Are there perils in legalizing pot?

posted at 12:51 pm on December 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

With all of the recent activity and debate on legalizing marijuana, we sometimes neglect the arguments in opposition to it.  David Frum offers a rebuttal to the legalization argument at Newsweek/Daily Beast today, which asks whether we want to add another detrimental influence on upward mobility and prosperity at this particular moment in time:

When we discuss marijuana, we usually bog ourselves down in a too-familiar debate about legalization. Prior to that question, however, let’s consider another: what should we think about marijuana and the way Americans use it? For if there’s one thing on which we can all agree, it is that legalization will mean even more use by even more people.

Habitual marijuana users experience more difficulty with learning and schooling. They do worse at work, miss more workdays, and suffer more accidents. They have fewer friends and occupy lower rungs on the socioeconomic ladder.

Does marijuana cause these problems? That’s hard to say. The National Institute for Drug Abuse offers a cautious read of the brain science: “Research has shown that, in chronic users, marijuana’s adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks … As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time. Research into the effects of long-term cannabis use on the structure of the brain has yielded inconsistent results. It may be that the effects are too subtle for reliable detection by current techniques.”

Frum acknowledges that this might be a chicken-egg issue. Do people who habitually smoke marijuana become less productive, or do less productive people use marijuana? In other words, what is the cause and effect dynamic in play — and is there one at all? Frum doesn’t answer that but instead says that marijuana is “a warning to heed, a behavior to regret and deplore.” That’s certainly true, but that’s also true of many behaviors that don’t lead into a government prohibition, either, such as excessive drinking and gambling, the latter of which is not just tolerated but in some cases are provided by the states in the form of lotteries.

Frum then offers the core of his argument:

It’s baffling to me that people who profess anxiety about the trend to social inequality will so often endorse drug legalization. A world of legal drugs will be a world in which the fates of the top one third of Americans and the lower two thirds will diverge even more than they already do. A world of weaker families, absent parents, and shriveling job opportunities is a world in which more Americans will seek a cheap and easy escape from their depressing reality. Legalized marijuana, like legal tobacco, will become a diversion for those who feel they have the least to lose.

We don’t ban tobacco use, either, and the state makes a fortune off of taxing it. That puts the government at all levels in the rather hypocritical position of becoming scolds over its use while funding itself from the sales of the product it deplores. Some legalization advocates wonder why we can’t extend the same kind of treatment to marijuana, which isn’t exactly a barn-burner of an argument for legalization, either.

I get where Frum is going with this piece. Legalization will increase use and make marijuana more socially acceptable, and we certainly can be concerned about the deleterious effect that will have on a culture that already seems like it’s going off the rails. However, the federal prohibition isn’t exactly a benevolent reality, either. The better choice would be to allow voters in each state to decide what kind of laws they want about marijuana use and have the federal government get out of the way. We can look at the results of these choices in a closer light and compare and contrast legalization with prohibition more rationally.

There are always perils in freedom. But freedom has benefits that usually outstrip the perils.

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A national run on Doritos.

Too horrifying to contemplate.

Good Lt on December 17, 2012 at 12:52 PM

There are always perils in freedom. But freedom has benefits that usually outstrip the perils

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

mazer9 on December 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM

A pothead is president. Tell us what the perils are.

Schadenfreude on December 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM

To me this isn’t about pot, something I hate and something i don’t need the government to tell me not to smoke. This is about federalism, I guess a nasty word to many of you big government goons that pretend to be supporters of the US Constitution and individual liberty.

MoreLiberty on December 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM

The better choice would be to allow voters in each state to decide what kind of laws they want about marijuana use and have the federal government get out of the way.

Sounds like crazy, slavery-instituting, racist, secessionist wingnuttery (ie, federalism) to me.

Like Obama wants this to be a state issue.

Good Lt on December 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM

A pothead is president. Tell us what the perils are.

Schadenfreude on December 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Bush was an alcoholic and a coke user.

Point?

Good Lt on December 17, 2012 at 12:55 PM

The better choice would be to allow voters in each state to decide what kind of laws they want about marijuana use and have the federal government get out of the way.

Yep. I’ve never tried the wacky weed, but why the heck should Texas care what Oregon does.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on December 17, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Habitual marijuana users experience more difficulty with learning and schooling. They do worse at work, miss more workdays, and suffer more accidents. They have fewer friends and occupy lower rungs on the socioeconomic ladder.

Huh, how are there such things as “habitual marijuana users” if it’s illegal?

Akzed on December 17, 2012 at 12:57 PM

A correct answer will be “yes, but they are much smaller than those of keeping it criminal”. War on Drugs, in addition to losing schools, academia, media, and entertainment to liberals, is one of the Right’s most prominent errors that caused current Obamamania.

Archivarix on December 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Are there perils in legalizing pot?

Yes. However, any freedoms we have come with associated perils. Let’s err on the side of freedom.

chemman on December 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Point?

Good Lt on December 17, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Meh, look what both have done to the land.

Point – two wrongs never make one right.

Where is Del? I need a grade for Good Lt.

Schadenfreude on December 17, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Habitual marijuana users experience more difficulty with learning and schooling. They do worse at work, miss more workdays, and suffer more accidents. They have fewer friends and occupy lower rungs on the socioeconomic ladder.

Do not confuse correlation and causation. Otherwise, you may be forced to conclude that being black leads to higher crime levels and lower IQ scores… wait, maybe you’re onto something here.

Archivarix on December 17, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Oh, look. “Libertarian” bait. Thread count must be down.

kingsjester on December 17, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Armed Security at EVERY AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOL.

…….and you better get after it once all the Klebold type dope smokers get on the loose.

Funny how the Ruling class is all for letting Americans get stoned but they don’t want them having guns to protect themselves from the would-be tyrants waiting in the wings.

mmmmm..

PappyD61 on December 17, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Some unemployed prison guards. Some reallocation of police workforce to fight actual crime. It’s practically the armageddon.

lester on December 17, 2012 at 1:05 PM

……..and why hasn’t ANYONE, ANYONE asked why in $4 trillion of stimulus FUNDS FOR ARMING security guards at schools was NOT INCLUDED?

The media are accomplices in the decline of the republic.

….any doubts that money will be included to facilitiate this dope smoking?

PappyD61 on December 17, 2012 at 1:06 PM

We are running 1+ Trillion Dollar deficits.

Our Trade imbalance with other countries are at dangerous levels

The number of people on Entitlement as Safety Net such as Food Stamps, Unemployment, Disability Insurance are higher than ever in our nations history.

Ditto for our National Debt.

But by all means lets legalize Marijuana! You can not make this stuff up.

P.S. Drug legalization? First ask an emergency room Doctor or Nurse.

Natebo on December 17, 2012 at 1:09 PM

I’m still waiting for the flood of Hot Air posts about why the FDA is regulating the sell of raw milk. I guess I shouldn’t hold my breath.

NeverLiberal on December 17, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Oh come on guys, lighten up and embrace the ironic funny. Twinkies are a thing of the past, marijuana is going to become legal, all that is missing is for NYC Mayor Bloomingidiot to place a nationwide ban on Doritos…

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Why do you want to give the government more tax money?

JKahn913 on December 17, 2012 at 1:10 PM

There are always perils in freedom. But freedom has benefits that usually outstrip the perils.

OK, cool. So the argument then is that we must also legalise Cocaine and Heroin right? I mean only if we want to be logically consistent though right? Common sense doesn’t seem to be having a field day here.

George Soros is a major pusher(!) of legalising marijuana. That alone worries me. Let me be honest: I hate the Weed. It destroyed my step-son’s life. He had a predisposition to addictions from his birth father and as a young teenager Weed led several years later to Crack and the loss of his marriage, his own son and his business.

To hell with Marijuana. If we really want to be logically consistent we really need to reinstitute Prohibition on Alcohol which destroys untold lives every year. That’s the biggest drug problem we have. But legalising Weed, which studies show kills the ability to make plans & ruins short-term memory, is not the way to help the next generation of teenagers.

Liam1304 on December 17, 2012 at 1:13 PM

Fat, drunk – or high – and stupid is no way to go through life son. That being said, Frums argument is non-sense.

“In order to save people and society from the dangers and damage of pot, we will militarize the police, put countless people in prison for possesion (ruining families and careers), all of which is costing the state an arm and a leg while at the same time sending train loads of money to Mexican drug cartels.”

Pot may be bad mmkay, but the war on drugs is killing us. We don’t punish drunks until they actually hurt someone or break things. The dam has been cracked and water is rushing through. It’s all over but the crying now.

Boogeyman on December 17, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Why do you want to give the government more tax money?

JKahn913 on December 17, 2012 at 1:10 PM

To distract them from always turning to taxes on the successful?

rhombus on December 17, 2012 at 1:14 PM

I used to not really care either way, but now that Frum-scum has come out against legalization, I say “Blaze up bro, it’s 4:20 somewhere”.

Walter Sobchak on December 17, 2012 at 1:15 PM

It appears “Just Say Yes” has become the nation’s new motto.

RADIOONE on December 17, 2012 at 1:16 PM

Here’s a novel and crazy thought, how about we pass a law that says, all Congressional Representatives must do three bong loads of some seriously dank ganja before being allowed to vote on any legislation…

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 1:17 PM

Oh, look. “Libertarian” bait. Thread count must be down.

kingsjester on December 17, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Libertarian bait? I see the usual posts from the crowd who insist we’re always going to hell in a hand basket.

rhombus on December 17, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Liam1304 on December 17, 2012 at 1:13 PM

YES! This, folks, is the hard truth: we need to prohibit alcohol and all other substances that affect our mental state.

ernesto on December 17, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Perils? The trolls on Hot Air will become even more incoherent?

On second thought, that might actually be entertaining.

CurtZHP on December 17, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Are there perils in legalizing murder?

A: Yes, but think of the freedom!

unclesmrgol on December 17, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Are there perils in legalizing pot?

Are there perils in legalizing murder?

A: Yes, but think of the freedom!

unclesmrgol on December 17, 2012 at 1:18 PM

You seem to be flying, very high up.

lester on December 17, 2012 at 1:22 PM

You seem to be flying, very high up.

lester on December 17, 2012 at 1:22 PM

That’s because his statement was above your head.

kingsjester on December 17, 2012 at 1:24 PM

David Frum offers a rebuttal to the legalization argument

Frum’s tweet on the Newtown shooting showed what a remarkable a-hole he is, so I wish you’d find a different commentator on the pot legalization pivot point.

I have a very intelligent friend who, though he functions well in society in a professional job, hasn’t developed and doesn’t use his gifts nearly as he could have. He’s smoked pot daily for the last 40 years, such that he has the emotional life of a 14 year old. That’s typical of chronic pot smokers, that it stunts their emotional growth.

I don’t mind legalization of the casual use of pot, it’s the possibility of chronic use that bothers me. Our advanced technology and capacity for mass production can take something benign and make it malignant.

The freedom issue is key. If we’d ban cigarettes, except the ones you roll yourself, there wouldn’t be the chronic use that leads to so many lung problems. Same for pot. But how can we limit mass production? That’s a limitation of freedom.

Paul-Cincy on December 17, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Liam1304 on December 17, 2012 at 1:13 PM
YES! This, folks, is the hard truth: we need to prohibit alcohol and all other substances that affect our mental state.

ernesto

Because it worked so well the last time. Making guns illegal doesn’t make them go away. Making pot illegal doesn’t make it go away. We are supposed to be the rational side of the political debate, aren’t we?

Boogeyman on December 17, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Habitual marijuana users experience more difficulty with learning and schooling. They do worse at work, miss more workdays, and suffer more accidents. They have fewer friends and occupy lower rungs on the socioeconomic ladder.

In a competitive job market, non-users should be pushing for legalization (unless the hiring person is a user).

teejk on December 17, 2012 at 1:27 PM

There are always perils in freedom. But freedom has benefits that usually outstrip the perils.

Well said.

Aside from perils, there are costs, but as some of the costs are impossible to quantify a purely economic analysis is difficult.

novaculus on December 17, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Libertarian bait? I see the usual posts from the crowd who insist we’re always going to hell in a hand basket.

rhombus on December 17, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Good point. Most of these big government nanny stater “conservatives” seem to forget about the US Constitution or our federalist system, as they suffer from fear of “Reefer madness.” News flash big government lovers, these morns will smoke pot with or without it being legal.

MoreLiberty on December 17, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Why is Ed linking to David Frum after his Friday tweets on Sandy Hook? Mr. Frum’s brain is provably broken.

DanMan on December 17, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Bush was an alcoholic and a coke user.

Point?

Good Lt on December 17, 2012 at 12:55 PM

No evidence of either of these. None. Jerk.

Paul-Cincy on December 17, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Habitual marijuana users experience more difficulty with learning and schooling. They do worse at work, miss more workdays, and suffer more accidents. They have fewer friends and occupy lower rungs on the socioeconomic ladder.

And with weed legal, that’s all that will happen.

With weed illegal, those people who would otherwise just be lazy (and totally harmless, I might add) would be in jail – how productive can you be in freaking prison?

triple on December 17, 2012 at 1:31 PM

A pothead is president. Tell us what the perils are.

Schadenfreude on December 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Really? So you’d have rather had Joe Biden (a man who clearly has never puffed up), to Gary Johnson, a man who has puffed up with professionals?

JohnGalt23 on December 17, 2012 at 1:31 PM

No evidence of either of these. None. Jerk.

Paul-Cincy on December 17, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Except for his DUI.. and bush’s own admissions..

triple on December 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time.

Let’s just teach people to hit themselves in the head with a hammer and then start taxing hammers. Much easier than figuring out how to legalize pot.

I’m all for states to decide these issue. Pot legalization, abortion, BAC content to be considered DUI….

In a few short years all the red states would be filled with lotus eaters indifferent about the world around them.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Are there perils in legalizing murder?

A: Yes, but think of the freedom!

unclesmrgol on December 17, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Really? You just compared cannabis use, to murder?

So, what’s next? Death penalty for parking tickets?

JohnGalt23 on December 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

It seems the only difference between the moralists on either side of the aisle are the things they think are bad, and therefore need to be banned.

The new motto for Bloomberg’s America: “If it is not proscribed, it is forbidden!”

Boogeyman on December 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Are there perils in legalizing pot?

Yes, for the following reasons:

1) Ummm. Crap. I forgot what I was going to say.

BacaDog on December 17, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Because it worked so well the last time. Making guns illegal doesn’t make them go away. Making pot illegal doesn’t make it go away. We are supposed to be the rational side of the political debate, aren’t we?

Boogeyman on December 17, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Well, firstly from what I read Prohibition did have many positive effects. More money going into the family home, less alcohol related crime.

Secondly, decriminalising Weed will enlarge its use and its deleterious effects. That seems to me to be obvious. It will also place extra peer pressure on our kids who we are trying to steer the right way. We aren’t going too well on the front already.

I have heard some cogent arguments by high ranking ex-Police for decriminalisation and they are not without merit. Then I remember my son and others like him and I completely reject anything that makes access easier. We would be better off handing our 13 year olds loading pistols or giving our 16 year old learner driver Ferarris.

Liam1304 on December 17, 2012 at 1:34 PM

OK, cool. So the argument then is that we must also legalise Cocaine and Heroin right? I mean only if we want to be logically consistent though right? Common sense doesn’t seem to be having a field day here.

George Soros is a major pusher(!) of legalising marijuana. That alone worries me. Let me be honest: I hate the Weed. It destroyed my step-son’s life. He had a predisposition to addictions from his birth father and as a young teenager Weed led several years later to Crack and the loss of his marriage, his own son and his business.

To hell with Marijuana. If we really want to be logically consistent we really need to reinstitute Prohibition on Alcohol which destroys untold lives every year. That’s the biggest drug problem we have. But legalising Weed, which studies show kills the ability to make plans & ruins short-term memory, is not the way to help the next generation of teenagers.

Liam1304 on December 17, 2012 at 1:13 PM

Just wondering…are you for laws prohibiting fried foods, big gulps, chocolate mousse, and a seemingly endless list of things deemed “unhealthy”? It’s always the same…the strawmen come out of the woodwork.

Side note: In the past, I’ve given Frum more leeway than most…but his inane comments after the shooting story broke turned me off to him completely.

JetBoy on December 17, 2012 at 1:34 PM

So, what’s next? Death penalty for parking tickets?

JohnGalt23 on December 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Oh dear god, don’t give Mayor Bloomingidiot any ideas.

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 1:35 PM

So you’d have rather had Joe Biden (a man who clearly has never puffed up), to Gary Johnson, a man who has puffed up with professionals?

JohnGalt23 on December 17, 2012 at 1:31 PM

How do you know Biden has never smoked pot (he puffs up all the time). He was in his late 20s and early 30s when the drug culture became popular. As for Johnson, to be President one has to have a better platform than the legalization of pot.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2012 at 1:36 PM

No evidence of either of these. None. Jerk.

Paul-Cincy on December 17, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Except for his DUI.. and bush’s own admissions..

triple on December 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

DUI isn’t evidence of alcoholism. Bush admitted to a drinking problem so that he stopped cold turkey. No admission that he was an alcoholic. He wouldn’t answer whether he did coke. That’s not an admission that he did coke, except in the feeble-minded.

Paul-Cincy on December 17, 2012 at 1:36 PM

A national run on Doritos.

Too horrifying to contemplate.

Good Lt on December 17, 2012 at 12:52 PM

How about a bundle deal…an eighth and a bag of chips sold as one package…the deluxe package would also include a pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups…

JetBoy on December 17, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Are there perils to legalizing pot?

… an unusual sympathy for Bakers Union miscreants?

M240H on December 17, 2012 at 1:38 PM

How about a bundle deal…an eighth and a bag of chips sold as one package…the deluxe package would also include a pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups…

JetBoy on December 17, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Gift basket-case.

Paul-Cincy on December 17, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Oh dear god, don’t give Mayor Bloomingidiot any ideas.

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Heh! I’m pretty sure even Bloomie wouldn’t go that far. Mandatory sentencing for habitual posession of Big Gulps…… well, it’s for the children.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Just wondering…are you for laws prohibiting fried foods, big gulps, chocolate mousse, and a seemingly endless list of things deemed “unhealthy”? It’s always the same…the strawmen come out of the woodwork.

Only if these items lead to loss of goal making ability & short term memory in teenagers and only if they are “gateway” items to Marijuana.

Are you proposing lowering the drinking age to 10?

Liam1304 on December 17, 2012 at 1:40 PM

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Heh! I’m pretty sure even Bloomie wouldn’t go that far. Mandatory sentencing for habitual posession of Big Gulps…… well, it’s for the children.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Not so sure eh?

Marian D Clough ‏@MarianDClough

Well, Bloomberg has ‘outed’ himself as a closet Marxist who is calling 4 Obama 2 take over t cntry as a dictator.
Retweeted by JWF (D)

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 1:41 PM

George Soros is a major pusher(!) of legalising marijuana. That alone worries me. Let me be honest: I hate the Weed. It destroyed my step-son’s life. He had a predisposition to addictions from his birth father and as a young teenager Weed led several years later to Crack and the loss of his marriage, his own son and his business.

To hell with Marijuana. If we really want to be logically consistent we really need to reinstitute Prohibition on Alcohol which destroys untold lives every year. That’s the biggest drug problem we have. But legalising Weed, which studies show kills the ability to make plans & ruins short-term memory, is not the way to help the next generation of teenagers.

Liam1304 on December 17, 2012 at 1:13 PM

I can sympathize, as my brother-in-law is a do-nothing pothead loser, but the fact that it was illegal didn’t stop him or your step-son from doing it. The prohibition on alcohol didn’t work either. People still got drunk, only under prohibition you had people killing each other to smuggle booze into the country and sell it.

You also have the problem of the militarization of our police forces and big-brotherization of government in general. A single day doesn’t pass without a no-knock SWAT raid at the wrong address, with doors kicked in, flashbangs thrown, dogs (and occasionally people) shot, residents violently thrown to the ground and terrorized because there might be some weed on site. I just don’t think it’s worth it over such a relatively benign substance as cannabis.

Meanwhile, we can’t even keep drugs out of our prisons.

Ideally, if I could write the law for my state, I’d make it legal for individuals to grow a few plants for their own personal use, but prohibit buying or selling it (except for people with medical issues). Also, I’d institute mandatory drug-testing for anybody receiving any kind of government benefits and deny them if they test positive so nobody else is forced to subsidize their pothead lifestyle.

Walter Sobchak on December 17, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Legalizing Marijuana will allow states to regulate and tax the sale of Marijuana. With tax revenue at stake, states will work harder to enforce our borders.

Legalization will also decrease drug related crime. The last thing drug cartels want is for us to legalize pot then they will be forced to compete with American tobacco, drug and vitamin companies whom will rush into to sell the product. lobbyists from these companies will bring added pressure and donations to politicians to enforce our borders.

mr. b on December 17, 2012 at 1:42 PM

I don’t think every state will legalize pot, but it’s a sure bet that eventually use will go up nationwide. Legal pot will be cheaper, and I expect government will tax it lower than cigarettes–at least at first. There will be smuggling of the cheaper legal pot, the same way cigarettes are smuggled. Then, later, challenges to the Federal laws against the stuff.

In any case, government at whatever level will profit not only by the tax revenues but also by having a docile public. I’m reminded of the Victory Gin in the book 1984, where people needed a cheap escape from what was a drab society and miserable existence.

It may seem the ‘smart’ thing to do to legalize pot, but I’m of the view that many bad experiences and situations in life are a series of, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

But an often-stoned populace will be too complacent to know or care.

Liam on December 17, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Chronic marijuana use, especially in a very young person, may also be a marker of risk for mental illnesses – including addiction – stemming from genetic or environmental vulnerabilities, such as early exposure to stress or violence. Currently, the strongest evidence links marijuana use and schizophrenia and/or related disorders. High doses of marijuana can produce an acute psychotic reaction; in addition, use of the drug may trigger the onset or relapse of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals.

kingsjester on December 17, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Really? You just compared cannabis use, to murder?

So, what’s next? Death penalty for parking tickets?

JohnGalt23 on December 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Um, no. Actually it’s the logical progression of the pathetic argument that we can’t stop marijuana use, therefore we should make it legal.

JannyMae on December 17, 2012 at 1:43 PM

P.S. Drug legalization? First ask an emergency room Doctor or Nurse.

Natebo on December 17, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Hi! Recently retired ER doc here. Worked in a blue collar/underclass area hospital, with tons of drug use problems in the neighborhood and my hospital catchment area.

The drug that caused about 80% of patient drug problems was… alcohol. Most people have no idea of the disasters alcohol causes.

Another 15% of drug-related problems were caused by tobacco. Mostly older folks slowly dying of emphysema and heart disease. Yes, tobacco causes lung cancer, but most of the people it kills, it kills through coronary artery disease.

The other five percent were sick from illegal recreational drugs. Most of these were silly (a marijuana smoker with a panic attack), some were serious — heroin user unconscious and not breathing well — a few were dead. Those were almost always heroin ODs, or oddballs like the guy who shoved fentanyl patches up his butt.

I’m in favor of legalization of psychoactive drugs for adults. There will always be people who abuse substances. They’re abusing alcohol right now. We know that Prohibition didn’t stop it. Marijuana prohibition isn’t stopping marijuana use. Heroin prohibition isn’t stopping heroin use.

I thought conservatives were against the nanny state? The war on drugs is the nanny state in action. Let adults do what they want with their own bodies, wisely or foolishly as that may be.

Bartrams Garden on December 17, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Are there perils in legalizing murder?

A: Yes, but think of the freedom!

unclesmrgol on December 17, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Really? You just compared cannabis use, to murder?

So, what’s next? Death penalty for parking tickets?

JohnGalt23 on December 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Wrong argument. The correct argument is “Murder interferes with someone else’s Constitutional right to life. Smoking dope doesn’t.”

Archivarix on December 17, 2012 at 1:46 PM

Wrong argument. The correct argument is “Murder interferes with someone else’s Constitutional right to life. Smoking dope doesn’t.”

Archivarix on December 17, 2012 at 1:46 PM

Marijuana laws interfere with an individuals constitutional right to consume mass quantities of Doritos’s????

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Everything will be illegal but pot. Keep ‘em in a daze. Bread and circuses.

Ed Morrissey wants to be a Daily Beast media hipster. Like Michael Medved, he’s not a reliable ally.

JKahn913 on December 17, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Marijuana laws interfere with an individuals constitutional right to consume mass quantities of Doritos’s????

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM

When you can’t answer a question, just make a dumb statement. Liberals do this all the time.

MoreLiberty on December 17, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Marijuana laws interfere with an individuals constitutional right to consume mass quantities of Doritos’s????

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM

I can see Bloomberg being okay with pot legalization, but him limiting the bag size of Doritos a person can buy.

Liam on December 17, 2012 at 1:51 PM

A little ditty that the “bad kids” would sing (along with 3 or 4 other catchy tunes) that I remember from 6th grade. [sung to the tune of Frère Jacques/Are You Sleeping Brother John?]

Mari-juana
Mari-juana
LSD
LSD
Scientists make it
Teachers take it
Why can’t we
Why can’t weeeee

 

And that pretty much sums it up for the druggies.

SD Tom on December 17, 2012 at 1:51 PM

I have heard some cogent arguments by high ranking ex-Police for decriminalisation and they are not without merit. Then I remember my son and others like him and I completely reject anything that makes access easier. We would be better off handing our 13 year olds loading pistols or giving our 16 year old learner driver Ferarris.

Liam1304

I am truely sorry for your son. I can not count the number of family I’ve watched ruin their lives with drugs. But that’s the point. Everything they used was already illegal. The potential for going to jail was there, but the system didn’t stop their fall, hell, it hardly slowed them down. It only made their habit more expensive and more dangerous. If your son was anything like my loved ones, he was probably predisposed to being an addict. Short of locking him up in your basement there probably wans’t anything that would have kept him from using. I know that’s the truth with my sister… and brother.. and father.

I loath drugs and the losers who use them, but this isn’t working. We are making it worse, for everyone. Hell, it’s easier for a teen to get weed than a beer the way it is. Legalize it, corpratize it, and it gets put behind the counter with the beer. Once Phillip-Morris starts growing it the price will come down such that it won’t be economical to grow your own anymore, just like beer. Sure you can brew your own, but why?

Taking away another excuse for the government to snoop on and arrest us is just icing on the cake.

Boogeyman on December 17, 2012 at 1:51 PM

I personally don’t think legalization is the best route. Triple hit on the point I focus on. I have only ever seen pot smokers as a danger to their local 7-11 junk food aisle. (Unless someone knows of something I don’t that changes that opinion) There are many harmless people taking space in overcrowded jails over their use of marijuana. If personal use is simply decriminalized, we can stop spending money arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating individuals who are not a danger to society. Just to be clear, I don’t agree with their choice, but why waste dwindling resources on something that is not a public threat?

Marine_Bio on December 17, 2012 at 1:51 PM

Marijuana laws interfere with an individuals constitutional right to consume mass quantities of Doritos’s????

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM

When you can’t answer a question, just make a dumb statement. Liberals do this all the time.

MoreLiberty on December 17, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Look in mirror. I neither oppose nor advocate legalization of Marijuana. (Hint, it’s called humor) I’m just laughing at this whole debate.

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 1:59 PM

It may be necessary to ban marijuana, but we don’t know that: the existing laws seem to have been the product of hysteria and political opportunism. So legalize it, wait, watch, and if it turns out to create a problem worse than the problem’s cure, outlaw it again.

PersonFromPorlock on December 17, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Only if these items lead to loss of goal making ability & short term memory in teenagers and only if they are “gateway” items to Marijuana.

Are you proposing lowering the drinking age to 10?

Liam1304 on December 17, 2012 at 1:40 PM

I’m all for having a real debate on the legalization of pot. I’m sick and tired of advocates continually repeating the idea that pot smoking is harmless when the science says something entirely different. Pot rewires one’s brain so by all means lets legalize it for use by teens whose brains are still forming.

As for lowering the drinking age to 10, I’d have to say no even though those tiny fingers would be so much more efficient in getting olives out of a bottle when whipping up a batch of martinis.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Really? You just compared cannabisuse,tomurder?

So, what’s next? Death penalty for parking tickets?

JohnGalt23 on December 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Um, no. Actually it’s the logical progression of the pathetic argument that we can’t stop marijuana use, therefore we should make it legal.

JannyMae on December 17, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Um, yeah, what’s pathetic is any argument that supports our current regimen for executing the “War on Drugs”. Like so many failed social programs, it continues on through the tectonic momentum of an entrenched bureaucracy. It is complete failure compounded by uncritical continuation.

M240H on December 17, 2012 at 2:02 PM

The largest loss of freedoms comes from the abusive laws associated with our “war on drugs.” From no knock searches, warrantless searches, massive incarcerations, intimidation, RICO and other legal abuses, impounding and a hundred other offenses to our liberties the result is clear. No other government effort has been so injurious to our Constitution as has been the “phoney war on drugs.”

MJBrutus on December 17, 2012 at 2:02 PM

MJBrutus on December 17, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Did I mention entrapment and international outrages like fast and furious? Yeah, that too.

MJBrutus on December 17, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Like so many failed social programs, it continues on through the tectonic momentum of an entrenched bureaucracy. It is complete failure compounded by uncritical continuation.

M240H on December 17, 2012 at 2:02 PM

You say that as if pot growers (under federal legalization) will be allowed to produce their products without regulation including OSHA compliance, quality control, minimum cannibis to filler, etc. And that isn’t even considering if pot will have the same effect when sucked through a filter.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2012 at 2:06 PM

Um, yeah, what’s pathetic is any argument that supports our current regimen for executing the “War on Drugs”. Like so many failed social programs, it continues on through the tectonic momentum of an entrenched bureaucracy. It is complete failure compounded by uncritical continuation.

M240H on December 17, 2012 at 2:02 PM

That is actually one of the better arguments for legalization. Some drugs should be illegal, but like Alcohol, Marijuana probably should not be. There really is no excuse for anyone going to jail or prison for possession of a reasonably small amount of Marijuana, it’s just unconscionable.

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 2:06 PM

A world of legal drugs will be a world in which the fates of the top one third of Americans and the lower two thirds will diverge even more than they already do. A world of weaker families, absent parents, and shriveling job opportunities is a world in which more Americans will seek a cheap and easy escape from their depressing reality. Legalized marijuana, like legal tobacco, will become a diversion for those who feel they have the least to lose.

But will it?

Frum admits he doesn’t know if this is a symptom or a cause, but his conclusion is based on the assumption of the latter. I don’t know the answer, either, and I’m frustrated that all the time we banned marijuana we couldn’t have spent a small fraction of the billions spent on law enforcement to answer that question. Would a time-series study show that the introduction of marijuana (or alcohol, or tobacco, for that matter) to a society that did not previously have it resulted in social degradation? That certainly seems like a more valuable study than the ones we see in the Headlines on global warming, or where researchers try to find out if people who watch Fox News lack the analytical capabilities of NPR listeners.

Socratease on December 17, 2012 at 2:10 PM

can second hand smoke make you high?

tomas on December 17, 2012 at 2:11 PM

The largest loss of freedoms comes from the abusive laws associated with our “war on drugs.” From no knock searches, warrantless searches, massive incarcerations, intimidation, RICO and other legal abuses, impounding and a hundred other offenses to our liberties the result is clear. No other government effort has been so injurious to our Constitution as has been the “phoney war on drugs.”

MJBrutus on December 17, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Gee no mention of “probable cause” required before any search? No differentiation between possession for personal use and a warehouse full of coke being distributed by a drug cartel? For that matter, no differentiation between the use of pot and the use of something stronger? Bottom line- you whine about the war on drugs but that is as vague as you can get. Unless you are saying that all drug useage should be legalized then some of what you call legal abuses really are nothing more than the rule of law.

Sorry that you see jack-booted thugs everywhere. I understand that extended drug use can make you paranoid.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Libertarian bait? I see the usual posts from the crowd who insist we’re always going to hell in a hand basket.

rhombus on December 17, 2012 at 1:18 PM

I guess all the concern about things gradually and precipitously getting worse are just driven by wild imaginations and have no basis in fact. I best stop believing my lying eyes.

SparkPlug on December 17, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Are there perils? Well, we’ll watch Washington and Colorado and see, yes?

People seem to overlook the fact that prostitution is legal in Nevada.

John the Libertarian on December 17, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2012 at 2:12 PM

I say that we would be better off if all drugs were legalized. A tiny fraction of what we spend to fight this “war” (including incarceration of millions of people) would be needed to fund education and rehabilitation programs. And this is purely the financial aspect. In terms of our civil liberties and limiting government the improvement would be night and day.

MJBrutus on December 17, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Are there perils? Well, we’ll watch Washington and Colorado and see, yes?

People seem to overlook the fact that prostitution is legal in Nevada.

John the Libertarian on December 17, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Marijuana is legal in Portugal, has been for many years. None of the adverse affects predicted with the legalization of Marijuana have materialized there. Are the Portuguese profoundly different than us on a genetic level?

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Bad things come from smoking pot. Like President Obama.

Socratease on December 17, 2012 at 2:16 PM

SparkPlug on December 17, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Shame on you, for being reality-based.

kingsjester on December 17, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Frum tweeted at 7:30 AM the morning of the school shooting, suggesting that the new argument from the right will be to arm kindergartners.

I never want to see or hear another word from this disgusting turd. He was almost certainly the very, very first to “capitalize” on the atrocity in favor of his gun-banning views, and did so in a way that callously highlighted the utter defenselessness of those innocent children–while snarkily suggesting that those who would suggest that someone defend those children are idiots who would jump at the idea of arming children. The juxtaposition of his mocking image of armed children arrived at the same time that we were informed of the reality of their little bodies stacked in heaps.

David Frum should be dead to HA.

TexasDan on December 17, 2012 at 2:17 PM

David Frum should be dead to HA.

TexasDan on December 17, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Well, he is already brain dead, so yea, why not…

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Unless you are saying that all drug useage should be legalized then some of what you call legal abuses really are nothing more than the rule of law.

Go look up some of the cases of law enforcement abusing asset forfeiture laws. People have been killed because SWAT teams invaded private property because they thought they could make drug charges turn into a cash haul for their department. And no trial or conviction is necessary.

Socratease on December 17, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Are the Portuguese profoundly different than us on a genetic level?

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Fifty states = fifty separate experiments in democracy.

John the Libertarian on December 17, 2012 at 2:22 PM

The IRS spents enormous efforts collecting taxes. It’s an intrusion into our lives. Evading taxes hurts no one.

Legalize tax evasion.

SparkPlug on December 17, 2012 at 2:22 PM

I say that we would be better off if all drugs were legalized.

MJBrutus on December 17, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Yeah, putting people high on coke or LSD behind the wheel on the same roads my kids drive makes perfect sense. And don’t give me some crap about personal responsibility until you tell me just how high a body count you are willing to accept before you admit that your position is really really stupid.

I get where you are coming from though I suspect you are overstating the idea that people are being locked up for years for simple recreational use of pot. I suspect that those locked up for lengthy periods are distributors. In other words the type of animal that sells poison to children. But don’t let that fact get in the way of your moral outrage about the cost of the “war on drugs.” You’ve decided that instead of fighting for a better society you just want to quit doing anything about our problems at all. Nothing is worth the effort, expense, or principle. You are exactly who the rat-eared wonder and his filthy party like to see in America…… lazy quitters.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Evading taxes hurts no one.

Legalize tax evasion.

SparkPlug on December 17, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Better yet, leave it up to the states if they want to collect federal taxes for DC.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2012 at 2:26 PM

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2012 at 2:24 PM

No, I am saying that a better society is obtained by ending this abuse of government. I am saying that the “war on drugs” is more harmful to our society than is the “enemy” it is ostensibly trying to defeat. Of course we need to impose harsh penalties on those who drive under the influence, be it alcohol, pot or LSD.

MJBrutus on December 17, 2012 at 2:26 PM

America seems to be devolving into a collection of Libertines. Notice, I did not say “Libertarians”, although, both descriptive words come from the same root word. A Libertine is, per Merriam-Webster.com, a person who is unrestrained by convention or morality: one leading a dissolute (lacking moral restraint) life

Being a Libertarian used to mean you wanted less Government in your life and less restrictions on your personal happiness. Notice I said used to mean. Now, Libertine and Libertarian both seem to mean the same thing to the majority of posters self-identifying as members of the latter group on Internet chat boards.

Caligula’s Horse approves.

I suppose I could pontificate on the fallen nature of Man at this point, but, that’s fairly self-evident…and, as the late Freddie Prinze used to say, “Ees not my yob, man.”

kingsjester on December 17, 2012 at 2:30 PM

How about a bundle deal…an eighth and a bag of chips sold as one package…the deluxe package would also include a pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups…

JetBoy on December 17, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Now we’re thinking!

Good Lt on December 17, 2012 at 2:32 PM

The Mayans may have been right — the world must be coming to an end, because, for once, I agree with David Frum.

KS Rex on December 17, 2012 at 2:32 PM

Yep. I’ve never tried the wacky weed, but why the heck should Texas care what Oregon does.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on December 17, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Maybe not TX/OR, but Kansas sure cares about what Colorado does, for example, since cross-border purchases will greatly increase weed use in Kansas. We don’t want that, please.

KS Rex on December 17, 2012 at 2:35 PM

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