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Marijuana's harm illusory
Rocky Mountain News ^ | January 7, 2003 | Paul Campos

Posted on 01/13/2003 7:31:37 AM PST by MrLeRoy

Twenty-five years ago, Lester Grinspoon noted in his classic study, Marihuana Reconsidered, that "the single greatest risk encountered by the user of marihuana is that of being apprehended as a common criminal, incarcerated and subjected to untold damage to his social life and career." What was true then is even more true today: around 700,000 Americans are arrested annually for simply possessing marijuana, and more than 10,000 Americans are currently in jails and prisons because they have been convicted of marijuana possession, and no other crime.

The government's propagandists are taking full advantage of these statistics: A new anti-drug commercial depicts the potentially devastating arrest of a teenage marijuana smoker (drug convictions bar students from receiving federal educational loans), and concludes: "Marijuana can get you busted. Harmless?" The commercial's unintentionally surreal message - that marijuana is illegal because it's harmful, and it's harmful because it's illegal - is one that seems likely to fill any young person capable of independent thought with contempt for both our marijuana laws and the dangerously authoritarian logic that supports and enforces them.

Imagine if one were to extend this logic to, say, freedom of the press: The government could produce commercials depicting the arrest of young people caught reading "subversive" literature, in order to drive home the point that, if you happen to live under a sufficiently repressive regime, merely reading the wrong sort of book can be hazardous to your health.

Anti-drug zealots will reply that books, unlike marijuana, are harmless. This is of course preposterous: few things are more dangerous than books. How many millions of deaths can be traced to the publication of The Communist Manifesto or Mein Kampf or, for that matter, the Bible and the Quran? Yet this is hardly an argument for the repeal of the First Amendment.

The idea that something ought to be criminalized because it isn't "harmless" is a key feature of the authoritarian mindset. It's an idea that allows for the criminalization of just about any imaginable activity, since almost nothing in this world is harmless. Marijuana isn't harmless, but it isn't nearly as harmful as, for example, alcohol - a substance that causes thousands of fatal overdoses every year (no one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana).

So why don't we make America an alcohol-free nation by criminalizing alcohol? The superficial answer is that we tried that once and it was total failure. (Attempting to eliminate marijuana use has also been a total failure: almost half the current adult population - nearly 100 million Americans - has used marijuana, and several million Americans continue to use it regularly). The more nuanced answer is that making America an alcohol-free nation would actually be a bad thing, even if it were possible.

This isn't merely because the costs of prohibition are so high. Most people who drink alcohol have benefited from the experience more than they've been harmed by it. What anti-drug zealots are incapable of acknowledging is that the same holds true for marijuana users. Indeed the evidence is overwhelming that, for the vast majority of marijuana users, their use has had no significant harmful effects, and many good ones.

Yet as Grinspoon pointed out a quarter-century ago, "reason has had little influence in this matter." The criminal prohibition of marijuana, he said, was due to "cultural factors that have nothing to do with the effect of the drug itself." In the years since, little has changed, as we waste billions of dollars, and give free rein to an increasingly dangerous authoritarianism, in the futile attempt to stamp out this largely benign practice.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: drug; drugskill; libertarians; marijuana; pot; wod; wodlist
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1 posted on 01/13/2003 7:31:37 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: *Wod_list
Wod_list ping
2 posted on 01/13/2003 7:31:55 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: *libertarians
Wow, even the mainstream press is starting to run anti marijuana-prohibition columns. Cracks in the WOD facade are starting to show.
3 posted on 01/13/2003 7:34:06 AM PST by coloradan
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To: MrLeRoy
A nice piece. Thanks for the post.
4 posted on 01/13/2003 7:37:25 AM PST by Hemingway's Ghost
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To: MrLeRoy
Of course, liberdopians aren't pro-drug per se. That's why they obsess about it.
5 posted on 01/13/2003 7:38:55 AM PST by Kevin Curry
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To: Kevin Curry
As always, Kebbie has nothing of substance to say.
6 posted on 01/13/2003 7:40:32 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: MrLeRoy
marijuana is illegal because it's harmful, and it's harmful because it's illegal

This is sort of the same logic applied to illegal aliens. "illegal aliens are illegal because they are criminals, and they are criminals because because they are illegal aliens"

7 posted on 01/13/2003 7:41:47 AM PST by staytrue
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To: Kevin Curry
That's why they obsess about it.

If drug users cost you nothing, would you care one way or another about drug users?

8 posted on 01/13/2003 7:41:59 AM PST by Hemingway's Ghost
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To: MrLeRoy; jmc813
I have to question the number of 10,000 people currently behind bars
for possesion. Seems kinda of low if they are arresting 700,000 people a year, and only 10,000 convictions.
The DA's must really suck....
9 posted on 01/13/2003 7:42:15 AM PST by vin-one (I wish i had something clever to put in this tag)
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To: coloradan
Is it time to legalize prostitution, selling of human organs, adoption rights for babies, cocaine, etc. I think these are victimless crimes too ?
10 posted on 01/13/2003 7:43:50 AM PST by staytrue
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To: Kevin Curry
so what is kc obsessed about today,
oh yeah, someone actually doing something he disagrees with
KC get overit, MJ is as harmless as booze.....
11 posted on 01/13/2003 7:44:19 AM PST by vin-one (I wish i had something clever to put in this tag)
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To: MrLeRoy
I'll bet that if we got rid of all of the Libertarians that there would still be someone out there who thinks that the WOD is a silly waste of time and money. I'm going to get all of my Libertarian tatoos removed so I will sound more credible when I say THE WAR ON DRUGS IS A SILLY WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY.

I guess now no one will have any way to counter what I say.

12 posted on 01/13/2003 7:46:46 AM PST by FreePaul
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To: Kevin Curry
Of course, liberdopians aren't pro-drug per se.

Gosh, such breathtaking logic, such well thought out verse. Who can agrue with that.

Please take the time to learn what you are talking about, you won't look so foolish. Libertarians want goverment out of our personal lives as much as possible. We do not want a nanny state. We believe in personal responsiblity. If you are stupid enough to want to addict yourself, Libertarians feel no need to have goverment save you from yourself. Dropping the war on drugs will eliminate the need for drug users to rob, steal and attack innocents in order to procure the poison they want. Then they can OD or seek drug treatment. Either way we win. They die, problem solved. They wise up, then we only pay once (or twice) for drug treatment. At present, we pay for drug treatment for people who do not want to be off drugs. We then release them back into society, where they resume the habit they never wanted to drop. The WOD has not worked. Again, because some people are slow. In the history of mankind, 'Prohibition' has never worked.

13 posted on 01/13/2003 7:47:20 AM PST by Hodar
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To: MrLeRoy
"Imagine if one were to extend this logic to, say, freedom of the press."

Just the other day, freedom to smoke pot was compared to the 2nd Amendment. In my post, I joked about why they didn't also compare it to the 1st. Well, not missing a beat, here it is!

Legalizing pot will not end the WOD. Billions will not be saved.

14 posted on 01/13/2003 7:47:26 AM PST by robertpaulsen
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To: MrLeRoy
Thanks. Great Post!!
15 posted on 01/13/2003 7:49:42 AM PST by zarf (What is sincere music?)
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To: Kevin Curry
It's a Constitutional thing, you see.
16 posted on 01/13/2003 7:49:54 AM PST by robertpaulsen
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To: robertpaulsen
No. it will be a move towards social sanity though.
17 posted on 01/13/2003 7:50:25 AM PST by zarf (What is sincere music?)
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To: staytrue
Is it time to legalize prostitution, selling of human organs, adoption rights for babies, cocaine, etc. I think these are victimless crimes too ?

Yes to all but adoption rights for babies; they are persons not property.

18 posted on 01/13/2003 7:50:56 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: FreePaul
One does not have to be a libertarian to be against the WOD.

The WOD specifically and prohabition generally DO NOT WORK!!!

19 posted on 01/13/2003 7:52:13 AM PST by zarf (What is sincere music?)
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To: robertpaulsen
Legalizing pot will not end the WOD.

Who in this thread said it would?

Billions will not be saved.

Of course they will; marijuana is far and away the most popular of the drugs against which the multibillion dollar War On Some Drugs is waged.

20 posted on 01/13/2003 7:53:24 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: MrLeRoy
More brilliance from the "Pot makes you a better driver" crowd. Thanks- for nothing!
21 posted on 01/13/2003 7:54:16 AM PST by Destructor
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To: robertpaulsen
It's a Constitutional thing, you see.

In part; the Constitution grants the federal government no authority to regulate the intrastate making, distributing, selling, buying, or using of any drug.

22 posted on 01/13/2003 7:54:59 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: Destructor
Did you have anything to offer in rebuttal, or were you just posting for the thrill of seeing your drivel on the Internet?
23 posted on 01/13/2003 7:56:08 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: staytrue
Trying to compare legalization of Pot to the selling of flesh, stealing and selling of babies and killing someone for their organs to sale is totally bogus and unrealistic. If you don't want it legalized, that's cool. But try to use some realistic and detrimental reasons why.
24 posted on 01/13/2003 8:03:42 AM PST by HELLRAISER II
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To: vin-one; All
KC get overit, MJ is as harmless as booze.....

Here is an article you may find of interest:

Cannabis Linked to Depression, Schizophrenia

LONDON (Reuters) - Smoking cannabis increases the odds of suffering from depression and schizophrenia, doctors said on Friday.

The occasional joint may not be harmful, but people who start using cannabis in their teens have a higher risk of later being diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder and the severity of the illness is linked to the length of exposure to the drug.

"Very young adolescents who use cannabis have an increased risk for developing schizoprehenia as adults and the most at risk are the youngest users," Dr Louise Arseneault, of Kings College in London, told Reuters.

Doctors do not understand how cannabis increases the risk of schizophrenia and depression but they suspect it affects the dopamine system in the brain which is associated with pleasure.

It is thought the drug can trigger the onset or relapse of schizophrenia in people predisposed to the illness and may also exacerbate the symptoms.

In a study of 1,037 people born in New Zealand between 1972-73, Arseneault found that those who began using cannabis as teens were four times more likely to suffer from psychiatric problems as adults than adolescents who did not use the drug.

"The earlier you start, the more vulnerable you are," she said.

Her findings, which are reported in The British Medical Journal, are supported by two other studies in the magazine which found similar results.

Researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Victoria, Australia found that teenage girls who frequently used the drug were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than other adolescents.

Another study of more than 50,000 Swedish enlisted men showed the use of cannabis increased the risk of schizophrenia by 30 percent.

25 posted on 01/13/2003 8:04:56 AM PST by UKCajun
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26 posted on 01/13/2003 8:06:46 AM PST by Mo1 (Join the DC Chapter at the Patriots Rally III on 1/18/03)
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To: Kevin Curry
You remind me of my Grand Pa getting on to my cousin Bucky when we were kids. He would raise hell and tell him of all the evils of Marijuana and alcohol & how he would die and go to hell for doing it. Then he would go into the house and take his Demerol pills and other assorted drugs that he received for a make believe illness that he was over years before and he would stay stoned half the time. But they were legal prescribed drugs, so it was alright. Sound familiar?
27 posted on 01/13/2003 8:08:53 AM PST by HELLRAISER II
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To: MrLeRoy
"In part; the Constitution grants the federal government no authority to regulate the intrastate making, distributing, selling, buying, or using of any drug."

OMG. Really???? Then....then... how can they do this? Can't they be stopped? How can this be happening? Where are the courts????

Or maybe, MrLeRoy, in your opinion, the Constitution grants no authority. It has been proven to you, time after time, with cites, where the govenment gets it's authority. It has been proven to you, time after time, where the courts have ruled, unanimously, that the laws are constitutional.

Yet you choose to ignore these facts and make claims you know to be false. Why do we waste our time with you?

28 posted on 01/13/2003 8:09:43 AM PST by robertpaulsen
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To: MrLeRoy
I think Mary Jane should still be illegal as all other drugs. However, I think the WOD and the time spent on it is ridicuolus. Also, come to think of it I kinda of miss tokin' up.
29 posted on 01/13/2003 8:10:02 AM PST by NC Conservative
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To: robertpaulsen
But it will cut out some of the harmless offenders doing time for something that is not going to hurt anyone. I am not one that thinks there shouldn't be some kind of laws regulating what you can take or smoke, but it's insane what their doing to a lot of otherwise law abiding citizens.
30 posted on 01/13/2003 8:11:51 AM PST by HELLRAISER II
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To: UKCajun
I think we can all agree that the ingestion of smoke into the lungs cannot be particularly beneficial to pulmonary function.

It really doesn't matter whether the smoke is from tobacco, firewood, pot, maple leaves....

That said, it's hardly the government's function to regulate breathing.

Some posters may quarrel with this, but, hey, that's their job!
31 posted on 01/13/2003 8:11:55 AM PST by headsonpikes
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To: robertpaulsen
Then....then... how can they do this? [...] Where are the courts????

Cowed ever since FDR's court-packing threat. Prior to that, they interpreted the Commerce Clause as it was written.

Or maybe, MrLeRoy, in your opinion, the Constitution grants no authority. It has been proven to you, time after time, with cites, where the govenment gets it's authority.

Liar.

32 posted on 01/13/2003 8:12:10 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: MrLeRoy
Most people who drink alcohol have benefited from the experience more than they've been harmed by it.

Beer - Helping white guys dance since 1934

33 posted on 01/13/2003 8:12:17 AM PST by flutters
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To: NC Conservative
I think Mary Jane should still be illegal as all other drugs.

Including the deadly addictive drug alcohol?

34 posted on 01/13/2003 8:12:56 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: Destructor
We haven't said anything about driving better while stoned, I simply think that what I do or what you do at your own home on your time is your own business. If you get caught driving stoned, it's a DUI in my book, send their ass to jail. But don't bust down someones door for it and send their ass to jail, it just isn't right.
35 posted on 01/13/2003 8:14:23 AM PST by HELLRAISER II
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To: robertpaulsen
Billions will not be saved.

By their own figures, in 2001, Missouri law enforcement found and destroyed over 70 million pot plants. Of that total, less than 12 thousand were described as "cultivated marijuana". That means the remaining 69.988 million were worthless feral ditchweed hemp. How much do you figure it costs to do that? That's one state. For one year.

36 posted on 01/13/2003 8:15:31 AM PST by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: MrLeRoy
Welllll...I would certainly agree that the cost of the WOD, both financial and social, is far higher than any benefits received. And I'd be for decriminalizing pot, at least. But to pretend that there will be no social cost or that no individuals with increased legal access to it will fall into harmful habituation is, I believe, overly naive.

The real problem is that like alcohol, the persons most subject to abuse and with the least capacity for self-limitation and self-discipline are also the most vulnerable to the effects of habituation. I'm speaking of students, primarily, and I speak from personal experience. Loss of short-term memory during study time means no studying. And, like alcohol, for most normal people age brings a certain ability to moderate one's intake - and for some people it does not.

While I am adamantly opposed to the WOD I don't think candy-coating the effects of its cessation is likely to be beneficial.

37 posted on 01/13/2003 8:15:39 AM PST by Billthedrill
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To: UKCajun
that those who began using cannabis as teens were four times more likely to suffer from psychiatric problems as adults than adolescents who did not use the drug.

Which can equally well be explained by the theory that the later psychiatric problems are already manifesting themselves in these teens and increasing their propensity to seek out marijuana.

38 posted on 01/13/2003 8:17:09 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: Billthedrill
to pretend that there will be no social cost or that no individuals with increased legal access to it will fall into harmful habituation

Who said that?

39 posted on 01/13/2003 8:18:00 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: HELLRAISER II
True, but you don't have to legalize it to get what you want. Keep it illegal, with a fine for violations. No jail time, no court time, cops are not tied up in court, money is saved, and the violation can be removed from your record.
40 posted on 01/13/2003 8:20:45 AM PST by robertpaulsen
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To: robertpaulsen
It has been proven to you, time after time, where the courts have ruled, unanimously, that the laws are constitutional.

"I write separately only to express my view that the very notion of a ‘substantial effects’ test under the Commerce Clause is inconsistent with the original understanding of Congress’ powers and with this Court’s early Commerce Clause cases. By continuing to apply this rootless and malleable standard, however circumscribed, the Court has encouraged the Federal Government to persist in its view that the Commerce Clause has virtually no limits. Until this Court replaces its existing Commerce Clause jurisprudence with a standard more consistent with the original understanding, we will continue to see Congress appropriating state police powers under the guise of regulating commerce." - Justice Clarence Thomas

Tell it to the judge.

41 posted on 01/13/2003 8:22:11 AM PST by tacticalogic ("Oh bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
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To: robertpaulsen
That would at least be a step in the right direction.
42 posted on 01/13/2003 8:22:49 AM PST by HELLRAISER II
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To: MrLeRoy
What anti-drug zealots are incapable of acknowledging is that the same holds true for marijuana users.

Ok, As one who has been known to party and tip a few occasionally, I would like to here from you pot heads what the good effects are from inhaling the magic dragon?

43 posted on 01/13/2003 8:24:33 AM PST by chachacha
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To: HELLRAISER II
If you don't want it legalized, that's cool. But try to use some realistic and detrimental reasons why.

That's the problem - they don't have any...

44 posted on 01/13/2003 8:25:16 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: robertpaulsen; HELLRAISER II
you don't have to legalize it to get what you want. Keep it illegal, with a fine for violations.

HR may also be concerned about the following effects of the War On Pot, none of which are addressed by your proposal:


45 posted on 01/13/2003 8:27:39 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: Kevin Curry
That's why they obsess about it.

THEY'RE obsessing? Look in a mirror...that's obsession.

46 posted on 01/13/2003 8:28:31 AM PST by copycat (Tag, you're it...)
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To: chachacha
Ok, As one who has been known to party and tip a few occasionally, I would like to here from you pot heads what the good effects are from inhaling the magic dragon?

I suspect the author has in mind benefits like relaxation and enhanced conviviality.

47 posted on 01/13/2003 8:29:45 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: MrLeRoy
Is Free Republic full of potheads? I am begining to think so.
48 posted on 01/13/2003 8:30:26 AM PST by matthew_the_brain
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To: MrLeRoy
This is the problem with the WOD, the buyers and the users get popped while the majority of the dealers/money men (and Politicians) get rich while the average Joe goes to prison.
49 posted on 01/13/2003 8:31:02 AM PST by HELLRAISER II
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To: UKCajun
No argument that recreational drugs such as MJ and alcohol should be used by mature adults. Even if there were no scientific findings to show the marijuana was harmful to teens, it makes no sense to allow children to fog up their minds when they are still learning and forming opinions.

In my opinion, recreational marijuana use by adults in the workforce is in many ways a harmless and victimless activity. It does not cause hangovers and missed work, it is not addictive, and it does not inflate health insurance premiums for replacment organs, such as healthy livers.

50 posted on 01/13/2003 8:31:20 AM PST by madfly
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