I’ve got a copy of “Marijuana Legalization: What everyone Needs to Know” by Jonathan P. Caulkins, Angela Hawken, Beau Kilmer, and Mark A.R. Kleiman and hope to find time to read it soon (although I’m not looking forward to it).
I’m sure I’ll be talking about it here.
However, an excerpt has been printed at Huffington Post: Important Facts About Marijuana Legalization
If alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, whatâ€™s the logical justification for one being legal and the other illegal?
If we were making laws for a planet whose population had never experienced either marijuana or alcohol, and we had to choose one of the two drugs to make available, there would be a strong case for choosing marijuana, which has lower organic toxicity, lower addictive risk, and a much weaker link with accidents and violence.
But thatâ€™s not the planet we inhabit. Here on this planet, alcohol has been an ingrained part of many cultures since the Neolithic revolution (which may have been driven in part by the discovery that grain could be brewed into beer). People have used cannabis plant products for thousands of years, but its widespread use as an intoxicant in the United States is a phenomenon of the last hundred years. Even today only about one in sixteen American adults used marijuana at all in the course of a typical year; for alcohol, that figure is more than half.
History matters. Custom matters. Practicality matters. Even if there were public support for it, going back to Prohibition wouldnâ€™t workâ€”without a truly ferocious degree of law enforcementâ€”precisely because centuries of tradition and decades of marketing have left alcohol use a deeply ingrained feature of most social systems outside the Islamic world.
The technical term for this is â€œpath dependence.â€ If alcohol had just been invented and no one was yet using it, it would go straight into Schedule I: high potential for abuse, and no accepted medical value. And that ban might make sense. But once there is an established user base, prohibition becomes impractical. Marijuana is not, or at least not yet, equally entrenched.
Really? Path dependence? That’s what you’ve got?
This sounds like the justification for deciding to go with VHS over Beta.
Yes, I know – it certainly is annoying since you have collected all those Beta tapes, but that’s the way it goes… VHS wins. Sorry.
The difference being, of course, that they’re not arresting people for having Betamax.
So this is what you tell the 800,000 people arrested each year for marijuana? Sorry, alcohol got there first?
It does, of course, allow one to neatly sidestep the historical racism, culture wars, and a whole lot of other factors.
It’s not a logical justification at all, nor is it an explanation. It’s a nonsensical and frankly offensive armchair statement made by an academic with no clue regarding the real world.
1. to show (an act, claim, statement, etc.) to be just or right
2. to defend or uphold as warranted or well-grounded
I don’t think so.
The claim that getting high on marijuana is as recent as 100 years is pure bullshit,,,should be able to intelligently figure out that someone burned a funny looking bush in the fire one night,,long before anyone brewed the first beer.
Maybe Mark missed the Scythians and their sweatlodges with charred cannabis seeds – which is just what you’d get if you used a seeded cola like a bundle of sweet grass on the rocks. (In honor of ancient traditions I havta try the bud-on-the-rocks thing one of these years)
I may hafta try that myself. I have a sweatlodge (crude) carved out of the hillside at my granite falls property. Of course, it hasn’t been used in a year so I’m gonna hafta evict the spiders first. (if you don’t, when the temp goes up they start to run from their little hidey-holes. And some of our spiders up here can give a life-threatening bite..)
good on ya… nothing beats a good sweatlodge, been doing ’em since college days when I had the good fortune to run into a VN vet that was a local Chumash.
And those Scythians… bad asses on horseback. That used ganja… in a sweat!
There was an excellent article yesterday that summed up how I feel about Prohibition and the government quite nicely. Government has become illegitimate. They think they have a right to tell you what you can drink smoke or eat, but they simply awarded themselves these powers when nobody was watching, or after ordinary people tired of the eternal fight against the power hungry and petty place seekers in government. The only right they have to tell you how to live is the right of might. They are to be feared, but not loved.
Here’s the article, and an excerpt:
Itâ€™s not civil disobedience that Iâ€™m talking about. Itâ€™s the opposite: Civil disobedience is meant to be noticed. It is a price paid in the hope of creating social change. What Iâ€™m talking about is not based on hope; in fact, it has given up much hope on social change. It thinks the government is a colossal amoeba twitching mindlessly in response to tiny pinpricks of pain from an endless army of micro-brained interest groups. The point is not to teach the amoeba nor to guide it, but simply to stay away from the lethal stupidity of its pseudopods.
Path dependence sounds more like a group of crusading hacks donâ€™t remember losing Prohibition I and are now in denial about losing Prohibition II.
To suggest that we should abandon the search for safer recreational drugs because we’ve had a long history of alcohol is totally insane and is traditionalism taken to the extreme.
This whole idea rests on the magical assumption that marijuana doesn’t already exist as a common intoxicant.
They state: “People have used cannabis plant products for thousands of years, but its widespread use as an intoxicant in the United States is a phenomenon of the last hundred years”. How is the TIME the intoxicant has been employed even relevant? Once the intoxicant is in common use, we see it’s effects right along with existing substances in society…immediately. We have only had synthetic cannabinoids for a decade or so, but they aren’t going to magically disappear because we ban them…far from it. How is the fact (disputable, since they include only smoked cannabis in this assessment, conveniently ignoring the widespread use of cannabis based medications) that cannabis has only been in widespread use for 100 years, going to make it any easier, or less damaging to prohibit than an older substance? That just makes no sense whatsoever. MDMA has only been around for a decade. Banning it made no dent in it’s availability. But it created a whole class of new criminals who weren’t criminals before it was banned.
They also neglect to factor in the other point, implicit in their argument. Cannabis use has indeed risen in the last hundred years. But the greatest increase was after the prohibition on cannabis was enacted. In fact, I think it was Duncan who worked out that the use of cannabis has increased some 16,000 percent (help me out here Duncan..) since 1937. Proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that prohibition HAS FAILED at it’s intended goal. So sad. They make their argument, and destroy it in the same breath.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Kleiman’s a tool.
Perhaps if we ban all new drugs before they are invented, we may have a chance at controlling them. But somehow, I don’t think so.
Sorry, MDMA has been around for a few decades, but my point still stands.
You’re definitely right about MDMA. It was banned in 1986 and when I started college in 1993, it was still virtually unknown outside of rarefied psychonaut circles. Yet by the turn of the millennium, you could find it at any small town high school.
I got to use MDMA before it was banned, pure MDMA made by a real (“licensed”) chemist. It was FINE! I called it the “insight and acceptance drug”, my friends all called it the “hug drug”. The psychiatrists and psychologists who have used it in therapy agree with my nickname for it.
What is sold on the black market as “ecstasy” nowadays has added chemicals that change it but since I haven’t tried any of the current “ecstasy” I cannot speak to in what ways such additions alter the effects of the drug. To my mind it cannot be better than pure MDMA.
besides… that alcohol was here “first” is a premise, a hypothesis, not fact.
we know that there were honkies in China 2700 years ago that had enough stash to take a couple of pounds to the grave:
besides… what happened to hemp Mark? it’s part of Prohibition 2.0 and totally asinine that it is prohibited. And the use of cannabis as food and fiber surely pre-dates alcohol.
In reference to the 2,700 year old shaman stash – it certainly wasn’t ditchweed like the DEA ambitiously eradicate year after year either.
‘The size of seeds mixed in with the leaves in the sample indicate the marijuana came from a cultivated strain…’
He is saying prohibition is practical IF you call upon it when a drug is not firmly entrenched. What hogwash that is. Marijuana was prohibited at a time when it was not mainstream, yet marijuana is very mainstream now and very entrenched, contrary to his statement. This leaves the impression that somehow there still may be hope for marijuana prohibition to work. He leaves the door very open for prohibition as a tool in the future and in other instances.
Darkcycle, you are very right. this guy is a shill and a tool.
In a vain attempt at being conservative and straddling the line between prohibition and legalization, he really is nothing more than a closet prohibitionist in sheeps clothing.
According to the number of over the counter medicines based on cannabis when Anslinger renamed cannabis to marijuana,,over 150 medicines for everything from diarrhea to sleep aids,,cannabis was entrenched in our society,,marijuana was an unrecognized term by the majority of the population and has been recognized as the reason the congress was able to prohibit it in the first place,,even Doctors from the FDA didn’t realize the first time congress asked them if marijuana had medical applications and all but the last two Doctors said no and only after one asked what plant species marijuana was,,when Anslinger told the Drs hemp,,all the Doctors changed their no to yes in the committee hearing,,,IIRC,,some research would blow their claim of alcohol first out of the water.
That almost sounds reasonable if you…
1) ignore the fact that non-toxic, non-addicting, non-violence-promoting cannabis is not merely “less dangerous” than alcohol, it is infinitely safer;
2) ignore the fact that cannabis and alcohol are substitutes and that our current policies have the perverse effect of encouraging people to use the more dangerous drug;
3) ignore the fact that cannabis is very much an entrenched part of human culture;
4) ignore the fact that prohibition of cannabis is every bit as “impractical” as alcohol prohibition and is causing the same problems, e.g., crime, black-market violence, and corruption; and
5) ignore the question of human rights and the illegitimacy of using state violence to control what adult citizens choose to put into their own bodies and consciousness.
If one is a bullshit purveyor, e.g., a politician, does one want the public to have access to a bullshit filter?
You know, I had an ex wife who was masterful at blending some truth with her lies to make it all sound legitimate, and no one ever seemed to question her.
This report reminds me of the same kind of reasoning. I am sure that Mark A.R. Kleiman had great influence upon this group, since I am a bit unfamiliar with the others that signed their name to this. I hope they are a bit more choosy about the company that they keep in the future.
Translation for the idea of path dependence= “We failed to stop alcohol, but we haven’t lost the war on marijuana yet.”
“So this is what you tell the 800,000 people arrested each year for marijuana? Sorry, alcohol got there first?”
This is what you tell such people in a nation for which liberty is supposed to self-evidently be a naturally given (“Creator” given, if you prefer that term) and unalienable right.
The word “unalienable” in the most famous American passage has been ignored throughout American history, as the dominant subjectivity (i.e. the public majority and our public servants) have unethically opted for pre-American conservatism spanning the political spectrum. Such conservatism allows our public servants to legally define risk, even though it clearly opposes the unalienable right to liberty.
I often hear the “We have enough problems with alcohol. We don’t need another drug.” opinion. Putting aside the baseless belief that prohibition is doing anything positive with respect to ‘another drug’, such opinions should have no merit in a truly American society.
It is time “We the people” finally recognize the brilliance of the word unalienable as it applies to liberty, and leverage it at the federal, state, and local levels. Such leverage is essential for the minor subjectivity to avoid persecution.
Our nation was established against the abuse of power (the worst form of abuse, given its generally broad scope of destruction). Our nation can only thrive against the abuse of power. As long as the unalienable right to liberty is ignored, such righteous abuse reduction is impossible.
It actually sounds more like an argument to go with Betamax over VHS. “Sorry, everybody’s been watching on Betamax, so even though you have this new technology, we don’t want everyone to have to buy a new player and new cassettes, so we’re just going to stick with Betamax.”
Imagine if this argument had been made in response to the civil rights movement. “Yes, I suppose we could let black people eat at the same restaurants and go to the same hotels and schools as whites, but we’ve been doing it separately for so long that it would be difficult to adjust.”
While we’re at it, let’s ask the question: Whose culture are we talking about? The one represented by the so-called ‘Greatest Generation’ that saddled us with this cannabis prohibition madness? Or the one that came after, starting with the Boomers?
One can make the case that a sharp cultural break took place since then, only partly obstructed by the ‘last ditchers’ of GG ideology subscribers (a.k.a. authoritarians, control-freak ‘concerned parents’, etc.) in later generations (an extremely small minority). Another indication of cultural shift.
With a 100+M Americans admitting to having used cannabis, roughly one-third of the US population, I’d say that cannabis was pretty thoroughly engrained in the new culture that deviated from the old. The fact that the majority of young people prefer cannabis to alcohol or tobacco, the latter two being the drugs of choice of the previous culture, makes that paradigm shift even clearer.
Prohibition was a hallmark of the ‘Greatest Generation’, and it’s philosophical dictates were almost tailor-made for that generation, namely, a reliance upon deferring to ‘authorities’ (who were, in too many cases, even less of an expert than the ‘layman’) and upon force, not reason, to decide the issue.
Needless to say, it, and they, failed. The culture that came after it, determined not to repeat their predecessor’s mistakes, sought to change the laws, but by that time the tail end of the ‘Greatest Generation’ had, as Nixon’s Shafer report warned, institutionalized the DrugWar, and had become ‘rentiers’ in it. Rentiers who sought to protect their gravy train at all costs.
Thus began the culture wars, which the authoritarians could only win when they had the money to keep prohibition going. And they only do so now as part of a fiscal illusion that this country continues to suffer from. When that bubble finally, completely bursts, we’ll see just how much DrugWar we can actually afford. The latter culture is already seeing this happen.
In essence, IMHO, Professor Kleiman makes the mistake of thinking that there has been no cultural shift between the generations, seemingly stuck in a kind of stasis with regards to who his audience actually is. And that target audience that might support his premises regarding prohibition is dying out from simple old age…or are part of that authoritarian minority drawing paychecks attached to drug prohibition.
The vast majority of those in the new culture aren’t listening…because he and his concepts of prohibition-lite are irrelevant to them. Drug prohibition belongs to Grandpas’s day…and, with the passing of Grandpa, it belongs in his grave with him.
Be sure to disregard all the blatant lies that were told, under oath, to move cannabis to it’s current standing. Pay no attention to that.
Yeah, Kleiman would apparently have us believe that he is reasonable when it comes to cannabis (even plopping down on Pete’s Couch momentarily to insist he supports pot legalization), but he fails to mention the xenophobic lies that we all know were behind the anti-cannabis push.
Talk about ‘what everyone needs to know’ about cannabis.
Yes, Mark, history and culture matter. Yes, you also did invoke the ghost of that xenophobia when you tried to pretend that cannabis is not part of OUR culture.
Ever heard of Louis Armstrong, Mark? You know… “I think to myself…what a wonderful world…”
Start poking around the roots of the American Tree and I think you might get a whiff of sumpin’ familiar…yeah, mebbe the white folk in the dance hall were glugging gin, but what do you think those guys on the bandstand were smoking on their break?
I mean come on.
Some of the Founding Fathers indulged in ingesting “sweet hemp” by smoking it in a pipe, so its use by “our” culture goes back to the founding of our “nation”.
Funny…when Rastas (for example) have claimed religious exemptions from the CSA for cannabis, courts have said that cannabis must be treated differently from Substance X precisely because there is such a robust market for it. The implication is that its popularity increases the threat of diversion.
In his testimony for the UDV, a Brazilian ayahuasca-using religion seeking protection for its practice in the US, Mark Kleiman argued that diversion would be unlikely because, unlike cannabis, there is not a huge black market in ayahuasca.
While Kleiman et al. point out in their text that the sheer numbers of cannabis consumers are a fraction of alcohol users, I find it suspect that Kleiman would argue that the cannabis market is so big and entrenched in one context, then talk as if it’s some fad we might soon eliminate in another.
Large sections of this book are available on Google Books and on Amazon. It’s more reasonable than I was expecting, with a minimum of Kleiman snark about potheads.
Regarding a benefit-cost analysis. They note costs of prohibition and legalization such as giving young people criminal records or possibly increasing the number of children with stoned parents, but they say that a benefit-cost analysis really comes down to two factors: 1) How much is the worth/cost per hour to be ‘stoned’? Is it on average a cost or a benefit to be stoned? 2) Would legalization increase or decrease use of actually dangerous drugs such as alcohol and cocaine?
They say it’s difficult to pin down those two factors. Thus, they conclude (p 135): “This uncertainty makes it simply impossible at present to produce a solid cost-benefit analysis of marijuana legalization.”
In other words, they are not able to produce a credible cost-benefit analysis showing that marijuana prohibition is overall good for society.
With a cost of over a trillion dollars and counting, that ought to tip the scales a bit on a cost/benefit analysis.
It’s true, Emma — large sections of the book are really quite unobjectionable. Actual facts, as well as acknowledgement of the harms of prohibition and good points made by reformers.
I’ll be talking more about the book in the coming days, mostly to point out those places where they went off-track and skewed the analysis to favor an interventionist viewpoint.
“Marijuana is not, or at least not yet, equally entrenched.”
Movies, music, books, art, and a thriving “counter-culture” all contain, and revel in, marijuana.
More people support marijuana than President Obama.
High schools and high-security government installations (or prisons) have been found to contain marijuana.
That is the epitome of “entrenched”.
In fairness, Dante, the branding of alcohol runs fairly deep, from sporting event sponsorships to performing arts venues to nostalgic scenes of horses running through the snow.
The greater (if manufactured and cynical) legitimacy of alcohol was on gorgeous display when UC Boulder quashed its 4/20 celebration this year. They put a pot-friendly artist in a venue sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, included a clause in his contract that he could not mention cannabis during the show, and invited all the students to come, free of charge.
The entrenchment of cannabis retains strong traces of counterculture. It IS a different beast, if not in the way Kleiman wants.
… and nary a sign of “binge ganja smoking” on our college and university campuses.
I don’t know, allan, I think I saw some of that at Casa Zimbabwe, UC Berkeley, ca. 1998…
mighta I otta have said “no fatalities from campus binge ganja smoking”
and tho’ it was awhile back I did my fair share of binge ganja smoking in college… it was the only way I could get my papers done and correct my friends’ papers…
besides somebody had to keep the stash fresh… can’t be letting it get stale now can we?
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this is what “success” looks like in the fantasy world of the mexican drug war:
“”Dependence is defined as current use meeting three or more of the conditions:
1. Tolerance (needing more to get same effect)
2. Withdrawal (cessation causes a characteristic set of symptoms)
3. Using more than intended
4. Wanting to or having tried unsuccessfully to cut down on use
5. Spending considerable time obtaining and using the substance
6. Interference with important work, social, or other activities
7 Continued use despite knowledge of adverse consequences
Survey responses suggest that more than 8 million current marijuana users meet criteria 4 and 5; far fewer mention the other issues. For example, only 1.5 million report that their marijuana use is causing problems with work / school / home and with family or friends.”” ‘snipped’
#4. I have the same problem with cheeseburgers.
#5. When marijuana is sold at the local liquor store or I can grow my own,time spent procuring marijuana will be a non-factor and not having to find secure locations and circumstances to partake of marijuana,time spent will be reduced substantially.
#6. Most problems associated with problems at work can be removed when urine analysis as a signal of impairment ends.
So,once more,,the problems that qualify marijuana as a dependence creating drug are because of prohibition and it only meets 2 of the 3 that is called for by the people setting the standards.
I find that I meet all 7 criteria. Of course, that’s my nicotine addiction; not my cannabis use.
Perhaps the authors should seek treatment for their own “path dependence”. Plug prohibition into the dependency test and I’d say they’re hitting all seven criteria!
heh… yeah they do kinda sound like alcoholics in denial don’t they… “who us? we don’t have a problem. It’s everybody else.”
Here are the new ones for May 2013
DSM-5: The Future Manual
I think alcohol will always be vastly more commonly used than marijuana because alcohol is reliably going to make people care less about their problems. Marijuana can show you stuff you might not like to see. Plus, for all intents and purposes, marijuana has been legal in Holland for like thirty years. The authors will argue that price is a big deal (because large scale production and distribution are still illegal there so the price is still high), and that that’s why use hasn’t gone up, but that doesn’t make sense to me. Price has an impact on the amount that people use, not on the percentage of people that use it. After legalization, the percentage of people that use it is going to remain similar to what it is now. Even if it increases significantly, it will probably always be below fifty percent for regular users (way below) (maybe over fifty percent of people will use once a year or once every few years). The implication that prohibitionists make that it would become as widely used as alcohol has always seemed disingenuous to me.
Well, if it did become as widely used as alcohol, so what?
good point. i’m just arguing that they’re wrong in implying that it would increase that much, but they haven’t in the first place proven that there would be anything wrong with it increasing that much. If i could tell other people what to do, i’d have giant mushroom parties once every three months where everyone in society was expected to attend (kind of like mardigrass with alcohol if you live in new orleans), and a similar pot party every month.
i’m not saying that i want to make anyone take mushrooms or weed, i’m just saying that i would like it if society was like that.
(or like oktoberfest with alcohol, or saint patrick’s day and so on and so forth) (or 420, i guess, but every month). and then somehow we’d have to make 420 more special than the average ones
Yeah, the Aztecs did that too, according to the chronicles of Diego DurÃ¡n. Only they, after eating the mushrooms, did large sacrifices of captives until the floor was red with blood. Diff’rent strokes, I guess.
I would personally be ashamed to put this in print as the best ‘justification’ I could offer. Hopefully, soft-brained intellectuals like this lot are on the way out. The good news is that there are plenty of more capable replacements (see example); whose voices have been drowned out due to the alignment of academics (like the Kleiman et als) with the current political discourse.
This definition seems more relevant:
NORML has an article on what legalization will look like??
About all I saw was years of lawyers arguing for the right to every phase of legalization from growing to smoking.
Screw the lawyers,,I say we let the federal government continue dismantling the social safety net to spend more money on the war on hemp,,and a few other drugs,until this government,as other governments in history,self destructs,,,,not to far off if the financial researchers are correct.
A good read at the Baltimore Sun:
Bealefeld on the “failed” drug war, “The Wire,” and Coldplay
happy bastille day couchmates. remember: the aristos hate nothing more than peasants defying the despotism of the rich, if only with a joint.
so… like I’m just cruisin’, doin’ my thang and I’m googling this and that and click on a DOJ link and get this message:
Because, like, umm… there wasn’t any?