Driven to drink by marijuana laws?

By Bernd Debusmann
July 23, 2009

(Bernd DebusmannBernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

Tough marijuana laws are driving millions of Americans to a more dangerous mood-altering substance, alcohol. The unintended consequence: violence and thousands of unnecessary deaths. It’s time, therefore, for a serious public debate of the case for marijuana versus alcohol.

That’s the message groups advocating the legalization of marijuana are beginning to press, against a background of shifting attitudes which have already prompted 13 states to relax draconian laws dating back to the 1930s, when the government ended alcohol prohibition and began a determined but futile effort to stamp out marijuana.

How dismally that effort has failed is not in doubt. Marijuana is so easily available that around 100 million Americans have tried it at least once and some 15 million use it regularly, according to government estimates. The U.S. marijuana industry, in terms of annual retail sales, has been estimated to be almost as big as the alcohol industry — $113 billion and $130 billion respectively. On a global scale, marijuana is the world’s most widely used illicit drug.

Since the United States, and much of the rest of the world, plunged into a recession last year, the most frequently used argument in favour of legalizing marijuana has been economic: if it were taxed, the revenue would help stimulate economic recovery just as a gusher of dollars in fresh tax revenue from alcohol helped the United States pull out of the Great Depression after the 1933 repeal of prohibition.

That idea enrages some leading drug warriors, including the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa. In the preface to the U.N.’s 2009 World Drug Report, he asks whether proponents of legalization and taxation also favour legalizing and taxing human trafficking and modern-day slavery “to rescue failed banks.”

Never mind that drug abusers hurt themselves and human traffickers hurt others. It’s the kind of topsy-turvy logic which has made sober discussion of national and international drug policies (largely driven by the United States) so difficult for so long.

The case for adding a compare-and-contrast dimension to the debate is laid out in a statistics-laden book to be published next month entitled “Marijuana is Safer, So why are we driving people to drink?” The authors are prominent legalization advocates – Steve Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Mason Tvert, co-founder of SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation).

“The plain and simple truth is that alcohol fuels violent behaviour and marijuana does not,” Norm Stamper, a former Seattle police chief, writes in the foreword of the book. “Alcohol … contributes to literally millions of acts of violence in the United States each year. It is a major contributing factor to crimes like domestic violence, sexual assault and homicide. Marijuana use … is absent in that regard from both crime reports and the scientific literature. There is simply no causal link to be found.”

LACK OF COMMON SENSE

Violence committed by belligerent drunks apart, there is the question of which drug — marijuana or alcohol — is more harmful to your health. The authors cite government statistics and a long string of academic studies that show marijuana is less harmful.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, around 35,000 Americans die of alcohol-related diseases every year. That’s almost 100 a day. Add to this another 16,000 people killed in road accidents involving drunk drivers. There are no equivalent statistics for deaths linked to marijuana use.

Yet alcohol is legal, marijuana is not. The monumental lack of common sense in the attitudes of successive U.S. administrations towards marijuana is one of the explanations for a steady shift in public attitudes as reflected by opinion polls. In May, a Zogby poll found 52 percent support for treating marijuana as a legal, taxed and regulated substance.

Opposition to legalization, polls show, has been weakening over the past few years. Before 2005, no national poll showed support for legalization above 36 percent.

But surveys also show that there is a persistent perception that alcohol and marijuana are equally harmful and that legalization would merely add another vice.

“This perception is wrong,” says Tvert, “and it can’t be corrected overnight. What we aim for is legislation that would give adults the choice between alcohol and a less harmful alternative. Current laws steer people towards alcohol because they fear the consequences of being caught using marijuana. But I think we are nearing a tipping point.”

Perhaps. One of the biggest obstacles on the road to policy changes is a sprawling bureaucracy of drug warriors who have an obvious interest in keeping things as they are and have long practice in shrugging aside data and evidence. During the eight years of the Bush administration, they were led by a staunch, ideologically-driven proponent of prohibition at any cost, drug czar John Walters.

The man President Barack Obama chose as his top drug policy official, Gil Kerlikowske, is likely to be more open to rational argument. Kerlikowske succeeded Norm Stamper as Seattle police chief and during his tenure, possession of marijuana by an adult ranked as the city’s lowest law enforcement priority. Lower than running a red light.

(You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com)

(Editing by Kieran Murray)

298 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

The world has followed US drug policy – blindly, and under coercive trade agreements in some cases – since those ill-fated 1930 legislations.

Were the laws of the US, under the present and somewhat more reasonable administration, to reflect the sentiment of the man in the street and go on to be enacted, much of the present burden on penitentiary and judicial systems the world over would be relieved.

The sooner some sense starts filtering up to the people in power, the better for all of humanity. The 1971 Single Convention Treaty was informed by emotional, paranoid, unreasonable and reactionary judgement. Now is the time for that particular piece of unilateral control to be reviewed objectively, and with the swathe of scientific evidence that we now have at hand.

Legalise and regulate drugs. All of them.

Posted by Travis Lyle | Report as abusive

Any discussion on narcotics and public behaviour needs hard numbers – as in, documented surveys subject to peer review and independent verification – before I even bother skimming past the first paragraph.

So why should I believe a word of this article? A special-interest group put out a press release based on numbers that are no more to be believed than any of the nonsense trotted out by ‘evidence-debased’ policy-makers and self-interested czars in the law-enforcement agencies.

Do you really think that the attitudes and behaviours of *any* segment of the population are changed by public policy? Let alone a segment who have clearly-demonstrated issued with decisions that balance gratification, risk, and their long-term health?

Show your working, and we might even move on to discussing your logic and your conclusions.

Posted by Nile | Report as abusive

“possession of marijuana by an adult ranked as the city’s lowest law enforcement priority. Lower than running a red light”

Well yeah. Running a red light can swiftly lead to the violent death of innocent people.

Whereas smoking weed leads to sitting around and laughing… and maybe eating Doritos.

Posted by Bryan X | Report as abusive

We may not have specific data for marijuana related deaths, but how many deaths are connected to lung problems? A few, perhaps.

Also, just for some reference, in 2002 (sorry, it’s the only website data I could find quickly) 65,000 people died of flu and pneumonia.

Legalizing more drugs won’t accomplish anything but expanding access to people.

Posted by Ed | Report as abusive

I think you are fishing in a five gallon pail. People drink because of outside pressures and alcoholism is a desease. Alcoholism is also passed along from generation to generation in families. Check it out.

Marajuana is an aquired taste and also a crutch to hold troubles at bay. I compare it to prescription drugs.

For every situation we have an institute that we can quote. These people know very little about the real problem they are trying to correct and enjoy giving out information. It takes a real reporter to collect his own information and not quote quasi agencies and self anointed government leaders of personal fifedoms.

Posted by f belz | Report as abusive

It is about time people discuss this arguement. In my experience, I would have to say that Alcohol consuption is one of the most distructive habits one can have. Pot is one of the greatest things put on this earth for Humanity….Send someover to North Korea!! The leaders there need it!

Posted by steven | Report as abusive

Well written Mr. Debusmann! However, every time I see your picture, I have visions of paddlewheel boats, and white suits… Has anyone ever said you look like Sam Clemmons???

Posted by Dan Martin | Report as abusive

This makes complete sense to me. Fact is that when I told my doctor that I was using marijuana to treat my current chronic pain, he didn’t even bat an eye, and made no negative comments. I find marijuana more effective than diazepam and codeine (I am prescribed fairly low doses of both) in treating my pain.

I also find that I have much less DESIRE to drink when I am using marijuana. I find that being too intoxicated while mildly stoned to be an unpleasant feeling. Included in this is the fact that I use MUCH less marijuana (literally, I use a 1-toke pipe) than I would alcohol, to get to the same ‘relaxed’ feeling.

Posted by dave | Report as abusive

Bravo.

A Cronkite like piece of unbiased facts trying to dissect the problem and make it easier to understand for most.

A big part of why Pot was outlawed can be laid at the feed of William Hearst, who’s family had large tracts of forested land surrounding their mines around 1900. Hemp was used for the massive ropes the Navy used on our ships as well as being used for the original Levi’s, and making Paper.

When Hearst got into newspapers, and Dow just came up with a paper making process from wood pulp, as well as nylon for rope, Hearst saw a way to double up his money by using his “Woods” to make his “Papers”. I’m pretty sure he invested in Dow as well, so as to make money off stock options. To make more money, Hearst got his “Harvard” friends in government to make Pot Illegal, creating a “Paper Making Monopoly” to profit a few “Harvard” connected friends through out “Upper Society”

100 years later it has only gotten worse, this “Good ol’ boy” society where it is “Who you know, not what” since “intellectual property” is stolen from us commoners daily.

Posted by C.D. Walker | Report as abusive

Amen, legislatures and the right wing hypocrites have been fighting this way too long. It is time to legalize it.

Posted by SamIam | Report as abusive

Where precisely does the government get the authority to illegalize any drugs? Oh, I know that they claim the authority of the Food and Drug Act but does our constitution actually authorize the Federal government to do that? I think not.

From a practical perspective, we’ve caused more human misery and spent far more money on this approach over the last 70 odd years for fairly piss poor to shitty results. But I don’t actually expect people to start thinking logically anytime soon….

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

[MODERATOR -- PLEASE IGNORE LAST SUBMISSION -- IT CONTAINED THE WRONG URL. THIS ONE IS CORRECT.]

Thanks, Bernd, for this great article. We do need to get the message out about the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol and this column is a big help. As one of the authors of the book, Marijuana is Safer (mentioned in the column), I just wanted to let readers know that it is possible to pre-order the book at Amazon. This link should get you there:

http://tinyurl.com/ngw6za

Thanks,
Steve Fox

To those who doubt this article…I am allergic to pain pills. I used to smoke Marijuana for pain until someone decided to turn me in.

Now…I drink and I hate to drink but the pain is bad and I have no other way to take the edge off. Booze will kill me faster than marijuana by far but sure…go ahead and say no one turns from pot to booze…cause it happens daily! I was able to smoke and still work..now I drink and don’t work. Which is more of a burden on society? Booze by far!

Posted by FormerSmokerInPainNow | Report as abusive

Keep in mind the article COMPARES two substances. Clearly it makes valid points with actual backing data. If one substance is a cuturally engrained staple and “past-time” while the other is frowned upon and illegal, lets see why.

Question the legal substance.

Posted by Jefferson | Report as abusive

I drink for the buzz, weed is out of reach for a law abiding person, but I would not drink again if weed was legal.

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

Thank you, Mr. Debusmann, for a well-written and interesting article. I think detractors, like f belz, for instance who commented on this article and seems to have no insight, experience or knowledge himself, will finally have to be swayed to the reality that marijuana is just NOT harmful, nor is it violence-producing, as is alcohol.

People who don’t want marijuana legalized either have a monetary stake in the squashing of marijuana, or they have absolutely no idea what it may be like, or how it helps millions of people with different chronic ailments. They just can’t admit they know nothing about it.

Posted by Frit | Report as abusive

Re: Posted by Nile — “Any discussion on narcotics and public behaviour needs hard numbers – as in, documented surveys subject to peer review and independent verification – before I even bother skimming past the first paragraph”

So we can conclude that you have read the documented evidence, peer reviews, and independent verification on alcoholism and its consequences and are now endorsing a return to prohibition?? Or did you just skim those first paragraphs, too?

Posted by OSMR | Report as abusive

Which of the 2 can be detected weeks down the road from a night of use? As a business owner our accident record follows the employees that have failed drug tests.
If it can be detected, it is still effecting you.

Marijuana does have medicinal properties that have been known to help people with cancer, glaucoma, depression, fibromyalgia as well as other various and sundry ailments. Any law that makes criminals out of 15 million Americans cannot be good. Seriously, legalize, control it and tax it…Not only will it help the economy, it might even help things like road rage!

Posted by Anna | Report as abusive

A little over a year ago this author published an article here on Reuters covering the marijuana legalization topic. I emailed him in support and he gave me a prompt response for which I was very grateful. Keep up the great work Mr. Debusmann! It is so refreshing to see rational and balanced coverage of such a divisive topic in the mainstream media. Lets end this “war on pot” and make America a better and more free place.

Posted by Andre | Report as abusive

After living in Amsterdam briefly, there never remained any doubt in my mind that tolerance of soft drugs is a vastly superior way of dealing with them than the ridiculous “war” being perpetrated in the United States.

Everyone should visit the red light district of Amsterdam. It’s not a pretty sight, but it is a demonstration of how much better tolerance works.

A lawyer friend of mine told me that approximately 25% of the judicial system, from judges, police officers to clerks is staffed just for the enforecement of marijuana laws, and would no longer be needed if pot were legal. I think it’s time we get the ‘drug czar’ to listen to reason, retrain the 25% and stop waisting so many’s time and money on what should be a non-issue. I’ve been a card carrying member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) since 1977 and I can’t believe that we are still discussing this issue. I mean really, couldn’t our tax dollars be used for something a little more critical, like getting violent gang members off the streets?

Posted by Mdean | Report as abusive

I say legalize weed, and tax it like alcohol and cigarettes.

Posted by John - LI NY | Report as abusive

Thank goodness this is being discussed. Our country deserves to try this option. If taxation benifits and less stress on our legal system do not occur then we can go back to the way it is now.

it would fight immigration too. let mexico grow, harvest the commercial. More jobs/money for them, more room/jobs/money for us. both country win, and so do the pot heads. alcoholics can continue to argue and fight in the bars over the topic, and when they sober up, it will be passed by then.

Posted by ralph | Report as abusive

Some 25 years ago, when I moved from a city where I had a marijuana connection to a city where I had no connection and little comprehension of the local constabulary, I made the unfortunate switch to alcohol, not wanting either to be arrested or have an adverse situation with unknown suppliers. Even faced with disability and death, I have not been able to beat the alcohol addiction; marijuana was no problem. Maybe jail is scarier than death? I’d much prefer some maryjane, an occasional acid trip and a decoction of opium now and then compared to the g-d booze.

As someone famous said,”The law is an ass.”

elesjaydepawa

Posted by Ellis Jardine | Report as abusive

I read a couple of the posts from people saying that they didn’t believe the so called facts from the article because people were probably just twisting the truth to come to those numbers. How do you think the whole “marijuana is deadly” propoganda started.

How much money do you think the breweries and whiskey makers and companies that deal with alcohol would lose if the tables were turned and alcohol was illegal and marijuana was legalised?

I am 40 years old and have plenty of experience with both. I can tell you honestly that I have only been too high to drive once, and all I had to do was wait 15 minutes and I was OK. (Still perfect driving record to this day!!!) I refuse to drive if I have had more than one drink… can’t walk, don’t think I should be driving either.

Posted by Chad | Report as abusive

I think… wait… what were we talking about?

Posted by Ken | Report as abusive

Even if the government were to legalize it and place a tax on it, it still wouldn’t boost the economy very well.

It can grow so easily anywhere in any climate. So why would one go to the local pot house to buy it when they can plant it in their own back yards for free?

The economy would be even worse…no money exchange plus more stoners than ever NOT looking for work.

Posted by bby_70 | Report as abusive

Thank you, C.D. Walker, for bringing up Hurst. Capitalism at it’s best, eh??
As a youth, I tried a lot of things. From curiosity as well as distrust of what the government was saying about pot, acid, and all. I knew people coming back from Vietnam who had exposure to many, many drugs, and most of them had no problem fitting into the ‘real world’. One, did get ‘hooked’ on heroin.. That was a horrible thing to watch. Mainly because of who he had to deal with in order to obtain any here, in the states.
Later, as a ‘to be’ parent, I quit any and all mind altering consumables, including alcohol, which I had been drinking since around age 10. When no longer pregnant or nursing, I went back to alcohol only, on occasion, as it is the ONLY legal substance you can obtain without a prescription.
As the years have progressed, I have many times wished that I didn’t care if I got put in jail or not, just to be able to find relief from my daily pain. I know, because I used to use it, that marijuana is FAR more effective than alcohol, any prescription drugs, yoga, chiropractors, or any other ‘relief’ offered via Western Medicine. I have on a few occasions actually had a bit of pot over the years, but the paranoia I now feel associated with the illegality, which by the way I didn’t feel as a youth, have prevented me from pursuing any more for regular use. Alcohol is the only alternative, for me, at this point. I hate it. I would really rather chew on a bud, or some seeds, even smoke some ‘Mary Jane’, than open a 12 or 20.
Can we please get some REAL dialogue going and finally revert to ‘humanitarian’ remedies? BTW, my dad went blind from glaucoma, and lived in daily excruciating pain, rather than use an ‘approved’ drug, for treatment, because it was illegal, as he was a staunch follower of US laws!! Ugh…

Posted by Lynda | Report as abusive

Your joking right? Your arguing for the lesser of two evils. But, your purposefully avoiding the core issue at stake. Addiction is not something that you can marginalize simply because your changing the category. Marijuana addiction is just as ‘Bad’ as being Alcoholic.

“Marijuana is so easily available that around 100 million Americans have tried it at least once and some 15 million use it regularly, according to government estimates.”

Yes this is true. Many Americans have tried it. But, Also many American’s have tried alcohol much sooner than they have tried marijuana.

I find your dismissive attitude toward addiction. Shocking and disheartening. Widespread addiction is indicative of social decay and it is not something that you can simply ‘Write Off’.

Posted by J | Report as abusive

I see no harm in legalizing the most tame illegal drug. People have the right to make decisions and the use of pot should be no exception. While I do agree that the dangers of the drug are ofter underscored, I feel that is a natural response to the severity of the drug as compared with alcohol addiction. Marijuana is not particularly dangerous and was often used during Napoleon’s raid across Europe in order to avoid the after affects of alcohol. Weed provides many people a well needed relaxation like alcohol, but I have seen in my own experience that people often outgrow their liking for it, rather than the life long alcoholics which seem to never do so. Let your kids smoke weed and maybe we will find that they are less violent, less drunk, and ultimately more productive in the end.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

Here in Mass we voted to make possession of a small amount of MJ a $100 civil infraction rather than a criminal one. Then our enlightened DA’s and police chiefs levied their own fines on top of that it’s up to $300 in some towns now… So much for the will of the people.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

The cost to our society of the war on marijuana has been staggering. Not only the hundreds of billions spent apparently without success, but more importantly, the lives destroyed. I’ve seen startling statistics about the percentage of americans imprisoned for marijuana violations.

A factoid for the religious right: Humans have cannabinoid (THC compounds) receptor sites throughout their bodies. These sites are only reactive to cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are only made by cannabis. So… man made alcohol and God made pot. Who ya gonna trust?

Posted by Joe Hixon | Report as abusive

The problem is we will never get these politicians to admit they have been locking people up, ruining lives and thrashing our rights for no reason all this time, they will never admit to being wrong. We need to get them ALL OUT and get people with sense in office. My wife is Currently in rehab for ALCOHOL. Not pot or anything else alcohol. I would take 100 pot smokers over 1 drunk anyday. You can not do anything with a drunk but 100 people with a pot buzz can still get pretty much anything done they want to. You will never finish school if you smoke pot they say, huh guess I should turn my Engineering degree back in now. You will never have a good job they say, huh I work for a fortune 100 company perhaps I should quit. You will never do anything if you smoke pot, this is still the standard propaganda of the drug warrior ads on TV and still a pile of steaming BS. People will abuse anything it is up to each individual to control themselves my wife included. By the way our politicians run things and have us broke down you would think they all have to be on drugs, well the main drug of choice in DC is…………….. Anyone know, Teddy Kennedy knows, ALCOHOL thats what, but don’t worry Teddy says it is ok since it is LEGAL. The very fact that you can’t keep drugs out of JAILS should tell you you LOST THE WAR. But no they keep trying. Talk about insanity trying to stop something like a plant!

Posted by Dee | Report as abusive

I’m surprised that only one “addiction is evil” voice has shown up so far.

It should be noted that one of the biggest opponents of legalization is the “addiction and recovery industry.” Readers should be aware that this is a multi-BILLION dollar industry which, hand-in-hand with the prisons industry, would stand to lose billions of dollars in revenue if soft drugs like marijuana were legalized.

Additionally, the addiction and recovery industry effectively brainwashes its clients into believing that they are hopeless addicts with no chance of help besides (of course) the addiction and recovery industry (it’s classic brainwashing tactics, of course, to make the prisoner believe he has no savior except the jailer). Once people begin to realize that addiction — while it is definitely a problem and ruins lives — isn’t a moral failing that requires a “higher power,” but is, rather a psychosocial issue that’s treatable and often resolves on its own (ie, people grow up), the addiction and recovery industry is hosed.

Right now, millions of unwilling participants are being funneled into the addiction and recovery industry by the courts. If marijuana were legalized, these industries would be decimated.

As they should be.

Posted by TomC | Report as abusive

Great story. I’m 61 and have been smoking on and off since I was 19. My wife asked me to stop for a while so I did. Oh…the most important part of this is I’m an Alcoholic and finally stopped at 34. I didn’t do anything (legal or illeagle for 15 years) AA saved my life and it was sugessted that one should be vigiilant and stay away from all mind altering substances as it could weaken your reasolve. I think that this is an excellent idea for anyone who is now, or has onlyrecently given up the juice because there is a strong possability of switching one for the other.
But after 15 years of sobrriety, and suffering terrible back pain to the point of not sleeping, I decided to try on an old friend and LUCKILY I did not fall back into my old days of weakness. I’ve never heard of police being called to a fight between 2 people that were smoking pot.
I also know that the government is spending billions (and not succeding)to catch all the distributors. Als O wonder how many people are in jail for Marijuana, and the last number I got per prisinor is around $40,000/year. These people are rotting in jail while murderers are back on the street within 5 years. It just doesn’t make sence.
Hang in ther,
Rev.

Posted by Reverend Dan | Report as abusive

Nile:

Thank you for your interest. It appears you read beyond the first paragraph, so can you share which numbers in the column are not to be believed? And which press release are you referring to?

BD

Posted by B Debusmann | Report as abusive

Fat in hamburgers stay with you for a long time too, and thay can kill you. Should we prohibit fast food for Bob’s driving records?

Maybe one side should stop pointing the finger saying “potheads, potheads” b/c alchohol does not have a leg to stand on, especially in business.

Usage, moderation; these are individual practices that have there own debate. Socially, legally, medically (in this superpharma-world) there is no question the pot smokers have their many points.

Posted by Bob II | Report as abusive

Great story. I’m 61 and have been smoking on and off since I was 19. My wife asked me to stop for a while so I did. Oh…the most important part of this is I’m an Alcoholic and finally stopped at 34. I didn’t do anything (legal or illegal for 15 years) AA saved my life and it was suggested that one should be vigilant and stay away from all mind altering substances as it could weaken your resolve. I think that this is an excellent idea for anyone who is now, or has only recently given up the juice because there is a strong possibility of switching one for the other.
But after 15 years of sobriety, and suffering terrible back pain to the point of not sleeping, I decided to try on an old friend and LUCKILY I did not fall back into my old days of weakness. I’ve never heard of police being called to a fight between 2 people that were smoking pot.
I also know that the government is spending billions (and not succeeding)to catch all the distributors. Also I wonder how many people are in jail for Marijuana, and the last number I got per prisoner is around $40,000/year. These people are rotting in jail while murderers are back on the street within 5 years. It just doesn’t make sense.
Hang in there,
Rev. Dan

Posted by Reverend Dan | Report as abusive

I completely agree with all of the points made by the author. I’ve also heard that DuPont and other plastics makers don’t want it legalized because hemp would become a more easily accessible material from which a lot of sturdier, more ecologically-friendly products could be created.

Posted by JC | Report as abusive

The problem is even though someone uses pot and recovered
by the next day it will still flunk drug test’s and get people fired while alcohol can be used the night before and be completely out of your system by the next morning.

Posted by Mike C | Report as abusive

i think what what j said about marijuana being as addictive as alcohol is very wrong. i know many alcoholics that feel as if they didn’t have alcohol they would die. i have never met any one in my 25 years of life that felt like they were going to die if they didn’t smoke marijuana. i think he doesn’t understand the differences between having a habit and a addiction. on a side note if pot brought our nation back to being a strong and healthy society i would shed a tear with pride.

Posted by cj | Report as abusive

i wish my noisy neighbors would switch from booze to weed. Our neighborhood would be a helluva lot quieter.

Posted by jerry garcia | Report as abusive

The real issue is the addiction mentality of so many pro-legal marijuana advocates that, rather than fully make themselves responsible for being absolutely stupid throughout their lifetime, decide to blame their alcohol addiction, and any other addiction they have, to the fact that marijuana is illegal.
Let’s grow up, shall we?
Admit you have a problem that starts with yourself.

So you want all your drugs legal?
You should have them, so you can wallow in the immensity of your emptiness and the shallowness of your existence.

Better to speed up the process of decadence than to sustain a mortally wounded society.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

@ J:
This article has nothing to do with addiction as stated in your comment. Approximately 10% of the population have addiction issues, the other 90% should not have their rights curtailed to accomodate this minority.

User DOES NOT equal Abuser.

Posted by Jim Cornett | Report as abusive

As a small scale farmer, I would love the opportunity to diversify my crops. Until that day, though, I’ll continue to struggle with margins that are unsustainable for a family of four without a second person working for the county government part time. Maybe this would solve more problems than we suspect.

Posted by Buck | Report as abusive

There are plenty of vested interests that like putting people in jail for a “crime” that affects nobody but themselves. The unions representing prison guards is one of the biggest examples. In this “free” nation of ours, you are only free to do what they allow us to do.

Actually, there is one aspect of the drug laws that is a success. The original push behind them was to crack down on minorities – Mexicans and later blacks. This is why 1 in 9 black males between 20 and 34 is in jail. Forget about improving themselves with college – student loans are denied (check line 1 of the FAFSA).

See the drug laws are working as intended – they are the last vestige of Jim Crow to be socially acceptable.

Posted by Dave404 | Report as abusive

I think care needs to be taken when pushing the fact that marijuana is supposedly less harmful than alcohol, or even not harmful at all. I am very supportive of legalizing marijuana, but you can’t deny the ill effects of smoking. Smoking marijuana is not healthy and can definitely increase your risk of lung cancer above someone who doesn’t smoke at all. I’m not saying that it will be the cause of more or even a comparable number of deaths to alcohol related diseases, but I do not think that you can safely say that marijuana is completely free of harmful effects, depending of course on how it is used.

Posted by Kristen | Report as abusive

I have had family, friends and neighbors, in hospitals, prisons, and graves because of alchohol. Iv’e said for 35 years exactly what you say here. The pot laws make alot of people drink.

Posted by K. Brooks | Report as abusive