Steven Crowder and Bad Arguments for Pot Decriminalization

Via the Right Scoop comes this video from Steven Crowder, exposing some of the more ridiculous argument from those who support the decriminalization (or legalization) or marijuana:

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Please note that Crowder does not address the constitutional issue surrounding federal marijuana prohibition. In fact he goes out of his way to emphasize that there are legitimate arguments to be made that this is not an issue that justifies federal intervention. But as the video highlights, none of the people he interviewed brought up the constitutional argument. Instead, his interviewees relied on tropes that are untrue. He also makes a point about prohibition that I have often made: namely, that the 18th Amendment prohibited the use of a substance that was already legal and widely used by most Americans. Marijuana legalization would make available a previously criminalized substance used by a minority of Americans.

Like Crowder, I believe that the constitutional arguments against federal marijuana prohibition are, at a minimum, compelling. But if you are going to take up the cause of decriminalization, at least make better arguments than these people.

114 Responses to Steven Crowder and Bad Arguments for Pot Decriminalization

  • Bonchamps says:

    Ok. Well, seeing as how I’ve been discussing this on my own latest post, I may as well move the discussion here.

    There are many arguments against marijuana prohibition. What I find fallacious is the idea that all of these arguments are merely “tropes.” What these kids are expressing, I believe, is based on their own personal and seemingly extensive experience with the drug itself. You can say it isn’t scientifically accurate, but that’s not quite the same as saying that it has no connection to reality.

    When you have teenagers admitting they are regular users of the drug who obviously aren’t psychotic, it isn’t so easy to sell the argument that marijuana always and necessarily causes some sort of permanent damage. I smoked it myself in high school and so did virtually my entire peer group. Very few psychotics in that group. Most of us used it casually and lightly at parties; some were dedicated potheads who probably weren’t too brilliant to begin with.

    Ultimately I reject the idea of a nanny state. Let’s say marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol. My personal experience doesn’t bear this out (having witnessed and been involved in dozens of violent situations due to alcohol and never one related to pot), but I’ll accept the statistical findings. It still isn’t as dangerous as crack or meth, not even close. It might cause a person to have certain problems but when people compare marijuana to alcohol, they’re thinking of the danger posed to society, which in most people’s experience is about equal. So I don’t believe there is any moral imperative to outlaw the drug. Using coercion to force people to make the right choices is a violation of human dignity.

    That said, I also believe in localism. If cities, counties and states want to control a substance, I don’t object. In this pluralistic federal republic we ought to be able to find alternatives if we don’t like the way things work in one area.

    Finally, I object to the use of my tax dollars for prosecuting people who are doing what I believe they ought to have a right to do. Even if people don’t end up in prison for marijuana use, their lives can be disrupted in all sorts of ways by the state. In keeping with theme of my post, organic, natural society imposes penalties on irresponsible drug users as well – drug tests by current and potential employers have deterred far more people from smoking pot that I have I known than Puritanical arguments against intoxication. I do believe that “freedom works”, and that a free society can still impose costs and risks upon such behavior that are probably far more fair and effective than the intrusive nanny state.

  • Foxfier says:

    . He also makes a point about prohibition that I have often made: namely, that the 18th Amendment prohibited the use of a substance that was already legal and widely used by most Americans. Marijuana legalization would make available a previously criminalized substance used by a minority of Americans.

    It’s worse than that– one is a plant used by a small number of folks, the other is a substance that can be made on accident with most food stuffs, has been used in all but a few known cultures and has been seriously proposed as a reason that civilization exists.

    Totally. Not. Similar.

  • Windy says:

    Foxfier, marijuana was legal and used by many, many societies for many, many reasons and in many, many ways for 12,000 years under the name of hemp or cannabis. It was only made criminal, and began being commonly called marijuana, in 1937 and the criminalization was done by a conspiracy between Anslinger, Hearst and DuPont, for the reason of greed, to demonize it to congress and the American people. Marijuana “is one of the safest therapeutic substances known to man, and safer than most common vegetables” – DEA Judge Young, 1988. People really should do ALL the research before discussing this subject.

  • T. Shaw says:

    Plus, they can tax the hell out of weed.

    “Prohibition” likely is worse than the scourge it is meant to end.

    The US may as well devolve into the “Land of the Lotus-Eaters.” See The Odyssey.

    Youths might as well “turn on and tune out.” Once Obama’s completed the confiscations and/or destruction of the evil, unjust private sector, there will be nothing for you.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    Pretty weak tea. Let’s take a few of the arguments made in the video one at a time and see how they hold up.

    Hypocrisy – “some people support legalizing cannabis, but want to ban big gulps!” I suppose that’s true, but the problem with most of these left vs. right hypocrisy charges is that they can be turned around on the accuser. The “conservatives” who think that, e.g., a mere tax on soda would be an outrageous example of the “nanny-state” run amok, but who have no problem with the complete criminal prohibition of cannabis are also hypocrites. You either believe in liberty or you don’t.

    Cannabis vs. alcohol - sorry, but you’re way off on this one. Cannabis is not just safer than alcohol. It’s much, MUCH safer, and by every objective metric. Alcohol is toxic. People can and do die from alcohol overdose every year. And because alcohol has a large number of dangerous drug interactions, it also plays a role in many fatal poly-drug overdoses. Cannabis is non-toxic. It is incapable of causing a fatal overdose. Alcohol is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. It turns out that drinking poison isn’t good for you. Cannabis use is not associated with increased mortality. Alcohol is addictive. In fact, you can be so addicted to alcohol that you can literally die FROM WITHDRAWAL. Cannabis is not physically addictive in any meaningful sense. If you want to talk about “psychological addiction,” be my guest (of course, that’s also possible with alcohol… or sex, or shopping, or video games, or a thousand other things that humans find pleasurable), but let’s at least acknowledge that there’s no cannabis equivalent to delirium tremens. Alcohol, as a disinhibitor, is a MASSIVE contributor to violence. It’s involved in something like HALF of all violent crimes and 70% of domestic abuse cases. (Stop and think about those numbers for a second.) Cannabis has never been linked to violence. If anything, it DECREASES the risk of violence by pacifying the user. While they can be overstated, there’s a reason we have the stereotypes of the “belligerent drunk” versus the “mellow stoner.” I know which one I prefer to be around.

    Few people go to jail for marijuana possession (they’re in jail for “distribution”) - Let’s assume that’s true. Who cares? It’s sort of like arguing that “we hardly ever burn witches at the stake” in an attempt to justify a law against witchcraft. The fact that ANYONE is in jail for marijuana possession is an outrage. And the argument that many people are actually in jail for “distribution” (as opposed to possession) doesn’t do much for me. Locking someone in a government cage for the “crime” of growing a plant or engaging in a mutually-beneficial exchange for its sale is equally barbaric.

    Legalizing pot won’t reduce crime (because criminals will find another way to make money) – Sorry, but this is economically illiterate. It’s pretty simple. Cannabis prohibition empowers and enriches criminal thugs by giving them a monopoly on a lucrative market. And black markets are inherently violent because of things like unenforceable contracts, large cash transactions, the inability to use the courts or the police to challenge intimidation, etc. Prohibition fuels violence because it IS violence. It’s the policy of sending men with guns to arrest and incarcerate the sellers of (certain) drugs and their customers. That will ALWAYS produce reactive violence.

    Marijuana and drugged driving - Again, cannabis is not alcohol. Alcohol is a massively-impairing disinhibitor that promotes risk-taking behavior. Cannabis is a mildly-impairing euphoriant. Drunk drivers tend to underestimate their impairment level and frequently drive FASTER than they would when sober. People who consume cannabis are much more likely to overestimate their impairment level and either refuse to drive or compensate adequately for their impairment by driving more slowly and cautiously. Drunk driving is a huge source of traffic fatalities. “Stoned driving” simply isn’t. And alcohol and cannabis are SUBSTITUTES. States that legalized medical marijuana saw a 9% decline in traffic fatalities compared to non-mmj states, a result that appeared to be largely attributable to a decline in drunk driving deaths. In any event, the whole drugged driving argument is a red herring. It’s illegal to drive while impaired, and cannabis relegalization won’t change that.

    The conservative case for reform – Finally, if you don’t like the arguments that “the left” uses on this issue, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. There are plenty of “conservative” arguments that work just fine. Conservatives are supposed to believe in principles like limited government, individual liberty, respect for the 10th amendment, and opposition to the nanny-state. And conservatives are supposed to want to to end hugely-expensive government programs with a proven track record of failure. It’s pretty hard to square any of those with support for the war on (some) drugs. At the end of the day, the question is not whether cannabis is “harmless.” (Very few things in this world are.) The question is not even whether the benefits of cannabis outweigh its risks. The question is who decides in a free society: adult citizens for themselves or politicians and bureaucrats for all of us.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    There are already multiple stringent restrictions placed upon tobacco and alcohol; I see no reason why a combination of those restrictions could not be placed upon pot. No smoking in public places, no sale or distribution to minors, no driving under the influence, and tax it to the skies. But if you smoke it in your own home, on your own time, with your own friends, that’s no one’s business but yours.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    Which I’ve NEVER done, by the way, and wouldn’t start doing even if pot were legal. But in light of the fact that Illinois state law already hugely restricts smoking the still perfectly legal substance of tobacco, it seems to me the same restrictions could easily be applied to marijuana.

  • “and tax it to the skies.”

    One of the illusions of proponents of marijuana legalization Elaine is that it would eliminate the illegal sale of it. “Taxing it to the skies” would ensure that the illegal sale of it would continue to flourish. As to driving under the influence, I found this study to be significant:

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/02/09/smoke-and-mirrors-driving-while-on-marijuana-doubles-ones-chances-of-a-serious-car-crash/

    Many DUI offenders I have represented were also smoking marijuana. Most did not get caught for the marijuana because consent is normally withheld for the blood test.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    Donald: Ok, so you found a study which suggested that marijuana DOUBLES your risk of a serious car crash? How about a little context? Let’s assume the study’s findings are accurate. That’s comparable to the risk increase you get from driving 5 mph over the speed limit. (So the penalties for both should be similar, no?) Also, driving with a BAC of 0.08 (right at the legal limit) increases your crash-risk 11-fold. And driving while texting evidently makes a crash 23 times more likely. (Take the Oprah pledge!) Again, a recent study showed that the passage of a medical marijuana law was associated with a 9% DECLINE in traffic fatalities.

    http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-11/todays-study-debate-medical-marijuana-laws-reduce-traffic-fatalities

    And again, no one is suggesting that it should be legal to drive while dangerously impaired by ANY drug. That is a completely separate issue.

  • WK Aiken says:

    Fast and Furious. $70B a year to the Mexi Cartels. 800,000 people a year in jails around the country. Inner city crime. Gangs. And I can still have a pound of weed on my front porch by day’s end with one phone call. Yep. Sure works for me!

    How many drive-by shootings have there been lately over bootleg hooch?

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “One of the illusions of proponents of marijuana legalization Elaine is that it would eliminate the illegal sale of it. ‘Taxing it to the skies’ would ensure that the illegal sale of it would continue to flourish.”

    Well, sure if you set the tax rate high enough, I imagine that it EVENTUALLY becomes the functional equivalent of prohibition. But that rate has to be pretty darn high to get there. Right now many states have astronomically high taxes on cigarettes. But we don’t see rival cigarette cartels engaging in shoot-outs over turf. Is there a “grey market” for untaxed cigarettes? Yes, but it’s only a very small FRACTION of the much larger market. (And legal sales continue to generate a tremendous amount of tax revenue.) And the problems associated with that grey market are much, much smaller than the problems associated with the black market for illicit drugs. Similarly, do we still have moonshiners? I guess (if you can believe everything you see on the Discovery Channel). But what share of the alcohol market do you think they control? Now compare the current situation to the one we saw during alcohol prohibition.

  • “And again, no one is suggesting that it should be legal to drive while dangerously impaired by ANY drug. That is a completely separate issue.”

    If that is the case, then that would indicate that if marijuana is eventually decriminalized throughout the country then it would have to be regulated. What sort of regulations would you be in favor of? The same that apply to alcohol? The same that apply to prescription drugs? What impact would this have on the continuance of a black market in marijuana following decriminalization?

    In regard to driving and marijuana we really don’t know how many automobile accidents it causes each year in this country, because it is so rarely tested for, unlike alcohol where if there is the slightest odor, out comes the breathalyzer.

    “Is there a “grey market” for untaxed cigarettes?”

    Actually there is a thriving illegal trade of cigarettes from low tax states to high tax states. This is also comparing apples to rock salt. We have a very large legal apparatus to sell cigarettes. No such apparatus exists for marijuana. I suspect that few large companies would wish to get involved in the cannabis trade and bear the social stigma, along with the law suits, that would doubtless be aimed at a company that would wish to provide legal marijuana, especially since marijuana is probably a carcinogen like tobacco. The “sin taxes” on marijuana would likely be far higher than the “sin taxes” on cigarettes as a result.

  • Don Curry says:

    Ok let’s tax prostitution and legalize that too! It’s all about the money with some of you legalizers. Freedom ! Liberty ! Get real ! I was a drug case prosecutor for 17 years. 90% of the cases I had involved defendants who began using pot before selling it or using or selling hard stuff. Oh I know…you can find someone who smokes on the weekend and say, “Why not let the guy smoke?” The answer, like in many aspects of life, is that when you BALANCE out the good and bad, legalizing pot and and now say to the kid or young adult who has NOT used, “Oh we were wrong, go ahead!,” you in effect say, “It’s ok.GO AHEAD.” Oh ..and stop with the “we will regulate it and keep it from kids !” Never works. Pot users get probation here, with some community service. Sellers, young and first timers get drug court. Take away the risk of punishment and you encourage it ! I don’t want my kids to walk to the grocery store and see “Joe’s Pot Shop” next to the Kroger’s Grocery store, or see adds for it on TV or billboards. If you could promise me the dopers would stay in their own home and never get out, and never cause family problems, wrecks, their own physical problems, get fired because of drug use, never go to the hospital and make me pay for their drug treatment…sure let ‘em smoke themselves to death. But that doesn’t happen. And by the way…fellow “Catholics,” It is a sin to use drugs !! So,read this about the effects of pot. And hiow can you say what you do when it is now shown that kids are in rehab more for pot than booz ! Read something and fight this crazy legalization crap.
    http://www.casacolumbia.org/templates/PressReleases.aspx?articleid=358&zoneid=61
    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/27/early-marijuana-use-linked-to-to-i-q-loss/

  • Malcolm Kyle says:

    When we regulate something we do NOT automatically condone it’s use; the regulations concerning alcohol and tobacco are there to protect us from the vast increase in criminality that would otherwise exist if these substances were prohibited.

    A regulated and licensed distribution network for all mind altering substances would put responsible adult supervision in between children and premature access to drug distribution outlets (illegal street dealers). Regulated and licensed distribution would reflect and respect society’s values, thus preventing children obtaining easy access to these dangerous substances. What we need is legalized regulation. What we have now, due to prohibition, is a non-regulated black market to which everybody has access and where all the profits go to organized crime and terrorists.

    If you support prohibition then you support bank-rolling criminals and terrorists. There’s simply no other logical way of looking at it.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “Almost all stoners I have encountered, heavy, routine users of marijuana, are guilty of the same offense Papillon was guilty of.”

    Are people who smoke pot all day, every day “wasting their lives”? Maybe. Are alcoholics who get drunk and stay drunk wasting theirs? I think so. But while “wasting your life” might be a “crime” in the philosophical sense, it’s not one the state has any business punishing you for. The most important word in the phrase “wasting your life” isn’t the first one. It’s the second. And if your goal is to prevent people from “wasting their lives,” locking them in a government cage seems like an odd way to go about it.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “Ok let’s tax prostitution and legalize that too!”

    Er…. well yeah, prostitution SHOULD be legal in a free society. I’m less crazy about the taxation.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “especially since marijuana is probably a carcinogen like tobacco.”

    Donald, I’d love to chat more, but I’ve got to run to work in a minute. But no, that is absolutely not correct. Cannabis is not a carcinogen. In fact, there’s much better evidence that it has anti-cancer properties. Cannabis smoke, on the other hand (like all smoke) DOES contain carcinogens, but shockingly even smoked cannabis doesn’t appear to increase your risk of cancer. (Google “Tashkin study.”) The largest study ever done showed that cannabis smokers had a somewhat LOWER risk of cancer than their non-smoking peers (although this suggestion of a protective effect wasn’t statistically significant). The tobacco smokers had a 20-fold increase in cancer risk. If you’re interested in learning more, I’d recommend “Marijuana is Safer.” Heck, just download the free kindle sample and read that. Have a great day!

  • “Are people who smoke pot all day, every day “wasting their lives”? Maybe. Are alcoholics who get drunk and stay drunk wasting theirs? I think so.”

    Alcohol has wreaked and continues to wreak havoc in our society. I don’t see why we should allow marijuana an opportunity to do the same. As for “locking people in cages” it is a colorful image, but I have been practicing law for 30 years in Central Illinois and I have rarely seen people suffer more severe penalties for cannabis use than I see people suffer for underage drinking. The only person I can recall being sent to prison for cannabis was a fellow who was attempting to transport a truckload of marijuana through the state and had the misfortune to get involved in an automobile collision in Livingston County where I reside. Heavy cannabis users who I have represented have been in cases where they were facing charges for selling other drugs including heroin and meth. Of the drug addicts I have represented I can’t recall any who didn’t use pot in addition to their other drugs of choice.

  • Mike Petrik says:

    Prostitution is a grave evil that harms all concerned. It should be criminalized to the extent the law can be prudently enforced. Libertarianism is grounded in the myth that the consequences of actions can be quarantined within obvious borders. That is simply not the nature of the human condition, and the Church recognizes that.

  • Art Deco says:

    What is forgotten in this discussion was pointed out by Charles Murray some years ago: drug prohibition was instituted in 1914 at a time when the discipline of the labor market was a good deal more vigorous than is the case today. The alternatives to working were state poorhouses of the sort where Annie Sullivan lived, reliance on family, train yards, and skid row. Also, families had more authority over their members than is the case today. In other words, their were structural constraints on dissipation that have been removed. Even in that environment, the legislators of the day thought the detritus of a free market in all sorts of intoxicants was too much to bear.

  • Duncan20903 says:

    Smoking is not required to gain the benefits of cannabis, whether for medicinal need or just for enjoyment. Any potential health hazards due to smoking are not the hazards of cannabis, but of smoking.??

    Vaporization is proven safe,  less expensive, and preferred by patients over smoking by a margin of 7:1 in peer reviewed research published in 2007.
    ?http://www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=149:vaporization-as-a-qsmokelessq-cannabis-delivery-system&catid=41:research-studies&Itemid=135

  • Duncan20903 says:

    Dr. Donald Tashkin spent a few decades doing research to prove that cannabis causes lung cancer with the blessing of the ONDCP and NIDA. It almost made me feel sorry for him when he conceded that there is no “positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use,” he said. “What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/25/AR2006052501729.html

    After presenting these unwanted results the prohibitionist parasites threw him under the bus. But it didn’t stop them from using his previous research to try to get people to infer that cannabis causes lung cancer.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “Like most things marijuana related the question of whether it is a carinogen is subject to debate. I think that the weight of the evidence is that it is a carcinogen:

    http://lungcancer.about.com/od/causesoflungcance1/f/marijuana.htm

    The weight of the evidence? You haven’t even met your burden of production. ;) Your own source deals with SMOKED cannabis and concludes (in the face of conflicting evidence) that it “probably” increases your risk of cancer, but that this risk “most likely pales” in comparison to the one posed by smoked tobacco. But smoking isn’t required to gain the benefits of cannabis. It can be vaporized or made into edibles or tinctures. You take it as a given that smoked cannabis’ association with cancer should be controversial. It’s actually quite surprising. We KNOW that cannabis smoke (again, like all smoke) contains carcinogens, and yet AT BEST (and despite lots of government money spent searching) we have conflicting evidence, some studies showing a modest decrease in risk and others showing a modest increase for certain populations.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    ” Alcohol has wreaked and continues to wreak havoc in our society. I don’t see why we should allow marijuana an opportunity to do the same.”

    Yes, alcohol use creates tremendous problems for a non-trivial minority of its users. I don’t think that’s a sufficient justification to take away EVERYONE’S rights, but I can still (sort of) understand how the supporters of alcohol prohibition achieved the super-majority required to pass an amendment to the constitution. I can DEFINITELY understand how the opponents of prohibition achieved the super-majority required to repeal that same amendment in a little less than 14 years. Alcohol prohibition didn’t eliminate the problems associated with alcohol. It amplified them and created an entire new class of prohibition-related problems: empowering organized crime, fueling gang violence, undermining respect for the law, promoting official corruption, diverting scarce law enforcement resources away from solving real crimes, sowing distrust between communities and police, etc. We see the same thing today with drugs-other-than-alcohol prohibition. And don’t forget that alcohol and cannabis are substitutes. To the extent that cannabis prohibition is successful at deterring use, one of the results is likely increased use of infinitely more dangerous booze.

  • Don Curry says:

    Mr Mc Clarey is correct

    I have known, when I was a defense attorney, (after prosecuting for 17 years)many persons who have stopped drug use, sale, whatever because of the deterrant of further punishment and the offer and use of rehab plus a bunch of community service and a fine. There are plenty of folks who dont use drugs because it is illegal and they also know it is terrible for their health, eithe rafter arrest or prior to it. Old pot heads who just bonged for the fun of it (like another poster– I bet) can’t see past their brownies to make a cogent argument. There are plenty who make the same arguments as some here about coke or meth. They handle it fine and say we should tax it, “regulate it,” and legalize (many say) all drugs. The bottom line is that, ON BALANCE, more harm would be done in legalizing pot or any other drug.Roger can’t be a Catholic …can he?….he suports legalizing prostitution (as he said earlier.) How does Our Lord feel about the idea of the society placing a stamp of approval on sinful activity??

  • Greg Mockeridge says:

    “If that is the case, then that would indicate that if marijuana is eventually decriminalized throughout the country then it would have to be regulated. What sort of regulations would you be in favor of? The same that apply to alcohol? The same that apply to prescription drugs? What impact would this have on the continuance of a black market in marijuana following decriminalization?”

    This right here demonstrates just how anti-big government libertarians really are, which is they are not. Anyone who has even a cursory understanding how government has become bigger in this country should be able to see that decriminalizing pot would invite a bigger, more intrusive government.

  • Don Curry says:

    Previous poster—-
    “Alcohol prohibition didn’t eliminate the problems associated with alcohol. ” Well. duh ! Alcohol legalization has produced many more physical ,societal and mental problems than were present when there was Prohibition. Legalization = more use= more problems !!The legalization will mean many MORE problems than exists now. That’s the point !!
    Alcohol was much more acceptable prior to Prohibition and part of society than pot is now…not even close.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    ” How does Our Lord feel about the idea of the society placing a stamp of approval on sinful activity??”

    You’d have to ask Him. But just because we don’t use the violence of the state in an attempt to prohibit a particular activity, that doesn’t mean we personally endorse it. Any suggestion to the contrary is creepily totalitarian. I wouldn’t think legal policy re: prostitution (as opposed to moral teaching) would be a matter for the church. That seems more like Ceasar’s territory, no?

  • Bonchamps says:

    “There are plenty of folks who dont use drugs because it is illegal ”

    Who are these folks? They aren’t teenagers or young adults, I can tell you that. I have never known a single person who really wanted to smoke pot, and would smoke pot if it were legal, but refuses not to simply because it is “against the law.” Without exception the people I know who believe that marijuana ought to be illegal don’t smoke it and wouldn’t smoke it if it were legal.

    In any case, it really saddens me that the main issues are never addressed. Are we really justified in using taxpayer money to fund coercive violence against what is, in the vast majority of cases, a socially harmless activity? The answer in my book will always be “no”.

    And as for this notion that legal approval of sinful activity amounts to a moral endorsement, it is completely alien to Catholicism. The Church has always taught that it may be necessary or prudent to permit certain evils in order to avoid even greater evils. Doctors of the Church have held that prostitution might be legalized if it would prevent greater evils.

    I’m not even convinced that moderate use of marijuana is “evil”, and certainly not therapeutic use. It wasn’t against the law until the 1930s, for heaven’s sake. We’re not talking about some perennial principle of Western civilization here.

    Don said,

    “Alcohol has wreaked and continues to wreak havoc in our society. I don’t see why we should allow marijuana an opportunity to do the same.”

    People are allowed to drink alcohol without having the police and the courts screw up their lives, provided they do so responsibly. I don’t see why adults with full cognitive faculties shouldn’t be allowed to exercise their free will in this matter, to be punished only when their habits cause them to violate another person’s rights.

  • Bonchamps says:

    “Alcohol was much more acceptable prior to Prohibition and part of society than pot is now…not even close.”

    This is a non-argument. It offends me that it is even made. Abortion is a huge part of our society now, 1.5 million babies murdered every year. That certainly hasn’t changed our attitude about its legalization!

  • Foxfier says:

    The “conservatives” who think that, e.g., a mere tax on soda would be an outrageous example of the “nanny-state” run amok, but who have no problem with the complete criminal prohibition of cannabis are also hypocrites.

    Or, possibly, they have the brains to figure out that there’s a difference between foods containing sugar and a mind altering substance.

    But by all means, continue with the false accusations! I’m sure it will work on someone that doesn’t already agree with you.

    Is there a “grey market” for untaxed cigarettes?

    If you don’t know enough about the situation to know there is a black market for smuggled tobacco– when I was a young adult, the biggest drug bust by value was made in Washington… it was black market tobacco.
    If you’ve ever been near an Indian reservation, you should have also noticed how many people go there to buy their cigs without taxes, too. (and hope not to get caught on the way back)

    Seeing as I’m familiar with how people get into jail on “possession,” I don’t have a lot of respect for the supposed outrage of people being in jail for it.
    My car was broken into by a crime ring. They stole all papers so that they could also steal my ID, took the radio and everything of value they could find…including my left front tire. They were caught when one of the criminals felt cheated on his cut of their drug dealing business and called the police to complain. They were caught red handed with thousands of dollars worth of stolen goods, proof of ID theft, a large amount of pot and a very nice detective returned my tire. (one criminal had been missing a rim before, and the detective matched the actual rubber to my other three)
    A year or so later, I got a letter that they’d been given suspended community service for possession. Imagine what it would take to actually be sent to jail for the plea bargained charge of possession!

    Pot is definitely not the same as alcohol– not only is it usually pretty obvious who has smoked pot recently but not who has had a few drinks, I notice that those folks I know who used more than once or twice become utterly, bat-crud irrational about the subject at the drop of a hat. We’re talking along the lines of how evangelical atheists act when someone says “bless you!” after a sneeze.

    But it is useless to try to discuss it rationally, because all unwanted evidence will be ignored. It just doesn’t matter. Show that it’s associated with a huge jump in mental issues? You just hate pot, and freedom, and people get pissy if they’re drinking, and really you’re worse than these other people…. *eyeroll*

    Huge waste of time.

  • Foxfier says:

    It offends me that it is even made. Abortion is a huge part of our society now, 1.5 million babies murdered every year. That certainly hasn’t changed our attitude about its legalization!

    ….

    You are comparing outlawing a drug to chopping up small babies, and you’re the one that feels offended.

    Thank you so much for giving an illustration of how this always devolves into one side being unable to make the most basic of distinctions between very, very different things.

  • T. Shaw says:

    Foxfier:

    You dianosed a widespread epidemic affecting the entire political spectrum: its sufferers use evidence/facts the way drunks use lampposts – for support not illumination.

  • Art Deco says:

    Alcohol prohibition didn’t eliminate the problems associated with alcohol. It amplified them and created an entire new class of prohibition-related problems: empowering organized crime, fueling gang violence, undermining respect for the law, promoting official corruption, diverting scarce law enforcement resources away from solving real crimes, sowing distrust between communities and police, etc. We see the same thing today with drugs-other-than-alcohol prohibition.

    Spicoli, you would be hard put to find one category of crime of any importance more prevalent now than in 1980. The Sicilianate mob is moribund. If you take an interest in corruption, why not delve into why an investment bank would have hired Rahm Emmanuel a dozen years ago, given that his previous employment in the private sector consisted of cutting meat for Arby’s? Cops stealing from the property clerk’s stash is penny ante.

  • Foxfier says:

    You dianosed a widespread epidemic affecting the entire political spectrum

    I really, really hate that formatting of a response. It’s generally a fancy way of saying “everybody is guilty of it, so it doesn’t matter.”

    I know you were probably just setting up for the lovely old quote about drunks and lampposts, but getting very tired of it.

  • Blackadder says:

    Paul,

    At the risk of sounding pedantic, there is an inaccuracy in your post when you say that “the 18th Amendment prohibited the use of a substance that was already legal and widely used by most Americans.” The 18th Amendment prohibited the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol, but it did not prohibit either its possession or consumption.

    Personally I am inclined to support legalization of all drugs, for more or less the reasons given by William F Buckley. But I understand that is probably a nonstarter, whereas marijuana legalization is not. At the very least, it seems like this is an issue that should be decided by the states rather than having a federal policy.

  • Blackadder says:

    Are you inclined to support comprehensively dismantling the welfare state?

    Pretty much, though I don’t expect that will be happening any time soon either.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Fox,

    I’m not going to let this go. You said,

    “You are comparing outlawing a drug to chopping up small babies, and you’re the one that feels offended.”

    No. That is NOT what I am doing. I am rejecting argumentum ad populum. I am rejecting the absurd notion that the prohibition of alcohol was wrong because it was a substance enjoyed by and approved of the majority of Americans, while prohibiting marijuana is ok because only a minority enjoys it (far more people than you think are probably causal pot smokers, but whatever).

    Abortion is the clearest example of why the majority isn’t always right. Even people who claim to be pro-life, in the majority, approve of some abortions. So I am not comparing the ACTS, but rather pointing out that majority approval is morally irrelevant, and that what people who make this argument are supporting is, in my view, the tyranny of the majority.

  • Blackadder says:

    I will add: I don’t see comprehensively dismantling the welfare state as being a prerequisite to drug legalization. For one thing, the costs of feeding and housing non-violent drug offenders are enormous. For another, experience in other countries suggests that you can deal with the harms of drug abuse just as well by treating it as a public health matter as by treating it as a criminal matter (and at a lower cost both to the state and to society generally).

  • Foxfier says:

    I’m not going to let this go

    Nor am I.
    YOU are the one who said, basically, “oh yeah? Well, abortion kills thousands every year, but I don’t support it being legal!”

    Thus drawing a comparison between an inherent evil, like chopping up babies and… banning pot.

    If you wanted to say it was a logical fallacy, you could, with arguments to support that claim.

    Instead, you committed a false analogy, and one which used dead babies.

    That you can’t see why this is a really bad thing does not help your side of the argument, nor does the way you seem to have missed that the argument you claim to be refuting was in relation to why alcohol isn’t pot. Shortly, even if they were functionally identical– a really, really big “if”– the effects of “prohibition” are not similar.

  • Foxfier says:

    Oh, side note:
    far more people than you think are probably causal pot smokers

    Gee, appeal to popularity? Thought you didn’t like that– and you couple it with mind-reading, too!
    You’d be surprised how obvious it is to those who are not, especially when this topic comes up.

    ************************

    For one thing, the costs of feeding and housing non-violent drug offenders are enormous.

    Ever try figuring the costs they impose by being “nonviolent drug offenders”? Had a former drug dealer in one of my Navy shops; he thought it was hilarious how his “customers” would steal anything that wasn’t nailed down, from Christmas presents to jewelry from anyone foolish enough to allow them in the house. He claimed to feel a little bad about getting food stamps, though, especially if he knew they had little kids. Ditto when they’d bring in the kids’ birthday presents. Watched his “baby-mamma” very closely to make sure she wasn’t selling the things he bought his son, or sharing them with his son’s half-siblings. (Wasn’t formally charged with anything, so he had “no record” when he signed up for the Navy. Yay, plea-bargains. Another guy in the shop had used most every drug under the sun…and it was pretty obvious.)

    Then again, the druggies and dealers who broke into my car weren’t violent either, were they?
    Just cost me several hundred (I had insurance, so it didn’t go into a thousand or more) dollars I didn’t have, and stole my identity, along with that of who knows how many others. Put my car out of service until I could get a new wheel.
    Nobody was harmed, though!

  • Bonchamps says:

    Fox,

    I didn’t say that, I didn’t use a false analogy, and my point has nothing to do with “the effects.” Let’s try this again.

    You and others basically argued that marijuana prohibition was not similar to alcohol prohibition because a majority of Americans used it – in fact, you claimed it may even be the foundation of civilization.

    My argument is that whether or not the majority approves of something is never a sufficient reason to persecute a minority, as is clearly evidence by the example of abortion on demand. Abortion is supported, to varying extents and degrees, by the majority of American citizens. Only a minority want it banned in all cases. Does this have any bearing on whether or not abortion ought to be legal? No, it doesn’t. It wouldn’t matter if one person was against it and everyone else was doing it, just like it doesn’t matter if one person wants to smoke pot and no one else personally approves of it. It’s completely irrelevant to whether or not a person should be persecuted by the state.

    So, I really have no idea what you are talking about when you say I am “drawing a comparison” between the act of smoking pot and the act of killing a baby. I’m not.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    You and others basically argued that marijuana prohibition was not similar to alcohol prohibition because a majority of Americans used it

    That’s not exactly the argument I am making (I can’t speak for other commenters as it is now far too late for me to go back and read carefully through all the comments now that I have a moment of free time). It’s not a populist argument, but rather a key point to keep in mind when considering the different effects of the prohibitions. When we passed the 18th amendment, we curtailed (okay, not prohibited) the use of something already widely legally in use, whereas we are currently prohibiting something that has not been legal and is not widely used. So the effects of ending that prohibition would probably be somewhat different.

    It’s not a definitive argument in favor of continued marijuana prohibition, but it is merely something to think about as we proceed.

  • Art Deco says:

    For one thing, the costs of feeding and housing non-violent drug offenders are enormous.

    1. Nonviolent? How many of them are comprehensively averse to robbery and assault? That aside..

    2. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has a budget of about $6.9 bn. The Department of Justice attributes about $3.5 bn to the warehousing of those jailed on drug charges. About 30% of those jailed on drug charges are housed in federal penitentiaries. The gross cost of warehousing drug dealers and such would appear to be around about $12 bn.

    3. The net cost of housing these goons would be the gross cost less the cost of housing them on other charges derived from any crimes they might commit absent the drug trade (e.g. robbery, numbers-running, loan-sharking, and the other sorts of activity favored by the seedy and unscrupulous).

    4. Medicaid spending by state and federal authorities clocks in there at around $470 bn.

    5. Do not forget to calculate the cost of disability benefits for people who ruin their health snorting cocaine. It’s amazing what you can fit up your nose.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Look, Fox, you’re a regular commenter here, and I don’t want to burn bridges over something like this. My comparison offended you. Fine. We aren’t going to agree, so I’m going to drop it. I apologize for the snark. I don’t apologize for my contrast, because I think it was perfectly accurate. I’m done. Merry Christmas.

  • “Do not forget to calculate the cost of disability benefits for people who ruin their health snorting cocaine. It’s amazing what you can fit up your nose.”

    I have represented a drug addict on various charges by court appointment since 2009. Both she and her drug addict spouse are on disability. Their only disability I am aware of is their addiction to drugs.

  • Art Deco says:

    For another, experience in other countries suggests that you can deal with the harms of drug abuse just as well by treating it as a public health matter as by treating it as a criminal matter (and at a lower cost both to the state and to society generally).

    Which other countries? Do not say Britain. The joys of the ‘British system’ for handling heroin addiction were debunked by James Q. Wilson a generation ago.

  • Foxfier says:

    It was an aside. Get over yourself.

    After you.

    I didn’t say that, I didn’t use a false analogy, and my point has nothing to do with “the effects.”

    You might want to read what I wrote again; the second half there makes it very clear you didn’t get the point.

    My argument is that whether or not the majority approves of something is never a sufficient reason to persecute a minority, as is clearly evidence by the example of abortion on demand.

    Which assumes that the minority that recognizes unborn humans as persons is the same as the minority that smokes pot.

    That is an utterly disgusting notion, as well as being false. It is a false analogy. Opposing an inherent evil is not the same as wanting to get high.

    And you’re still missing that the supposed “non-argument” was about the effect from prohibition, not the morality of it.

    Go on killing the strawmen, though. You seem to be having fun, at least when you’re not getting huffy and offended when someone supposedly uses an argument in the same format that you, yourself, then actually use.

  • Foxfier says:

    Look, Fox, you’re a regular commenter here, and I don’t want to burn bridges over something like this.

    Fellow contributor, actually, although I’ve been pretty busy with the babies and haven’t been posting even at my own blog, beyond sharing links.

    I’m done. Merry Christmas.

    Fine. Merry Christmas.

  • Art Deco says:

    Please read the work of Caitlin Hughes on the Portuguese approach. About what you could say was that policy adjustments did not make things worse. If you have an a priori objection to prohibition, that is motivating. If you do not, not so much.

    The very modest observable declines after 2001 in some metrics of drug use in Portugal were no more than you might anticipate from cycles in collective taste and less pronounced than you saw in this country in the years running from 1979 to 1992 (when enhanced prohibition was the order of the day).

    By the way, there is really no such thing as a ‘public health’ approach to addressing drug abuse. Physicians and allied trades only address the detritus of drug abuse and epidemiologists only describe it by making analogies. Drug abuse is a problem of human misbehavior. You either set standards, coerce, and rely on the subject so informed to redirect his will, or you hire people to inveigle and manipulate him. Not surprisingly, people who inveigle and manipulate for a salary or for fees tend to favor the latter approach.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “Or, possibly, they have the brains to figure out that there’s a difference between foods containing sugar and a mind altering substance.

    But by all means, continue with the false accusations! I’m sure it will work on someone that doesn’t already agree with you.”

    Well, SOMETHING sure seems to be working. :)

    http://assets.blog.norml.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Legalization-Gallup-2011.jpg

    What were the margins’ on CO and WA’s legalization votes? 55-45? It’s over friend. I understand that you might want to “stand athwart history, yelling STOP,” as suggested by conservative (and good Catholic) William F. Buckley, Jr. But the time to do that was in the early 1900′s when the idiocy of cannabis prohibition was first foisted on us. Another great William F. Buckley quote: “Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.”

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “Over where, Spicoli?”

    Everywhere. The prohibitionists have lost the debate and they are hemorrhaging supporters as more and more people recognize which way the wind is blowing. Take a look at that graph I linked to (national Gallup poll on support for cannabis legalization by year) and tell me if you notice anything about the trendline. And support gets stronger the younger the demographic. In fact, the only age group that continues to support cannabis prohibition in any kind of meaningful way is the 65+ crowd. It’s over. Or at least it soon will be. Colorado and Washington were the first states to relegalize. They won’t be the last.

    BTW, I still haven’t seen that movie, but it’s on my list. ;) Have a blessed day!

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Over where, Spicoli?

    Macho Grande.

    As for Roger’s response, I’ve tweaked it a bit.

    The pro-traditional marriage people have lost the debate and they are hemorrhaging supporters as more and more people recognize which way the wind is blowing. Take a look at that graph I linked to (national Gallup poll on support for gay marriage legalization by year) and tell me if you notice anything about the trendline. And support gets stronger the younger the demographic. In fact, the only age group that continues to support traditional marriage in any kind of meaningful way is the 65+ crowd. It’s over. Or at least it soon will be. Maryland and Minnesota and Maine and Washington were the first states where people voted for gay marriage. They won’t be the last.

    Vox Populi certainly is not Vox Dei.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “Vox Populi certainly is not Vox Dei.”

    Certainly not. But I wasn’t aware that God had staked out a position on the use of state violence against people for the “crime” of possessing one of His plants (unless you count Genesis 1:29). BTW, excellent “Airplane” reference!

  • Foxfier says:

    What were the margins’ on CO and WA’s legalization votes? 55-45? It’s over friend.

    Your side got plus ten in vote fraud central and you want to offer it as proof of a landslide starting? On a topic that the trustfund babies want to happen? You do realize we only just got rid of state liquor stores, right? Every silly thing that comes along, Washington tries, takes damage and then eventually might grudgingly stop.

    People naturally assume most people agree with them, and that more are doing the same thing they are than actually do so. Legalization will have the one upside that the problems will become more obvious, and less blamable on “prohibition.” (Though I’m sure that people will manage.)

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour says:

    “Human law,” says St Thomas, “cannot exact perfect virtue from man, for such virtue belongs to few and cannot be found in so great a number of people as human law has to direct.” [ST 2-2.69.2.1.]

    Again, human laws “leave certain things unpunished on account of the condition of those who are imperfect, and who would be deprived of many advantages, if all sins were strictly forbidden and punishments appointed for them.” [Quaestiones disputatae de malo 13.4.6]

    Where to draw the line is a matter of the prudential judgment of the legislator.

  • Blackadder says:

    Art says: Please read the work of Caitlin Hughes on the Portuguese approach. About what you could say was that policy adjustments did not make things worse. If you have an a priori objection to prohibition, that is motivating.

    I think Art means “other objections” when he says “an a priori objection.” If so, then we are in agreement.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “Your side got plus ten in vote fraud central and you want to offer it as proof of a landslide starting?”

    Come on, friend. I think you realize how weak a response that is. Do you REALLY believe that these victories were attributable to voter fraud? The results tracked the pre-election polling pretty well. And you’re NOT impressed by a 10-point margin of victory on an issue that polled nationally at 35 percent or so as recently as 2005? Talk about moving the goalposts!

  • Foxfier says:

    I think you realize how weak a response that is.

    No, not really; the weakness is in the original claim that it’s refuting.
    Seeing as I had to contact the county clerk several times to try to get them to stop sending ballots to my folks’ house, and the only thing that finally stopped it was when I legally changed my name, I think you simply don’t understand how common vote fraud is here– especially if someone is going to college in-state, or has a second house.

    And you’re NOT impressed by a 10-point margin of victory on an issue that polled nationally at 35 percent or so as recently as 2005? Talk about moving the goalposts!

    1) Washington is not the nation. “We’re weird” would be an understatement; think Cali, but less desert and not quite as far gone.
    2) if it’s that volatile, you should really avoid using polls on the subject as some sort of magic symbol of rightness.

    *****************

    Where to draw the line is a matter of the prudential judgment of the legislator.

    Bingo.

    If it’s the law and the law isn’t inherently wrong, then God says it can be enforced.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    I’m not sure “volatile” is the right word for what we’re seeing in the opinion polls. That sort of implies that support is moving up AND down. That’s not what I see when I look at that Gallup graph.

  • Foxfier says:

    Roger- I can do nothing about what you believe from seeing someone’s graph of a poll question, nor do I care what you think a word that means prone to quick change “sort of” implies.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    Foxfier: Also, I didn’t cite to polls as some “magical symbol of rightness.” I cited to them in response to your suggestion that my arguments (and by extension, those of other reform advocates) weren’t “working.” I think the evidence clearly shows that they are. (Obviously, the credit that I personally deserve is infinitesimal.) But you’re correct, the popular opinion isn’t always the right one. Having said that, I don’t think polls are COMPLETELY irrelevant to the ultimate question. There’s a line in Kipling’s classic poem “If”: “if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.” I’d ask yourself if you’re making sufficient allowance for the rapidly-growing number of Americans who doubt your thinking on this issue.

  • Foxfier says:

    I cited to them in response to your suggestion that my arguments (and by extension, those of other reform advocates) weren’t “working.”

    You mean where I told you that false accusations– calling people hypocrites for making a rational distinction between sugar and pot– don’t change minds?

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “If it’s the law and the law isn’t inherently wrong, then God says it can be enforced.”

    But that doesn’t say that you, as a Christian, must SUPPORT all of “Ceasar’s laws” (or oppose all changes to those laws). We’re not talking about whatever moral objection to cannabis you might have. We’re really talking about the appropriate use of coercive force, i.e., violence.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “No, that’s different” is always the response of the hypocrite. And yes, I firmly believe that pointing out the inconsistency of conservatives who claim to support limited government, individual liberty, federalism, etc. IS effective. Heck, it worked on me. I used to be a straight-Republican-ticket-voting “conservative” before becoming a libertarian. Recognizing the chasm between Republican rhetoric and their actual stances on issues like the drug war was a big part of that shift. Anyways, gotta get back to work. God bless!

  • Paul Zummo says:

    “No, that’s different” is always the response of the hypocrite.

    No, it’s the reasoned response of someone who isn’t ensnared by dogmatic ideology, and who cannot think outside of the realm of theory. Political ideologies are important in providing thoughtful parameters in thinking about political issues, and I am not one to discount them. The problem with libertarians is the absolutism inherent in the ideology, where “liberty” becomes nothing more than a buzzword to allow individuals to cease thinking outside of abstract theory.

  • Art Deco says:

    No, it’s the reasoned response of someone who isn’t ensnared by dogmatic ideology, and who cannot think outside of the realm of theory.

    More precisely, the theory addles people in its reductionism and is not nearly as omnicompetant as they think. See Marxism, psychoanalysis, sociobiology, in addition to libertarianism. This can be true not merely with social theory but with contrived dispositions. Read samples of Gloria Steinem’s writing before and after 1971 and see how an engaging magazine journalist ruined her mind.

  • Bonchamps says:

    “The problem with libertarians is the absolutism inherent in the ideology, where “liberty” becomes nothing more than a buzzword to allow individuals to cease thinking outside of abstract theory.”

    That’s the problem with all ideologies. But libertarianism does a valuable service by forcing people justify their advocacy for the use of organized coercive violence in the furtherance of their OWN ideologies. In the case of marijuana use and trade, I don’t think that justification has been provided.

  • Kyle Miller says:

    I had a conversation with a gentleman who worked in the parish district attorney’s office. (Parish = Louisiana county) The issue at that time was the impact of the legalization of gambling in surrounding parishes. Did it reduce crime as proponents said or increase it? Without hesitation, he said the workload in the office doubled.

    The number of illegal gambling rings decreased, but many other crimes increased: fraud, theft, embezzlement, etc. All of the increase was some how linked to the legalization of gambling, crime committed to feed a population of new addicts.

    So while it’s true the costs in prosecuting illegal gambling went down, law enforcement and prosecution costs went way up. The same is and would be true of legalization of narcotics. Not just monetary costs but costs in lives, biologically and socially.

    Crowder is spot on and so are his facts. Even a humor magazine gets it… (I think some will like #2.)
    http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-pro-marijuana-arguments-that-arent-helping/

  • Foxfier says:

    Roger_Murdock says:
    Friday, November 30, 2012 A.D. at 11:46am (Edit)
    “If it’s the law and the law isn’t inherently wrong, then God says it can be enforced.”

    But that doesn’t say that you, as a Christian, must SUPPORT all of “Ceasar’s laws” (or oppose all changes to those laws). We’re not talking about whatever moral objection to cannabis you might have. We’re really talking about the appropriate use of coercive force, i.e., violence.

    You tried to imply God did not have a position on enforcing laws. I pointed out that He does have one on laws which are not inherently immoral.
    Please do not try to change the subject. You keep doing that, and it’s just annoying.

  • Art Deco says:

    But libertarianism does a valuable service by forcing people justify their advocacy for the use of organized coercive violence in the furtherance of their OWN ideologies

    Because, you know, it would never occur to someone to dispute a proposed regulatory ordinance without consulting Murray Rothbard’s corpus of writings.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “You tried to imply God did not have a position on enforcing laws. I pointed out that He does have one on laws which are not inherently immoral.”

    Sorry, if that’s how you interpreted it, but that wasn’t how I intended it. Do you disagree with my (hopefully-clarified) position about what your Christian faith requires? And BTW, I’d argue that cannabis prohibition IS inherently immoral. Again, prohibition is enforced through violence. And when it comes to violence, I take sort of a “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”-type of stance.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “No, it’s the reasoned response of someone who isn’t ensnared by dogmatic ideology, and who cannot think outside of the realm of theory.”

    Well, in fairness, it’s the response of both. Whether or not there are in fact important differences between the two situations is what determines if the hypocrisy charge is justified. And in the case of cannabis vs. sugar, I’ll admit that there ARE some differences that one might arguably use to justify differential legal treatment. Sugar is much, MUCH more dangerous. Many more people die each year as a result of excess sugar consumption than as a result of excess cannabis use. Sugar is a huge culprit in causing our current obesity crisis. Interesting side note: recent research suggests that cannabis can help regulate weight and REDUCE the risk of obesity.

    “Researchers analyzed data from two large national surveys of the American population, which together included some 52,000 participants. In the first survey, they found that 22% of those who did not smoke marijuana were obese, compared with just 14% of the regular marijuana smokers. The second survey found that 25% of nonsmokers were obese, compared with 17% of regular cannabis users.”

    http://healthland.time.com/2011/09/08/marijuana-slims-pot-smoking-linked-to-lower-body-weight/#ixzz2Do0nR57A

    Sugar is also far more addictive (and I’m speaking from personal experience on this one). I’ve abstained from cannabis for months at a time without difficulty. I tried the “Paleo Diet” a few years ago. Let’s just say that those were the longest 36 hours of my life. :)

    In addition, human beings have been consuming cannabis for thousands of years for medical, spiritual, and recreational purposes. In contrast, refined sugar has only been a part of the human diet for the past 200 years or so. The forms (and the quantities) in which humans are consuming sugar today are unprecedented.

    But having said all that, I’m still inclined to allow people to exercise sovereignty over their own bodies and minds. More to the point, I’m NOT inclined to use the violence of the state in an attempt to substitute my judgment for theirs.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Again, prohibition is enforced through violence. And when it comes to violence, I take sort of a “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”-type of stance.

    This is non-sensical. Are we to legislate only on matters where nobody engages in the behavior being legislated?

    Sugar is much, MUCH more dangerous.

    Well now you’re getting to the heart of the matter. Indeed food in general has much more adverse health effects when consumed in gluttonous proportions. Excess use of alcohol, sugar and other foodstuffs is bad for one’s health. However, the simple use of marijuana and other narcotics is intended to produce altered states of mind. There is no purpose to these drugs other than to get the user high. Sugar is a necessary element of a human diet. So you’re going to have to do better than that.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “The problem with libertarians is the absolutism inherent in the ideology, where ‘liberty’ becomes nothing more than a buzzword to allow individuals to cease thinking outside of abstract theory.”

    I think Bonchamps gave an excellent response to this charge, but I just wanted to add a few things from my personal perspective as a libertarian. First, I’m much less motivated by the abstract “buzzword” of “liberty” than I am by the all-too-concrete phenomenon of violence. Are there dogmatic libertarians? Sure, but (as Bonchamps pointed out) that’s true of any ideology. For me, libertarianism is less a “complete theory of everything” than it is a general framework for beginning inquiry on political issues. It’s essentially just a reminder that the state operates through violence. Thus, the question is not whether we should “allow” a particular activity. It’s whether we should use the coercive force of the state in an attempt to forbid it. I think that threshold should be set pretty high. I don’t think the possession of a non-toxic plant that happens to be capable of use as a mild euphoriant comes ANYWHERE CLOSE to meeting it.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Tell that to Jesus

    Ah yes, because Jesus preached anarcho-libertarianism. Snippy retort, but ultimately far of the mark.

    First, I’m much less motivated by the abstract “buzzword” of “liberty” than I am by the all-too-concrete phenomenon of violence.

    Yes, you’ve said this a few dozen times, but none of what you have written has indicated that you understand how your philosophy is supposed to achieve this aim. In fact the danger of an extreme form of libertarianism is that lacks even a minimal amount of coercive laws will in fact descend into violence.

  • Art Deco says:

    And BTW, I’d argue that cannabis prohibition IS inherently immoral. Again, prohibition is enforced through violence. And when it comes to violence,

    You have conflated violence with force. Any regulatory ordinance makes use, ultimately, of force. We are not commanded to political anarchism.

    For me, libertarianism is less a “complete theory of everything” than it is a general framework for beginning inquiry on political issues.

    Well, for me it’s cheese doodles and Shaun Cassidy records. Political terminology does not describe if it is applied haphazardly and idiosyncratically. Sorry, but libertarian discourses a set of theories of everything in the realm of social relations. The Reason Foundation, the Foundation for Economic Education, the von Mises Institute, and the Ayn Rand Institute as well as the purveyors of ‘law and economics’ and ‘economics of the family’ have different theories, but they do traffic in the notion that these are comprehensively descriptive of everything social theory considers.

  • Foxfier says:

    Roger_Murdock-
    you say you can argue things, but you mostly assert them– with a notable lack of accuracy, as Art most recently pointed out in your conflation of violence with gov’t force.
    When challenged, you either offer nonsense such as that corrected by Paul, claim that God is on your side (without support, in spite of being corrected about the Church’s teachings on enforcing laws) or try to change the subject– usually either by calling people names, or shooting off in a different direction. When none of those work, you ignore the points– such as your ignorance of the black market for untaxed tobacco.

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “You have conflated violence with force.”

    I see a distinction without a difference. If a man with a badge and a gun tells you you’re under arrest, and you respond with “no, thank you,” what follows is violence.

    “Any regulatory ordinance makes use, ultimately, of force.”

    Exactly. And that’s why I believe we should be so cautious before passing laws.

    “Political terminology does not describe if it is applied haphazardly and idiosyncratically. Sorry, but libertarian discourses a set of theories of everything in the realm of social relations. “

    Before I was too dogmatic. Now I’m not dogmatic enough. :)

    “When challenged, you either offer nonsense such as that corrected by Paul, claim that God is on your side (without support, in spite of being corrected about the Church’s teachings on enforcing laws) or try to change the subject– usually either by calling people names, or shooting off in a different direction.”

    I don’t think I called anyone any names. Are you referring to the charge of hypocrisy against conservatives who support cannabis prohibition but oppose the “nanny-state” vis-a-vis things like soda taxes? If so, I’m sorry if I offended. I truly didn’t (and don’t) intend any animosity. But I probably should have stuck to “ideologically consistent” since “hypocrite” is a pretty loaded term. I was CALLED “Spicoli” a few times by Art, but I’m assuming he uses that as a term of endearment. I actually make a conscious point to be courteous in my comments. Just because I’m challenging your argument or position, that doesn’t mean I’m attacking YOU. And just because we might disagree on this issue (or any other), that doesn’t make you my enemy. And even if it did, I’d still be called by Christ to love you!

    “When none of those work, you ignore the points– such as your ignorance of the black market for untaxed tobacco.”

    Sorry, I’m really not trying to deliberately ignore anything, but it’s hard to respond to everything. (We’ve covered a lot of topics.) I actually thought I’d addressed the issue of “black markets for untaxed tobacco.” (I used the term “grey market” to refer to illegal sales of an otherwise-legal product.) Here’s the relevant quote:

    “Right now many states have astronomically high taxes on cigarettes. But we don’t see rival cigarette cartels engaging in shoot-outs over turf. Is there a ‘grey market’ for untaxed cigarettes? Yes, but it’s only a very small FRACTION of the much larger market. (And legal sales continue to generate a tremendous amount of tax revenue.) And the problems associated with that grey market are much, much smaller than the problems associated with the black market for illicit drugs.”

    What part of that specifically do you object to?

  • Roger_Murdock says:

    “Ah yes, because Jesus preached anarcho-libertarianism. Snippy retort, but ultimately far of the mark.”

    Jesus preached love, peace, and forgiveness. And while I WAS being a little snippy :) I’m not convinced the story of the adulterous woman is COMPLETELY off the mark.

    8:3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
    8:4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
    8:5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
    8:6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
    8:7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
    8:8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
    8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
    8:10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
    8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

  • J. Christian says:

    And that’s why I believe we should be so cautious before passing laws

    Right, because it’s not like there’d be any violence and coercion WITHOUT laws that compel people to do stuff.

  • Bonchamps says:

    “We are not commanded to political anarchism.”

    No one argued that we were. There is a difference between libertarianism and anarchism. One recognizes the legitimacy of a limited government to protect natural rights that would otherwise be insecure – the other does not. I don’t believe that drug prohibition has anything to do with securing natural rights, and in fact violates them. On the other hand, natural law and the free market are more than sufficient to punish people who abuse drugs.

    But go ahead and call me “Spicoli” again, because references to 80′s movies continue to make you look so darned cool and relevant.

  • J. Christian says:

    I’m curious if our fellow libertarian theoreticians have any practical, real world experience with drug addicts. As someone else earlier in this thread pointed out about liberalization of gambling laws, the effects are not salutary. Similarly, talk to people who work at drug treatment centers and similar social service organizations that deal with drug users (not just addicts). Or have a career police officer father like I do. You’ll find that they almost universally oppose more liberal drug laws. Surprisingly, they do see marijuana as a gateway drug. Their testimony contradicts all the “studies” that say otherwise. They see it happen in real life, they’re not living it out on a blog.

    I don’t see how this type of “limited government” is in any sense securing natural rights. If anything, it degrades them.

  • Art Deco says:

    because references to 80?s movies continue to make you look so darned cool and relevant.

    Being cool and relevant is not my stock in trade now and was not in 1982. Calling a spade a spade is (from time to time).

  • Bonchamps says:

    J. Christian,

    “I’m curious if our fellow libertarian theoreticians have any practical, real world experience with drug addicts.”

    I do.

    “As someone else earlier in this thread pointed out about liberalization of gambling laws, the effects are not salutary.”

    This is not as important to me as a person’s rights and dignity, which includes the freedom to make bad choices so long as the rights of others are not violated.

    Ultimately, however, as I have said many times, I don’t mind local governments doing whatever they like on this issue, as long as people are free to choose localities to live in.

    “Similarly, talk to people who work at drug treatment centers and similar social service organizations that deal with drug users (not just addicts).”

    What they have to say isn’t going to change my opinion about natural rights, and it isn’t going to make me forget that I’ve known dozens of casual pot smokers who have done nothing to warrant state intervention in their lives.

    I accept that marijuana can be and often is dangerous. Unlike other hard narcotics like crack or meth, it can also be consumed in moderation and for medical use.

    “Or have a career police officer father like I do. You’ll find that they almost universally oppose more liberal drug laws.”

    Of course. Every law we do away with is one less reason for an intrusive police presence in our lives.

    “Surprisingly, they do see marijuana as a gateway drug. Their testimony contradicts all the “studies” that say otherwise. They see it happen in real life, they’re not living it out on a blog.”

    I’ve seen, again, many people in “real life” casually use marijuana and not use other drugs. I’ve also seen and been involved in many drunken brawls. When people get violent because of liquor, we punish the violent act. I’ve never known people high on pot to engage in the sort of reckless, anti-social, violent behavior I’ve seen drunks engage in. They mostly just relax and enjoy themselves. Personally I can’t stand the stuff, because I’m already depressive.

    “I don’t see how this type of “limited government” is in any sense securing natural rights. If anything, it degrades them.”

    Then you don’t understand natural rights or dignity, I’m afraid. It is a greater harm to a person’s dignity to choose the right thing for them than for them to choose the wrong thing on their own.

  • Bonchamps says:

    “Calling a spade a spade is (from time to time).”

    You think you’re accurate in calling me “Spicoli”?

    I never even watched that stupid movie. And I don’t smoke pot. I’m addicted to stimulants, not depressants.

  • J. Christian says:

    I was referring to the social workers, not just the police, Bonchamps. They don’t have an interest in an intrusive police presence. Neither did my father, for that matter.

    You sound young. I used to sound the way you do when I was younger. You’ll grow up someday.

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