The Lethality of Marijuana Prohibition

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Andrew Sullivan chides Obama for his churlish response to questions about decriminalizing marijuana earlier today. Sullivan writes that the issue is “deadly serious.”

James Poulous then mocks Sullivan for elevating pot prohibition to “deadly serious” status.

I like Poulous. But his derision is misplaced. There have been 7,000 homicides in Mexico over the last two years, the vast majority directly related to black market drug trade. Seventy percent of Mexico’s black market drug rade is marijuana.

If Poulous wants to stick closer to home, one of his commenters notes that had Cheye Calvo exercised his Second Amendment rights when Prince George’s County police wrongly raided his home last summer on the mistaken assumption he was dealing marijuana, he’d almost certainly be dead. Instead, he was merely terrorized, and his dogs were slaughtered. A couple of weeks ago, unarmed Grand Valley State student Derek Kopp was shot in the chest during a marijuana raid. He’s lucky to be alive.

But we don’t need to single out “almost” cases. Det. Jarrod Shivers is dead and Ryan Frederick’s life is ruined over the prohibition of pot. Officer Ron Jones is dead, and Cory Maye, once sentenced to be executed, now faces a life sentence because of marijuana prohibition. Cheryl Lynn Noel is dead because of pot prohibition. So are Jose Colon, Tony Martinez, 13-year-old Alberto Sepulveda, Willie Heard, Christie Green, Pedro Navarro, Barry Hodge, Salvador Hernandez, Donald Scott, Kenneth Baulch, Dep. John Bananola, Officer Tony Patterson, Vincent Hodgkiss, Anthony Diotaiuto, Clayton Helriggle, Jeffery Robinson, Troy Davis, Alexander “Rusty” Windle, John Hirko, Scott Bryant, Robert Lee Peters, Manuel Ramirez, and Bruce Lavoie. Deputies James Moulson and Phillip Anderson and suspect George Timothy Williams were all killed in a single marijuana raid in Idaho in 2001. Officer Arthur Parga and Manuel Ramirez (a different one) killed one another in another marijuana raid after a family friend suspected of dealing marijuana had incorrectly given police Ramirez’s address as his own.

These are just some of the deaths associated with marijuana raids (all summarized, with sources, here).  Then there is the domestic black market violence that comes with marijuana prohibition. And the unnecessary deaths of sick people (like Peter McWilliams) who might have lived if they’d had access to medical marijuana.

So yeah. I think “deadly serious” is about right, actually.

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57 Responses to “The Lethality of Marijuana Prohibition”

  1. #1 |  James D | 

    If I had to pick one of your posts that best sums up why it’s time for the country to have a serious talk about decriminalizing marijuana, it’d be this one. I’m still not quite sold on legalizing everything, but there really isn’t any excuse for something that is far less dangerous than alcohol to be illegal … or for people to die over (possibly) smoking it.

  2. #2 |  j.d. | 

    this might be the first time sullivan has spoken with intelligence since november 5th. Good on him. If psuedo-conservatives like himself can get on board, that’s still progress to me. And that, I think, is damn good thing.

  3. #3 |  James Brown | 

    I think the reason we ban drugs is because they make people crazy. People on cocaine really get whacked out and have a hard time holding down jobs. Pot smokers tend to sit around the house all day and not take care of their children. Pot also smells really bad, and can you imagine if they legalized it having people light a joint outside at the beach or on the balcony of an apartment building? I mean you would have people smoking pot everywhere if it weren’t against the law. Do you want to explain to your kids why the guy in the car next to you is trying to suck his cigarette so hard and holding the smoke in? Plus people on pot tend to be very lazy and are constanly asking othere people for money and handouts. I was watching The Godfather the other day, and Don Tatalia talked about drugs making people lose their souls, and I really believe that’s the case. When you use drugs you lose your soul. I do think the raids are a bad idea, but where do you draw the line?

  4. #4 |  freedomfan | 

    #3, James Brown, you draw the line at the point where someone is directly harming someone else’s person or property (or clearly and immediately threatening to). Until that line has been crossed, the law should have no power to enforce criminal sanction for an individual’s consensual behavior.

    (BTW, the bit about explaining to a kid why the person in the next car is smoking is a red herring. No one is saying that people should be allowed to drive on the public thoroughfares while high. That case is no different than explaining to the kid why the next driver is downing shots of tequila. Obviously, he shouldn’t be, but that’s no reason to criminalize tequila in general.)

  5. #5 |  Scott | 

    Just curious… how many no-knock warrants have been served in the search for illegally manufactured/sold/otherwise transferred alcohol and tobacco products? And how many people have been killed during those raids?

    I’m sure I know the answer. But it’d help to illustrate the stark contrast between the inherently lethal consequences of alcohol/tobacco use versus the fact that the most lethal aspect of pot smoking is the potential to end up facing the barrel of some SWAT cop crashing through your front door at 2a.m.

  6. #6 |  Tokin42 | 

    I happen to agree that the issue has turned deadly serious. The problem is sullivan has turned into such a drama queen that everything to him is deadly serious. He’s the boy who cried wolf and chicken little rolled up into one little hysteria driven mess and it has gotten old. I wonder if poulous made fun of him because he feels the same way.

  7. #7 |  TomMil | 

    “Don Tatalia talked about drugs making people lose their souls…”

    First of all, who would have guessed that of all people, James Brown would have to quote a movie to talk about soul?!!!

    Secondly, do you really think Don Tatalia was worried about my soul?

  8. #8 |  Mike T | 

    I’m still not quite sold on legalizing everything, but there really isn’t any excuse for something that is far less dangerous than alcohol to be illegal … or for people to die over (possibly) smoking it.

    As I like to point out to others of a conservative persuasion on social issues: you can’t save people from their own nature. The sort of people that get hopelessly addicted to hard drugs will just find another way to blow their minds out. If it isn’t heroin, crack or meth, it’ll really potent liquor.

  9. #9 |  Nando | 

    Congress are a bunch of hipocrites. They get tough on actions that hurt 2 or maybe 3 people (such as them trying to ban sexting now) because one or two people dying is a tragedy but they don’t see that their own actions are causing much more death and pain, and can all be avoided.

    Maybe Congress could take a step in the right direction by, not legalizing, but decriminalizing marijuana. Anything less than, say, one ounce, is OK to possess. At least that would help to minimize the overcrowding in our prisons and start to let people get used to the idea that pot isn’t that bad after all.

    To #3:

    Are you serious? I’ve known plenty of pot smokers (and much worse) who’ve become successful doctors, lawyers, even a judge (amoung other professions). A friend of mine smokes regularly (3-4 joints a week) and runs a very successful business. Also, what do you say to Michael Phelps? Does he sit around all day and ask other people for money? Although, maybe if he didn’t smoke pot he’d only eat 7000 calories a day, instead of 8-10,000, LOL

  10. #10 |  Rhayader | 

    Good post Radley. If it helps, commenter “Freddie” on Poulos’ site says he likes “What Rodney Balko said”. Haha.

    Oh and I’m not sure if James Brown is a true drug warrior or just a shameless troll, but he doesn’t come close to making a single relevant point. Pot smells bad, so let’s forget about ending the drug war. Yeah okay.

  11. #11 |  Bourgeois_Rage | 

    Great post.

  12. #12 |  Dave Krueger | 

    From Poulous commentary:

    “But this is true about many things. Wearing certain attire to school is about freedom. Smoking cigarettes indoors is about freedom. Public urination is about freedom (especially urination atop patches of ground that could benefit from some energy-efficient fertilization). Freedom itself does not decide the issue, even when it is weighed against harm.”

    Really? I think all the pot smokers who are in prison and whose lives have otherwise been irreparably damaged or destroyed by the war on drugs might take issue with this comparison.

    For victims of the drug war, freedom isn’t just about pursuing your own thing. It’s about actual freedom, as in not being locked up or being on probation where your every move is a government prerogative.

    My comments on the rest of his article would probably be even less kind, so I will leave it at this.

  13. #13 |  Jeff | 

    I tried to read Poulos’ post but the stupidity of it got the better of me and I bailed after two paragraphs. Lame.

  14. #14 |  Marijuana Prohibition Deadly | 

    [...] Radley Balko, responding to James Paulos, argues that criminalization of marijuana has been deadly: Det. Jarrod Shivers is dead and Ryan Frederick’s life is ruined over the prohibition of pot. Officer Ron Jones is dead, and Cory Maye, once sentenced to be executed, now faces a life sentence because of marijuana prohibition. Cheryl Lynn Noel is dead because of pot prohibition. So are Jose Colon, Tony Martinez, 13-year-old Alberto Sepulveda, Willie Heard, Christie Green, Pedro Navarro, Barry Hodge, Salvador Hernandez, Donald Scott, Kenneth Baulch, Dep. John Bananola, Officer Tony Patterson, Vincent Hodgkiss, Anthony Diotaiuto, Clayton Helriggle, Jeffery Robinson, Troy Davis, Alexander “Rusty” Windle, John Hirko, Scott Bryant, Robert Lee Peters, Manuel Ramirez, and Bruce Lavoie. Deputies James Moulson and Phillip Anderson and suspect George Timothy Williams were all killed in a single marijuana raid in Idaho in 2001. Officer Arthur Parga and Manuel Ramirez (a different one) killed one another in another marijuana raid after a family friend suspected of dealing marijuana had incorrectly given police Ramirez’s address as his own. [...]

  15. #15 |  Marijuana Prohibition Deadly | 

    [...] Radley Balko, responding to James Paulos, argues that criminalization of marijuana has been deadly: Det. Jarrod Shivers is dead and Ryan Frederick’s life is ruined over the prohibition of pot. Officer Ron Jones is dead, and Cory Maye, once sentenced to be executed, now faces a life sentence because of marijuana prohibition. Cheryl Lynn Noel is dead because of pot prohibition. So are Jose Colon, Tony Martinez, 13-year-old Alberto Sepulveda, Willie Heard, Christie Green, Pedro Navarro, Barry Hodge, Salvador Hernandez, Donald Scott, Kenneth Baulch, Dep. John Bananola, Officer Tony Patterson, Vincent Hodgkiss, Anthony Diotaiuto, Clayton Helriggle, Jeffery Robinson, Troy Davis, Alexander “Rusty” Windle, John Hirko, Scott Bryant, Robert Lee Peters, Manuel Ramirez, and Bruce Lavoie. Deputies James Moulson and Phillip Anderson and suspect George Timothy Williams were all killed in a single marijuana raid in Idaho in 2001. Officer Arthur Parga and Manuel Ramirez (a different one) killed one another in another marijuana raid after a family friend suspected of dealing marijuana had incorrectly given police Ramirez’s address as his own. [...]

  16. #16 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #3 James Brown

    I think the reason we ban drugs is because they make people crazy. People on cocaine really get whacked out and have a hard time holding down jobs. Pot smokers tend to sit around the house all day and not take care of their children.

    If that were true, employers wouldn’t need random chemical testing to identify drug users. They would clearly stand out and simply be fired for poor performance like anyone else who doesn’t meet the job’s requirements.

    You been watchin’ too much TV and listenin’ to too much gummit propaganda. I couldn’t pick out the drug users at my company any more than I could figure out which ones like to be tied up during sex. And it’s not for lack of trying.

  17. #17 |  Tokin42 | 

    #14

    You accepting resumes?

  18. #18 |  Nando | 

    Dave Krueger,

    Have you been looking for people in your company to tie up during sex?

  19. #19 |  Michael Pack | 

    People like 33 always assume every one who does drugs becomes a addit.Of course 90% never do.To admit that would be to admit drugs are not harmful to the pulic at large.The main danger (besides law enforcement and the natural violence from black markets ] in drugs today is the impurity of the supply.During prohibition tens of thousands,at least,died from bad booze and you see this in drug overdoses today.Many of our mixed drinks come from that time.They were additives to cover the taste of the poisons.Of course we didn’t try to strong arm other nations to do our bidding then.World wide alcohol prohibition would cause just as much violance.

  20. #20 |  JBlanton | 

    # 3 is missing the point and drawing some crazy conclusions (as many others have already pointed out). My biggest problem with your post is claiming that “you would have people smoking pot everywhere if it weren’t against the law”. There is no way you can make such a prediction. Also, what you define as “everywhere” may be more or less than what I would picture as “everywhere”. Further, just because it’s legal does not mean people will automatically start doing it. Personally, I’ve never smoked pot and even if it is legal I still won’t. However, that is a personal choice for my own life and neither myself nor the government has any right to tell everybody else that they cannot smoke it if they want. So don’t feed us the line about “if it’s legal everybody will do it”…that’s nothing more than fear-mongering and trying to generate panic about our societies turning into pot-smoking zombies walking around asking for money and eating all your food.

    One final note: you complain about the smell generated by smoking pot…by this logic I’m sure many people would want to ban others from smoking cigars (I love a good cigar and also the smell, but there are many who really hate cigar smoke). Just because it smells bad does not automatically qualify it for some kind of restrictions/prohibitions.

  21. #21 |  Michael Pack | 

    Dave Krueger,As with drug tests the same can be said for B.A.C tests for D.U.I.They can’t tell if you have broken the law with out them in many cases.Most arrested never have a accident or drive in a dangerous manner.It’s a numbers game like drug enforcement.Overly broad laws sweep up many innocents and take resourses away from true dangers.

  22. #22 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Well said, Michael Pack. The bulk of the market is comprised of the casual user. It’s nonsensical to believe that the consumer side of the multibillion dollar illegal drug industry consists of unemployed zombies laid waste by the scourge of evil chemicals. Not everyone who uses drugs (narcotics included) loses control of their ability to regulate their own use if it starts to cause problems.

    I think there’s very little doubt that he biggest threat to a drug user’s job security comes not from his drug use, but from the government’s crusade to destroy him for it. Thankfully, our economy is so strong, we can afford to have these tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people taken out of the work force while they pay their debt to society for their misguided belief that they have the right to pursue their own happiness…

  23. #23 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Just to clarify, #22 is in response to #19, although I concur with #21 completely. :)

  24. #24 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #18 Nando
    Have you been looking for people in your company to tie up during sex?

    Answering yes to that would probably get me fired. I work in a very conservative environment. It’s not that they don’t like that kind of adventurism, its just that they crucify anyone who admits to it.

  25. #25 |  MacGregory | 

    #21 Michael Pack
    On random drug testing:
    There has been a big push in my state to have certain groups drug tested (i.e. teachers and welfare receipients). I constantly hear and read comments like this:
    “If you have nothing to hide then it doesn’t matter. Go ahead and take the test.”
    My response is always:
    “If you can’t tell that I smoked a joint last night then it doesn’t matter. Leave me alone.”
    Just go read your bible and drink your Kool-aid.

  26. #26 |  Howlin' Hobbit | 

    #20 JBlanton
    One final note: you complain about the smell generated by smoking pot…by this logic I’m sure many people would want to ban others from smoking cigars (I love a good cigar and also the smell, but there are many who really hate cigar smoke). Just because it smells bad does not automatically qualify it for some kind of restrictions/prohibitions.

    I’ve had many conversations with the particularly zealous anti-tobacco nazis — and read this in comments on the subject all over the place — about how cigarette smoke smells bad. “I’d come home from the bar and blouse would smell like an ashtray,” etc.

    Smoker’s rights have been taken away because a majority of the folks who vote for more restrictions find smoke/smoking “icky” and no other good reasoning.

    Unless you count the inability to differentiate between science and number juggling or pure propaganda of course.

    (P.S. First time I’ve tried any fancy formatting in these comments. Hope I don’t screw anything up.)

  27. #27 |  JS | 

    Re #9 Nando,

    Sort of like Congress passing all the anti online gambling baloney. Well, the horsies are ok because well, the kids won’t be able to access it, tribal casinos are ok, and state lotteries too. The lottery gives back to schools! Where apparently they forget to teach kids that in gambling the house usually has the game rigged in their favor not the customers…

    Then theres the aspects of VAWA and its sub law IMBRA. IMBRA being the most amusing, abridging freedom of association all to protect foreign citizens while giving domestic based dating agencies such as yahoo and match.com an opt out of the legislation. This all because a few wackos killed their foreign “mail order” brides (thanks Sen. Cantwell). String up the murderers/abusers but passing a law requiring people (mostly men) to give up all their legal history just to talk to someone, possibly for a romantic relationship? Screw women and men in domestic relationships though right? Oh wait, maybe thats what the sex offender’s list is for? You can find out if you’re current romance interest was ever a naughty boy/girl who “sexted” or peed in public on a drunken bender, or just happened to rent the house after a real sex offender lived there and the lists never got updated.

    Hypocrisy indeed, but its all about advocacy groups and who has lobby power in DC.

  28. #28 |  Gazza | 

    Obama will be on Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer this weekend. Please let CBS know that you want Obama to answer our serious questions seriously.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1998/07/08/ftn/main13469.shtml

  29. #29 |  James | 

    #26 Howlin’ Hobbit

    Smoker’s rights have been taken away because a majority of the folks who vote for more restrictions find smoke/smoking “icky” and no other good reasoning.

    That’s a strawman.

    Secondhand smoke is a proven carcinogen, and was the driving motivation behind at least the two public-smoking bans on which I’ve voted. Your so-called “icky” factor, although present as an argument against smoking in public places, was never a part of the serious public debate — it was always treated as a health issue, particularly for the servers who were exposed to the smoke by the nature of their jobs and workplace.

  30. #30 |  Stacy | 

    Secondhand smoke is based on bunk science. The effects of it have been disgustingly overstated.

  31. #31 |  James | 

    #30 Stacy

    Secondhand smoke is based on bunk science. The effects of it have been disgustingly overstated.

    Misinformation and opinion without empirical basis, Stacy. The actual facts are easy enough to find, among which are these:

    “Secondhand smoke has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a known cause of cancer in humans (Group A carcinogen).”

    “Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at work are at increased risk for adverse health effects. Levels of secondhand smoke in restaurants and bars were found to be 2 to 5 times higher than in residences with smokers and 2 to 6 times higher than in office workplaces.”

    “Research indicates that private research conducted by cigarette company Philip Morris in the 1980s showed that secondhand smoke was highly toxic, yet the company suppressed the finding during the next two decades.”

    Citations can be found at:
    http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=35422

  32. #32 |  Stacy | 

    Please, James, I’ve read more about this subject than I’d care to admit. Oooh, the EJPA declared SHS as a Group A carcinogen. Surprise, surprise. This is not a debate I’m going to have today, because I have it to often. Suffice to say, you and I are not going to agree on the dangers of SHS. And quoting ‘facts’ from http://www.lungusa.org isn’t going to change that.

    For the record, I’m not the type who typically buys in to any types of conspiracy theories. But dig a little deeper, James, and you might be shocked by what you find out.

  33. #33 |  James | 

    #32 Stacy

    For the record, I’m not the type who typically buys in to any types of conspiracy theories. But dig a little deeper, James, and you might be shocked by what you find out.

    Personally, I am a strong supporter of decriminalizing marijuana use, but that is never going to happen as long as the debate happens at this level. By refusing to accept the conclusions of respected researchers and an overwhelming amount of research, and moreover by darkly hinting at “conspiracy theories,” you self-brand yourself as being unserious and your opinion not worth consideration. Any discussion about the merits of decriminalization, much less legalization, is naturally going to draw comparisons to tobacco and its legal status and the known facts about it that are well supported by science.

    I say this as a scientist myself.

  34. #34 |  Stacy | 

    James,

    I’ve said nothing about the decriminalization of marijuana. While I’m certainly in favor of it, I don’t see secondhand smoke being related in any meaningful way. I was simply responding to your original post about secondhand smoke. Also, I didn’t ‘darkly hint’ at anything. I acknowledged that the majority of people would look at any data questioning the dangers of secondhand smoke as a conspiracy theory.

    I say this as a scientist myself. (see how easy that is)

  35. #35 |  Michael Pack | 

    # 29,you define private property as ‘public places’.That’s where I’ll always disagree with you.

  36. #36 |  Teahupoo | 

    I totally agree, here’s part of what I posted on my blog:

    I was disappointed at President Obama’s callousness in the virtual town hall meeting regarding the marijuana prohibition issue.

    What did he think was so funny?

    Was it the people being murdered by Mexican Drug cartels?

    Was it the hundreds of thousands of people we have unjustly imprisoned or was it the families of those imprisoned who have been ripped apart and forced on welfare because the breadwinner is in prison for possessing a NATURALLY growing plant?

    Or was it funny that at the same time he is chuckling about the marijuana issue his DEA stormtroopers who supposedly weren’t going to interfere with medicinal marijuana clinics again are raiding them and denying patients access to their meds as approved by State Law?

    What needs to be understood, which many do not realize is that the crusade against marijuana is and has always been a smokescreen (no pun intended) for the banishment of hemp in this country. You may ask why and I will tell you.

    Read the rest at

    http://govaporize.com/obama-and-marijuana-prohibition

    Keep up the fight

    T

  37. #37 |  Mike | 

    //But dig a little deeper, James, and you might be shocked by what you find out.//

    While digging deeper I noticed that inhaling carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, acetone, tar, nicotine, arsenic, and hydrogen cyonide are bad for you.

  38. #38 |  steve | 

    Stacy-The science is actually pretty good, and we keep finding out more. As a pediatric anesthesiologist, I no longer anesthetize children if there parents smoke, if the child has a mild URI. The risk has been demonstrated to be increased, and my practice substantiates it.

    I am pro legalizing all drugs btw. I believe in the principle that you get get to swing your bat as long as you are not hitting anyone. SHS hits other people.

    Steve

  39. #39 |  Jim O | 

    Do we want dope smokers in surrounding us? No, but we don’t have to chooose between making a behavior illegal and allowing in the public square. We can’t urinate in the streets, nor can we drink alcohol, have sex, or masturbate. But none of those activities is illegal if done in the privacy of one’s own home.
    My concern is the increased social costs that decriminalization marijuana will surely cause. The mental health bills alone will be huge. But, the costs decriminalization beat the death toll of the drug war.

  40. #40 |  claude | 

    “My concern is the increased social costs that decriminalization marijuana will surely cause. The mental health bills alone will be huge.”

    Where does this kind of thinking come from? My goodness…

  41. #41 |  God's Own Drunk | 

    “Do we want dope smokers in surrounding us?”

    We already DO surround you. I know there are many people like my mother-in-law who are naive and beleive every bad thing about dope, but the fact is on an average day you probably run in to plenty of people who smoke weed, and several people who are high at the time you run in to them, *and you don’t even know it*.

    Your bartender/waiter/cashier may be high (having worked those jobs in the past I know this to be true). We dope smokers are sitting next to you at the movies, we’re enjoying ourselves at the park with your families, we’re at the bar watching the game and we’re even sitting next to you at the ball park. But for some reason, we can get shit-faced drunk at many of those venues, but have to sneak out to our cars and hide our smoking lest we get sucked into the legal system. It’s absolutely insane the way we treat marijuana and those who use it in this country.

  42. #42 |  Obama disappoints — again - Orange Punch - OCRegister.com | 

    [...] my assessment. Freddie DeBoer growls thoughtfully. Andrew Sullivan calls it pathetic. Radley Balko defends him from criticism. Pete Guither at DrugWarRant rounds up a host of responses. Steven Taylor at [...]

  43. #43 |  Howlin' Hobbit | 

    Seeing some of the responses to my initial comment reminds me I should have mentioned the amount of religious zealotry in the anti-tobacco faction.

    I don’t know how I forgot seeing as the initial topic was marijuana and the so called drug warriors exhibit the same sort of religious fervor, often backed up by cites to their own pet studies.

    Perhaps it really is just an honest confusion between correlation and causation. But then Merriam-Webster and others are free online.

  44. #44 |  Jim Webb takes on the prison industry « Later On | 

    [...] insistence on criminalizing and imprisoning non-violent drug offenders (when we’re not doing worse to them).  That is an issue most politicians are petrified to get anywhere near, as evidenced just [...]

  45. #45 |  Sen. Jim Webb Attacks Drug War, Prison Industry § Unqualified Offerings | 

    [...] insistence on criminalizing and imprisoning non-violent drug offenders (when we’re not doing worse to them).  That is an issue most politicians are petrified to get anywhere near, as evidenced just this [...]

  46. #46 |  March 28, 2009 « Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? | 

    [...] insistence on criminalizing and imprisoning non-violent drug offenders (when we’re not doing worse to them).  That is an issue most politicians are petrified to get anywhere near, as evidenced just this [...]

  47. #47 |  Cowboy Dan | 

    Way late to comment, but one of the best, most compelling posts you’ve ever made on this subject.

  48. #48 |  Jim Webb’s courage v. the “pragmatism” excuse for politicians « roger hollander | 

    [...] insistence on criminalizing and imprisoning non-violent drug offenders (when we’re not doing worse to them).  That is an issue most politicians are petrified to get anywhere near, as evidenced just this [...]

  49. #49 |  Strangely Enough | 

    Good assessment of the human toll of prohibition. You’d think we’d learn from the past, but that would deprive us seeing history repeat itself again, and again, and again…

  50. #50 |  Sam | 

    The great tragedy of the war on drugs has been that it has only succeeded in arming and enriching the most violent criminal elements all over the world….on both sides of the law.
    It’s just a damn shame that this idiocy is not going to end, especially with respect to marijuana. Can you imagine the moneyed interests of Washington, particularly the pharmaceutical and alcohol industries, allowing the decriminilazation of a plant that anyone can manufacture in their own back yard? Can you imagine the police and the prison-industrial industries giving up any of the power and money that flows to them as a result of this “crime?” I cannot.

  51. #51 |  Realist | 

    Re: drug testing

    My opinion has always been if the only way you can tell someone is using drugs is by testing their urine, then maybe drug use isn’t quite as awful and bad and dangerous as our keepers would have us believe. You’d think something that vicious and life-ruining would be a little more obvious, wouldn’t you?

  52. #52 |  Neal | 

    First, there has been a few here that believe the myths, pot makes people lazy, everyone would smoke, it’s a gateway drug….

    These are myths. Get the truth. The only negative thing about smoking marijuana is that it’s not good for your lungs if you smoke it.

    He’s right, it’s a national shame.

  53. #53 |  Drasties - Dutch on the World - World on the Dutch | 

    [...] insistence on criminalizing and imprisoning non-violent drug offenders (when we’re not doing worse to them). That is an issue most politicians are petrified to get anywhere near, as evidenced just this [...]

  54. #54 |  Joe Blow | 

    “We can’t urinate in the streets, nor can we drink alcohol, have sex, or masturbate. But none of those activities is illegal if done in the privacy of one’s own home.”

    wait! masturbation is not illegal?

  55. #55 |  Hays00s | 

    James Brown. post #3, is everything that is wrong and evil in our country. All his post is stereotypes based off movies and propoganda, but acting like they have a reasoned arguement without any personal experience. I have personal experience, I’ve seen people do coke on the weekends and excel at their 9-5 day job. I’ve met potheads who have had the same job for years, and who take care of thier kids. I’ve also seen my own family be slaves to legal alcohol, losing jobs, some have turned abusive and had to have their kids removed.

    The time to ignorance is over, it’s why our society is so messed up right now, because of these holier-than-thou biggots that are scared of anything marring their perfect little upper middle class world. I bet James Brown is religious too. Of course, to soothe their fears, they oppress half the population and ruin lives, KILL PEOPLE, all so that they can feel right.

    If pot were legal, why would we allow people to walk down the road smoking joints if you can be arrested for walking down the road drinking 100% legal beer? PUBLIC INTOXICATION maybe? So you really think that if weed is legal, they will simply declare all laws void and begin an anarchist state? C’mon, it would be regulated, how else could they suck up all the tax money from it? The blantant stupidity is astounding, James brown, you should be ashamed of yourself for showing how infantile your mind is.

  56. #56 |  Concerned Parent | 

    Three talking points for conversations with news people or politicians:
    1) Between the money spent on finding, arresting, prosecuting, and locking up marijuana users AND the lost opportunity for tax revenue on the individual’s purchase of this widely used product, our national pocketbook is losing out on tens of billions of dollars every year.
    2) To collect taxes from the grow-your-own community, we could consider a $100 per year permit for a dozen plants, splitting the proceeds between the Federal government and the participating State(s).
    3) It’s time to put the criminal drug dealers out of business and let ordinary Americans pay a fee to grow a little marijuana in their own back yards.

  57. #57 |  GTony | 

    Um, #3, have you ever been around pot smoke? The smell, unlike that of cigarettes, doesn’t linger or stick to one’s clothes. If our laws were based on how something smelled, department store perfume sections would be the first targets for zero-tolerance enforcement, and then cigarettes would still beat out marijuana by miles, in terms of raunchy odors. Maybe we could finally get the blasted incense out of the head shops!

    As for explaining to your kid why the person in the next car is smoking a joint, I’d much rather explain that than tell them that we’re sitting in traffic because everyone is too selfish to know how to merge, and that the people in the cars around us probably aren’t *#$^*@#s when they’re not driving. I’d much rather share a freeway with stoners than with coffee drinkers, for example.

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