Framing the questions

bullet image So much depends on how you ask the question. Widely publicized 4/20 poll actually shows majority support for drug reforms

As with many instances in politics, actuality can often be obscured behind the wrong frame: ask a question just the right way and results can be wildly tilted, one way or another.

Take the case of an Associated Press/CNBC poll released on April 20, 2010, detailing Americans’ opinions on legalizing marijuana. The poll was widely reported as declaring that 55 percent in the U.S. are opposed to ending prohibition.

Make no mistake, “oppose” is exactly what 55 percent of the people said when asked: “Do you favor, oppose or neither favor nor oppose the complete legalization of the use of marijuana for any purpose?”

However, a more nuanced probing of the issue, carried out by the polling firm but almost entirely unmentioned in the media on April 20th, found that when stacked next to alcohol, often a more debilitating and addictive substance, statistical support for drug law reforms skyrocketed.

bullet image Some entertainment for you from Ethan Epstein

The Drug War Does Not Cause Drug Violence. Drug Dealers Cause Drug Violence. In this one, the author claims that the very nature of drugs means that those who sell them will be violent, regardless of whether they are legal. A truly unique, and absurd, proposition.

Opponents of the Drug War Are Manipulating Statistics This was a surprising title for me, since it’s actually the prohibitionists who usually manipulate statistics, but he’s got a straw man to sell you:

Opponents of the Drug War rely on a few central claims in arguing for the legalization of drugs. One is that “the Drug War is causing violence in Mexico” – a tendentious argument that I examined in this space yesterday. Another is that “prohibition has failed,” and that therefore we should stop criminalizing drug use. (I’ll take this up at a later date.) But perhaps the most oft-heard claim is that drugs are “less dangerous” than tobacco and alcohol. Drug War opponents make this claims armed with reams of statistics. Alas, they are misreading and misrepresenting the data at hand.

“Hard drugs are less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.” (We’ll leave marijuana out of this for now.) This claim is a mainstay of the anti-Drug War arsenal of arguments.

He then fails to cite a single instance where reformers actually claim that.

bullet image Don’t Call It ‘Pot’ in This Circle; It’s a Profession

Like hip-hop, health food and snowboarding, marijuana is going corporate.

As more and more states allow medical use of the drug, and California considers outright legalization, marijuana’s supporters are pushing hard to burnish the image of pot by franchising dispensaries and building brands; establishing consulting, lobbying and law firms; setting up trade shows and a seminar circuit; and constructing a range of other marijuana-related businesses.

bullet image Oaklanders Quitting Oxycontin with Cannabis

For years, there’ve been anecdotal reports about people using cannabis to quit harder drugs. The process is called “substitution”, and it’s a tactic that’s beginning to be endorsed by the “harm reduction” philosophy of mental health. Janichek says the philosophy of harm reduction is most popularly associated with needle exchanges, condom disbursement, ecstasy pill testing, and seat belt laws. Harm reduction accepts that some people will engage in risky behavior, and therefore clinicians should seek to reduce the harms associated with such risks. That might include endorsing a little pot over a lot of OxyContin.

More at NORML

bullet image Dismantling the 5 Big Talking Points of Marijuana Prohibitionists by DPA’s Tony Newman and Stephen Gutwillig

bullet image DrugSense Weekly – a weekly review of the most interesting or relevant articles in the press and on the web related to drug policy reform.

bullet imageDrug War Chronicle – weekly update of drug war news and analysis from Stop the Drug

This is an Open Thread

[Thanks, Tom and Scott]
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4 Responses to Framing the questions

  1. Chris says:

    The author of the “Opponents of the Drug War Are Manipulating Statistics” article tries to show that alcohol causes more deaths than the illicit hard drugs, but that’s a very incomplete analysis. A suggestion: compare the annual deaths during alcohol prohibition to the annual deaths during drug prohibition. Alcohol drinkers don’t have to worry about tainted drugs killing them or whether or not to call for help and not be criminalized, why should other drug users? Another good argument for legalization of all drugs.

  2. daksya says:

    That Epstein guy is a hoot. He may just be a troll.

    the very nature of drugs means that those who sell them will be violent, regardless of whether they are legal

    Better warn all those going to pharmacies to fill out their Schedule II/III scrips for stimulants & opioids (of which heroin is just, albeit a Schedule I, another member).

    And regarding death by hard drugs: the vast majority are opioid-related, which could be effectively addressed is a legal regime, a rough illustration being the legal heroin maintenance regimes in Europe. Most deaths linked to stimulants are cases of polydrug use, with the most common other drug being, surprise, alcohol. Again, partially a matter of education, made impossible by prohibition, and partially a lack of less potent choices, again, due to prohibition.

  3. denmark says:

    The Don’t Call It ‘Pot’ in This Circle; It’s a Profession article was interesting.
    Read the article and click on the west coast cannabis dot com / magazine. The magazine didn’t have any naked girls covered in cannabis buds either, for that I am grateful. (sorry guys, it’s offensive to me).

    Very pleased to read in the article … it’s all part of a concerted effort to trade the drug’s trippy, hippie counterculture past for what they believe will inevitably be a more buttoned-up future.

    Then this bozo chimes in … John Lovell, a California lobbyist who represents two major police groups that oppose legalization, scoffed at the notion that marijuana proponents were cleaning up their act or gaining traction with the public, citing a recent decision by the Los Angeles City Council to sharply curtail the number of medical marijuana dispensaries there.

    “They are a neighborhood blight,” he said. “Here you have dispensaries that have cash and dope. So, duh? Is it any surprise that they’ve been magnets for crime?”

    But advocates call that characterization unfair and outdated.

    And at the bottom it said: A version of this article appeared in print on April 24, 2010, on page A1 of the New York edition.
    Page A1 is a good spot to be in I do believe.

  4. claygooding says:

    The dismantling article should be forwarded to every prohib organization out there.

    This is building fast!!!!!:

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