Legalize it--All of it

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(64)
A palm full o Pot!
bloomberg.com

Tomorrow is election day in Los Angeles and beyond the biggest race (for mayor between a pair of dull left of center bureaucrats of whom the less said is better), the most important ballot measures are three that, in varying degrees, are used to restrict the explosion and proliferation of Cannabis Clinics, "pot clubs", "Chronicatoriums" (OK, I made that one up) or whatever you'd care to call them. Naturally, the most popular of these, according to polls, is the measure that would severely restrict the number of such venues as they are the classic NIMBY, filling up Southern California's mini-malls with stoners disinclined to buy anything else from whatever shops are there. Which, regardless of what moral trepidation is claimed by shopkeepers, is the source of their objection, as the Brains or Cyndi Lauper could tell you, money does change everything.

That this is restraint of trade in the extreme is an understatement but given the nature of "medicinal marijuana", what do you expect? While it is true that marijuana does have valid medical use for glaucoma, nausea from chemo, insomnia and some forms of nerve pain, the only reason this half measure exists is as the gateway to the drug's eventual legalization. As the case with any "moral scourge", once it is plainly obvious that the world isn't gonna end because people toke up and enough marginally interested voters switch their positions as a result (see the companion issue "marriage, gay"), end of laws. Which is why I've always seen medicinal marijuana as a crock of undiluted crap in the first place--the drug, in fact all recreational drugs, should be legal for adults period. Not incrementally and yes, all of them.

For the weed, that is inevitable and has happened already in Colorado and Washington state (with some restrictions). Marijuana is not seen as a dangerous drug, not responsible for overdoses, not anywhere near as physically addiciting (if at all) as the presently legal alcohol, nicotine or caffeine. While it's true that some of the affectations that go along with it can be somewhat inexplicable (see "bands, jam"), they tend to be harmless and as is, the legalization of the drug is a slam dunk (or should be). This isn't exactly a radical idea and does have an unusual array of proponents.

In reality, all recreational drugs should be. Even the "bad" ones. First of all as "bad" as hard drugs are supposed to be, the laws that govern the punishment for their use are far worse, more life destroying, costlier and have made the US the world's number one prison state. Secondly, despite being illegal and punishment for same being draconian, people still seem to do lots of them at the danger of their health and well being--yet, when heart disease and diabetes are the first and seventh causes of death in the US, there is no similar call for imprisonment for either overeating, sedentary lifestyle or the injection of corn syrup into processed foods which lead to both--seems absurd. And yes--one does have to eat to live, one doesn't have to eat everything!

It's true--tweakers are gross, crackheads are whacked and junkies are thieving, scheming troublemakers. But banning their jollies hasn't changed any of this. What they do is illegal and they still do it--in the case of the narcotic addict, simply giving them the drugs they want plus clean supplies for injection ends their stealing and severely reduces HIV/HCV transmission. As far as the other drugs go, were they legal, they would not be brewed in a bathtub or in a clandestine lab and have the kinds of impurities that wreak misery on them and (as is the case with heroin/opiate addicts) simply giving them their drugs ends the street crime that goes along with it. Most importantly (but generally unknown to non users), once the stigma of "criminal" is gone, the positive effect is two fold--people that want to seek treatment can do so without stigma and much more importantly, the badge of perverse honor that goes with being an outlaw/renegade dope fiend a la Charlie Parker, Keith Richards or Johnny Thunders is history. Junkies are resourceful, cunning people, but it's no fun to be a junkie when all you do is go to a clinic, fix and nod out all day.

But because our Puritan roots suggest that all "bad behavior" (as if self-medicating is such a thing) can be stamped out with enough force, none of this will ever come to pass, I fear. It is (no pun intended) Johnny's pipe dream. And I have no personal stake in this--I haven't had a drink or rec. drug since Reagan was president, the USSR extant and indie rock any good. The binary thinking which leads to "drugs bad, must be eradicated" is what keeps the prison complex alive and well and the murderous Mexican drug cartels in business. Get rid of the "well-intentioned" laws and both disappear. However, my faith in the common sense of people died long before my sobriety was born, sad to say. 

 

 

Comments

And Federal law trumps anything LA does or, for that matter, California.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

Keep your eyes peeled for this case when it goes before the 9th Circuit: http://blog.norml.org/2012/10/25/suit-before-ninth-circuit-court-of-appe...

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

There are more important things in life than getting high.

Posted by Anon on May. 20, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

Like staying out of jail for doing something that harms no one.

Or living as you choose to, in a "free" society.

 

Posted by JohnnyW on May. 20, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

Jaywalking.

Littering.

Prostitution.

Internet poker for money.

And yes, recreational drugs, although it could be a stretch to say it harms nobody else if you end up needing healthcare on the public dime as a result.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

For heart disease and cancer, causes of death 1 and 2?

Americans are overweight and 450,000 of us die each year from smoking related causes.

So, should they also be considered a public health spending issue?

Posted by JohnnyW on May. 20, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

and many of them cannot pay for their treatment.

Then there is addiction treatment of course.

We are all harmed.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

No, we are saddened. Harm and sorrow are not the same thing.

Posted by JohnnyW on May. 20, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

addiction, then I have been harmed by your behavior. That entitles me to argue that your behavior remains criminal.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

Shouldn't eating red meat be illegal then? Diseases caused by red meat cost a lot more money than diseases caused by pot. Rather than parse who costs what, isn't it just better to acknowledge that everybody does something that's dangerous, and pull together as a community to help those in need. And if you live a perfect life and never need anyone's help, be happy. A long life is reward enough.

And besides... if you're thinking of the cost, it costs society a lot more to deal with it as a criminal matter.

Posted by Greg on May. 20, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

read meat and heart disease, with the blatant link between illegal drugs and overdoses/addiction.

And anyway I carry health insurance but many addicts do not.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:34 am

Heart disease is the #1 killer, and American diet is the #1 cause. This no more in dispute than the link of cancer and smoking (which incidentally is also legal).

Marijuana, OTOH, hasn't really been proven to cause major health issues. It's not physically addictive -that actually IS proven. You're talking to someone who's taken their pharmacology classes.
It may or may not cause cancer, though the doses that would be required are generally greater than the doses that most people use.
And not a single overdose death has ever been attributed to it.

Keeping marijuana illegal does not make sense in any way.

And please spare me this straw man argument about it being a "gateway drug." That's a crock of shit -it's basically an acknoweldgement that "Ok, marijuana isn't harmful, but people who do it might go on to do something else harmful, so we should ban it." You can use that argument to ban just about everything.

Posted by Greg on May. 21, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

the only reason Marijuana has this label stuck on it is because you have to go on the black market to purchase it. Probably from the same guy selling the other/hard stuff.

If you could get your weed at 7/11 or QuickCheck or the Chevron station down at the corner, then you wouldn't even know the guy with the hard stuff.

You can buy soda at the liquor store. Is soda the gateway to alcohol abuse?

Posted by "Gateway drug"... on Jun. 13, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

It will cost even more for police, court costs & imprisonment. Apparently you would also consider these costs "criminal" since they are paid with our taxes. So why not go with the lesser "crime" & legalize?

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 10:44 pm

No amount spent on enforcing morality is too much. As a good libertarian conservative, I see the main function of government as keeping us safe. Therefore more money spent on police and jails is money well-spent. Clinics and addiction programs, this we can't afford. No good pot smoking scum don't need to be coddled, they need to be jailed.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 11:07 pm

...immoral?

Posted by Hortencia on May. 27, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

"No good pot smoking scum". Your creditability just went out the window with your choice of words to make your absurd, non-point.

Posted by "Gateway drug"... on Jun. 13, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

Nobody needs pushers, junkies and addicts.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:35 am

The argument that some people who take drugs may receive medical assistance paid for with stolen taxpayer dollars, therefore drugs should be illegal, is like saying that some people who go hunting may get in accidents and receive medical assistance, therefore hunting should be illegal.

Both of these arguments are statist and paternalistic and fail to respect individual rights and freedom.

The problem is government stealing money from people in the first place. How the politicians choose to spend the stolen money should not be used as a rationale for criminalizing our peaceful choices* or expanding government control even further over our lives.

*I'll leave aside the issue of whether hunting is truly a "peaceful choice", except to note that it is just as peaceful (or not) in its effects as going to a restaurant or supermarket and buying meat that was killed by somebody else.

Posted by Starchild on May. 22, 2013 @ 9:16 am

and many of them cannot pay for their treatment.

Then there is addiction treatment of course.

We are all harmed.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

Total freedom for big business;
For the rest of us, it's pepper spray in our eyes and billy clubs across our skulls.
Libertarian freedom forever!

Posted by Greg on May. 22, 2013 @ 8:12 am

Libertarianism is about freedom for everyone, not just big business. That's because each person has the right to make his or her own choices in life as long as those choices do not involve aggression (initiating force against others or committing fraud).

Libertarians want to help small entrepreneurs and mom & pop businesses compete with big corporations by eliminating bureaucratic requirements and regulations on business that large companies with their teams of lawyers, accountants, and so on have an easier time dealing with. Libertarians want to democratize economic opportunity and undermine the "big box" stores and chain retailers by letting people sell stuff on the streets without paying government licensing and permit fees.

Do you agree with that real free market agenda, or do you side with the big corporations?

Libertarians defend civil liberties as ardently as people on the left -- perhaps more so when you consider that most of the people who run the local governments of urban areas where police abuse is common are Democrats. The people wielding those billy clubs and attacking people with pepper spray are just your friendly local government employees, handsomely compensated by the politicians you elect.

Attacking big business makes no sense anyway if you simultaneously defend big government, because government is the biggest business there is! Take a look at the budgets of the top Fortune 500 companies and then take a look at the budget of the U.S. government; if it was included, it would top the list.

Do you really believe that the people running government are selfless, noble-minded defenders of the public good? You think they're not trying to make a nice profit for themselves and the special interests who help fund them and support their statist agenda? Think again.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 8:44 am
Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 9:31 am

That becomes the burden of the public while the costs of such are not always reflective in a market. Its like gasoline, if the price at the pump factored in the real cost of Middle East foreign entanglements and the health ailments resulting from all the pollution produced from the transformation of oil into petroleum products to even the exhaust from a car or truck, that price would be much much hire.

I think if we had a public health system, be it just single-payer or something more complex like the NHS, the costs of this could be handled better. One need only look at some European countries, where recreational drug usage isn't viewed so much as a crime as it is a public health problem. Instead, what we'll see is a hodge podge of public initiatives by say a county or state with regards to these drug rehabilitation versus something where resources could be pooled more efficiently.

Posted by Johnny Venom on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

1) Your use of illegal drugs often leads to emdical costs which society has to pay for if you are indigent (and I'm sure you are) and that means society gets a say in whether to criminalize your drug use.

2) Your drug use is illegal which subjects you to criminal prosecution as well as the bad will of your fellow people.

No Congress is going to change the Federal law on this, so the rest is just fluff.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

Or that all drug addicts are?

Either way, no. Lindsay Lohan is a drug addict and has a very nice place to live. So do I.

Good lord, you are a bleeding idiot. 

Posted by JohnnyW on May. 20, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

poverty, plus of course the inability to hold down a job if you're junked up all the time.

But hey, it's your choice and your life.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:31 am

The federal government has no Constitutional authority to tell you what you can put into your own body. That's why they needed a Constitutional amendment (later repealed) to outlaw alcohol in 1919. Unfortunately the arrogance and sense of entitlement among politicians today is such that they don't bother with such legal niceties today, they just do what they want, the Constitution be damned.

Bottom line - It is the people passing and enforcing the drug laws, in violation of their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution, who are the criminals, not peaceful drug users.

If you support federal drug laws, then you don't support following the Constitution. It's that simple.

Posted by Starchild on May. 22, 2013 @ 8:53 am

The feds' constitutional justification for drug laws stems from the Supreme Court's expansion of the Commerce Clause to include virtually any human activity in Wickard v. Filburn. It's time for a Constitutional amendment to overturn that case and restore proper Commerce Clause jurisprudence

Posted by basta on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

SCOTUS justcies themselves.

Good luck with that.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

It wasn't the SCOTUS who overturned Dred Scott v. Sanford. It was the 14th amendment.

Thus a constitutional amendment would be needed to overturn Wickard

Posted by basta on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:52 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

Basta! I agree.

Posted by Guest on May. 26, 2013 @ 10:02 am

Jaywalking does actually harm others -it causes accidents. Although I wouldn't mind a law saying that jaywalking is Ok as long as drivers aren't responsible for a your death if you jaywalk.

Littering definitely harms the community, so I have no problem with that remaining legal.

Keep in mind that the penalties for littering and jaywalking are very light in comparison to federal penalties for marijuana possession.

The other two that you mentioned should just be legal, period.

Posted by Greg on May. 20, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

fact that you don't like some laws (neither do bank robbers and murderers) doesn't mean you don't have to obey them.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:33 am

I grew up and live now on a main road in one of the most desnly populated cities in the US. I jaywalk all the time, and frankly, I agree with you partially. Some (not all or most, but enough) pedestrians, jaywalkers or not, are oblivious idiots.

As I said, I jaywalk, its easy, just pay attention, look for what the cars are doing and going to be doing, and find the gap... sometimes it takes a few minutes.

Now, I don't know about where you are, but half our pedestrians who jaywalk don't even realize it because they think they can use the crosswalk no matter what the walk/don't walk light says (when there is one, it is supposed to be followed).

I really believe that, maybe not so much 20 years ago, but now... pedestrians have become the major problem with pedestrian/car accidents. Some of them cross the road while playing games on their phone! Few really look around and pay attention to the traffic (like that left turning driver who is trying to simultaneously judge the speed of oncoming cars, size of gaps, checking the other side for cars coming straight, and watch for pedestrians from multiple directions.... yah you should try to notice him too if you value not being hit)

Some pedestrians really just seem to take their legal advantage as license to totally disclaim all responsibility for their own safety in the road. Frankly, I think the Russians got it right... a cars stopping distance is many times more than a pedestrian....so the car always has right of way in the road.

Posted by Steve on May. 22, 2013 @ 4:15 am

Accidents happen when people cross at crosswalks too, so it's misleading to say that "jaywalking causes accidents". If drivers are accustomed to people crossing the street wherever it's convenient to do so, they are likely to drive more carefully, so it's quite possible that jaywalking actually saves lives.

Posted by Starchild on May. 22, 2013 @ 8:58 am

Unconstitutional anti-drug "laws" aren't the most important things in life either. I think we can do without them.

Posted by Starchild on May. 22, 2013 @ 9:05 am

What you think the laws should be doesn't matter. Bank robbers don't like the laws against robbing banks and drug addicts and pushers don't like the drug laws. Deal.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 9:28 am

Drug cartels love prohibition, though, it increases their profits

Posted by basta on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:29 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

...are drugs illegal?

Posted by Hortencia on May. 27, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

As I explained in a previous comment, drugs are not illegal, at least not at the federal level. The Feds are illegally violating the Constitution with their unlawful anti-drug statutes. No amount of legal blather from the Supreme Court can change that basic fact.

There is a general consensus that robbery should be illegal. There is no community consensus that drug use should be illegal. Indeed, many drugs are completely accepted as legal, including many that are more dangerous than many of those that are criminalized.

As Martin Luther King said, unjust laws (or in this case unjust government proclamations masquerading as laws!) deserve to be broken.

Only authoritarian busybodies really get worked up about what other people put into their own bodies.

Posted by Starchild on May. 28, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

I'm against the drug war and most anti-drug laws, Starchild, but it's the Supreme Court's job to say whether a law violates the Constitution.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 29, 2013 @ 6:43 am

Look, fake-Anon. For those with PHYSICAL nerve damage, there is nothing more important than a certain plant remedy that causes analgesia. So call it a high and be all smug. You are fake-Anon and should delete yourself from the net. Oh unless you think Oxy is a wonderdrug and should displace 10,000 years of success via pot. What a moron.

Posted by Guest on May. 26, 2013 @ 10:01 am

It is ironic that you would refer to diabetes in an article about restricting medical marijuana clinics.

Last week the American Journal of Medicine released a large study that showed regular marijuana use improves insulin control, increases HDL (good cholesterol), and reduces waist circumference. The bottomline is that regular marijuana smoking could help prevent diabetes.
http://www.amjmed.com/webfiles/images/journals/ajm/AJM11994.pdf

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

OK. There are a lot of ridiculous claims about marijuana's beneficial effects. There is also a lot of demonization about "bad" drugs, and tacit acceptance of the carnage brought about by legal drugs (alcohol, tobacco). Mr Wendell: spot on. Honestly, we might as well legalize the lot of 'em. Heroin? Evil? Same effects and side effects as any of the over-prescribed (legal) narcotics in America. Oxycodone? Morphine? Dilaudid? Might as well add heroin to the mix because it's neither worse nor better than any of the others. There is no joy for the junkie excreting his colon out three ways of Sunday because he can't score: I've been in recovery for over 7 years, and there was nothing glamorous about having a raging IV opiate dependency. Likewise, being tethered to the teat of the clinic was just a continuation of the same. Wasn't until I felt accepted that I could stop using and begin recovery. You are SO correct: treatment is less viable when the substance that you're abusing is considered downright evil: it's a damn chemical, fer cryin' out loud. A chemical is not good, bad or evil. It's a damn chemical. Love the blog...

Posted by Volt on May. 20, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

As someone who suffers from chronic severe pain, I would sooner take something natural like pot versus what I have to take now. Probably would be cheaper too. There is currently a bill on Illinois Governor Quinn's desk to establish the legalization of marijuana for medical use, that was passed by the Illinois Senate and majority supported by the public. Its a pilot program, I guess the only way politically it could pass, but everyone knows that it will eventually lead to something permanent.

Regarding legalization of all drugs, you got your pluses and minuses here. The plus side is that the "War on Drugs" would be kaput, our jails won't see has many arrested for drug-related crimes. One has to wonder what the cartels in Sinaloa or say the gangs in Chicago will fight for once their "turf" moves from the street corner to your local Walgreens or Kroger. The minuses would be a a short term increase in drug usage by some folks wanting to try something that was once verbotin. But longer term, costs would shift from fighting gang bangers to subsidizing clinics. So does that make it a wash? At least the violence may drop.

Posted by Johnny Venom on May. 20, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

When Prohibition ended, the traffickers moved into legit businesses. Many of the wealthiest families in North America owe their fortunes to Prohibition - the Kennedys, the Bronfmans, etc. There is no reason to expect any different from an end to the war on drugs. Get ready for a more diverse one percent

Posted by Soddy on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

And the one percent can afford far better drugs than you can.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

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