Drug Policy

Maturity and Permanent Adolescence in Conservative Journals on Drug Legalization

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The Weekly Standard, though younger in years, takes a jab (unknowingly…probably) at their older conservative magazine brother National Review, apparent in the way the two mags, in their unsigned front-of-the-book sections, discussed the defeat of various marijuana legalization measures in this year's election.

The Standard wrote of "permanent adolescents agitating for marijuana legalization" who "took a 'thumpin' at the polls" and ended with (in a segment only available in the print mag's November 20 issue) saying that this "means a majority of the voters…must have been aware of the evidence showing that marijuana use provides no health benefits, especially for sick people."

Got that? Especially for sick people! (By the by, see the links on this page from Americans for Safe Access on the question of marijuana's health benefits, far better understood by researchers than either voters or this unnamed Standard writer.) The Standard concludes with some voter turnout analysis: "The people most likely to go vote for legalizing pot must have stayed home on Election Day, watching Cheech and Chong movies and dealing with a serious case of the munchies." Certainly, few could deny that this all represents a sophisticated and un-adolescent take on important public policy issues on the Standard's part…..

Meanwhile, the "permanent adolescents" over at National Review wrote (in "The Week" segment of their December 4 issue, which I can't find online): "As pro-pot conservatives in Gotham we have a peculiar perspective, but permit us to note that 44 percent [which a Nevada pot legalization initiative won] is better than any New York Republican running for statewide office did this year. And Nevada potheads, unlike New York Republicans, are becoming more numerous."

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  1. “And Nevada potheads, unlike New York Republicans, are becoming more numerous.”

    Maybe if the latter smoked more dope…

  2. You might be surprised at just how many of the later actually do.

  3. Sorry for the typo, children. That should read “latter”.

    I blame the Dutch.

  4. Where does the Weekly Standard stand on the minimum wage?
    Shouldn’t it say, “If one government mandate is good, how about another? … and another?”

  5. Sheesh, is this the best that the prohibitionists can do to defend their indefensible bull? Since when are ad hominem stereotypes of shiftless 60s throwbacks and ad populum fallacies considered valid debate points?

    Oh yeah…. this is The Weekly Standard we’re talking about.

  6. I think it’s great that National Review is against the war on drugs, but I think that part of the effort to convince more people has to include an emphasis that drugs are actually worthwhile for some people. A leave-me-alone mentality is probably the best bet to build a broad coalition for drug legalization, but too often people who use drugs are seen as losers because of unreflective sentiments like those from the Weekly Standard. Rich Lowry spoke for a lot of the anti-drug war right when he was addressing some (no doubt wild and crazy) conservative college students: “If you’re over the age of 21 and you smoke pot, you’re a loser.”

    Just as a culture conducive to free speech means more than the removal of instituional barriers, a culture conducive to people choosing to use drugs recreationally means more than just an end to the drug war. Jacob Sullum’s book “Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use” was at its best when it tried to work toward that by pointing out the benefits of drug use for some people.

  7. “Jacob Sullum’s book “Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use” was at its best when it tried to work toward that by pointing out the benefits of drug use for some people.”

    I have gotten into big arguments on here about that. I think to get rid of prohibition, the idea of addiction has to go. I hate drug addicts. Their irresponsible behavior is what gives the prohibitionists the justification to prevent people from using drugs responsibly. If we would start holding people responsible for their actions, drug legalization would be a snap. Blame the addict, not the drug.

  8. “The people most likely to go vote for strict border controls must have stayed home on Election Day, watching Charles Bronson movies and dealing with a serious case of montezuma’s revenge…”

  9. “I hate drug addicts.”

    What I hate is folks like actor/comedian Jim Brewer (sp?) that make a living perpetuating the stereotype that people smoking weed are somehow dulled and unable to function productively. He’s the Freeman Gosden of weed.

  10. “…this “means a majority of the voters…must have been aware of the evidence showing that marijuana use provides no health benefits, especially for sick people.””

    As opposed to late-night no-knock raids conducted by juiced-up, submachinegun toting gorillas. Yeah, nothing says “healthy recipe for all involved” quite like a bunch of authoritarians with a (literally) rubber-stamped mandate from the state to visit violence on some poor citizen at o’dark-thirty.

  11. Continuing opposiiton to legalizing marijuana is a relic of a 30 year old culture war. The Weekly Standard opposes it for no better reason than that the people on the other side of the issue aren’t their sort of people. Longhair liberals, who got all the girls and didn’t invite them to their parties.

    Stupid right wing baby boomer pissing contest, no different than hating John Kerry and Bill Clinton for being right, too early, about Vietnman.

  12. “Stupid right wing baby boomer pissing contest, no different than hating John Kerry and Bill Clinton for being right, too early, about Vietnman.”

    What a truly ignorant post. Millions of “right wingers” smoke weed. But they’re smart enough to grasp the value of “don’t ask don’t tell”.

  13. “I hate drug addicts. Their irresponsible behavior is what gives the prohibitionists the justification to prevent people from using drugs responsibly.”

    I agree with you that drug addicts hurt the cause of sensible drug policy. I think the reason is that too many social conservatives think that it’s their business to worry about whether their neighbor is a loser or not. If being a loser is such a terrible thing, we should go after losers, not users.

  14. “But they’re smart enough to grasp the value of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’.”

    I think you mean: Don’t ask, don’t tell, risk 20 years in prison. See, it’s the “risk 20 years in prison” that makes things so difficult. And don’t think right-wingers who smoke weed are exempt from police tactics that make simple possession look like distribution.

  15. Since when did the weekly standard decide it needed evidence to justify a policy?

  16. What a truly ignorant post. Millions of “right wingers” smoke weed. But they’re smart enough to grasp the value of “don’t ask don’t tell”.

    What value is that? How is it valuable to smoke pot and keep it illegal?

  17. Meanwhile, a peace symbol in Pagoda Springs, CO is “perhaps a sign of the devil” according to a homeowner’s association board member:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/29/us/29wreath.html?ex=1165467600&en=d0c0c0550e35e199&ei=5070&emc=eta1

  18. “What value is that? How is it valuable to smoke pot and keep it illegal?”

    Okay, I’ll admit my post could have been better written. Again, I blame the Dutch.

    I was trying to point out that this is not a right wing / left wing issue.

  19. I think to get rid of prohibition, the idea of addiction has to go.

    I don’t think that Ashish George said a damn thing about addiction vs criminal action under the influence.

    He was refering to the idea that while a person may not necessarily agree with the “personal” use of a currently illegal drug (pot, opium, cocaine), based primarily on the percieved “dangers” to the person or society, they may agree to at least let sick or dying people use it.

    Once they see that grandpa doesn’t become a raging loonatic on pot or starts trying to rape young white girls while on opium, it may allow people to shrug the prohib BS long enough to begin to contimplate de-criminalizing personal use.

    Then you can talk up “personal responsibility” since the people will have shed thier fears that the drugs themselves are inherently dangerous.

    You can’t change people’s attitudes by yelling at them, you have to show them, leadership by example, and letting a dying person use pot or a mental patient use supervised LSD is a step in the right direction. Is it an end to the Drug War? No, but at least it exposes more people to the actual effects of the drugs instead of the bullshit spread by the ONDCP.

  20. Sparky,

    From the story:

    “Trimarco, the association said some neighbors had found the peace symbol politically “divisive.””

    Isn’t that the same reason NYC doesn’t alow the American flag on its cop cars?

  21. “I was trying to point out that this is not a right wing / left wing issue.”

    Insofar as neither the Dems nor the Reps are even willing to entertain the notion of decriminalization, you’re quite correct.

  22. I nearly choked when this greeted me upon opening the new issue. Despite my status as a certified magazine-oholic this one has me seriously considering cancelling my subscription.
    My opinions on this issue obviously differ from the editorial board’s. Fine. But the tone, my God. Like some nasty little 10 year old on the playground. I’ve got more friends than you, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah. And Cheech and Chong? WTF, are these guys all 80 years old? At least mention the ganster rap culture if you want to disparage marijuana nowadays.

  23. Gangsta Rap is SO 15 years ago…….

  24. Widow White,

    Read gooder. I didn’t claim that all right-wingers are so earnestly prosecuting the war on marijuana users, just explaining the motivation of those who do – who, you must admit, make up the majority of the anti-pot true believers.

  25. Agreed, but I’m curious, what stereotype would you use to attempt to demonize marijuana circa 2006? At least attacking ganster rap, not that I feel it’s justified, makes it appear somewhat less like like you’ve been living in a cave for the past 30 years.

  26. Oops, typed like twice. I also blame the Dutch.

  27. As opposed to late-night no-knock raids conducted by juiced-up, submachinegun toting gorillas. Yeah, nothing says “healthy recipe for all involved” quite like a bunch of authoritarians with a (literally) rubber-stamped mandate from the state to visit violence on some poor citizen at o’dark-thirty.

    I think that’s a large portion of the appeal towards criminalization: The police state approach to drugs is born out of mindless macho and jingoism. e.g. Only godless commie hippies and (pardon the epithet) “niggers” use pot, while real red-blooded, God-fearin’, white, ‘mericans batter down doors and blow away such criminal scum in the name of Mom, church, and apple pie.

    Since the American Right is all about the jingo and the macho at this point in history, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it would be reflected in the way the government uses force when they are in power.

  28. I was trying to point out that this is not a right wing / left wing issue.

    It is in this case since the Standard is a right-wing publication bashing another right wing publication for it’s alleged heresy.

    BTW, I’m still taking bets on when NR sells out and changes its editorial position on drugs to become more in tune with its political allies. I say within 5 years of Bill Buckley kicking the bucket.

  29. At least attacking ganster rap, not that I feel it’s justified, makes it appear somewhat less like like you’ve been living in a cave for the past 30 years.

    About 15 years less anyway. Which puts you more in the “living in a CBS prime time drama” area.

  30. Drug prohibition was initiated by political “progressives” not “right-wingers”.
    Lifting prohibition is anathema to nearly all politicians as it is career suicide.
    The Conservative/Republican ideology is much closer to the underlying argument against prohibition. And they do not (yet) wish to add gasoline, gunpowder, and meat to the list of forbidden property.

  31. Continuing opposiiton to legalizing marijuana is a relic of a 30 year old culture war. The Weekly Standard opposes it for no better reason than that the people on the other side of the issue aren’t their sort of people. Longhair liberals, who got all the girls and didn’t invite them to their parties.

    In the case of the Weekly Standard you might be right. I’m curious, though, whether you’d say that there are certain elements of the left that hold various stances due to lingering culture war resentments or cultural stereotypes?

    Perhaps gun control?

  32. Perhaps gun control?

    I’ve always been of the opinion that much of the impetus behind gun control had less to do with crime/safety issues than it did with the notion held by anti-gunners that gun owners were ignorant, unkempt, red-necks who were a pink slip away from a shooting spree who needed to be disarmed by the educated, peace-loving, sophisticates who ought to be running things.

  33. “Know when we’ll disarm? When those radical right wingers disarm.” — “The President’s Analyst”

  34. I’d love to see Cheech go up against the editors of the WS in a game of Jepeordy.

  35. Everytime I see Bill Kristol on TV, he looks like the kind of guy who really, really ought to get stoned every now and then–at the very least so that he could unclench his teeth and/or other orifices. He’s the stiff that comes to mind everytime I think of the WS. I don’t agree with Buckley on a number of things, but at least the guy’s been known to have an original thought or two. Like someone said, I’m sure that will evaporate quickly enough at NR once he kicks it.

  36. Re: addiction:

    Addiction isn’t, at heart, a problem with the substance, but with the individual. Take alcohol, a legal drug. A certain percentage of the population just can’t use it without serious continuous malfunction. Another slice of the population abuses booze, but only intermittenly. The majority of adults can take the stuff or leave it, and if they take it are neither addicts nor indulge in binges. One’s individual physiology and psychology will determine which group you fall into. Some people never even try the stuff.

    I imagine that, were marijuana completely legal for adults, we’d find a similar spread of behaviors.

    Kevin

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