Because Bob Tyrrell Prefers Scotch, Marijuana Should Be Banned


The American Spectator

In a column published yesterday, Bob Tyrrell, founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, explains why alcohol is better than marijuana. Both drinking and pot smoking are "coping mechanisms," he concedes, but alcohol is clearly more "civilized" because people can enjoy the taste, drink while reading or conversing, and imbibe without getting "blitzed." All this is either impossible or quite rare among cannabis consumers, Tyrrell asserts with the confidence of someone who has no idea what he's talking about.

Pot prohibitionists have been pushing this argument for many years, utterly undeterred by how ridiculous they sound to anyone who is familiar with cannabis or with cannabis consumers. If Tyrrell were merely defending his own tastes, there would be no point in arguing with him. But he is doing more than that: He is defending the legal distinction between alcohol and marijuana, insisting that his tastes should be forcibly imposed on everyone else. Given the boldness of that demand, the frivolousness of his argument is striking.

"I have never heard of a connoisseur savoring a joint for the taste," Tyrrell declares. But the fact that Bob Tyrrell has never heard of something does not mean it does not happen. Like Tyrrell, I prefer the taste of Scotch to the taste of pot, and I am not a cannabis connoisseur by any means. But even I know that different strains of marijuana have different smells and tastes, that people can discern and appreciate these differences, and that the distinction Tyrrell draws is a figment of his imagination. Likewise his insistence that there are no gradations of marijuana intoxication and that people smoke pot only to drop out, never to engage with others or to enhance edifying (or merely entertaining) activities. Even if Tyrrell's distinctions were valid, it is not clear why he imbues them with moral significance, let alone the kind of moral signficance that would justify using violence to stop people from making drug choices Tyrrell deems inferior.

Delving further into the subject, Tyrrell reinforces the impression that his entire experience with marijuana consists of reading fear-mongering op-ed pieces by Bill Bennett. "One smokes it for the effect," he writes. "One takes it in a brownie or cookie for an even more immediate effect." Actually, to the extent that marijuana edibles pose special hazards, it is mainly because their effect is anything but immediate, and the lag can make it difficult to gauge an appropriate dose. 

Tyrrell not only does not understand how marijuana works; he does not understand how percentages work:

With contemporary marijuana the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) rate, that is to say the psychoactive ingredient in the drug, is about 15 percent higher than it was in the 1960s or 1970s. The increased level of THC makes the drug at least five times more powerful and brings with it increased medical problems. This little known fact hints at how widespread our ignorance of marijuana really is during the current debate about marijuana, or I should say the current non-debate?

Evidently when THC levels increase by 15 percent they become five times higher. That is one magical chemical. Still, Tyrrell is certainly right that the ignorance of some people who pontificate about marijuana is remarkable.

Tyrrell worries that "recent polls indicate increased tolerance for a drug that until recently was considered malum prohibitum across the nation." His explanation: "We have been fighting marijuana and other drug use for years, and it seems to me the country is fatigued with throwing up the same arguments." Is it possible that people simply are not persuaded by the same old arguments because they are so clearly false when measured against real-world experience?

Perhaps sensing that he has not quite clinched his case yet, Tyrrell argues that the real problem with marijuana is that it makes you stupid and psychotic, which is what killed Michael Brown—a conclusion that may puzzle readers who thought Brown's death had something to do with six bullets fired from a policeman's gun. Tyrrell closes by warning that "recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, may just be a harbinger," because "as Colorado goes so goes America." I am not sure what that means, but I will give Tyrrell this much credit: It is an argument I have not heard before. 

[Thanks to Paul Armentano for the tip.] 

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  1. Tyrrell closes by warning that “recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, may just be a harbinger,” because “as Colorado goes so goes America.”

    I don’t understand. Did the sinister power of marijuana move the town of Ferguson, MO all the way to Colorado, or squeeze the entire state of Colorado into the town limits of Ferguson, MO?

    1. The marijuana demon escaped from CO just like it was warned would happen if we didn’t build a giant wall around the state to keep all those pot fiends in. So first is destroys Ferguson, but your town to be next!

      1. If you think the riots are bad, wait until Ferguson’s jazz musicians start having sex with the white women!

      2. And the beast had a number, and it was 420…

  2. Bob Tyrell is clearly an imbecile and needs to be shipped to a socialist hellhole ASAP.

    1. Probably been drinking too much, nursing a hangover.

      1. I like scotch too, but I only chug it because it’s so delicious.

  3. “a drug that until recently was considered malum prohibitum across the nation”

    Malum prohibitum means it’s bad because it’s prohibited, as opposed to being bad in itselfn (malum in se). Or in other words, without a law banning it, it wouldn’t be, in itself, bad.

    1. +1 true grit

    2. Good catch. One wonders if Bob Tyrrell knows anything about anything he’s talking about.

      1. If one has to wonder, one hasn’t read the piece. I sincerely hope Tyrell’s rectum has paper cuts from pulling that article out of his ass.

  4. I read the guy’s memoir. IIRC he suggested that the great existential struggle of his time was between two factions of the 60s generation – those who drank beer in college (like him) and those who smoked pot in college (like his nemesis Bill Clinton).

    1. A right thinking person would be embarrassed to be associated with an argument like that

      1. Why? He’s right.

        The real point and problem with his observation is that both sides are developmentally retarded, having never progressed beyond the emotional, intellectual and moral capability f themselves as 20 year olds.

        For Hillary, Tyrell et al it’s always 1968. It’s actually quite pathetic.

        1. Compelling.

      2. Beer is a gateway to hard liquor.

      3. It depends on how far right.

    2. Thankfully today we’ve learned that it’s not a either/or question.

  5. “Evidently when THC levels increase by 15 percent they become five times higher.”

    Not necessarily; the effects of many drugs do increase exponentially with increasing dosage (although THC certainly does not increase its effects *that* exponentially). It could also be that Tyrell was phrasing that part oddly and meant to say that pot has gone from ~4% THC content to ~20% THC content over that time period, which would be an increase of 15% or five times.

    1. An increase of 5X would be a percentage increase of 225%, not 15%. The 4% to 8% jump is a 100% increase in potency. The jump from 8% to 16% is another 100% increase in potency. The increase from 16% to 20% is a 25% increase.

      1. Not when you want to make the numbers dance to your own music.

      2. The 4% to 8% jump is a 100% increase in potency.

        Percent implies a reference to 100, or a called-out substitute for 100. So, a jump from 8% to 16% is a doubling of potency, because percent was already used.

        Conversely, doubling the concentration is a 100% increase in potency.

        Am I right on this? I’m not sure myself, just curious.

        Either way, your gist is correct…lol.

      3. That’s not always what people mean. For example, if a candidate wins an election 55% to 45%, they’re often said to have won by 10%, even though their percentage is about 23% higher than the other candidate’s according to the rule you’re following.

        1. “That’s not always what people mean.”

          Of course. But when dealing with drug potency, it’s important to speak accurately. If you had morphine at 1% active ingredient per pill, and upped the dose to four pills, you didn’t increase the potency by 3%. You increased it by 200%. That’s REALLY IMPORTANT!

  6. Well, I’m sure that Bob Trryrell could still enjoy his Scotch if we reduced the alcohol content from 45% to 2%, right Bob? Remember that when humans first started enbibing alcohol, it was probably rarely more than 10% alcohol, not the super strong and dangerous stuff of today.

    So, I vote that we immediately restrict Bob Tyrrell to alcohol no stronger than 2% alcohol, for his own good. Because the strength has nothing to do with enjoyment. And if we catch Bob Tyrrell with any alcohol more powerful than allowed, we throw his ass in a cage with dangerous criminals. Do I hear any ‘yeah’ votes?

    1. Yeah! (only as applied to Bob Tyrrell. Though I think those kind of laws are unconstitutional)

    2. Hell yeah, perfect.

    3. So how do you propose to do that? By watering down the scotch? Then it won’t taste like scotch. Or rather, it will taste like scotch that’s been watered down way too much. (In fact, I like a splash of water in my scotch, because otherwise the taste is so overwhelming I can’t really savor it.) But requiring everyone to drink it watered down to 1 proof would be as stupid as requiring coffee to be served at 150 degrees Fahrenheit because I can’t really taste the coffee when it’s served at the appropriate 180 degrees

      1. Warm it up and boil off the alcohol. The flavors should still be there.

      2. Sissy. I don’t even use a glass.

  7. But he is doing more than that: He is defending the legal distinction between alcohol and marijuana, insisting that his tastes should be forcibly imposed on everyone else.

    Considering that there is a movement to legalize pot but to criminalize tobacco and plastic bags then that does sum up why certain things are legal and some aren’t.

  8. Pot prohibitionists = gun controllers of the right. Neither group has any clue regarding the thing it wants banned, which doesn’t matter, because, whatever, ban the shit already (or keep it banned).

  9. “I have never heard of a connoisseur savoring a joint for the taste,” Tyrrell declares”

    Then maybe you should get out more often you fucking idiot.

    1. I only smoke artisanal, organic, fair-trade, natural, free-range, purple-colored pot for Outer Mongolia. Ironically of course.

    2. People like Mr. Tyrrell never get out in the real world. It might conflict with their self-perceived reality.

      He could at least talk to his smoking hot daughter Margaery (yes, I know there’s one too many “r’s”. Humor me, okay?)

      1. He could at least talk to his smoking hot daughter Margaery

        Or his replicant plant.

    3. Well, maybe things are different now, but when I was in college we all just smoked dope to get wasted. Of course, we drank grain punch and Schmitz beer too, for much the same reason, but occasionally we’d drink scotch for the taste.

      1. occasionally we’d drink scotch for the taste

        To remind yourselves how horrible it was?

    4. I fail to see why doing a drug for its effects instead of its flavor affects its aesthetic value.

      And I can’t taste my acid tabs at all. That stuff should be illegal forever.

      1. Dissolve it in scotch. Tyrell should be satisfied.

  10. Huh. Wiki on the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.….._Drugs_Act

    Alcohol, morphine and opium, and cannabis were all included on the list of “dangerous” drugs

  11. You know, pot has been ILLEGAL for a long time now. Given how incredibly illegal it has been, how much damn opportunity has there been to even DEVELOP “connoisseurly” tastes for various kinds of weed? When it’s illegal, you do it because you CAN. When it’s legal, THEN you start working to refine your recipes.

    Make pot legal. All the way. Then give it 10 years for the ingenuity and the legality to come together, and you’ll see specialty breeds of dope that’ll taste like fine arugula and give you a delicate buzz — and other breeds, the “Marlboro” of weed, that’s still a bit rasty on the throat — but with a KICK.

    It’s like beer. For years, t was ALL plain fizzy yellow pilsner. But then they made it legal for people to make their own beer, and easy to start their own little brewery. Now we’ve got thousands of different beers, all different, all unique, some that taste heavy and strong, others that are light and thirst quenching. Hops, instead of being that bitter stuff Annheuser-Busch buys as a bulk, single-variety commodity by the metric kiloton and puts in all of its beer, now it’s like grape varieties, or the different types of Scotch. The different types of hops are now examples of how the free market has opened up what was utterly illegal to make yourself 100 years ago and turned it into a vibrant and varied cottage industry.

    1. Nice comment 🙂

      Spot on.

    2. There already has been tons of selective breeding with marijuana. For years. Ever heard of a place called Amsterdam? Yeah? The place where legal selective breeding has been going on for decades? Ever heard of medical marijuana and medical marijuana shops? Where there are jars and jars and jars of different kinds of weed, all with differences in both high and taste?

      I appreciate what you’re saying, but it’s out of ignorance. Even back in high school in the 80s I remember there being “connoisseurly” kinds of weed. And a lot has happened since then.

    3. I googled “designer strains of marijuana” and this came up.

      A couple quotes:

      Tangy citrus and grapefruit smells and pale green frosted nuggets are the mark of the remarkable Afgoo.

      Makes you think of Cascade or Amarillo hops, don’t it?

      A true old school classic, Maui Waui represents the best of the sweet island sativas.

      By “old school” they mean this strain has been grown since at least the 70s.

      Like I said, I appreciate what you’re saying, but it’s been done.

  12. Been said before … worth repeating here … if there’s an intoxicated driver, I would rather it be a pothead than a drunk.

    1. Yep. A pothead might drive too slow, space out at a light or get lost, but that’s about it.

      1. So, be really dangerous too. Awesome.

  13. alcohol is clearly more “civilized” because people can … drink while reading or conversing

    What a fucking idiot.

  14. Because Bob Tyrrell, Statist control freak, Prefers Scotch, Marijuana Should Be Banned


  15. Do you really have to roll like that? I mean like wow.

  16. I agree! When it comes to a substance that gets you totally fucked-up beyond all recognition, there’s no substance like alcohol. However, when I feel like being more responsible and less of a danger for my fellow man I indulge in weed. I personally love weed AND booze, but as a lifelong drunk I gotta admit that alcohol causes far more damage to our society than marijuana–not that I’m advocating another alcohol prohibition. Everything should be legal and the cops should deal only with those who cannot handle their drug of choice responsibly. A radical idea, I realize, but that’s what I believe. Bring it on, haters…

    1. But that would require the police to exercise some discretion and do a bit of police work. Much easier to brand everyone a potential menace and lock them all up. Besides, without the drug war, they wouldn’t have all those nifty toys.

  17. I’ve sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn’t want to do it. I felt I owed it to them.

  18. No one has bothered to bring it up, so let me be the first – in the manner of an American Spectator – to point out once again that when R.E. Tyrrell has one of these apparently illogical, cognitive dissonance eruptions he is almost certainly going through one of his phases of homoerotic denial.

    There is, of course, a certain coherence to the argument, but it winds up being forced, artificial and finally unconvincing.

    1. The argument might be sound, but the premises it is based on are downright moronic.

  19. Tyrell’s a goddamned drunk who belongs behind bars for tasting that demon rum!


  20. Funny. I was having the same conversation with my then fiancee (now wife :D). I noted how there is a culture of connoisseurship around alcohol and tobacco, but not marijuana, but we agreed that this is probably because marijuana is illegal and there hasn’t been an opportunity to develop that culture. Also, plenty of people drink alcohol and smoke tobacco simply for the effect of the drug, not out of any particular appreciation of the flavors of either.

    She also reminded me of the scene in “Children of Men” where the old hippie character played by Michael Caine introduces his specially-bred variety of weed to his guests, which he calls “Strawberry Puff” for its peculiar aroma.

  21. I’d be willing to bet Tyrrell especially wants to ban flavored joints and magic brownies because the taste might appeal to children.

  22. drunk gonna drink

  23. Simply an example of people get conditioned, accept that conditioning as The Way (idealization), and then turn that conditioning outward with Force. It’s what makes conservatives and progressives the exact same thing, functionally. The difference is simply come subtle variations in conditioning.

  24. Founder? How old is this guy? The magazine was founded in 1924.

    1. He’s been pickled since then.

  25. Too much a fool to make up his own mind.

  26. why are you idiots conceding to this guy’s false point? I don’t even like pot but even I know that there are a bunch of strains with different flavors and effects

  27. Mark Twain – “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits”

  28. Does he think Ferguson, MO is on Colorado? He needs to lay off the Scotch.

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