As the prohibitionists scramble to come up with every weak argument to bolster their position that they can find, and the stink of fear permeates their scribblings, it’s been interesting to see the re-appearance of the old argument that alcohol is the only drug that is consumed without “getting high.”
This is, of course, the argument that Art Linkletter brought up in his famously recorded personal conversations with President Nixon.
Linkletter: â€œAnother big difference between marijuana and alcohol is that when people smoke marijuana, they smoke it to get high. In every case, when most people drink, they drink to be sociable. You donâ€™t see people â€“â€
Nixon: â€œThatâ€™s right, thatâ€™s right.â€
Linkletter: â€œThey sit down with a marijuana cigarette to get high â€“â€
Nixon: â€œA person does not drink to get drunk.â€
Linkletter: â€œThatâ€™s right.â€
Nixon: â€œA person drinks to have fun.â€
Linkletter: â€œIâ€™d say smoke marijuana, you smoke marijuana to get high.â€
Nixon: â€œSmoke marijuana, er, uh, you want to get a charge of some sort, and float, and this, that and the other thing.â€
Of course, this is just bizarre, but it keeps popping up. Even recently in comments here, we got:
The difference between alcohol and drugs is that one can consume 1-2 drinks and still maintain total lucidity, whereas other drugs have immediate damaging effects.
Of course, the first objection I have to these arguments is: What’s wrong with getting high?
To quote myself from a few years ago…
Itâ€™s an important, even essential, part of life.
We all spend much of our time trying to get high. The rush when you have a particularly rich piece of chocolate â€” youâ€™re getting high. That perfect coffee drink in the morning. Three-inch thick filet mignon thatâ€™s charred on the outside and still red in the middle. Sex.
(And Iâ€™m not just speaking metaphorically here. All these activities actually cause the body to produce chemicals that make you high.)
Jogging does it for some people (not me, but bike-riding can get me high). Tiramisu with Sambuca and double espresso at Ferraraâ€™s. A sunset. The smell of fresh air. The smell of fresh baked bread.
Solving a puzzle, winning a game, taking a bow at the end of a great performance in a packed theatre with hundreds of people on their feet.
A photograph. A poem. Pink Floydâ€™s â€œDark Side of the Moon.â€
Getting an â€œAâ€. Getting a raise. Being employee of the month.
Helping someone out.
Getting high is not only part of life â€” life without it is no life at all.
And these highs are not always consequence-free. Try eating all the chocolate you want.
Then thereâ€™s the drug that gives you the most intense highs and crashing lows â€” the most dangerous addiction of allâ€¦
Love gives you wings. It makes you fly. I donâ€™t even call it love. I call it Geronimo. When youâ€™re in love, youâ€™ll jump right from the top of the Empire State and you wonâ€™t care, screaming â€œGeronimoâ€ the whole way down. I love her so bad, I justâ€¦ whoa, she wrecks me. Iâ€™d die for her.
Getting high isnâ€™t always good for you. But donâ€™t you dare tell me that itâ€™s wrong.
The thing is, of course, that even when they say “high,” that’s not what they really mean. They mean “stupid.” The kind of high when you’re no longer able to communicate clearly. And yes, you see that with some folks with pretty much all drugs (very much including alcohol, of course).
But pretty much every drug can be used in a sociable way, where you’re not getting “wasted.”
Now, it’s possible that someone without any firsthand knowledge (and pretty poor secondhand knowledge) might think that illegal drugs are primarily used to get “wasted.” But that’s a function of prohibition.
During alcohol prohibition, it’s been reported that per capita consumption increased 500%. When it became illegal, there was a push toward binge drinking, (and also prohibition meant that it was unprofitable to provide low-potency options).
Today, with the 21-year-old drinking age, we have unhealthy binge drinking on college campuses, due in part to the partial prohibition.
Drug prohibition has similar effects in that some people will tend to consume as much as they can when something is illegal.
Today, there is plenty of (non-wasted) social use of marijuana and other illicit drugs. But I do look forward to legalization when it becomes easier to consume drugs that way.
When I was in college (some years ago), there was a bit of a tradition of some of my friends going to the soccer games and bringing a couple of joints to enjoy along the sideline while watching the game (they didn’t do this at the football games, because the alumni were there, and the soccer team was grateful to have an audience at all). It was the equivalent of having a couple of beers with a game, and it was a wonderful way to enjoy beautiful weather and a great game on a sunny afternoon.
There are so many ways that cannabis can be used to enhance a sociable and non-wasted experience, from a gourmet meal, to a good movie, to hanging out with friends, to hiking in the mountains, to putting on some tunes and cleaning house!
It’ll be nice when people have more non-legally-threatening options to enjoy it that way.