Pathetic Pot Prohibitionists

Legalization in Colorado reveals the intellectual poverty of the war on marijuana.

On Monday, less than a week after Colorado's state-licensed marijuana shops began serving recreational consumers, the anti-pot group Project SAM thanked three public figures who "have galvanized our movement." One of them was Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and The Daily Beast, whose contribution consisted of this insight, which she offered to her 75,000 Twitter followers last Friday: "Legal weed contributes to us being a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation even less able to compete with the Chinese."

This is what passes for smart commentary among pot prohibitionists. Colorado's path-breaking legalization of the marijuana business has revealed the intellectual bankruptcy of people who think violence is an appropriate response to consumption of psychoactive substances they do not like.  

People like Kevin Sabet, the former Office of National Drug Control Policy official who co-founded Project SAM. Sabet's main strategy for defending prohibition consists of pairing the word big with the word marijuana, based on the assumption that Americans will flee in terror from the resulting phrase.

"We're on the brink of creating Big Marijuana," Sabet warns. That's scary, he explains, because large, legal cannabusinesses will advertise their product and encourage people to consume it. Even so, they seem preferable to murderous drug cartels.

Sabet's group clearly needs all the help it can get. In addition to Tina Brown's tweet, it latched onto a pair of essays published the day after Colorado's pot shops opened. New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, both of whom admit enjoying marijuana in their younger days, nevertheless oppose legalization because some people smoke pot too much, which is especially bad when those people are teenagers.

Brooks concedes that smoking pot with his buddies in high school was "fun," even that "those moments of uninhibited frolic deepened our friendships." Still, "being stoned is not a particularly uplifting form of pleasure." And then there was that time Brooks smoked pot during lunch and flubbed a presentation in English class, "feeling like a total loser."

While "I don’t have any problem with somebody who gets high from time to time," Brooks says, "smoking all the time" is "likely to cumulatively fragment a person's deep center, or at least not do much to enhance it." Therefore the government should "subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship" by kidnapping people at gunpoint and locking them in cages for growing or selling marijuana.

Brooks, keen to protect his deep center and avoid embarrassing public speaking incidents, does not care for pot anymore. But Marcus not only admits that "I have done my share of inhaling"; she plans to "check out some Bubba Kush" the next time she is in Colorado.

Still, Marcus thinks she should not be allowed to do that—because of the kids. "The more widely available marijuana becomes," she writes, "the more minors will use it."

Marcus concedes that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. "The reason to single out marijuana," she says, "is the simple fact of its current (semi-)illegality." In other words, marijuana should be illegal because it is illegal. I believe this is an example of what philosophers call the is/ought fallacy.

What Brooks and Marcus conspicuously fail to do is offer a moral justification for banning marijuana but not alcohol (which poses greater hazards when consumed to excess and is consumed by minors a lot more often), plus every other adult pleasure that Brooks deems insufficiently "uplifting." They do not even seem to understand that a moral justification is needed for using force to suppress an activity that violates no one's rights.

With allies and arguments like these, it's no wonder the prohibitionists are losing. A few days after Brown, Brooks, and Marcus galvanized the anti-pot movement with their thrilling defenses of the status quo, CNN announced poll results indicating that 54 percent of Americans think "the sale of marijuana should be made legal." 

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  • Steve G||

    If, as they predict, we just end up fatter, dumber and sleepier, then we deserve to lose to the Chinese.

  • Steve G||

    ...and it'll have nothing to do w/ the pot.

  • Doctor Whom||

    If we should ban things that make us stupid, isn't banning Tina Brown a higher priority than banning pot?

  • Rod Flash||

    Plus, when I drink I tend to get sleepy. But when I smoke it tends to keep me awake. I think my personal anecdotal evidence pretty much blows theirs out of the water.

  • ||

    "They do not even seem to understand that a moral justification is needed for using force to suppress an activity that violates no one's rights."

    Their rights are violated by others choosing activities that might not be the most judicious use of their time. When the individual fails to support the collective society as a whole suffers!

    I know my weed dealers always checked for ID too, lol...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Legal weed contributes to us being a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation even less able to compete with the Chinese.

    Apparently there's no stopping the mary jane train, so the only thing for the America First anti-pot crowd to do is get China kids hooked on the weed.

  • Jerryskids||

    No, you idiot - if you wanna compete with the heaten Chinee you gotta get American kids to start smoking opium.

  • OneOut||

    China is developing a meth problem. I tried to post a link to an article about a recent bust of three tons but was informed the link wouldn't post because my post contained a word that was too long ( over 50 characters ) I'm sure you can google it if you want.

    We have nothing to worry about.

  • DenverJay||

    They already smokin' the HOPEium! heyaaah!

  • waffles||

    Apparently ketamine is the widely available drug of choice in China. I think a lot of what makes a recreational drug popular is (relative) safety, price, and availability. America grows massive amounts of pot. China has massive chemical plants producing grey (or black) market pharmaceuticals.

    Where do you think bath salts came from?

  • Duncan20903||

    I thought that bath salts came from Bed, Bath, and Beyond? Give me a minute and I'll go check the labels and make sure.

  • VicRattlehead||

    My mother did not understand the news article when it was banned, and subsequently threw out her bathing stuff thinking that was what was making people insane, when i explained it was a drug that made people that way she was confused as to why anyone would take it comparing it to sniffing bleach.

  • Duncan20903||

    Fist of Etiquette, that project is already under way:
    http://shanghaiist.com/2013/08.....police.php

    I must have been asleep and dreaming because I swear that I heard that the Chinese have eliminated all mind altering drugs except for drinking alcohol. Gosh, this story seems to support that assertion:
    http://shanghaiist.com/2009/08.....nk_dri.php

  • John C. Randolph||

    Today I learned that someone named "Tina Brown" is a waste of space.

    -jcr

  • Jaybirdmojo||

    Isn't that, um, racist?

  • pan fried wylie||

    jingoism.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Yellow Horde!
    Caahsukka!

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Not if spoken by a Leftie. Had she made an anti-Mao statement, that would be racist.

  • MisterDamage||

    They think the people they're trying to convince are stupid so they're appealing to something they regard as stupid in order to convince those stupid racists they shouldn't smoke pot. Because the people framing the argument that way regard themselves as superior, they end up making stupid arguments in an attempt to convince their inferiors to do their bidding.

  • Pompey||

    Legal weed contributes to us being a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation even less able to compete with the Chinese.

    Shall we also emulate their education system, which emphasises rote, would further promote sitting time in an already sedentary America, and boost our stress-related emotional condition rate?

    You don't compete with "The Chinese", Tina, but I know how you can start: go in at the ground level and compete with one of those proletariat-grade whores in a $2 brothel sucking cocks and having unprotected sex with insistent patrons. Make sure to choose a provincial capital too, Shanghai is too upscale for you.

  • Pompey||

    Provincial in the backwoods sense.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    I think you mean the backdoor sense....

  • Pompey||

    Ziing!

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    At least they have given up on the "marijuana is a deadly drug that will kill you or send you to the emergency room!" line that sustained them for most of the past 30 years.

    As they descend further into self-parody, they seem to have seriously adopted the "Strangers With Candy" scare tactics: "If you smoke pot, be prepered to spend a lot of time hanging out and laughing with your friends!"

    It really feels as if we have reached the same tipping point that we recently reached with respect to civil rights for homosexuals. What was just a pipe dream for decades is suddenly becoming something that is possible, not just in our lifetime but in the very near future.

  • Duncan20903||

    It's a done deal my friend. All that's left is dotting the Ts and crossing the Is.

  • goneGalt||

    What was just a pipe dream for decades...

    Heh, heh, I see what you did there.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Marcus concedes that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. "The reason to single out marijuana," she says, "is the simple fact of its current (semi-)illegality." In other words, marijuana should be illegal because it is illegal. I believe this is an example of what philosophers call the is/ought fallacy.

    I would call it circular logic instead.

    You spin me right round, baby, right round, like that statist "logic," right round round round.

  • Number 2||

    Actually, I fear that this is an example that marijuana really does hurt one's brain. Marcus admits that she partakes, and this is the "thinking" that results.

    On the other hand, if she believes in prohibition, she has just admitted in public that she intends to violate federal law. I am sure she would appreciate it if the DEA picked her up after she samples what Colorado has to offer.

  • RnW1015||

    "CNN announced poll results indicating that 54 percent of Americans think "the sale of marijuana should be made legal." In this country, what the majority wants or expects no longer matters. It's all about what our "leaders" want. Just take a look at the "Affordable" Healthcare Act. Only when politicians find a way to personally profit from MJ will we see serious talk of legalizing it nationally.

  • SugarFree||

    Politicians would save a lot on money in the long run if marijuana was legalized. It leads to about half the bribes, cover-up money and bogus rehab they have to shell out for themselves and their family.

  • Mike Parent||

    Politicians don't want to savemoney, they want to distribute it to their friends.

  • Tamfang||

    Different kind of money. SugarFree is talking about the kind that would otherwise be in their own pockets.

  • Mainer2||

    It's been pointed out that there is a whole system of people (cops,prisons, judges, prosecutors, counselors etc) who make their living from pot being illegal.

    Wasn't it Mencken whos said something like, it's hard to make a man understand something when his paycheck depends on not understanding it.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Most of the opposition to the legalization initiative in California recently was funded by the prison guard's union.

    The goal has always been to have 1/3 of us incarcerated, 1/3 of us employed in the legal system arresting and procecuting us, and another 1/3 guarding the jails. Government economic stimulus, baby!!

  • Duncan20903||

    Wow! So why did they announce that they didn't care one way or the other about Prop 19?
    http://www.ccpoa.org/files/201.....-Final.pdf

    I think you're confusing them with the Police Chiefs. California only spends about $66 million a year for incarcerating cannabis law violators in the prison system.

  • DenverJay||

    Hocus Pocus, by Kurt Vonnegut.
    Also, the Prison Guards Union is the Spawn of Satan. Anybody who lobbies higher incarceration rates of their fellow citizens for their own job security ought to be drawn and quartered.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Once the right political supporters want legalization, politicians will have their Damascene conversion on the issue.

  • Mike Parent||

    Does anyone honestly believe that wasting $20 Billion and arresting 3/4 Million Americans annually for choosing a substance Scientifically proven to be safer than what the govt allows, is a sound policy?

  • Duncan20903||

    The people getting paid $20 billion/year sure believe it.

    Why doesn't anyone cout the interest we've got to pay every years to keep current the debt service of the nominal $trillion with a T that's been borrowed, squandered and yet to be repaid for prosecuting the war on (some) drugs over the last 4 decades or so? At 5% that's $50 billion with a B just to cover the vigorish.

  • Juice||

    Always Think Forfeiture

  • FuriousFatMan||

    "Legal weed contributes to us being a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation even less able to compete with the Chinese." - Tina Brown.

    i smoke weed on a daily basis and i can still run mental laps around ANY fucking whore w/ a degree, and i've proven it many times.

    -FFM

  • Tony||

    Joe Scarborough thinks he can out-argue and out-snark Matt Taibbi on this. He posted a stupid rant on Politico about how because he had friends who smoked pot and they seemed a little off, and because Matt had a privileged childhood, therefore, hey look over there! or something. I would love to see Matt give Joe a bucketful of the Friedman treatment. What a moron. What is it about being a squishy center-right talking head that makes one feel entitled to declare personal anecdote a meaningful contribution to this subject?

  • Eggs Benedict Cumberbund||

    Friedman is a babbling idiot.

  • DFG||

    "Legal weed contributes to us being a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation even less able to compete with the Chinese."

    Just look at Michael Phelps. Imagine what he could have accomplished is only he hadn't smoked pot. Poor guy.

  • DFG||

    if only

  • thorax232||

    Good thing we've got Reason. :)

  • Paul Pot||

    The Sabets of this world fail to acknowledge 2 things.
    Prohibition is a total lie.
    And most people have first hand experience with marijuana or the people who use it.
    And as reform spreads, more people have experience with it and so support for reform keeps growing.
    Mr. Sabet has chosen to side with the losing team.
    Now that we have three real world models for legal marijuana, it will be impossible to hide the lie of prohibition.
    Marijuana will be legal in most western nations by the end of the decade.

  • Tamfang||

    I've never beaten the Chinese at anything without a good night's sleep.

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    We are actually experiencing a de facto civl war between the majority (those who embrace reason and function in the real world of cause and effect) and the prohibitionists, who, numbed by their isolation and despair, are seeking meaning in a mythical world that can never, ever, be reality-based. A world of deceit and lies, of blood and corpses—a world of complete social and economic collapse.

    Prohibitionists are not only infantile, their insatiable need to inflict suffering on the rest of us and their greed for both money and power is a threat to every single civic institution of our "once proud and free" nation. Their final objective, a drug-free society, toward which all their deceit is directed, is not even obtainable in a single maximum security prison anywhere on this planet.

    Prohibitionists claim to be protecting society, but they would gladly destroy every single liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.

  • thisismarcusxavier||

    Pat Buchanan wrote an op-ed piece within the past week (and it's so intellectually deficient that I won't even link to it) in which he said that marijuana is a gateway drug to cocaine, heroin, etc. just as beer is a gateway drug to vodka, whiskey, gin.

  • PatrickHenry||

    Why do you, oh godly one, deem his comments "intellectually deficient"? Maybe he is right. Do you know everything? Are you sure?

  • ||

    I'm sure - it's been widely established by numerous studies that the "gateway drug theory" is utter nonsense.

  • PaulinePhelpsmee||

    up to I saw the check of $8495, I did not believe ...that...my best friend actualy earning money part time from their computer.. there friend brother started doing this 4 only fourteen months and as of now cleared the dept on there appartment and got a top of the range Ariel Atom. website here
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    http://www.tec30.com
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  • PatrickHenry||

    Oh Pauline, there is only one way you can make that kind of money that easily. Pauline, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • PatrickHenry||

    Marijuana smoke contains 50% to 70% more cancer-causing substances than tobacco smoke. One major research study reported that a single cannabis joint could cause as much damage to the lungs as up to five regular cigarettes smoked one after another. Long-time joint smokers often suffer from bronchitis, an inflammation of the respiratory tract.

  • ||

    A much larger research study (Tashkin at UCLA) found no correlation between cannabis smoking and lung cancer. An enormous amount of recent research in fact finds that cancer seems to kill various kinds of tumor cells.

  • ||

    sorry "cannabis seems to kill various kinds of tumor cells"

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