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Concern Troll Roger Roffman

In the Seattle Times, Roger A. Roffman writes Time to answer concerns to advance marijuana policy reform

In it, he implies that he finds common cause with marijuana reform, but has some important advice for us.

I believe, however, that we’ll only see success in marijuana policy reform when those in the movement expand the goals they’re trying to achieve. The objective needs to be more than protecting civil liberties. It must also include the goal of protecting those who are vulnerable.

I suspect that chiefs of police, prosecuting attorneys, medical societies, educators, and parents will once again join in supporting change in the marijuana possession laws if those reforms include a number of goals:

  • Protecting adult civil liberties, • Effectively preventing marijuana’s harms to children and adolescents,
  • Acknowledging the reality of marijuana dependence and addressing its prevention and treatment,
  • Proposing credible prevention of accidents because of driving while stoned, and
  • Identifying specific health risks from pot use in vulnerable groups (for example, individuals with cardiovascular disease).

It’s time for the conversation to bring all of these goals to the table.

This is first-class “concern troll” advice, which does nothing but prop up empty prohibitionist arguments in the guise of schooling us reformers on being better at crafting reform.

Let’s take them one at a time.

  • Protecting adult civil liberties, • Effectively preventing marijuana’s harms to children and adolescents,

As far as I know, reformers have been united in wanting to reduce the access of marijuana for children. After all, we are the ones calling for age restrictions. And the “effectively preventing” statement? That’s an obvious argument fallacy. Requiring reformers to reach that bar is stupid — obviously kids will find ways to circumvent restrictions (some always do). What’s clear (and already proven from example in other societies) is that our approach is more likely to reduce the harms to children that that of the prohibitionists.

Why aren’t the prohibitionists being asked to justify how their policy has worked — how strict marijuana laws have “effectively prevented” marijuana’s harms to children?

  • Acknowledging the reality of marijuana dependence and addressing its prevention and treatment,

The fact is that the ones failing to acknowledge the truth about marijuana dependence are the prohibitionists. Over and over, they use the lies about treatment statistics as “proof” that marijuana is dangerous and requires treatment. We can’t have a reasonable discussion about marijuana and dependency as long as marijuana is illegal and is a huge opportunistic cash cow to the treatment industry through criminal justice referrals.

  • Proposing credible prevention of accidents because of driving while stoned,

Check out the weaselly wording of that one. Roffman wants us to craft a plan to prevent all the accidents that will occur from driving while stoned. This, while the current head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy can’t even come up with any evidence of a problem from stoned driving without falsifying data.

First, show us the problem. Second, why has it been so difficult for all the researchers in the government who work on this (and lots have been) to come up with a clear identifier of when marijuana causes driving impairment? Shouldn’t that be the source of the “solution” for the “problem”? Why, instead, has the government decided to push for “per se” laws? Perhaps because nobody can show us the extent of the problem?

  • Identifying specific health risks from pot use in vulnerable groups (for example, individuals with cardiovascular disease).

For years, the federal government has funded just about any research regarding marijuana as long as it was designed to find something wrong with marijuana. (Forget about research for its benefits!) The federal government does a fine job of touting any adverse findings (even as it ignores all those findings which accidentally show benefits from marijuana). What more does Roffman want from us?

There’s a lot more that we reformers need to do to counter the propaganda put forward by decades of prohibitionist rule (and sometimes we may have to stoop to answering stupid questions), but what we don’t need is advice that actually props up that propaganda.

Thanks, but no thanks, Roger.

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17 comments to Concern Troll Roger Roffman

  • claygooding

    It is all they have. False information,skewed statistics and unlimited press. A bad combination,but they are losing anyway.

  • Anon Y, Mous

    i believe a Drug czar once said ” legalization isn’t in the presidents vocabulary” i say we make them learn

  • Just a few helpful links courtesy NORML for people coming across this page.

    Experienced Marijuana Consumers Exhibit Virtually No Change In Cognitive Task Performance After Smoking, Study Says
    http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=8247
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20600251?dopt=Abstract

    Federal Agency In Charge Of Marijuana Research Admits Stifling Studies On Medicinal CannabisNIDA does “not fund research focused on the potential medical benefits of marijuana”
    http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=8092

    Good analysis Pete. I just finished watching the DVD I mentioned earlier, it’s called “How Democrats and Progressives Can Win: Solutions from George Lakoff.” I don’t really consider myself either, but the fact is the underlying concepts are what I was hoping to learn from.

    For the most part it wasn’t full of shocking new information, basically I can see Mr. Roffman in the video. The video host, Mr. Lakoff notes how political creatures are always trying to box their opponents in to answering questions based on their terms and within their “frame.” Kind of like “have you stopped beating your wife yet?” Then there’s “denial of addiction is the first sign of addiction (you marijuana junkie).” Some questions and statements were just designed to be a trap from the outset. (Is is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?)

    Speaking from the sidelines, I can understand politicians side-stepping those questions when jabbed by their opponents, but they get too in the habit of that. Namely I’m talking about when above-board, no-axe-to-grind, reputable journalists ask questions. It gets really annoying to hear politicians not answer the question. I understand ducking a question from some attack “journalist,” or correcting a misunderstanding, but…

    It is pretty angering to read attempts to stall the necessary while feigning to care.

    It must also include the goal of protecting those who are vulnerable.
    He, and everyone, is invited to read my essays about “the children.”
    The Need to End the Stigma of Drugs — Stigmatizing Drugs Encourages the Rebellious to Try Them
    Why Do Teens Deal Drugs? (For some reason Google doesn’t like this essay as much as Yahoo does.)

  • Duncan

    Skip Miller of DARE had an op-ed yesterday.
    Opinion: Backers of legal pot just want to get high

    “A study from the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services found that 34.7 percent of vehicular trauma patients treated at a Baltimore emergency room tested positive for marijuana use — an even higher percentage than those who tested positive for alcohol. ”

    It seems the stury he references was done in 1988.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2835941

    This one is annoying.

  • Scott

    “Why aren’t the prohibitionists being asked to justify how their policy has worked…”

    Because we are apparently too busy defending ourselves against prohibitionist statements, instead of going on the offensive, forcing them to provide that justification during interviews on Fox News, etc., followed by us ripping apart their highly contrived answer.

    Our primary target needs to be prohibitionist credibility.

    Just because we know that credibility is literally zero does not mean the people we need to persuade see it that way.

    The existence of the Controlled Substances Act depends on the following prohibitionist argument:

    ‘There will be disaster if you reduce the toughness of our drug laws.’

    If that disaster is not there (we know it is not), the CSA is pointless, making it easy to repeal.

    We know there have been many examples of such reductions over the past few decades (including many states with less tough drug laws).

    Now it is time for the prohibitionists to provide the ‘See? We told you so.’ argument.

    We should be pressing hard for them to make that argument, because we know full well that the prohibitionists are wrong (the CSA is a complete joke).

    We should be respectfully encouraging the media to press them too. Any press release we put out should include that pressing.

    It is one thing for the likes of John Walters to dominate the stage, dodge our points with slippery garbage, and then move on to the next question.

    However, when we are on the same stage (again, like during a mainstream media interview), the prohibitionist cannot just move on to the next question like that, because we will be there to expose his slippery garbage at our next opportunity.

    Once the prohibitionists have their zero credibility nationally exposed, there will be no one capable of defending the CSA.

  • Just me.

    You said it best Pete. Thanks ,but no thanks.

    All we have asked for was truth. Instead the opposition keeps trying to change the rules so that the truth is impossible.

    “Everything I say is a lie. Im telling the truth.”
    Hummm…

  • claygooding

    Recipe for success:
    Take 1 cup of free enterprise,mix with 1 cup of greed and add liberty.

    Out-of-State Patients Can Get Oregon Medical Marijuana Cards

    http://www.opposingviews.com/i/out-of-state-patients-can-get-oregon-medical-marijuana-cards

    Headed for Oregon,or I could wait until New Mexico adopts this money making provision in their m/m program.

  • claygooding

    “Out of state patients who register with the OMMP will still have to have written documentation from an Oregon attending physician (MD or DO) and will have to designate an Oregon location as their grow site (as with Oregon patients, whether they have one or not).”

    Another spin-off industry created by marijuana,lease out 25 sq ft plots for out of state patients while not actually allowing grows on the site,avoiding conflicts with law enforcement.

  • Maria

    Oh. The use of the 1988 ER study really gets my goat. It’s still so often used to prop up the reason we “need” laws for marijuana testing of drivers.

    That study only showed that despite prohibition, marijuana was easily obtained at least once in the past XX days (depending on amounts consumed, fat stores and metabolism) for 34.7% of people involved in a vehicular accident.

    And the best part is it concludes that “Marijuana use among vehicular and nonvehicular trauma victims was not significantly different.” That study like most such studies show raw reality. A reality that then gets turned upside down and hogtied as soon as it becomes statistical ammo for prohibs.

  • Servetus

    Lies can be a difficult strategy to defeat.

    The Nazis loved falsehoods. The Nazi’s chief political opponents, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), preferred facts and reasoned discourse, and were as frustrated by unending Nazi misinformation as modern drug law reformers are irritated by prohibitionist propaganda. Truths and reasoned discourse ultimately failed the SDP, and the Nazis seized power in Germany with a litany of lies.

    With truth out of the way, the Nazi rise to power focused on emotionalism and national chaos. They channeled fear and hatred in a way that promoted their party’s agenda, just as prohibitionists do today.

    Despite statistics and reasoned discourse, there remain white American voters who are deliriously happy that those arrested for marijuana are predominantly black and Latino teenagers and hippies. They couldn’t care less about the deaths of Mexican nationals in the border drug war. They won’t consider the successes of the Dutch and Portuguese domestic drug policies because the Dutch and Portuguese are just foreigners. Rational arguments that promote fairness of the law will not work with people such as these.

    The opponents to legalization need to believe that prohibition is far more problematic and dangerous to them than it is to any of the people they despise.

    For example, prohibition funds both inner city and rural gang activity. The drug war is being used as an excuse to ban assault weapons and to take away people’s guns. Marijuana prohibition is just more Big Government draining our tax revenue while achieving none of its stated goals. There is a possibility SWAT will raid the wrong residence and shoot the family dog. These types of posed threats are far more effective than expecting the typical prohibitionist to express sympathy or empathy toward their fellow citizens.

  • claygooding

    The Sdp did not have the internet and when the Nazi’s put out their bullshit it was enforced with the brown shirts
    as for spokespersons. When the Nazi’s used the newspapers and pamphlets for their propaganda the SDP had to wait for the next issue ,if the papers would even print their facts
    and truths,or wait for a pamphlet to be printed to refute the Nazi’s propaganda.
    Today,before a person can read an article from the drug warriors or their army of propagandists there are refutes flying at them from all directions.
    Instead of weeks or even months of trying to correct lies and propaganda,which has had all that time to be accepted as fact by the populace,they no sooner hear the lie,than they start hearing the truth.
    I guarantee that Kerli’s #1 enemy is the blog.

  • ezrydn

    What it boils down to is the other side is still pushing the “defining what ‘is’ is.” If they had such a perfect foundation, they’d be tearing our doors down, demanding a debate. However, they spew their crap and then run off so they don’t have to respond to anyone. I say, keep’em on the run!

  • smoke some herb now

    There is no time like the present to smoke some marijuana. Enjoy!

  • Duncan

    Maria, the 1988 study drew blood and tested for delta-9 THC not a urine assay of THC-cooh. The people in that study had consumed cannabis shortly before ending up in the ER.

  • claygooding

    If the statistics in 1988 showed that 34% of the people entering the ER were tested positive for marijuana in 1988,then a similar test now would show even more. That statistic is probably as close to the actual number of
    marijuana users in the US as any random testing you could do. The drug warriors do not want us to know how many people actually use marijuana. The chances are that by now we are approaching the majority.

  • Maria

    @Duncan Thanks for the info. I was under the wrong impression. It goes to show that fact double checking is important and it is the little details that make or break an argument. Did they only test drivers or anyone involved in vehicular trauma?

    And yeah, the idea that the rates for vehicular related trauma and other trauma was not significantly different is telling. Would have been interesting if they tested a random sampling of people simply visiting the hospital, as a comparison.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! Here I thought that those of us who are for the decriminalization and/or legalization of marijuana wanted to engage in a public conversation about it. As someone who is pro-decriminalization and pro-legalization, with some reservations that need to be part of the conversation, I am put off by references to Nazi’s and other unhelpful names. This is how we conduct a conversation?

    Alcohol is legal, regulated, and the primary substance abused by people under 21. Marijuana is illegal, not regulated, and the second substance most abused by people under 21. Even though alcohol is legal and regulated, kids get their hands on it at significantly higher rates than marijuana. This should be part of the conversation.

    I can only speak for how things are in Seattle/King County, but the #1 (by far) reason that kids enter treatment is for marijuana dependence. Most of these kids do not enter treatment through law enforcement/the courts for several reasons, including the fact that minor in possession laws are rarely enforced and that very few kids who sign diversion agreements with the courts actually enter treatment. This needs to be part of the conversation.

    While some kids are always going to get their hands on alcohol, marijuana, etc, there are proven and effective prevention programs. Very few people seem to know about these programs because very few are actually implemented. There is little money for tested and effective prevention and with government budgets being slashed, even less is expected over the next few years. The prevention community has done a poor job educating the public about its recognition the DARE and “just say no” and other programs/messages don’t work, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other strategies that do work. This needs to be part of the conversation.

    I will stop now because I realize this is getting long. However, I urge you to realize that many people who are bringing up the questions that Roger Roffman brings up are not anti-legalization. We just have questions that need to be considered in a civilized conversation.