Alcohol = marijuana?

marijuana-billboard.jpg

The Ad Freak blog notes that the first pro-marijuana billboard has gone up in Colorado’s debate over whether to legalize marijuana.

“Notably lacking from the sign is any marijuana imagery, or even the color green,” a Denver TV station points out.

Instead, as you can see, it equates marijuana with alcohol, and makes the question a moral one.

Pollsters are apparently befuddled in trying to pin down where public opinion is on the issue.

  • David

    I think at this point the only ones that believe marijuana is worse than alcohol are seniors that are part of the scary devil’s weed propoganda age.

    Which is why I think advertising like this in Florida is interesting.

    I have yet to see any scientific studies that show marijuana use is anywhere near as bad as alcohol use and with the invention of vaporizers people don’t even have to smoke it.

    I’m not a fan of making the recreational drug use fight a moral fight, that’s been the drug warriors position, but I guess I’m not suprised to see the tables be turned.

  • Mark Gisleson

    Pollsters are befuddled because there is absolutely nothing “conservative” about making a plant that grows in nature and requires no special processing illegal. That doesn’t stop social conservatives from having an opinion, but social conservatives are notoriously radical when it comes to using government to force compliance with their beliefs.

    Marijuana continues to be illegal in this country for two reasons and two reasons only:

    1) It is used to legally harass and suppress racial and cultural minorities.

    2) The alcohol industry spends lots of money to keep marijuana legalization bills from being voted on because marijuana represents a huge financial threat to the booze industry (manufacturers, distributors, bars, restaurants, sports facilities, etc.).

    New studies show that stoned drivers are significantly less dangerous than drunk drivers. Even when pot smokers break the law, they’re safer to be around than users of legal “drugs.”

  • Xopher

    Prohibition of drugs has always been a moral issue; that’s how they were prohibited in the first place. That’s how alcohol was once prohibited. If it were a purely scientific public policy question, it would be much less murky.

    Here’s a moral question: who should profit off the sale of marijuana? Murderous drug gangs (not to mention gun dealers) or corporations? Because someone is always going to profit off it, whether it is legal or not.

  • jon

    My understanding is that Marijuana is far safer for you then Alcohol.

    Our prisons are over crowded because we criminalized it in the first place (and because we shutdown mental health facilities)

    I suspect we’ll look back at this time period at some point in the distant future and consider the illegalization of Marijuana to be much like prohibition in the 20’s.

    Much like we will look back at the Gay Marriage debate and wonder why we even debated such topics.

    I the eyes of history, we are just as dumb now as we were a ~100 years ago.

  • jon

    Xopher : Yeah, if we are going to fund International Gun Dealers (which I assume means illegal Gun Dealers) Then it should be the Department of Justice!

    The point being some would argue that our government isn’t much better then the drug dealers… At least we know what the drug dealers motives are… profit, the government is a little more bi-polar then that, especially around elections.

  • Bonnie

    Wait, vaporizers? What is this all about, more info please!

  • http://ofbuckleyandbeatles.wordpress.com/ Drae

    There are a lot of moral questions that could be posed over marijuana prohibition, and this one is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Is it moral to tear apart families over mere possession of marijuana? Is it moral to deny the sick medicine that can ease their pain and suffering? Is it moral that our policies have led to virtual martial law and a bloodbath in Mexico? Is it moral that we treat drug use and drug abuse as a criminal problem when really it’s a mental health issue?

    If this proposal passes or not will depend in large part on the money spent by public employee unions trying to protect their jobs more than answering these moral questions.

  • David

    @Bonnie No smoke.

  • Regular News Cut Commenter

    The whole debate around marijuana legalization is tricky. To say “I support marijuana legalization because I’m an upstanding citizen and smoke it” is to ask for a random drug test and quick termination at your place of employment. Only people who are self-employed or in very permissive jobs, like Rick Steves, can come out as marijuana users. You can say you used it in the past or that you know users or whatever, but to admit to use is far to dangerous. Which means getting a good handle on public opinion is also difficult. And it also makes having a reasonable debate difficult.

    The common language of the anti-pot groups are around it being a gateway drug and that drug users are losers. We don’t point to people in society and say, “look, that person smoked weed last weekend and now is working at their good job and doing good to society.” No one mentions that our last three presidents all (basically) admitted to using recreational drugs.

  • http://ofbuckleyandbeatles.wordpress.com/ Drae

    @Mark Gisleson –

    Excuse me, but marijuana prohibition gets bipartisan support. As a matter of fact, many so-called liberals have supported prohibition – from Charlie Rangle to Thurgood Marshall to Howard Dean. Oh – and the Obama administration, who has fired agents for suggesting an end to prohibition, argued in favor of using GPS tracking on cars without warrants so they can bust drug dealers, and threatened California over their ballot measure.

    And in fact, some notable conservatives have supported ending prohibition. Who said, “[m]arijuana never kicks down your door in the middle of the night. Marijuana never locks up sick and dying people, does not suppress medical research, does not peek in bedroom windows. Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.” It was William F. Buckley. Milton Friedman called the drug war a “socialist enterprise.” It was republicans in Vermont who passed a law for farmers to grow hemp, and Howard Dean who vetoed it.

    Do not kid yourself as to who opposes reform of our marijuana laws. Cannabis has a wide array of special interests opposing it, from big pharma to law enforcement unions to cotton. They only way to defeat them is for the people, from both side of the aisle, to say “ENOUGH!” Hopefully Colorado will do so.

  • kennedy

    A bit of reaching going on here. Marijuana is not solely responsible for funding drug gangs. Most recent news has been about meth, and there is also crack, heroin, cocaine, designer drugs, etc. Expecting all the ills of the drug trade to be cured by legalizing marijuana is believeable only if you are using some of the drugs previously mentioned. Using that argument to justify legalization holds no water.

  • jon

    @Kennedy,

    It might be a reach, as there are other drugs, but 52% (in 2010) of drug arrests were related to marijuana.

    ~50% of convicts in prison are there because of drug charges.

    My math suggests this means 25% of the prisoners in this country are there because of Marijuana.

    I have no data on how many others drug offenses wouldn’t have happened if Marijuana was legalized, no one really does. I’d guess a few, but perhaps not as significant a number as we’d hope, but still cutting half of the arrests in this country for drug use would certainly go along way to reducing the cost of the war on drugs, and maybe even make it a little easier to fund with tax revenue on marijuana.

  • bsimon

    I agree with Drae, to the extent that ending doo prohibition is a nonpartisan issue. I’d portray it more as an authoritarian vs libertarian debate than liberal vs conservative.

    Given that smoking is banned in much of the country, one has to wonder who’s being protected by the ban?

  • http://ofbuckleyandbeatles.wordpress.com/ Drae

    @jon –

    You’re exactly right. About 25% of our prison population is in jail because of marijuana.

    Additionally, I think the case can be made for a reduction in hard drug use under marijuana legalization. I think there is something to be said for honesty in our national drug policy. What, exactly, are our children supposed to think when the government continues to foist lies on them, and all of us, by classifying marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic on par with heroin? When we lie to children about important matters like drug consumption, honesty is the best policy, IMHO. These lies about marijuana are more dangerous to our children than marijuana is.

    BTW – the new trend in teen drug use is prescription pills… Legal and regulated drugs that actually can be narcotic based and therefore addictive and deadly. But let’s be sure to make weed out to be the boogeyman.

  • Mark Gisleson

    @ Drae

    I never said that half the Democratic party isn’t comprised of centrist/conservatives, I simply pointed out that “social conservatives,” a label that spans both parties, are the primary non-corporate objectors to marijuana law reform.

    I hate to use terms like Republican and Democratic because half the modern Democratic party is comprised of former Republicans, and the controlling factions in the Republican party came from the Southern Democrats who fled their party when Nixon invited them to come on over.

    Social conservatives, by the way, are not conservatives, not unless your definition of conservatism is denying liberty to others. They are, however, in charge of the Republican party as it is currently constituted, and that’s a fact, just as it’s a fact that so-called liberal President Obama and AG Holder have exacerbated, not lessened, the war on drugs, a hideously moronic war that imprisons Americans while turning Mexico and South America into war zones.

  • http://ofbuckleyandbeatles.wordpress.com/ Drae

    @Mark Gisleson –

    I agree that today’s political labels don’t always fit and I think bsimon put it best when he said it was more an authoritarian vs libertarian issue.

    However, an interesting development as of late is Pat Robertson coming out in favor of ending prohibition, so there is movement away from the drug war even by prominent social conservatives. I, for one, welcome this development in that I believe it will take a broad coalition from across the political spectrum to end prohibition. Every voice speaking out against it should be welcome.

  • kennedy

    Published data from the Department of Justice

    21% of state prisoners are in jail for drug related offenses. Of those in jail for drug offenses, 12% are related to marijuana. That means about 2.5% of state prisoners are in jail for drug charges related to marijuana. Further, 28% of drug offenses were for possession and the rest were for trafficking.

    That means less than 1% of the state prison population is in jail for possession of marijuana.

    This is not a sound basis to argue for decriminalization.

  • http://ofbuckleyandbeatles.wordpress.com/ Drae

    @kennedy –

    That’s data from 2006. The data I used is more recent and also comes from the Bureau of Justice Statistics:

    http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Prisons_and_Jails

    See #66 on that list and the table that accompanies it. Additionally, the drug war has cost the American people over $40 billion a year, with nothing to show for it but over-crowded prisons and bloated police pensions. This financial burden falls more acutely on the states than the federal government, which is why you’re starting to see the states taking a different approach. They can no longer afford the drug war.

    But there is more than prison statistics for basing an argument for decriminalization of marijuana. What about the various moral questions that have been raised?

  • Robert Moffitt

    Dude, that billboard is making me hungry!

  • Mark Gisleson

    @kennedy

    Since you found those numbers, perhaps you could tell us the current percentage of local jail and federal prisoners who have been locked up for marijuana charges?

    I’m finding up-to-date figures hard to find, but I do know that in 2005, approx. 800,000 Americans were arrested on marijuana charges, and that taxpayers shelled out over one billion dollars for those arrests and to keep those marijuana users imprisoned. By 2007, that number had risen to 872,000 arrests, of which 89% were for simple possession. Minorities use marijuana at a lower rate than whites, but are incarcerated for possession at a much higher rate than whites.

    I don’t know where he gets his numbers, but Eric Schlosser says that one out of every six federal prisoners is locked up on a marijuana-related charge. Schlosser also points out that fifteen states allow marijuana offenders to be locked up for life on marijuana charges alone.

    The incentives to make marijuana illegal were driven by Jim Crow era prejudice and aggressive fear-mongering by individuals seeking to strengthen federal law enforcement.

    All over a plant created by God that grows in nature and which requires no special processing before being used, and whose byproducts (seeds, fiber) can be used in cooking and for the manufacture of high quality rope.

    There is no respect in this country for marijuana laws, and if you have any respect for the law, you will support legalization of marijuana on the basis of common sense and simply decency.

  • http://ofbuckleyandbeatles.wordpress.com/ Drae

    @Mark Gisleson – I posted a link to more current numbers, but it’s currently in a holding pattern.

    I did, however, take some time to look over kennedy’s numbers from the link and found s/he left off an interesting piece of information:

    Despite this numerical growth, drug offenders made up the same percentage of State prisoners in both 1997 and 2004 (21%). The percentage of Federal prisoners serving time for drug offenses declined from 63% in 1997 to 55% in 2004.

    Very selective editing, kennedy. Dishonesty is not a sound basis for any debate.

  • http://ofbuckleyandbeatles.wordpress.com/ Drae

    @Mark Gisleson –

    Racism is only part of the story behind marijuana prohibition. There were also special interest lobbying from Dow Chemical, the cotton industry, and the New York Times (because Hurst owned substantial timber holdings), just to name a few. This is because of cannabis’ industrial uses, and when FDR signed marijuana prohibition into law, they had yet to discover THC. So in essence, they didn’t know the difference between hemp and marijuana, and they didn’t care. Marijuana prohibition was a convergence of many vested interests and we do a disservice to the repeal efforts to disregard the other half of the equation.

  • kennedy

    It was suggested that the system is bursting full of garden variety pot smokers. Those offenses are rarely a federal matter, so I quoted the state prison figures. Federal prison is generally for major offenses (91% trafficking, 5% possession), people involved in production and distribution.

    I understand that many people think using marijuana is not a big deal. I think there are good arguments for legalization. Reducing the burden on our legal system is not one of them. The illegal drug trade will not go away if marijuana is legalized as it is a small fraction. To quit spending money on enforcement, we would need to legalize cocaine, heroine, all drugs. I don’t hear anyone making that argument.

  • Jim Shapiro

    In my not so humble but fairly educated opinion,

    I think the major issue blocking legalization is that the government has yet to figure out

    how to profit through the legalization of cannabis

    AND SIMULTANEOUSLY

    keep the international and internal war going.

    Follow the money. Always.

  • http://ofbuckleyandbeatles.wordpress.com/ Drae

    @kennedy –

    The drugwarfacts site says that every year we incarcerate tens of thousands of marijuana offenders. This costs the American tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars to house, feed and provide for the inmates as well as the wages and benefits for police, public lawyers, and judges. Despite your assertion we can continue to afford this cost, we can’t. The country is broke, and that money would be better spent elsewhere.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Drae – “This costs the American tax payers…”

    Your articulate, knowledge-based wisdom on this topic is enviable.

    But do you really believe that the Drugwar policies of this country is – or ever will be – based on the best interests of the vast majority of American taxpayers?

  • http://ofbuckleyandbeatles.wordpress.com/ Drae

    @Jim Shapiro –

    “But do you really believe that the Drugwar policies of this country is – or ever will be – based on the best interests of the vast majority of American taxpayers?”

    Clearly the present policies are not, and with an attitude that says we can’t achieve reform, they never will be.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Drae – Touche’ and agreed.

    I apologize for the overly cynical comment, which was primarily meant to engage you in debate – because otherwise we’re in total agreement, and I get a little nervous when that happens.

    Where do you think Randy stands on this one? :-)

  • Jim Shapiro

    david – That’s a lotta vaporizers ( I like the dragon, and anything with cool blue lights.)

    But I guess it looks like I’m gonna have to come up with a different term for my new invention that painlessly ( OK, almost), but widely and permanently disperses the molecules of dea agents.

    THAT’S A JOKE OF COURSE :-)

  • http://ofbuckleyandbeatles.wordpress.com/ Drae

    @Jim Shapiro –

    Well, you and I agreeing on this issue is just proff of its bipartisan support.

    Funny little story: the first time in my life I ever agreed with a conservative was in my high school government class. Our teacher, God bless him, showed us a video of a debate on the drug war. Before he started, he asked the class who we thought would oppose the drug war and who would support it. We overwhelmingly thought the democrats would oppose it. Boy, were we wrong. That was a debate with Mr. William F Buckley – the first conservative to ever speak to me. I have, of course, posted some of his drug war debate videos on my blog, and its why he’s one of the namesakes.

    As for Randy – you know he’s chillin on our side of this debate. LOL

  • Jim Shapiro

    Drae – William F was the guy that I always wished was on my team.

    His son Christopher of course has continued the bon mot tradition of his dad in his novels, and supported the candidacy of now and future President Smooth Talker Peace Prize DOJ Decider.

    Bill is probably still spinning in his grave….