Bill Bennett's Confused and Confusing Defense of Pot Prohibition

The former drug czar claims marijuana is just as dangerous as alcohol and tobacco.



In his new book Going to Pot, former drug czar Bill Bennett seeks to reverse the trend toward marijuana legalization by arguing that the plant is a lot scarier than you think. The result will not persuade anyone who is not already on Bennett's side, as I explain in my latest Forbes column: 

"With marijuana," declare William J. Bennett and Robert A. White in Going to Pot, their new prohibitionist screed, "we have inexplicably suspended all the normal rules of reasoning and knowledge." You can't say they didn't warn us.

The challenge for Bennett, a former drug czar and secretary of education who makes his living nowadays as a conservative pundit and talk radio host, and White, a New Jersey lawyer, is that most Americans support marijuana legalization, having discovered through direct and indirect experience that cannabis is not the menace portrayed in decades of anti-pot propaganda. To make the familiar seem threatening again, Bennett and White argue that marijuana is both more dangerous than it used to be, because it is more potent, and more dangerous than we used to think, because recent research has revealed "long-lasting and permanent serious health effects." The result is a rambling, repetitive, self-contradicting hodgepodge of scare stories, misleading comparisons, unsupportable generalizations, and decontextualized research results.

Read the whole thing.

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  1. You SugarFree’d the link.

  2. Even if pot is terrible for you that’s not actually a justification to outlaw it. The only reason I can see anyone arguing in favor of outlawing a drug is if they argue that the drug is linked to other crimes. At least in that case you can say ‘well, this drug can cause violence, theft, etc.’

    With weed, all I’ve ever heard is that it’s bad for the individual. Well, if that’s the case, then it’s no worse than eating lots of fried chicken or ice cream. There are a million things that do damage to the person who does them, but weed is the only one that gets treated like it needs to be banned.

    1. Hilarious:

      “They do Google searches on “marijuana” paired with various possible dangers, then present the alarming (and generally misleading) headlines that pop up as if they conclusively verify those dangers.”

      Even more hilarious:

      ‘”Let us hypothesize severe skepticism and say, for argument’s sake, all these studies have a 5 percent chance of being right,” Bennett and White write.’

      Let’s assume, completely without evidence, that these studies have a percentage chance of being accurate that I just made up.

      Are you scared yet, America?

      1. Irish, Bennett is just second rate, big government hack parasite commissar – the type that Ronnie “the FBI snitch” Reagan was so fond of appointing to his administration.

      2. Let’s hypothesize severe skepticism, and say, for argument’s sake, all these things I read on the internet about Bennett are true. If he stands only a 5% chance of being a severely deranged alcoholic, are we prepared to take a 1/20 chance of allowing him to put his family and those around him in danger? Lock him up.

        1. Er… I screwed that up, but I assume you know what I meant.

    2. You don’t understand. Weed causes Anti-Motivational Syndrome, which is just a fancy way of saying that potheads are lazy. Because they are lazy, they don’t contribute as much economically to society than if they weren’t stoned all the time. Much better to lock them up in prison where they’re guaranteed to not contribute to the economy, while sucking from the economy the money required to incarcerate them. It makes total sense if you don’t think about it.

      1. Because they are lazy, they don’t contribute as much economically to society than if they weren’t stoned all the time.

        You know, even if I ignored the fact that people own their own lives and accepted that bullshit reasoning, the obvious response is still “Then, why don’t we just lock up being lazy?” Seems to me that somebody who doesn’t smoke pot but is still lazy is just as much robbing the rest of us.

      2. Which is, of course, total bullshit. I made 1/4 million dollars in one of my high-consumption years. Made it legally, no shenanigans, and working 60 hour weeks.
        A-motivational syndrome my ass.

        1. Obviously you would have made a whole million if you hadn’t been smoking the demon weed!

        2. Yeah, it was only the relentless self-examination and a nagging conscience brought upon by the consumption of this evil substance that caused me to finally give up my dead end lifestyle and make the changes in my life I needed to improve myself. I basically wasted 10 years, drinking almost daily and content treading water, before I started teh weed and it helped change my life incomparably for the better.

          But you’ll never hear that from the Bennetons. Just that anyone who likes weed is a “stoner.”

        3. Yeah. Lazy people are lazy. Some of them smoke weed.

          Some of the hardest working most highly motivated people I know are wake-and-bake daily weed smokers.

    3. “it’s no worse than eating lots of fried chicken or ice cream. ”

      Shut up, shut up, shut up! They’re listening to us, you know! Don’t give ’em any ideas.

      1. “Hands up! Drop the KFC and the Ben and Jerry’s! You sick fat fucks are going to jail for a long time!”
        “That’s him, officer! He offered my son a drumstick.”

        1. Don’t make me hungry…you wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.

          1. Does that lead to more puns?

        2. This is where progs and fat fucking pigs finally fall out of favor with each other.

        3. Ben and Jerry’s sucks. Blue Bell makes all other ice cream seem inedible.

        4. They sell ice cream at KFC too. And there’s a packaged ice cream cone called a Drumstick. And then there’s Turkey Hill ice cream. Somebody should investigate this fowl-ice cream cx.

  3. The book’s cover says, “..the RUSH to legalize…”

    Rush?!?!?! Seriously? MJ has been the source of mainstream jokes for 50 years now. “RUSH”? Arrggghhh!

    1. What else is Bill Bennett, a man with no marketable skills or experience outside of being willing to tell outrageous lies with a straight face to anyone who will listen, going to do now that he’s blown his pension on meth and gigolos? The NBC News anchor job is taken, so writing a stupid book was really his only choice.

    2. I thought Rush’s vice was pain pills?

  4. You can’t prove that some vaguely defined thing won’t happen!

  5. I wonder if Bennett ever managed to cure his gambling addiction.

    He’s the only guy I ever heard of who has a high-roller slot machine brought up to his hotel room so that he can drop a couple million bucks without ever leaving the room or being seen by other people. I find that way more troubling recreational behavior than pot smoking.

    1. Alone in your motel room, yanking on the “one armed” bandit, over and over. A sad picture indeed.

    2. Is this legit or are you just practicing Bennett’s preferred form of defamation?

      1. It’s legit. Casinos would literally send a comped limo to get him because of how much money he would drop.

        1. Wow. What a mendacious hypocrite.

        2. I forgot about that before penning my post above.

          Indeed, what a second rate piece of garbage.

          He is also a second rate intellectual-like so many other Reagan appointees.

          “Death in America” – the Reagan years.

      2. google it. The number of articles on it are surprising.

    3. Is he short any fingers?

    4. Bennett is a total degenerate. Compulsive gamblers are worse than the worst dope fiend. It is just appalling that Bennett still has a public career. The guy makes a fortune writing “The Book of Virtues” and it turned out that he is in fact a completely self absorbed degenerate completely lacking in any self discipline or impulse control.

      I am a generally forgiving person and really don’t think people’s private lives should matter much to anyone but them and those around you. Even I, however, am pretty certain being a degenerate gambler should disqualify you from the position of public moral lecturer and scold.

  6. The result is a rambling, repetitive, self-contradicting hodgepodge of scare stories, misleading comparisons, unsupportable generalizations, and decontextualized research results.

    Why change your approach to debate when it has worked so well for decades?

    1. Who in the, I say who in the hell, is going to buy this book?

      /Foghorn Leghorn

      1. Lots of people who already agree with Bennett and want to feel superior as they wait (indefinitely) for society to crumble.

      2. That chicken is stillll rippin’ me off, even in Hit & Run comment threads.

        /Sen. Claghorn

    2. The result is a rambling, repetitive, self-contradicting…

      So, you’re saying he was high when he wrote it?


  7. So nice to be lectured by a degenerate gambler.

  8. Glad to see old Bill is still a dick.

  9. There’s a lot of ad hominems flying around this thread.

    1. Goes to state of mind, Your Honor.

    2. How else do you respond to someone who is obviously deliberately lying? You can only either ignore them or shame them, as they have already abandoned honest debate.

      1. You could point out the factual errors in his argument and try and make the case that he is aware of the truth but is purposely misrepresenting the information.

        1. This argument is not worth addressing for the 12 thousandth time. Like with Tony or Dunphy, at some point you just have to realize that someone is not looking for honest argument and just tell them to fuck right the hell off.

    3. It’s fair though. If the man can judge others publicly for their vices his vices are pertinent to the conversation.

      1. “He makes bad arguments so why shouldn’t we?” Brilliant.

        1. Even if he were a saint he would still be wrong. Do we really need to argue that marijuana prohibition is more harmful than the plant itself in order to rebut Bennet? In a comment section on a blog?

  10. Bennett and White argue that marijuana is … more dangerous than it used to be, because it is more potent

    There are those who argue that marijuana is *less* dangerous than it used to be, because it is more potent.

    1. Is marijuana really one of those drugs where “more potent” means “contains less potentially harmful fillers”? Or do you just mean that more potent MJ means more people sleeping on a couch with an empty bag of Cheetos?

      1. Yes. “More potent” means more THC and by extension less exposure of your lungs to the various harmful things that are produces by smoking it.

    2. That is probably the case. It is not the THC that does the most harm. It is all of the junk and carcinogens you ingest into your lungs smoking the stuff to get the THC. When you realize that, more powerful marijuana is less dangerous since you have to smoke less of it to get high and thus ingest less of the bad stuff that comes with it.

      1. Maureen Dowd had never done pot, ate an entire pot candy bar that should have actually been cut into 16ths before consumption, and all that happened is that she freaked out for a night and was totally fine the next day.

        The amount of THC in a joint is really not dangerous at all.

        1. No its not. I am not a doctor. Maybe I just have sensitive lungs, but I found pot to be really nasty on my lungs. It sure seemed to me that the problem with pot is all the shit that comes with the THC not the THC.

          1. Reading your other comments, you did not strike me as a cannabis consumer. Shows how wrong the pot smoker stereotype can be.

            1. Not for a very long time. I however am more libertine than one might imagine.

            2. Are you kidding?

              John is like Clint Eastwood’s character in Gran Torino.

              /to be taken as a compliment

              1. Walt Kowalski is my second favorite Eastwood character behind, of course, Mr. Josey Wales.

              2. That is a great compliment Mike. One frankly I don’t deserve. But thank you anyway. You are a great American.

          2. Try vaping.

            1. Or edibles.

              1. I dislike edibles. With vaping, you have dosage control and you can actually have energy and be productive.

                1. Yeah, but a lot of the edibles are standardized now for relatively easy dosage control. I vastly prefer edibles, and used to enjoy them daily when I didn’t live in a backward state that makes possessing them a 5 year felony.

        2. Bennett’s position on this issue reflects the overall Reagan love of bigger, fatter, more intrusive government.

  11. Maybe Bennett should bankroll a remake of Reefer Madness, with a script update to show how smoking pot helps teh terrorists win. Which actors should play in it?

    1. MATT DAMON.

      1. LOL I didn’t think of him…he would be perfect.

  12. Bennett and O’Reilly were beating the drums on Fox the other night.
    One of them cited a statistic that pot users are 78% more likely to be absent from work on a given day. I’d like to see what that is for
    alcohol imbibers? Most absent employees where I worked had booze problems. Bill and Bill wouldn’t of course plump for a new prohibition on alcohol.

    1. One of them cited a statistic that pot users are 78% more likely to be absent from work on a given day.

      That statement is like a daily double of media idiocy. First, 78% sounds big except that it is a relative not a absolute term. How often is the typical person absent from work anyway? I bet not often. So an increase of 78% from a small base really is not that significant.

      Then of course it assumes the causality doesn’t run the other way. Maybe people who like to smoke pot are the kinds of people who miss work anyway? That is my guess. Most of your type A, earned the perfect attendance award in school, are not big pot smokers.

      1. Most of your type A, earned the perfect attendance award in school, are not big pot smokers.

        Or at least they WEREN’T until they smoked the evil demon weed….

        1. It turns law abiding people into crazed lunatics and allows negro Jazz musicians to corrupt white women.

          1. Why tell me about it. Before he “foolishly experimented” with it, Ted Cruz was a member in good standing of the Young Democrats of America and was planning to go to Oberlin to pursue a career in journalism or social work. Now look at him.

            1. Look what happened to Micheal Phelps. You have to wonder what Phelps could have done with himself and what kind of physical specimen he could have been had he just stayed away from that stuff.

        2. By the way, punchline at 8:48.

      2. And even if the stat is valid, it’s simply a correlation, whereas they’re strongly implying causality.

      3. And it’s irrelevant anyway. If someone misses to much work, tell them to miss work less or fire them. It doesn’t matter why they miss work. And no one owes their full potential to society in general.

    2. How about the bona fides of the “statistic”?

      Never, ever accept, at face value, any “statistic” or “study” cited by a prohibitionist.

      1. It very well be made up. Even if it is not, it doesn’t mean what they imply it does.

        1. The same reasoning applies to the feminazis.

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