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Marijuana Is A Leaf
In an AP story, Schwarzenegger backpedals on his comments on marijuana:

LONDON - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says marijuana is not a drug, a British magazine reported Monday. But his spokesman said the governor was joking.

Schwarzenegger told the British edition of GQ magazine that he had not taken drugs, even though the former bodybuilder and Hollywood star has acknowledged using marijuana in the 1970s and was shown smoking a joint in the 1977 documentary "Pumping Iron."

"That is not a drug. It's a leaf," Schwarzenegger told GQ. "My drug was pumping iron, trust me."

Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger's press secretary, said the governor made the comments in a lighthearted context, noting his interviewer was Piers Morgan, one of the judges on "America's Got Talent." Morgan is a former British newspaper editor.

"The governor was doing an interview with the host of 'America's Got Talent,' the newest version of the gong show," McLear said. "I think it's important to keep that quote in the context of the environment where it was said."

"Of course the governor understands marijuana is a drug. It's like when he goes on Leno or the Daily Show, if you took something like that out of context, it might seem shocking but it was in a silly entertainment context," he added.

In the interview for the magazine's December issue, Schwarzenegger refused to condemn politicians who decline to answer questions about drug use.

"What would you rather have? A politician taking stuff and not saying, but making the best decisions and improving things? Or a politician who names all the drugs he or she has taken but makes lousy decisions for the country?" Schwarzenegger was quoted as saying.

How about a governor who fights to get rid of obscene drug laws?

Sorry, how much money are we spending to keep a bunch of potheads in prison? How many people have lost everything or a lot because their escape of choice is a joint, not a martini? How many extraordinary, productive people do you know or know of -- including our governor -- who relax with a doobie from time to time?

Posted by aalkon at October 29, 2007 2:25 PM

Comments

The problem with the WOD is that there's no benefit for a politician to be the first one to try to tear it down. And meanwhile it's perfectly safe to keep towing the line. Once a stampede got started, many of them would pile on, but who's going to be the first one to stick his neck out? Bravery and leadership are not qualities you'll find in the typical politician

Posted by: Todd Fletcher at October 29, 2007 8:57 AM

No shit. I for one, am not all that fond of the alcohol. I am however, very fond of the weed. But no, that's not acceptable. It's gotta be booze or nothing. Stupid, pure stupid.

Posted by: DuWayne at October 29, 2007 9:45 AM

Well, we can all thank the politicians that got kick backs from big pharma when they first lobbied to get the "evil" weed outlawed. o_O

Posted by: Flynne at October 29, 2007 9:57 AM

DuWayne,

While the fight for legal weed continues, what about some of the "legal" (until the gov't gets around to legislating them) alternatives? Stuff like salvia divinorum or other stuff like that? Not that I've indulged in them personally, that kinda stuff sounds interesting, at least academically.

Posted by: Jamie at October 29, 2007 10:20 AM

> how much money are we
> spending to keep a bunch
> of potheads in prison?

Just for being potheads? Nobody knows. All sane people want to be patient and conciliatory to people like that. (Even calling for "forgiveness" makes the crime seem worse that most of us think it is.)

But a lot of people are in there on prosecutions for which the dope is only a small part. We don't want just throw the prison doors open for those people. And at some point --and who wants to say where-- drug dealers are organized crime of the ugliest rank.

Sure, a fat doobie isn't the worst thing that can happen to a person. But what do you want to do about it?

Posted by: Crid at October 29, 2007 10:52 AM

My Libertarian compass spins uselessly on this issue. Every time I hear the "legalize" tambourines, the words "tax" and "regulate" seem to be hanging around in the fine print. The "tax and regulate" crowd seems to be acknowledging that there will be a substantial social cost to legalization.

The way current laws are written and enforced subtly implies that, if you can keep it a secret, no problem but if The Man finds out, you were probably on the road to bigger problems anyway.

Frankly, I am concerned that for some sweetleaf aficionados, the ability to maintain appearances as a productive citizen in a legalized world would require regular access to martin's checking account. And that applies exponentially for recreational substances far easier to produce than a nice, sticky bud.

Posted by: martin at October 29, 2007 11:01 AM

I'm not sure the "tax and regulate" crowd are necessarily acknowledging the social cost. They may just be dangling a carrot to encourage legalization. Or at least that's the way we talked about it in my pothead days. As in: "Why don't they just legalize it, they could make a killing?"

Posted by: moreta at October 29, 2007 11:35 AM

" They may just be dangling a carrot to encourage legalization."
That sounds kind of like the kids in detention trying to finagle an early release on the grounds that the teacher stuck supervising them probably wants to go home just as badly.
Glassy-eyed perma-children in beads notwithstanding, there are a lot of good reasons to legalize some of the substances that are currently illegal. But the loudest people are always the least persuasive. Their wishes for better access to recreational drugs are just that. They don't care about social costs and I don't care how loud they holler for a legal buzz. They have zero political capital and they smell bad.
But even the more coherent segment of the legalization effort is standing there with a straight face and proposing an entire new wing on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The one we have is too big and has too many guns.

I am legally allowed to make a certain quantity of beer, wine, meade or hard liquor in my basement. The reason I don't make even that modest amount is that the stuff tastes awful, makes an unholy mess and doesn't require one to wait till morning for the hangover. Good liquor is worth a few bucks to me and I'm glad I can buy a bottle of Absolut and be reasonably sure of what I am getting.
Cross into the realm of all the plants, chemicals and perverse compounds I can use to derail my bio-operating system, consider the disclaimers and warnings sections of TV ads for medications I should ask my doctor about and I’d rather just act weird and let people think I’m on something.

Posted by: martin at October 29, 2007 12:48 PM

"And at some point --and who wants to say where-- drug dealers are organized crime of the ugliest rank."

The where occurs in the legislative body, which is responsible for creating and enriching that class of criminals.

If you could grow it on your front porch for free without fear of forfeiting your home to the drug gestapo, who would spend $400 an ounce for it? Criminal gangs would hardly bother with a not-for-profit scheme.

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at October 29, 2007 12:55 PM

A law that puts a little gro-lite operation on the same footing as a home beer vat sounds reasonable to me. It would probably put a serious dent in the white powder runners and the meth labs.

All the more reason to bring back Federalism; some states will go for it and others won't. Uhaul can run a weekend special so people can switch places and everything will be cool by Monday.

Man, what am I smoking?

Posted by: martin at October 29, 2007 1:05 PM

The real danger of drugs, of course, is that liberals may have use them to force a family-values politican to post photographs of his preacher's-pulpit on gay websites:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071029/od_nm/australia_election_family_dc;_ylt=Ai2XSHj9B8WWr6agqn8USMGs0NUE

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at October 29, 2007 1:07 PM

from Gog's link"He denied the genitalia in one picture was his, but said he did pose for two photos in an "inappropriate position."

"I hope that my behavior will not reflect badly on my colleagues and friends who share the desire to make Australia the best place in the world to raise a family," he said."

That story highlights the social value of mind-altering substances. Minus these sources of lubrication, mitigation and plausible denial, most people would have died of embarassment and the rest outright murdered each other by now.

Posted by: martin at October 29, 2007 1:26 PM

Amy's posts about imprisoned weed smokers are worrysome because it sounds like she's saying "Let's kick 'em!" without concern for details.

> the legislative body, which
> is responsible for creating
> and enriching that class of
> criminals.

You sure? Were all those guys destined for something safe and and admirable, like the shoelace business or the wristwatch trade, before their lives got derailed by a government that doesn't care?

I think people in the drug business get into it because it's not like other businesses.

Posted by: Crid at October 29, 2007 2:37 PM

And marajuana isn't just a leaf, it's an inebriant.

Posted by: Crid at October 29, 2007 2:38 PM

This country is so full of contradictions. We aren't allowed to drink and drive but I have never been in a gas station that didn't sell iced down beer by the can and koozies to go with it. I have yet to meet a gas station attendant that didn't sigh once or twice selling me zigzags though. You won't meet a single legislator that will endorse forgetting about this petty war on a plant, but yet they'll squabble back and forth on whether or not to impose capital punishment on repeated child molesters.

Posted by: Abby at October 29, 2007 2:49 PM

A law that puts a little gro-lite operation on the same footing as a home beer vat sounds reasonable to me.

I just don't see a big difference between drinking and toking -- except, perhaps, that pot smokers are probably less likely to get behind the wheel.

As far as the potheads jailed, perhaps many get bail. But, I know several extremely productive members of society who smoke pot. In at least one case, the person's career would likely be ruined over a drug arrest.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 29, 2007 2:53 PM

Hitting your account Martin? WTF do you think they're doing now, to the tune of billions a year?

I am not just for legalizing marijuana. I am for going the whole shebang. Make for very nasty penalties for crimes committed under the influence of whatever you might be on, including alcohol, for those afraid of the "danger."

This would mean an end to ninety percent of crime in the ghetto I live in. Legalizing prostitution, would take care of another five percent. Violent crime becomes rather pointless, when you can go to the drug store to pick up your fix, rather than having to go to street dealers, who fight over turf and rob you or each other.

We spend billions a year just trying to catch people using or selling. We spend billions more, keeping them in jail. I would love to see that money spent more wisely, or, gods forbid, just stay in our pockets.

As for regulating, hell yes we would. Kids shouldn't be allowed to buy any of it, any more than they are alcohol, cigs or porn. I'm all for putting it into specialized stores that sell only vice. Hell, it could front the gambling parlor, with a brothel upstairs, one stop shopping.

As for taxing it, why not? Tax the shit out of it and it will still probably end up cheaper than it is on the street. Allow us to cut other individual taxes, which should work for most folks.

And yes Martin, it would continue to have a cost for society. But the cost would be a lot less than it is now, which is the point. Right now it costs billions upon billions annually, with little coming back into the system. Legalization and taxation would make it self supporting with dollars to spare and virtually eliminate all violent crime, related to currently illegal drugs.

I honestly don't get why this isn't fucking obvious to most everybody. Personally, I would like to be able to live in my shitty neighborhood, without worrying whether a stray bullet's going to get me or my family. With seventeen shootings, in a ten block radius of my house, in the last nine months, I am ready for this shit to be over. Every one of those shootings was related to the illegal drug trade, excepting one, which was related to the illegal sex trade. There is no reason that anyone should have to live like this, even in a lowincome neighborhood.

I am having to plan on moving out of this neighborhood, into a more expensive one. This means that instead of buying a home for my family in the next two years, it will probably be more like ten. Thank you very much, drug warriors.

Posted by: DuWayne at October 29, 2007 3:50 PM

"I have yet to meet a gas station attendant that didn't sigh once or twice selling me zigzags though."


That's because joints are inefficient.

Posted by: Steve Daniels at October 29, 2007 3:55 PM

Voting for the weed

Posted by: rusty wilson at October 29, 2007 3:58 PM

You want to keep pot out of the hands of your children?

Legalize it for adults.

Here is my argument. If you want to buy alcohol, you go to someone who has a vested interest in keeping his license to sell alcohol. It's his business, and if he sells to minors he can lose his license and have to go into telemarketing or something. If you want to buy pot, you have to go to a criminal* who risks getting busted no matter who he sells to, so he may as well sell to your eighth grader as well as to someone over twenty-one.

If it were legal for adults and some kid wanted some, most adults would tell them to wait until they are of legal age, just like most adults do for alcohol now. I'm not naive enough to think that no pot would ever get into the hands of minors under this plan, but making it legal for adults would make it harder, not easier, for children to get.

*A criminal is someone who commits a crime. Selling pot is a crime, therefore those who sell pot are criminals. This does not necessarily make them bad people.

Posted by: Steve Daniels at October 29, 2007 4:08 PM

Jamie -

The problem with a lot of legal alternatives, is that they either have little effect, or are highly toxic. Salvia is a very potent hallucinogen, that I can't believe is "safe." I have used a lot of enthogens over the years. I mean a lot, lot.

Salvia is, in milder doses, much like huffing nitrous oxide. I have absolutely no reason to believe that it's physiological effects are any different. Nitrous literally melts away brain cells. Read, it doesn't just kill them, like a lot of drugs do, it actually melts them. This means that surrounding cells lose the support that those cells provided.

The thing to keep in mind, pretty much anything that gets you high, also causes damage. Most potent hallucinogens are also powerful neurotoxins. The major exception to this, is pure LSD, which actually causes remarkably few physiological changes at all. Of course, try finding pure LSD. Even if it was once pure and clean, LSD degrades, unless stored very carefully, into a substance much like strychnine.

Crid -

I think people in the drug business get into it because it's not like other businesses.

This is true, so whats wrong with making it exactly like other businesses and getting the criminals out of it? Take away the criminal aspect and they lose out. While I am sure some of them will probably do other bad things, due to sheer volume, most won't. When you eliminate vice crime, there isn't really a lot of room for criminals left.

Or do you take pride in having nearly the largest percapita prison population in the world? We beat China. We beat Iran. We beat Cuba. We beat most African nations. We beat most Middle Eastern nations. We beat every developed nation in the world. Does this make a bit of fucking sense? Are Americans really that criminally inclined, or do we just have seriously fucked up priorities in the criminal justice department?

I would also note, that the state both Amy and I hail from, Michigan, very narrowly averted a complete shutdown of government, due to budget shortfalls. Right around a third of Michigan's budget, is eaten up by the department of corrections. And the vast majority of "consumers" in that department, are there for drug crimes. Mostly non-violent drug crimes. Of the drug crimes, at least eighty percent are for marijuana. (most cocaine, crack and meth crimes, are interstate in nature and therefore under federal jurisdiction)

Posted by: DuWayne at October 29, 2007 4:55 PM

> whats wrong with making
> it exactly like other
> businesses and getting
> the criminals out of it

They might get into something worse.

> When you eliminate vice
> crime

You're not eliminating crime, you're eliminating prosecution

> do you take pride in having
> nearly the largest percapita
> prison population

Well. I'm not sure I take shame. We're the most spirited people in the world too, so perhaps the ones most in need of containing the criminal element. (BTW, you should give us a cite)

> do we just have seriously
> fucked up priorities

Oh, fella, PUH-leeze. Where you wanna go? Where's your dream society?

I don't understand why Schwartzeneggers and Alkons and others will argue that weed's buzz is so mild and inconsequential as to not be worth discouraging, and then turn around and say "It's just a leaf," as if stoners were really just botany hobbyists, playfully immersed in Latin taxony.

Posted by: Crid at October 29, 2007 5:09 PM

Click my name for the first one. Comparative stats coming up next.

Posted by: DuWayne at October 29, 2007 5:20 PM

Sorry, I couldn't find the handy comparison sheet. But this from Wiki, should give you an idea. Click my name again.

They might get into something worse.

Most drug offenders in prison, are non-violent offenders, who's only crime was selling or using an illicit drug. Most of the time, because they can't afford their drug of choice otherwise. Very few will get into something worse.

Violent offenders, OTOH, are somewhat more likely than the non-violent offenders, to get into something else, if their crime is no longer a crime. But if you legalize vice crimes, there isn't much left. People generally don't get into crime because they just have to break the law, they do it for "easy" profit.

While it could be argued that there might be a slight increase in theft, following the legalization of vice, it is unlikely to be significant. Police take a much stronger interest in nailing people who rob decent folk, than they do in finding out which thug shot another.

You're not eliminating crime, you're eliminating prosecution

Typing s l o w l y, so you can understand. If you make vices that are currently illicit, legal, they are no longer a crime. Moreover, you eliminate all the crime that goes along side it. While it is common for tugs to shoot at each other, over territory, your local liquor store owners rarely shoot at their competitors.

The vast majority of violent crime, is due to the illicit nature of the drug trade or other vice crimes. Legalize the vice, get rid of most violent crime. It's really that fucking simple.

Well. I'm not sure I take shame. We're the most spirited people in the world too, so perhaps the ones most in need of containing the criminal element.

Fucking romantic bullshit. We have a massive prison population, because of our draconian drug laws. We sure as fuck lost the claim to being the home of the free.

Oh, fella, PUH-leeze. Where you wanna go? Where's your dream society?

How about a society where the state can't tell me what I can and can't do, when it involves me and me alone. If I'm not hurting you, or restricting your freedom in some way, the state shouldn't be able to control my life. Pretty simple Crid.


Whats yours, one where the state wipes your ass and tucks you in at night?

Posted by: DuWayne at October 29, 2007 5:49 PM

To add to my dream society.

It would be a society that would allow me to live in the low rent district, so I can eventually provide my family with their own house, without fear of being caught in the fucking crossfire. A society where my neighbors, who can't afford to move into a better neighborhood, can live without fear of stray bullets. Poverty should not equate with unsafe living conditions, nor does it have to. Ending the vice war wouldn't turn it into utopia by any stretch, but it would have prevented every shooting in my 'hood, in the last nine months.

Posted by: DuWayne at October 29, 2007 5:58 PM

"Sorry, how much money are we spending to keep a bunch of potheads in prison?"

Probably not much. Simple possession of an ounce or less is punishable by a maximum $100 fine. This probably encompasses most of your purely recreational users.

"How many people have lost everything or a lot because their escape of choice is a joint, not a martini?"

Lost everything? I don't get it. If you mean have been imprisoned, again - probably not many. See above and click here for a more comprehensive summary of CA's marijuana laws - http://www.canorml.org/laws/calmjlaws.html

I'm not philosophically opposed to drug legalization, but whenever this comes up I always wonder whether the type of drugs people champion (typically marijuana) aren't already legal enough.

Posted by: snakeman99 at October 29, 2007 5:59 PM

Ok, one last post. If you peruse the CIA world fact book (cia.gov), they have the stats on per capita prison populations, for every country in the world, where the data is available. Compare those to the U.S. We are leading most countries. If this doesn't shame you, it bloody well should.

Posted by: DuWayne at October 29, 2007 6:07 PM

> If you make vices that
> are currently illicit,
> legal, they are no
> longer a crime.

1. Extra comma... Don't do that.

2. They're still vices!

I think you're presumptuous about much of this. If all of those arguments did work, they would work. I wish the CATO page would assert that the incarcerated were there only for petty drug offenses, rather than leaving us to imagine what part possession played in their overall sentencing.

> We sure as fuck lost
> the claim to being the
> home of the free.

Don't cluck. Again: Where are the freedom-loving people moving nowadays? Are you packing?

> I'm not philosophically opposed
> to drug legalization

I agree with Snakeman.

Posted by: Crid at October 29, 2007 6:29 PM

Ayn (rhymes with "mine") Rand:

"The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at October 29, 2007 7:19 PM

I always wonder whether the type of drugs people champion (typically marijuana) aren't already legal enough.

I think that this is more or less the case in California. You've got to really try to get in trouble for smoking pot here (but I'm white and so are most of my friends. Others' experiences may vary). I think much less so in some other places, certainly in the Southeast where most of my family lives. But here, especially in the cities, nobody pays too much attention unless you're making an ass of yourself. At which point you've earned it.

Posted by: justin case at October 29, 2007 8:53 PM

Crid -

Extra comma... Don't do that.

Pedantry, don't be a bitch.

They're still vices!

OMG! Vices! Holy shit, what do I do, that guy up the street is smoking crack in his living room! I'm so fucked because of this.

Ok, actually I'm fucked because the little turf fight his thug dealer got in, could catch my kid in the fucking crossfire, not because he's smoking crack.

I think you're presumptuous about much of this. If all of those arguments did work, they would work. I wish the CATO page would assert that the incarcerated were there only for petty drug offenses, rather than leaving us to imagine what part possession played in their overall sentencing.

Read the fucking pages. They talk about violent v. non-violent offenses. It's not usually possession that gets them anyways, it's dealing. Take away the criminality of it, they need to find a new line of work. And the competing, legal shop owners are unlikely to actually shoot at each other.

Don't cluck. Again: Where are the freedom-loving people moving nowadays? Are you packing?

No, I'm trying to change the place that I live. Because I would damn well like to see my country actually embrace freedom. See, not only do I bitch about this sort of thing, I also rabble rouse and try to affect change.

Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing. Freedom to do as one wishes, when it doesn't harm others is beautiful too. But gods forbid anyone should use any recreational drugs, besides alcohol (also a vice) or tobacco (yet another vice) or even bad food (a pervasive vice). And we just can't have people selling time with their sexual organs, never mind that it's their fucking body. Because everyone's a lot safer, when the people selling dope or slit, are doing it on the streets - quite often in my fucking neighborhood.

snakeman -

Lost everything? I don't get it. If you mean have been imprisoned, again - probably not many. See above and click here for a more comprehensive summary of CA's marijuana laws - http://www.canorml.org/laws/calmjlaws.html

Seizure laws are a whore and a half. They don't even need a conviction. Your kid gets pulled over while driving your car? Had a joint on him? Bye, bye car. Get busted with some weed in your house and the cops really don't like you? Bye, bye house. Got a job where the boss wouldn't understand? Bye, bye career. BTW, federal law trumps state law.

Probably not much. Simple possession of an ounce or less is punishable by a maximum $100 fine. This probably encompasses most of your purely recreational users.

That really depends where you are. Most everywhere, that's at least a years probation on the tax payers dime. Many places, it's also a possible year in jail. Again, federal law trumps state law, so don't get busted on any state owned lands. It can get much worse.

I'm not philosophically opposed to drug legalization, but whenever this comes up I always wonder whether the type of drugs people champion (typically marijuana) aren't already legal enough.

Considering the billions upon billions this costs us every year, I think not. And yes, people's lives do get ruined, for nothing more than smoking some marijuana. People who are capable and productive members of society. Get busted, lose the career, lose home, lose family. It happens. Yet the asshole that drives drunk, maims somebody - no big deal.

justin case -

I used to sell weed in Michigan. My partner and I, decided to stop because the cops were noticing us. They went as far as to bust a friend of mine, to try to get to my partner and I. They got him to convince my partner to smoke some pot with him, because he refused to sell him any on tape. They raided the house when they knew he had a half ounce in his room and tried to get him for possession. As an Iranian on a greencard, here since he was five, they tried to start deportation proceedings, because they couldn't get him for distribution. It was successfully fought, because even without the possession conviction (a capitol offense in Iran) he was here because his father was a dissident and he would have been executed for his father's "crimes." The DA knew all of this, before he pushed for deporting him. He figured it would make it easier for him to roll on me and admit that we had been dealers.

It's a fucking plant.

Get past the plant, into the world of harder drugs and things just get worse.

The big question I have, is why it's ok to imprison people for weed, but not the alcohol. Stoner/drunk, given the choice, I'll take the stoner any day. Drunks can be moody, violent and unpredictable. Stoners, not so much.

Posted by: DuWayne at October 29, 2007 9:50 PM

> I also rabble rouse and
> try to affect change

Effect. With an e.

Posted by: Crid at October 29, 2007 11:05 PM

"Seizure laws are a whore and a half."

These only apply if you're dealing. I thought we were defending the put upon productive members of society who relax with a toke? Now we're feeling sorry for drug dealers?

"federal law trumps state law"

You mention this twice, but I don't see your point. Federal drug laws typically would only take effect if you cross state lines to *again* traffic in marijuana, not for simple use.

"Most everywhere, that's at least a years probation on the tax payers dime."

Actually, its usually a deferral program that involves drug awareness classes funded by the perp seeking to avoid jail time.

"Considering the billions upon billions this costs us every year, I think not."

Billions with a "B"? For recreational marijuana prosecutions? You really think so? I don't.

"And yes, people's lives do get ruined, for nothing more than smoking some marijuana. People who are capable and productive members of society. Get busted, lose the career, lose home, lose family. It happens."

Well, I'm sure some loved ones have parted ways over marijuana use. But I'd need a few more examples before I'm convinced that prosecutions for marijuana use have given rise to a nationwide epidemic of broken homes.

As my friend the criminal defense attorney put it when I asked him this evening, "there isn't a single person in a California prison right now who is there for smoking a joint - not one."

Posted by: snakeman99 at October 29, 2007 11:39 PM

"there isn't a single person in a California prison right now who is there for smoking a joint - not one."

That's because possession of a joint is a $100 traffic ticket in California.

Selling it, possessing weight, or growing it (all required to end up "smoking a joint") -- look out, mama, there's a policeman outside with a shopping list, and he's looking at your house. And car. And jewelry.

You're better off robbing someone -- at least they don't take your house and car for that.

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at October 30, 2007 7:02 AM

If we found an island nation of Personal-Responsibility-Land, there is only one law I will insist on: It shall be illegal to come to the aid of anyone, ever. That law will make all others unnecessary and redundant* and no one in their right mind will set foot in the place.

DuWayne, you've got it all figured out. To start dissecting your grand vision from one angle might give the impression that the another has more merit but such is life and I begin at random.

You say "[p]overty should not equate with unsafe living conditions, nor does it have to." I keep cleaning my screen, running diagnostics, I even did a full defrag; DuWayne, that doesn't make any sense given the meanings of those words. Poverty is not a lifestyle choice, it means being unable to live like a human being.

You talk about the relative barbarity of putting people in jail on drug charges and mention China by way of comparison!? China's method of saving on prison costs involves sending the family of the accused a bill for the bullet that was fired into the back of his head.

You talk about an illegal trade making the transition to a legal one. The head of the Medellin Cartel is going to sit down at the next NAFTA conference?

You make the obligatory comparisons to alcohol. People have been bending an elbow for longer than we've been starting fires on purpose. If I'm writing a screenplay, I can have one of my characters drinking alone or drinking before noon and without a single syllable of dialogue, my audience will get that the character has a problem. We can handle alcohol, just barely, because we've got social experience with it.

A simple experiment in addiction involves gradually introducing mice to alcohol through their water supply. Eventually, the mice will refuse water or even a weaker alcohol/water mixture in favor of a stronger one. They will die of starvation and dehydration and it works with any intoxicant.

Intoxicants are a special case because they rob a person of rationality. Rational Man (rat-man)is the hypothetical citizen on which all political models are based. Put rat-man on dope and his motivations skew outside the range of any model. I've dealt with addicts before. I've promised a person very close to me that I will shoot her on sight if she starts using again and I mean it.

So yeah, grow a little Oaxacan ditch weed and offer it to your house guests. Beyond that lies misery and chaos and the walls and guns of civilization stay where they are.

*grammarian bait

Posted by: martin at October 30, 2007 8:06 AM

Martin -

These only apply if you're dealing. I thought we were defending the put upon productive members of society who relax with a toke? Now we're feeling sorry for drug dealers?

Feeling sorry for, no. Just tired of spending billions to keep them in prison. Especially when their only crime was selling dope to consenting adults.

Poverty is not a lifestyle choice, it means being unable to live like a human being.

You misunderstand. Seventeen shootings, within a ten block radius of my home, in nine months. All of them vice related, all but one drug related. Again, legitimate store owners rarely shoot at the competition. And if they get screwed or ripped off, they usually go to the courts for redress, rather than shooting it out.

You talk about the relative barbarity of putting people in jail on drug charges and mention China by way of comparison!? China's method of saving on prison costs involves sending the family of the accused a bill for the bullet that was fired into the back of his head.

If it were just China, you'd have a point. Look at it this way, we have five percent of the worlds population. We also have twenty-five percent of the worlds prison population. Do you honestly like paying for all that, on top of the billions spet trying to catch druggies and dealers? Not to mention all those on parole or probation.

You talk about an illegal trade making the transition to a legal one. The head of the Medellin Cartel is going to sit down at the next NAFTA conference?

Good lord no. He has a lot to loose if cocaines legalized, even if legitimate companies were to do business with him.

You make the obligatory comparisons to alcohol. People have been bending an elbow for longer than we've been starting fires on purpose. If I'm writing a screenplay, I can have one of my characters drinking alone or drinking before noon and without a single syllable of dialogue, my audience will get that the character has a problem. We can handle alcohol, just barely, because we've got social experience with it.

Bullshit. Seriously. Are you honestly going to try to say that society has a healthy ability to do the alcohol?

The penalties for drunk driving get worse every year, yet the rates for drunk driving stay pretty constant. The cops spend an undue amount of time and energy, dealing with alcohol related problems. More people are in treatment for alcohol abuse than for any other substance.

Intoxicants are a special case because they rob a person of rationality. Rational Man (rat-man)is the hypothetical citizen on which all political models are based. Put rat-man on dope and his motivations skew outside the range of any model. I've dealt with addicts before. I've promised a person very close to me that I will shoot her on sight if she starts using again and I mean it.

Which is totally and entirely meaningless. Sad, but irrelevant. There are also a lot of alcoholics out there.

Consider this. It's all legal. No one has to fear legal repercussions for getting help. The taxes levied through the sale of those drugs, will help pay for treatment.

So yeah, grow a little Oaxacan ditch weed and offer it to your house guests. Beyond that lies misery and chaos and the walls and guns of civilization stay where they are.

I might, if it didn't mean that I would risk having my children taken away and going to prison. It would be nice though, as it would guarantee that I never smoked dope that supported terrorism. Instead, I just abstain from all of it, excepting the rare occasions when I get out to visit friends who toke.

snakeman -

drc.net has plenty of stories about people who have gotten fucked by the war on vice. Including many who have gotten screwed because of plain old weed. You have to realize that Cali, Oregon and Washington are rather exceptional, compared to the rest of the country. I got busted with nothing more than a used pipe, back in Michigan. Got a years probation. The maximum allowed sentence would have been six months in jail. Thankfully, I'm a yes sir, not sir kind of guy, when it comes to dealing with cops and judges.

And seizure laws apply for those in possession, not just dealers.

Posted by: DuWayne at October 30, 2007 9:40 AM

Duwayne -

You make some good points, but this one is just plain incorrect:

"And seizure laws apply for those in possession, not just dealers."

Seizure laws are based on the notion that the seized assets result from illegal trade proceeds. RICO seizure laws apply equally to the skin trade and illegal gambling as well as drug dealing. The common denominator is that the perp is making money illegally, not that he or she simply possesses.

Posted by: snakeman99 at October 30, 2007 10:06 AM

" Are you honestly going to try to say that society has a healthy ability to do the alcohol?"

How did “barely” get translated as “healthy”?
Laws can be tweaked in a way that social conventions can’t. If people aren’t ready to see little glass pipes and syringes in the same way they currently see a wine glass or a pint mug, you and I aren’t going to be able to sway them through compelling logic.

Regarding addiction: " Which is totally and entirely meaningless…"

When a person gets too drunk or too high, they are no longer welcome at the table of sage deliberation; same if their craving for their drug of choice is all they can think about. Their ability to act as a responsible citizen has been compromised.

“Seventeen shootings”

It keeps coming back to your neighborhood. It sounds like a mess and I wish you the best of luck in getting your family to a better place. But let’s impose some emotional distance. I suggest that they are not shooting at each other because their chosen trade has been arbitrarily and capriciously made illegal but because they have poor negotiation skills, anger management issues and sociopathic tendencies. Legalize drugs and these same people will not head down to the new Rite-Aid annex to apply for jobs in pharmaceutical distribution. They will simply wait for the margins of society to re-establish themselves and set up camp on the extreme fringe.

You keep asking me how I like paying billions of dollars to keep poor Tommy-Toker in jail and I’m telling you I’m not falling for it. It’s like asking how I like paying for a roof when all it does is keep the rain off and never does a thing to stop it raining in the first place. I guess the simple answer is that I like paying for it just fine because I think full-scale legalization would cost one holy fuck of a lot more. Help’s there when Tommy’s ready to ask for it. I take a "billions for defense, zero for tribute" approach.

The most compelling piece of political theory I have ever read is the bit about people being born with the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The first draft said “property” instead of “happiness” and they were wimps for changing it. The RIGHT to hoover a line of Peruvian flake requires you to make a perilous journey into the Andes or pay proxies to do it for you. Each transaction between the Andes and my glass-topped coffee table, legal or otherwise is going to be supported by somebody. The law supports a wide range of economic activity but the recreational drug trade is fouled by the exploitation of addiction, it subtracts far more from civilization than it adds. It's not going away but it would still be a mistake to give in to it.

Posted by: martin at October 30, 2007 11:14 AM

snakeman -

Read some of the stories at drc.net. Possession can get your assets seized. They don't have to prove you were selling it.

Martin -

I come back to my neighborhood, because there are a hell of a lot like it, all over the country. If vice was legal, the vast majority of violent crime would vanish.

So you don't mind sepnding the billions a year on the vice wars. Why? Do you honestly think it would be more expensive not to? Look at the Netherlands. Look at how much drugs and vice impact their society. How much they spend per capita, compared to the taxes they take in from vice.

Also consider it from this angle. Everything you are afraid that legal vice would cost society, it already does, in spite of draconian laws against.

Posted by: DuWayne at October 30, 2007 12:12 PM

Duwayne -

I actually did go to drc.net and its a traffic-driving web page that promotes various links mostly related to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Could you provide the link to which you are referring?

"If vice was legal, the vast majority of violent crime would vanish."

This is the real point isn't it? I wish I could believe this, but I don't. Legalizing marijuana and other so-called 'natural' drugs (an arbitrary distinction) would do very little to stem the violent crime associated with meth and heroin.

So let's say we go full hog and legalize ALL drugs. Do we really believe that Sally Meth-head is going to go start going to the pharmacy for her fix? Maybe, if its cheaper than going across the street. Is this realistic if we're going to fund a new delivery infrastructure? Are we willing to tolerate the vast potential for bribery and corruption involved in having the Mythical Federal Drug Program employ hundreds (thousands?) of pharmacists, MDs, cashiers, dock workers, deliverymen, and stock boys?

Alternatively, we could subcontract out the entire mess to RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris and leave oversight to their shareholders and the Dow Jones. I'm sure they wouldn't mind. (Legal urban legend has it that Big Tobacco has been sitting on the trademark for "Marlboro Greens" for decades now.)

But what about minors going to their next rave? Does the new regime favor legal use by minors? Assuming the answer is no, you're still left with a viable underworld market to spawn the very crime we're trying to stem.

I just don't see legalization creating the violence-free America you do.

Posted by: snakeman99 at October 30, 2007 12:29 PM

snakeman -

My bad, it's drcnet.org

This is the real point isn't it? I wish I could believe this, but I don't. Legalizing marijuana and other so-called 'natural' drugs (an arbitrary distinction) would do very little to stem the violent crime associated with meth and heroin.

That's why I favor legalizing all vice. Including meth and heroin. You can put prostitution and gambling in there for good measure. Point being, if these things were legal, the majority of motivation for violent crime would cease to exist.

Maybe, if its cheaper than going across the street.

The market for illegal drugs would vanish very quickly. In spite of the fact that the violence involved is largely relegated to the shitty parts of town, the biggest consumers of drugs are middle class on up. Do you really think that they're going to go to the street dealers when they can get it legally? The high end market, is the backbone of the illicit drug trade. Besides which, on a base line, it would be far cheaper to produce all of these drugs legally. Plenty of room for profits and high taxes before you hit street prices now.

Is this realistic if we're going to fund a new delivery infrastructure?

What new infrastructure? We already have plenty of secure transportation methods. Besides which, like any other industry, the drug industry would do the funding.

Are we willing to tolerate the vast potential for bribery and corruption involved in having the Mythical Federal Drug Program employ hundreds (thousands?) of pharmacists, MDs, cashiers, dock workers, deliverymen, and stock boys?

Now your just being silly. Like we don't have plenty of potential for corruption now, both in and out of the illicit drug trade. Indeed, the corruption we have now is pervasive and occasionally deadly. You don't think there are corrupt cops on every level? You don't think there are plenty of them playing both sides?

I would argue that the opportunities for corruption are far more pervasive with the status quo. At least if it was legal, everything would be far more open and above board. Make it easier to track and root out the corrupt.

Alternatively, we could subcontract out the entire mess to RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris and leave oversight to their shareholders and the Dow Jones. I'm sure they wouldn't mind. (Legal urban legend has it that Big Tobacco has been sitting on the trademark for "Marlboro Greens" for decades now.)

The tax base for alcohol in states that heavily regulate liquor, more than covers the cost (something I actually disagree with). Even without state monopoly, the taxes would cover reasonable state oversight. Taxes on a lot of other industries pay for oversight for them. Drugs need not be any different.

But what about minors going to their next rave? Does the new regime favor legal use by minors? Assuming the answer is no, you're still left with a viable underworld market to spawn the very crime we're trying to stem.
As somebody pointed out above, it would be far easier to control minor access to drugs, if they were legal. I started smoking pot when I was 13, dropped acid when I was 14. It would have been possible for me to get a lot of other drugs too.

The default public school location for my kindergarten son, has a huge problem with crack. That's an elementary school. They also have problems with the weed. Not so much with the alcohol.

I'm not saying that it wouldn't be a problem, but it would be no more so than the same problems with alcohol. Make the penalties for supplying a minor what they should be, it would be less of a problem.

I just don't see legalization creating the violence-free America you do.

I am not saying that it would make for a violence free America, just a far less violent one. Where's the motivation, when you make vice legal? The majority of violence is due to the illicit nature of vice. In large part, because people engaged in illicit activities don't have any recourse when things go wrong. When someone who gets screwed by their dealer, can go to court, why shoot him?

Posted by: DuWayne at October 30, 2007 5:55 PM

Without being long-winded, let me say that I broadly agree with DuWayne on his point any value gained due to the criminalization of drugs (i.e., fewer people with drug-related accidents, illnesses and addictions) is outweighed by the massive expenses of funding the war on drugs, imprisoning huge numbers of people and providing violent gangs in the U.S., Mexico, and Afghanistan (to name three places pertinent to us) with a limitless supply of money. I'd much rather see drug production done under the auspices of the law, taxed, and sales regulated like alcohol. I think this would make us better off on the whole.

Posted by: justin case at October 30, 2007 7:35 PM

I took the day off on this one, but let's acknowledge that alcohol can be enjoyed without inebriation, whereas these others things aren't. You never hear a junkie say "I just had a little and barely felt the effect! It really helped me relax at the party!"

Posted by: Crid at October 31, 2007 3:28 AM

**You never hear a junkie say "I just had a little and barely felt the effect! It really helped me relax at the party!"**

True, but what I DO hear is "Hey, nobunny gon tell me I can't keys drive! I work for a livin you sumbitch, ever dam day you ever try that, hey you lookin at me I oughta kick yer ass yew little BARRFFF"

Alcohol. It's okay to be addicted 'cuz the gummint puts a stamp on it.

This bit of nonsense brought to you by the fine folks at Bear Whiz Brewery.

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at October 31, 2007 12:36 PM

And you certainly do hear pot smokers say "I didn't get really high, I just had a little puff. It really helped me relax"

Posted by: justin case at October 31, 2007 1:38 PM

> It's okay to be addicted
> 'cuz the gummint puts a
> stamp on it.

People like to drink. It's not about what the government decided, it's about how people want to be governed.

And people don't want to be in the business of certifying and taxing heroin and crack and acid and E and whatever the flavor of the month is.

> It really helped me relax

As noted above, dope smokers who really are in control of their behavior don't risk much nowadays. But they say the weed is much more powerful than it was back during the Carter administration, when I last give it a puff.

I think it's cool that society has a boundary about this, no matter how ragged it seems.

Posted by: Crid at October 31, 2007 5:53 PM

And you certainly do hear pot smokers say "I didn't get really high, I just had a little puff. It really helped me relax"

Yes you do, Justin. Lots of times, I've taken a toke or 2 off a joint, put it down, and then done housework, artwork, yardwork, any number of other things that needed doing, with just a little bit of a buzz on. Actually, that's one of my favorite things to do right before going to a movie: have a toke or two, put it out, go to the movie, enjoy, go out after for a couple of drinks, get home, have another toke, have some great sex, go to sleep. Ah, well, I'm just an old hippie. So sue me. o_O

Posted by: Flynne at November 1, 2007 6:17 AM

"People like to drink. It's not about what the government decided, it's about how people want to be governed."

People like to drug, too.

As to the government, the people decided how they wanted to be governed, so they banned alcohol, and unleashed a wave of bootlegging, police corruption, murder and smuggling in the new age of criminalized booze.

Much like today's drug prohibition, only now the gangsters are making billions, tax-free.

The hippies were right (about the pot, not the patchouli incense).

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at November 1, 2007 7:46 AM

I'll have a post about this conversation up on my blog tomorrow. I want to address some of the points brought up here in far more detail and with a lot of links.

Crid -

Why do you hate America and love the terrorists? A huge amount of illicit drug monies make it into terrorist coffers. Aside from every other reason I have listed about the negatives of the vice war.

Posted by: DuWayne at November 1, 2007 9:32 AM

DuWayne, I took a look at your blog. I started to look at the comments for the first post that had any and noticed the following from the next post down:
"...I will not tolerate certain denialism type comments. They will stay or go at my sole discretion, but if you say things along the lines of [examples given] do not be surprised if your comment disappears. You are welcome to comment in other places...You are not so welcome here. "

Thanks but no thanks. I will continue to squander my time (and my employer's bandwidth) with Ms. Alkon who lets me make as big a fool of myself as I care to.

Posted by: martin at November 1, 2007 10:26 AM

Martin -

If youn were to visit the blogs that do allow such comment threads, you would understand. I allowed one person to leave a polite HIV denial comment, which I responded to. Less than an hour later I had ten more that were not so much, including someone threatening to kill a particular scientist. In the interest of avoiding such long diatribes, I delete the comments of certain denialists out of hand.

People that are polite and actually interested in legitimate discussion are welcome to comment, even if they are denialists. But I am not interested in having the several hundred comments per thread, nutjobs that have no interest in actually discussing and debating the issue. I also don't want them going into several entirely unrelated threads, doing the same.

I welcome dissent at my blog. I welcome people to write posts for the front page, that are entirely contrary to some of my most fundamental values. If you wanted to write a post about how my comment policy stifles dissent and it was coherent, I would post it (though I wouldn't change the policy).

I would also note, that three of the denialist posts that I deleted, involved a host of other issues, heavy with links. Ranging from germ theory denial, to 911 was caused by laser beams from space. One of them also discussed the NWO, headed by the UN/extra-terrestrial alliance, run from the base on the dark side of the moon.

I am all about having a discussion. I am not interested in having hundreds of comments that ramble about complete and utter bullshit. It distracts from the discussion and gets discussion related comments lost in the mix.

Aside from that, I recently lost a friend to AIDS related illness, because she bought into the denialist bullshit and didn't take meds for way too long. I have an exceptionally low tolerance for the denialist propaganda. It kills. People that want to engage in those diatribes have forums that they are allowed to do so. My blog is not one of them.

If you wish to comment on the topic at hand, your more than welcome to make as much a fool as you wish. You are welcome to disagree as strenuously as you wish. If you start ranting about laser beams from space or the NWO, I would probably delete the comment, unless it was amusing enough - in which case I might pop it onto the front page for shits and giggles.

Posted by: DuWayne at November 1, 2007 4:38 PM

> A huge amount of illicit drug
> monies make it into terrorist
> coffers.

If we just kill all the dope smokers, it won't be a problem

Posted by: Crid at November 1, 2007 5:45 PM

> Ms. Alkon who lets me make
> as big a fool of myself
> as I care to.

In Australia there's a successful public affairs television program where popular figures and politicians are given as much time as they want to make their arguments. It's called "Enough Rope." Amy does that too.

Posted by: Crid at November 1, 2007 5:52 PM

Crid -

Great idea! After all, it works for Iran, it could work here too. Should we kill all the hookers and their johns too? Blow away those who choose to gamble outside the state or native monopolies?

Talk about a war on vice.

Posted by: DuWayne at November 1, 2007 6:06 PM

Just the weed fiends.

Listen, how ironic do you want people to be? I'm just liberal enough to think it's good that society has passed on the message that blowing your skull wires out with drugs is a bad thing... We should care about each other at least that much. I doubt terrorists would go out of business if Mom n' Pop dope stores opened up across small town America. I think that kind of thing would be bad for America. You can quibble about how terribly oppressed you are, if you want to. It would be fun for us to watch.

Posted by: Crid at November 1, 2007 6:37 PM

If we just kill all the dope smokers, it won't be a problem

I guess the engagement's off then, eh, Crid? o_O

Posted by: Flynne at November 2, 2007 5:53 AM

Don't be so touchy about things

Posted by: Crid at November 2, 2007 7:59 AM

heh. Easy for you to say...

Posted by: Flynne at November 2, 2007 8:12 AM

Crid -

Quite honestly, I don't really smoke the dope any more. Having a family, I rarely have the time or inclination. I am simple tired of all the agregious bullshit that goes with the war on vice.

You think legal vice would be bad for America. I think the war on vice is worse for America. You think that drugs are bad for the brain. Then why do you support legal alcohol? Alcohol is worse than many illicit drugs.

We spend a lot of money and deal with a lot of violence stemming directly from the illicit nature of vice. Meanwhile, our society still has to deal with everything that people are afraid of if vice were legal. Oh, how the stupid burns.

Posted by: DuWayne at November 3, 2007 9:37 AM

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