Skip to comments.Potheads, puritans and pragmatists: Two marijuana initiatives put drug warriors on the defensive
Posted on 10/23/2006 5:03:34 PM PDT by JTN
Nevada is known for gambling, 24-hour liquor sales and legal prostitution. Yet the main group opposing Question 7, an initiative on the state's ballot next month that would allow the sale and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 or older, is called the Committee to Keep Nevada Respectable.
In Colorado, opponents of Amendment 44, which would eliminate penalties for adults possessing an ounce or less of marijuana, are equally certain of their own rectitude. "Those who want to legalize drugs weaken our collective struggle against this scourge," declares the Colorado Drug Investigators Association. "Like a cancer, proponents for legalization eat away at society's resolve and moral fiber."
To sum up, smoking pot is less respectable than a drunken gambling spree followed by a visit to a hooker, while people who think adults shouldn't be punished for their choice of recreational intoxicants are like a tumor that will kill you unless it's eradicated. In the face of such self-righteous posturing, the marijuana initiatives' backers have refused to cede the moral high ground, a strategy from which other activists can learn.
The Nevada campaign, which calls itself the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana, emphasizes the advantages of removing marijuana from the black market, where regulation and control are impossible, and allowing adults to obtain the drug from licensed, accountable merchants. To signal that a legal market does not mean anything goes, the initiative increases penalties for injuring people while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The "regulate and control" message has attracted public support from more than 30 Nevada religious leaders. The list includes not just the usual suspects -- Unitarian Universalist ministers and Reform rabbis -- but also representatives of more conservative groups, such as Lutherans and Southern Baptists.
"I don't think using marijuana is a wise choice for anyone," says the Rev. William C. Webb, senior pastor of Reno's Second Baptist Church. "Drugs ruin enough lives. But we don't need our laws ruining more lives. If there has to be a market for marijuana, I'd rather it be regulated with sensible safeguards than run by violent gangs and dangerous drug dealers."
Troy Dayton of the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative, who was largely responsible for persuading Webb and the other religious leaders to back Question 7, notes that support from members of the clergy, which was important in repealing alcohol prohibition, "forces a reframing of the issue." It's no longer a contest between potheads and puritans.
The Colorado campaign, which goes by the name SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation), emphasizes that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and asks, "Should adults be punished for making the rational choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol?" This approach puts prohibitionists on the defensive by asking them to justify the disparate legal treatment of the two drugs.
So far they have not been up to the task. Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger has implicitly conceded marijuana itself is not so bad by implausibly linking it to methamphetamine. In a televised debate with SAFER's Mason Tvert, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers insisted "the only acceptable alternative to intoxication is sobriety."
That's fine for those who avoid all psychoactive substances as a matter of principle. But since most people -- including Suthers, who acknowledges drinking -- like using chemicals to alter their moods and minds, it's reasonable to ask for some consistency in the law's treatment of those chemicals, especially at a time when police are arresting a record number of Americans (nearly 787,000 last year) for marijuana offenses.
Despite a hard push by federal, state and local drug warriors who have been telling voters in Nevada and Colorado that failing to punish adults for smoking pot will "send the wrong message" to children, the latest polls indicate most are unpersuaded. Perhaps they worry about the message sent by the current policy of mindless intolerance.
Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
I don't want THC users living next door to me or my kids. Or anywhere in my neighborhood.
So, if deluded legalizers cannot find a way to banish these dangerous fools to some cave, then maintain its status of illegality nation wide.
I was having a conversation today about someone who's "out of it" all the time due to a past marijuana habit.
It really does fry your brain, whether we should allow people the "freedom" to fry their brains ...
LOL - I've done all of the above. ;-)
That's not the issue at all. The issue is nobody wants to pay good money for a hooker that is stoned......I kid, I kid. Don't ban me.
In all seriousness the last time this came up the pro-dopers were dealt a blow right before the election. A journalist from the Las Vegas newspaper got killed by a driver who was stoned out of his gourd.
The same argument was made a couple years ago about the marriage protection act that was placed on the ballot. Nevada is the easiest state to get married, the easiest to get a divorce, legal gambling in every public venue outside schools, churches, and public libraries, legalized brothels; and now they want to protect marriage. Pretty good argument, but it still passed.
"It really does fry your brain, whether we should allow people the "freedom" to fry their brains ..."
... while we 'allow' them the freedom to calcify their livers, cancerfy their lungs, and tan their perfect skins to carcenoma. Not to mention eat until they resemble Jabba the Hutt. Why pick on a homegrown vegetable?
If it's just a vegetable, then smoke squash, and shut up already about pot.
Uhm, this thread's about pot. If you can't even handle reading about pot, maybe you shouldn't be on the thread.
I think mandatory drug testing as an OSHA standard for all employment (including politicians) would take care of it.
In fact, mandatory drug testing for all employees of 501(c) tax-exempt corporations by the Internal Revenue Code as a condition for "non-profit" status would have all the leftist front groups fold overnight...
Yeah, a lot of people are out of it. And not all admit it necessarily that it's due to pot use.
Trust me, pot use makes people lose theirselves. Even a relatively minor usage changes a person for the worse.
I think mandatory drug testing as an OSHA standard for all employment (including politicians) would take care of it.
Mandatory drug testing for all employees of 501(c) tax-exempt corporations by the Internal Revenue Code as a condition for "non-profit" status would have all the leftist front groups fold overnight...
For those who advocate legalization on practical grounds, NOT constitutional grounds, what outcome of legalization would constitute a failure in your book?
This is me, not posting on this thread, because I'm so tired of hearing all the pro and con arguments for and against legalizing pot. In fact, I'm actually not even here, and you're not even reading this.
I'll tell you what they want. To be able to get high easier without legal hassles and for cheaper. QED.
Sir Francis: Mandatory drug testing for all including politicians of course--- When do we start? I love it!
I've noticed there are two types of people who advocate legalizing pot. The first group smokes pot.
And the second group supports legalized tyranny.
Police still being able to conduct no-knock SWAT raids on what may or may not be the right house to make a marijuana bust. Young people still getting convictions that prevent them from getting student loans or joining the military. Street dealers still financing criminal enterprises through obscene profits, and selling unknown green substances that could be anything from oregano to poison. Billions of tax dollars still spent to locate, arrest, process, prosecute, and incarcerate people for buying or using marijuana. People still being killed over marijuana, or marijuana profits.
If marijuana were legal to produce, sell, buy, and consume, and those things still occurred, that legalization would have been a failure from a practical perspective, in my opinion.
I havent touched the stuff since 1977. I think it is stupid. I also think it should be legal.
That is, in a free country it should be legal.
Wow. That's a good idea. And all it would take is a hair sample.
Well that was a complete dodge of the question if there ever was one.
I'll just mark you down as, "The only failure could be not getting free and easy weed."
I would much rather have a THC user living next to me that a violent drunk. Or especially someone who goes out to a bar and then drives home drunk.
That's bad too. Put them away and lock them up for ever. Just don't add insult to injury by making THC legal.
Can't think of too many. Colorado already has pot decriminalized to where possession of an ounce or less is a summary offense, and we haven't seen an outbreak there of crazed potheads committing armed robberies of junk food from 7-11s as some have claimed would be inevitable.
Seriously, I smoked the crap when I was younger. And did beer. Still drink beer. Don't smoke pot any longer. My experience with both is that some people can handle alcohol, some can't. Some people can handle pot, some can't. There will be problems with people in the latter categories. But the number of people in the latter category when it comes to pot who also present a clear and present danger to society is far smaller than with booze.
So it's stupid to make pot possession criminal. It's a waste of law enforcement resources and prison cells. Best to decriminalize it but still allow some law enforcement levers for the few people that do become social problems from abuse of weed.
I assume you are OK with an employer being able to not hire or fire an employee for any reason, including drug use, as a matter of this being a free country. I can't see that the pure libertarian argument can force an employer to do otherwise.
In the public sector, the employer would be the electorate, deciding who gets government employment, help, etc. and who doesn't.
I am actually surprised the stuff isn't legal. It gives government one more thing to regulate the crap out of along with every other sin tax. The logistical problem with legalizing drugs would be the constant black market. Government legalizes certain drugs, others become hotter commodities. You also have a black market for stronger versions of the government regulated drug.
I'm OK with a state legalizing pot if the majority of that state decides to, but I'm not OK with the concept that its a constitutional right.
I'm also OK with employers, including government (the electorate), having very broad rights in who they hire and fire, or otherwise hand out money to. If a man doesn't want to employ someone who smokes pot or drinks alcohol or smokes, that should be his business. Same goes for how government funds are spent.
Do what you want, but bare the consequences, might indeed be the best alternative to drug use.
If the government holds a person down and conducts a drug test without a warrant, you have a point, otherwise you don't.
If I'm an employer, private or government, I have a right to set limits on that employment, even if I'm misguided. The prospective employee is in no way forced to undergo a drug test. They can simply go elsewhere.
Employers or any person giving out money, should be able to set their conditions for the voluntary contract. Of course, the drug user can also refuse and go elsewhere.
Apples and oranges. If not using a particular drug is set down as a condition of employment, then that's the contract.
Legally, it doesn't matter why one party wants to uphold the contract. If the employee doesn't want to get fired for smoking pot, they have clear options. Don't smoke pot, or don't work for an employer that prohibits it.
Actually, the cause would be safety if it were OSHA, and it would be as constitutional as prohibiting a worker from using alcohol (alcohol is often prohibited in amounts less than what creates intoxication). This would require that a substantial enough case could be made to keep a majority of voters from overturning it. OSHA does not now regulate a large portion of the workforce, so it would be a highly unlikely eventuality.
It would of course also violate the equal protection clause since people who were not employed would be exempted from the law.
That's just crazy talk. Like saying that DUI laws violate equal protection, because not everyone drives. Not every citizen has to be immediately subject to a law for it to be valid. Does the requirement for a pilot's license violate equal protection because not everyone is a pilot? Of course not. Your equal protection argument is beyond flimsy.
"If it's just a vegetable, then smoke squash, and shut up already about pot."
Hey, don't talk about banning squash. I like squash.
And be sued for such just as easily.
Is it hard to get squash to stay lit?
Pick it, pack it,
Fire it up, Come along,
And take a hit from the bong,
Put the blunt down just for a second,
Don't get me wrong it's not a new method,
Just got a ounce in the mail,
I like a blunt or a big fat bowl,
But my double barrel bong is gettin' me stoned,
I'm skill it, There's water inside don't spill it,
It smells like shit on the carpet,
Still it, goes down smooth when I get a clean hit,
Of the skunky funky smelly green shit,
Sing my song, puff all night long,
As I take Hits from the bong...
Hits from the bong y'all
Let's smoke that bowl, hit the bong,
And then take that finger off of that hole,
Plug it, unplug it,
Don't straaaain, I love you Mary Jane,
She never complains, when I hit Mary,
With that flame, I light up the cherry,
She's so good to me, when I pack a fresh bowl I clean the screen,
Don't get me stirred up the smoke, through the bubbling water,
Is Makin' it pure so I got ta', take my hit and hold it,
Just like Chong, I hit the bowl and I reload it,
Get my four-footer and bring it on...
As I take Hits from the bong,