Fear-mongering takes another hit

William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn dropped a load in the L.A. times with What happned to the marijuana stigma?

Twenty years ago, drug dealers were seen for what they were — criminal and dangerous elements in our society. They were shunned by the mainstream. People who sold marijuana were considered losers, in the business of harming our children. Parents warned their kids to stay away from those known to use drugs.

But thanks to the marijuana lobby, what was once scorned is hyped and celebrated — even as the drug has become more potent, with THC, the intoxicating chemical, present at much higher levels than in the 1990s. Dealers run state-sanctioned dispensaries, lobby to further legalize their product and receive positive media coverage when doing so.

Paul Armentano responds today: Drug warriors are still crying ‘reefer madness.’ The facts don’t support them.

In their op-ed article against cannabis legalization, former drug czar William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn yearn for a time when fear-mongering, not facts, drove the marijuana policy debate in America. Those days are over.

Bennett and Leibsohn blame the “marijuana lobby” for re-shaping the way Americans think about what they consider to be a truly dangerous drug. But the reality is that voters’ views on pot have evolved in recent years based on both the failures of prohibition and the success of legalization and regulation. For decades, those opposed to amending cannabis criminalization warned that any significant change in marijuana policy would lead to a plethora of unintended consequences. Yet the initial experience in Colorado and Washington, in addition to many other states’ deep-rooted experiences regulating the production and distribution of marijuana for therapeutic purposes, has shown these fears to be misplaced.

I love that phrase: “yearn or a time when fear-mongering, not facts, drove the marijuana policy debate in America.”

Yep. that’s what prohibitionists counted on. But they just can’t hold off the massive marijuana lobby that’s funded with… facts.

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25 Responses to Fear-mongering takes another hit

  1. pricknick says:

    “William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn droopped a load in the L.A. times”. Droopped? Gives a whole new meaning to the authors.

  2. jean valjean says:

    “Yet it is no more a Republican Party or conservative value than it is a Democratic Party or liberal value to help legalize, and thus expand the use of, a dangerous product.”

    And that’s the whole point: drug war politics are rigged and have been for a century.

  3. jean valjean says:

    “Drug warriors warn of the domino effects of marijuana legalization, but the facts don’t support them”

    I don’t believe it…..these dinosaurs are still talking about “domino effects” like we’re back in Nam.

  4. NorCalNative says:

    …Twenty years ago drug dealers..

    Interesting he would go back 20-years. What else was happening in 95? The internet was exploding and good info on the science of cananbis and history of prohibition was starting to see the light-of-day.

    Dear billy. Even young Republicans inquisitive enough to search out cannabis information on the net don’t buy your 1950’s wet-dream any longer. History will not be kind to former drug czars or the crazy of authoritarianism parading as moral compass.

    • Bongzilla says:

      Really funny that you mention pro-weed young Republicans.

      As a non-American who follows international news/events daily, I have noticed something.

      The American right is becoming more rational and libertarian, while the left outside the US is becoming more authoritarian and irrational.

      Any explanation for this?

      • Will says:

        “The American right is becoming more rational and libertarian, while the left outside the US is becoming more authoritarian and irrational.”

        Except, with respect to the “American right”, your description seems to be leaving out a long-standing, influential faction: the evangelicals. They assuredly are NOT becoming more rational nor more libertarian. Unless, of course, the Bible tells them so (it doesn’t)…

        And there are questions about just how pro weed certain young Republicans are. But as it stands right now, there are zero pro weed Republican candidates. Even Rand Paul, who sometimes seems to be moving toward reform, cannot truly be described as “pro” weed (very doubtful being granted his party’s nomination if he is). So maybe the questions are moot? Maybe the so-called pro weed young Republicans won’t have to really demonstrate their claimed advocacy after all? Hell, I don’t know. This is American politics we’re talking about here. Nutjob Land.

        Lest you think I’m leaving out the other side, they’re over there hiding in the bushes with urine running down their legs, just praying nobody asks them too many questions about the Devil’s Lettuce. Among that party’s non-presidential candidates, Dianne Feinstein is willing to stand up and take a pie in the face. Debbie Wasserman Schulz? Hiding in plain sight (yeah, we see you Debbie). The potential/likely/maybe candidate, Hillary Clinton? Eghad, don’t get me started. [Apologies if it appears I’m just picking on the ladies here. Honestly, I’m not. I’ve picked the boneheaded male Democrats as well, and I will again]

        As we careen closer to the madness of the 2016 elections, some questions will be answered — somewhat. I’d like to head off to Tulum — or Tonga — and avoid the entire circus. I wish a sabbatical (a long one) was a part of my employment description.

        • Duncan20903 says:


          Gov. Bobby Jindal of Lousiana has tossed his hat in the ring for POTUS and indicated that he’s going to be friendly towards cannabis law reform. The smart money wants to know how he defines the word “friendly” before forming an opinion.
          Jindal willing to look at national marijuana law changes
          Sure, a guy like him is going to “look” and say “after further reflection…arrest ’em all” but have the “law and order” kooks ever acted as if there might be another choice before?

          He’s also been known to compare himself to a grow light:
          Bobby Jindal Pitches Himself as a ‘Full-Spectrum Conservative’ Ahead of 2016 Presidential Race

        • Windy says:

          If “christians” actually READ the WHOLE bible (OT and NT) they would be better informed. Reading the bible in my mid 20s was what turned me agnostic and later atheist. Too many contradictions and the “god” of the OT seems to be more like what those evangelicals believe satan is like. So much death and destruction rained down upon people because “god”.

      • NorCalNative says:

        Bongzilla, appreciate your interest in our little country. I can’t speak to the motivations and actions of the “left” outside the U.S. but maybe this bit from a man who does study this stuff might help give you an idea of the American position.

        Noam Chomsky: The U.S. acts nothing like a democracy (from 5/15/13 at Frontiers of Psychiatry Magazine).

        In the past, the United States has sometimes kind of sardonically been described as a one-party State: The business party with two factions called Democrats and Republicans. That’s no longer true. It’s still a one-party State, the business party. But it only has one faction. The faction is Moderate Republicans who are now called Democrats. There are virtually no Moderate Republicans in what’s called the Republican Party and virtually no liberal Democrats in what’s called the Democratic Party. It’s basically a party of what would be moderate Republicans, and similarly, Richard Nixon would be way to the left of the political spectrum today. Eisenhower would be in outer space.

        There is still something called the Republican Party, but it long ago abandoned any pretense of being a normal parliamentary party. It’s in lock-step service to the very rich and the corporate sector has a catechism that everyone has to chant in unison, kind of like the old Communist Party. The distinguished conservative commentator, one of the most respected- Norman Ornstein- describes today’s Republican Party as, in his words, a radical insurgency– ideologically extreme, scornful of facts and compromise, dismissive of its political opposition- a serious danger to society as he points out.”

    • Will says:

      “Interesting he would go back 20-years. What else was happening in 95? The internet was exploding and good info on the science of cannabis and history of prohibition was starting to see the light-of-day.”

      It amazes me no one has taken him aside, “Uh Bill, the internet has been stomping your beloved marijuana stigma for a while now. Critical mass has taken a while to ramp up, but it’s there now. Too bad you can’t take back your instantly outdated op-ed piece. Makes you look pretty dumb. Sorry pal, you lost some time ago.”

      In a world of his own making, Bill Bennett is permanently red-faced and stomping his feet. He created his own purgatory.

    • kaptinemo says:

      If I recall correctly, Newt Gingrich promised we would be drug-free by then (1995).

      (Looking at calendar) Uh, no, not yet, I guess.

      Today we are plagued with living fossils roaming the Earth. Their scientific designation is Druggus Prohibitchus Obsoletus. Bipedal, Human-appearing creatures that reveal their reptilian ancestry in conversation regarding drug law reform (often with much hissing and venom-spitting).

      Dinosaurs without enough sense to realize the meteor that killed them this time crashed down a while ago. It happened when they told their decades-old lies to those with instant fact-checking abilities. The moment they did that they lost.

      I can`t wait to see their Disneyfied Animatronic likenesses in some museum. In order to cover the expenses, I would gladly chip in for purchasing over-ripe fruit to hurl at the exhibits.

  5. South Dakota Indian Reservation Legalizes Marijuana

  6. Frank W. says:

    Here’s another example of The Mongering. Will July 1st be wrecked by an October Surprise?

  7. Freeman says:

    Twenty years ago, drug dealers were seen for what they were — criminal and dangerous elements in our society. They were shunned by the mainstream. People who sold marijuana were considered losers, in the business of harming our children. Parents warned their kids to stay away from those known to use drugs.

    I know it’s a distinction that the likes of Bill Bennett will never understand, but Steppenwolf had it figured out decades ago…

    • Bennett is a pusher enabler. I don’t expect he understands psychology or black markets created by prohibition any better than he does gambling.

    • B. Snow says:

      I have to laugh at this…
      Because a friend of mine – about 20 years ago – used to joke from time to time (if/when someone asked him about obtaining some leafy greens, as a white guy w/dreads it happened to him more than others = go figure?)

      His standard snarky answerwas “idk, let me call my pusher and see if he’s got any…”

      Which was him poking fun at the whole silliness around what we’re giving Billy-the-Better a hard time about, and this notion among prohib-idiots = that drugs must be “pushed” or “dealt”…

      Which is Bullshit – 99% of the time drugs sell themselves, especially weed (but I would add in lsd & mdma = which in my experience were near impossible to find, demand ate up any available supplies within a day maybe two – running across some was totally random chance.)

      And if you didn’t have to find a non-store “shady market” to purchase weed (or maybe entheogens) from = You’d almost never be introduced to the few jack-asses who sold other stuff – (some of which are arguably dangerous) in order to subsidize their (sometimes various) habits, or pay bills, maybe gambling debts = whatever.

  8. thelbert says:

    the only thing they have to sell is fear itself. otherwise they got nothing.

  9. Servetus says:

    William Bennett received a PhD in Political Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin. In a TV interview, he denied being a moralist, but indicated his favorite political philosopher was Plato.

    Given what Plato wrote when he was 65 and older, people reading him usually conclude the old man should have kept his trap shut. Karl Popper outlined Plato’s political philosophy in his book, The Open Society and Its Enemies, wherein the elderly Plato is exposed as having zero tolerance for an open society, i.e., a free and democratic society allowing people to smoke what they like. Plato panders to totalitarianism instead. Reading his tripe makes the philosopher look like an apologist for the future Nazi Germany. It’s so predictably evil one wonders if Plato authored the Third Reich.

    Bennett is also a member of Opus Dei, an influential, extremist faction of the Catholic Church possessing a political heritage with Hitler’s anti-Semitic pope, Pius XII (Pacelli). Pacelli directed the Catholic Church to celebrate Hitler’s birthday yearly, at least until Hitler’s suicide and the Allied victory made such celebrations awkward. European birth records are traditionally kept on file in churches, so during the war Pacelli greased the wheels of the Holocaust by allowing Nazis to pour over Catholic Church birth records to discover who was of Jewish ancestry. (cf: Daniel J. Goldhagen, A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair).

    The pontificator Bennett, then, is one of many enemies of the open society. A prison/police state dominated by a theocracy is exactly what Bennett deems appropriate for America, and if he can achieve it using a drug war rather than a holocaust, so much the better.

    William J. Bennett: he isn’t a zero, he’s a negative.

  10. Mr_Alex says:

    It seems Prohibitionists endorsement of torture are getting exposed in 2 Youtube videos:




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  12. Spirit Wave says:

    I overall appreciate your efforts, Paul Armentano, but fear-mongering still exists as does the failed prohibition, but I’m not sourcing that from prohibitionists — but you.

    Regulations are also by their nature based upon fear-mongering. Otherwise, why bother having those regulations?

    Regulations are textured prohibition, and they too have failed, based upon the facts you proclaim to represent. Teens demanding alcohol and tobacco can readily get those arbitrarily legal (think abusive favoritism) products by the same failure you proclaim against prohibition.

    I honestly refuse to compromise the true problem forming Cannabis Prohibition (and Certain Drug Prohibition in general), which is clearly abusive law from abusive reasoning.

    Regulating cannabis does not completely address the serious risk of the war on some drugs against public safety — because legalizing cannabis deflates the hard-earned public passion needed to follow through and righteously repeal all drug laws based upon their failure not only by their intent, but also by severely harming the masses on many levels by sanctioned thuggery (solely by way — factually speaking — of the traditional political leftist and blatantly illegal redefining of the Commerce Clause around President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal).

    Refusing to decouple the facts from the factually proven failure of traditional political leftism is reason abuse leading to law abuse (merely unethically restyling the actual problem to your liking).

    The voters should have learned long ago that law is not the tool for addressing risk (also based upon the facts).

    Education by way of the approaching Entertainment Revolution (on par with the impact of the Industrial Revolution and such) — when entertainers truly embrace the highly flexible power of the Internet to form a granular reach to fittingly texturize education for deeper and natural public consumption — is the true path for progress. Education by entertainment is factually proven to interest learners (so the Entertainment Revolution will be seriously powerful), and it also respects obligatory fundamental rights (what people hard-up over regulating this and that refuse to respect to societal deterioration).

    My contribution by way of the Liberty Shield entertainment project (basically think open source entertainment) will leverage the full set of facts via the well-proven scientific method to truly address the actual problem with the only solution being scientific constitutionalism.

    The ‘partial truth = whole truth’ scam needs to end, despite the obscene popularity of such rampant reason abuse these days hypocritically without any consideration of the unbearable inundation of information pollution burying society in misunderstanding against civility.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Q) Tell me Mr. Prohibitionist, how many prohibitionists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

      A) None. Aren’t the liboralz always yipping and yapping about saving the environment, now they want us to burn more energy with lightbulbs? Isn’t that just like a liboral?

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  14. Windy says:

    Authoritarianism should be declared a serious mental illness, and those who exhibit any form of it should be deemed a menace to society and locked away so they cannot harm peaceful people going about their lives.

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