Drug Policy

Splice Today's Russ Smith on Marijuana: Legalize It Already!

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Russ Smith's long-running Mugger column in the old New York Press was one of the great joys of the past 20 or so years of American alternative journalism (or journalism, period).

He's now heading up the always interesting website Splice Today, which covers politics, media, pop culture, sports, sex, campus life, you name it with verve and panache. Or possibly vanache and perve. Either way, it's worth bookmarking.

The right-wing, conservative, and libertarianoid Smith has a great piece up dedicated to the modest proposal that if Obama really wants to the change agent that he posed as during the campaign, he should legalize marijuana. The story is seething with outrage and memory and is a great place to point folks who still need convincing that pot is not evil:

Any American, given about a minute, can tick off a list naming examples of disgrace in our 21st century society. You pick your hobbyhorse, I'll pick mine, and let the free-for-all begin. It's mind-boggling, at least in this corner, that there's still actually a debate among politicians and citizens over the issue of medicinal marijuana use. In 1982, as a young man not yet 30, my mother was slowly dying of brain cancer, and one day she asked if I could purchase a small quantity of pot to relieve the pain of chemotherapy.

I hadn't used the illegal substance for several years, but it wasn't hard to find, and so on a visit to our house she was given a small bag of Mexican grass, and for the first time in her life she toked up. It wasn't to her liking and so that experiment ended, but, after years of worrying about this sort of drug use among her five sons-my parents swallowed all the scare tactics from the government and media in the 1960s-she'd come to realize that in the scheme of things, smoking marijuana wasn't, in the vast majority of cases, likely to derail a person's life. As for her fellow cancer patients, Mom said, "Look, we're dying, it's not as if puffing on a joint [I'd never heard her say that word and was slightly taken aback] will be the 'gateway' to heroin." None of my friends and acquaintances who are physicians disagree with that simple statement….

As Barack Obama prepares to occupy the Oval Office in January, this modest (in my opinion) proposal is worthy of his consideration, especially if he does intend to follow FDR's example and set forth a very ambitious agenda for the first year of his presidency, before he begins his 2012 campaign. I'm not naïve and don't expect Obama will even give a moment's thought to the subject-hell, if he lifts the embargo on Cuba next year, that'll be amazing, and long overdue, enough.

More here.

Smith notes that there's huge potential for state and federal governments to gain revenue from taxing legal sales of weed. That was a contributing factor in the end of alcohol prohibition (though far from the only one or even the driving force) and who knows: If enough moral outrage at the excesses of the drug war gets topped off by the lure of excise taxes, maybe pot will be legalized sooner rather later.

Two big fat data points not to count on Obama are, of course, his picks of Joe "I created the office of drug czar while riding Amtrak and drinking Scranton-brewed beer" Biden as VP and Eric "Zero Tolerance" Holder for AG.

NEXT: Eric Holder Nips Marijuana in the Bud and Invents a Time Cover Story

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  1. If Obama actually did that and took Marijuana off the scedule C list, I would like the guy. Hell, I would shill for the guy worse than Joe. All the tax and spend and socialism can be reversed. But once majijuana were legal, it would never be illegal again. Now that would be a legacy.

  2. Smith notes that there’s huge potential for state and federal governments to gain revenue from taxing legal sales of weed.

    On you’re just trying to get the Anarchrist here, aren’t you?

    That’s a bad Nick.

    1. Advice from the future, Nancy. Don’t go to law school.

  3. What I find funny about pot is that everyone I know under the age of 55 has smoked it at least once. Most fondly reminisce about their fun days in college. These are not folks in jail, they make mid six figure salaries and are the heads or second level execs in big companies. Meanwhile the straight edge kids are now cops or in some kind of security.

    Seems to me it’s a gateway drug to success.

  4. Everyone you know under 55 makes mid six figure salaries and are heads of big companies?

    I run with the wrong crowd.

  5. Meanwhile the straight edge kids are now cops or in some kind of security.

    And you kept track of all the straight-edge kids you knew? You’re kind of creepy.

  6. Meanwhile the straight edge kids are now cops or in some kind of security

    Considering that all the straightedge people I have ever known were total scumbag dickheads who used their straightedge-ness as a moral bludgeon to mask their own insecurities and pathetic issues, this does not surprise me.

  7. It’s getting awfully cozy under all these blanket statements.

    To be fair, I only knew two people who ever considered themselves “straight-edge”. I knew lots of people who didn’t use drugs who also didn’t give a shit if someone else chose to, though. Maybe my adolescence wasn’t as After-School-Special-y as most.

  8. Bunny, this is the “straight edge” that I am referring to, and not all people who abstain from drugs or alcohol.

  9. Are we talking about the straight edge kids who get those stupid X tattoos on their hands? ‘Cause I have a hard time believing that even one of them has succeeded in any way at anything.

  10. Legalize it already! YES Then i will no longer be a felon for smoking a plant. one which gives me relief form the many broken seperated sprained and dislocated injuries i accrued in hockey, and a bad back from a fall. without the plant, i need to resort to opiates. which for me are the devil. they DO NOT WORK WELL, make me nauseated and ichy and make me feel bad. yet a joint at night before bed and i am fine for 24 hours on pain and inflamation. LEGALIZE IT ALREADY!

  11. Ah yes, I see we are.

  12. What I find funny about pot is that everyone I know under the age of 55 has smoked it at least once.

    Meanwhile the straight edge kids are now cops or in some kind of security.

    How can these two sets intersect? (I might be using the wrong symbol, it’s been a long time)

  13. Then i will no longer be a felon for smoking a plant.

    I catch your point, but you’re almost guaranteed not to be a felon for smoking. Possession and dealing are the busts.

  14. Meanwhile the straight edge kids are now cops or in some kind of security
    _________________________________________
    Do not be so quick to judge the straight edge. Actually most went off to be engineers and other such life sucking jobs IME. I was an officer for about a year. i NEVER had 1 pot arrest, i simply refused. i handed back more weed to suprised peeps and always had a laugh at thier reactions when i told em to put it away i did not see it. My sarge also was for legalazation and he did not purse either, his famous quote was see the guys over there smoking weed, one day it will be lawful and i will be huddled in my house growing tobacco in my closet. I resinged because of the archaic laws and plus in the mid 90’s 10 an hour was not worth getting shot over.

  15. @ Epi:

    From the Wiki:

    The militant straight edger was characterized by the following: less tolerance for non-straight edge people, more outward pride in being straight edge, more outspokenness, and the willingness to resort to violence in order to promote clean living.

    That actually does scream “future L.E.O.” to me. Thanks for the link; I was clearly thinking of something less specific.

  16. catch your point, but you’re almost guaranteed not to be a felon for smoking. Possession and dealing are the busts
    _______________________________________________
    yes, but it would still end my job and life. plus i refuse to participate in the black market. And that is where my problems could come in!

  17. Are we talking about the straight edge kids who get those stupid X tattoos on their hands? ‘Cause I have a hard time believing that even one of them has succeeded in any way at anything.

    Yes. They tend to be little proto-fascists with their militant veganism/vegetarianism and their vehement opposition to, and contempt for, drugs, alcohol, and anyone who uses them.

  18. That actually does scream “future L.E.O.” to me. Thanks for the link; I was clearly thinking of something less specific.

    Yes. The section you quoted is quite correct. I have actually seen straight edge douchebags do things like smack a cigarette out of a stranger’s hand. I prayed to the FSM that they would try that shit with me so I could smash their faces in, but they (of course) only did it to people who wouldn’t kill them for it.

  19. “Yes. They tend to be little proto-fascists with their militant veganism/vegetarianism and their vehement opposition to, and contempt for, drugs, alcohol, and anyone who uses them.”

    You mean there are people out there who not only won’t eat meat but also won’t drink or do drugs? I didn’t know that. I always thought the only appeal of vegatarianism was that the chicks who did it were of liberal minds with their bodies and did drugs. Wow. What the hell kind of lover of self abuse do you have to be to swear off drugs and meat?

  20. John,

    They also have an even more extreme sub-sub-culture: Hardline.

    Hardline can be described as a synthesis of deep ecology, straight edge, veganism, animal liberation, and Abrahamic religion.

  21. “there’s huge potential for state and federal governments to gain revenue from taxing legal sales of weed.”

    That’s the same reason I’m pro-choice. If a woman sees a doctor for a legal abortion, the gov’t gets tax dollars. But if a woman has an illegal abortion by jamming a hanger into herself, we have the horror of no gov’t revenue.

  22. My best friend & I use to get drunk & go to Hardcore straight edge shows. It was a lot of fun because none of those hardcore pussies would dare mess with us.

  23. Sugerfree,

    Wow. The number of freaks out there never fails to amaze me. I mean, if you are going to be straight why not just join the establishment? There are a lot of advantages to being in the establishment. If you hate the establishment, fine but why not do some drugs and have some fun? Who the hell wants to be anti-establishment and anti fun?

    It reminds me of the Atlantic blogger Megan McArdle. She claims to be an atheist but still brags about keeping Lent. Why would anyone who doesn’t believe in God put themselves through Lent? Instead of nihilism without the abyss, people McArdle has atheism without the fun.

  24. Who the hell wants to be anti-establishment and anti fun?

    Beat’s the hell out of me too. Hardline is like a weird synthesis of every fun-denying ideological stance. I imagine it to just be those people who really get off on self-rightousness finally have a club house to hang out in. Sounds super-boring to me.

  25. By the way… the South Park tonight revolves around The Goth Kids being afraid they might no longer be very shocking.

  26. would it be evil of me to get one of those collapsible batons, light a cigarette and just walk through a group of straightedge kids…hoping they do something?

    Is that wrong of me? ’cause if it is, I don’t wanna be right.

  27. Sugerfree I might have to watch that. Thanks for the tip. McArdle really kills me. She is an athiest but a vegan for ethical reasons. Okay, we are stuck in this tiny planet that is about as significant to universe as a single photon is to my desk top computer and everything we have ever known and will ever know lasts about a nanosecond in geological time and some day the sun will engulf the earth erasing all traces of our exists. Just stop worrying and eat the fucking cow already.

  28. Legalize it and DON’T tax it. C’mon I thought this was supposed to be a libertarian blog!

  29. Hardline is like a weird synthesis of every fun-denying ideological stance. I imagine it to just be those people who really get off on self-rightousness finally have a club house to hang out in

    Ding ding ding! Exactly it, NutraSweet. These fucks don’t just do it for themselves, they use it as a holier-than-thou foundation. They’re like hard core Baptists without the Jesus part.

  30. Legalize it – don’t criticize it
    Legalize it and i will advertise it

    Some call it tampee
    Some call it the weed
    Some call it Marijuana
    Some of them call it Ganja

    Legalize it – don’t criticize it
    Legalize it and i will advertise it

    Singer smoke it
    And players of instruments too
    Legalize it, yeah, yeah
    That’s the best thing you can do
    Doctors smoke it
    Nurses smoke it
    Judges smoke it
    Even the lawyers too

    Legalize it – don’t criticize it
    Legalize it and i will advertise it

    It’s good for the flu
    It’s good for asthma
    Good for tuberculosis
    Even umara composis

    Legalize it – don’t criticize it
    Legalize it and i will advertise it

    Bird eat it
    And they leave it
    Fowls eat it
    Goats love to play with it

  31. I’m a person just like you
    But I’ve got better things to do
    Than sit around and fuck my head
    Hang out with the living dead
    Snort white shit up my nose
    Pass out at the shows
    I don’t even think about speed
    That’s something I just don’t need

    I’ve got the straight edge

    I’m a person just like you
    But I’ve got better things to do
    Than sit around and smoke dope
    ‘Cause I know I can cope
    Laugh at the thought of eating ludes
    Laugh at the thought of sniffing glue
    Always gonna keep in touch
    Never want to use a crutch

    I’ve got the straight edge
    I’ve got the straight edge
    I’ve got the straight edge
    I’ve got the straight edge

  32. Apparently the straight edge kids who worked at the organic food store in my hometown were into “hot plating” – putting saran wrap over person 1’s face and then having person 2 take a shit on it. cuz they’ve gotbetterthingstodo

    That rumor (which I heard via their manager) makes the world better and therefore must be true.

  33. Remember guys, even if Obama decriminalizes medical marijuana and gives us ponies for Christmas, he still won’t be a libertarian.

  34. Never want to use a crutch

    Good thing a wildly inflated sense of self-worth isn’t a crutch or anything.

  35. “hot plating”- putting saran wrap over person 1’s face and then having person 2 take a shit on it

    Dilettantes.

  36. I prefer to believe the saran wrap was for the added titillation of asphixiating.

  37. Still I say, dilettantes. What? Are they too fancy to just choke on a chunk of shit like their straight-edge forefuckers?

  38. I usually found Mugger to be the most boring thing in the NYP.

    Straight edge was described to me over 25 years ago as “no drink, no smoke, no fuck”. I guess the sexual abstinence got left out somewhere along the line.

  39. “hot plating” – putting saran wrap over person 1’s face and then having person 2 take a shit on it.

    Also known as a “Warm Carl”.

  40. Hogan, the mere existence of that rumor is positively horrifying!

    It makes heroin by IV seem mundane and normal.

    Buncha freaks, I’ll tell yah. I, for one, blame Nancy Reagan.

  41. I’m with John, if Obama legalizes pot, it will totally redeem him for socializing medicine and nationalizing energy. Though I’m not sure how beneficial legal weed will be post apocalypse.

  42. Though I’m not sure how beneficial legal weed will be post apocalypse.

    Call me a cynic, but I can imagine many depressing scenarios where weed is still somehow illegal after the apocalypse.

  43. Sugarfree, you are a cynic.

  44. I was hoping I wouldn’t get away with that.

  45. By the way…

    Nazi leader Hitler really did have only one ball: Hitler really did have only one ball, according to claims by a German army medic who saved the F?hrer’s life during the First World War.

    1. ? And Go-Balls

      Had No-balls

      At All! ?

  46. Though I’m not sure how beneficial legal weed will be post apocalypse
    ______________________________________________
    It will be very useful for food (seeds) clothing rope and fiber (stems) fuel (biodiesel whole plant) medicine (anti inflamotory anti nauseate hunger increaser anti tumor. need i go on!

  47. “Smith notes that there’s huge potential for state and federal governments to gain revenue from taxing legal sales of weed.”

    Not to mention the savings in law enforcement..

    ..who are forced, forced I tell you to bust all those evil dope fiends, they have no discretion in the matter..

    ..and allowing them to solve real crimes

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