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

The most interesting part of this article to me is

“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.””

My thought is if you legalize the stuff won’t companies like Proctor and Gamble or Reynolds get in on the game therefore eliminating the need for trafficking and thus counter-act this point? I mean right now, since it is illegal, if you want to buy Marijuana you are buying on the black market so it has to been grown and harvested illegally. If you could buy it at Circle K or 7/11 then that need drops.

Now this may sound like I am pro-Marijuana maybe even a user, but I am not a user and personally I don’t think that our a lot of current laws make sense. A lot of these laws get passed and later we figure out that they are a mistake, I think we are stuck with them so that we can “save face”.

Just my humble view and the end of the day won’t mean much.

Posted by Twistedfish | Report as abusive

Seems to me, that with the illicit profits removed from marijuana, that organized, and disorganized criminals wouldnt really care to deal with it. since there wouldnt be any profit int he green and leafy. (huge incentive)

its said that mj is a gateway drug. but pretty much from what ive seen in my days, its only so because the people who sell the stuff also dabble in other illicit stuffs.

alone, the obscene amount of money that enforcement and imprisonment of marijuana laws and offenders cost this nation. . and you have several good reasons to admit that the standing policy has been nothing but lies and distortions. at the taxpayers expense.

seriously understand its biology and legalize the stuff already.

Posted by D Nigel | Report as abusive

Legalize it and empty the prisons of the non violent offenders. Then there would be room for the murders, rapists, theives, ect

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

The biggest obstacle is making people believe the truth, which is the opposite of what most of the American public have been told. Marijuana is evil, will cause you to become insane and will lock you into an endless cycle of addiction…or will it?

Saying substance A is less harmful than substance B isn’t a reason to immediately legalize it. But we also can’t ignore the fact that alcohol and it’s abuse have serious risks, ones that we already know cannot be curbed simply by banning it. We have poured our taxes into the war on drugs, raided medical marijuana dens and thrown countless citizens into jail in an effort to put a stronge face forward. But has it helped the situation?

I believe no matter what, people will eventually see that simply pouring money into the problem has done nothing but create new ones. Instead of smugglers, we now have growers finding it safer to move into our country, we have a police system that frees “small-time” offenders in return for information about king-pins, and an over-crowded legal system that is stretched to it’s boundaries both in terms of space, budget and manpower. De-criminalizing possession and imposing taxes would allow the DEA and law officials to focus on more dangerous street-drugs as well as help balance the enormous expenditure our current “War on Drugs” has had.

Posted by Beth | Report as abusive

I don’t have much to say other than I think that the law is stupid. I know a lot of people that smoke and honestly they’re much more pleasant to be around than the drunk ones you have to carry out from a bar. I don’t smoke, myself, but wouldn’t care if it were legalized. Everyone can make their own decisions whether or not they want to.

One of the most fascinating things I’ve noticed about the anti-legalization articles, is that they make it seem like once Marijuana is legalized, EVERYONE will smoke it. Just like cigarettes and alcohol (which I personally think do more harm), it would be a personal choice. Yes, there are MANY, MANY people addicted to, if not one, than both. But there are also people that have made the choice not to be. The same would happen with weed.

And in response to a previous comment about being a business owner and weed showing up in your system weeks later (and not alcohol)… blah blah blah. Yes, weed does show up in your system weeks later, good point. However, you failed to recognize that other, more harmful drugs such as meth get flushed out of your system within a few days. Which would you rather hire, sir? A person that takes Meth (except for a few days prior to your drug screening) or someone that smokes?

If it’s that big of a deal to business owners, then drug test your employees. For those business owners who don’t care… who cares! As long as your workers aren’t coming to work high or drunk, and they get their jobs done, why does it matter what they do in their personal lives? I know so many EXECS that get high, it’s ridiculous. I was actually SHOCKED.

It’s not my right to make decisions for everyone else, only myself.

Okay, so I guess I had a lot to say. :)

Posted by Michelle | Report as abusive

The only harm that people get from weed is from getting caught with it. if it wasn’t illegal then it would not be a problem. In the land where people think that they are free why are we afraid of a plant?

We will be a free nation when only real criminals are incarcerated.

Mr. Debussmann has hit the nail on the head with this article, thank you for writing it.
I like to imbibe either one after work, alchohol mostly out of habit, although I’m not addicted (one CAN enjoy a drink without being an alchoholic). I have heard of a small number of individuals that have become addicted to marijuana but it’s rare. People can get addicted to literally anything.
Over the years I have consumed much more alchohol than I would have if marijuana had been legal. One reason, besides fear of jail, is accessibility. Everyone assumes that you can walk out onto any street and buy mj. That may or may not be true but many of us who toke are not willing to deal with people that we do not know. It tends to get harder to find as you get older. I would much rather be able to walk into a store (maybe mj could be sold through liquor stores) and have the choice of whether to buy a bottle of wine or a couple of joints. Maybe I’d buy a little of each. Everyone would NOT grow their own, that’s a ridiculous argument.
Alchohol definitely has a detrimental effect on your body, I don’t feel that with marijuana. It’s a mild pain killer, helps you to relax and I sleep much better with no alchohol-like effects the next morning. As far as it being an aquired taste or comparable to presciption drugs I’d say to each his own. If you don’t like it, don’t partake. Speaking of prescription drugs, it is my belief that if mj were legal that many people would use it rather than chemical prescription drugs that big pharma likes to try out on the public. We’ve seen how well THAT’S worked out.
Drug companies will fight legalization, so will companies that produce alchoholic drinks. Greed is ruining everything. I think that legalization will prevail, it makes too much sense on so many levels.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Most of you on here that do not support marijuana and its many many positive attributes are completely uneducated, you believe stereo types from the media and government but chances are you probably know tons of people who smoke or use it medicinally and dont even know it. You make Americans look stupid because of your own shallow interests. Wake up, its the 21st century, no more witch burnings and black slavery, no more average age of 45, wake up because the Country as a whole is starting to. Before long all of you anti-pot advocates will be on the wrong side of the tracks defending something archaic and ridiculous.

The biggest obstacles to legalization are the alcohol producers and the pharmaceutical companies.

They both stand to lose a lot of customers. They’re going to spend a lot of money lobbying against legalization. They do not want this to happen. Bastards.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

I’ve smoked for quite some time. Not addicted, but just don’t drink much and prefer the light buzz over the stupor from alcohol. It’s a choice.
I researched drugs in college and gave presentations to local schools about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, never telling the kids, “Don’t take them”, but if they make a choice to do so, here are some warning signs to indicate potential problems, at which point, we instructed the kids, to stop, or the cut way back, it’s a choice that each individual has to make on their own. Weed has some mior addictive qualities, but nowhere near those of alcohol or cigarettes.
The catalyst for change will most likely come from abuse of pain killers, i.e. Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole, and Michael Jackson. Pain killers such as Loritabs Percocet, and Vicadin are the most abused drug in America, and probably more dangerous then alcohol or cigarettes, but widely perscribed and easily available on the internet. The abuse needs to stop and marijuana is the best answer for pain management and to curb bad habits such as drinking or smoking cigarettes.
Weed contains some harmful carcinogens, but nothing as bad as cigarettes. Pot is not that bad and is not a gateway drug any more than ciagarettes or alcohol. Marijuana is an effective way to manage pain and should be legalized.

Posted by joebeaster | Report as abusive

I myself have smoked it in the past and believe the same, it should be legal, controlled and taxed. Over the past year I have suffered from sever cervical disc degeneration. I am on oxymorphone, norco (hydrocodone), norflex, elevil and have been prescribed others. I would trade all of these for a bag and I KNOW it would help ease the pain. However, I’m a father of 3 and can’t afford to go to jail for purchasing or possessing, the risk is too great. So, I’m prescribed probably $750 a month in prescriptions that can easily be traded for $100 in marijuana.

I don’t want to hear any more junk about health-care cost.

Posted by DY | Report as abusive

Our Government controls everything and wrestling any control from them is nearly impossible. It appears we have some traction on this subject since they likely mostly toke themselves….If things change, it will be a result of our government having determined some new self serving, income producing, power enhancing strategy for it’s own benefit and growth.

Hopefully they arrive at some such new found benefit and provide us with a legal manner in which to enjoy our smoke.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

to the opposition – pay my bills if you want to tell me how to live, otherwise, mind your own business – I’m a human being, not a slave to your prettily flowered fantasies of perfection. The kind of people who bow down and accept these inhumane laws and regulations are much the same as the Africans who got onto the slave ships without a fight – slaves, without the dignity of their true freedom of choice – freedom to make mistakes – freedom to learn from them, and the freedom to decide for themselves which drug best fits them, should they feel like YOUR lifestyle sucks too much (for them). And yes – I’ve tried sobriety – AA, Na, CA, y not, (eh?. What I found was that it lacked the sparks – lacked the shine – it lacked all of the way around. I have written four books, and I smoke pot – I’ve owned my own business while smoking pot, but lost everything when I tried to go straight – go figure, and screw you, to those who want to be my daddy

Posted by M. | Report as abusive

The lengths people will cover to protect their right to destroy their own brain cells. If you believe that scrambling your thought processes is a viable activity, and that all we’re arguing about here is the best method, everyone has missed the point. Are you unable to live with your own consciousness, just the way it came from the factory? How come?

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

This Tit for Tat examination is very beneficial to our society. The question of numbers is impossible to quantify with or without factual data. No one knows exactly how many people die from overdosing on alchohol. No one knows exactly how many college students drop out because they drank their brain cells to death in their freshman year. No one knows how many people get beat up and their money stolen while attempting to buy pot. In my experience the very worst part of using marijuana is purchasing it through the black market. That market in itself embodies all of the evils that you would find with the hardest of drugs. You never know what the outcome is going to be and you have to accept extreme risk just to make a transaction. The Medical Marijuana industry removes all of that risk and provides a clean, safe and healing environment. They dont let people without a doctors recommendation in the door. They dont let kids in the door. They make sure that there is affordable and market priced medecine available for everyone. They pay taxes to the state and in most cases provide in home supportive services to the sickest of patients. Compare that to someone slinging buds on the corner…
To the business owner Bob: Methamphetamine use will not show up on a drug test after 5 days. Marijuana use will show up on a drug test for up to 60 days after use. Your comment that “if it can still be detected, it is still affecting you” is outright wrong. THC is fat soluble and remains in your system long after the euphoric effects have passed. By your logic if you have liver damage from drinking alchohol, and everyone does since alchohol damage is the one thing your liver cannot regenerate from, you are still drunk. As a business owner you are at liberty to decide who works for you or who doesn’t but if you think that weeks old pot use is more of an issue than yesterdays methamphetamine use you have some learning to do.
Legalization and taxation faces the drawback that if anyone can grow it you would only go to the store when you wanted variety or ran out. The imaginary “Green Gold Rush” that is supposed to save our economy will not be the windfall everyone is predicting. That doesn’t mean it will not make money, it will, but it won’t be the almighty all in one magic bullet economic salvation that we as a country so desperately need.

Posted by CaliforniaMatt | Report as abusive

Outstanding article. I nearly died from a vascular disease that was directly caused by alcohol…which resulted in the removal of SEVEN FEET of my small intestine. The alcohol had destroyed my immune system…and ultimately forced me to go on Chemo for nine months. Guess what the doctor advised me to do to contol the nausea? That\’s right…smoke canabis. The weed I consumed during my recovery was enormously beneficial….in alleviating the nausea, stimulating my appetite, etc. It\’s time to stop the madness and legalize canabis! The ONLY reason it is legal is because of the Liquor, Paper and Cotton Industries banning together to try and protect their self-interest. In fact, those industries PAID FOR AND PRODUCED the movie \”Reefer Madness\” that first coined the term \”Marijuana\”. Until that movie, everyone referred to it as Hemp. They wanted to attach a negative connotation to weed….which hemp did not have.

Maybe if our policy makers pulled their heads out of their arses….we could make legalization possible. I won\’t hold my breath.

thanks for the article.

Posted by jake | Report as abusive

One problem that is often overlooked is that the purchase of marijuana puts otherwise law-obiding citizens in contact with criminals. Obviously legalising marijuana would eliminate this issue.

The only reason I no longer smoke it is that the people you have to associate with in order to get it are generally scumbags.

I smoked it for the best part of 15 years EVERY SINGLE DAY and still managed to hold down a professional job. I don’t think many alcoholics could make the same claim.

Posted by BC | Report as abusive

Someone posted earlier saying that this wouldn’t help the economy, because people would just grow their own weed, and not buy it.

Two problems with this argument.

1) From my understanding, it may be easy to grow weed, but it’s not easy to grow weed which actually can be smoked/consumed. It requires a lot of knowledge actually, as well as special equipment to grow effective weed. Just planting a marijuana seed and watering it isn’t going to be enough to make something usable.

2) Just because it’s possible doesn’t mean people aren’t going to buy it. It’s possible to make alcohol too, and while everyone knows a few people who do it, there aren’t a lot.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

We need to look at the illegal nature of pot as we do a taxed good. Pot has a tax on it already, that being risk. Because it is risky to distribute or use pot its price stays artificially high. As soon as you reduce the risk the price will plummet. Once the price plummets the large pot operations will quickly go belly up and local , small growing operations will take over if at all. Lets face it this stuff grows like a weed under most environments. The fact that pot is illegal is what keeps it in business. Just think of the things you could buy when your dope bill drops from $400/month to nothing. Now that is a stimulus package.

Posted by Neal Blanchard | Report as abusive

I enjoy reading this topic, and the opinion, yet small but assuring. We as a society, even though wemay not admit it, are a society of test rats, and I find it funny just by in anything you can see. The Beluga whale , in the arctic ocean, has been found to have cancer. Hmm cancer you sy, animalsdont get cancer, this has been only known true to humans. Why does this matter to this conversation, it only matters to how much your contribution to lobiestsd, and corruption that yuo hide and deem ok, as long as it only affects a few people. Now we all know that we have the right to fight for anything that we want as a democratic society. It is really easy to arrest and detain people for using a “controlled Substance”. Most hippy or radical demonstrators , or people who are not consumed by the hypnotization of “Society”, and the I have the money the gold and the voice of everything, and if you dont do as I say you are wrong Beaurocratic leaders and voices.We are goverend by almost some unknown force. Buy my oil, take the drugs I say are ok, and they keep giving us cancer, but STFU lab rats, how dare you think that youur relaxing awakeining pot smoking , it may wake you from the intoxicating slumber of confusion that wer have spent so much time and money for you to awaken now. Please this madness will never end. face it. LOL we are doomed to fail, because when somethng is under to much control, can only go one way, out of control. ha, If we make it to 2012, I will see you all there I hope. this is going to be fun.Any way, have a great day. Toke on, and you do gooders that didnt say much with your opinion, because you are even more confused of all. you spend more at church for the pastor do drive in a better car than you and have a nicer house, so he can touch your kids, and disdain his own propoganda.

Posted by adam | Report as abusive

This debate has been going on for so damn long that no one understands what the real issues are anymore. the first laws were made to stamp out the mexican sharecroppers. since that time it has been proven to cause insanity, moral decay, and death. no wait that was reefer madness, put out to show the horror of this deadly plant. so since that was proven wrong by, well every one who has ever smoked it, you have to wonder what lies will they say to be right? same goes for advocates of pot, while they are pushing for what i think, there is an issue with any drug. the reason that weed should be legal is that this law above all others has been contested and fought since it was created. we were founded on the idea of people having control of thier government and being able to change things to adapt to the NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE. every job out there has smokers in it from fastfood to ceos. its just another time that someone in our government failed us. Now is the time to fix our problems, from little ones like this, to bigger ones like medicare and the economy. oh and to whoever thinks that people will all grow their own plants instead of buying from the cornerstore, please let me know where you get your goods? you can make whiskey, grow tobacco, but no one does that because its easier to buy goods then make them. Not to mention that there is more to it then seed soil water. bottom line, the ill effect on the economy from this doesnt exist and the potental for good is slight. this decition is about the drug not its effect on our economy.

Posted by greg | Report as abusive

Pitting alcohol against pot is an ultimately pointless endeavor, and the idea that pot is an alternative to alcohol within the scope of human civilization is based completely on conjecture and zero verifiable evidence.

First, alcohol is a food ingredient and not simply another drug. It occurs naturally in a numerous plant based foods. Studies and observational evidence seem to suggest that the biological basis for alcohol consumption is tied closely to nutritional requirements in wide variety of animals. This biological basis might explain why certain primates have a statistical propensity to consume alcohol, which almost exactly matches that of humans.

This genetic component to the attractiveness of alcohol might explain why alcohol containing foods, namely beer and wine, have at some point served as a significant component in the diets of the vast majority of human civilizations. Historical evidence suggests that the production of alcoholic beverages was vital for preserving cereals thus allowing the caloric content of those crops to be exploited longer than would have been possible without fermentation. In addition, before the advent of modern water filtration techniques, alcoholic drinks were primary beverages in many places and often consumed even more frequently than water itself. Overall, the ubiquity of alcohol has caused it to be a significant parameter in an uncountable number of human social interactions and cultural events. With some thought it is not hard to realize that the unfolding of human history would have been completely different without the presence of alcohol. The same cannot be said about marijuana.

I’ve said nothing about whether marijuana should be legal or not as that is an entirely different discussion, but I do think that comparing it to alcohol is an extremely weak way to promote its legalization. They are in a completely different league. If only one could be legal and a world vote was held as to which, I am 100% confident that marijuana would lose by a wide margin. To me the idea of replacing alcohol with pot is akin to the suggestion that bread can be replaced by sushi.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

bby_70 said “The economy would be even worse…no money exchange plus more stoners than ever NOT looking for work.”

This is a very ignorant view. First of all, I can grow tomatoes in my garden, but I still buy most of them from a supermarket. Just because you can grow it doesn’t mean you will when you can just run down to the liquor store. You also get to select from a variety or strains when purchasing from a store, but growing multiple varieties at home becomes more difficult. Sure, some people will grow it on their own, but that doesn’t mean that a market with 15 million people will suddenly disappear.

You also assume that marijuana users are lazy and don’t work. That’s equivalent to claiming that all alcohol users are lazy boozers who clutter up the gutters with their half lifeless bodies. Marijuana users come from all walks of life and include the past 3 presidents, doctors, lawyers, scientists, etc. Even the most decorated US Olympic athlete uses marijuana – surely, you’re not suggesting Michael Phelps is lazy!

Posted by todd | Report as abusive

J said: “Addiction is not something that you can marginalize simply because your changing the category. Marijuana addiction is just as ‘Bad’ as being Alcoholic.”

Fine, marijuana addiction is bad. But keeping it illegal doesn’t cure addiction. You’re confusing a health issue with a legal issue. Overeating and lack of exercise carries health risks too. But that doesn’t mean that eating at your local fast food joint and then sitting on the couch for 8 hours is illegal.

If people want to kill themselves, let them! With alcohol, they’re much more likely to hurt someone else. So, while I agree that addiction is bad, it is not an argument for maintaining prohibition!

a system that is not based on punitive justice will eventually lead to a multiplicity of laws and then tyranny why in the world would you give up rights and not wrongs……read the communist manifesto and the philosophy behind facism and you will find a underlying principle…..necessity is the mantra of tyrants and the creed of slaves decriminalize it and prosecute crimes that infringe on ones rights afforded by the constitution giving up ones rights for the good of all will eventually lead to what we have and if you think being able to go and buy beer at a store equates to freedom and liberty then may your chains set lightly upon you while you bow to kiss the hands that feed you

Posted by kameha | Report as abusive

I agree with the comments posted by Dee. I have been smoking “pot” for ALL of my adult life. I have a Bachelors of Science Degree in Chemistry and a Masters Degree in Chemistry. I have studied classical piano all my life and continue to do so every day. I am retired now from a 20 year career as a Research Scientist for a major multi-national pharmaceutical company. I am quite capable of sprinting 50-yards on the beach in 8 seconds. I am heavily involved in the local Martial Arts community and can go three, 5 minute rounds of mixed martial arts and it’s like taking a walk in the park. I am sick to death of hearing that pot is detrimental to ones health. I usually hear this from a bunch of fat, uneducated, religious freaks who can’t walk up a flight of stairs and couldn’t begin to tell you how to even average 5 different numbers. By the way I also spend a few hours per day with my head stuck in a Linear Algebra textbook. Also a few hours a day with my head stuck in Einstein’s Special and General Theory of relativity. Whenever I hear about the “dangers of pot” I look around the room and see who is making these statements. 99% of the time I am in better physical shape and better educated than those making the statements against pot. By the way I did 6 months in the county jail in my early 20′s for having pot in my house. I can walk into many states in this country and easily obtain a bottle of whiskey and a shotgun and go out and get drunk and kill somebody, but I cannot buy a joint. I don’t know about any body else but that sounds a bit strange to me. I have seen with my own eyes the harm that alcohol does to people and I have never seen the smoking of pot lead to any harm whatsoever. Legalize it or ban it AND the booze And the easy access to firearms and while your at it you may as well get rid of coffee to. I know A WHOLE LOT of people who are addicted to that nonsense. This “double standard” is ridiculous.

Posted by steve | Report as abusive

[...] (Reuters) 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. [...]

Let’s look at the reality of this argument… it’s all about the money. If the govt could figure out how to control something you can grow in your back yard so they could cash in, they’d be promoting its use as a herbal remedy. How can anyone put marijuana in the same level of danger as alcohol? Answer this question honestly, if you had to make a life and death choice, who do you have drive your children somewhere for 10 miles or so, someone drunk or someone that smoked a joint? Too much industry built around the distillation & fermentation process – when it comes to the money, it will win over health, death, family, church, God because, after all, this IS America, built on a foundation of the almight buck…. Buck You!

You tell ‘em Doc!

Posted by UNITEDWETOKEDIVIDEDWESMOKE | Report as abusive

All heath issues and victimless crime arguments aside, prohibition makes things worse. It was ten times easier to get marijuana in high school (Colorado) than alcohol. It was pretty hard to liquor. We got it but there wasn’t 20 different people I could go to everyday. The government makes it profitable for people to sell it. Enough said. I am tired of paying to make marijuana easy for kids to get. We waste billions on enforecment and lose 100 billion to foriegn drug dealers every year. BUT the money and health doesn’t matter. Prohibition keeps marijuana in schools. Make the penalty stiffer for contributing. Pot cost as much per ounce as gold. Get pot out of schools.

Posted by SPC MAHONEY | Report as abusive

It is time. The state of our affairs nationwide would benefit with the change in the law. As said before me I need not repeat. It is a stupid war. The war on Cannabis. G-d would not create a substance for abuse that grows as a weed. She would not have created something that would feed thousands and create a product that would replace quickly the thousands of trees that are being cut to supply paper when hemp would do. Check out hemp. It could save many nations of children from starving. Keep the faith! Check out the King of Hemp!
In Northern California!

Posted by Arlene | Report as abusive

Although I’m supportive of a move to legalization, has there been much examination of how we might move from the current illegal and criminally controlled distribution to the legal and commercially controlled one? In countries where smoking tobacco is legal, but heavily taxed, there is a large criminal distribution (smuggling) to avoid tax. I presume those operating the current distribution have a somewhat vested interest to resist change, or to a minimum resist taxation. I can see the current way it works, and can imagine a possible legal way. But I don’t see how we can transition from one to the other. It’s pretty important to have this figured out if you don’t want to simply turn murderous thugs into CEOs.

Posted by Nic | Report as abusive

I find it very difficult to find quality marijuana, and as a result have been forced to smoke horrible material that is damaging my lungs. Legalization would allow people to benefit in this manner as well.

Posted by notthateasytofind | Report as abusive

Have to wonder if it makes more sense to swap tobacco and pot, infrastructure for infrastructure.

Posted by esr | Report as abusive

People who cannot understand that legalizing marijuana is like dealing with the lesser of two evils, and are against it, i have to laugh, let them make alcohol illegal, and see what kind of fuss the alcohol lovers, and people and companies who profit from alcohol would say or do.
lets get real, most people want to be law abiding citizens,
i know i do, but if i have to risk using marijuana for my health and sanity, i will. the alcohol mentality, and state of drunkeness, where people forget what they are doing and saying, while drunk, and sometimes black out, or just use the drinking as a general excuse, i was drinking, is discusting. parents allowing there highschoolers to go to beer drinking parties, and even drink in the house young as a social behavior, is far worse then a marijuana toke.

i totally agree with previous people who have voiced their opinions and wrote about how we are wasting peoples lives who are good people in jail, and wasting a tremendos amount of taxpayers money on lawyers judges, jails, ppaperwork, even if it wasn’t taxed, we could save so much money, AND MAYBE USE IT FOR HEALTH CARE DUh!!!

Posted by issa | Report as abusive

Humans like to get high on one thing or another-always have and always will. No government has ever eradicated that basic human drive. Pot is always going to be there-being consumed by those that appreciate it and making non-pot people react with laws, etc.
Pot is illegal but pretty easy to attain. It always has been throughout my life-in every state where I have lived. The War on Drugs has only been a gravy train for those working on that government trough. For the rest of us, the WoD has cost a ton of money, created a new industry around incarceration, a new industry around drug testing, and kept a culture war brewing much to the detriment of bigger issues. Do people really think that if pot were legalized and regulated everyone would be stoned and society would collapse?

Posted by J Thomas | Report as abusive

Everyone does realize that even if is legalized, that like alcohol, you will only be able to have a small amount in your system while you are driving. The amount will be decided based on the same reasoning that .08 is limit for alcohol.

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

It’s my decision wether or not injest anything – alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, whatever.

IF my use of any of the substances causes me to act in a manner harmful to others, MY use of that substance obviously needs to be restricted.

Just as drinking and driving is dangerous, and drunks msut be slapped and eventually have their licenses removed, so to we should deal with the abuse of any substance.

Making something illegal to fill police coffers and make jobs is the current practice, and it is highly offensive.

Besides the fact that weed is proven to be the least harmful drug of all, and even reported to have many curative and healing properties.

Cops need to focus on murders, robberies, real crimes. PArents and government need to educate on the effects of every available substance, and the consequences of using those substances.

Then each person, upon reaching adulthood could make an intelligent, informed decision.

The legalization of prostition in Amsterdam, and quality sex education in mainland europe has prevented many more teen pregnancies than any abstinence program under the Americans ever did.

It’s time we gave people more freedoms to do as they please with their bodies, while cracking down on the real crimes of murder, assault, wife abuse, and so on.

Posted by Mike | 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.”

You are ill informed. Marijuana is Not addictive. Fact. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

Posted by Mastersnort | Report as abusive

I think the anecdotal evidence can be summed up in a couple of sentences: Everyone has seen at least one violent drunk. Who ever heard of a violent pothead?

Personally, I don’t use marijuana as I find that a very boring way to spend time. I have trouble finding time for all the fun things I want to do.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Hey J, I have not smoked pot in almost two months. Didn’t go through horrible withdrawals and didn’t find myself unable to live. However, the depression that I have had since a child from being forced to live in a society that values money over human life, that came back. You talk about addiction being the worse problem.. try living without money. Money is a piece of paper, one that will get parents to ignore their children and how they are progressing in life. Money will bring about wars, and fund both sides. Money will cause a person to look the other way when people are dying. I have seen people live without religion, but have never seen a person give up money for it.. except those who are homeless and have the police called on them because they are too close to the things that cost them money. So try this, go after the most evil and pervasive thing we have in society, money.

Posted by not J | Report as abusive

legalize it legalize it legalize it now. what a bunch of gutless cowards our leaders are, that among other things. i’m so tired of being ruled by the stupidest of us. america the land of the brave, what a joke, the land of the free another bad joke. the land of corporatists and that’s who all the freedom was designed for. but as our leaders are cowards they will respond to massive emails and letters and phone calls demanding legalization of the beautiful weed and while they’re at it legalize hemp.

Posted by mark jensen | Report as abusive

i’d pay cash money for a fed tax…..and happy to do it. down here in Texas, we can grow the perfumiest.! i’d pay cash money to be able to grow it legally, instead of being a guerilla. you see, it’s really humanizing to grow a garden.

Posted by REX ANDERSON | Report as abusive

J, it is not a sign of social decay. With all due respect, that’s your ignorance speaking. I and many others I know are all productive and responsible members of society and we enjoy smoking pot. We have jobs, families, social commitments that we honor, and so on. Get the facts first and have the courage to acknowledge them; otherwise, you’re just making uninformed statements based on ignorance.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

Besides aspects of harm… the more expensive alcohol is, (UK taxes are usury… ) the more financially attractive substitutes become. That is economics 101 people.

The UK situation is ridiculous. We have teenage & adult drinking out of control creating a huge load on our Health System, Emergency Services and Police. We have a classification system that is about sentencing guidelines not harm – honestly, Ecstacy as Class A ? its about as harmful as a few glasses of champagne, and you wont start any fights.

The asymmetry of tax and (rightly) health warnings on a pack of cigarettes, contrasted with the lack of either on alternatives – is state neglect.

As as for treating us as adults ? Why should we not enjoy a smoke, at home, with friends, or for pain relief ?

Perhaps we would be rather happy to pay some sensible level of tax in recompense for safe supply, and to fund government health education and treatment for those who can not cope – we do for other drugs. Asymmetry again.

Human Beings (and other mammals) have been taking mind altering substances for millenia. Biggest drug in the world ? caffeine, its estimated 80% of humanity takes it everyday. Wikipedia “in cases of extreme overdose, death can result”.

.. ah bless them …
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/j un/26/drugs-deck-of-cards-politicians

Posted by phil | Report as abusive

It’s great to see this many great comments. Yes Marijuana is healthier choice than alcohol. It’s called a gateway drug, only because its sold among the hard drugs by your local drug dealer. If it’s legalized, we will save kids from buying hard drugs too. Most drug dealers makes most of their money from Marijuana. If it’s legalized, drug dealing business will dissapear. I hope the momentum builds and we can break this taboo once in for all.

Posted by Sun-J | Report as abusive

Morality laws are so strange, except that there’s always a money link that benefits the current power-holders. For example, NY police used to spend a lot of time and energy going after the “numbers racket.” Since then, the very same idea has been legalized and turned into the daily lottery in practically every state. Make sense of that if you can.

On second, thought, don’t bother. It’s impossible to make any sense of such ridiculous crusade. Instead, follow the money trail and you will eventually come to understand the game.

I’ve been smoking pot since I was 12years old. I am now 40. I have tried to quit for years but fall back over and over. I know many of people in the same boat. It is very addictive if it is abused, much in the same way alcohol is.
And what are the long term effects on cognitive ability? And the weight gain from all those munchies? Add to that anxiety and paranoia, loss of sexual desire, and, and, uh….what was I talking about again..? Oh ya, short term memory problems.
I believe it should not be criminal, but it is far from safe.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

When we need a lecture on the gains and losses of smoking marijuana, we’ll be sure to look you up, Bill. However, this has absolutely nothing to do with one’s legal right to do so. What is relevant is the absurdity (as described above, did you skim over those points, Bill?) of a more harmful in every fashion legal drug vs. a vastly less harmful illegal drug.

Posted by Pyr | Report as abusive

And Bob, while I can sympathize with your struggles, those sound like personal issues, not issues with the drug.

There are plenty of marijuana users that can use it without it dominating their lives. I personally have excellent cognitive function, much moreso that the vast majority of my co-workers, so I suppose I’m ok in that department. I can also feel the pangs of hunger and suppress them, or drink water. You know, these are things that discipline can teach you, and you will be richer for it.

Posted by Pyr | Report as abusive

“Cui bono?” To whose benefit? The “driven to drink…” metaphor is perhaps literal. Distracting the anti-drug legions from the alcohol industry with a continuing (and very likely futile)challenge to marijuana legitimacy keeps the quite a bit of heat off of that threatened $130 billion of the alcohol industry’s annual take. First things first: save a few tens of thousands of lives per year; deal with one of the top public health problems in history: alcohol. The 51,000 deaths per year doesn’t begin to tell the story of the impact on America.

Posted by aj park | Report as abusive

Making marijuana legal is going to happen. The issue to me is just when. My question is…When it becomes legal, What is to keep people from smoking marijuana in addition to drinking and driving? That is a scarry thought! Alcohol has become a problem for everyone including those who want a less harmful substance has helpful properties when used medicinally (and just dont like the taste of affects of alcohol).

what are you crazy , let the feds control pot look what they did to cigs a pack of smokes for $5.00 thats insane all for the tax money think what they will do to a pack of weeds.

Posted by steve | Report as abusive

“J” from 2:26pm: Please point me to a study (from which you have extracted ‘facts’ for your argument) which shows marijuana to be addictive and/or the comprehensive analysis which proves the ‘addiction’ to marijuana is “just as Bad” as alcoholism. I cannot wait to read this groundbreaking research!

However strange it is that I’ve not come across it before now…

Posted by Melissa | Report as abusive

Hear, hear, and reform needed more than ever in California. I have used as a medical patient for 5+ years, see no loss of cognitive functioning whatsoever, a definite increase in sexual pleasure and far from increasing anxiety, it helps me prioritize, enjoy life more. I am certainly a better driver for it.

Drink, drive and smoke? I wouldn’t know, but I assume do not pass go, go straight to jail for DUI. If you’re impaired, you don’t need to blame the impairment on pot. Inattention is the number #1 cause of accidents, not substances. We have tried and failed to outlaw driving while talking on phones in CA, we could try outlawing driving while eating or driving with a teenager, or driving while arguing with a spouse…really. Time to grow up, take responsibility for our own health choices (and fiscal ones).

i am an avid pot smoker, have been for the better part of the past 15 years, and low and behold, guess what? i just graduated from an ivy league school with a Ph.D. in engineering with a 3.9 gpa. so now tell me that pot destroys brain cells.

Posted by a. | Report as abusive

Reply to Jim.

I agree User does not Equal Abuser. So let’s discuss this in terms of your statistics. 10% of the population is addicted to something. The population of the US is roughly 300 million. 10% of 300 million is 30 million people.

Please read my comment again. “Addiction” is not something you should take lightly and ‘Sweep Under the Rug’. REGARDLESS of what category it falls under. And of course if this was a perfect world than Addiction would not exist. But seeing that it does we are compelled to eliminate it.

Posted by J | Report as abusive

I do believe Marijuana should be legalized.

Yet I also believe it needs some regulation.

Let’s not forget the derivation of the word assassin; it means hash user.

The point is drug use isn’t the problem; drug abuse is.

I don’t want a government committee of experts deciding where the line is. I would like to see community help for those who have wandered to far over the line to find their own way back.

Posted by felix | Report as abusive

Please just legalize it already. There is every reason to and not reason not to. It has been debated back and forth so much there is no point reiterating the very obvious facts any longer.

Please just legalize it for everyone’s benefit and that of the mankind and the planet.

Posted by Kostya | Report as abusive

“Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”
-Abraham Lincoln

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

“The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.” -Albert Einstein, My First Impression of the U.S.A., 1921

Posted by Marshall | Report as abusive

Bob said: “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.”

Bob, from your statement it is obvious that you either don’t or have never smoked marijuana. It can be detected in your system up to 60 days after last use. But to say that “if it can be detected, it is still affecting you” is absolutely not true. If you smoked a joint 4 days ago, THC can still be detected in your body. Is the drug still affecting you? Absolutely not and you can get this answer from virtually anyone who has used the substance, rather than taking a statement from someone (yourself) with obviously no experience and a big, brainwashed prejudice against pot.

This is what those who support legalization are up against. Ill informed, hysterical people who have been whipped into a frenzy against pot by our government, law enforcement and ultra-conservatives to the detriment of everyone who would like to relax with the use of a mood altering substance but would really rather use something other than the debilitating and potentially deadly alcohol.

There can be no more argument against the FACT that pot is much less dangerous than alcohol. We’re not letting the propaganda machine continue to make it OK to put felony and misdemeanor arrests on people for the use of pot. The only other alternative is to once again outlaw all forms of consumable alcohol, and we know how that went the first time. We have also seen how this prohibition of pot has gone over the last 60 years. Do we need yet another year of 800,000+ arrests for pot in the US? And that’s just the people who got caught!

Our society has already proven that it can survive with the use of pot. Keeping it illegal should be illegal in and of itself.

Posted by phlashlite | Report as abusive

It’s hard to imagine that 40 years after Woodstock we are still having this debate; but of course, as always, there are those in the establishment who benefit by maintaining the status quo and in this case the beneficiaries of this status quo are the pharmaceutical companies & the legal community.

The pharmaceutical companies & the government, i.e., legal community, drove the criminalization of hemp in the latter 1930’s and the subsequent “reefer madness” propaganda craze of the 1950’s; if you’re willing to do your homework you’ll find that before 1937, this country had a booming hemp industry going back to the colonial period.

How could pharmaceutical companies profit, when citizens are allowed to freely, at low cost, grow and use a NATURAL substance for self-medication? Likewise, the law & order crowd: 1st, create a fear in the public, artificial or otherwise, then you may justify the need for more lawyers, cops, judges and other assorted legal experts & legislators to grow their budgets for the “public good” and thus increase taxes & generate more revenue for the public coffers. Hitler & other totalitarian leaders knew this well.

The assumption is that just because the government & some so called “expert” panel have deemed something bad for you, then so it must be. Common sense is in short supply in this country and that is because the “average Joe” thinks the government and large corporations have his best interests at heart.

This country can justify the murder of millions of innocent unborn children every year under the name of legalized abortion; can legalize gambling nationwide via state lottery systems which never seem to accomplish their originally intended purpose of subsidizing education (prices continue to rise yearly), but if the individual is allowed to “grow his own” , unregulated, that’s a no-no.

God forbid we should have to dismantle the prison industry & related legal apparatus to service the truth.

Posted by stevengr | Report as abusive

REPLY TO REPLY TO JIM:
“And of course if this was a perfect world than Addiction would not exist. But seeing that it does we are compelled to eliminate it.”

I am a News Junkie, that is I am addicted to reading news spending hours a day reading, sooooo, LETS GET RID OF THE NEWS!

obg

Posted by OBG | Report as abusive

yes-
i want to join the army
but they told me because i smoked a joint on my birthday i can’t

of course – i can drink without end – no problem

whatever …
just wanna join the army, man

Posted by OWEN | Report as abusive

What we need now is a great awakening to get Health Care Reform funded and passed. There are so many benefits to legalizing pot it is virtually immoral not to do so.

Firstly, legalizing pot will be an immediate boost to the federal and state coffers in the form of tax remittances. No need for the tax increases being proposed to fund health care. It will also create many, many jobs at a time when that is of great importance to our economy. It will also cut the tether to illegal drug cartels. I have read where people state that the cartels aren’t going to give up so easily. But we already have an example with the lifting of prohibition on alcohol. All of those criminal elements could not survive. Some moved on to other crime. The same will happen with pot. In fact, the longer we wait to legalize it, the more money criminals will make and the better position they will be in to “branch out” if and when pot is made legal.

Overcrowded jails will see immediate relief. Court systems will be much less burdened and much more important criminal cases can be handled more expeditiously. Police resources can be redirected to crimes like murder, rape, robbery and assault. Heck, even white collar crimes could be better targeted. No more SWAT invasions of homes for MJ busts. They have at times hit completely innocent people and some of them have DIED or been wounded as a result.

Businesses can stop testing for marijuana for job applicants, saving tons of money. In fact, it doesn’t even make sense to test for heroin, meth or cocaine since these substances can leave the system in about 3 days. Pot is the only one that stays for any length of time. Better off to observe people and test when you have REASONABLE CAUSE, rather than violating a person’s civil rights (with the approval of the courts which still doesn’t make it right) with an unwarranted search of their body and blood. If they are doing heroin or meth or cocaine, SOMEBODY is going to notice. Otherwise, businesses are just wasting money and passing the costs on to consumers, and I think we pay enough for stuff already. In addition, we should go back to a time when businesses were not automatically held responsible for the actions of employees. This is a result of lawyers trying to suck money out of anything that moves. It is ridiculous and immoral and needs to be stopped. Lawyers have driven up the cost of business for every single American and have had a tremendous negative impact on business and our society in general (that’s why there’s so much drug testing going on – it’s not that most people can’t do their jobs or smoke responsibly, it’s the fear of liability lawsuits and it’s been proven that you can’t trust a jury to render a verdict that makes sense according to the facts). Interesting that no one seems top be pointing this up.

No more making of criminals of the felony or misdemeanor classes. How big is this? Felons can’t vote. Otherwise law abiding people with a criminal record for pot will have great difficulty getting or keeping jobs with which to take care of their families. Do we really want to make it so that John can’t get a better job (or keep a job) and eventually send his daughter to college because he’d rather use pot than the deadly alcohol for recreational purposes? Anyone with an ounce (no pun intended) of sense who is not completely brainwashed by the “anti-drug establishment” can see the folly of that position.

Pot is nowhere near as dangerous as alcohol, so why are we arresting people for it’s use?? Make it legal, tax it, regulate it like tobacco and alcohol, create businesses, provide relief to city, state and federal budgets and legal systems, not to mention funding for health care reform, and do it… now!

Posted by phlashlite | Report as abusive

Ganja…. Ummm…. :)

Most comments about the impact of self-grown marijuana are totally misguided, of course, because it takes at least as much heart and skill to grow good buds as it does to make good wine. I hate to say, but personally my biggest worry is that with legalization will come the rise of industrial cheap production, which will good enough to drive the artisan growers out, or make high quality stuff more expensive. Imagine having to pay for prime ganja something like the price of a fine Napa Valley Cabernet?

Posted by Levito | Report as abusive

The people who believe that pot should be illegal and users should be put in jail for “breaking the law”, are the same people who think they are going to heaven for being “law abiding citizens” (goody, goody two shoes). Believe it or not, people who think like this believe in these principles. They live their life by wrote, not utilizing their critical thinking. They also love “Big Brother”. Need I say more?

Posted by AlteredStates | Report as abusive

Honestly, I think it would do this country some good. Maybe it would take away all the hate and violence. People are going to smoke it whether it is legal or not. Why not make some money on it to make this economy a little better. Keep the money and the production in the United States. Stop letting it go to these foreign drug lords. There are worse drugs out there that are legal. God put it here for a reason.

Posted by bd | Report as abusive

Here we have great wisdom….

Posted by Dave404
“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 Ax | Report as abusive

@ Owen:
If you want to join the military, do what I did. Lie. Just make sure you study for the whiz quiz. On another note, however, why would you be willing to defend a government’s decisions with deadly force when they won’t defend your decision to do what you want with your own body?

Posted by Vet | Report as abusive

Here’s why I think it’s bad for people’s health:

1) I think smoking / inhaling it in your lungs is bad for the lungs’ health

2) Some people have had brain haemorrhages partly / wholly due to marijuana use

3) Psychosis and marijuana can likely be linked as can other mental health problems.

Lastly, all those advocating legalization are probably users of the substance in question, and therefore may have impaired functional capacities to understand the detriments of smoking a weed on the body’s health system. I also think the pro-legalising marijuana movement doesn’t pay attention to the evidence against the legalising of marijuana either.

I suppose we can all look to Amsterdam to see what the effects are on having legalized marijuana use in a society. (I’m just saying, they could be a model for what will happen if it becomes legalized everywhere).

Posted by Debater | Report as abusive

Prohibition laws make otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals. My personal experience is this: The federal government has made me a criminal because they don’t like what I put into my own body. The result is that I now have no respect for any of their laws, I root for the bad guy in the movies and look forward to the day when this unconstitutional bureaucracy comes crashing down. They’re also lucky that pot also takes away any violent streak I might have ever had, so as it stands I don’t care if they legalize it or not. They’re gonna do what they do, and I’m gonna do what I do, and neither of us is stopping the other. If it’s legalized, I’ll have more respect for the government, but if it’s legalized and taxed I’ll go from a prohibition outlaw to a tax evader. So be it.

Posted by Barry | Report as abusive

“…i am an avid pot smoker, have been for the better part of the past 15 years, and low and behold, guess what? i just graduated from an ivy league school….”

Guess what, indeed – you can’t spell right and your typing is sloppy – the word Lo is a contraction for look, not a relative position, but then, you knew that, didn’t you, Doctah!
During the League of Nations Mandates after WW1, the occupying powers in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt had this same public policy problem over students smoking hashish. They gave in and within 10 years, the crime rates had increased, students didn’t finish University, civil services deteriorated until after WWII, the rise of religious fundamentalism filled the vaccuum left by drug-addled indolence and lethargy. These countries’ productive class were neutralised and demagogues moved in to mesmerise the already slack-jawed sloths.
Alcohol, on the other hand, has a long history of being useful to the State as an anaesthetic, a reliable motivator when violence is necessary and an efficient recreational diversion during hardships. Cigarettes were employed during WW1 for the same reason. That part of the population which cannot self-control the urge to binge will always be “victims” as much as abusers. People who drive a lot and eventually die on the highway, instead of using alternative means of transport are also “victims”, but there’s not going to be a debate about shutting down the roads.
If you want this country to turn into an Anglo-phone Somalia, then repeal all the drug laws and get ready to suck up to your local Hells Angel war lords, who naturally will require you buy your stash from them and them only.

Posted by Lydia P Troyer | Report as abusive

The economic benefits of legalization should be obvious. Our country is missing out on a great opportunity to tax a recreational product – as it does alcohol and tobacco. Tax all of the sales transactions and profits. Marijuana can be a viable replacement for the “evil” tobacco companies. Tobacco farmers would have a replacement crop. The big obstacle I see is developing a way to enforce against “stoned” drivers. An oral litmus paper test, similar to a breathalyzer may accomplish this.

I am a former alcoholic and narcotics user (clean for almost four years). “Pot” was not my gateway drug – ALCOHOL was. I was introduced to beer at age 8. I started drinking heavily in High School. I didn’t smoke pot until I had learned that drinking was “cool”.

I agree with many posters. Anything that becomes a personal obsession and controls your life is an addiction (sudoku for example). People will always drink, smoke pot, snort coke, eat too many fatty foods and lie on their taxes. Ignoring facts does not change facts. Our government spends far too much money and manpower on something that could ultimately be a tax benefit and a boon to private industry.

Marijuana can be legalized, taxed, have controlled distribution and developed into a respectable business

J: I agree that addiction is not a good thing and it should not be marginalized. On a psychological level having a MJ addiction may be as bad as an alcohol addiction (depending on the individual, just as with alcohol), but on a physical level, alcohol is head and shoulders above MJ in the “dangerous” department, and that’s for almost everyone with few exceptions. That difference MUST be recognized. But the most important thing you need to realize is that the significance of addiction pales in comparison to the fact that every day people are getting arrested for pot. Every day there are many felony and misdemeanor convictions in the courts. For some, their lives will be completely ruined over it. For others, they and their families will be doomed to suffer the consequences financially and otherwise for the rest of their lives. I think one would take having to deal with an addiction over being sent to jail and black marked. With at least 15 million regular users and potentially many more if legalized, it’s most important to stop the carnage against people who simply want a less dangerous way to augment their mood. We can help the addicted just as we do with those on alcohol. But the arrests and their consequences… 775,137 possession arrests in 2007… it really needs to stop.

Posted by fishfry001 | Report as abusive

I smoked pot for 25 years and enjoyed doing it. What I do know from my experience is that pot will not kill you, give you a hangover, make you violent, make you want to steal from people to support your habbit like opiates and alcohol will. It WILL probably make you hungrier than usual and more relaxed and maybe some things will seem a bit funnier when you do smoke it, but if you stop smoking pot,unlike opiates or alcohol, you will not suffer withdrawals. I quit 12 years ago after being busted, no withdrawals. Would I like to smoke a joint again? Sure would, but not until it is legal. I would rather have a joint than a beer. I have an IQ of 125, college degree (3.35 GPA, made Deans List last 3 semesters). I did this after smoking pot 25 years and 27 years since high school. Is pot a gateway to other drugs? Perhaps, but I would also suggest that beer is a gateway to hard liquor as well. Just as with alchol, I’ve tried the harder stuff. I did not like the harder stuff. I just wish the government would leave us all alone over pot. All I want to do is have an occasional joint with my occasional beer without the threat of losing my freedom over it.

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive

The United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper. That is marijuana’s non drug version, which is also illegal thanks to racism and vested corporate interests.

It was made illegal in the 30s and then legalized during WW2 since there werent wenough synethics like nylon to support the war effort, but then it was made illegal again in the 50s.

Also the reason many countries in the world ban hemp and marijuana is because one of the stipulations in receiving financial aid from the United States is a drug ban.

Also over 90% of the cannabis plants the DEA burns every year is ditchweed, which is hemp and cant be used for drugs or to get high. So we are paying the DEA to kill tons of weed that doesn’t even have pharmaceutical value.

The list goes on and on, unless your pocketbook is being threatened by legalization, someone else has you brainwashed to line their pockets to keep marijuana illegal. Wake up and smell the damn coffee, and read.

Posted by Moose | Report as abusive

Wow, The ‘war on drugs’ is an abysmal failure. Common sense ppl.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

I have been smoking pot since 1991…graduated from high school, Associates in business, Bachelors degree in science and currently an Area Director for a nationally known restaurant corporation which pays me more than 110k a year….go figure.

Posted by theone | Report as abusive

Dear J.
1 There is no such thing as an overdose of marijuana.
2 Nobody has ever been harmed in any way from using marijuana, other than the legal consequenses of the war on drugs on them and their families.
3 Mrijuana users are generally peaceful and rarely hurt others.
4 Marijuana is NOT a narcotic and is not addictive, (any more than anything else you like a lot)
5 Tobacco causes cancer in 50% of its users, is highly addictive and a huge strain on the health care system.
6 Unlike the tar in tobacco whch stick flat to your lung walls, cannabis resin forms globules in a liquid like the moist environment of your lungs. They stick together and expirate normally from your lungs carrying free radicals and toxins left by the environment or cigarette smoke. In fact, marijuana may have been saving the lives of many who smoke both, daily.
7 If more people had access to marijuana there would be far less demand for other harmful drugs like cocaine and heroin. (I suspect the DEA knows this and doesn’t want their budgetary requirements reduced)
8 If the folks favouring prohibition would educate themselves, they would cease to fear and begin to appreciate the many benefits of Cannabis and all its products and byproducts
9 people who use marijuana are not bad, or immoral. Marijuana cannot be considered a vice, as it is not addictive like gambling or sex, or ignorant foolishness. We pity those who refuse to recognize the Truth. We hope they will take their head out of the sand and stop believing everything they are fed by so-called ‘authorites’ who are only trying to protect THEIR ideal of the status quo, no matter how many they hurt in the process. We pray for them.

God Bless

Posted by Smokepot Daily | Report as abusive

Furtherto the misinformed who fear someone may toke and drive. Unlike one who drinks Alcohol which depresses the nervous system steadily with each drink, until ultimately death occurs, I could chainsmoke 50 joints and still kick your derriere at chess or any other intellectual pursuit.

Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a very powerful yet profoundly misinformed lobby. Marijuana DOES NOT IMPAIR as alcohol does. There is no such thing as an overdose of marijuana, marijuana is NOT a narcotic or addictive substance. MADD squawks about the fact if Marijuana is legal, people might drive high. Newsflash ladies, they already do. While it is inevitable that there will be marijuana at the scene, and marijuana users will be in accidents just like non users, there is no evidence that users are involved in more accidents per capita than non users. The same is not true of alcohol or many prescription drugs used legally.

If a demonstration is required I will happily volunteer to be a test subject, smoke two joints for each beer the other driver has, I guarantee I will still score better than the other two on an obstacle course. Even after 35 years of daily use. The Olympic Committee is right. It IS a ‘performance enhancing substance’.

Posted by Smokepot Daily | Report as abusive

so the government can send me to Iraq or Afghanistan at 18 years old to blow people’s heads off (or have mine blown off) with an M16, but I cant have a beer or light a spliff to relax?
c’mon, barack toked (and did some coke), dubbayah refused to talk about marijuana but hinted that he used it and you know clinton was a pothead.
oh, and remember all that coke coming to the US in the seventies? yeah, the government knowingly let 90% of that come in.

how many of you would pay an extra $10 for an eighth of government controlled stanko? the recession would be over tomorrow!

Posted by kris | Report as abusive

Reply to Marshall:

If those quotes are in fact accurate then America has strayed a long long way from the foundation it was built on.
As far as marijuana goes, it is interesting to note that a long time ago, it was illegal to not grow it.
Marijuana had to be grown to manufacture hemp. In fact, if you didn’t grow marijuana, you were taxed bags of tobacco.

Anybody remember the ridiculous propoganda ads they had on TV showing kids doing crazy things when high on marijuana? I was just wondering what an alcohol ad like that would be like. Dave Chappelle does a comedy skit on it called “Dudes’ night out”. Though it is hilarious, it makes you wonder about the negative effects of alcohol as compared to marijuana. And George Michael once said in his defense of marijuana: “When was the last time you heard of someone smoking marijuana and then going home and beating up his wife?” – Food for thought?

Posted by TheObserver | Report as abusive

There’s no corporate or government conspiracy against marijuana, there’s simply no public demand nor consensus to de- criminalise it. And why’s that?
Because it’s of no interest to most people whatsoever.

I’ve tried marijuana, it’s crap. The kind of vapid thrill that initially appeals to the lower rank of ‘rebellious’ teenagers, which most grow out of. The one’s who didn’t make that leap into adulthood seem well represented here though.

I’d guesstimate a 100,000 pints/shots/glasses of alcohol are had each weekend here in London, how many joint? Perhaps a 1000 at the most. So thats 100:1 people favouring alcohol.

What politician in their right mind would take up a cause contrary such a clear indication of public preference?

Since it appears the primary thrill of marijuana seems to be the appeal of it’s ‘naughtiness’, (and a term straight out of the nursery is appropriate here), how daft of its proponents to want to legalise it. Unless its because the more vocal of them conform to the cliche of ‘old hippy,’ are getting older, more conservative, and instinctively more law abiding?

Posted by Rhoops | Report as abusive

Use not abuse is the key . Time and a place for it .Dont know many people that would want to fight while smoking pot.A family member has MS and the best thing for her ( to clam down ) is pot.The goverments of this world know only money.It will be a long time because there is no money in it for them .

Posted by Racey Johnson | Report as abusive

Interesting debate -
Personally I’ve seen someone I love live with an alcohol addication my whole life and it was like growing up with someone with a split personality, depressed and moody during the day, an absolute laugh riot during the night. I never truly knew them as a whole person until I became an adult myself and could differentiate between their drunk and sober side…very confusing for a child.
So it’s no surprise that I’ve grown up with an addictive personality too, only my choice substance is hash because it agrees with my laid back artistic personality, it aids in creativity and makes me more introspective thus appreciating the little details I would have normally missed.
Obviously there are bad side effects sometimes like mild anxiety, paranoia and depression. The only other side effect as well is feeling demotivated to do stuff but that, I’ve found out, depends totally on the type of hash I’m smoking. If I stop smoking then these symptoms subside just like if I stop drinking I stop feeling more drunk.
To say that one of these drugs can be legalised and the other not to me seems like a contradiction. What needs to happen is for governments to accept that they can’t control how the general population relaxes and escapes from the every day grind and they should stop trying. Instead they should try and make what is available as safe for human consumption as possible and educate people as much as they can on the risks they pose to themselves and others and leave the decision up to the individual.
I’m fully aware that I’m increasing my risk of getting a mental illness from smoking but then my father is at greater risk from liver failure and cancer (as he smokes more tobacco when he drinks).
And the fact this debate has raged for countless years just goes to show that there is no right or wrong, just personal choice.

Posted by A woman | Report as abusive

Sooner or later marijuana will be legalized. Prohibition of alcohol was established because alcohol abuse has always been a big problem for the citizenry of the United States. It didn’t work because it was the wrong answer to a rightly defined problem. The question is: in the United States, how can we establish a public health policy that effectively changes the popular attitude that debilitating mind altering substance abuse is acceptable? The legalization of marijuana will increase rather than decrease mind altering substance addiction in the United States. People will abuse marijuana for the same reasons they abuse alcohol. People who become alcoholics usually are self medicating themselves in an attempt to alleviate mental or emotional distress, illness or disease. With the legalization of marijuana, double addiction to both alcohol and marijuana will increase. As of yet, we don’t have a public health system capable of curtailing our epidemic of mind altering substance abuse. There are no easy fixes. Legalizing marijuana isn’t a fix. It’s simply another admission that prohibition doesn’t work. Of all the health care and health insurance issues that “health care reform” is trying to address, economically debilitating public health issues like substance abuse, addiction and mental health are more important than an aging “baby boomer” population’s concern about health insurance. We didn’t seem all that concerned about health insurance when we were tuning in, turning on, and dropping out. If we had been, we would probably have no need for health care reform today. We need an activist public health system that fights the disease of addiction at every economic level by steering children and young adults away from addiction and helping to get addicts off mind altering substances. Health care will be much less expensive for a society that is essentially addiction free.

Posted by Bernard Vescovi | Report as abusive

Legalize it! I’m not a user for fear of screwing up my career. The gateway drug theory is B.S., people that are going to experiment will do so under the influence of alcohol just as easyily.
Tax it, clear the dockects and the jails!

It is near to farcical that a plant growing in nature can be banned and yet a manufactured, and highly addictive, substance that kills 1000s, ruins countless lives is advertised in all media and promoted as a rite of passage. Even one with no interest in marijuana can see that it is a plant — and a useful, versatile plant at that. The only danger with marijuana use and legalization is that it will be abused and perverted like every other controlled substance. Although marijuana is a natural substance — that is, not manufactured — it requires respect and moderation in its use. It could be a new sacrament for a secular world.

Posted by mark | Report as abusive

Cannabis does not need to be regulated by the government. Safety laws that are enforceable, practical, logical are what is needed. But aside from that, the government has no right to tell people what the can and cannot partake of in their own personal lives.

And WE are the ones that give government this right. We should be pressuring our government to make the changes they need to make regarding cannabis and not asking them. And for those that say tax and regulate it, I submit that this is just a compromise suggestion. Why should you be taxed for something you can grow yourself and enjoy on your own without government interference?

I agree, I agree, I agree – legalize. As a frequent traveler to the Netherlands, I can tell you the US is missing out on the program. Not only would there be revenue from the taxes, but also from the realized savings of no longer spending millions a year on law enforcement. I have a good friend working with the DEA and local law enforcement and he shared with me that the spend $5,000 per day flying around in a helicopter looking for marijuana plants, normally finding an average of 2 plants per day (yes, sometimes they find a whole crop, but on average 2 per day) think about that $5,000 per day, finding 2 plants!!!

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive

I’ve always thought the fact it can be grown in your back yard and therefore lacking big business / lobbyist kept it illegal… That being said I’ve always wanted to see State Grown marijuana and sales with 100% of all profit going towards Collage education, including the revenue of all laws and regulations broken. I myself haven’t consumed used it since 1979 and I’ll be willing to bet I can get some within the hour! We are fighting a losing battle it’s like trying to stop Grass (no pun intended… well maybe a little) from being green… I am an applications developer and network engineer.

Posted by R Tracey | Report as abusive

i’ve used weed and beer enought to know that there is huge difference between their effects, and that everyone is affected differently by both of them.
i know people who go crazy angry when they smoke skunk, and people who go crazy angry when they drink whiskey.
i don’t think either one’s worse than the other, but i have my preferances.
it seems to me that whichever you indulge in, you shouldn’t judge other people for their preferance.
it’s not exactly a secret that hemp smoking was far more popular among blacks than whites in the thirties, and making it against the law was mostly just a way to force blacks into slave labor via the prison system.
we are generations down the line now, but the guys in charge hate to admit when mistakes have been made, particularly in america, where many of those involved now are the decendants of those who made the law in the first place, so to turn around and admit their mistake would lessen their pedigree.

why is so hard for people in poer to admit when they are wrong, and why is so much harder for them to say the same of their predecessors?

Posted by BlueDreadlock | Report as abusive

I have smoke Grass or cannabis, all my adult life 64 years but recently, because I don’t smoke tobacco any more
(laterly only straight grass because that legal drug Tobacco was likely to kill me)
I have taken to having it in a cooked/baked biscuit so I that I have no lung damage from doing that and the effects are equally good.
Infact eating marijauna is will also to help against the argument that it induces paranoia or phsycosis as there are chemicals in the plant which counteract that effect but when smoked these are lost.
Therefore all the people who say it damages your lungs and your brain need to get a brain and figure out how to negate these effects.
John

Posted by john smith | Report as abusive

AND THEN … Has anyone ever overdosed on marijuana ?

Alcohol overdoses are reported each year when kids hit the campus.

Just a little too much of some substances will Michael Jackson your a**.

Enough said ?

Posted by Jerry NJ 818 | Report as abusive

As an IT professional and a dope smoker for the last 30 years (daily user), I think I can say with some certainty that if I had been using alcohol in a similar way, I would almost certainly be an alcoholic. I would definitely have a strong dependence on it, whereas when I have been on overseas trips and unable to get hold of any marijuana, it has not been an issue at all.

If there is anything which really does tip the balance, it’s that fact – alcohol IS addictive, marijuana is not. In fact, imho tobacco is a more dangerous drug than marijuana :-P

That said, no drug is completely safe, and the user pays a price for using any drug…

Posted by Teper | Report as abusive

amen brother

Posted by Shawn M | Report as abusive

Again we see public support for the legalization and taxation of Mary but our elected officials that are supposed to represent us fail to listen. Can you believe that there is such strong support for an item to TAX and they keep missing it. This may be the only tax that most of the public would be willing to pay, nuts isn’t it.

Posted by John B. | Report as abusive

paeple wake up, the gov does not want it leagle,it has nothing to do with facts or health, by it being illeagel thay are making fat $$$$$, make it leagle,tax it spend $$$ on educatoin, poor exc exc exc,,,this is a no brainer even ARNOLD should be able to understand this,,,its simple, the people that want it illeagle are making $$$ from it being illeagle,,those are the people that only care about the $$$ not the kids, not the community,not the unfortionate only thair bank account,,OOO ARNOLD LOOKY LOOKY TAX REVANUE

Posted by jeffrey allen cudneysr | Report as abusive

The article is flawed; because society is flawed. To measure one bad substance against another is flawed thinking.

If society sought the sane and proper solution, and was concerned with the well being and health of future generations then, alcohol and marijuana, along with cigarrettes would be made illegal.

The problem with these substances is that prohibition does not work, as there is both a strong demand and a strong supply.

Prohibition can only work where the supply is removed through a combination of sentencing, and policing.

Successive governments have proven that they do not have the stomach to take the prohibition route as it is not a vote winner; which means – society prefers to remain flawed.

If the Government does not have the will to ban marijuana; then what about legalisation?

Legalisation for producers, and users should be the preferred route – however marijuana is not risk free, and has a high correlation with mental health issues; and would not be eligible for ‘over the counter’ sales, under the present guidance; so to legalise it would mean special treatment.

So what does this mean?

Well in essence the author of this article is asking:

“Shall we give people marijuana, because they want it?”

and the answer from a responsible government and a responsible society should always be “No”.

Posted by Darren Duffy | Report as abusive

Good luck to all you libertarians out there working for this goal of common sense.
When you have achieved your noble aim, I hope you don’t mind if I choose not to indulge.

Posted by FrankMcUK | Report as abusive

It is foolishness not to legalize it. Smoking marijuana is relaxing, instead of fighting there is laughter and I have never met anyone that gets mean on it or even has ever faught.
I would most streneously press the fact that the age should be above the age of 21. As marijuana will and does effect the young peoples ability to function in the school envirnment.
I am in full support of legalization. But what then will be the cost once our theives in congress get a hold of that?

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

JEEEZE! 5 grand a day! That is insane, just think about how much money that is a year! 5000*365= 1,825,000. And that’s just that form of enforcement. What about the money to house the people locked up because of MARIJUANA related issues….. Training dogs, people. Getting more high-tech $h!t survailence….. Everything court, money to pay people to enforce…..
What is wrong with the people running our country, that they can’t realize their wasting our money? Tax-payers dollars too no doubt.

I have ailing family members, and friends that could benifit from it’s medical purposes. I don’t necessarily believe that it should overall be legal, I say it should be just like any other script out there…oxy, vicodin, perks……. If there is a medicine out there that can help people who suffer from dehabilitating problems, then why isn’t it availble to them?

Yes, I am a user, but not medically, not yet anyways; I’m waiting till it’s legal in WI, but I am not really trying to be persuasive. I have stopped using, then only used when I had pain, or a sick stomach, headache…. And I didn’t get Anihalted, I took maybe 3-5 small drags, then stopped and let it work. It does do the job…. The facts need to be laid out infront of everyone, then once all of the hard evidence, testimonies and such, NOT HEARSAY, are put forth, and only then should they make their decision. If they still dont see the Medicinal properties, then so be it.
But no one should make a decision if they don’t have all the evidence, that’s equal to locking someone innocent up for murder.

Posted by Shannon | Report as abusive

well it seems like this is quite the topic lately. As I review some of the comments, it seems like most are for the legalization of marijuana. 151 comments this morning already! Personally, I have enjoyed the smell, taste, and feel of a nicely rolled joint…and still do to this day (actually last night after my workout), just as a person may come home, or stop at a bar and then drive home, to a fine single malt scotch or a glass of pinot noir.

Point of the matter is…people need stress relievers. its up to the individual as to how to relieve their stress, sometimes dr’s need to be involved. Personally, i suffer from panic attacks. When I dont have marijuana, they are more intense and cause severe chest pain and asthma attacks. When I have weed, no panic attacks.

Now for the driving issue…Is it always safe to drive on marijuana? Hell no, it depends how “high” you are. Just like its not safe to drive on alchohol or other legal narcotics.

There are users and abusers of everything (booze, buds, powders and pills), but it is up to the individual how they choose to use.

Personally, everyone inlcuding legalization advocates, needs to quit b’tching and start doing something about it. Unfortunately there are more important issues this country is facing right now. Maybe now is the time for a NORML lobbyist to push hard in the hope to “slip one by” legislation during these tough times.

Also, for those of you who dont use marijuana and criticize others for doing so….mind your own damn business. We are all individuals that lead different lives and encounter different experiences that mold our thoughts and actions. If I have had a stressful day at work, or had a great day at work and want to celebrate in the comfort of my own home with a joint, how am I affecting you????

is it 420 yet?

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

Beware of lumping together drugs that have distinctly different modes of action. Until we have worked out the biochemistry, there is always going to be a drug war and highly opinionated dicussions about the safety of mind altering drugs. Given the freedom and resources, we can build safe drugs of pleasure, and we can find out why somepeople are highly sensitive ot marijuana, and others can’t get stoned if they were in the middle of a burning pot field.

Posted by Dr. Bill Rohde | Report as abusive

to FrankMcUK who said, “Good luck to all you libertarians out there working for this goal of common sense. When you have achieved your noble aim, I hope you don’t mind if I choose not to indulge”

Here we go…actually Frank, I am sure we have a few republicans out of the 151 comments. I myself am a right wing conservative. No I am not lower class, black, hispanic or any other label you are stereotyping. I am a professional in my field, well educated, tax paying american. I am sure there are more on this post too.

Your attitude is whats wrong with the world. So closed minded and quick to judge on issues that you have no comprehension of.

Good luck in life.

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

Every time I hear someone refer to marijuana addiction I just want to shake my head and laugh at their ignorance. I am a heavy pot smoker. I have smoked pot for over 30 years.

I travel for a living and am not about to try and take anything with me through the airport. I miss my weed, but there are no physical side affects from having abruptly quit smoking. I am totally fine all week while giving my lungs a break.

For those of you who think you cannot be a useful member of society and smoke marijuana, you obviously have not had any personal experience. I am an Engineer. I travel all over the world working for companies like NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX at events such as the Olympic Games, Super Bowl, US Open.

I discovered marijuana in college. I found that I could write software when I was stoned. I did some of my best work one handed, while holding a pipe in the other. You can smoke and still produce valuable work.

I keep hearing people calling for studies and hard facts. Do they really believe the studies have not already been done? Richard Nixon ordered a study of his own, he just didn’t like the findings. See http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/libr ary/studies/nc/ncmenu.htm if you have any doubt.

Posted by Travelinman | Report as abusive

July 24th, 2009 9:24 am GMT – Posted by Darren Duffy

“however marijuana is not risk free, and has a high correlation with mental health issues”

I’d like to see the research supporting that claim…and also point out that having sex COULD be correlated to mental health issues, as could drinking alcohol, and going to work…”high correlation with mental health issues” is basically no more substantial that “Based on a True Story” in the movies. Give a psychologist 5 min with somebody, betcha they come up with a laundry list of things that are causing them mental health issues. Being relaxed and content for a half hour to an hour is the LAST thing contributing to people’s mental health issues. Now, the DEPRESSION we’re in….

Posted by Justin | Report as abusive

Where as I no longer drink alcohol or smoke pot, I am not a temperance lunatic. People should have the right to drink, smoke pot, smoke cigarettes and overeat – it should be their choice. While I struggle daily (if not hourly) to live alcohol free and maintain my sobriety, I have no such problems (physical, emotional or psychological) abstaining from marijuana. I drank for 30 years, smoked daily for 26. I quit smoking before I quit drinking. The physical withdrawals of alcohol (delirium tremens) I wish upon no one. I had no such problems when I stopped smoking. I counsel alcoholics. I believe that addictions are choice. Psychological and physical dependency may occur, yet it is still an individual’s choice.

Government and law enforcement serve a community best by ensuring civility, not by controlling what the populous can eat, drink or smoke. Prohibitions only helps create highly profitable black-market industries.

Regardless of which side of the legalization argument you take, it is nice to read the very well thought out posts here.

A way forward might be to allow production of marijuana on an interim license period, of say 5 years, making it legal for producers and users during that period.

The period could then be used to gather the data required to either revoke or extend the license terms.

Posted by Darren Duffy | Report as abusive

I hate being suckered into this stupid age-old DEBATE/SPEECH 101 topic, but the “Driven to drink by marijuana laws?” headline got me.
After reading this article and 2-3 pages of comments I can’t find “the overwhelming public outcry to ban inhaled cannabis” that’s for sure. All I can say is wow, America is run by a bunch of potheads, I never knew. So, yeah, I’m really wondering, “what’s up”, why does the government always hold firm on this issue. I propose that maybe illegal marijuana is more profitable to the US government, through the various legal systems as it is today i.e. DEA, city/county/state police, prosecutors/judges/clerical staff, etc. I’ve smoked marijuana, a lot more in my youth (3-4 times a day), than today (6-8 times a year). I also abused alcohol in my youth and eventually suffered some consequences, today I can say that I haven’t drank any alcohol in over a decade due mostly to the lack of control over my reactions, I could just be allergic. I can say today that there is no harm, in moderation, of marijuana use, not that I have any letters behind my name.
I can understand the government’s stance, they would profit more efficiently the way things are now, legalizing marijuana would only allow me to grow in my backyard like an orange tree, tomatos, etc. Although, I went to a “tobacco shop” about 6 months ago and there was a line of about 20-25 kids, I thought they were there to buy t-shirts, body jewelry, rolling papers, paraphernalia, etc. No, they were all there to buy $30-$60 purchases of the new legal manufactured alternative blend of spices. If this alternative to marijuana is legal and there is an obvious demand, with paying consumers, legalization of marijuana may work out for the government, after all. But, if marijuana were taxed outrageously, such as tobacco is today, I would assume everyone would take my personal approach of home gardening. But, on the argument of driving me to drinking the answer is no, I’ll not be a victim. Marijuana is a “drug” where the availability & need can be patiently waited on rather than taking the alcohol path, which is immediately and always readily available. I also think that the government legalizing alcohol created more revenue and jobs, mostly centralized around the government (legislative, executive, judicial) as stated above than prohibition did. The more access to legal alcohol could only mean more drunken incidents, meaning bigger & stronger governments from the patrol cars, to the courthouses, to the prisons.
The two are not comparable in any way, whatsoever. The only time I put the two in the same category is when I define substance abuse.

Posted by Well Travelled | Report as abusive

Darren Duffy,

“If society sought the sane and proper solution, and was concerned with the well being and health of future generations then, alcohol and marijuana, along with cigarrettes would be made illegal.”

No, no, no. People would CHOOSE to not use drugs. Making something illegal DOES NOT correlate to people not doing it. It correlates to prison over-crowding and black market development. So many more people die due to the trafficking of drugs than the use, and ultimately each user is responsible for their own actions. Besides, eating fast food and being obese is likely to be more of a serious health risk to most people than drug use, so we should outlaw unhealthy foods and tax fat people right?

Marijuana will be legal eventually and then we can reflect on how our society has victimized drug users by removing them from their homes and stealing their time locking them away to “reform” them.

Posted by Ian | Report as abusive

I know a medical professional who is in his late 40′s and is very intelligent, extremely responsible, and exceptionally caring and personable. The man I’m speaking of is happily married to a woman who also happens to be an accomplished university professor, and the two of them have three lovely children ranging between the ages of eight and fifteen. The children are socially well-adjusted and have excelled both academically and in extra-curricular activities, including sports, music, and community service such as volunteering at church, etc. In short, the family I’m speaking of represents what I consider to be normal, contributing members of our society.

In terms of what some might call hedonist behavior such as substance abuse, the wife drinks an occasional glass of wine (perhaps 2-4 glasses per week), and the husband probably drinks about one case of beer per year — yes, approximately 24, 12oz. servings of beer every year, or two beers a month.

The husband has been mildly nervous, or “situationally” anxious, his entire life and discovered several years ago that smoking marijuana in the evening about an hour before going to sleep has had a profoundly positive effect on his overall health and pysche by simply calming his nerves, allowing his body and mind to relax. Marijuana also helps settle an occasional bout of intermittent and mild, yet chronic irritable bowel syndrome. He smokes approximately 1/4 to 1/3 of a single marijuana cigarette, or joint, per evening.

By my estimation, considering the aforementioned rate of marijuana consumption and, 1) a single joint weighs about 1-1.5 grams, and 2) there are 28gms in an ounce, I estimate that one ounce of good pot can last my friend anywhere between 2-4 months. Although my friend tells me he has occasionally paid as much as $400 per ounce for “good” pot, typically he reports buying pot for $220/oz, so it is fair to say that he goes through about 3ozs of marijuana/yr, spending approximately $800.

Considering that I have known this family for many years, including time before my friend started smoking marijuana on a regular basis, I can personally attest to the fact that he could be the poster child for both, “The Personal and Societally Responsible Marijuana Consumer”, and “The Recipient of the Ubiquitous Physiological and Psychological Benefits of Marijuana Use Consumer”, organizations — were such organizations to exist.

There are many rational, logical, and perfectly valid arguments within and outside of this posting for the legalization of marijuana. For the sake of my good friend, I am looking forward to the day that responsible American citizens who happen to enjoy a nightly smoke of marijuana can do so legally by purchasing high-quality pot at some kind of a pot-store, and/or by growing a reasonable amount of pot on their own property for their private consumption.

Although it will never be time for all Americans to get over their pot-phobia, which I state without cynicism because simply because there are people who believe marijuana is not safe, etc., which is not just a “stance” or “God given right”, as much as it is the truth as those individuals have every right to hold. Indeed, anti-marijuana convictions to some people are very real and must be respected.

However, it is at least reasonable to ask anyone who drinks alcohol while opposing the legalization of marijuana to take a long, careful look in the mirror and think about how prejudicial and at times, hypocritical, their thoughts, actions, and beliefs may be concerning the legalization of marijuana.

For the sake of my friend — an honest, bright, creative, a basically wonderful man who has essentially been forced to feel, and at times act, like a criminal — let’s legalize marijuana once and for all. My friend and countless other good American citizens who selflessly contribute so much to society and their families have been forced to burden shameful labels such as “pot head”, “stoner”, and “drug addict”, to name just a few, and it’s just time to move on and spend our time, money, and energy on more real problems.

To support just one of the many just and fair arguments for legalizing the responsible acquisition and use of marijuana, I feel we waste tremendous amounts of time, money, and human resources making, then combating, a problem out of something that should not even be considered a problem in the first place.

Posted by Sean | Report as abusive

This entire stream of comments and the article should be emailed to every Congressman/woman state and national. That might sink home the fact that the people are tired of these outrageous laws. The last time I wrote to my Congresswoman about this topic she brought up the “gateway” effect and the need to protect our children. Obviously I stopped writing her since she is an idiot. Totally ignorant of the facts but her lips are still flapping. Well, I won’t be voting for her next time.

Without a huge push I see this stalling. Copy this stuff and send it. All of you! Maybe we can get their attention.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

Pot is the greatest natural plant that is on planet earth, so relax people, it gives people that choose to smoke marijuana get a perfectly natural high!!

Posted by Raymond | Report as abusive

Due to asthma I am unable to smoke weed, so my comments are in no way tainted by my desire to legalize something I love.

That being said, I have had several friends killed by drunk drivers. Not only have I not had an friends killed by weed smoking drivers, I have never even heard of that happening. You do the math.

Posted by Daisy | Report as abusive

Mother Nature never produced illegal plants, Man has produced a chemical drink that is harmful when it involves the mighty $$dollar. Alcohol is a deadly substance that is legal to buy..I do believe as well as have expierenced cutting sugar (another deadly chemical, no good to the human body) and yeast out of my diet I do not hear alcohol call my name anymore…I try not to be upset that the packaged food (that is safe to eat, HAHA) we eat today has caused so many problems, for so many people because we believed in our Goverment. They wouldn’t let companies sell products that would be very harmful to the human body, Of Course NOT, HAHA again .. Mother Nature provided everything a human needs..Man provides for fellow man only what he can make money off of…I for one think Alcohol is deadly to the human body….but this is only my opinion…..

Posted by Donna | Report as abusive

Reply to Rhoops

“I’d guesstimate a 100,000 pints/shots/glasses of alcohol are had each weekend here in London, how many joint? Perhaps a 1000 at the most. So thats 100:1 people favouring alcohol.”

If you think there are less than a 1000 people smoking pot in London each night, you are so clueless.

Posted by hh | Report as abusive

I’ve never smoked weed once in my life, and I’m 100% for the legalization of marijuana in all it’s forms.

Most of the people who want it to remain illegal are the people who claim to be pro-small gov’t yet have no issue with us having spent trillions on the drug war and have the power to tell you what plants you can grow on your property. It’s amazing.

One thing I haven’t seen brought up are how these crazed neocons connect religion with being against drug use. I’m happy to say I’m an anti-theist but I went to a catholic school for 5 years and church for 16 years and never saw anything in the Bible about doing any drug as being a sin (I could be wrong, but that’s as far as I know).

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

B.Free has a good point. If everyone of the 168 people who posted comments on this board were to contact their congressmen/women, state senators, mayors, and even the White House, with your opinions about this issue, and make sure to tell them that you are a registered voter (if you’re not, then you should be) and that you’ll be voting only for people who support ending prohibition, then perhaps they’ll get the idea.

We MUST keep pushing this issue to the forefront and letting the slow-to-accept-the-truth politicians who still believe in prohibition know that it is truly TIME FOR CHANGE.

Posted by Anne Morris | Report as abusive

The absolute last thing you should throw at a fiscally-irresponsible government — such as we have now in the US federally under President Obama — is MORE tax money. If you believe otherwise, you’ve been smoking way too much dope!

Legalize mary jane to reap saving-grace tax money from it? No way. Local, state, and PARTICULARLY the federal government would waste the pot tax money, use it to further enhance their quid pro quo power base, and actually use the availability of future pot tax revenue to run even more current debt. As an example — beyond the Fed printing new money and selling treasuries — look at how California wants to somehow tap future lottery sales to pay for it’s current fiscal mess. And instead of having a treasury secretary from Goldman Sachs, we could end up with a future treas secretary from Pot Inc.

Yeah, I’m always happy to see Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong find work nowadays — but not as the next treasury secretary — or Washington lobbyist.

The only possible, valid, real-world tax-money argument for legalizing pot in the US is if the local, state, and federal tax collected from pot sales COMPLETELY REPLACED the local, state, AND federal individual income tax. Then you’d have something there worth considering — the substitution of indirect taxation, which is intrinsically self-limiting, for direct taxation.

Secondly beyond the bogus tax benefit of legalizing pot, you run the risk of dramatically increasing food prices. Whether legal or illegal, pot will always have a far-greater ROI per acre. So arable land use could follow the economics of the crops — fewer acres of corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, pasturing, etc. Then after polishing off a fat one and getting the munchies, you could end up reaching for a $12 bag of nacho cheese doritos (the ‘big’ 11-oz bag).

From a land-use perspective the only valid argument would be to make pot cultivation and possession legal only on a non-commercial, individual, grow-your-own basis, with an annual limit — as with how much beer or wine you can make at home. But you would keep sale AND barter of it ILLEGAL. You don’t even need land or planters on a balcony to grow it, they sell indoor incubators for the stuff, and grow lights, etc.

I’ve got no personal problem with anyone who wants to smoke pot, WHILE OFF-DUTY — every now and then, or every fifteen minutes — so long as they put at least six hours in between their last toke and the beginning of their work shift. But I do have a MAJOR problem with facetious BS arguments advanced as reasons for legalizing marihuana.

Just think of how much of a non-argument potential tax revenue would be for pot legalization if we had a fiscally-responsible and prudent federal government.

Posted by dom youngross | Report as abusive

July 23rd, 2009 4:08 pm GMT – Posted by Dan
The biggest obstacles to legalization are the alcohol producers and the pharmaceutical companies.

They both stand to lose a lot of customers. They’re going to spend a lot of money lobbying against legalization. They do not want this to happen. Bastards.

—I hate to disagree with you but I do: Alcohol producers have been around for a few thousands of years while pharmaceutical companies make money off a variety of medications and other products. There will never be a shortage of people in need of what either of them sell. Why didn’t the pharmaceutical companies obliterate the comsumption of alcohol when it became big game in the 20th century?
Why and How would legalization of marijuana and all other illegal substances curb the abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs?
Answer: It won’t. But you should have it all legalized so you can take them all till you drop dead. The population at large is only good for working and squeezing money out of, anyway.

Seems like it’s your addiction speaking for you when you play the blame-everybody-else game for your gluttony and write apologetics for your drug of choice, like the author, and most of the commentators here. Again, you will have ALL you ask for. If legal drugs is all you want, it’s easy enough to oblige.
Anything else, however, will be denied.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

I’m not so sure marijuana users are entirely nonviolent. Have you ever been around when a group of regular users is running low on supply, and they can’t find more? I guarantee, it’s a tense setting! Beware the ISO!

Posted by Russ | Report as abusive

have ya ever seen the show intervention? ya ever noticed there is 0 episodes of marijuana addiction and maaaaany episodes of alcoholism?

Posted by ryan harper | Report as abusive

It’s absolutly true and it’s killing my wife! You see I’m a medical cannabis user. My work doesn’t check my pee but they do randoms at her place of employment. She never use to drink until she got fired from the very place for having metabolites present. So, she “cleaned” up and started drinking. It’s really bad now and I fear it will kill her and she won’t listen to anyone. I’m sure this isn’t an isolated story either.

Well I’m sure happy drug testing and insurance companies got their wish. Thanks for killing my wife you scumbags.

Posted by moldy | Report as abusive

One thing that I am noticing when reading through these comments, is that the pro-legalization posters tend to be more conscious than the others. Perhaps this is a judgement on my part, and has no merit, but perhaps there is also a correlation between Marijuana consumers and cosciousness. Regardless of that, Marijuana should be legalized. It has been used since the beginning of time, and only in the past 80 years has been condemened by man. It is far safer than alcohol, feels far better (laying in a puddle of your own puke does not happen when smoking marijuana), and does not cause the violence and destruction alcohol causes to other people and livers.

It is time my friends, we all need to stand together, and give half of the piece sign to our government, and smoke right in front of them. If we all do it together, who is going to put us all into an iron cage?

Posted by Tom Dorsey | Report as abusive

To: Duffy… you say “The article is flawed; because society is flawed. To measure one bad substance against another is flawed thinking.”

Ah, you are incorrect. The “bad” needs to be removed as your resoning is flawed. There are only bad people. How can a substance be bad?

Posted by Bud | Report as abusive

Sorry to say it, but our new drug czar Gil Kerlikowske AKA “John Walters the second” is as close minded as his predecessor. He recently commented that the federal government will not support or allow legalization to take place in any shape or form. “Legalization is not in the president’s vocabulary, and it’s not in mine,” “Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit.”

That’s an outright lie, just like something Walters would say. He’s pathetic, him and the president can’t even get on the same page about medical marijuana. Seems awful like corruption is going on somewhere. So in other words, don’t expect him to try and help the problem whatsoever. In fact, it seems like we’re just in for another 4-8 years of the same bull ****.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

What can I say that hasn’t already been covered? Not much I guess…. Regardless:

The gateway theory is false; there is nothing inherent in cannabis that makes someone want to smoke crack; that’s ridiculous. If anything prohibition is the largest cause of any soft to hard drug progression by forcing consumers of soft drugs to interact with dealers/users of hard drugs.

Kids have more access to marijuana than they do to alcohol and that will never change under the current system of prohibition. Do you know why it’s so much easier to get marijuana vs. alcohol when you’re underage? It’s because *news flash* drug dealers don’t check for I.D

I feel like we’re just beating a dead horse here. Anyone with half a brain knows that prohibition does not work. Legalize it.

Marijuana should be legal not only for medical patients but for adults who choose it as a healthier alternative to alcohol. Americans should not be arrested for making healthier choices about their own bodies.

No matter how many people we arrest, it’s still easier for high school students to buy pot than beer. Keeping marijuana illegal does not benefit our children. It benefits special interest groups: the alcoholic beverage industry, the prison industry, police departments and their suppliers, government bureaucrats, and drug cartels.

Tell your legislators in Sacramento to legalize marijuana. Visit yes390.org

I am sick and tired of alcohol. 99% of the time I drink, I’m fine. But that one big party or that one wedding I go to a year, where I overdo it, tells me that it’s time to grow my own cannabis and stick to that primarily. Can I live a sober life if I wanted to? Sure. But I don’t want to be sober ALL the time, so I’m going to research a small 4 plant grow operation for my personal consumption, and be the happiest father in suburbia. You should all do the same. If you have a basement or closet, that’s all you need. Screw Miller, Jack, and Jose. Just give me my ‘Bud!”

Posted by Spartanacus | Report as abusive

Its a cultural thing – rednecks vs. hippies – even though there are now just as many rednecks who smoke as hippies – certainly if you count the friends and family of rednecks – it doesnt make any sense any more – even most younger authoritarians agree we ought to legalize it – there just isnt any cultural warfare value in it anymore – but apparently being straight makes alot of people into morons.

Posted by OH | Report as abusive

So true I mean just in the last couple months when I moved for a summer job and had no one that could supply me with some herb I turned to drinking more than normal and even fought a couple guys at the bar where as in the months prior to this move and couldn’t even remember the last time I was in a fight because I primarily smoked.

Posted by option420 | Report as abusive

Its total Hypocrisy, Marijuana leads to harder drugs, what crap. I never knew anyone who drinks liquor who didn’t have beer first! So should we make booze a schedule 1 substance?
I have never heard of anyone harming themselves or others using cannabis who act responsibly, anywhere, ever.
Alcohol is a very addictive substance that you can die from ingesting to much, as well as any medication sold over the counter in pharmacy’s, or medicines sold on the shelves in any grocery store or market. Its time to reschedule marijuana, and stop the death at the border.

Posted by Larry Six | Report as abusive

I still cannot believe that marijuana is so greatly stigmatized in America, and frankly it disgusts me. It infuriates me to no end when my friends go out and drink themselves into a near coma several nights a week, then criticize me and even look down on me for smoking marijuana. It makes so little sense that it’s mind-boggling.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

i cant believe how hypocritical our politicians are and how anyone can think that it is ok to drink alcohol but so terrible to smoke pot ita bull everyone needs a way to unwind pot is so much less harmful. MY GOD LEGALIZE POT AND QUIT making pot heads criminals. if employers alcohal tested people for jobs like they do for pot no one would be working , ihave worked with people on pot and people hung over guess what the smoker is much safer to work with

You don’t need expensive grow lamps that use up a lot of electricity, just 2 or 3 4′ florescent lamps standing upright next to the plants.

God gave us pot. Why are so many faux Christians committing blasphemy by trying to eradicate such a wonderful gift???

Seriously, people, it needs to be legal. I’m not a smoker, but my husband is. He use to drink and found himself in jail every couple of months from DUI to beating someone half to death. We found out that he is bipolar 1 with fast recycling and he was just trying to feel better. He stopped drinking 7 years ago and started smoking. He hasn’t been in jail or in a bit of trouble since. His moods are normal and I have the husband I always wanted. I buy it for him and will continue to do so, legal or not.

Posted by Terry | Report as abusive

When I don’t agree with some thing that is said or written, I like to research the topic to see the other sides perspective. Before I read this article, I will have to admit I don’t really have a positive view on cannabis. I have been taught that it’s a drug that will make you insane, crave harder drugs, become violent and act like a buffoon can’t stop laughing. I never really thought about it any deeper then that because what else was there to learn? Today I stumbled across this article and thought, “Oh great, another excuse story by a druggie.” After reading the first sentence of the story, I began to think about every thing I was taught. How can this be less dangerous then alcohol? Alcohol is legal, advertised and socially acceptable while cannabis is a drug. As I read the rest of the article I felt as if I had just woke up. How is it possible that our government could do this to us? So I started researching cannabis to try and figure out what or where I went wrong. After reading several articles regarding scare tactics used, I thought about how racist this law was. Little things like:

“In 1937, Harry Anslinger told Congress that there were between 50,000 to 100,000 marijuana smokers in the U.S., mostly “Negroes and Mexicans, and entertainers,” and their music, jazz and swing, was an outgrowth of this marijuana use. He insisted this “satanic” music and the use of marijuana caused white women to “seek sexual relations with Negroes!”

“Harry J. Anslinger warned the nation in an openly racist fashion that Jazz and marijuana had blacks and whites sitting down as equals and even “dancing together in teahouses.”

I just can’t see a nation like ours condoning such statements. I have just read about them, I wonder how many other people haven’t because they didn’t take the time like I (and many others I’m sure) have, it only took 20 minutes to find out some very interesting information. I also was reading the transcript from Harry J. Anslinger’s address to the congress to get the Marihuana Tax Act passed in 1937. In the address he states there is no connection to people moving onto harder drugs.

After reading several newspaper articles from archives online I came to the conclusion that this Law has a racist founding. But that was just how they thought back then, granted it was very wrong and inhumane. I read comments of people stating that this was an extended form of slavery, as most of the inmates were forced into work programs. I didn’t like what I found, but surely it has remained illegal not because of its racist nature, there had to be truth behind the fact it made you stupid or insane. To me it made no sense for it to remain illegal unless people were at serious risk to themselves or others. So I started to look at why people used cannabis and how it made them feel and act.

People claim to use cannabis to reduce stress or inspire creativity. Anything that reduces stress is good in my book. They say they feel an euphoric sensation that lasts between 1-3 hours. The fact I found the most interesting was that there are no reported deaths from overdose. The negative studies I read claimed that it lowers testosterone, sperm count, it raises violence in violent prone people (whatever that means??) and causes cancer. I won’t even try to go into the benefits, as they are beyond numerous, but they have an answer for the above listed arguments and then some. Something I thought was weird, how could something lower the testosterone while raising violent tendencies? That just didn’t fit. As far as the cancer causing argument, Polonium 210 is found in almost every plant grown in soil with Uranium 238 in it. Polonium 210 is not found in the resin on cannabis, the part that contains the THC and what not. Consumers that have been smoking most often prefer to smoke hashish, pure resin “heads”, if everyone was able to smoke hashish wouldn’t that make a safer product? In fact, I came across a few studies that said pure THC injected into brain tumours in mice caused the cancer cell to feed on themselves while leaving the healthy cells undisturbed. I found that to be incredible, even though it wasn’t a for sure study, the fact that it was done is amazing! The fact that the United States Drug Czar said the other day, “Medical cannabis has no medical value. Legalisation is not in my vocabulary or the President’s.”, yet: “US Patent 6630507 – Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants; issued October 7, 2003.” Actually there are ~30 patents pertaining to this. How can he say that while holding medical rights to it? When you look at the health risks of cannabis, they are hard to compare with health effects of alcohol, so I won’t go into that.

If it doesn’t make you go crazy or violent, have major health concerns or seem to worse then any other legal substance available, in fact seems like a safer alternative. So what on earth could be so bad about cannabis?? Our kids are getting it from Cartels and gangs, saying it’s easier to get then the all to available alcohol sitting on supermarket shelves. The cartels and drug dealers don’t care how old a person is, only how much money a person can make them. They want return customers for an income that is untouched by taxes or regulation.

That leads me to this point, I did not care much for cannabis before I read this article. After doing research that took me less then a half hour to perform, my opinion was changed. No matter how many studies I read conducted by the government appointed research centers, I just couldn’t see the truth behind it. Especially when this plant can do so much for us right now with global emissions, auto mobile fuel, replacing almost every petrol based product… The list can go on for quite some time. I have changed my perspective on cannabis and currently trying to obtain some to try. I hope that honesty and openness helps other see what they call a hideous monster drug, is in fact a precious flower.

Do some reading, look into the subject a little more. Also, there is more then one way to consume cannabis, you don’t have to smoke it and can actually lessen the negative effects. There is allot of information out there now a days, I hope and pray that people will read at least one or two articles stating the benefits of cannabis, if not for the sake of being open minded. We should tax this product, stop passing the taxes onto the hard working Americans who can hardly afford next months rent. We should regulate, educate and tax it. Thank you for your time for reading my comment.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive

Thank you, Bernd, for acknowledging some of the most hypocritical points of this War on Some Drugs. It is mind-boggling to me that people fall for the propaganda spilling from anti-cannabis legislators and organizations. They say cannabis is illegal because it’s “dangerous,” “addictive,” and can make an individual “lazy” or “stupid,” when we consume vast amounts of toxic, physically addictive substances on a daily basis, like ALCOHOL and PRESCRIPTION DRUGS and CAFFEINE and TOBACCO PRODUCTS. Come on people.

There has never been a drug free society and there never will be. Once we accept that fact, we need to accept a few other FACTS: cannabis is medicinally valuable, it’s impossible to overdose, and it’s impossible to become physically addictive (psychologically with heavy use in a small amount of individuals, yes, but that doesn’t stop anyone from drinking coffee or popping Zoloft, which causes SUICIDAL thoughts/actions in a small amount of individuals).

I know this because I know how to use Google and how to use my local library. Anyone can find dozens, if not hundreds, of independent peer-reviewed studies to back these statements up.

I am so TIRED of the misinformation, scare tactics, and downright bullying Drug War proponents smear all over our political and social landscape. I am appalled that many legislators and organizations, including the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (funded by tobacco companies by the way) and the ONDCP themselves, look right into cameras and LIE to the citizens they are supposed to be SERVING. It is insulting in the worst way. They don’t care about our health, otherwise alcohol, caffeine, tobacco products, and the majority of prescription drugs would be illegal and health care would be considered a human right. They don’t care about the children, otherwise they would rail at the failure of No Child Left Behind and the gutting of social services that many families depend on.

Most importantly, if they cared about the children in this country they would take cannabis out of the hands of drug dealers who do not check ID and who are often selling more than just cannabis. Leaving a product unregulated makes it EASIER for ANYONE to acquire, especially our children. Alcohol is far more difficult for minors in this country to acquire than cannabis, because alcohol is REGULATED. Of course kids still drink, but a six-pack is harder to get than a dime bag. You can Google that statement too people, because I read it in an independent study. And I know from personal experience – I was a teenager not that long ago (I am twenty-two years old), and a dime bag was always much easier to acquire for me or any of my peers. And that should not have been the case because I was a minor.

I am just so sick of the propaganda and the hypocrisy. I am beyond insulted every time I think about it.

Posted by Dawn. | Report as abusive

It’s a no-brainer, the penalties are designed to target Americans who indulge. It is NOT a war on drugs. It is a war on the American people. 800,000 a year are arrested. Do we want our kids on it? No, of course not. Do we want our kids to have a criminal record because of it? NO!!!!
Should we be allowed to use it for medicine? YES. Should there be controls? Of course. Are there any controls now other than jail? No, it is easier to get than any other drug, including alcohol, right now.

Posted by Old Hippie | Report as abusive

Marijuana prohibition and the irrational fear of all things cannabis that our government has created and promoted has been the main factor in my distrust of our leadership. How can we know if anything told to us by politicians and government bureauocracies is true when real-life experience with cannabis proves them to be completely, absurdly wrong? How can we trust leaders who deny clear evidence and deny the basic human right to responsibly live as we please?

Posted by Bradson | Report as abusive

thank you for this article. i freaking drink all the time b/c pot is so criminalized. it brings me down that the public is so closed to having an actual dialogue on the issue. More journalists NEED to bring the matter to light and use factual information to silence the nonsense propaganda. again, thank you

Posted by vic | Report as abusive

I fully agree that the current laws prohibiting marijuana use increases peoples consuption of alcohol. I’ve been smoking regularly for five years. I’ve had to quit off and on throughout life when something important was coming up ie. college(i went to a hospital and they drug screen their applicants), obtaining a job, etc. Last summer some friends & I went camping & were arrested for smoking marijuana. My medical license went up for review and I almost lost my livelyhood which I had worked so hard to achieve. Of course my place of employment found out and sent me for random drug screens while on probation. During each and every period of not being able to smoke so I could better my future I can attest that I consumed more alcohol. I’ll admit my weed use is strictly recreational, but if I had my choice on which one to have legalized I would vote for bud! I believe marijuana should be legalized for RESPOSNIBLE adults. I go to work every day playing a productive role in society and think I should be able to come home from work and smoke a joint to help relax from a hard days work without worrying over whether or not I’m going to be sent for a random drug screen within the next week or so. It upsets me that while I work hard every day & have to worry about being drug tested and possibly losing my job people who get their government checks @ the beginning of the month are not expected to be tested randomly. I believe that if you pay your dues to society and aren’t harming others smoking weed should be a personal choice not one made for you by the government. If we as marijuana smokers are going to change the views of society we are going to have to take more of a stance in mainstream media. There are plenty of proponents against marijuana in the media while not as many for its use. I recently found the NORML website and check it regularly for updates. If I hadn’t found it I would be behind the times on the news regarding the ending of marijuana prohibition b/c mainstream media doesn’t air the info very often. With our current energy crisis I vote conserve energy GO GREEN!

Posted by Medical Professional in IN | Report as abusive

There’s an astute commentary on drug prohibition in the May/June issue of Foreign Policy magazine. Its editor, Moises Naim, notes “some signs that the blind support for prohibition is beginning to wane among key Washington elites” and says the problem is an “American prohibition on thinking smart in the drug war.” He says there is an addiction to failed policy which has been fuelled “by the self-interest of a relatively small community — and enabled by the distraction of the American public.”

In other words, the millions of people who are aware of the folly of these policies allowed their leaders to get away with it. Once congressmen start losing elections because of their support for prohibition, things will change.

The commentary is at

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.p hp?story_id=4861

Posted by Elvira | Report as abusive

I think the posting by Elvira hits some nails on the head. With the recent expenses scandal in the UK, articles about investors leaving brokers as a consequence of the financial world gyrations (I could go on but I’ll just go) etc etc there are probably lots of things the “Washington elites” and other “leaders” probably can’t keep getting away their with. As for the pot v alcohol debate they should probably both be legal or illegal, they both distort your reality, but I’ve never seen someone completely passed out with vomit all over the place if they’ve been just smoking pot.

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive

Here is an article from The Royal College of Psychiatrists, claiming a causal link between mental health and marijuana from 2009.

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinf o/problems/alcoholanddrugs/marijuana.asp x

You will appreciate that the world has moved on considerably since Richard Nixons Report in 1972, so forgive me if I didn’t take the findings as definitive proof that marijuana should be legalised.

A very good friend of mine once said to me in earnest “giving up smoking is easy, I have done it loads of times.”

It came to mind when I read with a wry smile, your comment saying marijuana is not addictive, and yet you have smoked it for 30 years, and gone the odd week without it.

One wonders what your definition of addiction is precisely?

People who drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and marijuana want to cling on to their vices under the premise of free choice, and I understand that view fully. It is comparable with a depressed person defending their right to jump off a bridge.

Freedom of choice should not necessarily be respected, because poor choice comes at a cost to society as a whole. An example of this is food; where choice is completely free, and yet projections for the cost of treating obesity are rising at an alarming rate.

Imagine the “Great debate” is not about you and the risk you are prepared to carry; as an already impaired adult, but about the risk you are prepared to pass on to a young child.

Would you allow your 10 year old child to eat marijuana on a daily basis?

After all in your opinion, they can function normally, be productive, not suffer any long term effects, not be stressed and not be addicted. Thumbs up all round if you are right! or a grave error playing with your childs life if you are wrong!

Posted by Darren Duffy | Report as abusive

There is not so much as a warning label on a bottle of alcohol sold for human consumption that is highly addictive and can be lethal after only one overdose. There is even a warning label on the plastic bag I pick up my dry cleaning in. The phrase “drugs and alcohol” is a lie as it infers alcohol is not a drug. Alcohol is a drug. Marijuana is commonly referred to as a drug, but it is not. It is a plant. If it is common sense, why don’t more people have it? What ever happened to God’s will for people to live in freedom with liberty as acknowledged and cited in the Constitution of the United States?

Posted by Mike Stroup | Report as abusive

The rationalization habits of a marijuana user:

1. They will refuse to accept that there are links between marijuana and addiction, health problems and mental illness. This is simply a case of denial, which they use to pretend that their actions have no consequences.

eg: “It’s perfectly harmless”

2. They equate it to alcohol, even though they know that marijuana has additional effects which set it apart from alcohol and other legal drugs. This is an attempt to equate themselves with drinkers, in a way to try and create the impression that any attack on their habit is hypocrisy.

eg: “Well you drink beer. Drugs are no different”

3. They focus on the self-centered perspective, refusing to consider the detrimental effect they may have on their family, friends, victims of crime and society as a whole. This allows them to exist in a ‘closed circuit’ reality where they can ignore the fact that their choices have consequences for other people.

eg: “It’s my choice. Nobody else gets hurt”

4. They claim to have used the substance over a long term period, yet deny that they could ever be addicted to the substance. This gives them the feeling that they are in power and control over their use of the drugs, even when the reality may be that they are firmly gripped by a mental and physical dependence.

eg: “I can give it up whenever I like.”

5. They claim that they should have the liberty to do as they please. It is common for people being punished for incorrect behaviour to seek to portray themselves as victims of oppression. By cultivating a perception of being repressed, they can use this perceived “moral highground” to justify their breaking of the law.

eg: “It’s not fair! I should be able to do what I like! Daddy can’t tell me what to do! I don’t want to sit in the corner. Waa. Waa.”

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

I’ve been smoking for almost 30 years and I have never had a problem stopping for jobs, or just stopping because I wanted to. Ask an alcoholic if they can “just stop?”. I continue to smoke because it makes the quality of my life so much better! I don’t hack every morning and the only side effect I have ever suffered from is called “The Munchies”!!!!!! LOL. I’m 43 I have been a mechanical designer for over 10 years. Never once have I ever regretted smoking pot unlike the morning after an evening drinking and ending up with a hangover!!! The so-called drug war is nothing more than a money making scam for law enforcement and the Industrial Prison Complex that has taken over our country! Harry Anzlinger was evil and a megalomaniac and this lunacy must end!

Posted by Jodi in Texas | Report as abusive

There is absolutely nothing wrong with adults consuming marijuana provided they do so in a responsible manner. It’s the fact that enforcement of the idiotic anti-marijuana laws in the US is a bumper cash crop for the courts, prisons, and certain special interests in certain jurisdictions that keeps it illegal. It’s the fact that pharmaceutical mega-companies lobby to keep it illegal because they don’t want you using an effective medicine that you can grow at home that keeps it illegal

Those of you that have posted denigrating marijuana users, you’re speaking from a position of, to say the least, attempted control and lack of life experience. It’s patently none of your business what I put in my body or consume in my own home. As a marijuana smoker for approximately 40 years, and having smoked some of the best in the world, I can tell you from personal experience that some of your concerns are ridiculous and are just about control, not anything else.

So choose to smoke marijuana instead of drinking alcohol, and fight it out in the courts. At least in the US, what are you going to do, fill the jails and prisons with marijuana smokers, while tobacco and alcohol are legal? That makes not a bit of sense. Demand a jury trial every time. Don’t allow the grammatic fallacy of the system saying you are consuming a drug. It’s not a drug, it’s a non-processed natural plant, period, and everything defining it otherwise is fantasy.

All that said, not everybody can consume marijuana and maintain, just as it is with alcohol. Marijuana isn’t for everybody, but that isn’t the decision that I can be made by somebody other than yourself. It’s your body, you have the natural right to abuse it or not as you choose.

Those that don’t like marijuana, that’s fine, but in the meantime, mind your own business and live your own lives…

Al – Front Range NORML Volunteer

My brother works in an industrial facility and is regularly drug tested, and does not do drugs. But he gets sloberin drunk every weekend and some weeknights and makes a fool of himself every time. When he was younger he smoked pot, consumed far less alcohol and was a much better person. Policies that we have now force him into heavy alcohol use, the legal drug.

I love my brother and wished I could just get him to relax and smoke one or attend AA.

I have given this problem much of my thoughts and I conclude that legalization of marijuana in the US would deal such a blow to the drug cartel in mexico that they’d be out of business, they wouldn’t have enough money left to continue selling other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. Since marijuana is their mainstay wouldn’t this help put them out of business? Also as a side benefit, farmers and related industries would spring up in the US stimulating our own economy with taxation. For one thing, why is marijuana is illegal? More people smoke marijuana than ever before, it should be legal. Please legalize marijuana now.

>>My rebuttal:

July 26th, 2009 12:06 am GMT – Posted by Anon

The rationalization habits of a marijuana user:

1. They will refuse to accept that there are links between marijuana and addiction, health problems and mental illness. This is simply a case of denial, which they use to pretend that their actions have no consequences.

eg: “It’s perfectly harmless”
>>It’s is the safest pyschoactive substance known to man. Cannabis does has effects but they are less harmful than a cup of coffee (caffeine kills people every year). And yes we know that smoking anything has negative side effects but you can either vaporize or ingest cannabis which eliminates that argument.

2. They equate it to alcohol, even though they know that marijuana has additional effects which set it apart from alcohol and other legal drugs. This is an attempt to equate themselves with drinkers, in a way to try and create the impression that any attack on their habit is hypocrisy.

eg: “Well you drink beer. Drugs are no different”
>>Your biggest problem here is you don’t see alcohol as a drug when in fact its quite a dangerous one. Last time I checked people don’t black out, get poisoned, or die from cannabis consumption. People do not get angry or violent when smoking. So what are these extra effects are you talking about?

3. They focus on the self-centered perspective, refusing to consider the detrimental effect they may have on their family, friends, victims of crime and society as a whole. This allows them to exist in a ‘closed circuit’ reality where they can ignore the fact that their choices have consequences for other people.

eg: “It’s my choice. Nobody else gets hurt”
>>Sounds like a good reason to legalize. The reason marijuana use hurts people and their friends and family is because it is illegal status. Countless non-violent, upstanding citizens have had their lives changed for the worst due to our oppressive laws. Furthermore, if the marijuana is taxed and regulated you just destroyed the black market for the product and all the ills associated with it.

4. They claim to have used the substance over a long term period, yet deny that they could ever be addicted to the substance. This gives them the feeling that they are in power and control over their use of the drugs, even when the reality may be that they are firmly gripped by a mental and physical dependence.

eg: “I can give it up whenever I like.”
>>Yes there is a chance of addiction with any substance and it is up to user to exercise moderation. However with marijuana their is virtually no physical withdraw symptoms and rather it is all mental. Compared to other already legal substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs the potential of addiction is significantly lower. I find it quite sad that Americans see it as perfectly normal for someone to have a drink or two every night, but if you were to change that substance to marijuana that person is a addict/druggie/burnout/loser.

5. They claim that they should have the liberty to do as they please. It is common for people being punished for incorrect behaviour to seek to portray themselves as victims of oppression. By cultivating a perception of being repressed, they can use this perceived “moral highground” to justify their breaking of the law.

eg: “It’s not fair! I should be able to do what I like! Daddy can’t tell me what to do! I don’t want to sit in the corner. Waa. Waa.”
>>Seems like to me the government has haphazardly decided which substances should and should not be legal to ingest. Why does the government allow to consume alcohol and tobacco, two well-known and well-documented cancer causing substances? At the same time a less-harmful substance, marijuana, is having wars fought against it. People are just asking for some common sense policy.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

For comparison:

You can die from an overdose of alcohol, and it’s not terribly difficult to do so.

You can’t die of an overdose of marijuana, I don’t care how much you smoke in one sitting.

Alcohol is well-known to cause a myriad of serious diseases, cyrrhosis of the liver, brain damage, heart disease.

Name one disease that marijuana is well-known to cause. Really? If there were even one case of lung cancer caused by long term marijuana smoking, don’t you think you’d be hearing all about it, like you do with cigarettes?

Alcohol use causes loss of coordination, memory, impaired judgment, changes in personality and behaviors.

Can you show me what a stoner looks and acts like after getting stoned? A security staff at a 1977 Eagles concert in Houston was quoted in a local paper as saying they were more vigilant for alcohol and its containers than for anything related to pot because, they said, “it’s the drinkers that get in fights and cause trouble, the pot smokers just sit back and watch the show.”

Alcohol use causes physical impariment, both perceptual and motor control. It’s pretty obvious when a driver has had too much to drink, and the rate of accidents and fatailties is well-known.

Pot, not so much. Many snowboarders will tell you that getting high enhances their boarding skills. Maybe, maybe not, but can you show me one news article or feature showing a car accident caused by smoking pot? If there were I’m sure that ONDCP and the DEA would be all over it like flies on a cowpile.

All in all, I can’t wait for the book to come out, and yes, I think we are reaching a tipping point in terms of public support of legalization, and yes, I think society will be better off for it.

Posted by Fireweed | Report as abusive

Bill Hicks (MHRIP) was right on the money. There’s a reason why marijuana is against the law. Why would governments decriminalize something that helps people understand how they’re being f***** everyday of their lives? No, you can’t have that drug. It’s the devil leading you astray. Instead, have a Bud, and a Marlboro. Here, drink this, smoke that, shut-up. And congratulate yourself on living in the land of the free.

Posted by Bill Hicks for Messiah | Report as abusive

Thank you. Anon. I completely agree with you. But, seeing as how its us against the masses than this will be my last word on the matter.

A user is a user. I don’t understand how anyone here can legitimately claim that being a marijuana user is not “BAD”. Once you get to the point of fetishizing something by coming up with rationales for why it is so good. I really don’t understand how people can go out of their way to justify things without realizing exactly what they’re doing.

The only legitimate argument I’ve heard from potheads. Is the fact that the US can tax it. But, once you use that argument you lose all moral high ground.

I find it hard to believe that pot smokers are honestly saying that pot is not addictive. The physiological reason that nicotine is so addictive is because there are certain receptors in the brain that respond to the chemical nicotine. Of which admittedly there is no enough evidence to prove that pot is addictive but NEITHER is there enough evidence to prove that it is not.

So why don’t you do a home study. Smoke everyday for a month and then go cold turkey. If you get cold chills and start craving than yes it is addictive.

Marijuana is not “Harmless”. It has more tar than cigarettes. Anyone here that’s willing to look at a non-bias study can look this up themselves. Not to mention it severely impairs your short term memory.

And finally there is no such thing as a Perfect Right. Rights exist in proportion to the rest of the population.

Posted by J | Report as abusive

Anon

You obviously need a 12 step program to help you stop lying.

I’ll just stick to one subject…you’re addiction myth.

I have smoked marijuana practically daily for 35 years.Recently because of my financial status I had to make some changes,the first being to cut down on entertainment costs.

I stopped buying marijuana and haven’t had any for over 3 months…just stopped…no withdrawals or craving…no sleep loss…just stopped.

Anon…stop your lying.

Posted by mntnman444 | Report as abusive

Should marijuana be legal? Of course it should be legal.
Will it be legal? No.
More than half of the American people could be up in arms demanding it’s legalization and the government would over look science and claim that it’s a dangerous drug and “do what’s best and protect the people” and keep it illegal. Marijuana and is to versatile as a medicine.
If it is legal there will be major restrictions.

Posted by Alexander | Report as abusive

I am pleasantly surprised at the number of positive comments concerning this topic. As an adult child of two alcoholic parents, I am acutely aware of the consequences of addiction. Thankfully I made it successfully through my own battles with alcohol addiction earlier in life. I have smoked weed off and on through out my life and can say for me, weed is a much more forgiving means by which to “unwind”. I continue to drink on a very selective basis, and find myself feeling very agitated when under the influence of as few as two alcoholic beverages. On the other hand, sharing a joint with a friend tends to result in smiles, laughter and most times involvement in some creative endeavor or another.
I cannot say what is right for others, only myself. I could drone on about what I feel, but thanks to many of the previous posters, I don’t have to. My only conclusion is that “all things in moderation” is an effective approach to most things in life. I do hope that hemp is decriminalized. When this is successfully accomplished, maybe then, we as a society can start to examine our unhealthy and unrealistic attitudes toward other important issues of public policy. Then, we as a nation can truly claim to be morally just and leaders of a “free” World. Peace, love and happiness to you all.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

Wow. Talk about people getting defensive. Yet in many cases my points were not refuted, but rather confirmed.

If you believe that marijuana is harmless, then talk to the health professionals. They are the ones who pick up the pieces.

If you believe that the laws are to blame for crime, then talk to the addict who blames his habit when he mugs someone for cash.

If you believe that you are not addicted, even after long habitual use, then don’t waste words proving it to other people. Prove it to yourself, if you can.

If you truly believe that your habit is justifiable and good, perhaps you are just very good at rationalization?

The purpose of my post was to confront not just the issues with marijuana, but the excuses people use to justify their habit to themselves and others.

Perhaps people should look behind the ‘noble’ excuses they make for themselves, and try to find the true motivations that lie behind them?

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

First of all J, being a marijuana user isn’t necessarily bad, nor is it good. It’s bad as far as smoking it damages your lungs, but there are alternatives to smoking it.

Furthermore, pot isn’t physically addicting like nicotine is. I smoked heavily for 4 months and quit cold turkey with no adverse effects. It’s habit forming, but so is going to the gym or spitting. And I don’t think anyone tries to make the argument smoking marijuana is harmless. Smoking anything does damage to your lungs.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

Directed towards a misinformed anon poster

If you believe that marijuana is harmless, then talk to the health professionals. They are the ones who pick up the pieces. IGNORANCE.
———SMOKING marijuana is harmful,VAPORIZING marijuana has no ill medical effects, and some medical benefits.

If you believe that the laws are to blame for crime, then talk to the addict who blames his habit when he mugs someone for cash. IGNORANCE
——— No one is robing anyone over any small amount of marijuana to get high. People do get robbed and shot over large amounts of marijuana because prohibition has forced the market underground

If you believe that you are not addicted, even after long habitual use, then don’t waste words proving it to other people. Prove it to yourself, if you can. IGNORANCE
——–Marijuana is NOT an addictive substance, however people can get into the habit of smoking marijuana. Its an easier habit to kick then biting you nails however.

If you truly believe that your habit is justifiable and good, perhaps you are just very good at rationalization?
——-Or maybe if you believe that a broken system of laws ruining thousands of peoples lives over a benign plant is right, you might just be very good at rationalization

Check you facts before you post people

Posted by Charles | Report as abusive

Alcohol vs. Marijuana shouldn’t even be debated, Pot wins hands down. I dislike drunk people, even the famous “I love you man!” drinker. Now with that being said, I don’t think Alcohol should be illegal, Neither should pot.
There is no legitimate reason for pot to be illegal,it’s just a bunch of “I don’t do it so no one else should” type people telling us what to do. Until that changes, the law wont either.

Anon, I agree. Marijuana is not “harmless”. Nothing is harmless, not even water. We learned that water, when ingested in large quantities, can kill. How did we learn this? We learned this from young adults trying to pass urine tests by attempting to flush their systems. No, nothing is harmless. The question is given marijuana’s relative harmlessness should this society continue to cause much greater harm by keeping it illegal? Obviously, the greatest harm in possessing marijuana is the laws outlawing it. These laws perpetuate a black market which funds criminal activity, not only in this country but, many other countries. You have nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol, even aspirin that kills more people annually than marijuana has killed in the last 100 years or more. This National Institute of Mental Health conducted studies in Jamaica of life long users and found that there was no higher rate of lung disease than non-smokers and showed that users who smoked tobacco had a lower instance of lung disease. The Nixon administration conducting one of the largest reviews of current research and found nothing that would justify the laws against marijuana – not what the Nixon administration wanted to hear. Australia conducted the largest analysis of car accident data ever and concluded that marijuana did not contribute to accidents. In fact, they found that drivers under the influence of marijuana were less likely to be involved in an injury causing accident than straight drivers. And no, not I nor they recommended we drive high. The points being this should not be illegal. Individuals of flawed character trying to blame inanimate substances they chose to use for recreation on their behavior have no bearing on the legality of marijuana. They just as readily blame their mother. It is just a testament to the fact they need psychological help. Marijuana is not harmless but, relatively speaking, if made legal, it would be one of the least harmful recreational substances on the market. In my opinion it would rate somewhere below Oreo cookies and Coca Cola.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

Anon,
You and I seem to disagree on everything but yet we can debate topics rationally and like adults, like we’ve proven.

Quickly to the man who sided with you J, I’ve never smoked pot once in my life, never will, and I’m 100% for legalization. Blindly calling all pro-legalization people potheads completely wipes away any comment or thought you have.

Anon many health professionals will say pot is perfectly healthy, and many would prescribe it if it were legal. If I get sick and need a pain remedy I can promise you I’d rather be prescribed marijuana than many of the fanatically addictive pain medicines that are normally prescribed (morphine, codeine, etc). I’ll bet even more would outspokenly agree with pot prescription if they knew society and gov’t wouldn’t scorn them for doing so because of the stereotypes that have been created.

That person with the habit wouldn’t have to mug anyone if he could buy a pack of marijuana cigs for a few bucks at the store.

People can be addicted to anything based on habit, I was addicted to biting my nails. I don’t think marijuana is to blame for people being addicted to marijuana, it’s the person’s personality.

I don’t think someone using marijuana is a good thing, I just don’t think it’s a bad thing. I also don’t want another trillion dollars of taxpayer money flushed down the toilet with zero positive consequences.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

“VAPORIZING marijuana has no ill medical effects, and some medical benefits.”

There is a strong link between use of marijuana and increased risk of long-term mental illness. In laymans terms, it slowly sends you batshit. Just like most illegal drugs. And the health professionals are the ones who have to pick up the pieces.

“No one is robing (sic) anyone over any small amount of marijuana to get high.”

If a person needs money to get their fix, to a drug that they are dependent on, you will be surprised what a drug user is capable of.

“People do get robbed and shot over large amounts of marijuana because prohibition has forced the market underground”

So following your logic, we should also legalise crack, heroin, amphetimines and military grade munitions. After all, if these things were legal, there would be no crime connected to them, right?

“Marijuana is NOT an addictive substance”

I wonder if anyone on this forum supporting that conclusion has done so via their medical degree? Or a science degree? Chemistry? Psychiatry? Or do they read relevent accredited journals?

“if you believe that a broken system of laws ruining thousands of peoples lives over a benign plant is right, you might just be very good at rationalization”

Ok. I stand corrected. Cannibis users are not only very good at rationalization of their drug habit, they are also good at the psychological projection of their flaws on to others.

The reality is that people want to get high, regardless of the harm they will do to themselves and to others. And they will come up with any excuse to justify their behaviour.

Try to tear their rationalizations away, though, and look how flustered and upset they get. Just as well they protect themselves with justification, or they would feel like that all the time.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

Morning (or is it afternoon?), Mr Ham.

You do make some good points. The main issues I have is that:

1. The majority of users, I think, do not use Marijuana for any justifiable medical purpose.

2. While some medical professionals see marijuana as harmless, others believe that it may cause or increase the risk long-term mental illness. While causation has not been proven as an absolute fact, there is enough correlation to cause a serious concern.

3. The long-term social costs of a ‘recreational’ drug which may cause permanant mental illness cannot be understated.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

I don’t know why anyone doesn’t think that marijuana should be legalized. First of all it does help when sick or naucious. I can’t tell you the number of times I have stayed home from school or work feeling absolutely terrible, hit my bong, and within a half an hour my mind is active and I can eat without throwing up.
Although I will admit that after 10 years of fairly heavy marijuana use when I stop it is hard for me to fall asleep some nights and other activities like TV or video games seem some what pointless, but my mind is still sharp and I excercise daily. (Marijuana helps to open up your lungs, something to do with stimulating different parts of your lungs)
But to you fools who believe that marijuana makes people more dangerous or messed up more than liquor think again. When I smoke normally I end up staying home with some friends and get some take out…sounds like some dangerous front page news action huh? NOT. No one is saying to legalize every drug, because nearly every drug is extremely addictive and most are dangerous because you can overdose on your first use.
The only reason some people are opposed to the legalization of marijuana is because they are ignorant to the fact that if you use marijuana properly it does improve the quality of your life. Also if marijuana were legalized it would stop people from having to deal with drug dealers. Half of the time the dealers are plotting to steal your money when they claim to walk away to get your weed. Also it would keep those morons from having any real power or money in society because once they lose the power to peddle their weed (which in some cases could be laced with dangerous drugs) they will no longer need to bother the peaceful pot smoking community ever again!

Posted by SmokeyBear | Report as abusive

responsibilty….the first thing to think about when using mj. as with anything else.i work every day of the week.i pay bills when thet are due.im good to my family and all those around me. after a hard day at my job, i like to unwind.my personal feeling is that a few hits from a pyrex bowl of gods green is for me. i dont need to empty a whole sack to get a comfortable buzz that will last the evening. i spend very little on it so, i have no problem paying my bills.i know when i can smoke and when not to.it creates a calm and peaceful feeling for me that allows me to function in a jovial comfortable manner even in stressful situations. i have smoked it 32 yrs. two years longer then i have worked at my only job of thirty years. i dont smoke before work. my employer asked that we not do that and i respect that. i have quit many times through the years for different personal reasons due to, children,church,personal change. i enjoy mj and will enjoy it all that i can.i had to quit again because my employer feels the need to destroy what little privacy i have with drug testing. i understand he needs people to not come to work high but, its wrong. they wont create a test for mj to show results on the job so. i must go without the peace and comfort. i dont drink for that reason because alcohol has ruined a part of my childhood, my family and ultimatly, my sweet mothers life.i wont let it get me too. their are many responsible, ordinary,kind, helpful people who smoke marijuana who dont deserve their lives to be destroyed by the present ruling. mj runs no ones life, rather, we rule the plant and, used responsibly,it is a great sourse of inner peace, and a provision to slow down just a little to keep our perspective in check. thank you for your time

Posted by fla activist | Report as abusive

I smoke marijuana as a public service. Everytime I have to deal with jerkoffs in my daily affairs when I am stoned the conversation is better for it because I am less likely to throw it back in their face.

Whenever I drive stoned I am a much better driver, less aggressive, and prone to bouts of road rage.

So be thankful I am a guerilla smoker your society is somewhat safer for you to consume the planet in, because of it.

Posted by Legalize It | Report as abusive

I want to hear of one verifiable case where long term use made someone ‘go batshit’. I personally quit smoking because of my asthma, but I have friends that have used for the better part of 40+ years, and not one of them has a mental health issue. Who’s spreading this stuff? Not the pot smokers, that’s for sure.

Posted by MargaD | Report as abusive

Good Day Anon.

You said: “There is a strong link between use of marijuana and increased risk of long-term mental illness. In laymans terms, it slowly sends you batshit. Just like most illegal drugs. And the health professionals are the ones who have to pick up the pieces.”

If you like the science of it let me just give you one very important lesson in Statistics:

The concept of correlation is particularly noteworthy for the potential confusion it can cause. Statistical analysis of a data set often reveals that two variables (properties) of the population under consideration tend to vary together, as if they are connected. For example, a study of annual income that also looks at age of death might find that poor people tend to have shorter lives than affluent people. The two variables are said to be correlated; however, they may or may not be the cause of one another. The correlation phenomena could be caused by a third, previously unconsidered phenomenon, called a lurking variable or confounding variable. For this reason, there is no way to immediately infer the existence of a causal relationship between the two variables. Correlation does not imply causation.

The correlation you allude to in your statement has been cleared up as individuals with mental illness self medicating to elevate their symptoms. Not the “batshit” scenario the propaganda spin drs feed the Fox news media for shock value.

You said: “I wonder if anyone on this forum supporting that conclusion has done so via their medical degree? Or a science degree? Chemistry? Psychiatry? Or do they read relevent accredited journals?”

Would you believe a Dr. at the University of Texas?

“Hello, I’m Dr. Allen Battle, a psychologist with UT Medical Group and professor of psychiatry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Today we are talking about addictions.

Q: Is marijuana addictive?

Dr. Battle: No, marijuana is not addictive. It isn’t addictive because the active ingredient in it, THC, does not become a part of the body chemistry. So that then, that body, would be dependent on it just as it is dependent on water or food. That is the essence of addition; it is physiological!

Gambling, food, sex, are not addictive. To use the word addiction in connection with these activities is to pervert the meaning of the word addiction. These things can become obsessions, that is to say, thoughts that repeat and repeat in spite of the individual not desiring to have them. They can become compulsions, in which the individual must act upon those thoughts. They can become habitual. They may be used as a way of escaping from problems in the here and now. But none of these things are physiological.”

If you want to see the entire interview: http://www.utmedicalgroup.com/pages/webc hat_addiction.html

You also seem to have issues with people wanting to “get high”. I wonder why that is? Many people want to relax after a stressful day. Some drink others get high and…well there are various ways to relax and each to their own. But, you obviously have issues with getting high. Why would anyone have to justify wanting to feel better? You seem to think they must.

You Said: “Cannibis users are not only very good at rationalization of their drug habit, they are also good at the psychological projection of their flaws on to others.”

You obviously think those that use marijuana are flawed. How funny! Surly you wrote that in haste. Because that would mean Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were flawed as well. I think most Americans would be honored to be as flawed as them. However, you Sir, seem to be under the misconception that marijuana use equates to ignorance, and character flaws. You suckered a few into your false arguments but I doubt many will continue to fall.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

As a matter of principle, I’m in favour of legalisation (note, not promotion) of all drugs. When I explain this, some people think I want to use drugs – and nothing could be further from the truth – though, I admit, I’ve consumed a fair amount of alcohol over the years… I’ve never smoked anything – including tobacco – even to “try”.

I found it fairly easy to avoid tobacco (though it was easier once I’d turned 16) because, with it being a legally available drug, there is no credible peer pressure and a free-choice can be made to decline without losing face. It is my considered opinion that the illegality of drugs itself is key to promoting their use… where, I suspect, many people who start do so because they feel they might not get another opportunity… which leads to them making under-informed decisions… which are, in and of themselves, dangerous.

One problem I see with cannabis is the effect it has on those who are merely nearby… while cigarette smoke can smell unpleasant (and might, arguably, have long-term health effects) I’ve noticed (when I’ve inadvertently been passively affected by exotic smokers) that it takes many, many hours for my head to feel clear again – sometimes over a day. Perhaps this is an effect similar to a single glass of wine making a 5-year-old paralytic (on account of my lack of exposure) but I think the implication worth considering… If space-cookies were the vehicle of choice, I’d have no objection at all to others consuming cannabis. In fact, I think it would be liberating – perhaps leading to social activities that don’t involve alcohol… where, with a variety of recreational consumption, people would feel relaxed to decline any or all substances as they see fit.

To my mind, the illegality of drugs is insane – and represents a statute that is dangerous and damaging in the way it promotes a reckless underground culture and desensitizes otherwise law abiding citizens to criminal behaviours.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

Anon,

1.) I agree 99% of use isn’t medical, but this is a non-issue to me.

2.) I agree breathing in marijuana smoke is likely less healthy than breathing in oxygen. I’m of the opinion that if someone wants to hurt themselves they should have the freedom to do it, whether it be eat fatty food, do bad drugs (i want them all legal not just marijuana), jump out of a tree and onto the ground, anything that doesn’t hurt others.

3.) I think our long term social costs of locking up non-violent criminals and a large % of them turning into violent criminals when they leave is far worse than legalizing drugs.

I think people who want marijuana legalized and not all drugs are being as hypocritical as people who want marijuana to remain illegal while alcohol/nicotine are ok.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

Is it possible there aren’t comparable numbers for accidents caused by marijuana because alcohol is easier to obtain?

And the idea that legalizing marijuana would give an alternative choice to alcohol is rediculous. People would just combine them. I would never believe someone who said they drink because pot is illegal, or that they’d quit drinking if they could light up.

With all the smoking bans going across the country, I find it incredible that people are pushing to be able to smoke more things. How long would it be before pot smokers were looked down upon like tobacco smokers?

Stop Funding Border Violence! – Legalize Cannabis Now!
The Border Violence is being funded by the U.S. Government’s Prohibition. The U.S. Government could put a stop to 70% of the Mexican Drug Cartel’s War Money simply by obeying the wishes of the American People! (While at the same time keeping this Taxable Money in the U.S.)!!!

Stop Forcing Alcohol on People who want to make the SAFER choice! – Legalize Cannabis Now!
Forcing people to take urine tests in order to be employed encourages Drinking Disorders. Many people CANNOT drink. People are Arrested and Jailed EVERY DAY if they pursue the SAFE ALTERNATIVE – so MANY, MANY People DRINK even though they know that Alcohol is BAD for them and that Cannabis is NOT… This is a horrible thing for the Government to do!

Stop Sending Our Children To Dealers of Hard Drugs – Legalize Cannabis Now!
Because Cannabis is not regulated by law, many people selling it do not feel obligated to follow any rules. The U.S. Government puts YOUR CHILDREN in the hands of illegal Drug Dealers by continuing Cannabis Prohibition! Keep Cannabis illegal and we will send our Children into DANGER.

Add Billions of Dollars to Local, State and Federal Government! – Legalize Cannabis Now!
Milton Friedman and many other have demonstrated that this Country (and indeed the World) would benefit greatly financially from the repeal of Prohibition! This will mean BILLIONS of DOLLARS for Local, State and Federal Government! Currently the U.S. Government enjoys giving this money to Mexican Drug Cartels. We The People want the U.S. Government to Stop Supporting Terrorism and allow the American People to rebuild our economy!

Stop Prison Overcrowding! – Legalize Cannabis Now!
Over Three Quarters of a MILLION People are arrested every year for Cannabis! These are GOOD, OTHERWISE LAW ABIDING Citizens! This horror is breaking up families and the family structure. It also takes most of the Police Force away from real crime! There are more Police harassing good people than there are pursuing real crime! Broken families and people who are not allowed a good job (because of a Cannabis-Related Arrest) is a huge problem with our Country and its economy!

Stop Deforestation by using Cannabis Paper – 4 times more efficient than trees! – Legalize Cannabis Now!
One of the Main Reasons that Cannabis was criminalized was to make money for William Randolf Hearst (vested Timber Interests).

Start Removing Carbon from the Atmosphere! – Legalize Cannabis Now!
With the Deforestation Problem, we need all the Carbon Buffers that we can grow to help save ourselves from extinction!

Stop Forcing Very Dangerous Pharmaceuticals on People who would benefit from the Proven Medical Benefits of Cannabis! – Legalize Cannabis Now!
Cannabis is a VERY EFFECTIVE MEDICINE! Our Government will not let us use a SAFE ALTERNATIVE. The U.S Government says “Risk of Heart Attacks, Stokes and Death” and other horrible side-effects for U.S. Government Approved Pharmaceuticals are acceptable – but Cannabis, while being totally SAFE, must remain illegal as it actually makes the patient feel better!

We The People Want Cannabis Legalized!
We Are The Majority! We know that Cannabis is safe and that Alcohol is NOT!
We DEMAND Cannabis Law Reformation! There needs to be NO DEBATE! The People have Spoken!

Legalize Cannabis Now!

Posted by FiddleMan | Report as abusive

Great article, if only more people had as much sense. I definatly agree that pot is far safer than alchohol, although I feel that it shouldn’t be nessasary to make these arguments. Where in the Constitution of the United States of America does it say that the federal goverment can prohibit a substance. It doesn’t and they don’t have the right to, period. Stand up for your rights people, this is supposed to be a free country.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

B.Free

While it is true that the causation of Marijuana related mental illness has not been proven as a fact, there is enough data corralation to make it a serious issue.

It is funny how the exact same thing applies to Global Warming but in reverse. Causation has not been proven, but people accept the significant corralation that exists.

I checked your reference regarding the doctor. He also mentioned that in his opinion, the substance has a potential for psychological addiction.

And in the end, he is only one medical opinion. As Marijuana has tangiable physical effects on the body, it is possible for the body to become used to having those effects.

My issue is not about people getting high and relaxing. I have never said that, and it is a false argument to suggest I do.

My issues is that confronted with all the secondary effects related to marijuana (health, mental and social) most users will simply dismiss these issues offhand because of their singular desire to get high.

I also have an issue that those same people blame the presence of laws for crime. That is a logical fallacy.

And while we are talking about false arguments, the hemp commonly used for wood can not be smoked. There should not be, and probably isn’t, any connection with the criminalisation of the actual drug.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

At this point in the game the resistance mostly comes from conservatives due simply their inability to accept change. We can pile stacks of studies in front of them and that won’t help in the least, just as creationists can deny and dismiss all the science that proves natural selection. It’s no coincidence that there are few, if any, liberals pushing Intelligent Design.

There’s also the backroom dealings of the powerful law-enforcement unions…or “fraternities” as they prefer to be called, who know that prohibition is the bread and butter issue of their continued employment. While they wont openly admit it, a very significant portion of their reasoning comes from this, admittedly more practical, albeit extremely immoral, position.

Posted by Mycos | Report as abusive

“My issues is that confronted with all the secondary effects related to marijuana (health, mental and social) most users will simply dismiss these issues offhand because of their singular desire to get high.”

My experience is that many individuals who don’t smoke marijuana do make baseless assumptions and generalizations about individuals who do smoke it. Before you criticize it, try it. You don’t have to smoke, there’s edibles, oils, and tinctures.

Marijuana does have a potential to be psychologically addicting (been there done that). Marijuana does have health effects. So does chocolate. So does everything else in this material plane. If somebody wants to live the live of an aesthete, that’s their prerogative. I prefer the life of a stoner myself. Don’t expect me to walk your path.

Again, I’ll restate my position that’s the individual, not the drug that causes the problems. Not many I’ve met that perpetrate while smoking marijuana. There’s exceptions to every rule, though. Many a pub crawler should not be allowed next to alcohol. If you have a propensity for mental illness then neither alcohol or MJ may be good for you.

Maybe now, with a US presidential administration that appears to have some sense, we’ll be able to finally get good samples of medicinal MJ grade into the hands of researchers. Then we can answer some of these questions and issues definitively.

One final thing. Folks: THERE IS NO DRUG. IT’S A PLANT. Calling it a drug is new age legal legerdemain to allow justification for criminalization. As an example, the coca leaf is not a drug. It’s a plant that contains psychoactive alkaloids. It becomes a drug when you process the coca leaf into cocaine. So is it with marijuana. In marijuana, there are over 70 natural psychoactive alkaloids to my knowledge. Which on is this putative drug?

Thank you for all your efforts Steve! This article is truly informative and will be kept for ages. :)

Mr. Debusmann: I read a very good article writen by you recently, dealing with alcoho and marihuana, and I wanted to make a warning related with what Mr. Stamper marks in his prologue to his book as an absolut lack of evidence about a link between marihuana use and violence. This is not a very well known issue, and as you may know, all of us who speak european languages like my native spanish, or english or french or italian, use the word assassin ( asesino in spanish), to refer to a killer, and the etymology of the word is…

assassin
1531 (in Anglo-L. from c.1237), via Fr. and It., from Arabic hashishiyyin “hashish-users,” pl. of hashishiyy, from hashish (q.v.). A fanatical Ismaili Muslim sect of the time of the Crusades, under leadership of the “Old Man of the Mountains” (translates Arabic shaik-al-jibal, name applied to Hasan ibu-al-Sabbah), with a reputation for murdering opposing leaders after intoxicating themselves by eating hashish. The pl. suffix -in was mistaken in Europe for part of the word (cf. Bedouin).

I am a medical doctor, an internist, and I´ ve seen violent attitudes and conducts in persons under the effects of all of the circulating legal and ilegal drugs found in my City of Rosario, Argentina. I agree with legalization of marihuana, but I prefer an oppen debate, and as in many other fields of medicine, we should or could say that we do not have evidence about the above mentioned link, making clear that this does not allow us to say that the link willl never be found nor that it is unexpected. Instead, we better say that it is much more probable to find it than not. Drugs are used by different people in different moments of history for several pourpouses. Nothing says that violent alcohol-drinkers of now a days will not be replaced in the future by violent marihuana smokers. Personally, I have no doubt it is the way it will be, but, this is a personal view, may be favored by some aspects of arabic cultures I have had the opportunity to know.

Please let me know you have receveid my mail, (and forgive my mistakes, I do not write in english very frequently).
Yours sincerely.
Damián Lavarello MD
Rosario
Argentina

Posted by Damian Lavarello | Report as abusive

I am a 32yr old disabled veteran and father of two. I have tried numerous medications and treatments for pain and other issues I am stricken with due solely to my service of our country. I have been through electro-stimulation, experimental deep acupuncture and countless amounts of pharmaceuticals. The only thing that resulted from these methods was either more pain, damage to other parts of my body or a mindless sedated uninvolved father.

I smoked Marijuana as a kid prior to my service recreationaly and was familiar with its effects. I decided to give it a shot at easing my daily hardship with the blessing of my wife. At that point I had been dealing with my condition for around 18 months with no escape accept sleep. Within seconds of taking one drag of a joint I could feel the relief, one more hit and minutes later I was almost brought to tears by the fact that I almost felt like my old self again. I immediatley adopted a redgiment of two hits about every 8 hours and in no time I was nearly as functional as before my injuries. It has been a few years now and I have struggled to find a way to treat my self and stay employed and out of jail. I vowed to not support dealers that were involved with any other criminal behavior and do my best to keep the money out of cartels and terrorists hands. It was an impossible commitment is what i soon realized and fell back into the trenches of pain and anguish due to the complications it could cause my family if my criminal activities were discovered and the people one is forced to deal with on black markets. I decided to try and grow my own and after some good research and the help of some of the most generous online communities I have witnessed I was successful in supplying my self with almost a years worth of treatment for very little money and the joy of nurturing one plant to completion. We are all familiar with the therapeutic effects of gardening. That was a very pleasant hobby that I never expected going into this that was beneficial in many ways, those who have grown their own know exactly what I am speaking of. But alas growing your own is not always an option that is available, so here I am again in pain and knowing exactly how to solve it but hands tied by those who know better for my health and well being. Please don’t believe the propaganda and when it comes time for you to speak your piece on voting day please help me be able to be myself again and be the dad my kids deserve. Thank you for your time, best wishes.

Posted by Veteran and father | Report as abusive

Hmm, a quick thought here…Could it be possible that all these legal and harmful substances are in place for something along the lines of population control? Think about it, they all go hand in hand…People love to smoke cigarettes when they drink, drinking pushes the effects of most prescription drugs to a dangerous level, and they all are poisonous to our bodies and have the ability to shorten our lives, dramatically, in some cases. Is our government in it like this to keep us dying at a faster rate?
So many questions, so few answers. I’m tired of this prohibition. The debate is over. Legalize Marijuana, and stop driving us to drink-I mean die

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

I think that a lot of people are naive in saying that marijuana will not cause any harm to your body. Now, don’t read that the wrong way, I’m all for legalization. However, the American consumer needs to understand the health risks related to the use of this drug. Like anything else in life, moderation is key. Most of the comments above are rational, but there are those that are strongly opposed or strongly supportive with no thought to anything but their view. I believe we should all be open-minded in this situation and discussion. We should all demand that this topic be given a fair assessment and the truth be given. Not some mocked up survey and set of tests by an individual paid for specific results. We know there will be risks and there will be abusers, but is it not the same for anything else. Food leads to obesity and other diseases with major health risks. Alcohol leads to many diseases as well and sometimes death when abused. Yet both these items are legal and have a tendacy to be abused. So ask yourself, whey would marijuana be any different. For all those people who are using health risks as an excuse, you are lazy. It is easier for you to fight to keep marijuana illegal than to try to fight against other substance abuse. All I ask is for a fair assessment of this topic.

Posted by People are crazy | Report as abusive

I just can’t pull myself to understand that with all these intelligent thoughts posted here from all walks of life everywhere – that this is still an unanswered issue regarding the ‘Legalization of Marijuana’… I am a 49 year old man stricken with a disease named ‘Multifocal Motor Neuropathy’ who is currently prescribed – going on two years now – to the pain medication percocet (240 – 7.5 mg tabs per month) to control the pain of my body falling apart on me. On this medication I am still legally licensed to drive a motor vehicle and pursue my life without the criminal element attached to this prescription medication. I have smoked marijuana since the age of 12 both medically and recreationally. Like the comment posted by – The ‘Veteran & Father’ above… at my age the risk of going to jail over my use of marijuana simply isn’t warranted any longer in my opinion. If I had the legal choice, which is what my God given right should be… I would choose the option of smoking marijuana in a ‘New York Minute’.

I’ve decided to take action and contribute my efforts to the cause… please visit my webspace for more information.

pEACE,
hAROLD J mORALES
http://basicexposure.com/HTOISG_.html
pHX, aZ uSA

I hope that there is further research into the link between cannibis and long term mental illness.

It is obvious that while people will accept strong corralation as proof of global warming, they require a higher burden of proof before they start questioning their personal drug habits.

If there is a causal link between the drug and mental illness, then this link must be discovered through proper research and data.

For each additional research paper which shows strong corralation, the decriminalisation of cannibis becomes more and more unlikely to ever occur.

And if a concrete causal link is found, then this must displayed to the public. Then heavy criminal penalties will be easily passed into law by society, and personal rationalization of a habit will become that much harder.

Such research is the only way to dismiss the many myths believed about cannibis, by people who refuse to entertain the possibility that their habit may eventually end up harming themselves and the people they care about.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

ANON, not to be rude, but you are an idiot….. Go check your historical facts about when ‘hemp’ became an issue in the 1930s and the real reason it was maligned and eventually made illegal. Check the history of William Randolph Hurst and DuPont. Why would DuPont want ‘hemp’ which is organic, can be grown anywhere, and is quite proliferate to stand in the way of their new invention, oil based plastics? And Hearst Paper Manufacturing Division of Kimberly Clark owned vast acreage of timberlands. The Hearst Company supplied most paper products. It’s all about money, baby. Hey, are you my Father? If not, you could be his twin.

Posted by MargaD | Report as abusive

I dont see how anybody could possably truley belive that Pot is harmfull to anyone. When i was a teen i was told it was a gateway drug and yet i smoked cigerets and drank alchol way befor i ever smoked pot. Now i only drink when i cant find pot and have not been able to stop smoke cigerets. I was recently threatend with a C.H.I.N.A for my 3 children because DHS found out i smoke pot that means they wanted to take away my kids and put them into foster care because i smoked pot i stoped smoking pot now i drink every couple of days which i feel is worse for my kids then smoking pot everyday. im a stay at home mom and need stress relife which i belive i get from smoking pot without making impossalbe for me to care for my children whom i Love very much and only want the best for. i live in Iowa where pot is fully illegal and prosicutable by prison time , probation, a serious fine and possablity of children being removed from their homes. Iowa is having an open forum debat next month about weather or not pot can be used as medical. The first of the 4 is 1-5pm. Aug 19 at the State Historical building in Des Moines Iowa. please i encourage anyone with serious medical evidence or any Advocate with the means to attend this meeting and help Iowa come out of the dark and into the light . Thank You. A Loving Mother and Wife..

Posted by Dinky | Report as abusive

This past weekend, a young man was beat to death in the parking lot of one of the sports venues in Philadelphia by individuals who have previous records for violence attributable to drinking. It happen because of one individual bumping into another and spilling their beer. Yet another fragile individual with extraordinary problems using alcohol as the trigger to free them towards violence.
Taking away the alcohol will not solve their deep rooted problems but will at least keep others safe from the effects on such people. Replacing the drink with a joint might replace a violent chemical transmitter with a more passive one?

Posted by Jeffrey Peezick | Report as abusive

ANON, why are you so hung up on this mental illness issue? Has something happened in your family that gives you this strong opinion? I have a mentally unstable son who uses pot to get through daily life. It eases his anxiety to a level where he can function. The psych drugs he’s given have horrendous side effects and he is unable to work or do anything else constructive on them. The ‘legal’ drugs cause more problems than they help. I hate to see my son flat, with no perceivable personality and drooling on occasion. This is why he would rather use pot.

The use of a substance doesn’t make a person mentally unstable, they are already that way. I will agree that under these conditions any substance can worsen symptoms of instability, but does not cause it. This is even true of certain foods, by the way. My son can’t consume large quantities of processed white flour products, such as pasta or bread, without going ‘batshit’ to use your term. Even my son’s psychiatrist does not disapprove of his using pot for his anxiety. Every time he uses legal ‘anti-anxiety’ meds, he ends up in jail…usually for violent crimes. I would love nothing more than for my only son to be able to get legal medical marijuana to ease his symptoms. And I just learned that he is again in jail for possession, a victimless, non-violent offense that should not even be a crime.

Posted by MargaD | Report as abusive

I have a question which seems very hard to prove. I would like some thoughts/opionions. Politicians seem to be getting really good at answering questions with questions when it comes to the subject of cannabis legalization. They continue to use old info that has long been disproved like the gateway theory and that it causes addiction. So my question is are they defending something that is so obviously untrue because they are being paid? Are tobacco, alcohol, and pharmesuetical lobbyist paying large sums of money to congress men to stop legalization? If this is the case should we take steps to boycott certain products? Is there a possibility that switching to a local brand of cigarettes, and alcohol or saying no to a doctor who wants to prescribe a drug that isn’t really needed could it potentially deprive the political strength of a law that has robbed the quality of life, and violated the rights of millions and is shifting America into a Draconian style of government?

Posted by James | Report as abusive

Anon,

One problem with many of the studies is their government funded, the only way our government (under democrats or republicans) will legalize marijuana is if they’re absolutely forced too. Here in this country we don’t truly honestly care what our gov’t does, we don’t riot, we don’t make demands, so they’ll just keep doing what they do at the expense of the american middle and lower class.

If we aren’t going to do anything serious, they don’t need to.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

the sheer volume of replies to this opinion vs. other opinions posted on this site should tell you the people want marijuana legalized. is this still a democracy? (of course not.)

Posted by kyle | Report as abusive

“Gambling, food, sex, are not addictive. To use the word addiction in connection with these activities is to pervert the meaning of the word addiction. These things can become obsessions, that is to say, thoughts that repeat and repeat in spite of the individual not desiring to have them. They can become compulsions, in which the individual must act upon those thoughts. They can become habitual. They may be used as a way of escaping from problems in the here and now. But none of these things are physiological.”
Posted by B.Free

Actually they are addictive. Look up the physiological effects of sex and read about the chemicals that are released. There’s an interesting university study floating around. I can’t recall the name. Search around Jstore. Anyway a rat was tied to a buzzer that gave the rat an orgasm. The rat kept tapping the buzzer until it eventually died from starvation. Gambling is also an addiction. Compulsive gamblers gambler because they think they’re win. They’re addicted to the rush. And finally food may also become an addiction. Grab any psychology handbook and you’ll see for yourself. In all these cases its not the act that matters. It’s the result.

MargaD, this is a discussion. Please keep the personal attacks out of this. Someone can just as easily say something very nasty back to you.

Posted by J | Report as abusive

Great. So then you would have both alcohol and pot legalized? Double the whammy. It’s not like you’re going to make alcohol illegal, and turn your nation into a bunch of potheads? Research all you want, things in place are exactly the way they are.

Second, you don’t want a nation of stoners. Go to your local drumming circle and see how brilliant stoners can be. If you’ve missed that, you’ve missed everything.

Posted by Rich | Report as abusive

Brilliant article, i’m glad to see that a mainstream article can present the facts of cannabis in a well balanced and unbiased manner. I can only hope that the tide of mari-phobia is easing and that your president Obama will view both arguments and encourage widespread research into MJ. Sadly, being from Scotland, I can’t see our dear old leader Gordon Brown and the Labour party following suit. My only hope is that the next government is Conservative, which ironically seem to be one of the few parties that will openly debate the suitability of MJ.

I don’t want to regurgitate many of the points listed below as the are all valid, excluding the ‘MJ sends you batshit’ quote. What I will say is that it can be a catalyst for those with shortcomings to regress and shy away from confronting those issues. For many years I used cannabis to blot out painful experiences from my school days, This was more a sub-conscious act than one of using drugs to escape. I realised a few years ago that things needed to change and chose to completely stop smoking while I confronted my issues so that I had no excuses for failure. I am happy with everything that has gone before me now, and I have eradicated my lazy streak for good. It’s not about MJ destroying people and their lives, the simple fact is that people destroy themselves left right and centre with or without drugs, and they refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

I completely agree with the booze/MJ discussion as well, but think it would be unfair to label booze as a more destructive substance than pot. I am unsure as to what life is like with alcohol in the states, but here in Britain alcohol is assisting in destroying the youth and ruining social morals. Violence is markedly up, city centres are a no go area in the evening at weekends and the moral fibre of this country is being destroyed. We have the record for being the nation of drunks, especially when on holiday. I really would love to see what would happen if a pint of lager was substituted for a joint! I am not for a second blaming alcohol for all woes, and can see that marijuana will be abused by those people who need an excuse.

All I ask for is that our respective governments treat us like adults and give us the choice. They forget who put them there in the first place, and I consider their lack of respect for our collective judgement insulting. My understanding is that the law and law enforcers are there to protect us from others, not to protect us from ourselves. Is that too much to ask??

Good luck with the struggle, I would hope that in the next 5-10 years perception of MJ and hemp will have changed enough so that I dont have to shell out hundreds of pounds every few months so that I can take a trip to Amsterdam!

Peace,
Keith

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

IMHO, James, there’s powerful forces at work in the back rooms doing everything they can to keep cannabis sativa/indicia(CanSat) illegal in the US. I can only speak about here.

I honestly don’t think, in the majority, that congresspersons/senators are keeping CanSat illegal because “they are being paid”. Realpolitik isn’t that simple, James. The pecuniary side of it is for the, “under par”, so to say. Power and “juice” have MANY manifestations that don’t always equate to Benjamins. Subtle pressures are being applied to insure that this issue doesn’t progress. Maybe with less effectiveness in the Obama administration, but there nonetheless. There’s all kinds of special interests with their pinky in this pie, because there’s so much money involved.

Boycotts worked back in the day. They have lost much of their effectiveness due to globalization. Do you really think that Mega-C cares if you boycott something in Tulsa, when they are an international corporation. Folks, you’re wasting your time with some of these old methods. The corporate/customer(consumer) paradigm has changed over the last 3-4 decades. Individuals that care, such as yourself, need to change their operating paradigm accordingly.

There is no local brand of tobacco, usually, unless you live in the tobacco producing states. Alcohol is brewed locally, Fort Collins having some world renowned breweries, and it’s already getting consumed in lieu of “corporate” brands, which are also brewed locally.

When you talk to law enforcement in the street, they know that enforcing the marijuana laws to the letter is an absolute waste of resources, because it doesn’t decrease overall crime much. Regardless of that, you must consume with responsibility, as with any other inebriant. Failure to do so is what causes the issues… You’re mostly adults, you know what I’m talking about.

Colorado has some of the most progressive laws in the US, with defacto decriminalization of under an ounce of possession of CanSat(concentrates are still a felony), whereas some other states are draconian, such as Florida, with even a gram being a felony. There’s no coherent scheme along the states, and whether it’s draconian or not appears to follow whether it is Republican or Democratic in political stance respectively.

The only way we can answer the valid issues posted previously is to get consistent specimens of medicinal grade CanSat into the hands of scientific researchers or allow them to grow their own strains. That way we can apply the scientific method and a vast array of tools to the question of first: Is marijuana an efficatious treatment for pain, glaucoma, and various other ailments, and what are it’s dangers, in a controlled setting, and second: should society reap the benefits of legalizing what is at root just a natural plant. In Colorado the first has been realized by the voter (2000 Amendment to the Colorado Constitution allowing for medicinal marijuana and registered patients), and the second is in progress.

You want to change it: GET INVOLVED!

Namasté

Al – Front Range NORML Volunteer

Just a side note I forgot: If cannabis consumption is wrong, then why are human equipped with cannabinoid receptors in the brain. How did that evolve, and if the theory of evolution is correct, which it appears to be, how did that benefit natural selection?

That’s why the scientists need to be allowed to get seriously involved.

i want to know how everyone thinks pott is better,if you smoke it your addicted ,if you drink everyday you shouldnt , i like to have one drink once in a great while,so am tired of people excuses that been a drug addict is acceptable! its a disgrace ,i am very proud never to have drunk or have never experminated with pott! so please everyone just grow up!!!!!!!

Prohibition has failed as it did the first time. When the United States prohibited alcohol, use decreased and crimes decreased. After the criminal element set in, use and crimes sky rocketed. Look at today’s struggle with drug cartels in Mexico, any resemblance to the mafia and bootleggers? Sad thing, use of alcohol was declining before prohibition. We filled our prisons to over capacity just like now. Everything that happened then is happening now, only question is, when is our government going to take the criminal aspect out of it? I wonder how many of these mental disorders are related to Mexican cartel cannabis that is sprayed with all sorts of pesticides and what not.

I support legalisation of cannabis. Alcohol taxes helped pulled the USA out of the Great Depression, why not take the money out of the cartels hands and put it into the community’s that need it the most? I laugh when I read a comment that says anyone who smokes is an addict. People don’t smoke every day, or even every month. Just like people don’t drink everyday or monthly. For most it’s a social thing. Some thing that some adults like to do, is hang out with friends that aren’t overly aggressive.

People are not going to stop smoking, the government is only touching 5% of the market. This is not going away, why not tax it so they don’t have to raise my property tax or my gasoline tax. They will be raising taxes soon why not tax pot and have less taxes on those who don’t smoke?

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive

MargaD

The hemp commonly used for paper, fibre and other substitute products cannot be smoked, nor can it be processed into any form of psychoactive drug.

To suggest there is a link between the criminalisation of *Cannabis Indicia* (Marijuana) and *Cannabis Sativa* (Industrial Hemp) is a false argument.

Yet you would be surprised how many people still believe that the current criminalisation of Marijuana is based on a 1930 business campaign concerning an entirely different product.

Just shows that a little knowledge is a terrible thing.

As for your son? According to you, “The use of a substance doesn’t make a person mentally unstable”.

Many substances can affect the long term mental health of a person. And there is a strong data corralation that suggests marijuana is one of them.

In fact, cannibis users who already possess pre-existing mental illness can cause their illness to become even worse after long-term use.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

“My issues is that confronted with all the secondary effects related to marijuana (health, mental and social) most users will simply dismiss these issues offhand because of their singular desire to get high.”

As I said, there is no such substance as a perfectly harmless one. Given the benefits verses ills of using marijuana, it would be my opinion, which is based upon the reading of a lot of research pro and con, that there is a higher instance of benefits than ills.

As for correlation, yes there is a high correlation between CO2 and global warming. However no one can definitively answer the question is CO2 causing global warming or is CO2 a product of global warming. Is Marijuana causing the mental illness or is the use of marijuana a by-product of the mental illness? Many in the Psychology community lean toward the latter. Dare I say most do.

Marijuana is one of the most researched substances in history. Scientific America proved the Federal government was biased in handing out grant money for research to those researchers looking for the harms associated with its use. And the best they can deliver is correlations when there have been studies done of people who use MJ heavily their entire lives and no significant differences in physical or mental health were seen between them and their control group. This was not some limited study of mental patents who answered a few questions on a piece of paper. When your entire population is the mentally ill where is your control group? It might help if you were to read some of the peer reviews of the studies you are looking at. I see the headlines but, I look deeper into the research and read the peer reviews to understand what we can actually take from that research. Whenever there is money and politics involved you need to be very careful when reviewing any research.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

Oh Anon!

“To suggest there is a link between the criminalisation of *Cannabis Indicia* (Marijuana) and *Cannabis Sativa* (Industrial Hemp) is a false argument.

Indicia and Sativa are both Marijuana. I am sorry but you ignorance is showing. It is not the sub-species but how it is grown that makes Hemp and Marijuana different. Marijuana is grown 1 per sqft. Hemp is grown 10 per sqft. If you do not believe me just look them up on the net.

Sativa: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_sa tiva

I am sure other will jump in this one. Sorry to see that you have gone off the deep end.

Sorry but enough is enough. Good day Anon.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

Anon,
I guess my biggest issue is how much money are we willing to spend without any results? I mean we’ve been trying for 40 years and spent well over a trillion dollars and it’s literally had no effect on drug use in this country.

How many times do you try the exact same thing with no results until you change policy?

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

The real debate is what could we do with all the money being spent on eradicating cannabis. If we legalise and tax cannabis we create an income for the USA, not Mexican crime organisations or street thugs. We can then take some of the money being spent on Prohibition and put it towards creating safe drinking water for areas that currently don’t have that. Wouldn’t that be something that would gain favor in the international community while upholding our beliefs? Prohibition #1 is a great example of what we are facing today.

Why wait until it’s to late to act? We can put dangerous criminals out of business(gangs that infiltrate our school and prey on our children, cartels forcing people to grow illegally or face violence to family or self), generate income for cash strapped states (like alcohol did in 1933 helping end the great depression), make cannabis HARDER to get for our kids by requiring ID to obtain cannabis, provide a safer substance then currently available on the black market(commercial growers only care about the money to be made, not the health issues, so they spray all sorts of chemical pesticides on the product), stop spending tax payers money on something that is getting no results(if you invest in a company, would you be happy with 95% of your money being wasted while still requiring more money be invested in order to clean up for the 5% that wasn’t wasted?).

It’s insane that people view Prohibition as a success. Anyone who has studied the first Prohibition can see this plain as day. And judging by allot of the comments on this subject it shows that many have not. Looks like we need to increase funding for our schools. Maybe that would be a good place to start putting the money saved/made from the end of prohibition…

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive

Wait just a minute!! Did I just read that you said the new “Drug czar” (still called that BTW) said just last week at a news conference that quote”Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal qualities”. That’s what Kerlikowski said, he said nothing about relaxing the rules or anything else that I could construe as positive for patients.
So why do you think he will be more rational?

Posted by Gerald Reynolds | Report as abusive

I totally agree with B. free! Just about any substance can create what are perceived as psychological ills. To much caffeine in some children makes them violent, and abuse of some narcotic based pain killers can cause psychosis but this typically happens when abused, it can be toxic to drink to much water to fast yet it is essential to life go figure.. unfortunatly there are always going to be members of society that abuse substances legal or not and as a result become well a little eccentric, but this is a very small percentage of the population the majority would treat the drug with great respect just like a alcohol drinker has a glass of wine before bed. I’m pretty shure a nightly glass won’t make you crazy but a bottle a night might. Last note i don’t even smoke not since high school thats 10 years and six months ago i quite smoking cigs YEAH!! so I’m not making this comment to defend any addiction it just seems logical to me.

Posted by Jimmy | Report as abusive

It is not the government’s place to restrict what adults do to themselves. While it is unfortunate that some people willingly cause harm to themselves, that is as much their right as it is your right not to have to harm yourself. Regardless of the possible damage caused to an individual from marijuana it should be up to the individual whether or not to use it.

If marijuana does cause harm to people then the only permissable action by the government is to limit the age at which it can be pourchased. This is so that people, deemed by society to be too young to make decisions concerning their own health ie minors, are unable to aquire the substance without the aid of a consenting adult (preferably that minor’s parents).

How ‘bad’ marijuana is compared to another substance or how much money can be raised by the government by making it legal, both through new taxes and by not wasting money by persecuting it and people who use it, should not even be a part of this discussion. In the end what it should come down to is how much of a citizen’s personal life should the government be allowed to control, and is the goverment falling short or reaching beyond that point.

Posted by Daniel Fisher | Report as abusive

B.Free

Indicia and Sativa are both Cannibis. But they are two different subspecies of the same plant. Your own reference actually states this, had you even bothered to read it.

Indicia is the subspecies used for illegal drugs. Sativa is the subspecies bred for industrial fibre production.

The difference is the amount of active THC in the plant. Indicia has 5-20% THC or more. Sativa used for industrial hemp production has 0.3% THC and is generally worthless as a drug.

So the current criminalisation of Indicia today is NOT because of a scare campaign about Sativa back in the 1930s.

I hate to say it, but you are the one who doesn’t know what you are talking about. By accusing me of ignorance, you have only shown your own.

Good day to you.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

Here is one of the saddest facts about drug laws in the United States, we have one of the largest, if not the largest, prison population in the world right now. Many of those people in there are in for being users, that is it, on top of all the other crap that of course disproportionately hit anyone who is not white.

We are up there with China, and Russia and some other really nasty places in terms of how many people per 1000 are imprisoned.

Posted by Ihaveadream | Report as abusive

Get real. I have done both. Both get you high and both result in a loss of inhibition. If you are predisposed to harmful actions, either will loose you to do it. We do not need another drug for Americans. We are covered up with them now.

Posted by arnold | Report as abusive

What everybody needs in the good ole USA is more vacation time, compulsory by law. The little amount of time off drives a lot of people to use drugs just to keep up, and keeps kids out of sight for too long. Remember that the current motto is: “Work Hard, Play Harder.”
Family needs time together, and any society is based on family. It’s for the common good to see your kids everyday, direct them to positive things and make sure they don’t go stray. As for adults, there are too many that are ruined and can’t and don’t see any other way, no matter what life throws at them.
There are two things that will turn anybody, young or old, into substance mis-use: abuse and indifference.
You can abuse yourself by working non-stop shifts of 18h days, deny yourself some time off.
I can’t see how successful this way of life is, that denies the population at large a good chunk of vacation time. To start with, it makes for a tired, depressed workforce that will easily turn to drugs because they have only a short period of time to enjoy themselves. Then they will seek drugs to maintain the horrendous hours and level of service. Then they feel guilty for wanting time off and not spending enough time with their family, so they want Escape from those feelings. When the family isn’t together, everybody goes their own way (indifference) and kids don’t have parental guidance worth a dime so they seek their peers to relate to, and in turn, it’s among them that they will experiment with drugs.
I’m not in any way forging excuses for drug use but it seems if you look at it from broad terms, that that is what the root cause of most of it.
Imagine if it was compulsory for all companies public and private to have 4/6 weeks vacation every year at the end of year one: The tourism-driven companies would love the extra income and employment would soar; hotels, casinos, zoos, aquariums, ice-cream stores, amusement parks, travel agencies – All would be looking for extra staff, which in turn means more tax revenue.

Posted by Dan No Drugs | Report as abusive

ANON…. Actualy Cannabis SATIVA can contain just as much THC or as INDICA. (not indicia) In the future before you jump up on that horse thats so high and ride it to your soap box you might want to do a little fact checking yourself.

No matter what the past reasons are for illegality the bottom line is we all know people who have used it for years and years, some could be called burnouts and some are at the top of their respective fields. It boils down to the individuals personality and genetics to determine their fate not a plant they consumed. Look at all the drugs that are advertised every day and the harm they cause, if they can be evaluated in just a few years and released only to kill, permanently damage or create serious dependency, why can’t a drug that has been very widely used since the dawn of man and causes very little to no harm to responsible users be allowed. It’s just insane.

Posted by Veteran and father | Report as abusive

Arnold,
From 6th to 12th grade I could’ve smoked weed every single day for free if I wanted to. I was constantly offered it from my classmates to just go hang out and do it.

Alcohol on the other hand was much harder to get, we’d be lucky to have one party a month in high school with alcohol at it.

So even for the people who are against it, I’m gonna again ask where your confidence in our government handling it comes from. We’ve been trying for 40 years and dumped trillions of our dollars down that well and literally have zero results to show for it.

Arnold i wonder what your opinion on the subject would be if you had got caught when you used it and it cost you admittance into a college or a spot in your career, oh how I wonder.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

I lean towards having open debate.

“We do not need another drug for Americans. We are covered up with them now.”

Uh, its already there. This is about bringing the social implications and issues on usage out of the dark and black market and into the light and open market. If this is sold on the open or somewhat-open market, there will be that much less money flowing directly into the hands of criminals of all stripes. Will it wipe out the black market? Probably not. Especially if the taxes are prohibitive. And eventually criminals might find a way to get their hands into the legitimate operations, but at least there would be a fiscal benefit, a quality standard of some consistency in the marketplace and hopefully a means to tear down some of the social stigma allowing more people to openly share experiences so that we are basing our stance less and less on generalisms and narrowly-focused statistics. At least we should consider a limited de-criminalizaiton so that we don’t treat a person carrying a joint the same way you would a person robbing the store with using a gun.

Posted by B C | Report as abusive

The issue of drug use is as old as the human race. I is simply natural for human beings to alter their state of consciousness.Some people drink alcohol. Some smoke tobacco. Some run or work out. Others pray/meditate. But most do a combination of many of these things.

Human beings will continue to engage in this kind of behavior regardless of the laws passed by others. The solution is to offer services that help human beings to engage in responsible drug use. At one time, religion served this purpose and in many parts of the world it still does.

Why is it so difficult for people to consider the idea of responsible marijuana use? Drugs have never been the problem.
Our own lack of self control combined with an appalling lack of real knowledge concerning the proper use of such substances has been the real problem.

We refuse to acknowledge that we need to use self control and sound judgment when using drugs. Instead we vilify drugs as being a scourge and the people that use them as being weak or evil or somehow lacking in virtue.

Learn how to use cannabis responsibly. Make it legal. Encourage counseling, and other services that help the user learn how to appropriately use cannabis while avoiding the pitfalls. Our drug laws are backward and do not acknowledge the human need to move beyond logic and reason. This need is why we pray. It’s why we dream. It’s why we hope. And without it we cease to be human.

Where drugs are harmfull, PROHIBITION IS THE PROBLEM!!

Even users of opiates [heroin] can remain healthy and productive citizens, except for the problems that prohibition causes them. The high prices, the criminal element they have to deal with, and the stress of the threat of arrest are some of those problems that result in homelessness, bad diets, overdoses, etc.

Regulated sales of drugs, where the prices are closer to what it costs to produce them, would eliminate most of those problems that users of illegal drugs have now.

Organised Crime is kept afloat due to drug prohibition laws. Ending prohibition would reduce their impact on our society, and that impact is all negative. [By the way, the Republican party has had close ties to organised crime groups since the Nixon era... and that is not just a wild conspiracy theory].

Another ugly fact of prohibition is that 80% of low-level drug criminals in jail are black. Drug laws are keeping the minority populations subjugated.

Finally, if the USA is a democracy, prohibition is hypocracy, in that a strong majority favors ending it.

Posted by Karlin | Report as abusive

I hope everyone that feels it should be legalized because the government is limiting their choices is also against other choice limiting legislation like the tax on unhealthy food, bans on smoking tobacco in public places, a national healthcare plan that fines people for choosing not to participate, seatbelt laws, and charging companies that choose to emit over an arbitary amount of CO2.

Also, I saw at least one poster use the arguement that nonusers should try it before they comment. I don’t need to eat 40 hamburgers a day to know that would be bad for my stomach. I also don’t need to inhale any kind of smoke to know it would be bad for my lungs.

Kudos, Great article! Anyone that has done both knows that mary jane users aren’t apt to jump in their car and run down to the local bar to get in a fight and run over someone during the process. Beer makes you feel invencible, drive fast and want to fight. Pot makes you paranoid, drive 5 MPH and want to eat a box of cereal.

Could a tax on pot fund Healthcare?

Posted by Giaco | Report as abusive

First off, great article.

“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.””

We have modern-day slavery, it’s called wage slavery and how many problems does this create. When a persons wage is tied to their ability to survive in this world how many people will remain silent on corruption and abuse just to keep a roof over their heads. If the vast majority of you didn’t have to do your jobs would you? It seems that in this era we have hit onto a fundamental human rights issue of the rights of an individual to earn billions even at the cost of other individuals ability to a decent quality of life, to education or medical care. We have also an issue on the governments right to legislate morality as the marijuana issue seems to have done and as the polygamy and prostitution issues have also done. Too bad your ‘change’ president just changed the face on the same old beast else wise we might be able to actually make some progress in these rights and freedoms repressing laws

Posted by Orgizmo | Report as abusive

Forget using the legalization taxes to pull us out of the current depression. Use those taxes to fund national health care instead! Mwahahahahah. It’s genius!

Posted by NoName | Report as abusive

Has anyone noticed that the above the influence commercials are finally going in the right direction? I just saw one today with a pot dealer on the street corner not actually selling any pot because his customers where to busy getting high on popping pills from their parents medicine cabinet. our government is finally realizing that marijuana is not the problem but pills and hard drugs are!

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

False Arguments:

“Legitimate drugs can cause more harm then cannabis”

Legitimate drugs are subject to oversight, regulation and safeguards to ensure they are only used for medical purposes. If Cannabis is released subject to the same restrictions, it would still prevent recreational use.

“But Cannabis has legitimate medical purposes for use”

Perhaps. But the majority of Cannabis users do not have legitimate medical purposes for using it.

“It’s no different to alcohol”

Except for the fact that there seems to be a corralation with permanant mental illness, especially for those who possess pre-existing conditions. Alcohol does not do the same, unless you count poorly made absinthe.

“But I use Cannabis responsibly. Why should I be blamed for the actions of some burnouts?”

Because laws are primarily for the good of society as a whole, not you as an individual. The cost of those burnouts to society is greater then the benefit caused by you having a spliff.

“But arresting people for the offence costs money”

So what you mean is that we should stop punishing people for crimes. Which defeats the purpose of laws.

“No. I mean we should stop arresting people for using cannabis”

Why? Is it because you use cannabis? If so, it is a bit of a self-centered argument. Burglers probably feel the same about being arrested for burglary.

“You misunderstand. I don’t use. My friend does.”

Sure, buddy. Whatever you say.

Posted by JoeyJoeJoe | Report as abusive

I honestly don’t want to point fingers in this statement, but I must be a little blunt to get a point across.. To everyone that opposes the legalization of marijuana. I personally hold responsible for funding the Mexican drug cartels, and the gangs that have moved into my neighborhood, for exposing our children to easy access to marijuana if it where legal business owners should have to be required by law to check an I.D. believe me gangs don’t do this. For denying dying patients legal access to their medicine. For depriving our education system from funds that are instead spent on a senseless war against an herb. for turning our penal system into a sick and twisted profitable business, and for denying our rights to make decisions for ourselves. When the time comes to vote before you vote to keep marijuana illegal just sit back and think about how your decision is creating the problem not solving it. legalize don’t criticize….

Posted by Concerned Citizen | Report as abusive

In response to JoeyJoeJoe

“Legitimate drugs are subject to oversight, regulation and safeguards to ensure they are only used for medical purposes. If Cannabis is released subject to the same restrictions, it would still prevent recreational use.”

The “oversight” you speak of is carried out by the FDA which at present gets substantial subsidies from the pharmaceutical companies who’s drugs are being evaluated. Many times these FDA approved medications become the subject of class action law suits because of dangerous and often deadly effects. There is no such thing as a “side effect”.

NO ONE. I repeat NO ONE in the entire history of human record has ever died from a cannabis overdose. The same cannot be said for “regulated” and “safeguarded” FDA approved “medications” our government deems acceptable to make legal.

““It’s no different to alcohol”

Except for the fact that there seems to be a corralation with permanant mental illness, especially for those who possess pre-existing conditions. Alcohol does not do the same, unless you count poorly made absinthe.”

Actually alcohol addiction is one of the deadliest, if not THE deadliest addiction to have. An alcoholic that tries to quit cold turkey will most likely die, convulsing and drowning in their own body fluids. Alcoholics also have severely impaired cognitive function. They barely know what’s going on from one moment to the next. And if a drink is not involved then it’s not worth remembering.

The hint of a link to mental illness from cannabis fails to compare by any stretch of the imagination. Cannabis addiction results in withdrawal symptoms of mild headache, and irritability. Both of which fade after a day or five.

“Because laws are primarily for the good of society as a whole, not you as an individual. The cost of those burnouts to society is greater then the benefit caused by you having a spliff.”

Laws could be used for the “good” of society if they focused on behavior and the intent of such behaviors. A rule or law is meant to curb or encourage a type of behavior. But because the focus is on the rule itself, then one can make the argument that behavior which fall outside the scope of intent of the law can still be allowed under the law, if it adheres to the letter of the law. In this way law is circumvented. It is treated as a rule book and nothing more. Law has no meaning in our society as an instrument of “good”

Cannabis use in and of itself does not cause one to enter into violence. It does not cause one to steal. It does not cause one to detract from the quality of life of any other individual. These are the things that constitute “crime”. Since cannabis use does not lead to criminal behavior, it is not a criminal activity. And since it is not a criminal activity it must be removed from the law books as being a criminal activity.

Instead cannabis has been used since before human history was written. And in all that time it has occupied a place of honor in the human heart and mind.

Man makes mistakes. Law is man made. Law can be mistaken. In the case of the “drug war”, and America’s political attitudes concerning drug use, the law is deeply mistaken.

False Arguments continued:

“The FDA which at present gets substantial subsidies from the pharmaceutical companies…”

Don’t bother to imply corruption, unless you have proof. And even if you can prove it, it has nothing to do with decriminalising marijuana.

“Nobody in the entire history of human record has ever died from cannabis.”

Agreed. And nobody has ever argued that cannibis is illegal due to being lethal. So why raise it?

“The hint of a link to mental illness from cannabis fails to compare by any stretch of the imagination.”

A visable corralation between long-term use and mental illness, and the aggravation of pre-existing mental illness, is not what you call a ‘hint of a link’.

“One can make the argument that behavior which fall outside the scope of intent of the law can still be allowed under the law, if it adheres to the letter of the law.”

Absolutely. Any behaviour which is not defined as a crime by the law, and adheres to the letter of the law, is not a crime. Your point being?

“In this way law is circumvented.”

Oh. Well that is an argument for improving laws, not removing them.

“It is treated as a rule book and nothing more. Law has no meaning in our society as an instrument of “good””

That is because laws *are* rules. They are designed to control behaviour for the purposes of justice and order. Not subjective things such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

“Cannabis use in and of itself does not cause one to enter into violence. It does not cause one to steal. It does not cause one to detract from the quality of life of any other individual.”

If there is a link to long-term mental illness, then yes it most certainly does. Mental illness affects the sufferer, and their behaviour in turn affects other people and society.

“Since cannabis use does not lead to criminal behavior, it is not a criminal activity.”

When something breaks a criminal law, it is by definition a crime. Cannabis use is against the law, hence it is a criminal activity.

“Cannabis has been used since before human history was written”

So has theft, violence and murder.

“Man makes mistakes. Law is man made. Law can be mistaken.”

The legitimacy and correctness of a law depends on the fact it was legitimately made. Not your opinion on whether certain behaviour should be allowed.

Posted by JoeyJoeJoe | Report as abusive

I honestly don’t want to point fingers in this statement, but I must be a little blunt to get a point across.. To everyone that uses marijuana. I personally hold you responsible for funding the Mexican drug cartels, and the gangs that have moved into my neighborhood, for exposing our children to easy access to marijuana, for encouraging a habit that cause mental illness, suicide and suffering, for causing crime and robbery, for undermining the potential of countless youths, and STILL having the chutzpa to put the blame on everyone else all because of your selfish personal desire to get high.

Posted by ConcernedCitizen2 | Report as abusive

Hey ConcernedCitizen2

Show me proof, and cite sources, that prove your suicide and suffering claims. Also, Mexican drug cartels only exist because it’s illegal. Cartels would exist on things like chocolate if they were deemed illegal by the govt. Marijuana is not addicive, and causes minimal harm to society. Please tell me what you are afraid of about legalizing marijuana?

Posted by GREG | Report as abusive

Please…someone make a case for me as to why legal drugs such as valium, hydrocodene, etc. are legal and marijuana is not. Also, make a case for why alchol is legal and marijuana isn’t.

Posted by GREG | Report as abusive

Legalization is the way to go

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

Professor David Nutt, who chairs the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), told Newsbeat the risk to mental health from smoking cannabis is no greater than getting drunk

“When we look at the evidence, we have seen a huge increase in the use of cannabis but a fall in schizophrenia.”

“Alcohol is probably more likely to cause dependence than cannabis.

“Alcohol causes brain damage through vitamin deficiency and withdrawal can lead to psychosis. Overall the mental health risks of alcohol and cannabis are not dissimilar.”

Professor Nutt from the ACMD reckons the link between cannabis use and that kind of severe mental health problem is “probable but weak”.

The latest research suggests the government would have to stop 5,000 men and 12,000 women from smoking cannabis to prevent a single case of schizophrenia in both groups.

“Using cannabis will tip a few people over the edge but in terms of most of the population, there isn’t really a risk there,” he said.

That comes from a professor advising the British government. Now can anyone really tell me why it shouldn’t be legalised??

Posted by Kate | Report as abusive

Here’s an argument I’ve made so many times I’m getting bored with it:

By the time one reaches my age (I’ll be fifty-one in ten days) one has known – at the very least – fifty people who have died on lung cancer and another fifty who have died of cirrhosis of the liver. Now ask yourself the following question:

How many people have I personally known who have died as the result of consuming too much grass?

ANSWER:
Not only have I never known anyone to die in that matter, I am not aware of it happening in all recorded human history.

I cannot believe that seventy-two years after pot was made illegal, we are still having this same stupid argument.

I need a drink….On second thought….

http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

ConcernedCitizen2:

I apologize for being harsh, however…

Are you forgetting that there are other drugs out there too? Cocaine and Methamphetamine(sp?)would be two very big ones for example.
I mean heck, there’s Meth Labs being busted here in northeastern OHIO ran by none other than the afforementioned illegal immigrants from Mexico! Every month the U.S. Coast Gaurd is hunting down custom-made SUBMARINES coming from south of the border filled with up to 25 Kilos of cocaine.
So, you’re going to put all the blame on stinkin’ American potheads for the violence and danger these people bring? Did it ever cross your mind that they are going to do whatever it takes make a buck for themselves?

Harvard economist Jeffrey Mirron found that California alone spends $981 million a year enforcing the marijuana ban (that’s the policing, the courts, and jail time). Nationally, legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 BILLION
a year on drug-war spending. And government could raise $6.2 billion annually in tax revenues.
That’s almost 14 BILLION DOLLARS every year!!! How much do you think that would help with fighting the real drugs out there?

Open your eyes my friend, marijuana users are the LAST thing that will bring this country down.

Posted by SmokinSteve | Report as abusive

Here is an idea, legalize weed and take the profits from that and invest the money in port security to help stop weapons of mass destruction from entering our country.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Alcohol kills brain cells, THC does not, it merely binds to receptors in your brain and prevents other chemicals (dopamine I think?) from bonding to those neurons, temporarily until the THC decays.

In other words, no long term brain damage from THC. Less brain cells with each drink.

Posted by Hal | Report as abusive

With more and more city and state governments outlawing smoking cigarettes in public places, the idea of legalizing a more dangerous smoked substance seems counter to the progressive nature of the American democracy. The short term economic benefits do not outweigh what the long-term effects will be. The cancer rate will shoot through the roof and all the progress made on decreasing the rate of cigarette smokers from state to state will be undermined. In the name of public health, it should not be done.

Posted by Jeremy | Report as abusive

Who really cares about marijuana? It is such an uninteresting drug, and its legalization would not add anything beneficial to society. Maybe some extra tax revenue even though income from its sale is currently taxable anyway. The idea that people would drink less with legal marijuana is pure speculation and almost certainly false. Why even waste your time arguing for it? It seems silly to me.

Make all the arguments you want, but at the end of the day, the majority of people don’t care about it all that much.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

Someone argues that legalizing marijuana would not add anything beneficial to society. Why should MY freedoms be framed by whether society gains? I should be free to behave as I please as long as it harms nobody else, not just when it adds something beneficial to society. A society strong enough to take away individual freedom on the grounds that such freedom doesn’t add anyting beneficial to society can take away much more than your freedom to peacefully enjoy yourself in the privacy of your own home.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

This is a very sad time for our country…which prayer do you think God listen too given the two choices?

Posted by Larry | Report as abusive

I firmly believe that alcohol is more harmful than pot. Drunks can be violent. The only thing I’ve seen a stoned person attack is a pizza!

Posted by Marla Taylor | Report as abusive

Of course pot should be legalized, but I doubt it will be. It is far too valuable a cash cow for law enforcement, prisons, and lawyers. And, it’s easy to grow your own, which means the government would have a hard time selling and taxing it. Should it be legalized, I know I’d have a couple plants in a grow room for personal consumption.

Posted by Marla Taylor | Report as abusive

Anyone who is claiming that legalizing cannabis would have no benefit to society are ignorant of the facts and wrong. Aside from the fact that they’ve recently discovered cannabanoids that aided in treating prostate cancer in the UK(we can’t research in the US due to cannabis being a schedule 1 narcotic-which is rediculous), there is no legal distinction from cannabis and hemp, so legalizing would allow for textile research, fuel, and innumerable other products that promote a more sustainable form of existence in this society. That sure sounds like a benefit to me. Educate yourselves, and maybe you’ll START caring.

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive

Cannabis can also help with anger management issues, whereas alcohol only promotes violent behaviour(as mentioned countless times before). This is written from personal experience.

Posted by Christie | Report as abusive

Perhaps long over due term limits for our legislators would be helpful in moving necessary change forward. Campaign contributions need reform as well. What we have now is reprentation by benifaction rather than actual representation.

The manner in which the president came into the amazing dollars for his election was by recieving small numbers of dollars from large numbers of people via the internet. Hopefully this will be the model going forward placing special interests, who consider influencing legislators with campaign contributions standard operating proceedure, in a less advantaged position.

The problem for our legislators at the present time is that in order to legalize marijuana or for that matter all drugs, even if it could be shown to have a net benefit to society, is explaining to his or her benefactors why they would be contemplating changing anything at all. They made possible the election of their choosen legislators so that they might control the pace and direction of change. Legislators are not put in office by special interests to do any origional thinking unless instructed to do so.

If you want to nearly have a heart attack learning about the war on drugs and what a complete and total disaster it has been and continues to be – read: Judge James P. Gray’s book entitled “Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It.”

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

1. Check out tobackgo industry contributions to anti-cannabis candidates (especially, since the 1960′s, Republicans) and figure out who the enemy of legalization really is. Also bear in mind that for every dollar they contribute directly, the cigarette companies spend many dollars on hiring well dressed, well-groomed, well-spoken attractive young bodies to contact the legislators and schmooze with their staff, building up empathy and guilt over anything threatening to the hot burning overdose nicotine genocide profit margi

2. “Big Alcohol is the Running Dog of Big 2Wackgo.” Many nicotine addictions result from a bout or two of binge drinking, followed by a need to self-medicate off a hangover and study for the big test. Many youngsters after a party, realizing they need to sober up and drive the car home somehow, try “a cigarette or two”.

3. As Pres. Obama said when he quit cigarette smoking in 2007, he was one of over half the addicts who were already hooked before being of legal age to purchase the product. What would happen if cannabis were not only legal but just as cheap as tobacco for teenagers on a limited bodget? The high black market prices caused by illegality are the last prop holding up the tottering nicotine empire.

4. “Big pHARMa feeds of Big 2Wackgo and both fear cannabis.” If the wise practice of many cannabis users (vaporizer, long-stemmed one-hitters) spilled over into the nicotine addict population, many tobacco users might keep smoking but use 1/28 as much product the rest of their lives. This could cause a drastic decline in smoking-related illnesses which feed the demand for blood pressure meds, etc.

Posted by maxwood | Report as abusive

Alcohol is destructive, and very addictive. Marijuana is neither,,and could bring more revenue than keeping it illegal. The only problem is, that, the US government is a bunch of alcoholics. They would rather make money with DUI’s and busts than allow adults to choose a safer alternative to drinking,,and therfore causing no ill effects in public. Allow me to buy marijuana , and smoke it in my home. I am happy. While holding down a job and performing well. Make me an alcoholic,,and who knows what havoc I may cause,,including problems holding a job.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Good afternoon fellow bloggers. Very interesting piece of info I’d like to share with you guys that I just learned from Norml.com. Now hear this approximately 98 percent of cannabis destroyed or taken by the D.E.A is actually ditch weed or what stoners refer to as headache weed, because the THC content is next to nothing and will never get you high. It’s absolutely hilarious to know that we the tax payers spend billions every year for overpaid landscapers. LOL

Posted by James | Report as abusive

[...] Amen, bro. Driven to drink by marijuana laws? | Analysis & Opinion | [...]

[...] well, damn. Need to step up the education part, too. Here is my list; Common sense overview: Driven to drink by marijuana laws? | Analysis & Opinion | Cutting edge research on Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System; Illinois NORML – The [...]

Growing up in Los Alamos in the 70′s and 80′s, it was a rite-of-passage for high-schoolers to drive up into the mountains to get ripped at keg parties. That scared me a lot, since I also heard about the accidents and deaths. The pot-alcohol combination was clearly detrimental, too. I’m not sure I would agree that people would drink less if Pot were legal – perhaps – but with such societal vilification of the herb, and widespread acceptance of alcohol, I remember a lot of my peers who just opted for passing out, leaving the ‘stoners’ to run around nature getting a cardiovascular workout while pondering the meaning of things. Of course, it took real guts to seek out such an alternative to alcohol, because it meant one had to acquire pot by illegal means, rendering one paranoid and distracted. This illicit environment created it’s own set of problems, such as what I also witnessed, among them the behavior of those who used marijuana in excess, or were attracted in an anti-authoritarian way to the underground culture that arose (in large part, a consequence of pot’s prohibition). I admire folks like Bernd who are discussing this openly.  

Posted by macelf | Report as abusive

[...] perception is wrong,” Mason Tvert, co-author of Marijuana is Safer, told Reuters, “and it can’t be corrected overnight. What we aim for is legislation that would give adults the [...]

[...] perception is wrong,” Mason Tvert, co-author of Marijuana is Safer, told Reuters, “and it can’t be corrected overnight. What we aim for is legislation that would give adults the [...]

she said

José Saiz Molina