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Is cannabis the answer to developed countries problems with alcoholism?
December 7, 2009 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Substituting cannabis in place of more harmful drugs may be a winning strategy in the fight against substance misuse. Research published in BioMed Central' open access Harm Reduction Journal features a poll of 350 cannabis users, finding that 40% used cannabis to control their alcohol cravings, 66% as a replacement for prescription drugs and 26% for other, more potent, illegal drugs.

"Substituting cannabis for alcohol has been described as a radical alcohol treatment protocol. This approach could be used to address heavy alcohol use in the British Isles -- people might substitute cannabis, a potentially safer drug than alcohol with less negative side-effects, if it were socially acceptable and available."

"The economic hardship of The Great Depression helped bring about the end of alcohol prohibition. Now, as we are again faced with economic struggles, the US is looking to marijuana as a potential revenue generator. Public support is rising for the legalization of recreational use and remains high for the use of marijuana as a medicine."

Would it work? The research has been ongoing, but as yet not everybody is convinced.
posted by VikingSword (76 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
40% used cannabis to control their alcohol cravings, 66% as a replacement for prescription drugs and 26% for other, more potent, illegal drugs

The remaining 38% used cannabis as a substitute for math classes.
posted by flarbuse at 11:09 AM on December 7, 2009 [17 favorites]


For the true abuser both will prolong the sense of stasis that fuels isolation, anger, resentment, and lack of psychological improvement. Replacing the abuse of one with the abuse of another can't be a solution for a problem that has its roots in deeper and more troubling phenomena.
posted by chrillsicka at 11:10 AM on December 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


Yeesh, this is a nightmare. I know plenty of addicts who preferred cannabis to all other drugs, and it still destroyed their lives right good.

Sure, there are plenty of people who can use cannabis responsibly. Drug addicts are not those people.
posted by something something at 11:12 AM on December 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


This will end legalized.
posted by DU at 11:14 AM on December 7, 2009


So... it is less bad than alcohol... especially when you consider the economy?

You're trying to hard.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:15 AM on December 7, 2009


Aww, pot. Is there anything you can't do?
posted by LittleMissCranky at 11:21 AM on December 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


There is no harm reduction, there is only moral hazard. All restaurants are Taco Bell.
posted by GuyZero at 11:21 AM on December 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


For the true abuser both will prolong the sense of stasis that fuels isolation, anger, resentment, and lack of psychological improvement. Replacing the abuse of one with the abuse of another can't be a solution for a problem that has its roots in deeper and more troubling phenomena.

This is entirely true. However, it can be a solution for the deaths by overdose, cirrhosis, and violence which tend to accompany alcohol abuse, and do not tend to accompany marijuana abuse.

The idea is harm reduction, not harm elimination. Our all-or-nothing moralistic outlook toward drug abuse and addiction has proved disastrously ineffective -- frankly, it's rather sad that the common-sense position (less harm is worse than no harm, yet clearly better than a lot) is so controversial.
posted by vorfeed at 11:22 AM on December 7, 2009 [14 favorites]


DOES THIS QUOTE SCIENCE
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:23 AM on December 7, 2009


I recommend reading Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? by the guys at SAFER.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:31 AM on December 7, 2009


Sure, there are plenty of people who can use cannabis responsibly. Drug addicts are not those people.

This has not been my experience. In fact, I've had several friends dry out of alcohol and switch mostly or entirely to cannabis and the results have been remarkable. While they're still addicts in some sense, the cost of the cannabis compared to alcohol is so much less that they have to reserve their smoking for evenings - and it's hard to "binge" on pot as it just ceases to have any effect.

It's the physiological changes that are so impressive. In one case, my friend went from being a jowly, sunken-eyed person looking 10 years older than his actual age to being a much tighter and more alert looking guy. This was emphasized by the fact that I only see him every few years - it was like he'd come back from the dead.

What's interesting is that he still drinks a little. But his great enthusiasm for it is gone - he used to have beer for breakfast!

Another friend of mine lost his leg in an accident and is in constant pain - it's hard for him not to drink, but the last time he went off the wagon, he ended up on the subway tracks with paramedics getting him out! (Amazingly, he just had a few cracked ribs.) But he's fine when he's high. The belligerence that was characteristic of his drunk is just not present... he's just a much better person.

Some people just need recreational drugs to live. They should have pot.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:31 AM on December 7, 2009 [13 favorites]


"....the cost of the cannabis compared to alcohol is so much more..."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:31 AM on December 7, 2009


The remaining 38% used cannabis as a substitute for math classes.

I would have never passed calculus in high school if not for cannabis. That I gave to my calculus teacher in exchange for passing grades.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:44 AM on December 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


From personal experience, when I was smoking a lot of weed, I tended to drink a lot too. When I was coming to the end of my cannabis abuse (and yes, I was addicted), I ended up drinking loads just to keep me from feeling paranoid and twitchy. Thankfully, I haven't smoked a joint in years.
posted by hnnrs at 11:49 AM on December 7, 2009


If you're going to be addicted to one thing or the other anyway, shouldn't we encourage you to choose the one that's clearly more fun, namely weed? In the interest of making society fun?

America needs to be more fun, for reals.
posted by Darth Fedor at 11:58 AM on December 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you're going to be addicted to one thing or the other anyway, shouldn't we encourage you to choose the one that's clearly more fun, namely weed?

Cite needed.
posted by josher71 at 11:59 AM on December 7, 2009


40% used cannabis to control their alcohol cravings, 66% as a replacement for prescription drugs and 26% for other, more potent, illegal drugs
The remaining 38% used cannabis as a substitute for math classes.

38% of people prefer apple pie to cherry, 67% prefer pumpkin pie to rhubarb, 44% prefer peach pie to pecan and 54% of people understand the above categories are not mutually exclusive.
posted by [citation needed] at 12:06 PM on December 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


Anybody feel like scoring some heroin? Nope, I think I'm gonna play some Wii and then take a nap, but wake me up if you want to go to Waffle House later.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:08 PM on December 7, 2009


Fine, but use the Spanish solutions, make people grow their own weed.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:32 PM on December 7, 2009


100% of people who are me can't nest their tags right.
posted by [citation needed] at 12:36 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll tell you what: I've taken a lot of shit of the Wellbutrin/Celexa/etc. variety, and it's never worked as tenth as well as a plain old bonghit. Seriously, marijuana is just a really beneficial and good drug. It's nowhere even close to the same category as brainbashing anti-life bullshit like alcohol and meth.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:38 PM on December 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


This thread is gearing up to be a Battle of the Anecdotes!
posted by mpbx at 12:48 PM on December 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I knew a guy who was killed by an anecdote.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:55 PM on December 7, 2009 [18 favorites]


I have known several people who have used the cannabis cure to great affect. Most recently, a very close friend of mine had a scorching cocaine habit that she has now kicked for two years. She went from about to lose her job, marriage, and art to thriving in all three. Smoking a bowl after a hard day of work is much healthier (and cheaper) than hitting the clubs, staying out until sunrise, and then trying to stumble into work and look normal. Did I mention that she quit drinking, too?

I used cannabis to quit smoking cigarettes fifteen years ago. And let's just say that there are a number of other substances I used to be quite fond of that I have since given up in favor of the herb.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:02 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


When you're not allowed to do research, anecdotes are as good ad it gets.
posted by empath at 1:02 PM on December 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


I put it like this once: you know how potheads really fetishize their bongs, etc? As in, they'll have $200 hand-blown glass bongs that have long, boring stories behind them? OK, so when's the last time you saw an artisanal crack pipe? A handcrafted syringe? An heirloom... whatever the hell those little things they smoke meth out of are called? It's because those drugs are utilitarian and rote, and anti-life, and marijuana is like... I don't know, pass the Doritos. See what I mean? This is a point that's hard to get across in writing. Plus, I've been, er, self-medicating.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:06 PM on December 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


My anecdote:

I know more than one person who has fallen victim to model trains in the sense that people fall victim to mary-jane. (That is what you kids are calling it these days, right?)

They never leave the house, they spend all their money on trains, and talk of nothing else.

Personally, I find that I get no pleasure from either model trains or mary-jane, but I am glad they are both in the world to make others happy.
posted by poe at 1:07 PM on December 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aren't we already substituting evils for problematic, highly addictive "lesser evils", i.e. methadone? Pot seems fine in comparison.
posted by naju at 1:08 PM on December 7, 2009


This thread is gearing up to be a Battle of the Anecdotes!

If facts don't convince anyone, why not try anecdote?

Is there even one person here who really believes that marijuana is as damaging as alcohol?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:08 PM on December 7, 2009


And here's another thing: people that do a lot of stimulants, because they cannot eat while high (unless they're just so far gone that it no longer bothers them, eating is almost impossible), will get vitamin supplements or sip V8 juice or whatever just so their bodies can get some sort of nutrients. Or they just don't bother and stay up for 3 days on nothing but water. If that's not anti-life, I don't know what is. Food is necessary to sustain life. On the other hand, what happens when you smoke pot? Man, pass them Doritos.

I'll stop now.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:14 PM on December 7, 2009


The baker's dozen of folks I know who smoke pot very heavily and consistently are, without exception, stereotypical wastrels. Most of them don't work and those that do, do so poorly and at a very low wage.

This is by no stretch of the imagination an accurate cross-section of that habit, but even if it were I would still be all for it, because it's much better than the rampant violence, destruction, illness and death that alcohol spawns.

Outlaw tobacco while you're at it and kill two filthy little birds with one stone (pun intended).
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:15 PM on December 7, 2009


The baker's dozen of folks I know who smoke pot very heavily and consistently are, without exception, stereotypical wastrels. Most of them don't work and those that do, do so poorly and at a very low wage.

Yeah, but here is the point -- imagine if they were drinkers.
posted by empath at 1:18 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to defend booze but some of us don't like smoking weed.
posted by josher71 at 1:20 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reasons behind the moral panic against addiction are simply not eliminatable through prohibition if only because the list of abusable substances is so long. The best we can hope to do is tax the hell out of popular substances and tightly them according to their danger, chemical addictiveness and economic impact ie:

-Heroin and cocaine administered from sterile government clinics through appointment
-Alcohol sales restricted to adults
-Cannabis and Tobacco use restricted to non-public areas where unwilling parties don't have to deal with it
-Future glue sniffers and meth users given access to better things to get high on from authorities that have regained a moral and intellectual high ground that has been long lost

And we've got to do it soon if only because of the looming prison crisis
posted by Blasdelb at 1:25 PM on December 7, 2009


For the true abuser both will prolong the sense of stasis that fuels isolation, anger, resentment, and lack of psychological improvement. Replacing the abuse of one with the abuse of another can't be a solution for a problem that has its roots in deeper and more troubling phenomena.

Criminalizing the possession of marijuana does not have a beneficial effect for the people who have to deal with the law. Addiction is a medical issue, not a criminal issue.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:28 PM on December 7, 2009


I'm not going to defend booze but some of us don't like smoking weed.

I don't think you're required to use it yourself, just allow others to do so.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:29 PM on December 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


The baker's dozen of folks I know who smoke pot very heavily and consistently are, without exception, stereotypical wastrels.

I'm a heavy pot smoker and I managed to somewhat retire before I was 50 due in part to my own efforts (though in majority a lot of good luck). I might have been more productive if I hadn't smoked pot but I think less creative and less cheerful.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:31 PM on December 7, 2009


The baker's dozen of folks I know who smoke pot very heavily and consistently are, without exception, stereotypical wastrels. Most of them don't work and those that do, do so poorly and at a very low wage.

So what? If they didn't smoke weed, they'd probably still be doing those jobs. They'd just be miserable as well.

someone has to do those low-wage jobs. And some people are just not cut out to be productive members of society.

I only know one heavy Stoner type, and he just got both a law degree and an MBA after smoking weed all through (a top 20) Law School. He even interned with another Stoner. This was all in the S.F area.

On the other hand, I think people who have crappy lives tend to smoke weed to alleviate the tedium. But it's not really appropriate to blame their failure on the weed.
posted by delmoi at 1:31 PM on December 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I have a strict "hard drugs only" policy.
posted by spaltavian at 1:41 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aww, pot. Is there anything you can't do?

Rick Simpson claims hemp oil cures cancer.
posted by chugg at 1:56 PM on December 7, 2009


"....the cost of the cannabis compared to alcohol is so much more..."

That would be a New York thing, yes? Where I live its the opposite.
posted by mannequito at 2:00 PM on December 7, 2009


So it is a gateway drug then?
All things being equal I'd rather have the guy driving next to me high than drunk.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:19 PM on December 7, 2009


When I stopped drinking, I started eating a pint of Ben and Jerry's every night as a "Hey, you're not ripped to the tits!" reward for myself. People do a lot of things to stop drinking when they're out of control. Some become gym bunnies, some fuck everything on Craigslist with an available orifice, some eat everything in sight, and some smoke pot.

Sure, logically, there were more productive things I could have done. Six months of Cinnabuns, Mission to Marzipan and Americone Dream looks pretty illogical today. But if addiction responded to logic, it would be a footnote in a very short chapter of a little-used med school textbook. That's not how it works.

But I'm not going to judge someone for how they try to wrest themselves out of the grasp of an addiction. I don't care if someone wants to pray the addiction away, join AA, smoke pot, fuck a dozen people a week, or benchpress an entire Andean village - because while addiction may make you do crazy, stupid things while you're feeding it, it'll make you do crazier, stupider things when you're trying to stamp it out. But you just have to keep going, and you can't look back.
posted by greekphilosophy at 2:32 PM on December 7, 2009


My dad just called me to let me know that he has been prescribed medical marijuana. Should make our upcoming screening of Inglorious Basters that much better!
posted by autodidact at 2:32 PM on December 7, 2009


It's true, price are through the roof in NYC these days. Or at least, so I heard.
posted by unwordy at 2:40 PM on December 7, 2009


Der: typo /prices
posted by unwordy at 2:41 PM on December 7, 2009


Inglorious Basters
There is nothing about this I do not like.
posted by lumensimus at 2:54 PM on December 7, 2009


I don't give a shit whether cannabis is better for you than the other drugs or whether it is instant death weed. I'm pro choice. My body, my choice.
posted by Justinian at 3:04 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I put it like this once: you know how potheads really fetishize their bongs, etc? As in, they'll have $200 hand-blown glass bongs that have long, boring stories behind them? OK, so when's the last time you saw an artisanal crack pipe? A handcrafted syringe? An heirloom... whatever the hell those little things they smoke meth out of are called? It's because those drugs are utilitarian and rote, and anti-life, and marijuana is like... I don't know, pass the Doritos. See what I mean? This is a point that's hard to get across in writing. Plus, I've been, er, self-medicating.

This is nonsense. Stigmatized, poor people don't have access to fetish objects is what you are saying-- and rich junkies have to hide what they are up to because of the stigma. I surely would have had the king of crack pipes and a gold-plated self cleaning ever sharp syringe if I'd had my druthers when I was using but that shit is too hard to hide from the police and too expensive and non-existent, natch.

Until we stop playing "my addiction is better than yours" we'll never have drug policy reform because we'll keep moving from heroin is the evilest drug to crack is the evilest drug to meth is the evilist drug to oxycontin is the evilest drug without recognizing that this whole notion is a stupid, counter-productive idea.

Is marijuana a form of harm reduction for some people? Yes: definitely less harmful than alcohol. Is it a substitute for heroin for some? Yes-- but not for others. Do some people just add marijuana to alcohol rather than substitute? Yes. Is methadone harm reduction for some? Yup. Does it not work for others? yes, too-- but it works for more than abstinence though we can't quite face up to this and say it out loud.

Bottom line is that this shit is complicated and we need to use understanding and respect to help people, rather than trying to force them into some kind of box.
posted by Maias at 3:22 PM on December 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


For the true abuser both will prolong the sense of stasis that fuels isolation, anger, resentment, and lack of psychological improvement. Replacing the abuse of one with the abuse of another can't be a solution for a problem that has its roots in deeper and more troubling phenomena.

Criminalizing the possession of marijuana does not have a beneficial effect for the people who have to deal with the law. Addiction is a medical issue, not a criminal issue.


I'm sorry, were you responding to someone else?
posted by chrillsicka at 3:38 PM on December 7, 2009


Personally, I find that I get no pleasure from either model trains or mary-jane, but I am glad they are both in the world to make others happy.

I can't believe that model trains are still unscheduled (no pun intended) in the US. Won't somebody think of the children?
posted by chemoboy at 4:03 PM on December 7, 2009


I think legalization will take a lot of the Joy out of cannabis for many people. One of the reasons people use is because it's a subversive act. Every high in which you don't rob a store, rape a child, or enrich a terrorist is a proof to the theorem that officially sanctioned culture is a lie. That, despite your class and circumstance, you're not a pawn. Your waking, productive hours may be owned by someone else, but not your mind.

I live in a state where medical Marijuana is legal. Yes, the sick can now get their medicine. Thank God. But the institutions growing up around its legal trade are already turning into corrupt enterprises that I don't like. State control. Ludicrous price gouging. Double dealing. Red tape and bureaucracy.

Of course this is better than the alternative, but in a society where the ill are picking up the full tab, it's still unjust. Laugh at the childishness of the rebellious impulse all you like, but rebellion brought you democracy and the weekend. No one should concede the argument for complete liberalization and decriminalization. Even if we never get it, we need keep fighting for the right to grow and trade it without the tax stamp, the clinic, and the liquor store.
posted by clarknova at 5:33 PM on December 7, 2009


You're trying to hard.

No, no, it IS hard.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:51 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


My dad just called me to let me know that he has been prescribed medical marijuana. Should make our upcoming screening of Inglorious Basters that much better!

After about five minutes of this movie... you're going to wish you had ten beers.*

I kicked booze and medicinal mj this year; the amotivational aspects of pot really did a number on me. YMMV, but I'm really happy to have the cloud lifted from my head. As far as harm reduction goes, though, it's hard to not be all in favor of the smokey dope. Roll dem bones!
posted by porn in the woods at 6:17 PM on December 7, 2009


Their thesis is doobie-ous
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:30 PM on December 7, 2009


On the other hand, I think people who have crappy lives tend to smoke weed to alleviate the tedium. But it's not really appropriate to blame their failure on the weed.

In my experience age eventually weeds out the people who can't be productive with it. No pun intended.

I think legalization will take a lot of the Joy out of cannabis for many people. One of the reasons people use is because it's a subversive act.

I think it would take away the taboo. That is something positive. I don't think it would take away the joy. I can only speak for myself ...
posted by krinklyfig at 6:38 PM on December 7, 2009


I don't give a shit whether cannabis is better for you than the other drugs or whether it is instant death weed. I'm pro choice. My body, my choice.

I assume you live alone on an island with a painted volleyball, as from what you say, your choices don't seem to affect others. You don't drive. You don't have a job where people rely on your productivity. No kids. Just you and Winston and your death weed.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:22 PM on December 7, 2009


Wilson, whatever, his is called Winston.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:23 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


You don't drive.

Of course I drive. I'm going to assume you're asking if I drive while under the influence of any drugs, and of course I don't. But that someone might drive while high is no more reason to outlaw drugs than the fact that people may drive while drunk is a reason to outlaw alcohol or that people may drive while texting is a reason to outlaw cell phones.
posted by Justinian at 8:24 PM on December 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


You don't have a job where people rely on your productivity. No kids. Just you and Winston and your death weed.

For a minute there I thought you were talking about XBox ...
posted by krinklyfig at 9:28 PM on December 7, 2009


Of course I drive. I'm going to assume you're asking if I drive while under the influence of any drugs, and of course I don't. But that someone might drive while high is no more reason to outlaw drugs than the fact that people may drive while drunk is a reason to outlaw alcohol or that people may drive while texting is a reason to outlaw cell phones.

The purpose of drugs and alcohol is to alter one's perception, in doing so does it not remove a person's ability to make rational decisions? Remove the cause of irrational behavior and you remove the behavior. People who are drunk and high can't be trusted not to drive, as we can't stop people from driving, we can make intoxication illegal.

Cell phones on the other hand do not make people irrational.

I'm arguing this for the sake of discussion, not for some personal belief.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:14 AM on December 8, 2009


The purpose of drugs and alcohol is to alter one's perception, in doing so does it not remove a person's ability to make rational decisions? Remove the cause of irrational behavior and you remove the behavior. People who are drunk and high can't be trusted not to drive, as we can't stop people from driving, we can make intoxication illegal.

Decision-making ability can also be impaired by sleep deprivation. Mandatory naptimes for everybody!
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:43 AM on December 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Solution: better public transport. Save the environment, increase access to amenities and services, save the world from roving stoners!
posted by kathrineg at 9:17 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


People who are drunk and high can't be trusted not to drive, as we can't stop people from driving, we can make intoxication illegal.

What? I don't understand. (Data point: currently under the influence of caffeine.) It's already illegal to drive when one is intoxicated beyond a certain point (it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction). Are you suggesting something different/more?
posted by rtha at 9:56 AM on December 8, 2009


It's already illegal to drive when one is intoxicated beyond a certain point

So if a person is (legally) too impared to drive at that point, aren't they too impared to make a rational decision as to whether or not to drive?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:07 AM on December 8, 2009


Metafilter: Just you and Winston and your death weed.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:25 AM on December 8, 2009


Pollomacho, I think the idea that anyone who is too impaired to drive is therefore too impaired to make a rational decision about whether or not to drive is severely tested by the fact that large numbers of people drink but do not then drive. There's been a huge cultural shift over the last 30ish years and drunk driving is no longer seen as "normal" or acceptable, and zillions of people don't do it. They still drink, but there's either a designated driver in the group, or they take cabs, or buses, or walk. Or sleep it off on their friend's couch. Or stay home for the drinking.

If it were true that a .08 BAC (for instance) makes you too irrational to even make a decision about driving, then what would you suggest? We did try outlawing intoxication by outlawing alcohol, and that worked out horribly.
posted by rtha at 10:39 AM on December 8, 2009


There's been a huge cultural shift over the last 30ish years and drunk driving is no longer seen as "normal" or acceptable, and zillions of people don't do it.

And yet it still occurs regularly, as does a staggering volume of even more socially unacceptable drug and alcohol fueled violence (particularly domestic violence), murder, rape, crime, and accidental death. Shouldn't that be enough to at least diminish the theory that drug and/or alcohol use only affects the user?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:17 AM on December 8, 2009


Shouldn't that be enough to at least diminish the theory that drug and/or alcohol use only affects the user?

I'm not arguing that, and I've never argued that, and the folks I know who work in drug policy and harm reduction wouldn't argue that - at least, not broadly stated like this.

But I'm still going to ask you: And? So what do we do? If you're arguing that intoxication impairs one's ability to make any rational decisions (and I don't agree with this as a blanket statement), then...what? We already have criminal penalties for people who drive impaired. What else do you think should be done, or can be done?
posted by rtha at 12:01 PM on December 8, 2009


I'm not arguing that, and I've never argued that

Then we aren't in disagreement, as that was the only think I really took issue with in Justinian's statement. But again for the sake of discussion, the criminal penalties after the fact have failed (just as the financial market won't actually regulate itself). The only way to stop the symptoms is to cure the disease. If we remove the source of irrational behavior, we remove the behavior. If prohibition fails to stop it, perhaps we should tax it to death. Legalization combined with prohibative expense.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:25 PM on December 8, 2009


Well, we can agree to agree on some stuff, and agree to disagree on other stuff. Human beings have been seeking and finding ways to alter consciousness since we climbed out of the trees, and things like prohibition or taxing it to unaffordability (unaffordable for most but not all, that is) only create worse problems, like black markets and gangs. Hello, Mafia! Again.

If we remove the source of irrational behavior, we remove the behavior.

This isn't true. We remove one source of the behavior. Temporarily. People will find another source, or will find a way to create a new one.

The solution to reducing harm caused by alcohol et al. is to admit that there is no way to eliminate the harm they cause, and to work on reducing it as much as possible. This kind of work is slow and incremental, and the results can't simply be criminalized into (or out of) existence.
posted by rtha at 12:43 PM on December 8, 2009


Pollomacho: It seems to me that seeking to alter one's consciousness is pretty damn fundamental to the human condition. People have been getting drunk or high or otherwise all hopped up on goofball for as long as we have records. Probably for as long as we've existed. So I think you're begging the question. If humans have been doing something for as long as we've been humans, isn't the irrational (since you seem fond of evaluating things based on rationality) position to think that we can ever successfully prevent people from seeking various chemical highs, ranging from caffeine to alcohol to cannabis to whatever?

Saying "if we remove the source of irrational behavior, we remove the behavior" is arguing that we should change the fundamental nature of humanity and is, thus, irrational.

I'm not a fan of this line of rationality/irrationality argument but since you seem to be, I don't think your argument holds up even on your chosen ground.
posted by Justinian at 1:41 PM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


People who are drunk and high can't be trusted not to drive, as we can't stop people from driving, we can make intoxication illegal.

Yes, but as you can see, that doesn't work. It's also hugely more expensive than regulating it.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:58 PM on December 8, 2009


Then we aren't in disagreement, as that was the only think I really took issue with in Justinian's statement. But again for the sake of discussion, the criminal penalties after the fact have failed (just as the financial market won't actually regulate itself).

How about criminal penalties for marijuana? How has that worked?
posted by krinklyfig at 5:00 PM on December 8, 2009


Pollomacho: So if a person is (legally) too impared to drive at that point, aren't they too impared to make a rational decision as to whether or not to drive?

Uhh, no, of course not. One's ability to operate a car at has not been determined to suffer at .08 because of a decline in the ability to reason, but because of supposed slowness of reaction times, reduced fine motor control and increased time in making decisions. None of these things make someone irrational or incompetent. You're legally too impaired to drive a car, not legally incompetent. .08 is one beer for a 150 pound person, and you certainly couldn't get out of a contract or any crime because of one beer. (.08 is a MADD-induced, unfairly low limit, in my view, but that's another story.)
posted by spaltavian at 9:29 PM on December 8, 2009


If prohibition fails to stop it, perhaps we should tax it to death. Legalization combined with prohibative expense.

They're functionally equivalent tactics, and will have the same results.

Also, you have a bizarre and unrealistic view of how drugs effect people.
posted by empath at 9:51 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


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