Marijuana

3 Striking Signs of Growing Pot Tolerance

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As public support for legalizing marijuana rises and Americans get used to the reality that two states have already taken that step, signs of pot tolerance are mutiplying. Here are three recent ones that are pretty remarkable in light of marijuana's long history as a taboo substance:

YouTube

1. Last month Pat Roberts, the 78-year-old Republican senator from Kansas, was asked about marijuana legalization during a debate with Greg Orman, the independent candidate who is beating him in recent polls. Here is Roberts' reply:

That's not a federal issue. That's a state issue. If you want to get a Rocky Mountain high, go west. That should be for the Kansas legislature and the governor to decide, not federally.

Roberts, who has been a member of Congress since the beginning of the Reagan administration, is not advocating legalization. But his willingness to let states go their own way on this issue is striking coming from a Republican senator with an American Conservative Union rating of 86, especially since he is fighting for re-election in state that is not known for its pot friendliness.

Yahoo News

2. A few weeks after Roberts endorsed marijuana federalism, Attorney General Eric Holder suggested that marijuana does not belong on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which is supposedly reserved for drugs with a "high potential for abuse" that have "no currently accepted medical use" and are so dangerous that they cannot be used safely, even under a doctor's supervision. Here is the relevant exchange from Holder's interview with Katie Couric of Yahoo News:

Couric: At the federal level, marijuana is still classified in the same category as heroin. In your view, should that change?

Holder:  I think it's certainly a question that we need to ask ourselves—whether or not marijuana is as serious a drug as is heroin, especially given what we've seen recently with regard to heroin, the progression of people using opioids to heroin use, the spread and the destruction that heroin has perpetrated all around our country, and to see, by contrast, what the impact is of marijuana use. Now, it can be destructive, you know, if used in certain ways. But the question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination.

Since Holder, as attorney general, has the power to reclassify marijuana without new legislation from Congress, it would have been nice if he had talked about this a little more before he was on his way out the door. Still, his willingness to question marijuana's Schedule I status—something no sitting attorney general has ever done before, as far as I know—reflects a dramatic change in the climate of public opinion. Contrast Holder's remarks with the more traditional position taken by Michele Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who adamantly refuses to concede that marijuana might be less dangerous than other drugs.

KDVR

3. Last week on Everyday, the mid-morning show on KDVR, the Fox affiliate in Denver, co-hosts Chris Parente and Kathy J. were discussing the best bargains at Trader Joe's with "money maven" Sandra Hanna when they casually touched on the hazards of shopping while stoned:

Hanna: Now, when you're in the cheese aisle—

Parente: Which Chris Kattan said you should do stoned.

Kathy J.: Do stoned. Get stoned and go in the cheese aisle. Apparently, it's awesome.

Hanna: It's not a Smart Cookie move to go shopping stoned ever. That's a general rule of thumb.

Parente: You'll spend a lot of money.

Hanna: A lot of money. 

In some ways, this jokey exchange is especially revealing, reflecting the sort of cultural shift that occurs when an intoxicant moves from illicit to licit. It seems likely that local TV hosts in Denver would be less inclined to allude to their own experiences with marijuana on the air if Colorado voters had not approved Amendment 64.

[Thanks to Tom Angell, Paul Armentano, and Robert Woolley for the links.]

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18 responses to “3 Striking Signs of Growing Pot Tolerance

  1. This isn’t intended to be an excuse on behalf of the spineless as much as an inquiry about how deep the rot goes:

    Isn’t it illegal for the AG to do anything *BUT* say that MJ belongs on Sched 1?

    1. You may be thinking of legal restrictions on the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Under the Controlled Substances Act, the attorney general has the authority to move drugs from one schedule to another (based on certain specified findings). That power traditionally has been delegated to the DEA.

      1. Huh. I thought that our treaty obligations (not that I support them!) were such that the only people who were allowed to say “things should change” were private citizens.

        1. Any such treaty would be invalid because of the first amendment. The treaties just say you have to have a law on the books.

    2. If you ask me, he really didn’t say anything. He just avoided answering the question. Also, he doesn’t seem to understand that heroin is an opiate, just like the opiates in the pills, and doesn’t belong on Schedule I either.

  2. I won’t believe it until a president, current or future, has a toke summit.

  3. I think it’s certainly a question that we need to ask ourselves?whether or not marijuana is as serious a drug as is heroin

    No, dipshit. It is a question that has been answered for a long time now. Anyone who knows anything about the subject knows that it is utterly absurd that marijuana is still (or ever was) schedule 1.

    1. Personally, it offended me when people kept demanding it be made into a Schedule 2.

      1. It offends me that “controlled substance” is a thing at all. If pot were moved to a lower schedule it would at least be consistent with current law, as bad as that is. Now they not only insist on keeping the bad law, they ignore what the law actually says about what different schedules mean. If I were a “the law is the law” type, Schedule III seems appropriate for cannabis.

    2. yeah, he didn’t say anything in his answer. “I think it is a question….”. Of course it is a question. It was just asked of him.

  4. 3 Striking Signs of Growing Pot Tolerance

    1. You switch your blend from “Mind Rape” to “This is Permanent” and you still don’t feel high?

  5. the spread and the destruction that heroin has perpetrated all around our country

    Sort of like how people abuse alcohol?!?

    1. Hey, when I use alcohol, that destruction is contained to my living room!

    2. Except much, much less popular.

  6. “Since Holder, as attorney general, has the power to reclassify marijuana without new legislation from Congress…”

    Fair enough. You’ve told us 2 avenues that could be taken. Let’s then add another suggestion…since Rand Paul has the power to introduce such legislation, why doesn’t he put his money where his mouth is, and introduce such legislation?

    More importantly, why does Reason always suggest someone else should take responsibility for pot legalization, but always give their golden boy a pass?

  7. In some ways, this jokey exchange is especially revealing, reflecting the sort of cultural shift that occurs when an intoxicant moves from illicit to licit. It seems likely that local TV hosts in Denver would be less inclined to allude to their own experiences with marijuana on the air if Colorado voters had not approved Amendment 64.

    Either that or it’s more of the same old ‘pot makes you impulsive, lazy and or stupid’ trope that most seem to use.

  8. 1)Sen.Pat Roberts is only saying those things to get re elected…look for him to return to that ignorant anti pot stance if he wins. 2)Ask Holder a simple yes or no question and he answers with a question.Typical dblspeak from a Criminal Politician. 3)Good use of conditioning from the Media…in this case. 4)Americans are going to smoke pot regardless of Law….you see “it is not only our RIGHT to disobey unjust laws,it is our DUTY as Americans” (T.Jefferson)….So with or without legalization..nothing will change except tax revenue.

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