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Insanity, Death, or Abandonment
October 1, 2012 11:30 PM   Subscribe

"A blue cloud of smoke wafted over the Famous Five statue that sits just east of the Senate doors. No one seemed to be going insane or looking like they were about to personally invade the United States. There were people of all colours in the crowd, but if any of them were members of The Ring, they hid it well. The peaceful demonstrators were, however, breaking the law, smoking a banned substance that could in theory have landed any one of them in prison." Emily Murphy’s legacy lives on in more ways than most care to remember.
posted by mannequito (14 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 


"A few months later, William Lyon Mackenzie King’s government, which seemed to have forgotten that it had already banned marijuana in 1923, pushed a bill through Parliament to ban it again."

What are they, high?
posted by iamkimiam at 11:42 PM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Here's the book mentioned in the article, Emily Murphy's The Black Candle, as a free E-book from Google books.

Wasn't there a sci-fi/horror novel that had a plot device where one could dig up the corpse of anyone and give them the kicking around they deserved had they still been alive and the souls would feel the beating in limbo or wherever they were hanging out? No? Feel free to use it then.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:41 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


As someone else here has said, marijuana laws have hurt more people (and far worse) than marijuana ever could. It should be legalized and regulated.
posted by Daddy-O at 5:06 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Emily Murphy’s legacy lives on in more ways than most care to remember

... Just like Eddie Murphy !!
posted by Twang at 5:25 AM on October 2, 2012


Daddy-O: As someone else here has said, marijuana laws have hurt more people (and far worse) than marijuana ever could. It should be legalized and regulated.

I agree with you in spirit, although I might refine the sentiment to read: marijuana doesn't need to be regulated or legalized any more than oregano needs to be regulate or legalized, it just needs to be ignored. Let the restrictions against driving a vehicle while impaired (on any intoxicant) stand. They make sense.

The rest--what we (in the US) do now--is just a way to make money for the bad guys.
posted by mule98J at 8:22 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


marijuana doesn't need to be regulated or legalized any more than oregano needs to be regulate or legalized, it just needs to be ignored.

Yeah, I keep thinking this, too. I understand that "legalize, regulate, tax" is the formula that gets people on board who don't particularly like pot, but it's really kind of nuts to have any sort of legal framework around this plant at all. It's a weed, it's never killed anybody, it's never going to kill anybody; what we really need is to just leave it alone and let people have their fun already.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:19 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a serious potsmoker, but I do agree that the drug needs to be regulated.

In particular, while there's almost no evidence that pot causes any harm in adults, it's been pretty well established that smoking pot as a pre-teen is not good for your mental health. At the very least, there needs to be an age limit.

EDIT: an edit window?! Be still my beating heart! I must be too high and hallucinating this.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:41 AM on October 2, 2012


Well, that's true, lupus_yonderboy: we will always have social problems related to drug use, because people are complicated.

I just look back over an utterly disastrous century of prohibitionist projects and see a long line of occasionally well-intentioned but never-successful laws that cumulatively did far more harm than their target drugs ever could. This appalling record convinces me that we should abandon the idea of legally banning or restricting drugs as a solution to future drug-related social problems. Every time our predecessors tried it, they created a bigger mess than the one they were trying to solve, so what makes us likely to do any better?

We may still have drug-related problems, but we need to find some other way to solve them, because prohibitionism is an abject failure. Ah, but I'm only talking regulation, you say: yes, but the mechanism is the same, it's just an application of prohibition with more exceptions built in.

edit: holy crap, I can edit!
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:10 AM on October 2, 2012


Ah, but I'm only talking regulation, you say: yes, but the mechanism is the same, it's just an application of prohibition with more exceptions built in.

How is this true of alcohol or cigarettes? How did legalization and regulation of alcohol and cigarettes "create a bigger mess than the one they were trying to solve"? I think the drinking age should be lowered to 18, and I'm not a fan of the way alcohol licenses can be used to push business owners around, but I find it pretty hard to find major fault with the current alcohol laws -- certainly not to the extent that they "create a bigger mess than the one they were trying to solve".

As for decriminalization, it's just as much "an application of prohibition with more exceptions built in". The cops still get to decide who to ticket (that means poor people and minorities). Under every decrim system I've seen, they still get to arrest and incarcerate either people who grow marijuana or people who sell it. The cops still get to make millions on marijuana... it's just the rest of us who don't. And without the normalizing effect of legalization, they can harass smokers in ways they simply couldn't in the public eye (say, at a popular marijuana bar).

The grey market is not a solution. Ignoring the issue is not a solution. I get why people are afraid of the government, but we need legalization. A billion dollar market with zero oversight will never be free of violence -- your choice whether you want the state (a la the current application of alcohol laws) or the cartels (a la citizens turning up without heads in Mexican town squares) to be in charge of that.
posted by vorfeed at 4:40 PM on October 2, 2012


How did legalization and regulation of alcohol and cigarettes "create a bigger mess than the one they were trying to solve"?

I was referring to the initial prohibition as the event that created the bigger mess, not the eventual partial legalization.

There are a lot of random petty local restrictions on the purchase and sale of alcohol left over from the Volstead era which make a lot of people's lives more difficult than they need to be. (Here in Washington, until just a couple of months ago we could only buy liquor from official state-run liquor stores!) Somehow it seems to take ten times as much work to get rid of all that old baggage than it did to create it in the first place.

I think it's great that we're moving toward reduced criminalization of marijuana, but it'd be better if we'd never had the prohibition in the first place. "Legalize, regulate, and tax" will do away with a majority but by no means all of the harm done by prohibition. We'd do better to strike down the original law instead of just slowly pecking away at it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:01 PM on October 2, 2012


I think it's great that we're moving toward reduced criminalization of marijuana, but it'd be better if we'd never had the prohibition in the first place.

No disagreement there. Nixon should have listened to his advisers back in 1972.

We'd do better to strike down the original law instead of just slowly pecking away at it. "Legalize, regulate, and tax" will do away with a majority but by no means all of the harm done by prohibition.

If "we could only buy liquor from official state-run liquor stores!" is your example of harm, then I stick with what I said: yes, there are problems with the liquor laws, but they are not in the same class as the problems caused by the grey market for marijuana. Which is what we'd be left with if we decriminalized without legalizing. People are actually, physically harmed by law enforcement (and criminals) over marijuana, even in areas where possession has been decriminalized and the police told to "ignore" the issue. Decrim won't "do away all of the harm done by prohibition", either. I'm not sure anything can, not after forty-plus years of arrests.

Besides, marijuana isn't alcohol, and ending marijuana prohibition is not as simple (ha!) as amending the Constitution. The people have little or no power to strike down Federal law on this issue, and the Supreme Court is unwilling to take their side, which is why marijuana activists have concentrated on taxation and regulation on the State level. For better or worse, legalization state-by-state is the closest we're likely to get to nullifying the laws against marijuana, de facto if not de jure. For example, if you don't want State-run liquor (or marijuana) stores, you can pass an initiative to allow private liquor sales. This is exactly what happened in Washington. In contrast, there is no mechanism by which the people can vote on whether or not to repeal the Controlled Substances Act... so why insist that striking it down (somehow, someday) would be better than taxation and regulation today, when the latter allows local citizens to vote to stop marijuana arrests? And what better way to push the Supreme Court to strike down (or limit) the Federal laws against marijuana than to prove -- through safe and successful regulation -- that the assumptions behind them are bankrupt?

To me, the debate over "better" options which simply aren't happening brings "the perfect is the enemy of the good" to mind.
posted by vorfeed at 9:24 PM on October 2, 2012


Vorfeed, I don't think we are actually in disagreement here. Washington's Initiative 502 is a good thing and we should definitely pass it. Other states should pass similar laws; we should do this everywhere. My point is not that "legalize, regulate, tax" is a bad idea, but that it is only a first step: we should do that and then we should keep going. Even partial prohibition is partially harmful.

I'm trying to argue against the idea that keeping marijuana tightly controlled by the state would be a good idea even after the state stops locking people up for possessing or distributing it. Keeping marijuana tightly controlled is a bad idea and causes actual harm. If a tightly-controlled marijuana market is a necessary step on the way back to freedom, then I guess we'll have to go through it, but freedom should still be the goal.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:36 PM on October 2, 2012


If by "tightly controlled" you mean something similar to Initiative 502, I'd agree that it's not quite free enough. I prefer Colorado's Amendment 64 over 502, as it permits home grows and doesn't limit sales to special State-run retailers. That said, if you're talking about an entirely unregulated, untaxed market, then I disagree. The funny thing about the "marijuana doesn't need to be regulated or legalized any more than oregano needs to be regulate or legalized" argument is that oregano is regulated by law, as are all food products offered for sale, and I think that's pretty reasonable. The idea that marijuana (or alcohol, or tobacco) should be outside the realm of tax or regulation just doesn't fit with the way things are done. It also leaves too much room for market capture by criminal and/or exploitative parties, just as Prohibition itself did.

I'd love to see small-scale marijuana cultivation treated like home-brewing, for instance... but even home-brewing is regulated.
posted by vorfeed at 11:11 PM on October 2, 2012


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