Is there a value in incrementalism?

Unlikely allies behind marijuana votes in Washington, Colorado

What transpired in Colorado and Washington were disciplined efforts that forged alliances between liberals and tea party conservatives, often using public health arguments to advance their cause.

Proponents and analysts said both states benefited from existing medical marijuana statutes, money from national liberalization supporters and a sometimes disorganized opposition.

Thought it might be worth opening up this up given discussions we’ve had here in the past.

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17 Responses to Is there a value in incrementalism?

  1. allan says:

    Incrementalism is political zen. It is what is. Short of doing what Tibetan monks have recently resorted to, starting from scratch any movement must be incremental.

    Go into MAP’s published letters archive and look at Robert Sharpe’s letters, Kirk Muse or any of the top ten (I’m # 11 or 12) and you’ll see that the catch phrases of today were being johnny-appleseeded into the common language, repeated like mantras or chants years and years ago… or like hammers against a wall. At first just a few, until we are where we are now, where we have a choir, a chorus that is legion. Like the rasta horns… whether Jericho, the Bastille or the middle of Berlin… no wall so wrongly built shall stand for long.

    I think what drug policy reform has been up to this point has been incrementalism. But now? Now it’s time. Time to strike, to be relentless, to call the liars on their lies…

    The bright lights of scrutiny have been turned on the drug war and we are looking far better than our opposition. And what Kleiman, Sabet… the rest of the excremental Prohibitionitorsionists… don’t say will be the end of their relevance. Because they can’t use Goose Creek, Jennifer Odom, Zeke Hernandez, Donald Scott, Charity Bowers, Katherine Johnston, et al… without blowing over their house of cards and exposing the smoke and mirrors within.

    Oh… and a tip o’ this old man’s hat to all my fellow Veterans… gentlemen, ladies… on a wet and chilly Veterans’ Day.

  2. I think there is value to it, in this way: When a State legalizes marijuana for medical reasons, compassion is usually a factor. The prohibition tough on crime crowd in the local legislature then proceeds to make a mockery out of a popular vote by legislating every monkey wrench they can then think of to negate and sabotage the vote.

    This, then becomes the motive for a legalization movement. There is no recourse left to the public whose voting mandate was just walked all over by the local dissenting state representatives (whose budget depends on the drug war). Most legal States have gone through this scenario, and the local opposition to marijuana as medication becomes a stifled mandate of compassion rejected.

    The prohibs create their own downfall and detractors by showing their true colors to a now angry crowd whose hopes for relief have just gotten sh*t on.

    Medical marijuana brings out the true colors of those that have relegated marijuana to a permanent position in their reefer madness hall of shame. Every single one usually has a bank account filled to the brim with proceeds directly or indirectly connected to the war on drugs. Those are the ones who’s quotes about scientific studies never go beyond the last dusty research conclusion from the Governments bought and paid for archives.

    • claygooding says:

      If the prohibs have the chance they will wreck the legalization process the same way,,as in the way WA legalized,,the taxes alone will raise the price of the state marijuana so much that the black market will continue without any slow down,,exactly what the prohibs want to happen.

      I look for the CO prohib legislators to try the same tactic in CO,,make the taxes enough to keep the criminals making their living from it and reducing the amount of taxes collected from the legal msrijuans.

  3. Duncan20903 says:


    Wow! I didn’t know that THC percolates in the bloodstream. That article made me think of the ancient pop song from 1972, Popcorn by Hot Butter. I always thought it sounded more like coffee percolating than popcorn popping. Oh man I can feel the THC percolating now!

    Thinking Clearly, I see that you’ve noticed that the prohibasites love to note “the latest” evidence. That’s just because the studies that they like simply don’t have a very long shelf life before being blown out of the water by peer review.

    • claygooding says:

      I just vaped and heard Tijuana Brass Band playing that song on every exhale. Telstar on the intake!

    • allan says:

      I wonder how often he was called a silly ninny when he was a kid?

      DR. DAVE: Right. We are talking the effects of people’s abilities when it is in their system. Plus–get high every day for dinner or to go to sleep and the THC just keeps building up!

      Gee Dr Dave, if it just keeps building up, will I explode from too much THC at a certain point? I mean even the best sponge only holds so much water…

      What a silly ninny!

      • Duncan20903 says:


        Wow, I’m sad because I only just now thought of that popular song that glorifies using a mind altering drug from 1950 something called The Java Jive which is perfectly on topic in this thread because it mentions percolators. These musicians are even using on stage in the video! Who does that guy think he is, Louis Armstrong?

        I love java, sweet and hot
        Whoops Mr. Moto, I’m a coffee pot
        Shoot the pot and I’ll pour me a shot
        A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup

        Oh slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
        And I’ll cut a rug just snug in a jug
        A sliced up onion and a raw one
        Draw one –
        Waiter, waiter, percolator
        I love coffee, I love tea
        I love the Java Jive and it loves me
        Coffee and tea and the java and me
        A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup

        These people are tripping so hard that they think they’re a flipping kitchen utensil! Evidently they have caffeine percolating in their blood. What in the world are they planning to do with the onions?

  4. Scott Morgan says:

    I don’t understand why this is even a debate. There’s no such thing as non-incremental reform. It doesn’t even exist, or if it does it’s failing ever hour of every day. Even bloody revolts emerge from festering discontent, spurred on by passionate instigators. To criticize “incrementalism” as a drug reform strategy is to condemn everything that’s worked for us, while offering as an alternative everything that has not. I mean, really, look at any social justice movement that’s ever accomplished anything.

    • allan says:

      debate? i thought it was a discussion… but a point I could make is that the growth in public drug policy discussion is more a continuous and growing wave rather than incremental reforms. It was the expansion of “the discussion” from the MAP lte model to a fleet of corsairs cruising the fertile waters of the wwweb.

      From my observations of my fellow reformers for many years, those of us who along have been legalization advocates have not ceased our efforts, while expending great energy into protecting the patients. What the election has done is to really make it safe for patients to climb on the legalization bandwagon. Heck, for everybody to climb on the bandwagon!

      I may be stretching it but I think Pete just threw the noodle against the wall and left it for us to decide if it’s cooked.

      There are one heck of a lot of folks who smoke herb that will still say, “legalize meth? Are you crazy?” So it could also be said that learning and comprehension are incremental as well. Dinner is incremental too and it’ll be incrementally burnt if I don’t go get it…

  5. darkcycle says:

    I gotta agree with Scott. Even if we were to see the drug war collapse overnight, it will have been because we’ve been chipping away at it a little at a time for years. Increments, let’s see, just off the top o’ me head….1970’s, decrim/civil infraction, 80’s…okay, the eighties were a disaster…’90’s- MMJ, now, full legalization under State Law in two states. Hmmmm….I can value incrementalism if it looks like that.

    • claygooding says:

      I have hope of raising my own marijuana in my yard without worrying about the gestapo kicking my fences down and shooting my dogs,,it is still a few years off in my world but U can feel it coming,,,incrementally along.

  6. Dave Finch says:

    While I don’t disagree that incrementalism is better than stasis, I do think a major leap could be accomplished with a politically feasible dispensary system that permists use to adults and treats drug abuse disorders and addiction as public health matters rather than subjects for criminal punishment. I am not yet with those of you who would open the doors to complete freedom of all use, abuse and addiction, partly because I am convinced we can get to where we want to be quicker politically without that, and partly out of concern that adolescents have enough confusing choices already to make without inviting them to consider – let’s see which should I start with crack cocaine, ecstasy or methamphetamine – or maybe 15% THC marijuana.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Tell me another fairy story daddy.

      I’ve seen quite a few youth take up cocaine and other hard drugs because their immature minds jumped to the conclusion that since the government lied about the dangers of cannabis that means that they are probably lying about (including but not limited to) cocaine, heroin, meth and drinking alcohol. You can rest assured that except for a small cohort of fringe lunatics that no cannabis law reform advocate is advocating the unfettered legalization of everything or anything. The newly minted laws in Colorado and Washington which were written by cannabis law reform advocates include an age restriction of 21. It’s probably the last time you’ll see it but the writers of I-502 in Washington State also included a per se limit for driving while cannabis addled.

      It really is puzzling to me why the prohibitionists want to continue to embrace the proven failures of absolute prohibition and to totally ignore the just as proven methods that reduce youth use. Then they make the laughably absurd claim that it’s “for the children”.

      American Teens Are Less Likely than European Teens to Use Cigarettes and Alcohol
      Jun 02, 2012

      American youth have the 3rd lowest use of drinking alcohol compared to the European Union member Countries.

      American youth have the 2nd lowest use of smoking tobacco. Only Iceland is doing better job reducing the youth use of smoking tobacco than the U.S.

      Use of illicit drugs is quite a different matter. The U.S. students tend to have among the highest rates of use of all of the countries. At 18 percent, the U.S. ranks third of 37 countries on the proportion of students using marijuana or hashish in the prior 30 days. Only France and Monaco had higher rates at 24 percent and 21 percent, respectively. The average across all the European countries was 7 percent, or less than half the rate in the U.S.

      The drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco successes were achieved without making the substances illegal for adults.

    • darkcycle says:

      I’m startin’ to think Dave here is a concern troll.

      • i happen to have communicated directly with Mr Finch prior to his arrival here and am totally embarrassed if the reason he ended up here is because i recommend this place on my site. of course, i wrote that a long time ago when there was a different group of “regulars” — as evidenced by the out of date link to the old forum. fortunately, a few of them are still here — but the place is starting to degrade significantly.

        for your information, the man knows what he is talking about, is intellectually on our side and totally in command of the relevant facts.

        but because he brings up the concerns held by a good number of people whom it would probably be wise of us to not continue to alienate, and because what he asks about doesn’t meld with your group think, you jackasses pounce.

        Mr Finch would be an excellent bridge between us and the people who legitimately believe the propaganda simply because they have not had the exposure to the data that we all have, and/or have difficulty understanding it. for some people, it’s a big emotional issue, and this man understands that and can help formulate the messages we want people to hear. he can talk to them — we can’t.

        he knows the data and agrees that we need to end the drug war!! where he bridges the gap is that his heart still feels legitimate concern that he shares with the people none of the “regulars” on this board would ever have a prayer of reaching — simply because you’d start beating the shit out of them if they asked the wrong question.

        it’s starting to look like i must be way off base in recommending this place on my site. this is not the first time you jackals have done this, but you really need to make it your last. in fairness, of course, it’s a minor (albeit loud and annoying) minority of the audience that acts this way — but since they themselves seem to “troll” the place, they are unfortunately also too frequently the first (and thus last) to reply to anyone’s posts.

        knee-jerk hostility is not going to get us anywhere gentlemen. you want to know why it’s too early to party? read your words. we’ve accomplished the equivalent of a fumble recovery on our own 2 yard line early in the first quarter — and how you decided to treat Mr Finch is the best example one could possibly hope for to illustrate why it’s way too early to party. you accuse me of pooing on your parade? you’re throwing it at the audience.

        if you jerks are just looking for arguments, take it to modesto. but if you want to understand a potential ally, visit his site:

        make sure you read his post about the meth death in police custody — then apologize to him for your (far too) persistent irrational ass-holiness.

  7. darkcycle says:

    ” I am not yet with those of you who would open the doors to complete freedom of all use, abuse and addiction,… ” and”and partly out of concern that adolescents have enough confusing choices already to make without inviting them to consider – let’s see which should I start with crack cocaine, ecstasy or methamphetamine – or maybe 15% THC marijuana.”
    Wha? I don’t recall seeing ANY of those here on Pete’s couch.
    Dave, maybe you should look a little closer at what people here on the couch are saying. In six years (has it been that long?) of coming here every single day at least once, I have yet to see anybody take a position such as that. You have badly misunderstood what we are saying.

  8. Dave Finch says:

    Glad to hear it darkcycle. And you should think I am a concern troll – though there might be a better word than troll for it. I certainly dont try to hide my thoughts under the bridge. As a newby to this group of commenters I could be quite guilty of misinterpretation. My concern is that the way we move away from prohibition not be one that teaches the adolescent that taking up psychoactive drugs for adventure or to be cool is an okay way to start life.

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