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The False Prophets of Uncertainty


As many of you know, I hosted an FDL Book Salon this weekend with the authors of “Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know.” I’ve been very clear all along about the fact that the actual facts about marijuana are, as a whole, extremely well presented in the book, but I have serious issues with the emphasis on uncertainty upon which the authors focus. I understand that their stated purpose is get “both sides” to realize that there are a lot of unknowns, and I realize that there are unknowns because of the lack of full legalization examples in the modern world.

But there’s more to it.

One of the questions I asked during the salon:

This book focuses extensively on the fact that we cannot know for certain what will happen with legalization. And yet, all public policy (and, in fact, all of human endeavor) involves uncertainty. Every day we act without knowing all the consequences with certainty.

Henry N. Pollack, author of “Uncertain Science… Uncertain World,” said: “Frequently, ‘scientific uncertainty’ is offered as an excuse to avoid making important policy decisions. We must recognize, however, that delaying decisions because of uncertainty is an implicit endorsement of the status quo and often a thinly veiled excuse for maintaining it. It is a bulwark of the take-no-action policy popularly known as ‘business as usual.’”

Couldn’t the book be considered a ringing endorsement for inaction?

The response from two of the authors was that they were not trying to endorse inaction. However, it doesn’t matter–as academics in drug policy, their emphasis on uncertainty itself acts as an endorsement for inaction, whether they intend it or not.

Now, to many of us on the reform side, any uncertainties about what will happen with legalization are generally irrelevant to the decision. If you believe in the liberty argument, then it doesn’t matter what happens with legalization; legalization is the only option. Then, if there are problems, figure out how to handle them without using the unproductive and corrupt sledge hammer of prohibition.

Just like with freedom of speech, where the courts have ruled that the internet, for example, cannot be forced to dumb down to 12-year-old levels merely because some communications may be offensive to 12-year-olds, the liberty argument says that we don’t “dumb down” life merely because some people are unable to use drugs responsibly. (And the liberty argument isn’t solely a libertarian argument, since it doesn’t necessarily preclude a variation with government intervention specifically for those who abuse.)

For other people, however, who may not accept Mill or similar views, but rather believe in the value of nanny-state approaches to societal well-being, the issue of uncertainty regarding the potential outcomes of legalization can have a powerful impact on their views.

So… just how certain are these uncertainties?

Let’s take a look at one tiny example. In an otherwise mostly good section about marijuana smoking and lung cancer, the authors managed to squeeze in a fair amount of uncertainty:

Marijuana smoke contains carcinogens. What is not known is whether exposure is great enough to cause cancer. […]

What is lacking is clear epidemiological evidence from population studies showing that groups who smoked marijuana had higher rates of cancer than otherwise similar groups that abstained. [very curious wording] The published research shows mixed results. […]

In part, the answer to the cancer question depends on the level of proof one demands. [Another bizarre statement. Wouldn’t that also be true about the whether-the-earth-goes-around-the-sun-or-vice-versa question?]

When it came to the data they used to demonstrate the uncertainties, red flags went up immediately in my head.

I asked this question during the book salon:

For our authors: there are literally thousands of studies on marijuana that have been done all over the world. How do you find and select your data for the book? Obviously, you can’t include it all.

I’m curious as to why, for example, when discussing marijuana and cancer (and you listed several studies), you chose to include the extremely small (79 cancer cases, and 324 controls) New Zealand study that is often touted by our government, yet didn’t reference the 2006 NIDA-funded UCLA study by Donald Tashkin (1,200 cancer cases, 1,400 controls) showing no evidence of a lung cancer connection, even among heavy smokers. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/25/AR2006052501729.html

There were no responses.

It’s a valid and important question when it comes to evaluating the certainty of their uncertainty. After all, why wouldn’t the Tashkin study be included (and why weren’t the controversial limitations of the New Zealand study mentioned)? If the authors hadn’t heard of the Tashkin study, that makes their research suspect; if the authors had heard of the study and chose to use the New Zealand study instead because it served the uncertainty argument better, that makes their entire uncertainty argument throughout the book suspect.

[Update: Beau Kilmer, one of the authors, has since emailed me to say that it was merely a matter of having already listed a couple of earlier studies that were positive and not feeling the need to add another one in the interest of space. I understand that, but still question the thought process behind the inclusion of the New Zealand study.]

It’s easy to say that outcomes are uncertain. If I leave the house today, I might get hit by a bus, or get mugged, or step on a crack and break my mother’s back. Uncertainties without context are useless. Proper analytic approach puts uncertainties in perspective so that they doesn’t make me stay home.

Yet the uncertainties in the book often have no reasonable evaluation of the certainty of their uncertainty, which makes them worthless.

One of the critical areas in the book has to do with marijuana legalization and alcohol abuse.

The authors have often referred to this section. In the intro:

for example, no one knows whether increased marijuana use would lead to less heavy drinking, or to more.

Let’s look at the actual section. Starts out OK…

It might seem intuitive that making marijuana more available would tend to decrease alcohol use; [yes, it would] as competing means of altering one’s mood, one drug can substitute for the other. No doubt if cannabis were legal some of today’s alcoholics would be daily pot-smokers instead; that would, on average, make them and those around them better off.

But then they go off the rails with one of the worst metaphors ever written…

But two drugs can also be mutually complementary. When two commodities are economic complements–like cell phones and cell phone apps–making either one cheaper or more available increases demand for the other.

Marijuana : Alcohol :: Cell Phones : Cell Phone Apps

At that point, they start really speculating (!)

On the other hand, if the effect went the other way–if doubling marijuana use were to increase alcohol abuse and dependence by 10 percent–it’s hard to see how any of the gains on the marijuana side could balance out the harms from increased heavy drinking. And yet, based on what is now known, it’s not possible to rule out even bigger changes, in either direction.

The list of things that it’s also not possible to rule out is literally infinite. And meaningless.

For their “data,” the authors note:

Economists have tried to estimate what they call the “cross-price elasticities of demand” between marijuana and alcohol […] Alas, different studies reach opposing conclusions. […] there is truly no scientific basis for any confident assertion about what would happen to heavy drinking if marijuana were legalized.

However, they don’t list or reference any particular studies, so there’s no way to ascertain any grounds to support their uncertainty (which already seems pretty ridiculous in their own words).

The little bit of research I did immediately found some pretty good references regarding marijuana being a substitute for alcohol. Finding studies showing marijuana and alcohol as complementary was much tougher and the results were not even remotely compelling; most seem to be fishing expeditions conducted by RAND’s Rosalie Pacula (who has a history of anti-pot posturing).

What should probably be a point strongly in favor of legalization (assuming a proper analysis of the comparative studies) ends up being another point of uncertainty, arguing for inaction.

Make no mistake, there’s a place for uncertainty. But uncertainty for the sake of uncertainty is useless. And false uncertainty contributes to the destruction of the drug war.

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29 comments to The False Prophets of Uncertainty

  • kaptinemo

    I have to laugh. There’s no ‘uncertainty’ at all in the minds of purveyors of alcoholic beverages that they would lose massive amounts of business with the return or legal cannabis.

    That’s why the California Alcoholic Beverage Association funded anti-Prop19 efforts. They have no ‘uncertainty’ at all what the outcome would have been. Which, among many things beneficial, would have reduced alcohol-related violence (including the violence of alcohol-sired car accidents) within days of Prop19 passing. The effects would have been that quick.

    So what if use of this vastly less destructive (destructive of what, leftovers in the fridge?) substance increases? Given what we do know about cannabis, as I said in a previous comment, how could that be a bad thing? One would have to be a criminally pathological sadist to want otherwise.

  • and the failures of Prohibition? Definitely not uncertain. Just ask Peter McW, Donald Scott, Zeke Hernandez, Kathryn Johnston, Patrick Dorismond… and the far-too-many-others drug war caused dead if they think Prohibiton’s failures are uncertain. Oh wait, we can’t ask them can we?

    I certainly hope you put the plastic over the couch Pete, this could get messy. No uncertainty about that Mark…

    Let’s see… Indian Hemp Commission, US Army’s Panama report, the LaGuardia study, the ’74 Medical College of Virginia study (so Mark, is the burying of cannabis studies w/ positive outcomes a legitimate action? Does the maintenance of prohibition really justify hiding the truth?), Nixon’s Schaeffer Commission, Judge Young’s study… for over one hundred years every time a government panel/commission studies cannabis and it’s legal framework they recommend no less than decriminalization.

    It really is time to stop arresting nearly one million citizens a year for pot. It is time to re-embrace the notions of “the Land of the Free” and “sweet land of liberty” and chase these foxes from the hen house.

    • Oh wait, we can’t ask them can we?

      and neither will we ever hear Kleiman or Kerlikowski or any of the Prohibs (or their cheerleaders) mention those names. And for that my contempt boils and is amply expressed in the simple gesture of raising one finger… and there is no uncertainty for me, in that.

      • darkcycle

        Might we be seein’ you up thisaway for Hempfest this year Allan?

        • not this year… have a family trip up that way end of Sept and a trip to CA in Oct and them’ll empty the cookie jar. Enjoy HF and stop and say hi to Sandee Burbank at MAMA for me. Elvie hangs out there on occasion…

  • Servetus

    The attack on certainty forms the basis for many of Montaigne’s essays. Among the more memorable of his quotes is the statement that it is ‘rating one’s conjectures at a high price to burn someone alive on the strength of them.’ Montaigne (1533 – 1592) was referring to the witch hunts, but like most examples of institutionalized social mayhem, a parallel extends to that of hunting down drug users to exploit and diminish them.

    Using uncertainty the way Montaigne used it takes a skill that rejects silver bullet solutions and apocalyptic visions of future harm. The harms have been identified, and they encompass prohibition itself.

    Failure awaits those fearing to seek new paths when the present one proves insufficient or even deadly. Without risk taking, there would be no New World, and not much of an Old World either. There would be no science or medicine. Slavery in its absolute form would still exist, and the American Revolution and Arab Spring would have never happened. Failing to embrace uncertainty, the world would stink far more than it already does.

  • strayan

    “Frequently, ‘scientific uncertainty’ is offered as an excuse to avoid making important policy decisions.”

    Great quote. I remember the first time I discovered this mentality (a mentality of crippling fear and anxiety). I was trying to amend a longstanding workplace policy that was costly, ineffective, time consuming and downright stupid.

    The chorus of opposition nearly bowled me over. “We don’t know what will happen!” my colleagues warned. They sat around the meeting room nodding at each other in agreement. “Where’s your evidence this will work?” they demanded. I explained, calmly, “there was none”. They then proceeded to rattle off every single worst case scenario imaginable whilst totally ignoring the horrible downsides of the current policy. I sat in stunned silence.

    I eventually persuaded them to just give it a go for a few months by agreeing to accept all responsibility if disaster struck.

    You know what? It did. So at our next meeting I suggested a return to the old policy.

    Not a single person wanted to.

  • daksya

    Pete, I was just reading the manuscript for the Kleiman book and the Tashkin study is indeed mentioned. Since the lead author was Mia Hashibe and not Tashkin, that’s how it is referred.

    In that draft, the sentence is “Another study by University of Utah Professor Mia Hashibe and colleagues showed that marijuana does not increase the risk of lung or upper aerodigestive tract cancers, after accounting for cigarette smoking.

    • strayan

      Looks like he’s right: http://goo.gl/cmoIU

    • Matthew Meyer

      Shoulda called it the Hashibe study.

      Still makes no sense that they didn’t respond.

      And the text strayan links does little to help a reader evaluate the limitations and strengths of the various studies, as though they’re all equivalent.

      I found it ironic that when some folks asked the authors to think historically about the justifications for cannabis prohibition, the furthest back anyone went was Kleiman talking about how there was already a federal prohibition of cannabis in 1966 or 1970 or whatever.

      Since the authors play up uncertainty so much, I wanted to know whether they’d acknowledge that the government purposely lied about cannabis to achieve the initial prohibition.

      I don’t think that question ever made it up, and it seems like I was booted after that. I know dc had a similar experience. Anyone else?

      TYPO ALERT: “Proper analytic approach puts uncertainties in perspective so that **they doesn’t** make me stay home.”

      • daksya

        Since the authors play up uncertainty so much, I wanted to know whether they’d acknowledge that the government purposely lied about cannabis to achieve the initial prohibition.

        Yeah, they do.

        Some excerpts from Section 4, Q1:

        No evidence was provided to support the claim, but no one in Congress questioned its validity. Anslinger’s statement did reflect a common sentiment towards marijuana at the time, even among researchers, that marijuana released inhibitions and was responsible for crazed behavior. But at these hearings, expert opinion fell on deaf ears.

        After the hearing, the committee sent the bill to the full House of Representatives which passed it. After a similarly quick trip through the Senate, the bill was signed by the President and marijuana became illegal nationally, even for medical use, based on no real evidence at all.

  • CJ

    great job pete i am proud of you i mean you didnt go guns ablazing, i get the need for professionalism… eh but thats status quo isnt it? you know, maintaining face, being professional you know i was thinking while reading this article,, you write about how you ask the Tashkin question and find silence… Ah, I thought how awesome that was but how much more awesome it would’ve been if one of them would have said this or something like it:

    “well you know pete, well, thats a perfectly good question and theres a perfectly good answer, you see Pete uh basically we dont get hooked up with future favors, possible financial consideration, commercial and business consideration, by using the Tashkin study. You see we use the studies that support our message, our bias and our desires. This is the 21st century after all and if you can find anyone in any profession whose honest and doesnt endeavor for riches, favors, advancement etc. regardless of truth and other victims, well, we’re just Americans man… Sorry to disappoint and just let it all come out like that.”

    That wouldve been great. For my money, thats what the no response said, infact, i think it was said to be honest but not heard because of a…”audio misfire” and i think youve not mentioned it because youve been given alot of marijuana to stay quiet…hmmmm…id like a large amount of good quality diacetylmorphine to stay hush hush as well please. now preferably. before i leave for the daily….”grind.”

    im waiting..

  • claygooding

    What is lacking is clear epidemiological evidence from population studies showing that groups who smoked marijuana had higher rates of cancer than otherwise similar groups that abstained. [very curious wording] The published research shows mixed results. […]

    I am searching for the statistical studies done in Spain and Germany that showed regular marijuana users were up to 60% less likely to have head and neck cancers,,,and there are several others that covered other types of cancers,,I wish Granny would hang around on the couch,,,she knows that “studies” stuff and has them all listed.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      The Rastafari in Jamaica could be studied and all of these controversies put to bed within a couple of years. Yes, I’m aware that they have been so studied but that was back in the 1970s. Although science is consistent whether applied today or 3 decades past the prohibitionists likely won’t accept that premise. Regardless, all the answers to the bogus “we just don’t know” posturing are available on that island. It doesn’t even matter that we don’t know the long term effects of any new drug approved by the FDA because the long term effects of cannabis on otherwise very health conscious, living people is available for the asking and the required effort.

      Of course there’s the idea of using a topical creme to stimulate the CB2 receptors of the scalp to grow hair on bald people’s heads. Cure cancer, mitigate epilepsy/MS, etc is all very interesting but if we could grow hair on the head of bald guys things would change very, very quickly. We may not be able to appeal to their (absent) sense of reason but they wouldn’t be able to resist the appeal to their vanity. Also keep in mind that stimulating the CB2 receptors doesn’t get a person high so they wouldn’t be able to confuse the issue with the ‘just want an excuse to get high’ hogwash.

  • Scott

    The future is always uncertain (scientifically, it is called the Uncertainty Principle).

    The clear and present danger, however, are the people opposing the unalienable right to liberty (part of the “truths to be self-evident” in our nation’s most famous passage) to endorse a ban on merely holding a certain plant in your hand.

    To legally define risk is to undeniably oppose the unalienable right to liberty, a fact ignored throughout American history.

    Hypocrites have crushed everything our nation was built upon. They oppose self-evident truths when it is popular to do so. They usurped power away from our Constitution and put it into the interpretation of our Constitution (such interpretation completely in the hands of the people in power, negating the point in having a Constitution).

    Certain Drug Prohibition is evidence of our national disgrace, and combined with all of the other ridiculously so-called laws opposing liberty to go after abuse (with no evidence proving overall tragedy is reduced as a result), increases the brilliance of the use of the word unalienable in the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

    More Americans need to understand that brilliance.

    Such brilliance should be agenda number one for all of us, so we can replace the agenda system with an actual justice system.

  • Francis

    Gosh, this is tricky. On the one hand, Kleiman et al. are “uncertain” as to whether or not re-legalization may cause certain problems. On the other hand, we know with 100% certainty that prohibition is creating huge problems including violence, corruption, and the squandering of scarce resources. We know with 100% certainty that prohibition is a violation of a fundamental human liberty. And we also know that unless we make a change, several hundred thousand people in this country will be arrested in the next year for doing something that a rapidly-growing majority of Americans believe should not be a crime, i.e., possessing some dried plant matter. Finally, we know that non-toxic, non-addictive, and non-violence-promoting cannabis is infinitely safer than legal booze. So… it seems like you could really come down on either side with this one. Maybe just flip a coin?

    • kaptinemo

      They’d demand the coin be stamped with both heads or both tails before they’d flip, and want to wear one of those foamy helmet things you see the cyclists wear to protect their poor widdle prohib beans from potential impact as the coin falls; they’re that ‘risk-aversive’.

      Pathetic. As I noted in another comment, this country wasn’t made by milquetoasts. But it’s being destroyed by them…

  • Peter

    OT
    Response of Big Tobacco to new packaging laws in Australia:

    “Although the (law) passed the constitutional test, it’s still a bad law that will only benefit organized crime groups which sell illegal tobacco on our streets. … The illegal cigarette black market will grow further when all packs look the same and are easier to copy,” McIntyre said in a statement.

    Funny how the argument about not handing over drug supply to criminals applies to tobacco but not to cannabis, whose prohibition and consequent criminal monopoly Big Tobacco has funded for decades.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      Peter, don’t the powers that be first have to accept that reasoning before we can say that it matters? At this point all we have is big tobacco making an argument that many will dismiss as self serving.

      Can someone tell me why these clowns think the way that a cigarette package is presented makes a difference? If I were going to launch a brand of cigarettes I’d call them Coffin Nails® and use a skull & crossbones for the brand logo. The tag line would be, “sure, they’re a slow poison, who wants to go quickly?” I’d wager dollars to dirt they’d take a significant market share quickly and would leave the anti-tobacco crowd fish mouthing as long as they were quality smokes. Perhaps I’ll call the company “Death is at the Door Tobacco” and feature the grim reaper as the company spokes model in advertising.

      • Peter

        I take your point (and that of big tobacco) but for drug reformers it’s not really about cigarette packaging.
        It’s about the self-serving hypocrisy of big tob floating the specter of a criminal blackmarket in cigarettes while funding prohibitionist propaganda, thereby furthering one in cannabis.

      • strayan

        Duncan, packaging matters. Big tobacco wouldn’t bother spending money on pack design unless it increases sales.

        http://i.imgur.com/yqgHJ.png

        People start smoking for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is because of marketing. If the product is unattractive people are less likely to use it (which in this case is fantastic).

  • DonDig

    IIRC, in a number of the states that have medicinal marijuana, the traffic deaths as a result of DUI have decreased significantly, by 9%. I don’t know what that means in larger terms regarding the overall lessening of alcohol consumption in those states, but it would seem plausible to conclude that people at least drive less after drinking. Could this be a case in which there is relatively little uncertainty about the potential benefit?

    • kaptinemo

      The same kind of point I made at the first comment. And the social scientists who like doing such studies would no-doubt jump at the chance to observe a ‘new’ social trend take shape and follow it’s ‘trajectory’ as society incorporates the novelty into the norm. (The social scientists with the necessary curiosity and balls, that is.)

      And it’s that process that has the prohibs sweating bullets. For that is what they have feared all along: the ‘normalization’ of cannabis usage in society. Which only goes to prove how waaaaaaay behind the prohibs are, when current level of usage causes half of society to want it legal again.

    • claygooding

      Don,I will look for the article published just before the vote on Prop 19 that reported a 15%(?) drop in alcohol sales in CA since mmj laws were enacted,,,imagine what legalization would do to alcohol sales across the nation.

      • kaptinemo

        “…imagine what legalization would do to alcohol sales across the nation.”

        Think of the word, ‘evisceration’. I’m sure the booze companies are thinking something along those very same lines…

        • DonDig

          I’m sure they’re worried, but do you think they are really THAT worried? That would be exciting. We may be nearer victory than I’ve imagined!

        • kaptinemo

          Being an old fart, I recall a really dumb TV cigarette commercial that claimed that tobacco consumers would “…rather fight than switch!” from their particular brand. Of course, we’re talking about the incredibly addictive drug nicotine, and an industry dependent upon maintaining that addiction, so that claim was more than a little specious

          But…can alcohol beverage purveyors make the same claim…in light of the American consumer being given a choice between alcohol and legal cannabis? Would alcohol consumers, once they’ve barfed up the rote propaganda against cannabis, and seen that many of their friends have tried it to no ill effect, still “…rather fight than switch!”?

          I think the answer is self-evident.

          Don, Big Booze has long been aware of the fact that, unlike their product, cannabis causes none of the kinds of ‘side-effects’ (like the formation of formaldehyde in the brain!) that alcohol does.

          And their leadership is also aware of the long history prior to prohibition of physicians suggesting drug substitution: cannabis to wean a problematic imbiber off the juice. That was a regular occurrence in the 19th century in this country. And as many who suffered from opiate addiction and desiring to be free of it have learned, cannabis has some very interesting palliative aspects in that regard.

          Oh, yes, they’re scared, alright. They know that given a choice, the Average American would choose cannabis. Hence their attempt to influence the democratic process, to the fattening of their wallets and the detriment of the public.

  • David L. Marsh Sr.

    There is no such thing as uncertainty. Everything can now be measured. The probabilities of the frequency and severity of adverse and beneficial outcomes can now be evaluated accurately assuming a large enough exposure sampling and accurate data collection. Even with small exposures and inaccurate data, high risk probabilities can be managed effectively. It is more difficult but it can be done. The only problem economists have with figuring the “cross price elasticities of demand” is the inaccurate data due to the illegality of cannabis. The authors are framing their discussion in a false premise when they say “there is truly no scientific basis for any confident assertion about what would happen to heavy drinking if marijuana were legalized”. When you legalize cannabis and gather accurate data the frequency and severity of adverse and beneficial outcomes becomes scientifically absolute. The only adverse outcome the authors are worried about is the reallocation of resources away from their area of incompetence.

  • War Vet

    Why should Marijuana legalization always be about the drug itself upon the populace and her users and the economic benefits from increased taxes from marijuana sells or our health care (etc) taxed too heavily from increased use? Why not try this on for size: We know Topeka, Kansas has marijuana users who buy Mexican controlled marijuana, this means Topeka represents ‘Blank’ amount of all the Mexicans killed in the Cartel Wars from what Topeka, Kansas bought (financed –financing of the cartels) from just pot –we don’t know the amount, but with 50,000 dead (100,000 estimated by some big University in New Mexico) in Mexico and an estimated 60% of the drug cartels income coming from pot: Topeka, Kansas’ Mexican pot purchases did in fact kill at least 150 (maybe less maybe more) Mexicans (or 300 hundred according to New Mexico) . . . such stats would be near impossible to find, but are in fact logical to assume . . . that a given number which isn’t entirely made out of thin air (unless we are assuming the war in Mexico is a big hoax) does exist based on known data. Medical Pot (legal pot in all reality), in various states being around before and after drug money financed 9/11 and drug money financed terrorism/insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan probably saved a few hundred U.S. soldiers from getting killed (and many many more from wounds and deployments) because legal pot would have reduced Muslim Terrorist (trafficked/smuggled/taxed in Afghanistan etc) sold illegal weed, which means the U.S. taxpayer probably paid a few hundred million less on the war (one million life insurance policy for every dead soldier added to other war costs etc) . . . going towards the Substitution mode: Pot or booze (pot or other drugs): Legal Pot not being sold by a drug dealer probably reduced Afghan/Paki heroin sales by X% via people having a new choice or choosing to buy more legal weed over the illegal dope or not having a drug dealer in the first place to even try Mr. Brown Stone heroin. Why does drug legalization have to be about drugs and drug use and jailing or not jailing drug users? I see drug legalization as denying a drug money financed 9/11, English Bombings, Spanish Bombings, Indian Bombings, Russian bombings, 2008 Olympic Bombings, Embassy bombings, etc . . . drugs offer a larger revenue than any other black market resource –isn’t drug legalization about a $3 trillion dollar war on Terror or a 1£ trillion (for the Brits) war on terror . . . negating it or reducing it.

    What is heavier on the general U.S. conscious: someone not going to jail for pot or a nation not spending as much money for a war if just one drug was legal (while only allowing them access to illegal opiates and coke etc)? If the Mexicans make 60% of their money off of pot –are we assuming pot users don’t exist in Europe –no hash in Europe and most of the world’s pot comes from Africa and Asia . . . it’s easier for a Spaniard (or Russian) to buy green off a Moroccan or Lebanese dealer than a Mexican weed dealer. How many European grow opps and grow houses are controlled by those who have their agendas and dreams resting in Militant Islam and Jihad . . . Malawi Gold has to cross over into North Africa right –just like South African Durban? Even the pot you buy in Amsterdam (or anywhere in Holland) is illegal and comes from an illegal source . . . it’s only legal to buy and sell small quantities via a licensed café. So an America that legalizes weed will see a U.N. and world (with exceptions) that legalizes weed and therefore 60% of the Muslim Terrorists’ finances decrease . . . 60% of $3 trillion dollars is $1.8 Trillion . . . what if the NY Times and Brown University reported that America’s War on Terror only cost us $1.2 Trillion . . . what is 60% minus four hijacked airplanes and all her hijackers and the cost of terrorist cell upkeep and plane tickets?

    So, how does weed play a big role in marijuana legalization . . . are we assuming the millions of citizens denied hemp jobs to be weed smokers? Are the hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers in the Middle East all weed smokers? Are 100% of all the Americans who pay taxes for a drug war in the Middle East weed smokers? Keeping pot (drugs) illegal forces every American to live in a post 9/11 world and wartime economy –where in the hell does the pot leaf and her THC/CBDs have a play in the issue of marijuana legalization? Just asking. I cannot see how carcinogens in a marijuana cigarette affect a quadruple amputee 19yr old female soldier who also lost her eardrums, eyes and vocal chords from a green sticky-icky Hindu-Kush bought mortar round or roadside bomb . . . negating that causality casualty is what I see when we say “free the leaf” or “Legalize it”. Someone who doesn’t (and never will) smoke pot is worth the reason(s) to legalize it.