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The weakness of anti-legalization arguments

This is a comment by Transform’s Steve Rolles in response to a particular article, but it would be appropriate as a response for just about any argument against legalization.

Neil McKeganey’s key concern with legalisation and regulation of drugs appears to be his assumption that use and abuse would rise. This is a legitimate concern, but itself assumes punitive prohibitions are an effective deterrent – the evidence for which is strikingly weak.

McKeganey provides none. Comparisons between countries with different enforcement regimes show no clear pattern, nor is there evidence that increasing penalties decreases use, or vice versa. The influences on drug misuse appear to be mostly social, cultural and economic; with enforcement policy having, at best, a small impact.

And this, of course, is the heart of the matter. After eliminating those whose arguments in favor of criminalization are self-serving, every other argument against legalization boils down to the assumption that legalization, regardless of the levels of regulation involved, necessarily means significantly higher levels of abuse than a criminalization model.

And we are somehow supposed to ignore the fact that after decades of experimentation with criminalization, there is no hard evidence of this supposed fact.

On our side of the argument, on the other hand, are reams of documented evidence of the harms of criminalization.

It’s really a no-brainer.

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16 comments to The weakness of anti-legalization arguments

  • darkcycle

    Like Duncan said, during the sixties the use of marijuana went up a thousand fold. During that same period, almost every State had multi- DECADE sentences for simple possession. If criminal sanctions deter use, and if looser sanctions lead to more use, then how do you reconcile that?

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  • darkcycle

    Feelin’ pissy tonight, so I went to Project SAM’s facebook page and left this: “See you boys on the front. Nice that we’re winning for a change….now the jackboot is on the other foot.
    Oh yeah, greetings from Legal Washington. How you going to stop this now? Toodles!”
    Like this to make my evening better. Leave one of your own to piss on theirs. Keep it civil.
    https://www.facebook.com/learnaboutsam

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  • a nice to see Oregon headline:

    Rep. Blumenauer: Ore. voters will legalize pot ‘sooner rather than later’

    a 300 mph freight train indeed…

    Someone otter suggest to Patrick Kennedy that the old Japanese internment camps still standing could possibly be used to house the rousted cannabists until their complete and udder re-habilitation from the evil ways of marihuana abuse. After all their property is seized, of course.

    If the medicinal aspects of merrywanna work for some then by golly they can get their medicine the way god intended – in a pill!

    No more of this hippie-pot-smokin’ shit. The ’60s are gone, get over it!

    If you didn’t buy the crap the cartels couldn’t sell it, now could they?

    Men grow breasts, their sperm count is reduced and infertility may result

    Women grow penises and fertilize themselves

    White women who don’t grow a penis suddenly lust after black men

    If we even talk about “it” the children are driven to experiment!

    Old people utilizing a plant as medicine sends the wrong message to children

    Euphoria is a bad thing

    Mareejuana use leads straight to hell

    Dancing, rock and roll… p r o m i s c u i t y… all come from marijuana use

    “Marijuana is a date rape drug” – Linda Taylor

    Marijuana causes hallucinations

    Why DO you think they call it dope?

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    • darkcycle

      I see there’s two of us tonight.

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      • Duncan20903

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        I think that they call it dope because they’re prohibitionist idiots who are trying to demonize those of us who choose to enjoy cannabis.

        Your turn! Why do you think that they call it muggles?

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  • Servetus

    So what if more people smoke pot? It might be a big deal if weed were as bad as its opponents say it is, but it’s not.

    Veteran smokers of 40 years can’t find anything wrong with it. By contrast, marijuana opponents never succeed in justifying their reasons for their herbal opposition, except as it pertains to puritanism, Comstockery, and profiteering.

    Bureaucrats and Comstocks will rarely admit they’re the problem and not the solution. The least competent among them still want to maintain an image of infallibility, so they’ll continue to double-down on their failures by framing their prohibition fiascos to look like success.

    As the historian H.C. Lea noted, “even the Inquisition did not venture to repair an injustice caused by assiduous training of the population in an unreasoning abhorrence of heresy.” [Lea, SI, Vol. III, p. 179]

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  • claygooding

    It impossible for SAM or any prohibitionist org to claim the high moral ground on marijuana legalization when the politicians that started it were standing in the sewer and every federal bureaucracy in the ONDCP drug war machine was created just to keep the myths alive and hemp prohibition in place,regardless of scientific facts,historical evidence and practical experience.

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  • Freeman

    Pete says: …every other argument against legalization boils down to the assumption that legalization, regardless of the levels of regulation involved, necessarily means significantly higher levels of abuse than a criminalization model.

    And we are somehow supposed to ignore the fact that after decades of experimentation with criminalization, there is no hard evidence of this supposed fact.

    Yes, we are, because Mark “Always Right” Kleiman says so: “The notion that there’s a set of taxes and regulations that would avoid creating a big illicit market while not increasing drug abuse substantially doesn’t pass the giggle test.”

    So you see, the “giggle test” is the proper predictor of drug abuse, not some silly notion of “hard evidence”. If we took evidence into consideration, we’d have to figure out how to account for negligible abuse rates in countries which have never prohibited marijuana, like freakin’ North Korea, where there are “marijuana plants growing freely along the roadsides, from northern port town Chongjin, right down to the streets of Pyongyang, where it is smoked freely and its sweet scent often catches your nostrils unannounced. … Weed grows naturally on the Korean peninsula and although marijuana sprouts wildly around Chongjin for anyone to pick casually, near the outskirts areas do appear to be being cultivated more formally. The herb is commonly grown in the private gardens of many North Koreans”

    Pete continues: On our side of the argument, on the other hand, are reams of documented evidence of the harms of criminalization.

    M.A.R.K. says we’re supposed to ignore that too, because legalization produces unacceptably low prices which naturally result in the kind of abuse we see in N. Korea where cannabis is cheaper than tobacco, and if we tax it we’ll only end up with results identical to those of prohibition: (Licit pharmaceutical-grade cocaine costs about a tenth as much as street cocaine. So legalization means either a huge price drop or a set of taxes crying out for profitable evasion, and thus requiring enforcement.)

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    • Jim

      I have no idea what the situation is on the ground in North Korea, but North Korea did accede to the three UN drug conventions in 2007.

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      • Freeman

        Well, all I know is what I can find online. nkradio says they get the firing squad for meth (which apparently is/was a problem there) but mj and opium aren’t even considered drugs (article is dated 2010/10/27) :

        “The government will crack down on the use of meth in North Korea. They do not consider opium and marijuana to be drugs,” the source added.

        The North Korean government has never controlled the use of opium or marijuana.

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        • War Vet

          Note to Self: move cooking site away from Pyongyang. I wonder how many boxes of Pseudo you can buy in a month there?

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        • Duncan20903

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          Wow, I guess Kim Jong-il wasn’t all bad after all.

          Jim, the Dutch are also party to the SCT and are de jure compliant. That’s why they “tolerate” the coffee shops instead of regulating them through the normal process of regulating the retail distribution chain. In the world of international drugs policy form is much more important than substance no matter how stupid the reality.

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  • While teen use of marijuana is up, the use of alcohol and cigarettes is down. That must frighten Neil McKeganey and his constituents.

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  • Francis

    Both the aims and means of the drug war are illegitimate. The fact that those means are ineffective at achieving those aims is easily the least objectionable thing about the drug war.

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  • Dante

    Documented Evidence?

    We don’t need no stinking Documented Evidence!

    Anybody attempting to submit Documented Evidence (other than our own) will be assaulted, and then caged. Then assaulted again, in order to comply with standard procedures. Have a nice day!

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

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  • Duncan20903

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    We haven’t heard from our dear friend Paul Chabot recently. He’s got a diatribe over at the Huffington Post today:
    Paul Chabot, Former Drug Czar Advisor, Compares Marijuana To Child Pornography (VIDEO)

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