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July 27, 2014 5:27 PM   Subscribe

The New York Times came out today endorsing marijuana legalization. The New York Times’ editorial board on Saturday called on the federal government to legalize marijuana. Citing alcohol prohibition, social costs and states’ movements, the board argued “after a great deal of discussion” that “the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization.”
posted by toastchee (153 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's some really sick HTML5 design on the article.

I also absolutely agree with the editorial. I would like for it to have some sort of effect.
posted by codacorolla at 5:33 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


Sense made. Well done, NYT.
posted by davebush at 5:48 PM on July 27


I was amazed at how unequivocal it is. And the print version is ENORMOUS and unmissable. Way to go, grey lady.
posted by rtha at 5:58 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


Part 1 of their series on it is already up, with this amusing notice at the bottom:

On Monday at 4:20 p.m. Eastern Time, Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, will be taking questions about marijuana legalization at facebook.com/nytimes.
posted by A dead Quaker at 5:59 PM on July 27 [28 favorites]


Maureen Dowd engineered this. She is still high from her THC candy bar and is paranoid that without federal legalization she will go to prison.
posted by vorpal bunny at 6:06 PM on July 27 [88 favorites]


Poor Ross Douthat's going to be so confused when he comes in for work tomorrow and sees the snack machine is completely empty and the elevator music has changed to an "All Iron Butterfly, All the Time" format.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:13 PM on July 27 [11 favorites]


“Marihuana” is listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act alongside some of the most dangerous and mind-altering drugs on earth, ranked as high as heroin, LSD and bufotenine, a highly toxic and hallucinogenic toad venom that can cause cardiac arrest

The way this Congress has performed, I'd expect them to accidentally legalize the toad venom.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:15 PM on July 27 [35 favorites]


Much like how we all feel the inevitability of same-sex marriage becoming the law of the land, with legalization going pretty well so far in Colorado, and now here in Washington, legalization is totally going to happen. There will be differing models of implementation, but all that tax money rolling in means it's a done deal.
posted by Windopaene at 6:16 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


I expected the NYT comments to be more evenly divided on the issue, but after scrolling down through page after page of "for legalization" posts, I only saw a handful of "against" commentators, all parroting government propaganda from the 80's.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 6:16 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


All the News That's Fit to Print That We Could Scrape Together When We Realized it was Ten Minutes to Deadline
posted by tonycpsu at 6:16 PM on July 27


Cogent, tonycpsu.
posted by kenko at 6:17 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


A couple of impressions on this groundbreaking stance:

It's a groundbreaking stance, even for a 'liberal' paper of such influence to take. It' downright startling.

Second impression: it took them quite some time (40+ years) to come to this conclusion - it's not like any of the facts available to them are new ones.

In some ways, it does feel like the 'evolving' stance on gay marriage many liberals have had; except this one has imprisoned countless people (well, actually you can count them, it's just a really large number).
posted by el io at 6:19 PM on July 27 [12 favorites]


They've taken a very blunt stance here.
posted by esome at 6:23 PM on July 27 [17 favorites]


I guess I'm not alone in thinking well it took them long enough. Will the editorial board now also agree th Earth orbits the Sun?
posted by humanfont at 6:25 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


So here's a question (which just occurred to me, so I haven't done any research whatsoever to see if it's been answered elsewhere): If it does get repealed eventually, what happens to all those people currently in jail for possession? Would they get released, or would they be stuck there because they were sentenced while the law was still in effect?
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:27 PM on July 27


HELIOCENTRISM IS JUST A THEORY MORE RESEARCH IS NEEDED
posted by um at 6:29 PM on July 27 [15 favorites]


I don't know. I live in Washington State. Today while the kids were off on a play date, I was going to do yard work. Instead, I went to the beach and packed my vaporizer as an afterthought. Now it's Sunday night, the grass is knee high and overgrown with weeds. These are the unintended consequences. Damn you legalization!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:30 PM on July 27 [32 favorites]


They would be stuck in prison. Non-violent offenders might have a shot at asking for clemency but that's about it.
posted by Justinian at 6:30 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Greg_Ace, that depends entirely on how the laws are written. They can be written to be retroactive or not. It's up to the legislatures or initiative drafters, and will likely be done differently in different places. What the US Sentencing Commission is doing right now for the cocaine sentencing penalties is a useful comparison.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:31 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


um: "HELIOCENTRISM IS JUST A THEORY MORE RESEARCH IS NEEDED"

Put down the bong, Glenn Beck.
posted by symbioid at 6:33 PM on July 27


> it took them quite some time (40+ years) to come to this
> conclusion - it's not like any of the facts available to them
> are new ones.


> I guess I'm not alone in thinking well it took them long enough.

They had to make sure that Hearst was really, really dead.
posted by tzikeh at 6:33 PM on July 27 [13 favorites]


So here's a question (which just occurred to me, so I haven't done any research whatsoever to see if it's been answered elsewhere): If it does get repealed eventually, what happens to all those people currently in jail for possession? Would they get released, or would they be stuck there because they were sentenced while the law was still in effect?

They would remain in prison, as a patient of mine who was growing for a medicinal collective remains. He broke the law as it existed at the time and now this father and husband who was growing four more plants than he should have been is spending 18 months in prison. In fact, he started serving his sentence after WA had voted to legalize. His son is four.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:34 PM on July 27 [7 favorites]


When I first saw this on my FB feed, I was absolutely fucking stunned. As el io said, it's not as though any of these facts are new. Hell I read about this shit in Marihuana Reconsidered in the 90s and that book was first published in 1971 (only a scant few years before my marvelous entrance into this cosmos).

And it's disappointing that the "liberal" paper never took this stance before, but, the fact that:

1) It's the entire editorial board (not just a single editorial written by a lone wild starry eyed member of the commentariat) taking this stance and

2) They ARE part of the establishment in a big way (maybe not as much as they were in the 70s and 80s, but they still are one of the top newspapers of renown in the US for better or worse)

3) The depth of this editorial (and as first mentioned: DAMN THAT HTML IS DOPE!) shows a lot of work went into this and making it a very upfront thing. Nothing to be just shoved aside.

Frankly, I am absolutely stunned how fast things have changed with this. And while I don't credit Obama completely, and he was problematic in terms of his stances at times, I honestly do wonder if we'd had a Republican president if we'd have had the space to breathe with a pullback on the drug war, as imperfect as Obama's was.

That said, while a huge portion of the population is for legalization (or at least medicalization) of marijuana, there is still a very large reactionary religious community in the US who sees it as "the devil weed" - or even ones who know better - they still think it should be banned. Maybe the sensible ones support minor medical marijuana. But I would hazard there's still a strong battle ahead. If we can convince conservatives that "States Rights" is the way to go here (though that's a double-edged sword, at least it would be consistent with their rhetoric and one tactic to take towards pushing them towards a more lenient stance -- though I have a feeling that wouldn't mean full legalization in the more reactionary's view - just that the states can be little tyrants about weed and continue the racist policies that rake in the black folks into prison and profits into the prison complex)
posted by symbioid at 6:44 PM on July 27


Basically the only reason that I haven't touched the stuff in over a quarter century is that it's illegal. If it's every legalized, I might try it again on occasion. As it it, I've had to be tested four or five times for jobs over the years and just can't risk a positive test.
posted by octothorpe at 6:46 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


I don't think there are actually any serious people in the policy field -- serious people meaning, academics, researchers, cultural commentators, etc. -- who are actually in favor of ongoing prohibition. Almost nobody with a brain is actually in favor of the current prohibition.

This is one of those issues where public opinion and wonk opinion is totally irrelevant. It actually doesn't matter how many people or public institutions "come out" in favor of legalization. It will not be legalized at the Federal level in our lifetimes. It just won't.

Why, you ask? Marijuana has been declared bad -- loudly and often -- by the State. For the State to now admit that it was wrong -- and not just wrong, but horrifyingly, negligently wrong -- calls the authority and legitimacy of the State into question. We've locked up millions of people for decades, seized billions in private property and expanded law enforcement funding by an order of magnitude. And you expect the State to say "whoops, that whole thing was a big goof. Sorry guys. But everything else we say is illegal is still totally illegal. Totally."

Marijuana will remain illegal because the State must save face. There is literally no other coherent reason for ongoing prohibition. It's actually far beyond "funding for law enforcement" and "repress people of color" and "keep down the hippies". Those were the reasons that Marijuana were initially declared illegal, but the real impetus has moved beyond that: the State must maintain legitimacy at all costs. Legitimacy is, in a very real sense, the only asset that a State can truly possess.

The State has invested too much and doubled down too many times to ever admit wrongdoing.

Thus, the status quo continues.
posted by Avenger at 6:49 PM on July 27 [13 favorites]


Why, you ask? Marijuana has been declared bad -- loudly and often -- by the State. For the State to now admit that it was wrong -- and not just wrong, but horrifyingly, negligently wrong -- calls the authority and legitimacy of the State into question. We've locked up millions of people for decades, seized billions in private property and expanded law enforcement funding by an order of magnitude. And you expect the State to say "whoops, that whole thing was a big goof. Sorry guys. But everything else we say is illegal is still totally illegal. Totally."

Couldn't you have said the same thing about same sex marriage a decade ago?
posted by indubitable at 6:52 PM on July 27 [21 favorites]


Pot becoming legal won't make a serious dent in "the authority and legitimacy of the State". Nobody's going to suddenly think "Oh, the State has been mistaken! My world view has been fundamentally shaken to the core! I must therefore become an anarchist!", or whatever it is you're imagining.

"The State" survived repeal of prohibition once, and there's no reason it won't again. It seems like sheer fantasy to assert that repealing it now would cause widespread questioning of the "authority and legitimacy" of the United States of America.
posted by Flunkie at 6:54 PM on July 27 [21 favorites]


Can you think of any other reason why support for legalization is at an all time high, but even President Obama says that the issue is a non-starter? What sort of motivation would he have?
posted by Avenger at 6:56 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Couldn't you have said the same thing about same sex marriage a decade ago?

I suppose you could, but we haven't jailed millions of people and ruined tens of millions of lives in the quest to purge same-sex marriage from America. It's not the act of prohibition that makes it irreplaceable, it's the scope. The government can't just say "yeah sorry we waged war on the American people for 70 years and caused incalculable damage, we cool now?".
posted by Avenger at 6:59 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


Because we're only now at the tipping point of this movement, and there are still a lot of very vocal people against it? Is this a trick question?
posted by Flunkie at 6:59 PM on July 27 [4 favorites]


Avenger: Can you think of any other reason why support for legalization is at an all time high, but even President Obama says that the issue is a non-starter? What sort of motivation would he have?

He means it's a non-starter because he's not a fucking king, and has to deal with Congress.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:00 PM on July 27 [23 favorites]


I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. I'm still waiting for the government to say sorry for Vietnam.
posted by Avenger at 7:01 PM on July 27


I think that the term "coming out", used in the FPP, is apt. As marijuana legalization has become an increasingly mainstream and respectable thing to talk about, I've gotten the sense that many of the (ordinary, responsible, law-abiding) people I know either smoke themselves, or did when they were younger, or know people who do—and have thought all along that prohibition is kind of dumb.

It's just that we're able to say so now, without being branded as druggies or radicals or whatever. I don't know what accounts for that, but I suspect it's partly because folks who were in their teens and twenties in the pot-happy 90s—who saw firsthand what marijuana and marijuana users are really like—are now in their thirties and forties, and starting to run the show.

I'll be honest; I'm excited. I'm the most casual of casual users, but why shouldn't I be able to walk into a public establishment, buy some cheeba (of known, regulated provenance and quality), and enjoy conversation and food and music with some friends, without making myself into a criminal in the process? I get better, safer, cheaper weed, without having to worry about getting arrested; the government gets some extra tax revenue; small business owners make good; organized crime gets taken out of the equation. Everyone's happy.

And...I might actually be able to do that in a few years. Which is amazing.

As with the states that have legalized same-sex marriage, Colorado and Washington (and the states that have decriminalized) are showing the rest of the country that legalization doesn't lead to mass hysteria, the collapse of society, or throngs of slavering drug fiends roaming the streets. Civilization just kinda...keeps on humming. Imagine that.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:06 PM on July 27 [9 favorites]


As someone who is totally pro-legalization, my prediction is that this issue will be jumped on by politicians eager for some bread-and-circuses-style populism. You can already see this with the libertarians.

Anyone who isn't optimistic about this... when I was in high school, gay sex was illegal in half the country. Now, eleven years later, gay MARRIAGE is legal in more than half the country. The speed of social change is accelerating, and I think the internet is a major cause, if not THE major cause- because now it's so much easier to find information.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:06 PM on July 27 [22 favorites]


Can you think of any other reason why support for legalization is at an all time high, but even President Obama says that the issue is a non-starter? What sort of motivation would he have?

Considering the stupid fights he has to get into about prosaic things (like raising the debt limit to legally pay for everything Congress has already voted to do), this is definitely a non-starter. Although it'd be awesome if he pushed it through during his last quarter as president.
posted by sfkiddo at 7:08 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


I was actually wondering today if Obama was having any thoughts along the lines of "god damn it, does America HAVE to come around to weed during the presidency of the first black president, who is also the first president to admit to enjoying weed? I mean REALLY? After all this shit with the ACA and gay marriage, am I going to go down in history as the Dankest President?"
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:10 PM on July 27 [16 favorites]


Well, keep waiting for that apology, I guess, but in the meantime I can't help but notice two things:

(1) We're not in war in Vietnam;

(2) The USA is still here.
posted by Flunkie at 7:10 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


"The State" isn't a single malevolent guy sitting in a leather armchair and stroking a cat like a Bond villain. It's made up of numerous people, many of which are completely willing to say when their predecessors fucked something up.
posted by rifflesby at 7:10 PM on July 27 [24 favorites]


Between marijuana legalization and the 15 dollar an hour minimum wage becoming a national issue, I'm more or less prouder than I've ever been about being from Seattle. You can credit Obama for this all you want, but really, the people taking the lead here are those weird waterlogged commies from the upper left corner of the lower 48.

okay fine and Colorado too gets some credit too. I guess.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:11 PM on July 27 [11 favorites]


I suspect the reason the Times changed its mind is they saw the nine figures in tax revenue that Colorado just raised. The establishment needs to get in on that revenue, and they can't do it while weed is illegal.
posted by Roentgen at 7:12 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


As revenue collected by the by the legalized states continues to add up, I think it's going to be really hard to keep making the same old war on drugs case against it. A lot of states are seriously desperate for revenue and a source that doesn't involve raising corporate or income taxes? I think revenue-oriented financial cases in favor of legalization are going to be increasingly hard to beat.
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:14 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


I can't help but read "The Dankest President" as the title of a children's book like "The Littlest Angel". Someone please write this book so I can buy it.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:16 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


"The State" isn't a single malevolent guy sitting in a leather armchair and stroking a cat like a Bond villain.

Correct. It's the malevolent cat deigning to be stroked by the guy sitting in a leather armchair.
posted by sfkiddo at 7:17 PM on July 27 [13 favorites]


I hope once we win the fight against this particular Prohibition people will be able to generalize the argument to other prohibitions as well but I'm not going to hold my breath. But a limited good is still good.
posted by Justinian at 7:18 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


As someone who is totally pro-legalization, my prediction is that this issue will be jumped on by politicians eager for some bread-and-circuses-style populism. You can already see this with the libertarians.

Uhh, the Libertarians have been for legalizing it all along. For decades while Democrats were in full throated support of prohibition.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:19 PM on July 27 [8 favorites]


That is true. Just because libertarianism is wrong about a lot of things doesn't mean there aren't some issues on which they have correctly been at the forefront. Prohibition repeal is one of those issues.
posted by Justinian at 7:21 PM on July 27 [14 favorites]


Also, Obama opposes legalization. Don't expect him to push it.

Barbara Walters:

Do you think that marijuana should be legalized?

President Obama:

Well, I wouldn't go that far.


He goes on:

But what I think is that, at this point, Washington and Colorado, you've seen the voters speak on this issue. And as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions. It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that's legal.

There is some realistic reform he would support that does mean something. I can't tell to what degree he is trolling the right, it's not 100% but it's not 0%, when he frames it in terms of state's rights.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:24 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


In addition to public sector revenue, for the private sector, there's basically a substantial industry already waiting in the wings and real money is already being spent to build out the infrastructure. The delivery service I use is about to expand to add statewide overnight deliveries. You can be sure that the capitalists funding this have bigger things in mind. These people are already making so much money that it kind of staggers me to do the math on their business even based on some likely inaccurate off the cuff numbers a driver let slip one time. They figured out how to take credit cards, do e-commerce, etc., they'll figure out lobbying, too.
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:24 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


Drinky Die: Uhh, the Libertarians have been for legalizing it all along. For decades while Democrats were in full throated support of prohibition.

Yeah, both of the people who were Libertarians throughout that entire time deserve credit. I can't speak for showbiz_liz, but I read her comment as a statement on how the GOP/Tea Party type libertarians are becoming cannabis-curious. There's a big difference between a tiny third party supporting it and one of the major parties warming up to it, even if it's just a cynical ploy to reach younger voters.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:25 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


The establishment needs to get in on that revenue, and they can't do it while weed is illegal.

You might have missed the news where HSBC alone booked billions in revenue by laundering Mexican cartel drug money. NPR Link
posted by surplus at 7:25 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


So proud of my hometown paper! Great editorial...
posted by ReeMonster at 7:28 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


I say we split the difference: let's keep the marihuana laws as they are, but legalize marijuana.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:28 PM on July 27 [6 favorites]


.


That's for everyone who died because of this stupid war on drugs.
posted by Renoroc at 7:29 PM on July 27 [18 favorites]


As revenue collected by the by the legalized states continues to add up....

One of the best parts of watching this in Colorado has been the governor initally being all "I'm disappointed in Colorado for voting this in, marijuana's baaaad" and then, as the revenue's starting to not just roll in but really start adding up, changing his tune in a very quiet way to, "Hey, this is going to solve some budget issues maybe this isn't so bad after all."

And it's not just the tax revenue -and jobs!- it's the money saved in the justice system that's going to add to those budgets. I haven't heard any numbers yet how much the courts and prison system are saving, but considering they've been touting an 11.5% crime drop (and a 42% drop in murder!) in just Denver, it must be considerable.
posted by barchan at 7:30 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


Yep—libertarian views on drug law have always ranged from "legalize safer drugs such as marijuana, relax penalties for harder drugs, and do something about the prison-industrial complex that ruins lives by the thousands over victimless crimes" to "end the drug war entirely and legalize all substances without exception". It's kinda inherent in the principle of individual liberty that the entire libertarian school of thought is founded upon.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: when libertarianism comes up on MetaFilter, I wish we could talk about actual real-life libertarianism, and not the various strawman/scapegoat versions that MeFi loves to hate. (I'm not a libertarian myself, and actually disagree with them on a significant number of things.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:31 PM on July 27 [9 favorites]


I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. I'm still waiting for the government to say sorry for Vietnam.

An apology for the destruction wrought by the War on Drugs would be awfully nice, but I don't really give a shit about an apology. I would like them to stop waging the war. We are seeing cracks in the war machine, and I suspect that an awful lot of other people also don't need to State to say "we cool now?" They just need the State to stop jailing their kids.

If what *you* want is an apology as well as an end to Prohibition, then I agree that that ain't happening in our lifetime.
posted by rtha at 7:33 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


I didn't mean to imply that libertarians were newcomers to the legalisation movement. But I think it's pretty inarguable that their stance on drugs (and many other social issues) has attracted a lot of young people disillusioned with the false Dem/Repub dichotomy. Hell, I was one of them for a couple semesters.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:36 PM on July 27


What we need to have happen is for good ol' Uncle Joe to come out and slip and say that he is in favor of federal legalization just like he did with same-sex marriage.

Then the administration can come out in full support of legalization once they've seen how Joe Biden's slip was positively received.

Obama may or may not be in favor of legalization but what he said in that interview is some combination of how he really feels and how polling has told him he should feel.
posted by VTX at 7:36 PM on July 27 [16 favorites]


escape from the potato planet: I've said it before, but I'll say it again: when libertarianism comes up on MetaFilter, I wish we could talk about actual real-life libertarianism, and not the various strawman/scapegoat versions that MeFi loves to hate.

"Actual real-life libertarianism" means different things to different people who call themselves libertarians. Some focus more on the Austrian economics / hard money stuff, some focus more on police brutality, some on ending the drug war... Starting with "individual freedom" as your organizing principle can lead to any number of various and sometimes conflicting views on any number of issues, so expecting MeFi to talk about it as if it's one coherent, monolithic political ideology is foolish.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:37 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


It's kinda inherent in the principle of individual liberty that the entire libertarian school of thought is founded upon.

Unless you are a woman.
posted by Poldo at 7:37 PM on July 27 [19 favorites]


"funding for law enforcement" and "repress people of color" and "keep down the hippies". Those were the reasons that Marijuana were initially declared illegal,

Precious few hippies in 1937:
Newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst's empire of newspapers used "yellow journalism" . . . to demonize cannabis and spread a public perception that there were connections between cannabis and violent crime. Several scholars argue that the goal was to destroy the hemp industry, largely as an effort of Hearst, Andrew Mellon and the Du Pont family.
posted by Herodios at 7:38 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Ron Paul, thankfully, does not represent all libertarians.

But this is probably a derail, so I'll stop contributing to it now.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:40 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


The Libertarian Party has pro-choice platform. I can point you to some pro-life Democrats if you want, too. I don't know what the point of bringing abortion into a pot debate is though.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:41 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


it's a non-starter because he's not a fucking king, and has to deal with Congress.

It's not just Congress that makes the decisions. The DEA could reschedule marijuana in response to a petition, but has refused multiple times. A good start might be getting rid of DEA officials under his jurisdiction that publicly speak out against him. But since crab people run the world, whatya gonna do.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:41 PM on July 27 [9 favorites]


RobotVoodooPower: he DEA could reschedule marijuana in response to a petition, but has refused multiple times.

And within about twelve seconds, Congress (including the requisite number of red/purple state Democrats in the Senate) would pass a law forcing him to change it back, likely with a veto-proof majority.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:44 PM on July 27


Support for medical pot polls off the charts high across parties and demographics, it isn't a foregone conclusion that they would fight a reschedule. It's not legalizing it.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:46 PM on July 27


Classical liberalism's focus on paper rights and its willful disregard for actual power relations makes it a nonstarter with anyone who's ever been at the pointy end of any of those power relations. Although it's possible to make arguments that appear sound based on classical liberal principles, the principles themselves are rotten to the core.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:47 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


A majority of members of Congress have voted repeatedly in the last few months in favor of supporting various aspects of medical marijuana. Times really are changing, and continued nay-saying and repeating that change will never happen gets pretty old pretty fast.

The DEA recently asked the FDA to review whether or not marijuana meets criteria to stay in Schedule 1. It is highly, highly unlikely that Congress would overturn the DEA's rescheduling of marijuana, were that to happen.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:52 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


Drinky Die: Support for medical pot polls off the charts high across parties and demographics, it isn't a foregone conclusion that they would fight a reschedule. It's not legalizing it.

Medicinal use doesn't really have anything to do with rescheduling -- many of the other items in Schedule I are legal for medicinal use. And I honestly do think it would be a slam-dunk in Congress, with only the 30-35 hard-right Tea Partiers in Congress and a handful of blue-state Dems voting nay on reverting back to Schedule I.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:53 PM on July 27


So schedule I drugs supposedly have no known medical use, which is obviously a lie in the case of THC. Has there been any case of a drug being moved from schedule I to schedule II in response to new medical uses being found? (I doubt it, partly because of the difficulty of doing research with a schedule I drug to try to find those medical uses and party because of institutional inertia, but I'm willing to be surprised.) The schedule I regime seems fundamentally flawed itself, regardless of broader legalization issues.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:55 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


Schedule 1 is for drugs with no accepted medical use and high possibility for abuse. Making an argument that marijuana fits there is going to be considered laughable by the 80-90% of the population that supports medical marijuana. That debate is over in the public mind. Now, the two party system thwarts the will of the people literally all the time, Congress has a collective low approval rating for a reason, but there just isn't any reason to fight this battle for either party. I think your analysis of how the vote would go down is completely off base tony. I don't think there would even be a vote.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:58 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


Drinky Die: Schedule 1 is for drugs with no accepted medical use and high possibility for abuse.

No, it's for drugs that had no accepted medical use in the 1970s when the Controlled Substances Act was passed. Congress has never aggressively rescheduled drugs in response to changing medicinal use, thus many items in Schedule I are used medicinally.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:00 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


It's kinda inherent in the principle of individual liberty that the entire libertarian school of thought is founded upon.

Libertarianism is a critique of power that absolves wealth. Which is to say it's not really a critique of power after all. Not caring about drugs is kind of incidental.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:02 PM on July 27 [15 favorites]


Anyway, Drinky Die, I hope you're right, especially considering a member of my household would be among the first people to switch from medically-prescribed opioids to medicinal marijuana if it were ever legalized in Pennsyltucky. I just don't see the politics of it responding to public opinion the way you do.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:03 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


"The State" isn't a single malevolent guy sitting in a leather armchair and stroking a cat like a Bond villain.

Yes, he's more of a dog guy. Jack Russell's I believe.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:03 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


many items in Schedule I are used medicinally.

I don't know that it really makes a difference to the conversation either way, but do you have a link on that?
posted by Drinky Die at 8:03 PM on July 27


I just don't see the politics of it responding to public opinion the way you do.

They aren't all that responsive, or this would already be done. I more just don't think they are going to try and close the barn door after the horse is gone if rescheduling happens. They are happy to cling to repealing Obamacare forever because the bill remains unpopular so it pays political dividends to do so.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:06 PM on July 27


I will bet any amount of money at just about any odds that MJ will be legal nationwide within our lifetimes, nay, within the next 10 years. PM to book.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:06 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


symbioid: "DAMN THAT HTML IS DOPE!"

Like, literally.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:13 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Ironically, THC in pill form is a Schedule III drug (Marinol).

Real weed has other substances like cannabinoids that are important for MS patients. But I assume the best outcome for the pharma industry would be if legalization efforts were stalled until they can tweak out some more of the therapeutic substances in pot and resell them in pill form at a steep price.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:13 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


"The State" survived repeal of prohibition once, and there's no reason it won't again. It seems like sheer fantasy to assert that repealing it now would cause widespread questioning of the "authority and legitimacy" of the United States of America.

Indeed, repeal would renew confidence in government. Government's authority is undermined when so many people have no problem with breaking the law.
posted by John Cohen at 8:15 PM on July 27 [6 favorites]


Libertarianism is a critique of power that absolves wealth. Which is to say it's not really a critique of power after all. Not caring about drugs is kind of incidental.

I'm always entertained at the many clever ways Mefites have come up with to try to get around the fact that liberals and libertarians agree with each other on many of the most important issues.
posted by John Cohen at 8:17 PM on July 27 [6 favorites]


Pretty fascinating. I'm as "pro-pot" as the next person, in terms of consumption. I have a family history with growing and surviving because of it. I'm also legitimately allergic to it, so do not smoke it. (But I love the way it smells...like childhood, yikes!)

I wonder how it will impact us, the farmers on the North Coast of California who try to farm reasonably and are constantly finding Round-up, irrigation hose, etc. in the back country of our vineyards. Stealing what little precious water we have in this terrible drought, poisoning the land, gun battles happening at midnight to steal harvest ready plants. The tractor dealers who drop equipment off fully aware of what is being done, with no oversight for safety or human rights of the workers involved. My friend who live out in Lake county who had to move because the neighbors planted right up to their driveway.

I'd like it if that crap would stop. If this will help, I'm 100% for it. Also, stop putting folks in prison for pot. I mean MY GOD, seriously? Put folks in prison for the round-up drift onto our land, for stealing all the water out of our well, for killing (unintentionally, but who's counting) hard-working, well intentioned migrant farm laborers by not teaching them to work large equipment on this rough terrain.

It can't get, worse, is my point I guess? YES. LEGALIZE. THEN REGULATE dammit!
posted by metasav at 8:17 PM on July 27 [6 favorites]


The Grey Lady continues her now decades-long tradition of leading from the rear.
posted by riverlife at 8:21 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


Tim Worstall in Forbes:
"[...] sadly this very sensible move would actually be illegal itself. For the governing law here is not actually law made by either Congress or the Federal Government, it’s an international treaty obligation under the auspices of the UN. Dating back to the 1930s (under the League of Nations and updated since then) pretty much all of the nations of the earth have agreed that all cocaine, cannabis and opioids, except those used in medicine or research, are and should be illegal. Thus the Feds declaring cannabis legal, as the NYT proposes, is not in itself a legal action."
posted by monospace at 8:28 PM on July 27 [4 favorites]


I confidentially predict that on Monday Morning, the Editors-in-Chief of every News Corp. publication (and Mr. Ailes of Fox News) will be reading an email from Mr. Murdoch giving them orders to turn ANTI-legalization into their next big Editorial Cause, assigning reporters to 'investigative' pieces on the 'scourge' (while explicitly ordering them to steer clear of Big Banks profiting from drug money with a cc: to all Big Bank Advertisers) and directing anyone interviewing an employee of the NYT to open with "have you been smoking pot today?"
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:31 PM on July 27 [3 favorites]


I will bet any amount of money at just about any odds that MJ will be legal nationwide within our lifetimes, nay, within the next 10 years. PM to book.

My prediction is 5 years. Gay marriage is probably coming even sooner.


As far as the international treaty thing goes, who cares? It's not like the US has ever been the odd country out on any other treaties, right?
posted by Slinga at 8:38 PM on July 27


For the governing law here is not actually law made by either Congress or the Federal Government, it’s an international treaty obligation under the auspices of the UN

There's disagreement about how relevant this is to state legalization efforts. I note also that we have not yet invaded Luxembourg for decriminalizing marijuana.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:46 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


I'm always entertained at the many clever ways Mefites have come up with to try to get around the fact that liberals and libertarians agree with each other on many of the most important issues.

I'm hoping you're not including me in that assessment, because I don't exactly cotton to being called a liberal.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:52 PM on July 27


I'm always entertained at the many clever ways Mefites have come up with to try to get around the fact that liberals and libertarians agree with each other on many of the most important issues.

If you're a white dude, sure!
posted by shakespeherian at 8:57 PM on July 27 [7 favorites]


I'm always entertained at the many clever ways Mefites have come up with to try to get around the fact that liberals and libertarians agree with each other on many of the most important issues.

Like environmental issues? Socialized medicine? Welfare? Mental health care for the poor? Gun control?

We can still be stoner buddies without agreeing on everything, but lets not pretend we don't have significant differences in policy issues.
posted by el io at 9:00 PM on July 27 [15 favorites]


"A report just published by the World Health Organisation, an agency of the United Nations, makes a discreet but clear call to decriminalise drugs. And not just cannabis—the report goes as far as recommending the decriminalisation of injecting drugs, which implies the harder sort."
from The Economist July 17 2014
posted by anadem at 9:03 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Those "international treaties" are as hardline as they are because the US wants them that way. Should the US government change its mind, those treaties can get changed just as easily. It's a bit circular to say that that's what would stop the US from changing our drug laws.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:27 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


All we need to get the GOP to support legalization is to tell them that the UN forced us to sign an international treaty against it. If there's one thing they hate more than drugs, it's international organizations.
posted by miyabo at 10:27 PM on July 27 [7 favorites]


Let's hope there is a public information drive to teach people to avoid smoking pot and ending up with the lung problems of tobacco smokers and smog dwellers. There are other methods...
posted by Cranberry at 12:19 AM on July 28


Waitaminute, waitaminute....is everyone here for these drug guys?
posted by telstar at 12:55 AM on July 28


John Cohen: I'm always entertained at the many clever ways Mefites have come up with to try to get around the fact that liberals and libertarians agree with each other on many of the most important issues.

This might be true in principle (although even there, I'd say there is less agreement than you'd think), but it hasn't held with the majority of the libertarians I've met. In theory libertarians are against more legislation and government control, in both the social arena and in business. However, most of the ones I've met are rabidly against taxation and business regulation while not really caring about social issues at all or even being pretty authoritarian. In particular, libertarians are usually pretty hardcore about enforcing rules that benefit the rich and businesses (personal properly, land ownership, IP, and contract law) while wanting to tear down anything that constrains their behavior (environmental law, consumer protections, worker's rights, etc.) Sometimes they're anti-drug-war, but not always, and usually it's not an important issue to them.

Libertarianism is sort of a nice philosophy in principle (although I think, like communism and anarchism, it is completely unworkable in practice). However, all of the adherents I've met are basically republicans but worse, absolutely in favor of dog-eat-dog and letting the strong enslave the weak.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:07 AM on July 28 [11 favorites]


I think the internet is a major cause, if not THE major cause- because now it's so much easier to find information.

One thing we could use the internet for is to search the NYT archives and find out how many times they reported that MJ causes insanity, birth defects and sassing.
posted by telstar at 1:34 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


The UN convention is turning into a dead letter, even without the US explicitly ignoring it. The International Narcotics Control Board is unbending in its refusal to contemplate cannabis legalisation, which is to say it is well on its way to imploding due to internal and external pressures. It has no sanctions it can realistically expect to impose, it has increasing numbers of members from states which are opposed to its official stance but who have no public channels to express that, and it is increasingly trapped in its own contradictions.

Here's a good one. Is it in favour of the death penalty for drug trafficking? Oh, it's neither for or against that. You what? "The determination of sanctions applicable to drug-related offenses remains the exclusive prerogative of each State and therefore lie beyond the mandate and powers which have been conferred upon the Board by the international community". Which effectively defangs the entire nonsense. You'd think.

So, no, don't worry about the INCB. It has not been a serious consideration in the debate in any nation which has substantially or actually decriminalised drugs, and there have been no repercussions except for Raymond Yans' blood pressure.
posted by Devonian at 2:31 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I don't know the details of how Colorado is implementing legalization, but here in Washington the nuts and bolts of legalization have largely been rolled onto local government (the state is handling the licensing, but county and city governments have to figure out everything from zoning to grow op criteria), which is resulting in a hodge podge legalization across the state. (There also apparently isn't nearly enough legal weed for the few licensed shops to sell, but that's a different issue.) On top of that, local administrations are having to figure out what their potential legal liability is for existing funding streams that require boilerplate statements like "compliance with all federal laws," as well as liability if a few years from now President Romney reverses federal policy and aggressively goes after the weed industry.

Full federal legalization would be much better, giving the kind of certainty and legal support that you need to make good policy decisions at the local level, and would presumably allow cities and counties to still enact any goofy blue laws they want for weed, just like they currently can for alcohol. I was glad to see the editorial, and I hope this indicates an emerging consensus on this issue. (It's worth noting that because of how voting works in the US, you can have a majority of people supporting the issue, but those people might be concentrated in a few urban areas, leaving vast swaths of the country voting otherwise.)
posted by Dip Flash at 6:00 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Marijuana will remain illegal because the State must save face. There is literally no other coherent reason for ongoing prohibition.

I don't know about that. I think we underestimate "Fuck off, hippies!" as a political motivator for some people.
posted by jonp72 at 6:10 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Also, Obama opposes legalization.

Do people really not understand this game? Obama "opposes" legalization, the same way he "opposed" gay marriage until two years ago. Democrats go as far out on this issue as they think they can go, hoping they nudge people to the left, while activists push the position that the mainstream will take once it's safe. It may not be a fully concerted effort, but they make each other more effective.
posted by spaltavian at 6:20 AM on July 28 [4 favorites]


It's such a huge social change in our community from ten years ago. People apologizing for the smell, now, mostly, the way that they'd apologize for tobacco. (Although granted I find tobacco considerably more appealing.) The people who're using it haven't really changed much, but it's like we're finally working out an idea of an etiquette about such things, a picture of what responsible consumption looks like. It's funny, but more than gay marriage, it makes me think of that point where we all had computers? And we were all on the internet? But nobody wanted to have people think they really spent that much time on the internet? And then once we all got used to the fact that the internet wasn't actually full of axe murderers, it got okay to admit you'd met your girlfriend on OKcupid, unlike the last one where you still totally met on a dating site but you told everybody it was mutual friends and they all pretended to believe you.

So now that I'm in my 30s, roughly the same proportion of my friends use it, but now they seem a lot more comfortable talking about it in mixed company. Prohibition is I think a great comparison, not just because of the recreational chemical usage, but from the state looking much stupider for keeping a law on the books that nobody follows than it would for admitting a mistake. The hippies, as they say, were the ones that voted for Reagan--I know a couple of very respectable 60+ year olds who are starting to make little wistful noises about how they wish they still knew where to get it instead of the old sober comments about how it's Different Stuff Than In Their Day. I think they're the reason it's going to happen sooner than later.
posted by Sequence at 6:23 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]




Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big—big money, big businesses selling weed—after 40 years of impoverished black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing?
michelle alexander speaks on legalization and the effect prohibition has on black men
posted by nadawi at 6:48 AM on July 28 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, The New York Times Will Continue Drug Testing Despite Pot Legalization Stance.

sorry for the HuffPo link, it was either that or Gawker
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:59 AM on July 28 [9 favorites]


Do people really not understand this game? Obama "opposes" legalization, the same way he "opposed" gay marriage until two years ago. Democrats go as far out on this issue as they think they can go, hoping they nudge people to the left, while activists push the position that the mainstream will take once it's safe. It may not be a fully concerted effort, but they make each other more effective.

I didn't let him off the hook for his former bigoted position on gay marriage and I don't let him off the hook for opposing marijuana legalization either. It doesn't really matter if he is playing cowardly political games, he is playing them with people's lives. The continued demonization of marijuana has to stop, and Obama is in a great position to help that message over the finish line if he wants.

HuffPo: NEW YORK -- Drug reform advocates across New York state are demanding emergency access to medical marijuana for critically ill patients after a 9-year-old girl who suffered from debilitating seizures died last week due to complications with her disorder.

Lest we forget that marijuana laws and medical marijuana access are time sensitive, critical issues. This occurred even after New York changed their law, but it takes time to implement. Maybe we should get started now on whatever changes the executive can make? For instance, maybe we don't need a Bush holdover drug war nut who thinks pot is as addictive as crack running the DEA?
posted by Drinky Die at 7:02 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]




Real weed has other substances like cannabinoids that are important for MS patients. But I assume the best outcome for the pharma industry would be if legalization efforts were stalled until they can tweak out some more of the therapeutic substances in pot and resell them in pill form at a steep price.

The medicinal potential for cannabinoids being developed pharmaceutically is real and is an argument *for* legalization. With marijuana being schedule 1, it is almost impossible to do research on it in this country. You go through miles of red tape and expense and at the end of it, if you are approved as a medical researcher, your marijuana is provided by the government in the form of pre-rolled cigarettes, from a farm in Mississippi, where there has been no attempt to hybridize to improve cannabinoid and limit THC content. Our legitimate medicinal growers have been doing this exact work and can often provide their members with the gas chromatograph content of the strains they offer. And I swear, I've seen little old ladies get off their pain pills they take for their arthritis thanks to medical cannibas. This is all anecdata though, and the scientist in me needs real data. And that will never happen in this country with marijuana at schedule 1.

Note that Marinol is 100% THC and has almost no medicinal value for anything. Chemo maybe if all other nausea meds fail. But most of those people opt for medicinal marijuana anyway. But in Britain, the first commercially developed cannabinoid to treat pain has been developed and there is a lot of money on the table. I don't personally know any doctor who doesn't think chronic opiates for chronic pain has been a disastrous medical standard and it would be so so nice to have something else to offer.

To clarify something said above, there are no schedule I drugs being developed or researched or used therapeutically outside of extremely limited settings, with very careful exclusions. That's the point of schedule 1. If you read about new findings about MDMA or LSD, it's being done without government money, at great peril to the researchers involved, and in numbers so small that it is impossible to draw meaningful conclusions. If any science is to be done in this country with marijuana, it *has* to be de-scheduled.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:11 AM on July 28 [8 favorites]


Drinky Die: Do people really not understand this game? Obama "opposes" legalization, the same way he "opposed" gay marriage until two years ago. Democrats go as far out on this issue as they think they can go, hoping they nudge people to the left, while activists push the position that the mainstream will take once it's safe. It may not be a fully concerted effort, but they make each other more effective.

I didn't let him off the hook for his former bigoted position on gay marriage and I don't let him off the hook for opposing marijuana legalization either. It doesn't really matter if he is playing cowardly political games, he is playing them with people's lives.


You have misunderstood me. I'm not saying he is playing "cowardly political games"; I'm saying what he is doing is an effective way of advancing both of those two issues. It's pretty easy to think the right things, but that is not at all synonymous with making it happen. Of course, as a I said, the other part of the pincer is an activist segment pushing the eventual desired position, and they operate best when self-righteously condeming leadership (except in razor-thin Nader situations).

The continued demonization of marijuana has to stop, and Obama is in a great position to help that message over the finish line if he wants.

That is preciously, and obviously so, what he has been doing and quite effectively. I swear you didn't even read the interview you quoted:

It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that's legal.

The is exactly the kind of non-demonization required to move the needle on this.
posted by spaltavian at 7:27 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Whatever other good arguments are made for legalization, comparing MJ with alcohol just doesn't make sense. Whether or not one is more or less intrinsically "harmful" than the other is completely irrelevant. Alcohol isn't legal, and its prohibition didn't fail, because it's considered less harmful than other substances - it's because it can't be separated from its millenia-long history as a common foodstuff across a great number of cultures. It's got a specific, unique place in Western culture that can't really be effectively compared to any other intoxicant.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:48 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I'm always entertained at the many clever ways Mefites have come up with to try to get around the fact that liberals and libertarians agree with each other on many of the most important issues.

The legalization of marijuana is not one of the most important issues. Liberals and libertarians disagree on many of the most important issues.

Liberals and libertarians often disagree, for example, about whether the Civil Rights Act and Fair Housing Act, which require business owners to accept nonwhite customers against their will, are good things or even essentially permissible.

Liberals and libertarians often disagree about the basic permissibility of most forms of environmental regulation.

While liberals and libertarians agreed that the mideast wars were not great ideas, they disagree strongly about the fundamental reasons for opposing those wars, with libertarians frequently advocating US isolationism and withdrawal from the world scene.

Liberals and libertarians usually (but not always; see the parts of Hayek that libertarians ignore) disagree about the core idea of income redistribution.

Or, in sum, liberals and libertarians disagree about the core elements that separate current US policy from policy in 1850. They agree about legalizing weed.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:56 AM on July 28 [9 favorites]


spaltavian: "Also, Obama opposes legalization.

Do people really not understand this game? Obama "opposes" legalization, the same way he "opposed" gay marriage until two years ago. Democrats go as far out on this issue as they think they can go, hoping they nudge people to the left, while activists push the position that the mainstream will take once it's safe. It may not be a fully concerted effort, but they make each other more effective.
"

12 dimensional chess, maaaaaaaaan... pass the bong, yo!
posted by symbioid at 8:00 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


You have misunderstood me. I'm not saying he is playing "cowardly political games"; I'm saying what he is doing is an effective way of advancing both of those two issues. It's pretty easy to think the right things, but that is not at all synonymous with making it happen. Of course, as a I said, the other part of the pincer is an activist segment pushing the eventual desired position, and they operate best when self-righteously condeming leadership (except in razor-thin Nader situations).

No, you misunderstand me. I am saying he is playing cowardly political games. Of course, it's the job of the party establishment types to write that anything their leader does, even bigoted opposition to gay rights, is perfectly okay and that they secretly agree with you on everything. Also, that if you vote for somebody else when they don't actually agree with you than it's your fault they lost, not their own campaign.

Obama's regressive choice for DEA leadership is not a deliberate pincer movement to help activists, it's ass covering from people who think Democrats are weak on crime. Refusing to endorse legalization is because of fear of political backlash during elections, which could be the case for recreational pot even with the majority national support. Now, these are rational moves if your concern is the success of the national Democratic establishment during elections, but that isn't a concern everyone shares. The federal government has not exactly done all that much compared to the progress at the state level.

That is preciously, and obviously so, what he has been doing and quite effectively. I swear you didn't even read the interview you quoted:

Yeah I quoted and commented on that line above but thanks for the condescension. It really makes for a pleasant conversation. That particular sentence is framed in state's rights language, it goes out of the way not to be a value judgement. Obama will say marijuana is no worse than alcohol, which is a better example, but the air goes out of those sails when he also says pot should not be legal.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:58 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


The Guardian weighs in:

"America led the world to sign up to successive UN protocols and conventions, which reforming countries like Uruguay now find themselves running up against. It seems absurd when states within the US itself are conducting similar legal experiments. Neither federal laws nor UN conventions of the old prohibitionist order can stand in logic any longer."
posted by gingerbeer at 9:09 AM on July 28 [3 favorites]


Additionally, for anyone who wants to learn more about the role of the INCB, international conventions, and the scheduling system, Transform has a new report out.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:15 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


Whatever other good arguments are made for legalization, comparing MJ with alcohol just doesn't make sense. Whether or not one is more or less intrinsically "harmful" than the other is completely irrelevant. Alcohol isn't legal, and its prohibition didn't fail, because it's considered less harmful than other substances - it's because it can't be separated from its millenia-long history as a common foodstuff across a great number of cultures. It's got a specific, unique place in Western culture that can't really be effectively compared to any other intoxicant.

comparing marijuana to other drugs is absolutely necessary to understanding what its actual effects are in the face of decades of lies as to how harmful it really is. it's about countering the hypocrisy of the arguments made against marijuana which apply just as much and sometimes more to alcohol.

the cultural context you mention is no excuse for alcohol, it just points out that our comfort with alcohol is completely psychological and has little to do with the reality of how quickly alcohol becomes deadly in the wrong hands. we absorb the alcoholism the DUIs and date rapes and other alcohol related violence and ask that people "drink responsibly" even when we know there will always be people who don't.

we're allowed to look at all the facts around the issue and divorcing the effects of both drugs is a disservice to the overall conversation. the facts show that most people's discomfort around marijuana is related to ignorance and hypocrisy. i'm comfortable with alcohol because i drink it and it totally makes sense that it's legal. i'm uncomfortable with marijuana because nobody i know uses it and anyway it's dangerous and you can't hold a job and it's a gateway drug and finances terrorism and if you didn't want to go to jail you shouldn't've broken the law anyways so who cares if your life is ruined-- this is the average thinking of many legalization opponents and they just make bad arguments that oughta be smacked down.
posted by twist my arm at 9:24 AM on July 28 [6 favorites]


the cultural context you mention is no excuse for alcohol, it just points out that our comfort with alcohol is completely psychological

No excuse was being made; simply a situation being pointed out. And, to the extent that the entire recorded history of a society/culture, its anthropology and sociology, and its most deeply-rooted collective unconscious and conscious can be dismissed with two words, I don't disagree that it fals under the heading of psychology.

And yet those things do exist, and are incredibly powerful and relevant. Psychology is real.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:46 AM on July 28


The government can't just say "yeah sorry we waged war on the American people for 70 years and caused incalculable damage, we cool now?".

Prohibition was repealed for alcohol. Plus there was that whole 'no more slavery' thing. Governments revise old decisions all the time.

Dating back to the 1930s (under the League of Nations and updated since then) pretty much all of the nations of the earth have agreed that all cocaine, cannabis and opioids, except those used in medicine or research, are and should be illegal. Thus the Feds declaring cannabis legal, as the NYT proposes, is not in itself a legal action.

Someone better tell the Netherlands, and a few other places...

I figure (as with gay marriage) we're going to legalize north of the border first. Our next Pime Minister (touch wood) is in favour, so as long as there's a Liberal majority in Parliament after the next election, it's only a matter of time. Trudeau's going to desperately need major revenue streams to start cleaning up the fuckery of the Harper era, if nothing else.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:26 AM on July 28


Doobious achievement.
posted by Chitownfats at 11:13 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Democrats: supporting social change once 60%* of the population comes around to the new point of view.

Republicans: waiting until that number is 95%*




*i made up both these numbers

posted by el io at 1:18 PM on July 28 [5 favorites]


it's because it can't be separated from its millenia-long history as a common foodstuff across a great number of cultures. It's got a specific, unique place in Western culture that can't really be effectively compared to any other intoxicant.

If one conducts a more careful examination of the historical record I think you would find routine use of a broad spectrum of intoxicants derived from plant compounds and various alchemical processes to extract and refine those items. The use of Marijuana as a medicinal compound and food stuff goes back thousands of years, even in the western world.

The distinct status enjoyed by alcohol is a relatively modern concept.
posted by humanfont at 1:24 PM on July 28 [4 favorites]


regardless of those points (and they are both interesting), i don't see how one can take alcohol out of the discussion of whether to legalize marijuana. alcohol (in addition to tobacco and prescription drugs) is a blueprint for what marijuana legalization could look like in many respects. that's part of why people bring it up, the fact that it is a cultural touchstone means when you're having a public policy debate you can say marijuana and alcohol are similar in this that or the other and people will understand what you mean even if they don't agree.

we already card people, tax commerce, jail/punish people for DUIs. we already deal with knowing that tobacco causes cancer and letting people make that choice anyway. when anyone raises the question of how the children will handle marijuana they already know or can find out best practices for how to keep/buy/regulate guns, bleach, tylenol, lighter fluid, alcohol, tobacco, vicodin. when i bring up alcohol it's just a reminder for people that they already have at least some of the tools to deal with the consequences of legalization.

comparing marijuana to all the other drugs is how i came to my own conclusion on this issue. others might not find it useful and that's fine too, but i find it hard to ignore, for example, the comparisons that have already been made by doctors and social workers and public policy analysts. between alcohol and marijuana, between marijuana and other schedule I substances.
posted by twist my arm at 2:23 PM on July 28


The most difficult part of the alcohol comparison is that alcohol is a really, really dangerous drug that costs us a lot as a society to consume. Tobacco is the same way. A lot of the opposition to legal pot is a perception that what it does is combine the dangers of alcohol and cigarettes and makes us take that on in addition to the legal drugs we already have. For a lot of people, in the ideal world, we would not have those other drugs legal either. It's just a cost we bear because social momentum means we have to.

The message that pot can actually be consumed in a way that makes it much safer than either of those products is not out there as much as it should be. I don't really blame politicians for that as much as I do our brain dead media that that discusses these topics on an intelligence level even below the most airheaded of teenage stoners.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:26 PM on July 28


(Oh sorry, I don't like collective blaming everything negative on "TEH MEDIA!" which is pretty common in things like politics or sports reporting and a pet peeve of mine. Obviously the Times is the media and they just did something very good and smart. But that a major part of the media sees this as a RUSH to legalization? Are you serious? This is at least several decades behind schedule in any rational world.)
posted by Drinky Die at 3:30 PM on July 28




More embarrassing perhaps is that Milton Friedman called for the legalization of all drugs waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 1972.
posted by telstar at 5:42 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I looked at the comments on the NR article and I can't tell which are parody and which are not.
posted by Justinian at 6:29 PM on July 28


Like this one? "This is more of the neo-commnists plan to weaken the moral fabric of this great land; and to imagine your support of a discussion makes me ill. Your libertarian-liberal is showing. No support from me not a cent."
posted by gingerbeer at 7:06 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


This is more of the neo-commnists plan to weaken the moral fabric of this great land

Shit! They're on to us!
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:12 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I still don't understand old-school commnism
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:00 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I looked at the comments on the NR article and I can't tell which are parody and which are not.

I think this may be true of any NR article.
posted by el io at 9:21 PM on July 28




The Office of National Drug Control Policy has posted a mellow-harshing response to the NYT editorial, for anyone curious about the official line of argumentation against legalization. Here are some excepts, since I know all you stoners won't read the whole thing.

The editorial ignores the science and fails to address public health problems associated with increased marijuana use. Here are the facts:
* Marijuana use affects the developing brain.
* Substance use in school age children has a detrimental effect on their academic achievement.
* Marijuana is addictive.
* Drugged driving is a threat to our roadways.

Addictive substances like alcohol and tobacco, which are legal and taxed, already result in much higher social costs than the revenue they generate.

Research also indicates that policies making drugs more available would likely not eliminate the black market or improve public health and safety.

posted by whir at 6:41 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Remember to mentally add the wink at the end, because the White House really supports legalization and is only saying this as part of a political pincer movement.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:27 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


Research also indicates that policies making drugs more available would likely not eliminate the black market

Also I love how the paper they link to for this claim is examining the possible impact of legalization in one state (California) on revenues for Mexican cartels. No duh that one, even large, state legalizing is not going to be a major hit to their revenues when there are tens of millions of customers in other states. Maybe the federal policy should be made by asking what happens if 50 states were to decide to legalize? Well, the RAND paper says a significant hit to their revenue would lead to a decline in cartel violence after a few years.

A government that is trying to get away from demonization can talk about pot, even while arguing it should remain illegal, without the old drug war lies and obfuscations. Stick to the real issues with pot, like the drugged driving and the real health impact concerns.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:40 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


The editorial ignores the science and fails to address public health problems associated with increased marijuana use. Here are the facts:
* Marijuana use affects the developing brain.
* Substance use in school age children has a detrimental effect on their academic achievement.
* Marijuana is addictive.
* Drugged driving is a threat to our roadways.

Oh my lord. Not one single aspect of this can be said not to apply to alcohol.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:51 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]




Addictive substances like alcohol and tobacco, which are legal and taxed, already result in much higher social costs than the revenue they generate.

Yeah, and for alcohol we did have Prohibition, and it was more expensive and created more problems than it solved. Does any of that sound at all familiar, ONDCP? Anyone? Hello?
posted by rtha at 8:53 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


tonycpsu: So they NYT is firing Dowd? Or are the drug-tests only for employees whose jobs don't include reviewing marijuana?
posted by el io at 11:34 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]


Most companies that drug test only do it once, right before you start work.
posted by octothorpe at 1:49 PM on July 29


Remember to mentally add the wink at the end, because the White House really supports legalization and is only saying this as part of a political pincer movement.

Yes, all positions in the federal bureaucracy are manned by Barack Obama personally. There isn't any institutional momentum whatsoever, and the last 5 years have proved that the President is able to do anything he wants whenever he wants.

But, please, do go back to quoting Obama saying that pot should not be a federal priority and then claiming he's not doing anything about pot being demonized. That makes a lot of sense.
posted by spaltavian at 4:06 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah I'm a total nut for thinking the President should be held responsible for what gets posted on Whitehouse.gov by an office under White House control.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:13 PM on July 29


I think the ONDCP is legally obligated to hold these positions and advocate for them regardless of the facts. They are officially sanctioned, congressionally mandated anti-drug propaganda.
posted by humanfont at 6:38 PM on July 29


They were established to fight illegal drug use and manufacture, but that does not require them to engage in propaganda without regard to facts at all, as far as I'm aware. You can make fact based cases against legalization. Though I doubt it is truly their role to be lobbying for or against changes in the law.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:15 PM on July 29


Look at their interactive timeline of "Highlights from the Editorial Board's changing view of marijuana over six decades"!

e.g. 1966
"Experience has tragically demonstrated that marijuana is not “harmless.”
For a considerable number of young people who try it, it is the first step down the fateful road to heroin."

1969
"Simple possession of LSD ... calls for a maximum sentence of only one year, as against ten for marijuana.
The discrepancy is as glaring as it is absurd. How will anyone know what the restriction on marijuana should be until there is the kind of objective, authoritative report that has been called for by Senator Moss of Utah and Representative Koch of New York"

and so on. Fascinating and an excellent use of the interactive interwebs.
posted by rtha at 8:57 PM on July 29


Although with a caveat that the background on that page...really, guys? /rolls eyes
posted by rtha at 8:58 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


They were established to fight illegal drug use and manufacture, but that does not require them to engage in propaganda without regard to facts at all, as far as I'm aware.

Alas.

"When the White House issued a statement last night saying that marijuana should remain illegal — responding to our pro-legalization editorial series — officials there weren’t just expressing an opinion. They were following the law. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is required by statute to oppose all efforts to legalize any banned drug.

It’s one of the most anti-scientific, know-nothing provisions in any federal law, but it remains an active imposition on every White House. The “drug czar,” as the director of the drug control policy office is informally known, must “take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance” that’s listed on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and has no “approved” medical use."
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:25 PM on July 29 [7 favorites]


If so I withdraw my statement that they probably shouldn't be lobbyists but again, you can make fact based cases against legalization.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:42 PM on July 29




showbiz liz: are there similar laws requiring the CIA and NSA to lie as well? If so, that would explain quite a bit of congressional testimony.
posted by el io at 12:40 PM on July 30


Well, they have oaths not to reveal classified information. That's what put James Clapper in such a tough spot when he lied under oath about NSA spying. I kind of think that if elected US Senators are willing to ask a question they know the answer to, our government should be honest when they answer, or at least refuse to answer.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:33 PM on July 30


The Washington Post did an excellent take down of the ONDCP's statement (and yes, they're required by law to say it).
posted by gingerbeer at 2:46 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


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