Pot Patterns

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The Marijuana Policy Project notes a new study of pot smokers in San Francisco and Amsterdam that finds patterns of marijuana use in the two cities are similar despite substantial differences in drug policies. The Dutch government tolerates the open retail sale of marijuana to adults, which in the U.S. remains completely illegal. "Despite widespread lawful availability of cannabis in Amsterdam," the authors write, "there were no differences between the two cities in age at onset of use, age at first regular use, or age at the start of maximum use….We also found consistent similarities in patterns of use across the different policy contexts."

One significant difference between the two cities was that marijuana users in San Francisco were more likely to use MDMA (Ecstasy), cocaine, amphetamines, and opiates. "Dutch decriminalization does not appear to be associated with greater use of other drugs," the researchers report. "Indeed, to judge from the lifetime prevalence of other illicit drug use, the reverse may be the case."

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  1. Eaxctly! Pot is a gateway drug, only because you have to talk to a drug dealer to get it. If the liquor salesman also had a handfull of esctasy and maybe some coke, alcohol would be a gateway drug too.

  2. Another study that supports legalization of marijuana. The American government has a way of taking something that is recreational, less harmful than alcohol, and great for hiking and picnic-ing and turning it into a dirty, nasty pornographic hobgoblin.

  3. Another study that supports legalization of marijuana. The American government has a way of taking something that is recreational, less harmful than alcohol, and great for hiking and picnic-ing and turning it into a dirty, nasty pornographic hobgoblin.

  4. A more relevant comparison (or at least another highly relevant comparison) would be between Amsterdam pre-legalization and Amsterdam post-legalization. I’m sure studies such as this exist, but unfortunately occasional marijuana use has sucked out of me all ambition to do anything other than watch MST3K and eat cheetos, so I can’t look them up.

    Also, in the MPP press release, I think it’s unfortunate that communications director Bruce Mirken brings up the old marijuana-as-a-gateway-drug notion. I was under the impression that it had been fairly thoroughly debunked (or at the least that there’s no decent evidence supporting it), but he seems to be implicitly acknowledging that it has at least some legitimacy. Maybe he meant to say that any “gateway effect” is _entirely_ the result of prohibition, but he doesn’t make that case strongly.

  5. Jennifer is my new hero.

    “The American government has a way of taking something that is recreational, less harmful than alcohol, and great for hiking and picnic-ing and turning it into a dirty, nasty pornographic hobgoblin.”

    “a dirty, nasty pornographic hobgoblin.”

    That’s a keeper!

  6. There are an estimated 20 million regular pot smokers in this country alone. Pot doesn’t hurt people when used responsibly, and frankly isn’t very dangerous for people who do misuse it. I am willing to bet that most politicians (not to mention their staffers and favorite lobbyists) are fully aware of this, but don’t like taking political risks by making a stand. Do we want to end the Drug War, or not?? Neither Democrats nor Republicans are going to stop this costly and ineffective war. Vote Libertarian!

  7. I`m with you Brainfang , all the way!

  8. The solution is a National Coming Out of the Pot Closet Day. Everyone that smokes pot, lawyers, doctors, judges, DEA agents, etc. That has smoked pot should come out and say it. When people realize that productive, intelligent and hard-working members of society can do it with little in the way of negative side-effects, they’ll realize the pointlessness of the war.

    Unfortunately, it seems like everyone remembers the burnouts that fail and forget about the people that succeed.

  9. Since I hate taking credit for something I did not do, I must point out that the “Jennifer” who posted above is not me, the “Jennifer” who’s been a regular on these comment boards for awhile.

    (Considering how many millions of American girl-children were named after the heroine of that execrable movie “Love Story,” I’m surprised that it took this long for a second Jennifer to appear.)

  10. Now for the mystery part. Was the multiple post just a red herring to make us think it was the “original” Jennifer?

  11. Jennifers-

    Maybe the two of you should modify your screen names, e.g. include your geographical location or last initial, or else simply “Jennifer 1.0” and “Jennifer 2.0” or something.

    Mo-

    You say
    Everyone that smokes pot, lawyers, doctors, judges, DEA agents, etc. That has smoked pot should come out and say it. When people realize that productive, intelligent and hard-working members of society can do it with little in the way of negative side-effects

    Do you really want to include lawyers and DEA agents among the “productive, intelligent and hard-working members of society”? 🙂

  12. Mo-
    Oh, ha, ha, ha. ‘Pfft’ to you too. Sheesh.

  13. Wouldn’t it have been ironic if that last comment had been double-posted?

  14. Well, no one else has said it, so I may as well:

    “But what about OUR CHILDREN???”

  15. Children, shmildren. What about the public-school teachers who had to deal with them day after day? If I’d been allowed to get stoned before teaching each class, I would have been a lot less stressed.

  16. So let’s get this straight. They compared weed use in Amsterdam, where it’s technically illegal but tolerated, to San Francisco, where it’s technically illegal but tolerated. What a surprise that the cities have similar patterns of weed use.

    To them, this is evidence that “drug policies may have less impact on cannabis use than is currently thought.” To me, this is evidence they smoked too much while dreaming up this study.

    The study I want to see would compare the time from before Giuliani cracked down on pot to after. That might tell us whether criminalization is at all effective. This study, though, sounds like a researcher’s way to expense trips to SF and Amsterdam.

  17. I’m sure you can puff away everyday before coming to class without getting caught. Of course no matter what happens you’ll be teaching home economics in a matter of months.

  18. Brutal Hugger said: “They compared weed use in Amsterdam, where it’s technically illegal but tolerated, to San Francisco, where it’s technically illegal but tolerated. What a surprise that the cities have similar patterns of weed use.”

    As I understand it, weed is not technically illegal in Amsterdam – it’s completely legal under a range of circumstances, and “coffee shops” are officially licensed by the gov’t to sell it. While weed is often tolerated in SF, you still have to buy it from a dealer on the black market. In the MPP press release linked from the original post, they suggest that this difference is important because weed buyers in SF are exposed to more hard drugs.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’d also like to see results from a before/after study in the same city (Amsterdam would seem like a good choice); but I think there’s some useful information in this study too.

  19. it’s not completely legal in amsterdam either. it’s merely allowed. which is an odd sort of dividing line to draw, really. “tolerated” is the word most often used.

    i don’t think amsterdam is much like other cities in this regard. though it often seems like everyone smokes weed in nyc, it’s just not the same. really. crackdown or not, there’s still more delivery services than god, but even that’s not the same as having a dope-filled storefront. (as opposed to a storefront of dopes, or a really dope storefront, i suppose)

  20. dhex,

    I’m pretty sure it’s genuinely legal in the coffeehouses. If not, then it’s clearly a helluva lot more openly “tolerated” than anywhere in the States.

  21. They compared weed use in Amsterdam, where it’s technically illegal but tolerated, to San Francisco, where it’s technically illegal but tolerated. What a surprise that the cities have similar patterns of weed use.

    Yeah, pot is “illegal” in San Francisco like speeding is “illegal” on the freeway. The three most commonly-encountered scents in that city are pot, urine and feces. They should have compared Amsterdam to Memphis, instead.

  22. Yeah, pot is “illegal” in San Francisco like speeding is “illegal” on the freeway. The three most commonly-encountered scents in that city are pot, urine and feces.

    Dan-
    Quit looking for a gay encounter in the public restrooms and you will smell more things like “ocean air” outdoors. 😉

    Mo-
    Check out this website(http://www.millionmarijuanamarch.org/home.php), pot smokers have been coming out every year for a few years now. Local media has never felt these things were news worthy even though Seattle’s own march has peaked at 5,000 and the hempfest is now hitting 200,000 plus.

    I have been involved with the Hightimes Cannibus Cup in Amsterdam for the last couple of years. Weed is not technically legal, but it is tolerated. One is allowed up to 5 grams on themselves at one time, any more and you get fined, if caught. The coffeehouses are licensed and regulated, they also have a limit as to how much they can have on hand at any given time, I think its 500 grams, but I am unsure about this number.

    I just got back from San Francisco on some medical mj business. Anywhere one can smoke tobacco, one can self medicate with marijuana. Tonight, several patients have a private suite at the Oakland A’s/NY Yankees game, they will be medicating throughtout the game. However, the CHP “won’t play this game,” as the captain in Sacramento recently said. I understand they will get their day in court real soon.

  23. Dan- Quit looking for a gay encounter in the public restrooms and you will smell more things like “ocean air” outdoors

    Yeah, whatever. The San Francisco streets smell like a porta-potty at a Grateful Dead concert, JSM. And I say that as somebody who actually likes the city.

    Yeah, you can smell the ocean too, but that’s not what’s immediately noticable. What’s immediately noticable is that San Francisco’s homeless horde uses the sidewalks, bushes and alleys as their personal toilet.

  24. “Eaxctly! Pot is a gateway drug, only because you have to talk to a drug dealer to get it. If the liquor salesman also had a handfull of esctasy and maybe some coke, alcohol would be a gateway drug too.
    Posted by ERock at May 4, 2004 02:25 PM ”

    I had never thought Rolling Rock might be a gateway to Miller Genuine Draft. And that’s at my local liquor store.

    What’s with this gateway bogeyman bullshit anyway?

  25. IF YOU want to come out of the closet or know others who do, please point them here:

    http://www.cannabisconsumers.org/gallery.php?gal_id=52

    Well, actually to the link on the left after you finish looking at Average Dude From Clearwater Florida Who Enjoys Marijuana.

    ALSO, I assure you that ‘marijuana possession is illegal in The Netherlands, by statute.

    But the police and city officials in most jurisdictions, including Amsterdam of course, permit licensed coffee shops to dispense pot in up to 5 gram quantities for consumption on the premises.

    Vancouver BC is the closet replication we have of that here in North America, though the cannabis cafe owners there are at more risk.

  26. OK, wait a second. What if the data mean something a little different. A lot of you have observed that Amsterdam and SF may not be a perfect comparison. Notice that according to this study, SF has a higher rate of drug use, EXCEPT for marijuana. Or, another way of looking at this is that use of marijuana in Amsterdam is HIGHER than SF, normalized to the overall rate of drug use. What if (and I am not sure whether this is the case) SF, either for cultural or other reasons, just uses more drugs than Amsterdam, EXCEPT for pot. Wouldn’t this imply that legalizing pot INCREASES use?

    Mind you, I agree strongly with several other posters that pot is de facto legal in SF. In the year I lived there, I observed many, many times people in public places, in the presence of police, firing up.

  27. What’s immediately noticable is that San Francisco’s homeless horde uses the sidewalks, bushes and alleys as their personal toilet.

    I agree with you Dan. I also think its a serious issue in SF. It would be nice to actually walk a block downtown or in the Haight without being solicited for handouts. I have participated in a fair share of homeless benefits in both SF and Seattle, but I can only give so much. However, it has given me the insight to be an activist in reforming drug policy in America. That is, for the majority of homeless folks, it wasn’t drugs or alcohol that put them on the streets, it was either personal choice or mental illness. For a few that I have talked to at Hempfest, a little alcohol or a puff of weed can make a day on the streets not so bad. However, I won’t deny a good few landed in the streets due to their uncontrollable appetite for their vices.

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