John McCain

Pot and Lone Star beer are things we trust


Country legend, novelist, and columnist Kinky Friedman, currently in a three-way tie for second place in the Texas governor's race, has taken a stand in favor of legalizing marijuana in the Lone Star State. Like many of his positions, Friedman's pot plank is all over the place:

"I'm not talking about like Amsterdam," he said.

"I agree with (U.S. Sen.) John McCain that we've lost the drug war," Friedman said. "Drugs are more available, they're cheaper.

"It's clear to me, if you've lost the war on drugs then you've got to go some other direction. You can't keep banging your head against the wall."

Friedman's comments on marijuana came one week after he created a controversy in Houston when he said the musicians and artists who fled Hurricane Katrina had returned to New Orleans, but the "crackheads and thugs" remained. He later added that many evacuees who remain in Houston are good citizens.

The candidate said Wednesday that crack "is a different deal" from marijuana.

"Marijuana is a very different situation. It's not like crack and (other) drugs that create violence," he said.

Friedman is the only one of the top four candidates in the race favoring decriminalization. The other independent and the Democrat (both of whom, like Friedman, are polling at 18 percent, though Rasmussen has Friedman dropping below that number and the other independent gaining), as well as the Republican (33 percent and steadily dropping, per Rasmussen) have supported keeping the lethal gateway drug illegal.

Courtesy of Fred Lummis.

NEXT: Is Drinking Good for Your Wallet As Well As Your Heart?

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  1. “When there are many restrictions in the world
    The people become more impoverished. The more laws that are posted, the more robbers and thieves there are.”

    – Lao Tzu

  2. Kinky Friedman: He’s incoherent, like Bush, and entertaining, like Ann Richards. How can Texas NOT elect him governor?

  3. Friedman’s stance on the drug war?

    Cut and mosey.

  4. If some credible people would take it up, rather than dirty hippies in dreadlocks, legalizing marijuana could be a reality. Libertarians need to be realistic about what can be accomplished in the area of drug legalization. The majority of Americans are not going to support legalizing meth or crack or heroine or LSD. Legalizing those drugs is a non-starter. Many Americans however, if the issue were framed right would support legalizing marijuana.

    Ironically the way to legalize marijuana is to frame the issue as a way to crack down on other harder drugs. Why are we wasting police resources stopping marijuana when they could be used to stop crack and meth? Most people have tried marijuana at one time in their lives or another and know that it is not crack or meth.

    Libertarians need to pick up on the marijuana issue and grap and chew like a bulldog. Tell the dirty hippies to take a hike and frame the issue as a medical and law and order one. Once marijuana were legalized and none of the drug warriors horror stories materialized, then pick another drug and do the same thing.

    I really think that there is a consensus in this country that marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol. Libertarians need to settle for half of a loaf and capitalize on this.

  5. I agree. I’m really in the legalize it all and go kill yourself if you want camp, but as John points out, that’s a losing battle. A losing battle is not worth the fight. To redfine and focus only on pot would be a smart move.

    A long, long time ago. If you wanted drugs, uppers, downers, whatever, you could get them from the doctor. I do remember the days uppers and valum were commonly used by adults. (I guess I’m showing my age, but I was young then). There was no such thing as meth. If the teenagers wanted speed they would raid their parents prescriptions.

    That seems like a much better environment that what we have today.

  6. Here’s a winner:

    Legalize MJ, tax it and send the receipts to fund law enforcement.

  7. He’s not going to win the race so why can’t he just take the common sense position on weed?

    Marijuana is not a big deal. It’ll cost you five IQ points if you use it regurlarly and it may mean that you will not remember the weekend too well if you get stoned out of your head.

    These constitute the full negative effects of the marijuana. On the other hand, they are helpful to fighting glaucoma and symptoms of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and the ill-effects of chemotherapy.

    Marijuana is also useful for fighting off the lingering effects of having had a crappy day.

  8. “It’ll cost you five IQ points if you use it regurlarly”

    I would be surprised if that were even true. One thing is for sure, you can’t die of “marijuna poisoning”, you won’t choke to death on your own vomit, and using it for years will not destroy your liver.

  9. I…

    I uh…


    I forgot what I was going to say.

    Oh yeah, Al’s got the right idea.

    Uh, umm… What idea was that?

  10. John,
    I totally agree with your posts on this topic. I wish the LP were more pragmatic. Our arguments regarding the drug war should have philosophical underpinnings. That is to say, our arguments should be more than a mere recitation of the philosophy.

  11. “It’ll cost you five IQ points if you use it regurlarly”

    Maybe we should reconsider. That would put a sizeable portion of the population into negative numbers.

  12. “Ironically the way to legalize marijuana is to frame the issue as a way to crack down on other harder drugs. Why are we wasting police resources stopping marijuana when they could be used to stop crack and meth? Most people have tried marijuana at one time in their lives or another and know that it is not crack or meth.”

    This sounds horribly short-sighted, self-contradictory, counter-productive. How is knowledge of the rationality of legalization, the utter failure and devastation of prohibition, morally and materially, going to spread if the pro-weed folks get their way by continuing to demonize the broader libertarian position? Perhaps our candidates should remain a bit quiet about cocaine, but tact is quite different than explicitly legitimizing the illegitimate.

  13. John – I would be surprised if that were even true (regular use lowering IQ by 5 points)

    It seems to be true.

    The present study examined effects of current and past regular use of marihuana in subjects for whom pre-drug performance had been ascertained in a prospective, longitudinal fashion. A total of 113 young adults, assessed since infancy, were evaluated using neurocognitive tests for which commensurate measures were obtained prior to the initiation of marihuana smoking.
    . . .
    After accounting for potentially confounding factors and pre-drug performance in the appropriate cognitive domain, current regular heavy users did significantly worse than non-users in overall IQ, processing speed, immediate, and delayed memory. In contrast, the former marihuana smokers did not show any cognitive impairments. It was concluded that residual marihuana effects are evident beyond the acute intoxication period in current heavy users after taking into account pre-drug performance but similar deficits are no longer apparent 3 months after cessation of regular use, even among former heavy using young adults.

  14. Of course, in the same study, light users (

  15. Damn HTML parsing.

    Of course, in the same study, light users (<5 joints/week) had higher IQs, though the difference wasn’t statistically significant.

  16. Daksya,

    The effects don’t seem to be perminent. I was assumeing that the claim was that it reduced ones IQ by 5 points perminently.


    I think libertarians have to give up the dream of a truly lawless society. It is not going to happen. My approach short sighted only if there is any real hope of legalizing harder drugs. since I don’t think there is, you are not loosing anything in the long run. In addition, when the horror predictions about marijuana legalization don’t pan out, it will make it that much easier to legalize other drugs. Why not use the slipery slope against the drug war? Once you legalize one drug, it will be a lot easier to legalize other drugs.

  17. I think libertarians have to give up the dream of a truly lawless society.

    Methinks John doesn’t know the difference between an anarchist and a libertarian.

    In other news, I’m going to vote for Kinky because he simply can’t be worse than Governor Hair.

  18. If some credible people would take it up, rather than dirty hippies in dreadlocks,

    Like William F. Buckley and George Schultz?

  19. Or like Mr. X (Carl Sagan)…

  20. Well, there goes my hope for a non-putz anti-drug war candidate any time soon.

  21. John,
    I think your arguments leave a lot to be desired. Libertarian objections to the drug war are principled. Your stratedgy would be akin to saying the government should repeal the Patriot Act because the time and money wasted on enforcing its provisions would be better spent harassing blacks. I don’t hate the drug war because it causes me a minor hassel in getting my weed. I hate the drug war because of what it has done to the size and scope of the Federal Government, the way in which it undermines legitimite govenments in Latin America and the Middle East, and the way in which it has been used to erode our civil liberties. Liberty is our trip, and a high won at the expense of freedom just isn’t our scene.

  22. FatDrunkandStupid,

    Have fun chasing windmills and running from the cops.

  23. Liberty is our trip, and a high won at the expense of freedom just isn’t our scene.

    Well considering the alternative is no high at all, I’ll take a high at the expense of freedom. The problem with John’s argument is that we’ve just completed a full decade of focusing specifically on pot in a medical context, and it’s gotten us nowhere. All you have to show for it is a bunch of able-bodied heads walking around with canes and bellyaching about all their fake ailments. Whatever the majority of Americans think about pot (and I think John’s about right there), we’re as far from actual decriminalization as we’ve ever been. The fact that this situation is absurd doesn’t make it any less real. The problem with conceding to reality on the overall drug issue is the problem with any political compromise: It’s realistic as tactics, but unrealistic as strategy-it seems to get you to more reasonable ground, but doesn’t get you any nearer to your goal. In the end, you still have to make the principled case.

  24. As I’ve long said, the problem with libertarian argument for legalization (“as long as NIMBY, don’t restrict”) or other pragmatic cost-benefit analyses, is that they refuse to tackle the key obstacle within the US: the official and symbolic tolerance of drug use. Once it’s acknowledged that the weekend stoner or raver is doing nothing wrong, then various harm management calculi can be trotted out to advocate legalization. But as long as drug use per se is seen as verboten then not much else will induce change. Of course, some at Reason already know this.

  25. Let’s not dismiss the power of bureaucratic inertia. It is no accident, as the Soviets used to say, that once booze was once again legal in the U.S., that, voila the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was passed. Power hates a vacuum. They didn’t outlaw the Killer Weed at a federal level until years later, after the several states had banned it.

    If the federal empire builders were able to latch onto cannabis in order to have something to prohibit after Prohibition ended, what makes one think that the DEA/FBI/ICE and state counterparts won’t fight to the death to maintain the status quo. Just protecting the bumps to their budgets from confiscated property should be enough to bring the knives out. Imagine if local SWAT teams had to depend on tax appropriations to survive?


  26. Uh, Kinky ain’t in favor or legalizing the may-ju-wanna, he is favor of decriminalizing it. Meaning, you can’t walk up the the 7-11 and get some. However, you can’t be charged for possession of small amounts.

  27. Right…Kinky is not in favor of legalizing marijuana. We don’t want the government or big industries producing & distributing marijuana. Kinky is in favor of decriminilization of marijuana…so you don’t go to prison, lose your job, or face a trial & severe financial penalties for a few joints. This is the most common sense appproach.

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