Nevada in Danger of Losing Its Respectability


A new poll from the backers of Nevada's marijuana decriminalization initiative finds more support for it than other surveys have, with 49 percent of voters in favor and 43 percent against. By contrast, a recent poll by the Reno Gazette Journal had the initiative losing by 18 percentage points. Before you assume that the difference can be attributed to tricky question wording by the intiative campaign, have a look at the survey script, which simply asks people their response to the actual ballot language:

Shall Titles 32 and 40 and 43 of the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended in order to do the following:

  • First, to permit and regulate the sale, use, and possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by persons at least 21 years of age,
  • Second, to impose licensing requirements on marijuana retailers and wholesalers,
  • Third, to allow for the sale of marijuana by licensed marijuana retailers and wholesalers
  • Fourth, to impose taxes and restrictions on the wholesale and retail sale of marijuana, and
  • Finally, to increase the criminal penalties for causing death or substantial bodily harm when driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Other surveys have used the word legalize, which the initiative's campaign manager thinks scares people. The best part of the story, though, is that the group opposing the initiative is called the Committee to Keep Nevada Respectable. Gambling, prostitution, and 24-hour liquor sales are one thing, but pot smoking? That would really give the state a licentious reputation.

NEXT: They Can't Stop, So We Have to Make Them

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I live in nevada and we tried legalizing pot in 2002 and it failed miserably and I think this one will turn out no different.

  2. Funny how you see proposals like this, and stories about SWAT teams shooting dogs and hancuffing 12yr olds over $60 of weed in the same day…

    Our fricking country is weed-stupid. We might as well be baked, the idiotic way we act about things.

    I’d make the case that there are few cases in life where so much damage has been done, so many have suffered, as consequence of so insignificant an actual problem.

    (forgive me churchill for biting)


  3. There are more churches than casinos in NV. This is a case where old church ladies and drug dealers can stand together on something.

  4. Yeh, Let’s legalize pot.

    Let’s allow our _______ (write in the place)law enforcement people to practice their trade with a joint stuck in their face.

    Ditto our judges, doctors, auto mechanics, electricians, and hamburger flippers.

    Yeh. Let’s hear it all at once now.

    Hurrah for leaglized pot!

  5. Yeah! Just like everyone works drunk now – since alcohol is legal.

  6. I salute Nevada for being the most libertarian state in the union. Since I left Kazakhstan many years ago I?ve been observing with alarm California becoming increasingly more and more a nanny state. Gambling is illegal, smoking cigarettes in bars, displaying religious symbols in public. It is like the freest country in the world is slowly moving to where Soviet Union used to be ? one good intention at a time.

    I hope that they will pass legalization of pot in Nevada. I think it will bring an economic boom to Nevada. Like Amsterdam it will attract tourists from everywhere. I have been to Amsterdam and know that not all Hollanders are pot heads. It is all about freedom of choice be it pot smoking, free enterprise, or worshipping as you see fit. Nevada will be more prosperous, free, and fun place to be.

    I am afraid if Nevadans, through good intentions choose to go the way of the nanny state; eventually Nevada will become as inhospitable a place as the darkest of Kazakhstan.


  7. Yeh, Let’s legalize pot.

    Let’s allow our _______ (write in the place)law enforcement people to practice their trade with a joint stuck in their face.

    Ditto our judges, doctors, auto mechanics, electricians, and hamburger flippers.

    Yeh. Let’s hear it all at once now.

    Hurrah for leaglized pot!

    So, let’s see if I can get this straight…

    If we legalize marijuna, people who wouldn’t have done so otherwise will go suddenly around getting stoned?

    Don’t all these professions you mention have rules against being intoxicated on the job in the first place?

    Elmo, you’re a fucking idiot.

    But I’ve come to expect stupidity from prohibitinists.

    I repeat, sir, you’re a fucking idiot.

  8. Akira,

    So, I’m a fucking idiot. So let’s have you come up with some guidelines that even fucking idiots will support. Gimme your guidlines for smoking pot and being a trusted, productive member of the workplace.

    If you want the favorable votes of all the fucking idiots out here to approve pot as a legal substance you’re going to have to do better than just hurl invectives to get them.

    But, just in case you can’t muster the social mannerisms to get that support, (and you may surprise me, but I doubt it, so assuming you can’t), I’ll just retort that it’s about what I’ve come to expect of fucking pot smokers.

  9. “Gimme your guidlines for smoking pot and being a trusted, productive member of the workplace.”

    Why in the world do you need these guidelines? Do you need the same guidelines for alcohol? Have our justice system and medical, auto, and fast food industries come crashing to the ground because judges, auto mechanics, and burger jockeys can legally drink? Since it’s painfully obvious that the answer to that question is no, why would you expect a different answer for a substance that is:

    1) less harmful (both in the short- and long-term) to the user’s health,
    2) presents far fewer risks to those around the user, and
    3) is far less addictive

    than alcohol?

    I’m absolutely baffled by these ideological blinders so many people have when it comes to pot. You realize Reefer Madness wasn’t a documentary, don’t you?

  10. Elmo isn’t an idiot. See, he can reason, write, etc. He just makes the assumlption that lagality is the determining factor on whether people use marijuana or not even though most professionals don’t go to work drunk…although drinking alcohol is legal for adults. Even though his assumption has not been observed in empirical observation of localities where it is legal.
    Even though marijuana is readily available across the U.S., even in prisons. for some reason, not explained, pot is different. Even though it is demonstrably less of a health problem than smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol. Somehow, for reasons that prohibitionists can’t explain, pot is different. It must be so, because they say so.

    What was it about alcohol prohibition? Oh yeah, it made Joe Kennedy and other criminals quite wealthy. Why did they repeal it? Oh yeah, something about violence over black market turf.

    I just can’t figure out what it is that prohibitionists know that I don’t. They certainly haven’t explained what FACTS back up their assertions. Somehow, I don’t think they are actually able to. Remember how Nixon disregarded the findings and recommendations of the commission he appointed to study marijuana?

    The government is like that about many things.

    If only we could get the right people elected.

  11. I’m more concerned about Las Vegas becoming a Mecca for shitty jam bands, with shows like String Cheese Incident On Ice, and A Salute To The Dead. Jerry Garcia in pasties – eaughh…

  12. Elmo he already did,

    Treat it like alcohol.

    If a cop is drunk on the job… well, officially he could lose his job.

    If a judge is drunk on the job… well, in theory he could be censured and impeached.

    You know, you’re clearly onto something. Either we outlaw all intoxicants including alcohol, or we outlaw policmen and judges 🙂

    Joking aside. I think is amusing how you demand that other people muster social mannerisms after posting your first post which contained only one meaningful comment, which was a strawman fallacy contained in a single line, and the implication that those who oppose you are idiots carried away with enthusiasm for a silly cause. It’s like havign a stranger walk into your favourite hangout, fart loudly, and then get pissed off when people say “EEEEEWWWWWW”.

    Last but not least, many of us (if not most) who support legalization do not actually smoke pot. For example, I have not only never smoked a joint, but have never smoked a cigarette, have perhaps one beer every two months, don’t hunt, don’t consume pornography, yet I think every one of those things should be legal. For me, it’s a matter of principle.

    I actually disapprove of intoxication, smoking, pornography, and hunting for sport (ratehr than to put food on the table). I’ll even voice my disapproval to freinds who do these things.

    But, I don’t feel a need to reach for a gun and threaten people any time I see people doing dumb things.

    I assume that you are in favor of the drug war. if so, I pity you; you and your kind have thrown away the freedom our ancestors fought so hard for. They attempted to set up a society where the king’s men could not kick in a door in the middle of the night, but had to allow him a chance to open the door and let them in, could not confiscate a man’s property without a trial, imprison him on false pretenses or even kill him at a whim. In their insane zeal for prohibition, the puritans behind the drug war have undone all of these protections, and I think destroyed the United States as a free country.

    Today, if I carry too much cash, it can be taken from me without a trial.

    Today, if I open the door during a raid, I could be shot. My dogs could be shot.

    Today, if armed men begin battering my door late at night, I can no longer assume that the law will allow me to protect my family or home. If I guess wrong, I can end up on Death Row like Corey May, or raped an murdered like that woman in Cincinatti who surrendered to what she thought were the police serving a drug warrant.

    And last, but not least, where do you think Al Queda, North Korea, FARC, Shining Path and all those other fucking murderers get their money which they use to buy weapons and murder your fellow citizens?

    From the black market you helped set up! Adolph Coors did not murder people in the night, Al Capone did. Thanks to you and your friends, all those aforementioned bastards have all the money they need to commit their atrocities. If you left people alone they wouldn’t have the money to buy weapons, the money to buy food for their fighters, the money needed to pay for thugs to loot and pillage.

    One day, you or your children will look at the ruins of what was once a free, propserous land, and wonder what happened. Some of you may be wise enough to understand how your hatred caused you to destroy your society, but I suspect most of you will not put 2 and 2 together and will come up with some crazy theory blaming outsiders or moral degenrates and the like. However, let me tell you, that you supporters of drug prohbition have done far more damage to this country than if half of the population had taken up smoking 6 joints a day.

  13. Nevada doesn’t have an income tax, does it? Hmm, low taxes, hookers and weed. I’m about sick of Cleveland weather anyway.

  14. So, I’m a fucking idiot. So let’s have you come up with some guidelines that even fucking idiots will support.

    Well Elmo, the first thing we should do is stop the idiots from fucking and making MORE idiots. Sheesh, like pot smoking is a problem or something.

  15. Guidelines for pot are necessary because it’s already not permitted of general users. If the same were true of liquor then it would have to have guidelines and not pot. It’s a matter of hysteresis in law.

  16. “Keep Nevada RESPECTABLE”.

    Your darn tootin !!! If I visit Vegas to gamble and buy alcohol 24 hours a day, or visit one of the houses of prostitution I want it kept respectable.

    Legalize marijuana in the land of gambling and topless shows ? What kind of message will that send to children ?

    Not only should marijuana be kept illegal but they should increase the penalty: Anyone caught using that stuff within 1500 feet of a school, church, casino or whorehouse should be beheaded. Amen.

  17. In overwhelmingly strong support for Tarran’s very well written drug war summary. I would like to see Tarran’s post printed in every newspaper magazine, company newsletter, and church bullentin in this great big beautiful country of ours. We are slowly but surely losing our very precious rights. Now they are going to start searching children . Why is that? Maybe some of the reason is because the government has taken the rights away from parents to dicipline their children. There is a huge difference in abuse and dicipline just as marijuana and alcohol pot is grown from a seed the earth sun wind and rain are what makes marijuana the common man came up with alcohol. How did we let a natural herb become illegal??? I love my country it is my government that I fear.

  18. Doesn’t matter what Nevada voters do. Marijuana sale is against federal law. The feds blocked medical usage in other states by threatening or actually arresting those involved.

  19. Doesn’t matter what Nevada voters do. Marijuana sale is against federal law. The feds blocked medical usage in other states by threatening or actually arresting those involved.

    If you actually think that the DEA has even the most remote interest in sub-50 plant growers, and especially persons carrying an ounce of weed or even smoking a joint in public, well, you should probably do a tad more research.

  20. I think if Nevada permitted the general sale of cannabis, the feds would have a lot harder time enforcing that than Calif.’s mere medical marijuana. The feds don’t have the resources to police that many stores, provided Nevada licenses them widely.

  21. Doesn’t matter what Nevada voters do. Marijuana sale is against federal law. The feds blocked medical usage in other states by threatening or actually arresting those involved.

    As more states pass MJ-friendly laws:

    • The Feds have to police more people without local assistance.
    • More politicians find out that the WoD is not as popular as they think.
    • More evidence will accumulate that legal MJ is not a world-ending event.

    What Tarran said. I don’t want to use pot, nor do I hang around people while they’re doing drugs. (Other than alcohol and caffeine.)

    But the “cure” of the War on Drugs is worse than the “disease.” I can avoid the use of most drugs, but if the copninjas blow down my door early one morning I’m liable to take a bullet or twelve even if it’s a search warrant booboo. And Bandit and Chocko will be history.

    Of course I could limit my home’s risk of such invasion. My cousin, who is living with us, takes a lot of painkillers because her hips are degenerating. I suppose I could throw her out. OTOH her meds are prescribed through the VA, so we’re relatively safe from copninjas storming her wheelchair to get her to turn in her “dealer.”

  22. Before you assume that the difference can be attributed to tricky question wording by the intiative campaign, have a look at the survey script, which simply asks people their response to the actual ballot language:

    Reading the initiative may be tricky wording if voters will be making their selection based on opinions formed in the soup of campaign rhetoric

  23. Nothin wrong with a little dope!

  24. I am from NV also.

    I love Nevada. The sagebrush rebellion and all. To me it makes sense that Nevada would be the first state where Mj is legalized.

    fingers crossed

  25. Yay, Tarran and Wisdomkeeper and others of like mind. “Your logic is impeccable, Captain. We are in grave danger.”

    Unfortunately, we are not slowly losing our rights….it’s happening quite rapidly now.

    If you are a business person, you cannot speak freely about what is happening in your business, thanks to ‘insider’ trading, Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations. If you are a political campaigner, you cannot speak freely about candidates and issues, thanks to McCain-Feingold. If you discover malfeasance by gov’t officials, you can be thrown in jail over claimed ‘national security’ violations if you blow the whistle.

    Newpaper reporters are routinely thrown in jail for not divulging their sources.

    You can have your land and money taken from you without due process, thanks to eminent domain abuse and forfeiture.

    You can be thrown in jail without habeas corpus, and held indefinitely or tried in absentia, thanks to the war on ‘terror’.

    Government has long held a monopoly on education, and is now using that power to force religious education into the classroom, and religious symbolism and monuments into public venues.

    We can still assemble peacefully to petition the goverment for redress of greivances….provided we get a permit first, of course. After all, these assemblies take place on public property!

    And torture and other cruel and unusual punishments (waterboarding, anyone?) are just fine, since they are only applied to terroists….for now. Those druggies are surely a threat to national security too, though.

    All the while, our rulers babble on about protecting ‘freedom’, whatever that word means.

    Huey Long got it absolutely right: When asked whether we’ll ever have fascism in America, he responded “Of course…..but we’ll call it anti-fascism.”

    So Elmo, here’s a challenge to you:
    Why don’t you present us with some guidelines, on how to organize and keep a free society, while still prohibiting pot smoking and other things your kind find irritating.

    Absent those guidelines, I’ll let a few people smoke pot, in exchange for keeping the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.


  27. The only “dope” here is Elmo.

    Elmo is the type of person who has to live inside of a little box of rules in order to feel safe. The problems with the Elmos of the world is that they don’t feel safe unless the rest of us live inside of his little box of rules as well.

  28. I also live in Nevada, and strongly agree with tarran’s post. I will vote yes for the initiative, which sadly means that it will go down to an ignominious defeat, again, as Zach pointed out on September 22, 2006 at 05:39 PM. There are just too many Mormons and Catholics in this state, and who also hold the reins of power, that there is no way this measure is going to pass.

  29. My Dad was a child and adolescent psychiatrist and the smartest guy I ever met– world class bridge player, did the toughest math puzzles just for fun, and his instincts for human behavior were uncanny. Playing tennis, my friends and I would laugh when my dad would off-handedly mention that people we were playing with were on meth or coke: they’d barely spoken a word, so how could he know? In time, we got to know them better and they got around to offering us some meth or coke… it was eerie.

    He practiced in Miami Beach from 1961 to 1971. During that time, pot use among his teenage patients went from 5% to 90%. This put him in an extraordinary position to track the effects, both short term and long.

    Keeping in my mind that my dad’s subject group by definition consisted of “teenagers with problems,” he became convinced that pot damaged their mental health on many levels: their judgment, their emotional maturation, their reasoning, and perhaps worst of all, the development of their sense of self. He was concerned that the effects often long outlived the use: you’ll hear this from people who quit and talk about how long it took them to emerge from a kind of fog.

    Clearly, cigarettes kill more people than any other “drug.” Alcohol undoubtedly harms or destroys more lives. But I don’t think pot is harmless. So why do so many bright people think it is?

    I work with brilliant people, many of whom smoke in moderation, and I see very little ill effect on them. It seems to me pot doesn’t have as much effect on mature adults with strong egos and sharp, active minds. Which is a description of the world’s opinion makers. Bill Maher is a perfect example: lightning quick, razor sharp, and grass hasn’t made him less so. So he understandably assumes it has little ill effect on anyone else, and these assumptions get a wide forum.

    On the other hand, Joe doing bong hits in the trailer park and accidentally flushing his cat down the toilet isn’t appearing on Tim Russert.

    These examples are at extreme ends, and though I put forth no opinion on decriminalization or effects on the average adult, I trust my dad’s conclusion that it’s harmful to average kids and teens.

  30. All the more reason to legalize it, Robert. Illegal drug dealers do not tend to card their customers.

  31. Robert Kuhn: Keeping in my mind that my dad’s subject group by definition consisted of “teenagers with problems,” he became convinced that pot damaged their mental health on many levels

    This is called selection bias, as you no doubt know, and thus is unsuitable to make generalizations. The reliable way to sort out the impact of cannabis is to look at controlled studies, especially longitudinal studies.

    Claims made regarding cannabis use vis-a-vis mental health concern typically three aspects:


    1)Psychosis – among a segment of the population who take up smoking pot in adolescence (but not adulthood), the risk* of psychosis is increased i.e. (baseline risk of 2.5% for schizophreniform disorder increases to 3.6%)

    2)Cognition – Current heavy users (5+ joints/week) show decreased performance on various measures of cognitive functioning**, but not current light users or former heavy users.

    3)Depression – There’s a study which showed lower levels of depression among cannabis users, but this was based on internet survey, so take it with a big grain of salt. There may be good epidemiological studies, but I have not come across them. The December 2005 report*** by the British Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs says, “The most recent data (12, 20, 23?25) are not, overall, persuasive of a causal association between cannabis use and the development of depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety. Although some investigators have observed statistically significant associations, there is a lack of consistency between the results of studies and even those with positive findings show only small effects.


  32. Robert,

    I think legalization of weed will actually DECREASE the amount of teen use. Legalizing weed for the 18+ population should radically reduce the number of black market weed dealers in Nevada. The fewer of those, the fewer people to sell weed to teenagers. An organized black market hasn’t opened up to supply alcohol to teenagers; I don’t think an organized black market for marijuana could be supported by only teenagers.

  33. What’s with all the nay sayers? To automatically assume it won’t pass is a load of shit.

    things going for Question 7 –
    1. Question 9 in 2002 failed. But how can this be good??? It is because the MPP was able to address all of the criticisms associated with Question 9. “three ounces is too much” Question 7 lowered the amount in possession to a much more sane one ounce. “there will be nothing but stoned drivers out on the road terrorizing the few sober divers left” – Question 7 increases penalties for driving under the influence of any substance. “kids will be able to get ahold of it easier” Question 7 sets higher penalties for giving or selling marijuana to minors and requires that no one under 21 can even set foot in a marijuana establishment. It’s kind of hard to argue against Question 7 in any rational sense now.

    2. It’s an off presidetnial election year. This one requires the help of you out there in nevada. Fewer people generally vote in the statewide election (which is odd, because those affect the individual much more than national elections.) In any case, this means you need to be registered to vote, get your friends registered to vote, and actually get out there and vote. Early voting goes on for 2 weeks in nevada. You have no excuse other than sheer laziness to not vote. And we can’t afford that.

    3. Nevada is a fairly libertarian state. We don’t care if you gamble, smoke indoors, buy sex (outside washoe and clark county), or drink (responsibly.) These are choices made by the individual. This goes fairly well with an anti-drug war proposition.

    also, as others have metnioned, great post tarran – I HIGHLY recommend sending a condensed version into one of Nevada’s major papers. or are two.

  34. one more thing – go on over to and poke around.

    and I just stumbled accross this –

    allegedly, Las Vegas Metro Police are behind the organization. hahahahhahhaha

  35. I think Mr Kuhn raises a good point that all advocates of drug legalization should address: marijuana isn’t completely benign, and might in fact be very bad for some people. Of course, though, the same could be said of sex, mountain climbing, religion, and the Most Holy Free Market [angelic “Aaaaa” chorus]—and I’d _hate_ to live in a world without sex or mountain climbing.

    Many things can be bad according to some rough comonly-held definition of “bad”, but there’s a difference between something having a potential for being bad and something that should be illegal. That being said, we should _never_ sugar-coat the truth: making drgus legal will hurt some people.

    As I’m somewhat libertarian, my base-level assessment is that we’re doing more harm than good under the current r?gime. That could be wrong, but it’s time to stop banging our heads against the wall—even banging our fists against a wall instead would be a good respite. That’s what seemed to happen to pot in the mid-late ’70s, and I think I’m the better for it: jocks and popular kids did it openly, so I got a good conditioning against it. The crack epidemic only started to slow when a generation arose that had seen what it had done to their older brothers and sisters, and parents [invokes “sunlight” and “disinfectant”].

    Since I’m not A Libertarian, I’d like to see drug legalization coupled (we can sell pictures) with

    1. Strict enforcement against sales to minors.
    2. Strong but realistic labelling and grading requirements
    3. Evil Statist Gummint money for treatment programs (Rational Recovery becomes the first beneficiary of Pres. Kurzweil’s Reason-Based Initiative)
    4. Restrictions on advertisement beyond bare facts.
    5. Competency testing for anyone in a public safety affecting position (e.g., coordination-test video games for car and ‘plane drivers).

    The result? Far from perfect. Better than now? Goodness gracious, almost certainly. Will parents of teenage drug burnouts fete us with sweets and flowers? It’s too soon to tell.

  36. Tarran makes strong points: the pragmatic advantages of undercutting a worldwide black market are clear. Issues of governmental nannies and individual choices are also persuasive. My contribution is only on one small point within the overall discussion: is pot harmless?

    I agree it’s possible legalization could decrease teen use. For some, it could diminish the outlaw thrill and cachet. Legalization could also lead to legitimate research into what the true effects are or are not, since it’s tricky to get funding to do double-blind studies with an “illicit substance.” (Mother Jones, maybe?) However, ethical researchers might still shy away, since legality is not necessarily a measure of harmlessness: you don’t see double-blind studies with cigarettes or alcohol.

    A possible benefit of legalization on a state level would be the Guinea Pig effect: one state legalizes, another doesn’t, and you see what really happens. Lawyers correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the reality, especially with this moronically activist administration, that federal law would trump and negate state laws that contradict it? In other words, the Feds don’t have to prosecute small cases if they can undo the law and all its mechanisms with one big one?

    All this aside, marketing of alcohol and pot may not be perfect analogies for a couple reasons:

    1. Alcohol is legal and regulated, and although there is no “black market” to teens, as the situation stands, teens have little problem getting hold of it, thus undercutting the need. If pot was made legal, but teens suddenly found they weren’t able to get it, do we really believe they wouldn’t be willing to pay extra for it, and that no one would want to take their money? When prohibition ended, former bootleggers knew they’d get lynched if they sold to kids. The same taboo no longer exists, and I can’t see former dealers walking away from any market if it means they don’t have to go back behind that fucking counter at the Gap.

    2. Another difference in the potential black markets is the trickiness of concealing effective dosages of alcohol. It’s a little hard to hide a 32 ouncer in your crotch. Well, mine, anyway….

  37. Excellent points and analysis by D.E.I. Diraq, but one question: do you feel it would be an improvement to legalize all drugs?

    If so, where do we locate the local “Heroin S Us?” Who would accept living or doing business next door to that?

  38. Again, apart from the question of legislation:

    “This is the reason why bards love wine, mead, narcotics, coffee, tea, opium, the fumes of sandal-wood and tobacco, or whatever other species of animal exhilaration. All men avail themselves of such means as they can, to add this extraordinary power to their normal powers; and to this end they prize conversation, music, pictures, sculpture, dancing, theatres, travelling, war, mobs, fires, gaming, politics, or love, or science, or animal intoxication, which are several coarser or finer quasi-mechanical substitutes for the true nectar, which is the ravishment of the intellect by coming nearer to the fact. These are auxiliaries to the centrifugal tendency of a man, to his passage out into free space, and they help him to escape the custody of that body in which he is pent up, and of that jail-yard of individual relations in which he is enclosed. Hence a great number of such as were professionally expressors of Beauty, as painters, poets, musicians, and actors, have been more than others wont to lead a life of pleasure and indulgence; all but the few who received the true nectar; and, as it was a spurious mode of attaining freedom, as it was an emancipation not into the heavens, but into the freedom of baser places, they were punished for that advantage they won, by a dissipation and deterioration. But never can any advantage be taken of nature by a trick. The spirit of the world, the great calm presence of the creator, comes not forth to the sorceries of opium or of wine. The sublime vision comes to the pure and simple soul in a clean and chaste body. That is not an inspiration which we owe to narcotics, but some counterfeit excitement and fury. Milton says, that the lyric poet may drink wine and live generously, but the epic poet, he who shall sing of the gods, and their descent unto men, must drink water out of a wooden bowl. For poetry is not ‘Devil’s wine,’ but God’s wine. It is with this as it is with toys. We fill the hands and nurseries of our children with all manner of dolls, drums, and horses, withdrawing their eyes from the plain face and sufficing objects of nature, the sun, and moon, the animals, the water, and stones, which should be their toys. So the poet’s habit of living should be set on a key so low and plain, that the common influences should delight him. His cheerfulness should be the gift of the sunlight; the air should suffice for his inspiration, and he should be tipsy with water. That spirit which suffices quiet hearts, which seems to come forth to such from every dry knoll of sere grass, from every pine-stump, and half-imbedded stone, on which the dull March sun shines, comes forth to the poor and hungry, and such as are of simple taste. If thou fill thy brain with Boston and New York, with fashion and covetousness, and wilt stimulate thy jaded senses with wine and French coffee, thou shalt find no radiance of wisdom in the lonely waste of the pinewoods.”
    ~ Emerson, “The Poet” (1844)

  39. This is a great post, and I’m glad Andrew Sullivan picked it up. The campaigns official web site is here, where you can learn more about the initiative:

  40. Great post Terran.

    Mark, you forgot the radio station that can’t play a complete classic rock song like Pink Floyd’s “Money” without censoring any 4-letter words, lest George Bush’s FCC slap them with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and close down their station. Even the freedom of the most inocuous speech is gone under Bush.

    Robert Kuhn, All of those drugs were legal and readily available for the majority of our history. Prohibition makes a bag of weeds worth less than $1, suddenly worth $100! Same thing for a little bag of powder. That means HUGE profits can be made, and that’s why people sell drugs to children, HUGE profits! If you could only make $1.49, NO ONE would ever sell drugs to children! ALL the children who have died from taking drugs are on the heads of the prohibitionists!

  41. As I said, I’m not necessarily arguing for prohibition. I linked to this from Sullivan, and despite being a fan, note that he seems to discount any negative effects from pot, which I don’t think is fully accurate, so I posted what little I knew about it for whatever it’s worth.

    I seem to see two different attitudes on prohibition:

    1. The idea that the prohibition actually results in more drug use, in which case it of course makes no sense for any drug.

    2. The idea that pot is benign enough that it should be treated differently than harder drugs and legalized.

    Though we’re all aware NORML is not going to undermine their message by publicly arguing that PCP should be legalized too, is there any consensus among groups working for legalization of pot as to how other drugs deemed more harmful should be treated legally?


  43. Nevada isn’t the only state with a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot this November. Coloradans will vote on Amendment 44. You can find out more here.

  44. Thoughtful question, Robert. Not sure if there’s a consensus among those groups, as they don’t publicize a position on those issues that I’ve heard. Trouble is, prohibition is regulating our rightful freedoms.

    If someone takes PCP, heroin, cocaine, (or smokes pot or gets drunk) and drives or harms someone else, that’s where it becomes a legal and law enforcement issue, and they should be prosecuted and held responsible and liable.

    If they’re taking any substance, for whatever happiness (Remember the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness?) or releif they may get from it, or just in their living room getting baked and not bothering anyone else, it should not be a legal matter, the government constitutionally has no interest.

    I don’t believe that anywhere in it does the constitution gives the government jurisdiction or power to regulate what substances an individual may use to obtain releif from any ailment, ills, or discomfort. That’s why when alcohol was prohibited, it required a constitutional amendment, which was as it should be, because everyone realized that prohibition wasn’t within the government’s constitutional authority.

    These days,the constitutional limits on government authority are ignored, and the government is believed to have power over any issue they write a law for. Actually, as Americans, we are duty bound to ignore and nullify any law which is unreasonable, unconstitutional, or offends our sense of justice.

  45. Sure, put that “Heroin ‘R’ Us” next door to me; there’s nothing about H that makes a person who can get it cheaply a bad neighbour.

    Speed, I’d like less; I support strong zoning regulations in some cases, and I’d locate those stores next to sports stadia where the tweakers and the fans will deserve each other.

    (Me, I’d just grow some low-potency kif, and maybe cut a fewpoppies every year….)

    I’m not blanket pro-legalisation: there’s always the still-s.f.nal possibility of a drug which immediately addicts the user with no chance of getting off the drug short of dying—that would be something that reduces choice strongly….

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.