Dazed and Confused No More

A full 50 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana

Candidates running for president can easily wreck their campaigns with one serious misstep. Back in 1976, one Democrat said he favored getting rid of criminal penalties for marijuana use. Can you imagine how Americans of that primitive era reacted to his blunder? They elected him.

Once in office, Jimmy Carter didn't abandon his temperate approach to cannabis. He proposed that the federal government stop treating possession of small amounts as a crime, making a sensible but novel argument: "Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself."

Nothing came of it, of course. Carter's logic was unassailable even 35 years ago, but it has yet to be translated into federal policy. The American experience with prohibition of alcohol proved that we are capable of learning from our mistakes. The experience with prohibition of marijuana proves that we are also capable of doing just the opposite.

The stupidity and futility of the federal war on weed, however, has slowly permeated the mass consciousness. This week, the Gallup organization reported that fully 50 percent of Americans now think marijuana should be made legal. This is the first time since Gallup began asking in 1969 that more Americans support legalization than oppose it.

The shift has shaped drug policy at the state level. Seventeen states have approved medical use of pot, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and 14 have decriminalized possession of small amounts for personal use—including such staunchly conservative places as Mississippi and Nebraska.

Changes in a permissive direction may bring casual use out of the closet, but they don't elicit the disasters that anti-drug zealots fear. In fact, research indicates that decriminalizing cannabis has only a tiny effect on consumption, if any.

For that matter, hardly anything has an effect. Over the past 30 years, federal spending to fight drugs has risen seven times over, after inflation. Since 1991, arrests for possession of pot have nearly tripled. But all for naught.

As a report last year by the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy noted, more high school students and young adults get high today than 20 years ago. More than 16 million Americans smoke dope at least once a month. Pot is just as available to kids as it ever was, and cheaper than before.

If we had gotten results like this after reducing enforcement, the new policy would be blamed. But politicians who support the drug war never consider that their remedies may be aggravating the disease. They follow the customary formula for government programs: If it works, spend more on it, and if it fails, spend more on it.

During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama criticized the Bush administration for overriding states on medical marijuana. "What I'm not going to be doing," he vowed, "is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue."

For a while it seemed like he meant it. Early on, the Justice Department said it would not waste resources going after sick people who were using cannabis as allowed by states. But recently, federal prosecutors in California have been mobilizing to shut down the state-approved dispensaries that supply those patients.

It's like George W. Bush never left. William Panzer, co-author of the medical marijuana initiative approved by California voters in 1996, told The Los Angeles Times, "The Obama administration has been incredibly disappointing on this issue."

The effort to combat marijuana has served to punish Americans for using a substance that is far less harmful than legal ones. It has enriched organized crime, while fueling endless slaughter by drug cartels in Mexico. It has prevented clinical research on the therapeutic use of cannabis. Its results run the gamut from pathetic ineffectuality to outright harm.

Those facts account for the growing support for legalization, despite ceaseless government propaganda against marijuana. It may seem impossible that cannabis will ever be permitted, regulated and taxed like beer or cigarettes. But when public opinion moves, public policy is bound to follow.

In 1930, the author of the constitutional amendment establishing Prohibition said, "There is as much chance of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment as there is for a hummingbird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail." Three years later, it was gone.


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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Human nature is the windmill government was designed to tilt at.

    And drug enforcement may cost taxpayers much, but it also lines a lot of pockets. That, as much as anything, changed Obama's tune once in office.

  • Suki||

    OT: Gaddafi may be captured or killed. Many credit Obama with capturing or killing Gaddafi single handed, with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • db||

    On-topic: Line jumping posts not cool.

  • ||

    yeah, i remember that picture with him smoking some reds with an AK hanging by his side crouched on top of his modified M1-Abrams. Most badass prez ever...

  • Smokum Peace Pipe||

    Human nature is the windmill government was designed to tilt at. ~Fist

    Human nature is the windmill the agricultural city-State (civilization) was designed to tilt at.

    We agree. Come, smokum peace pipe.

    Unless you still hold the contradictory position that:

    Agricultural City-State = Bad
    • Agricultural City-State = Good

    You're not that dumb, are ya?

  • Smokum Peace Pipe||

    I, however, am dumb enough to think government = city-state.

    Yes I am that fucking stupid.

  • Civilization = City-State||

    Definition: The word civilization comes from the Latin civilis, meaning civil, related to the Latin civis, meaning citizen, and civitas, meaning city or city-state.


    Please make a note of it.

  • fyngyrz||

    Languages change; societies change; and living off the land is now only a last fallback strategy for nuclear war survivors who no longer have the option for septic systems. Now go push a buffalo off a cliff, would you?

  • Douglas Fletcher||

    No, what changed his tune is that he's a goddamned liar and power hungry freak. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

  • ||

    Still, that last paragraph of the article is so beautiful & inspiring...

  • Sam||

    I was going to ask incredulously, who voted for this guy, but I remembered the options in '08 were for Bush 3 vanilla or Buch 3 chocolate with hope and change sprinkles.

    Maybe next year...

  • ||

    next year we'll probably have Bush 3 chocolate vs. bush 4 lemon gelato (i have no idea what ice cream is associated with mormons, but lemon flavored gelato is the whitest I could think of.

  • Neal||

    As a Mormon I would have to say lime jello with pineapple chunks and maybe marshmallows.

  • cynical||

    It was Bush 3 old and busted vs. Bush 3 new hotness, IIRC.

  • guy in the back row||

    I don't think there was any tune changing at all. It was all the hopey/changey stuff which his enamored supporters projected on him.

  • ||

    My local FM talker recently featured a story about Maple Shade, NJ rejecting a medical marijuana facility in its town. The reasons were ridiculous - the facility would be near an apartment complex (arguable too close to a residential area...but you know what kind of people live in apartment complexes, don't you?), people would buy pot and smoke and then get into car accidents and kill people (what about the 50+ bars and liquor stores in an around the city limits of Maple Shade?).

    May favorite was a caller who said she was in her sixties, was at Woodstock, and said that, "as well know, pot is a gateway drug..."

    If pot was a gateway drug I would have died of a heroin overdose 15 years ago.

    The stupid abides. Really.

  • Joe M||

    May favorite was a caller who said she was in her sixties, was at Woodstock, and said that, "as well know, pot is a gateway drug..."

    How is she still alive? Shouldn't she have died in a ditch with a heroin needle in her arm?

  • ||

    you about heroin as if it was the strongest drug out there. opiates ain't got shit on amphetamine OD's

  • god you people are obtuse ||

    The ld50 of heroin is much smaller than any amphetamine.

  • ||

    correct. it's a lot easier to MISTAKENLY die from heroin OD than stimulant OD, and i can say that based on 20+ yrs of LE experience as well as review of the literature

    the primary issue with opioids is cessation of breathing. the difference between a therapeutic dose and a fatal dose is not THAT substantial

    other drugs also have a small differential (insulin comes to mind) but nobody uses insulin "for fun" and apart from some bodybuilders there is very little "off label" use .

    a substantial # of heroin OD's are longtime users who develop a massive tolerance, then TRY to quit (go cold turkey), fail after a period of time, then go back to heroin.

    their craving is there, but their tolerance is reduced substantially and what was once a "fun dose" becomes a now fatal dose.

    the other issue with (accidental) overdoses is the variation in purity, of course.

    fwiw, as far as intentional overdoses (suicide attempts) with ANY drug, i have seen way more successful attempts with tylenol (APAP) than any other drug.

    even a non-successful attempt (iow the person lives) usually results in massive chronic damage to liver, etc.

  • nanda||

    maybe the caller was an exception to the rule.
    anyway what does it matter if more people take drugs or if marijuana is harmless? a true libertarian thinks that the government should restrain as little activity as possible, whether the activity is good or bad, and that people should decide on their own what to do and whether something is good or bad. the "badness" of drugs is of no concern to a true libertarian, nor the "badness" of porn or prostitution.

  • ||

    while true, those of who like to engage in pragmatism realize that there is far more likelihood of success of a libertarian principle (what a person chooses to put in his body is his own choice) with a relatively benign substance such as MJ vs. something like PCP.

    the arguemnt for legalization of MJ is notable because amongst the schedule I drugs, it BY FAR has the most chance of success, and frankly has already proceeded down the path (decrim in many states, legalized medical mj etc.)

    philosophically speaking, you could make the argument that a true libertarian(tm) would find laws against say crystal meth use just as odious as laws against MJ abuse.

    however, the vast majority of the populace would go along with legalizing MJ and not crystal meth

    crystal meth, from the talks i've had with addicts (and there are NOT a lot of recreational users of same who do not become addicts after a few months), is one of the drugs that most of these people seriously regret ever trying in the first place. i hear that from meth addicts all the time

    i do not hear that from MJ users.

    sure, some chronic (no pun intended) MJ "abusers" feel the drug has taken over their life, bla bla but that's much more rare, and much less injurious to the consumer of the drug than a meth addict whose life has been "taken over" by meth

    meth is also of course substantially addictive (MJ is not addictive) and exceptionally bad for you in large doses/frequent usage)

    beavis and butthead bathtub produced meth doubly so (granted that's an artifact of its illegality)

  • ||

    I know plenty of people that have recreatioanlly used meth without going further. Myself included of course.

  • db||

    Good evening, Reason, from Shanghai!

  • Live Free or Diet||

    I tried the stuff in high school. Again in college. A third time some years later. (OK, then better, then best.) It seems about as addictive as sandpaper. The buzz was pleasant enough, but nothing special.

    So what's their big problem with it, too hard to tax?

  • ||

    "Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself."...Carter's logic was unassailable even 35 years ago...

    Ugh. The drug warriors did assail Carter. "It's for the children!"

    People who walk around with joints on their person should be thrown in prison and raped to death as a moral object lesson in what happens to you if you don't just say no to drugs.

    Now that's unassailable logic.

  • SIV||

    Carter did his best to make marijuana use more dangerous than the legal penalty with his paraquat-spraying program. Unlike Obama, who never really came out for any significant change in mj policy, Carter really did a 180.

  • ||

    Obama did a 180 on federal raids of state licensed dispensaries.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Carter also resurrected Selective Service. Liberals are all about slavery.

  • Libertarian Slavers||

    Regulating the surface of Mother Earth with abstract lines is all about restricting the free movement of free people to provide freely for themselves and turning them into wage-slaves.

    Our system of private property in land forces landless men to work for others; to work in factories, stores, and offices, whether they like it or not. wherever access to land is free, men work only to provide what they actually need or desire. Wherever the white man has come in contact with savage cultures this fact becomes apparent. There is for savages in their native state no such sharp distinction between "work" and "not working" as clocks and factory whistles have accustomed the white man to accept. They cannot be made to work regularly at repetitive tasks in which they have no direct interest except by some sort of duress. Disestablishment from land, like slavery, is a form of duress. ~Dr. Ralph Borsodi, This Ugly Civilization

  • Officer, Am I free to Gambol?||

  • SIV||

    Obama did a 180 on federal raids of state licensed dispensaries.

    I don't consider this "significant" compared to Carter's switch. Only fools believed Obama's campaign statement.

  • Fluffy||

    Khadafy dead?

  • ||

    Looks so, wow.

  • db||

    The headline I saw said he was captured.

  • db||

    ...then died of his wounds apparently.

  • Beloved Commenter Tim||

    How can they tell?

  • Brother Grimm||

    No. Turns out it was just Carlos Santana.

  • Joe M||

  • db||

    Your link says he was killed.

  • wef||

    It's like George W. Bush never left. William Panzer, co-author of the medical marijuana initiative approved by California voters in 1996, told The Los Angeles Times, "The Obama administration has been incredibly disappointing on this issue."

    Is William Panzer an idiot? Probably not, but Obama has been "disappointing" - really? If you elect dorm room bull shitters, why would you be disappointed if you get bull shit.

  • ||

    My attempts at humor yesterday on the hat tip tags were lame. To make it up to everyone, here is a short video about another awesome use for BOOBS:


  • BeverlyHillsNOP||

    So 50% of Americans want pot legal. But it won't happen. Just another example of the government ignoring the will of the people. War, pot, bailouts. The government does as it wants, the people's feeble protests are ignored.

    That's why I hate articles like this. It's not preaching to the choir, it's preaching to the children's choir. It's cute to hear what the kids think but it doesn't make any real difference.

  • TPTB||

    fully 50 percent of Americans now think marijuana should be made legal

    Meh. What are they smoking?

  • ||

    I look at drugs and legalizing them all like Thomas Sowell. If you legalize; the level of addicts and misery will increase some (the % is debatable) but what will dissappear is the misery of innocent citizens with the reduction of crime against them by people (mostly gangs) seeking money for drugs. That is assuming the drug prices come down sufficiently enough to prohibit the black market effect.
    Say a pack of joints (20) to be the same as a pack of smokes $5. Cocaine $10 a gram etc... Make it so traffickers can not compete.

  • ||

    more than that, people getting abused by the black marketers would be able to complain to police without getting thrown in jail themselves, leading to more tips to take down the black marketers. Its hard to smuggle cheap moonshine nowadays because if you do start turning violent, your customers will turn on you and rat you out in a heartbeat because they have plenty of options. So you have to keep everyone happy and keep a low profile.

  • Roger Murdock||

    I'm not so sure that drug-related harm would increase. Would use of recently legalized drugs increase? Probably. Particularly among marginal users - the type of people most likely to be deterred by prohibition. But a lot of that increased use would be displacing the use of alcohol, which is no slouch when it comes to causing addiction and misery. And most of the increased use would be of cannabis, by far the most popular illicit drug (for good reason!), and cannabis is infinitely less destructive than alcohol.

  • ||

    true, although again... alcohol ABUSE is far more destructive than MJ abuse.

    moderate use of either is not destructive AT ALL

    but i agree that if MJ was legalized, there isn't much cause to believe that a significantly higher %age of people would smoke it.

    another + (often overlooked) is that a very substantial # of casual mj smokers are "otherwise law abiding" folks who because of the war on MJ are placed in the position of being an "outlaw" of sorts.

    by legalizing MJ, they are no longer placed in that position and we are not "creating an enemy" so to speak.

    again, the average MJ user knows he has little to fear in regards to consequences beyond a minor fine if he is caught, but the user is still placed in the position of having to knowingly violate the lawif they want to smoke it (medical mj aside)

    iow, MJ smokers are not doing something that should place them at odds with law enforcement, and would be more likely to support actual VALID law enforcement practices because they wouldn't see law enforcement resources wasted going against harmless pot smokers, and thus the law would at least appear to have more validity.

  • Restoras||

    Two minutes, Riggs!

  • Realist||

    "A full 50 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana."
    Significantly less than those who want to increase taxes on the rich.
    Is there a point???

  • Obama||

    " "There is as much chance of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment as there is for a hummingbird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail." Three years later, it was gone."
    That's bullshit, I just saw it this morning.

  • AdvocateReason||

    We have to frame this information properly - the executive branch doesn't do much legislating. That's the legislative branch's business. But the main issue is that the end of federal prohibition is right around the corner. Yes - seriously. We just need your voice and every other person that cares about these civil liberties to speak up. NOW is the time. Tell the federal government to leave the decisions up to the states. They will listen or be replaced.
    Tell your representatives: http://pvox.co/CdiFqY
    Tell the Obama administration: http://wh.gov/gDQ

    This is how we get things done. We can discuss government motives, but do it AFTER you've taken action.

  • fyngyrz||

    "But the main issue is that the end of federal prohibition is right around the corner. Yes - seriously."

    No - Seriously. The drug war is a huge cash cow; the control loop here is government giving cash to law enforcement and its suppliers, who then both deliver back lobbyists with cash, immediate benefits and post-employment benefits to the legislators, who then do exactly what they are told, which is to continue the drug war. You notice what's missing from that description? Anything at all to do with the will of the general population.

    Wait... did I imagine you thinking "election"? Rigged voting hardware. Rigged selection of legislators by the political parties. Immediate application of said benefits to newly elected legislators by those same lobbyists (and wealthy and benefit-laden retirement of previous legislators). Final result: no change.

    Wait... did I imagine you thinking "but it's the right thing"?

    ....[hollow laughter]

  • ||

    Mind you I want to tax the heck out of it, just like alcohol it has societal costs associated with it.

  • ||

    alcohol ABUSE has far more societal costs associated with it than mj abuse.

    alcohol abusers routinely drive recklessly and dangerously, are more prone to spousal abuse, etc. etc.

    alcohol abuse can also result in literally fatal withdrawal symptoms, liver cirrhosis (fatal in the long term) and substantial impairment of health, to put it mildly.

    responsible USE of alcohol, like responsible use of pot has few, if any societal costs

    in fact, moderate use of alcohol has health BENEFITS.

    but if you were going to have a person abuse one OR the other, it would cost society a lot less (mj prohibition expenses aside) if they chose to abuse MJ vs. alcohol

    MJ is also not physically addictive.

    i think it's lame as fuck, but on a relative risk scale, MJ is far less risky than alcohol

  • Officer, Am I free to Gambol?||

    How much do libertarians appreciate White Indian's principled stand on:

    • Unrestricted movement of people.
    • Non-State sociopolitical typology.
    • Non-Aggression principle.

    White Indian is more libertarian than thou.

  • Officer, Am I free to Gambol?||

    Admittedly, he's also an admitted liar and mentally ill, so his principles are flexible based on how much of a fool he's made of himself.

  • Patrick Spreng||

    With all the comparisons between the war on drugs and alcohol prohibition, one significant distinction is overlooked. The Volstead Act "prohibited the production, sale, and transport" of "intoxicating liquors," not their use. It was never illegal to drink alcoholic beverages, you just couldn't legally obtain them.

    The War on Drugs turned that upside down by also making simple possession illegal.

  • ||

    technically, under most statutes, it is also not illegal to USE marijuana. it is illegal to possess it. with rare exception, possession w/in the body (iow after consuming it) does not meet any legal criteria of possession

    but yes, that is a critical difference. prohibition did not criminalize the POSSESSION of liquor. MJ prohibition does

  • ||

    Prohibition of alcohol required an amendment to the constitution to be enacted, and another one to remove it: the prohibition of cannabis did not. Could this mean that this whole cannabis prohibition has been carried off all these years with no legal federal authority whatsoever? Could be.

    The doctors in the California Medical Association obviously realize that cannabis is non-toxic, unlike prohibition. Beyond that, it has been proven to kill cancer cells in lab tests without harming the healthy cells present. http://www.gsalternative.com/2.....ll-cancer/

    Dave Triplett (Rick Simpson, and others) have used cannabis oil (topically) to cure melanoma as he shows in this short movie. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tghUh4ubbg

    Please sign one or more of the White House petitions regarding the cannabis prohibition, go to this link: https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petitions

    Select the drop-down menu for ‘search’, (on the little gray banner), type in the word ‘cannabis’, and you can review and sign a number of petitions, (there are at least ten at this point), and hopefully these can help put an end to this wasteful and harmful prohibition.

    President Obama could easily reschedule cannabis out of CSA schedule 1 by executive order.

    The prohibition on cannabis has been far more costly than just the tax dollars and lives ruined by incarceration. People are dying for lack of a cancer cure, and one seems to be clearly within reach.

  • fyngyrz||

    "Could this mean that this whole cannabis prohibition has been carried off all these years with no legal federal authority whatsoever?"

    Where have you been? Violations of almost the entire bill of rights; ex post facto laws; inversion of the commerce clause; usurpation of article 5 powers by the judiciary... operating in violation of authorized power is what today's federal and state governments are all about. When they run into something constitutional that they don't like, they just make up some sophist BS and go on with their day. Then, if someone complains, and manages to get through the "standing" filter, and it actually gets to the supreme court, then the justices, who are almost entirely ignorant of (or are intentionally ignoring) the intent of the constitution, make up some sophist BS and that's the end of it.

    If you want a government that obeys its authorizing documents, then you need a constitution with teeth: we need harsh punishment for violation of the oath to defend and protect it.

  • ||

    I would like to make friends with some pot growers in meigs county.

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    hello,welcome to www.luckygrip. com,i hope everyone will more like them because of there have more nice top goods and cheaper price in there,thanks

  • double cut saw||

    This is first time seeing this type of the information I’ve read the topic with great interest.

  • oilseed presses||

    It's not "if" but "when" litigation happens to stick it to the boss for firing people for stupid reasons just to pay cheaper wages.


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