murder.

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Couldn't agree with you more. Let's treat alcohol like they did during Prohibition and see how it goes. I don't claim any number when it comes to cannabis but I was stoned enough times as a teenager to know that it is every bit as dangerous as alcohol.

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I don't think so. I've certainly seen folks take a coupla puffs & then pass. Not what I usually do to be sure. But back when my liver could handle alcohol I didn't stop at one drink either. I think you're confused by words. We tend to call pot a drug but not alcohol. But that's just word usage. One can drink NA beer if one only wants the beverage experience. Most folks drink the kind with alcohol. 'Cause they want the effect, possibly in a light sort of way, just a little more relaxed etc

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Exactly, which is why my mother purchases no/low alcohol beer in the summertime. I was referring to wine and the hard stuff.

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Lol I don’t think you know what a drug is. If my friend has a beverage containing THC and doesn’t finish it they are still ingesting a drug. Your mom is ingesting a drug even if she’s not getting *twisted* and alcohol is always enjoyed as a drug too bc water and other beverages…exist 🫠

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You clearly don't know what a drug is.

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May 22, 2023·edited May 22, 2023

a drug is defined as “a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.” so advil is a drug as much as heroin as much as viagra as much as alcohol as much as nicotine as much as ketamine. commonly used in contexts like “the war on drugs” to indicate “a substance taken that affects mood or behavior that is taken for its physiological effects (sophoriphic, stimulant, analgesic, etc.)”. alcohol meets this definition, as does mdma, as does heroin, as does oxycodone, as does prozac. thanks for your input 😊 big statement, really glad you didn’t try to back it up.

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Ah, so that's what you're talking about. I thought we were talking about beer and weed.

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The house isn't on fire. Get a grip.

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No one has claimed that the house is on fire. Pot is correctly identified as yet another slippery slope.

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it is telling the author never bothers to attempt to explain *how* re-criminalization would be enforced as a practical matter.

further, this polemic contains some other major fallacies (perhaps by design).

for example: it is conventional wisdom that today's cannabis is much stronger than cannabis of yesterday. this is true -- and what was it that happened in the intervening decades? it was prohibition. it is also conventional wisdom, at least among cannabis experts, that the potency spike was a result of prohibition. thus the author's neat conclusion that prohibition equals weaker product is ill-informed speculative fiction.

further, to claim cannabis's effect on the criminal justice system begins and ends at marijuana arrests is to admit at best a superficial understanding of the criminal justice system. for starters: 1/4 of the prison population is incarcerated for parole violations. a common parole violation is a positive drug test. cannabis is the most readily detected drug. what is cannabis's effect on parole violations? this does not even appear to enter the author's thinking. what's more, he fails to consider (perhaps deliberately) marijuana criminalization as an entry into the criminal justice system. a drug arrest can lead to many downstream negative consequences, including reduced employment opportunities, which in turn can lead to (wait for it) more serious crimes.

as for the rest: I see cherry-picking studies that support his thesis and ignoring the many more that detract from it; I see hoary tropes and I see bias in search of intellectual foundation. at least he didn't trot out the gateway drug fallacy?

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No one is advocating for re-criminalization. Fines and requirements to consume cannabis on private property would suffice.

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May 17, 2023·edited May 17, 2023

You are an expert at setting up straw men and knocking them down. The substitute isnt opiates - its alcohol.

Its not just pain and MS - its also ADHD and Autism. The arrests even if they don’t lead to prison can result in taking away of kids, denial of student loans, and losing of jobs.

I am ASD and ADHD. I am 40. Time and time again, when I quit THC/CBD, my life gets worse. My job performance actually suffers. I gain weight. I drink more alcohol.

You would vote to keep me away from it. It is hard for me to accept people like you.

I did quit again last year because my source was also dealing fentanyl.

Result? My life is objectively worse.

I can vape THC/CBD and it affects me very differently. Stimulants calm me down - I can drink coffee and go to sleep.

If I went to a doctor, theyd give me amphetamines or Xanax. Compared to those, pot is like water.

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Here because the times columnist cited you in his pitiful op-ed "Legalizing Marijuana is a Big Mistake". As was already mentioned in the comments, arguing about the "costs of marijuana use" without comparing them to the costs of perfectly legal alternatives such as alcohol is misleading at best. For instance, alcohol is the fourth leading preventable cause of death, killing an estimated 140,000 people annually. Marijuana, on the other hand, is linked to about 350.

Further, trying to draw a connection between an increase in opioid related deaths and legalized marijuana is tenuous at best. It could just as easily be argued that the increase in opioid mortality is linked to the concurrent proliferation of Fentanyl in the American drug market as well as the fact that "street" dealers, due to a reduction of marijuana related profits, are pushing their harder products more, cutting it to boost profits, etc.

As for arrests generally increasing, it's also quite possible that law enforcement, not pre-occupied with marijuana related offenses (which tend to be attention grabbing due to the smell and possible indiscretion of marijuana users when buying off the street), are actually able to focus on more pressing issues.

However, I think my biggest qualm here is your dismissing something being recreationally enjoyable as a viable reason for legalization. Why is alcohol legal? Why are cigarettes legal? Its arguable that they cause far more harm than good, and cigarettes especially tax the American health care system extensively. These, however, are available primarily because people enjoy them (and of course, because there is profit to be made). Personally, I don't even believe that a reduction in arrests or opioid deaths is necessary in the argument for legalization. Instead, given that a large portion of the population enjoys it, and the overall costs are minimal and tend to be related to personal issues (self-degradation or potentially some mental health issues) as opposed to societal issues, I see any reasoning beyond it being popularly enjoyed as extremely superfluous.

If you don't want to smoke, then don't smoke. If you don't want your kids to smoke, well, even legal marijuana isn't available to minors. However, stop trying to hide behind useless, unrelated statistics and instead look at the fact that that cannabis prohibition in and of itself only came into being in 1937 and, generally speaking, is a very recent thing considering the history of cannabis use stretching back to ancient civilization. Is marijuana legalization really the hill to die on when people are being gunned down by legal firearms on a regular basis?

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If you can use killer alcohol, I can use far safer weed. Period. The damage done by alcohol supremacist thug bigotry over the last 100+ years is infinite and much of it is irreparable. Lives destroyed and blighted by this POS law.

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Reductionist and paints an outdated, fragmented, and thus incomplete picture, all the while vacillating between passive language and a sort of pseudo-intellectual, authoritative "I..." statements.

Never a mention of ethanol, which would seem to check the exact same checkboxes that this author says merit criminalization. Inconsistency and blatant dishonesty(lie by omission) sticks out to any honest reader, instantly negating any authority might have been established.

Bulk of article is just boilerplate filler. With the exception of providing data charts, the author has put forward zero original thought, nor brought anything new to the table. Outdated: Not a peep about the Hemp(thca) Industry, 2018 Farm Bill, or other recent developments. Boilerplate: Never attempted to tie multiple ideas together(easiest way to have an original thought) that didnt already come prepackaged that way.

Not sure what the point of the libertarian rant was about. The "look where I was intellectually and see how much I've grown"-story betrays the genuine, underlying heart of, "look and see how smart I am." So you essentially went from having conservative values but not wanting to force others to confrom.....to having those same conservative values and now feeling a need to force others to conform.

Tl;dr: Your introspection is miles wide, yet barely skin deep.

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Somebody definitely did & that's who I was responding too.

Ah, the slippery slope argument. You do realize that to make that work you have to explain why this particular slope is slippery, don't you? There's plenty of slopes I've managed to climb. Both literally & figuratively. And I stayed on top as long as I wanted to. No slipping.

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No one has the liberty to use weed (smoked or otherwise) and no one has the liberty to use alcohol? Why not and who decides? What about the solemn pledge of liberty and justice to all? What else do you claim the right to ban cause you don't like it?

Guns are cool, though?

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True, you said that you had on more than one occasion ridden in a car driven by a drunk person. In response I said you were stupid. Which I still believe. Whether I'm stoned or not.

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Not much commentary on what I believed was utter nonsense: That tax revenue from legal pot sales were going to be a game changer for state government. Any poll in NJ would find a major public concern is out of control property taxes and local government budgets. Yet Gov Murphy hasn't even suggested this supposed windfall of revenue as a cure for these issues.

Additionally, as a heavy user for 2 decades I can certainly attest to the the drugs inhibition of productivity and creator of other social ills.

Yes, alcohol creates similar, if not worse, affects. I agree 100%. But does that mean we should just throw the baby out with the bath water?

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california nets more than $1 billion per year from cannabis taxes, more than double cigarette and alcohol taxes combined. it is not funding the pentagon by itself by any means but any argument that tax revenue is insignificant is deeply unserious.

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The baby in your analogy is the people who prefer weed to booze and we've been wantonly throwing them out with the bathwater for many generations, needlessly and most bitterly dividing and weakening ourselves in the process

Alcohol is a major killer of Americans and cannabis is no such thing. You really need to focus on the science of alcohol vs. cannabis and stop trying to rip rights away from your fellow citizens..

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No one has the "right" to smoke pot nor to drink alcohol.

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One other way that drugs and crime relate is that illegal drug markets are a massive funding source for criminal groups. The estimates I saw were billions of dollars in illegal revenue in California alone. Other evils like prison gangs are also amplified by drug revenues. Even if making marijuana legal doesn't keep people out of jail directly, perhaps it defunds crime?

It's also possible that, at least with recent legalization, we are in this awkward middle where the legal supply system is still too crippled to compete the drug gangs out of business. Or perhaps fentanyl and the other harder drugs are a larger source of revenue anyway. I don't know for sure.

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We're in this awkward middle where prohib states are providing a market for weed being grown illegally in free states. Excessive taxes and regulation play into the hands of the black market as well, California has been a prime example of that.

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i don’t think that’s necessarily accurate. i agree that differing legalization status by state is allowing criminal groups to still find a market, but if 2/3 of colorado citizens are buying legal in just 9-10 years that’s promising. this cited i think 1/3 of respondents in a study saying they’d buy whatever’s cheapest, but that doesn’t account for convenience and availability. people believe themselves to be frugal and we generally are, but that doesn’t always translate the way we say it’s going to- ie you’ll get what’s cheapest until your dealer isn’t answering, or until you’re on your way to a friends house and just wanna stop real quick even though it’s maybe 10% more. i live in CA and i disagree that regulatory costs have driven up price so significantly that it props up illicit, you can get legal weed plenty cheap and know the THC content is high, i really think it’s more of an issue failing to crack down on illicit production and protecting the legal market.

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One problem is that the market demand remains so high in the states with criminalization that the legal states like CA and CO (and the Feds) are faced with the challenge- and expense- of sorting out the unlicensed growing operations and busting them. That was never even an effective mission in the days when the states had criminalization statutes. Now they're being tasked to continue massive enforcement efforts in order to curb supplies for other US states that won't face the reality of their own demand.

I support the effort to shut down large-scale bootleg growing operations, the same way I support shutting down moonshine liquor operations. (Large indoor operations especially rub me the wrong way. Including the legal ones.) But as long as cannabis remains Federally illegal and interstate transport is outlawed, the illicit suppliers are going to find marked advantages cultivating their sources of supply from within the US rather than dodging interdiction at the national borders. Twistedly enough, many of the large bootleg growing operations in California are now vertically integrated operations funded, staffed, and run by Mexican cartels!

The answer should be obvious- Federal legalization, and the ability to lawfully trans-ship cannabis across state lines. (If a given state is bound and determined to keep cannabis criminalized, so be it...not much different than the way Prohibition played out with alcohol, although even Utah eventually gave up on distilled alcohol Prohibition a few years back.) But the risk-averse political class of our national leadership in Congress and the White House needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into the present day on this matter.

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i 100% agree - although to your point about utah, i’m originally from arkansas which still has i think the majority of the remaining “dry counties” (not to mention a ban on alcohol sales on sundays. because jesus) but of course there are still plenty of alcohol users and abusers in those counties. i definitely agree with you on the enforcement issues of a mixed status system, but i sort of think about the issues of protecting a legal market and cutting off violent production organizations separately from like the efficacy of taxes/regulation costs and how they affect price and consumer behavior. drugs are often talked about as though they are the same as any other commodity, but there’s a lot of evidence that demand is driven by different factors. i support federal legalization but i also support strict regulation and a more comprehensive overhaul of drug policy. all our current information indicates hallucinogens and MDMA are way way way less addictive than alcohol or nicotine, and might have treatment potential for some mental health issues including…alcoholism. also they’re fun. so ayahuasca is illegal but oxycodone isn’t? there’s just no logic to it except profitability and european cultural history with certain drugs versus others, and when mental health is involved, when you have highly addictive legal drugs and hardly addictive illegal drugs listed schedule 1, you’re making policy based on ideology and not medical science, letting people get hooked and destroy their family’s lives and often die of their addictions to legal drugs and locking up people doing… just different drugs. i’m dying for a little consistency here that centers medicine and physiology and the fact that the illicit drug trade has been made so powerful BECAUSE people want drugs and self-medicate, they aren’t exactly pushing drugs on communities that have zero demand for them. evidenced in part by the fact that a majority of americans already regularly do a drug that has been made widely available, cheap, and socially acceptable.

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It isn't just alcohol.

There are at least as many long-term prescription SSRI users as regular cannabis users. And the SSRIs have much more seriously addictive properties- although the withdrawal is referred to by the euphemism "discontinuance syndrome."

https://bpr.berkeley.edu/2021/11/07/americas-epidemic-of-antidepressants/

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/one-6-americans-take-antidepressants-other-psychiatric-drugs-n695141

https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-concerns-emerge-about-long-term-antidepressant-use-11567004771

Same with amphetamines: https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/news/20230331/adhd-drug-prescriptions-went-up-during-pandemic-study

ADHD drugs are prescribed as a regular regimen, to be taken every day, according to accepted medical practice. Otherwise, you're doing it wrong.

At least as many Americans use benzodiazepines: https://www.benzoinfo.com/prescribing-statistics/

Benzodiazepine tranquilizers are most commonly prescribed for occasional use, not regular use. But millions of people do use them habitually, or admit to overusing or abusing them. They're much more of an overdose liability than SSRIs or psychostimulants. They mix particularly poorly with alcohol, but also often show up in conjunction with opioid overdoses. The most lethal combination is of course alcohol, benzos, and opioids.

Oh yeah, opioid painkillers: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/rxrate-maps/index.html

So who are we fooling? Tens of millions of Americans are on habit-forming drugs. They have legal drug habits. That might not be optimal from a health standpoint, but it doesn't appear to have led to mass behavioral dysfunction or societal chaos. Certainly not in comparison with the deleterious effects of social media- especially when used by the young and unwary, and people who haven't developed antibodies to unsupported speculations, logical fallacies, and unkind suggestions from anonymous participants.

Tens of millions of Americans seem to be maintaining their prescription drug habits without undue issues. As long as they have them.

Do I think that cannabis is "addictive"? Using the neologized definition that's become mainstreamed by the APA, for some people, yes, it is.

Does cannabis have as much addictive potential as any of the prescription drugs listed above? No.

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May 20, 2023·edited May 20, 2023

so well put. americans already regularly using habit forming drugs might like feeling morally superior to americans who regularly use… different habit forming drugs?… but applying arbitrary standards of morality to human bodies has pretty much always been bad policy. maybe it’s not anyone’s job to tell anybody else what they SHOULD be ingesting to physically and psychologically manage their life and enjoy their time here…maybe it’s our job to keep each other from getting hurt and support each other in our various mental illnesses. which include addiction. AA is supposed to be a safe place for alcoholics, a community to help remain abstinent from an addictive drug that has negatively impacted our lives. recently at a meeting a girl who admitted to being on SSRIs tried to force another girl to leave because she takes stimulants. this was not a meeting for people whose lives have been negatively impacted by stimulants. she felt those stimulants improved her quality of life- but the first girl insisted she wasn’t REALLY sober…despite the fact ALL of us were having a cigarette outside 5 mins previously. superiority complexes about certain drugs have literally no place in addiction treatment, it only helps the people trying to feel better about themselves and feeds into the idea addiction is a moral deficiency and not a chemical response and mental health issue. it’s supremely frustrating and i so appreciate everything you said here about it.

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Nice to see such serious, reasonable comments.

Cannabis is nowhere near as effective as opiates for pain, but it's nowhere near as dangerous either. It has value as pain medicine and the idea that opiates (schedule II) can be prescribed for pain but cannabis (schedule I) can't be is both ludicrous and criminally insane. Why so much of the medical profession supports this nonsense is beyond me. History is going to judge them severely.

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I know, right? The silence is deafening. Meanwhile, American drowns in the bottom of a bottle and pays a heavy price for it. Ironically, because alcohol, especially hard liquor, is at a record low in terms of inflation-adjusted price up front.

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There is really NO credible reason why cannabis should be treated any more stringently than alcohol or tobacco. NONE. And half-assed quasi-legalization seems to be the real problem here, not legalization per se. Just saying.

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As a 75 year old "Original Libertarian", I'd like to point out the "jurisdiction" issue. Does the State have the Constitutional authority to detain and punish me for possessing marijuana? Also, when talking about the "harm" issue, I would contend that more harm to more lives is done by the laws than by the substance. That's the conclusion they came to about Prohibition- pushed by the "temperance" women and the KKK, to persecute male (especially Black) drunkenness- it enabled/funded a criminal underworld which was more detrimental to society than the legal/regulated use of alcohol. So it got repealed. Politics makes strange bedfellows (it's said) and today's Libertarians (like the author) are cut from very different cloth from the originals. Original Libertarianism was a western (Colorado) group organized around resistance to the Vietnam War and the military draft. They gathered in the druggies, the pro-abortion, ERA, the LGBTQ, the anti-tax, pro-gun, "Sex,Drugs,R&R" under the banner of liberty and personal sovereignty to their cause by opposing unconstitutional laws and government overreach. Socially liberal, fiscally conservative. The Original Libertarians lost their momentum with the end of the draft and the Vietnam War- and the rise of drug addiction and STDs-AIDS in particular. That was then. Today's "Gingrich" Libertarians have allied themselves with the same people the "temperance" women did when they passed Prohibition- the States' Rights South, based in Florida. Socially AND fiscally conservative. He might be unaware that one of the main "perks" of being a cop is being able to extort sex from female motorists who are caught with pot in their cars. Some refuse and get busted. White women are twice as vulnerable (see Table 16). In my "Original Libertarian" opinion, the answer is not prohibition, or fables to support prohibition- but education. If you smoke pot all the time, you're most likely to turn out to be a loser. If you're already a loser, what difference does it make?

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