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The Wonderfulness of Pot, Part Eight Zillion

| 15 Comments
When pot legalizers keep telling us that dope just ain't that bad, sooner or later the message gets through.  And  acted upon.  

From Healthline News:  "College Freshmen Drive and Get in Cars with Drivers After Marijuana Use."

Today's teens face many challenges when trying to drive safely, whether it's distracting texts or loud car companions. But many teens also report getting behind the wheel after drinking or using marijuana, or getting in the car with a driver who's under the influence, adding yet another obstacle on the road to safety.

I thought it was pretty interesting that the study was conducted in Washington state, in which  the Pot Is Wonderful lobby has been both active and successful.

I also have no doubt what the reaction to this story will be, because I've seen it before: To dismiss or minimize it, or claim that the authors are really fascists masquerading as scientists.  Legalizers simply will not brook dissent from The Orthodoxy.  

15 Comments

What do you make of the data, Bill, indicating that during the years of this study crash fatalities in WA state went down while in the US nationwide it went up? Here is where I got the data:

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/mapsdata/collision/pdf/Washington_State_Collision_Data_Summary_2012.pdf

I am 100% certain that marijuana legalization will lead to more marijuana use and more driving by persons who have used marijuana. What I am less sure is whether this will make our roads less safe or perhaps more safe.

Make fun of the reformers all you want, but it seems like it is those adamantly opposing all possible marijuana reforms who seem disinclined to be seriously concerned with data and science (not to mention the virtues of liberty, free markets, and smaller government).

I am not sure what "dope" is, but Cannabis truly "ain't that bad", especially compared to the individual and societal harm caused by alcohol, cigarettes and prescription drugs.

jardinero --

1. Do you really not know what "dope" is? C'mon.

2. Prescription drugs are a wonderful thing -- when used as prescribed by a responsible doctor. When they're abused by druggies, they're very dangerous, you're right about that.

3. That we tolerate considerable social damage from some substances is hardly a reason to welcome yet more from others.

Jardinero001,

Thanks for providing such a nice example of a "fallacy of relative privation."

More proof that the only ammunition those supporting the legalization of pot have are lies and logical fallacies.

Mr. Otis, I thought you might see the humor in my statement about "dope". Nobody has called Cannabis, "dope", since 1974, at the latest. If you can't be cool, at least be scientifically accurate. You should try using Cannabis instead of dope. You will seem less old.

TarlsQtr, You are incorrect about the fallacy. I didn't say that "we should ignore marijuana because alcohol is a worse problem." Rather, I said that it "ain't that bad" compared to alcohol, et al. You inferred something else from my statement that wasn't there. The purpose of my statement was to add emphasis to what "sentencinglaw" said in the comment before mine. Legalized marijuana can mitigate the pernicious effects of alcohol.

It is a statistical fact, demonstrated in Washington state, that by providing less harmful alternatives to alcohol i.e. marijuana, then accident and death rates decline. The same is true with vaping. Vaping is a better, not perfect, alternative to cigarettes.

jardinero --

"Nobody has called Cannabis, 'dope', since 1974, at the latest."

Actually, a pro-pot/dope/cannabis commenter used the term "dope" less than three months ago on the first comment on this thread:


http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2014/02/federal-judge-rejects-as-too-lenient-plea-deal-for-illinois-state-judge-guilty-of-drug-and-gun-charg.html

"If you can't be cool, at least be scientifically accurate. You should try using Cannabis instead of dope. You will seem less old."

1. Anyone my age who tries to be "cool" is an idiot.

2. I've given up on trying to seem less old. No one would believe it anyway.

Jardinero,

No, I am correct.

Are you, or are you not, taking the position that pot should be legalized?

Did you, or did you not, use the claim that it is less harmful than alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription medications, to further the position?

Now, you will likely answer "No" to the second but that is very transparent.

You stated: "The purpose of my statement was to add emphasis to what "sentencinglaw" said in the comment before mine. Legalized marijuana can mitigate the pernicious effects of alcohol."

Hogwash. Sentencinglaw's statement was purely about public safety on the road. You stated (emphasis mine), "the individual and SOCIETAL HARM caused by alcohol, cigarettes and prescription drugs."

We KNOW you were not referring specifically to driving (SentencingLaw's comment) because cigarettes do not hamper one's ability to drive and "societal harm" is a far broader category that highway safety is only a small part of.

Fallacy committed.

If something, "ain't that bad", it will always be vis a vis something else. The phrase implies a comparison. I compared it to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. What I implied and what you inferred are not the same. I clarified my statement for you. You can choose to not accept my clarification. Fine.

Sentencinglaw linked to data which demonstrates that the substitution of marijuana for alcohol has reduced collisions, injuries and fatalities. So I will say again, "Cannabis truly 'ain't that bad', especially compared to the individual and societal harm caused by alcohol, cigarettes and prescription drugs." Legal cannabis in a regime of legal alcohol helps reduce the harm caused by legal alcohol.

I am still awaiting some response to the data suggesting WA roads may be safer despite more folks smoking pot (or dope or cannabis or whatever the kids are calling it these days) and driving.

And I'm still awaiting a response to the question of how much more harm, specifically, society should tolerate in order to accommodate lower drug sentences across the board -- a question I asked weeks if not months ago.

Specifically, how many more overdose deaths? Ten? Fifty? A hundred? Three hundred? A thousand?

And how much more addiction? How much more taxpayer-funded cost to take care of addicts?

Of course, you have no obligation to answer anything I ask you, just as I have no obligation to answer anything you ask me. The aggressive demand for answers -- as if they were owed -- is one of the more obnoxious features of the Internet, and doesn't really fly here.

That said, I will make one exception. The idea that pot will produce safer driving is preposterous, as anyone who has driven while stoned, or has driven with someone who's stoned, knows. This is not really debatable, and I will not debate it.

If the notion is that driving while stoned SUBSTITUTES for driving while drunk, well, that notion is undocumented at best, and contrary to anecdotal evidence.

Beyond that, the study to which you refer has an insufficient sample size, over either population or time, to have much persuasive value.

Finally, for those of us who think that people should actually obey the law and drive safely and with respect for others, the idea that driving stoned is "better" than driving drunk just never gets off the ground.

Jardinero,

I never claimed that you were not making a comparison of some sort. The problem is that you were comparing in broader terms than you now are willing to admit.

Again, the post by sentencing law was limited to highway deaths caused by marijuana and alcohol. You said the "individual and societal harm" of marijuana "ain't that bad" compared to "alcohol, cigarettes and prescription drugs."

If merely piggybacking on sentencinglaw's post about highway safety, you would have A) narrowed your comment to highway safety instead of the much broader "societal harm" and B) not brought up cigarettes which have virtually no impact on how one drives.

You either wrote the most unclear post in the history of the internet or are fibbing now. The latter makes the most sense by far.

Douglas,

Are you claiming something? If so, please say so directly. What, if anything, does this study claim to prove? What, if anything, do you claim this study proves?

At issue, Tarls and Bill, is whether and how pot prohibition and extreme prison sentences in support of other drug prohibitions might be doing more harm than good at this point in US history. Americans came to the view that alcohol prohibition did more harm than good to society in the 1930s. And, at least for those who favor personal freedom and free markets over government prohibitions and control, the notion that government rules may often do more harm than good is itself inherently appealing.

I surmise you both have different views and you seem to think pot prohibition and extreme prison sentences in support of other drug prohibitions do more good than harm. That is a fine and widely-embraced view. But only experimenting with other models will enable us to have a truly informed view, and the rise in overdose heroin deaths certain suggests something about the status quo is not working well. Again, I am eager to encourage you to make the best possible arguments in support of the status quo, and change will always be a challenge for an inherently conservative American populace and politicians. But just as I am eager to admit that change may not make matters better, would you both admit the status quo is not ideal?

Actually, Douglas, you get to tell us what is "at issue" on your blog and Bill, Kent, et al. get to tell us what is "at issue" here.

The issue, as Bill stated it, is that despite all of the "pot is harmless" nonsense that has been spewed for years we are finding out (actually, we already knew)that it is indeed a quite harmful substance. Your above post is just another in a now long line of what was predicted long ago, a cute bait and switch.

The argument was never, "Marijuana is terrible for you but the the effects of prosecuting it are worse." The argument was, "Marijuana is great!"

We can surely have the debate you want now but you should at least have the manners to admit that you abandoned the field of the former debate.

I am not trying to dictate the terms of debate, Tarls, just trying to understand the harms you and Bill and others identify from legal reform and/or increased pot consumption. If more people consume pot and drive while/after consuming pot, I do not view this as a major harm unless/until it means more accidents on the roads. In WA, the data Bill referenced indicated an increase in driving in WA by people who consumed pot, but the data I referenced indicated a decrease in accidents during this same period in WA.

Notably, when Bill got around to considering this data, his response was not to engage the data, but just say the possibility that pot legalization might make the roadways safer is "preposterous" and "not debatable" and he makes these assertions despite a study published last year in the Journal of Law and Economics which found that legalization of medical marijuana is associated with an 8-to-11-percent drop in traffic fatalities, beyond what would be expected based on national trends. Dare I suggest, to use Bill's own words, that he seems eager to "dismiss or minimize" any data that served to brook dissent from his pro-prohibition orthodoxy.

As for the arguments for ending marijuana reform, there are many: some people truly think marijuana is great (just as some people clearly think alcohol and guns are great, though terrible harms can come from them, too). I surmise, mostly from personal anecdotes, than a number of folks with chronic pain or dealing with kids with seizure disorders who have not found relief through traditional medicines are especially eager to push for reform under the marijuana is great banner. And, with them in mind, I do think it is great when those who are suffering can have legal access to means that may help ease their suffering, and I think it is especially sad that federal prohibition may make the lives of the suffering harder.

My affinity for reform is based more in the belief that freedom is great and in the fear that government agents, especially when purportedly seeking to prevent people from harming themselves through free market transactions, can have a tendency to do more harm than good. This is why I tend to think, whatever the evidence on the benefits or harms of marijuana use, big-government prohibition is a worrisome strategy. I feel that way about alcohol, guns and pot (at this particular moment in US history in light of current medical knowledge).

In other words, I am not abandoning (or even endorsing) any arguments pro or con. Rather, I am trying to understand the roots and concerns driving the views of those favoring the status quo of pot prohibition. And I hope you understand that different people can support or oppose reform for all sorts of different reasons. Mine tend to be based in my own libertarian principles, yours may be based in a different conception of what federal government should do in the name of preventing people from harming themselves or marketing addictive products.

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