The California Narcotics Officers Association sent this bizarre letter to President Obama, asking him to retract his statements comparing marijuana and alcohol.
They start out by establishing their bona fides – for most people that would be showing that they are experts in a particular field through their study or knowledge in some way… but not the CNOA…
It’s dangerous work, as evidenced by the fact that 90 of the names on the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Wall were members of CNOA. Included among those 90 men and women are two of our past CNOA Presidents.
That’s right, we should believe them on marijuana policy discussions because some of their members have died at some point.
But lets get to the heart of their concern:
The California Narcotic Officers’ Association takes strong issue with your comparison of marijuana and alcohol. [...] we would suggest that you reevaluate your comparison of alcohol and marijuana, keeping in mind the words of the late South African President Nelson Mandela:
“We should never underestimate the dangers of the drug problem and the high price that it exacts from many countries, including our own. It is a serious threat not only to the moral and intellectual integrity of our nation and other nations. It is a serious threat to the health and well-being of our people.”
What? Talk about a non-sequitur. What do those words of Mandela have to do with the relative dangers of marijuana and alcohol?
They go on to list the standard reefer madness litany of claimed harms, without any mention of the harms of alcohol.
But then we learn that they don’t actually care what the truth is.
Your comments in THE NEW YORKER minimize the dangers of drug use, and by doing so, lessen the impression that drugs are harmful. [...] I would never condone or make reference to any substance that could diminish my children’s future success as being “less harmful.”
It doesn’t matter what the facts are. You’re not allowed to say that one thing is less harmful than another, even if it is.
We’re seeing this kind of rhetoric used a lot more as the prohibitionists realize that truthful comparisons don’t work for them. (You also often see a refusal to compare the relative dangers of driving impaired by alcohol and marijuana.)
It makes me wonder if all such comparisons should be considered inappropriate….
- It’s wrong to say that slapping someone is less harmful than shooting them in the head
- It’s wrong to say that taxing people is less harmful than genocide
- It’s wrong to say that eating sugar is less harmful than eating drain cleaner
Life is about comparisons. We make them constantly in the process of everyday choices. Knowledge helps us make better choices (although we still sometimes make bad ones). Labeling a group of choices as “bad” and therefore not comparable is not good policy, does not make our children safer, and is anathema to a free society.
The California Narcotics Officers should be ashamed of their leadership.