Jacob Sullum on the Parallels Between Anti-Pot Propaganda and Early Objections to Cigarettes


The Case Against the Little White Slaver

In Going to Pot, his defense of marijuana prohibition, former drug czar Bill Bennett warns that cannabis makes people lazy and complacent, preventing them from realizing their potential. There must be something to that allegation, he suggests, because no one has ever said tobacco saps motivation and undermines productivity. But as Jacob Sullum explains, that's not true: Long before marijuana was said to cause "amotivational syndrome," cigarettes were charged with causing the same cluster of symptoms. Sullum says the parallels between anti-pot propaganda and early objections to cigarettes suggest that responses to drug use have less to do with the inherent properties of the substance than with perennial fears that are projected onto the pharmacological menace of the day.