Thursday, June 07, 2012

Comment of the Week

From regular reader, always brilliant commenter, writer and attorney Eric, responding to the argument that smoking marijuana should be considered a civil right.


Look, if I had my druthers, marijuana wouldn't just be decriminalized, it would be legalized and states would sell it the same way they do alcohol and tax the hell out of it. My state grows a lot of the stuff and we could use the revenue. And the War On Drugs corrupts law enforcement, ties up court systems with a lot of piddling horseshit, incarcerates a lot of non-violent 'criminals', creates a lot of incidental violent crime via prohibition, and has all sorts of nasty effects.

There's lots of good arguments for decriminalization and/or legalization, in short. More arguments than there are for criminalization.

But 'it's my civil right to do what I want with my body' isn't one of them. Because, you know, it's not really true: first, because society can forbid you from doing things that affect others. Second, because society can implement at least some restrictions to keep you from hurting yourself. And society can implement restrictions to protect people who can't protect themselves. So it is that society can regulate food additives, alcohol sales, smoking, seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, assorted drugs and all sorts of things that one might try and say "it's my body."

There are a number of incredibly irritating marijuana advocates in this country who will annoyingly overstate health benefits, understate health risks, and make all sorts of spurious arguments about incidental and industrial uses of hemp, when all they really want is to get high. If they confined themselves to making the argument that marijuana is almost certainly somewhere between tobacco and alcohol on the spectrum of health and public safety and that society just can't afford to keep processing minor drug offenders through the courts and incarcerating many of them, they'd be on to something. But no. They have to go on as if weed were a miracle plant and all they're concerned with is the general welfare and enlightenment of humanity, blah, blah, blah. You know what it does? It doesn't make anyone want to legalize pot, it fills people who might otherwise favor legalization with an urge to fire potheads out of a very large cannon aimed at the middle of the ocean."

That just about sums it up.


Aaron B. Brown said...

Marijuana cuts lung cancer tumor growth in half, Harvard study shows

Chez said...

And? Stop, Aaron. Just stop.

Eric said...

And other studies contradict that, including a recent British study.

But this is the whole point, Aaron: there are studies that show health benefits for marijuana use and studies showing increased health risks. Dosage and method of administration are significant variables. (There are similar issues with alcohol, one notes: well-known health problems associated with certain patterns of use and studies showing benefits for certain patterns of moderate consumption.) So why not make a balanced statement supported by the current science, first of all? And second, don't cloak a movement to approve recreational use with medical claims; one strongly suspects that if the FDA approved the use of THC oil for management of autism, for instance, it wouldn't be sufficient for the hemp camp. Ditto for industrial use: if production of a genetically-modified, non-psychoactive cannabis plant were legalized for textile use, hemp activists would come down with the vapors.

Chez said...

There's the rub -- and one of the main points made in my original piece. If there were a way to, say, allow for a genetically modified version of marijuana that did everything pot proponents currently claim the magic plant can do without getting anyone high, would those proponents suddenly be satisfied? Anybody wanna take a crack at the answer to that?

ZIRGAR said...

Chronic pot smoking has been shown to kill lab rats with toxic levels of sanctimony and a blinding sense of false perspective.

Chez said...

And that would be my second-favorite comment of the week.

Nanibold said...

Yeah, there are a million crackpot theories about how pot-smoking is somehow beneficial to people's health, etc etc. But it's clearly not. Primarily due to the fact that it involves inhaling smoke and ash. It's not good for health, and that's that.

I completely disagree with your suggestion that it's not our civil right to smoke weed, though. Yes, the state can regulate toxins in our food supply etc, because that's a matter of protecting people from careless processing and manfuacturing, or whatever. And the state can regulate - to some extent - things that are really destructive, in cases where a *strong* case can be made that people can't protect themselves... maybe covering things like heroin usage, or home-made hand-grenades, and that kind of thing. But when we're talking about something like smoking pot, then we've really got to allow people to make their own choices. Yes, I can hurt myself by smoking weed or smoking too much of it - but it's no more dangerous than other things like smoking cigarettes, drinking beer or running with scissors.

YES it's not a good idea to run with scissors, and YES it's not a good idea to smoke pot, and YES it's not good to drink alcohol, but - we have to allow people to do as they please, so long as they're not really hurting others. I mean, really. If we're going to say that people shouldn't be free to make their own decisions about whether to smoke weed or not, then it's high time (so sorry) that we outlaw smokes, booze, table salt, risky sports, suntanning, overeating, etc etc. And I don't think any of us want to live in a country controlled by people who think like that.

Anyway, I just had to chime in. Love your site, and I'll always be coming back for more, brother.


Chez said...

Appreciate that, Nanibold.

nietzsche's peach fuzz said...

Yup. that is a great comment and I agree with 90% of what he said. I take issue with the "it's my body and I can do what I want" as an invalid argument, and I addressed most of that in a previous comment.

Yes, society forbids people from being able to do things to our own bodies but that doesn't make it society right. Society has been historically wrong on the issues of liberty plenty of times. One can argue that smoking has detrimental effect which can put a burden on society as a whole through accumulated healthcare costs or that drugs dull one's senses and limits productivity which negatively impacts society as a whole therefore society has a right to criminalize that activity. But so does junk food, high fat diets, tobacco, extreme sports, alcohol, smart phones, television and the internet... wanna start criminalizing all that stuff?

There is a mountain of difference between regulation and criminalization. I don't remember anyone saying that drugs should be legalized but not regulated. Most of those regulations aren't necessarily prohibitive, but act as safeguards so the choices you do make are fully informed. For example people should be able to ingest all the prozac or McDonalds they want as long as the people who make that product are forthright about the various side effects and ingredients.
I guess what it boils down to is try as you might, you can't legislate common sense just like you can't legislate morality.

*ETA HA! the text code i had to type in read THC. I'll that as a sign from the Multiverse that i should take a couple of Abovitols, smoke a bowl and watch LOST reruns.

robpo said...

I wish to speak for people with a toe on both sides of the line. Assuming there are others. Its a fact there are medical benefits, its a fact smoking the substance is bad for the body too. I'm a proponent of full legalization, if medical legalization is the gateway to that goal, so be it. In addition, the fact it has medical benefits doesn't change the fact the medical legalization scheme is widely abused. So what. Its also true we may very well be missing out on some great potential with research on hemp. Its a very strong fiber and who knows how many ways it could benefit society to research, develop and capitalize on its potential.
But I don't think you Chez are attacking all those points as much as you're attacking the "sanctimony" of idiots who share my policy goal but are delusional about the entirety of the issue. You did poke a finger at recreational users by criticizing the psychoactive effects of mj, but, this is a reason I like "you" so much, you put it in context before continuing on with criticism of the "sanctimony". You put those two things together and the context is lost on the sanctimonious. Hence, their passion is unleashed on you. And they have a lot of passion, as you know.
It is completely asinine this plant is still illegal, and proponents share a deep level of frustration of this fact. I share this frustration with them. Perhaps my perspective is different in that I haven't succumbed to the delusion of the sanctimony. Those people are annoying as hell and I don't mind calling them idiots. I wonder if it goes even deeper, and relates to humanity's general refusal to look inward and be critical of self in constructing perspective. Its a consistency I see in what I call "superfans" of bands, political conservatives, religionists, and now, "sanctimonies" of the pot culture. Its a deep nerve struck that leads to such irrational cheerleading. To note: I'm not even high right now. Seems you did more than poke them, you twanged their nerve. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Oh how I love the brilliant marijuana debates. In the end, does it really matter if it's legal or not? If someone really wants some weed, they will find a way to get it, legal or not. And if it was legal, I'm sure corporate America would find a way to fuck it up by adding in nasty chemicals and crap, like what they did to cigarettes.