Open Thread

bullet image Maia Szalavitz does a nice interview with Mark Kleiman about his role in Washington legalization. Pot is Legal in Washington: Q&A with the Man Who Is Making Weed Legit

It’s a revealing interview that helps give an idea of what Mark’s role will be, yet also gives some insight into some of this thinking.

I think Maia has a better notion of the elasticity of price on drug use than Mark, though. It’s more complicated than his overall determination that it’s elastic. I believe there’s a combination of elastic and inelastic behaviors that can be separated along the lines of use and abuse respectively. And in that instance, higher prices is the wrong policy decision to make for both populations.

I’d be interested to know more about what studies have been done on price elasticity and illicit drugs, and whether they accounted for substitution and the differences between use and abuse populations.

bullet image In case you missed it (I know it’s been discussed in comments): Eric E. Sterling: Shafer Commission Report on Marijuana and Drugs, Issued 40 Years Ago Today, Was Ahead of its Time

It’s kind of mind-blowing that it’s been 40 years. And Eric has really great personal perspective on it.

It really is an outstanding, must-read article, just to see how amazingly the Commission nailed it and predicted what we would see in the following 40 years, also identifying the interests that would end up protecting the war on drugs.

bullet image Headline of the day: Tea Partier Shows Up Obama on Drug Policy at The Root – an African-American perspective publication.

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28 Responses to Open Thread

  1. Matthew Meyer says:

    Thanks for the links to the Kleiman interview and to Eric Sterling’s reflections on the Shafer Commish.

    I think a lot of folks will be pretty pissed when they realize (if they do) that we had a pretty good public policy response to our “drug problem” ready in the early 1970s, only to toss it in the trash.

    As for Kleiman, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him take such a stand on the question of alcohol / pot substitution versus complementation. Guy sure has his work cut out for him, almost makes me feel sorry for him, given what he’s walking into.

  2. Duncan20903 says:


    It appears that the Maryland lawmakers are bound and determined to maintain Maryland’s status as the State with the most worthless modern medicinal cannabis patient protection laws. What do they like this year? Requiring licensed doctors and nurses working for “academic” institutions to be the only authorized source of medicine. That should result in no available supply since the doctors could be penalized by the Feds while the “academic” institutions refuse to participate to protect their Federal grants. Dammit, they were at least going to get some medicine to needy patients last year when the State was going to authorize a special kind of pharmacy where the employees didn’t have to worry about losing their precious DEA number for participating.

    Md. House Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

  3. Jean Valjean says:

    obviously kleiman does not speak for the federal government (that we know of), but he seems to be expecting the fed to treat wa and co as experiments in drug reform and to leave them alone…or is this just wishful thinking?

    • allan says:

      gosh… if the feds had a choice… hmmm… who would it be? Ed Rosenthal or Mark Kleiman?

      But really, not a bad interview from Mark. That he doesn’t understand the culture is obvious. There are drunks that smoke pot. There are tweakers that smoke pot. All kinds of folks smoke pot. But a pot smoker (speaking generally) uses other substances w/ far greater moderation (and often not at all).

      We (smot pokers) have 2 generations w/ a broad cannabis experience. A lot of folks here on the couch count as geezers… and as with any substance there is an optimal amount and method in consumption and us old farts should be keeping an eye on the youngers and offering our, uh… expertise. (note to WA, I will be more than glad to do so at fair market wages)

      The lengths we went to in those days, to get the most from our $10 ounces of Mescan… and nowadays, here on the west coast at least, literally everyone smokes good bud. Bongs and vaporizers for home, small spoons for outdoors… no more toilet paper roll super-chargers, no more of those little joint-holding stones… no more Mr Natural ceramic bongs sitting on the coffee table next to the always growing candle mountain… black lights and black light posters…


      • Duncan20903 says:

        Well it really wasn’t all that long ago that Mr. Rosenthal was wanted by the Feds.

      • Windy says:

        I have a bong sitting on my bar 24/7 except when it is being used (on the deck or the outdoor living room, we don’t smoke in the house).

  4. Freeman says:

    Oh no, there he goes again:

    What are the main harms that concern you?

    Dependence. There are 3 million people [nationally] who report that their lives are seriously interfered with by pot smoking

    Just once I’d like to see this claim explored in an interview. I can’t count the number of times Kleiman has made that claim on his blog and I and others have asked him where that number comes from, and what is the nature of the “serious interference” he speaks of (and how does that compare to the number of people and degree of dependence attributed to caffeine). He has never once answered. But I think he has left us hints.

  5. Stephen says:

    I’m really not super knowledgeable when it comes to laws and all those big players taking the decisions for us but I can tell you that Marijuana potency has exploded since the 1960’s and pot is not the same thing that it was in the 60-70-and even the 80s.

    So I believe that it’s important to consider the fact that now marijuana as become a full blown addictive drug for heavy users like me. What is ti going to be a few years from now? I have small children and pray to God that they don’t touch drug at ALL. Marijuana included.

    I hope the right decision will be made.

    take care.

    • kaptinemo says:

      I sometimes wonder if the staff at ‘treatment centers’ coerce their inmates to spout prohib garbage online in forums such as this in order to demonstrate their ‘recovery’. Kind of like what the Communist Chinese used to do in the ‘re-education camps’. The methodologies – and mindsets – of both groups bear a striking similarity.

      • Freeman says:

        I’m with you, Kap’n. The comment struck me as a canned talking-point rehash. Like Allan said, many of us are approaching geezerhood. We’ve been around the block a few times and have long-term experience. Who does he think he’s fooling?

        • Duncan20903 says:


          Yeah, I think if someone is intent on playing the role of concern troll should at least try to present their twaddle so it bears some resemblance to our reality. It makes me cluck like an annoyed chicken when their portrayal of our world is so alien to reality.

          Hey Stephen we had plenty of top shelf reefer back in the 1970s. If you really, honestly believe in the propaganda that today’s cannabis is so much better than a few short decades ago I think you’d really benefit from reading “How to Lie With Statistics” by Darrell Huff, first published in 1954. Here it is free on the Internet: linky

        • Servetus says:

          Countless people blame drugs for their failures, or other problems, when drugs aren’t the problem. Example: “I confess. I did this-or-that because I was drunk, or I was stoned, blah, blah, blah.” Transferring evil to material objects is nothing new. It’s seen in a lot of ritual behavior.

          Once drugs are used as a defense for something like a crime, there’s no turning back. Drugs must be seen as the culprit from then on. The real culprit is thus absolved. No personal responsibility, no damage to self-esteem. In the eyes of the law, the only solution is to rid that person of the evil material object, and like magic, a perfect life will emerge.

          Self-defense and even self-deception by drug users are variables Mark Kleiman may not have introduced into his dataset. If so, it would explain his beliefs regarding the evils of marijuana when someone merely shirking responsibility for bad behavior claims they’re addicted to pot.

  6. Stephen says:

    I’m really not super knowledgeable when it comes to laws and all those big players taking the decisions for us but I can tell you that Marijuana potency has exploded since the 1960’s and pot is not the same thing that it was in the 60-70-and even the 80s.

    So I believe that it’s important to consider the fact that now marijuana as become a full blown addictive drug for heavy users like me. What is ti going to be a few years from now? I have small children and pray to God that they don’t touch drug at ALL. Marijuana included.

    I hope the right decision will be made.

    take care.

    • allan says:

      I wasn’t ganna give the first one a thumbs down, but repeating low level hogwash definitely gets it.

      • Why do you think that they call it muggles? says:


        Well I could be convinced that it’s very likely that stephen is a true believer. Of course I’m very gullible so I’m not sure that my opinion should sway anyone to that POV.

        But I will tell you with certainty that real or not, stephen’s dot org page is a friggin’ laugh riot.

        The main active chemical ingredient in marijuana is Tetrahyarocnnibinol (THC). That substance will give you the “buzz” but will also be the one that will remain in your body for weeks if you are an heavy smoker.

        “Understand that all forms of marijuana are mind-altering. Meaning, they will change how your brain normally works; thanks to the THC, the main active chemical in your joint.”

        umm Stephen, isn’t the whole point?

        I don’t want to bore any of you with the marijuana’s definition but from experience, I realized that quit a few people don’t really know what marijuana really is.

        There are many names associated with marijuana but generally speaking, marijuana is some greenish and brownish mixture of hemp plant’s leaves. “Did you know that there is over 200 different names when it comes to Marijuana?”

        Well that one joins the “prohibitionists are impressed by large numbers” category and the laughably absurd argument that pot is bad because it contains hundreds or even thousands of chemicals. I’ve never heard one ‘splain why that’s a bad thing.

        The Inuit have hundreds of names for ice and snow. What’s your point? Watch out where the huskies go and don’t you eat that yellow snow stephen.

        Quitting weed is not always easy as you may already know from having tried dozens of time in the past. Right?

        nope, wrong again Stephen.

        About 10 years ago, the amount of THC find in your joint was half of what you’ll find in the same joint today.

        so if I store my joints for 10 years they’ll double in potency??!? Oh well, I’m a patient man but not that patient.

        Actually, one of the hardest parts of giving up the weed smoking habit in 2013, if you don’t have a plan, is surviving the withdrawals.

        • kaptinemo says:

          “Yellow snow”. LOLOLOL.

          Oh, jeez, how I miss Frank Zappa. Another ‘prophet in his own country’ who was seldom honored.

          His warning about how the US would suffer from a right-wing alliance of Big Business and religious extremism was painfully prescient.

          With the hindsight that History provides, I leave it to the reader to determine just how prescient…

        • allan says:

          his English skills draw a “D” from my desk. A “D” on content. I would have failed him but he at least did the work.

          And of course Zappa… I can thank my late friend (and former USAF E4) George B “Mac” McMahon (from PA) for my introduction to Zappa whilst stationed in omg, Clovis, NM (just down the road a piece from Muleshoe, Tx). I was able to see Zappa and the Mothers play in CO in 1974 after my return to the states from my year in Thailand. If I recall correctly, American Graffiti was also in a theater nearby (drive-in maybe) and we had quite the cultural – and colorful – eve.

    • darkcycle says:

      Concern troll. Lame concern troll.

  7. Pete says:

    Actually, Stephen was a spammer. His two posts had links back to two of those advertising link farm pages that links to various rehab sites, etc. I’ve removed the link and left the post.

  8. stephen says:

    Just for your info, I am NOT a spammer and yes I built a small website in order to help others who have problems with Marijuana addiction just like I had. I came across your site while doing research but I guess that I don’t fit in and my point of vue is not welcome here.

    Webmaster, I am sorry for the trouble I have caused you and anyone on your site. I will not not comment anymore.


    p.s: If my comment showed up twice it’s because my computer froze when I submit the first one and I was not sure if it had gone true since I didn’t see it.

    • Pete says:

      Actually, Stephen, you posted twice with two different links. and

      One of those is a link farm (which is the one I checked out), the other is your site. Maybe you don’t own both, and posted one by mistake. I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

      You’re certainly welcome here, and we’ll be happy to debate the issues with you, but I wasn’t about to give Google value to a spam link farm.

    • allan says:

      well gosh, Stephen is real!

      Pardon my incredulity Stephen… but most comments like yours, here, are drive-by one time shots.

      No doubt not everyone that smokes pot should. What’s that old saying? Just because you can

      And yes, you will be taken to task for statements about exploding potency. Potent pot has always been here. Heck, there’s a 3,000 year old man (he’s dead now) they found buried in China with a couple of pounds of kind bud. One might more properly say that bad dope is less common today than then.

      You can stick around. We don’t (often) bite.

    • allan says:

      your comments also beg the question…

      Why should your problem make me a criminal? I’ve had a good life, done some really great shit – work I’m proud of – and smoked herb off and on my entire adult life. For me it’s no different than someone else drinking a beer. In fact mine is the safer choice…

      Alcohol – a Monopoly on Intoxication

  9. Stephen says:

    Thanks Pete for welcoming me back on your site. I really appreciate. (and yes I did make a mistake in my domain name and wanted to correct it but innadvertently duplicated my “hogwash” comment)

    Allan, no hard feeling buddy.

    As for everyone else, I just want to say that in my quest to get rid of my marijuana addiction I made a few research and found out that 9-14% of heavy marijuana smokers do become addicted to the drug, just like I did.

    What I’m saying as nothing to do with politics and who is right or wrong cause honestly I don’t care about that. I only know that I am free now and I don’t want anybody to go in and start smoking weed thinking that it’s an inoffensive drug because I don’t think that it is.

    If most of you can control yourself and smoke from time to time and don’t have cravings when you stop… good for you but for me, stopping for 1 full month was impossible… So If I could not decide when to smoke it or when not to smoke it what is that?

    Enough said.

    Thanks for ready.


    • Opiophiliac says:

      Stephen, it is true that drugs are not for everyone. Even some marijuana users can use it in ways that are called “addictive.” But the issue isn’t addictiveness, after all both alcohol and tobacco are addictive and freely available (indeed on many measures tobacco is more addictive than heroin). The issue is prohibition.

      Ask yourself:

      Is there any evidence that drug prohibition prevents drug addiction?
      Intuitively one would think that prohibition limits the number of addicts, but there is very little evidence to support this view. This is because drugs are not inherently addictive. Drugs are only addictive for those predisposed to developing an addiction. A good thing too, otherwise we would never be able to prescribe morphine since anyone who takes it for long enough would become an addict. Most people will take morphine while in pain and discontinue it when the pain ceases. A small minority develop a further addiction. Not everyone who drinks alcohol becomes an alcoholic, same with other drugs.
      Perhaps you were buying your marijuana from a medical dispensary, if not how did prohibition prevent you from developing an addiction? If prohibition worked, you shouldn’t have had access to marijuana. Also if you truly wanted your children’s access to pot to be limited, you would support reform. As the saying goes, at least liquor merchants check ID.

      Does prohibition help or hurt people who are addicted to prohibited drugs?

      With any addiction the problem is not quitting, its returning to the addiction (“relapse”). All the research agrees that stress is a major driver of relapse. So are we helping addicts when we stress them by threatening them with jail, removing their children (regardless of any actual evidence of abuse) or taking away their belongings? While marijuana is a relatively benign drug in terms of its toxicity, for other addicts prohibition makes the addiction much more dangerous than it would otherwise be. Opiate addiction comes with a significant risk of increased morbidity and mortality, almost all due to misguided attempts to increase harm in hopes of discouraging addiction.

      Years of propoganda have made the public hysterical in its reaction to drugs and especially addicts. Addicts are heavily stigmatized, feared and discriminated against. The social exclusion only makes recovery from the addictive cycle harder.

    • Amish like me says:

      Why in the world would someone wash a hog?

      • allan says:


        ’cause you don’t take a dirty hog to the movies?



        So… a man’s driving down the freeway when he sees a pig on the shoulder looking distressed so he pulls over and rescues it with the aid of a policeman who also saw the pig and came to help.

        The man tells the policeman, “you go on and do your duty, I’ll be going by the zoo and I’ll take the pig there.

        The next day that same policeman is driving on that same freeway when he recognizes the man and the car – and the pig is still in the car!

        Curiousity peaked the cop pulls the man over…

        “I thought you were going to take the pig to the zoo?”

        “I did. Right after we rescued her yesterday,” the man replies, “but we had so much fun at the zoo, today we’re going to the park!”

  10. fortunately says:

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