Actually, is that what these numbers say? That’s how it’s being sold in the media, because the idea of candy and soda vaulting past the age-old bugaboo of weed is, admittedly, mind-boggling. But that’s not really a fair read of this:
They’re not asking people to rank them. They’re not asking them to quantify how dangerous each is. All they’re asking is which is the most harmful. It could be that the 92 percent who didn’t list marijuana first had it a close second and the 85 percent who didn’t list sugar first had it a very distant fourth. What the poll really says is that there’s a hardcore 15 percent out there who think sugar’s more dangerous than weed — and more dangerous than alcohol(!), and more dangerous than tobacco(!!). That’s the amazing result. Forget pot. The largely left-wing anti-obesity campaign has been so fantastically successful that a not insignificant minority now believes that ingesting sweets and/or soda is more of a health risk than a notoriously addictive carcinogen. And yeah, I know — not all tobacco comes in cigarette form, so it’s not strictly fair to equate it with “cigarettes.” But c’mon. It’s obvious which product people think of when asked whether “tobacco” is harmful. Decades of surgeon general’s warnings will do that.
It is, though, of course significant that weed drew the smallest “most dangerous” crowd. It’s forever being compared to booze in legalization debates; you would think that attitudes among older Americans, who grew up when legalization was unimaginable, plus the lingering stigma of prohibition would have at least made it competitive with alcohol in the “most dangerous” debate. Nope. It’s got one-third the number of hardcore opponents that booze has. It’s remarkable that the one product on that list that you can’t buy legally is the one with the fewest people naming it the most dangerous of the four.
Two clips for you from this past week. The key bit in the Perry vid starts at around 2:20.