Patterico's Pontifications

7/28/2014

NYT: End “Prohibition” on Marijuana

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:45 am

The New York Times editorial board has editorialized in favor of eliminating federal criminal laws against marijuana:

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.

There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.

Part of me doesn’t want to highlight this, because the members of the editorial board a) aren’t that bright (certainly not as bright as they think they are) and b) have an outsized view of their own importance. That said, the editorial is reflective of the way public opinion seems to have shifted on this issue.

Let’s first dispose of a silly argument:

The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

First of all, I don’t understand how a “result” can be “racist.” Racism has to do with a state of mind. A result might disproportionately affect minorities, but that is not the same as “racism” — and I think the subtle attempt to equate the two is deliberate and deserves pushback. Moreover, I couldn’t find anywhere in the FBI figures anything about a racial breakdown of arrests for marijuana — just drugs in general. Feel free to point me to the table or tables to which the editorial writers are referring.

That silliness aside, the underlying issue is, I have always thought, more complicated than it is portrayed by either side.

Those who favor decriminalization often underemphasize the inevitable increase in usage that follows from decriminalization. Also, those who favor decriminalization fall into two camps: people who hold that view on principle, and people who just want to smoke a lot of pot. (Yes, there is overlap.) And I’ll admit: people in the latter group irritate me. There’s a reason that the stereotype of a habitual pot smoker is a lazy, shiftless couch potato munching on a bag of potato chips, with crumbs festooning his T-shirt. People who habitually smoke pot often lack a certain drive and ambition. In a way, though, it’s perfect for a society that increasingly expects to do nothing and have the government take care of everything.

Usage of drugs is not unrelated to violence, either — although that includes alcohol. My best guess is that most people who commit murder are under the influence of some combination of intoxicating drugs, often alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, and/or cocaine.

Putting that concern aside, be realistic: once you decriminalize pot, the legalizers will move on to advocating decriminalization for more drugs, and don’t assume otherwise.

Those who insist on laws remaining the same, however, have their own problems. They give short shrift to the idea that people own their own bodies. They support a system of laws in which participants in the criminal justice system spend far too much time on addicts — although, in California, this is less so when it comes to marijuana. At least in California, marijuana is largely decriminalized; nobody goes to jail or prison for possessing a small amount of marijuana, and penalties for dealing it are generally quite low. But a lot of court time is spent on people addicted to methamphetamine and cocaine, and I don’t get the sense that the system does much for these people; if you get cured, it’s because you yourself have decided to be cured.

I’d like to say that the NYT editorial raises some interesting questions, but really, it doesn’t. Because it’s the NYT. But the topic is an interesting one, and I do sense that public opinion is shifting.

148 Responses to “NYT: End “Prohibition” on Marijuana”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. If Bill Bennett were dead, he’d be turning over in his grave.

    As far as marijuana being less harmful than alcohol, that’s a lot of nonsense. It likely does cause less bodily harm to the doper than alcohol does to the drunk, but who cares about them? The psychotropic effect leading to anti-social behavior is what concerns, or should concern, the law. Answer that question please, flower children.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. First of all, I don’t understand how a “result” can be “racist.” Racism has to do with a state of mind. A result might disproportionately affect minorities, but that is not the same as “racism” — and I think the subtle attempt to equate the two is deliberate and deserves pushback.

    No, a result can’t be racist, but the law that achieves that result can have been designed to do so, and in this case that is true.
    The reason marijuana was banned in the first place was that it was popular among Mexicans and other “degenerates”.

    Those who favor decriminalization often underemphasize the inevitable increase in usage that follows from decriminalization.

    Didn’t alcohol consumption decrease when it was legalised?

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  4. That’s old history. The reason we need the law against it now is because over the last fifty years that junk has been romanticized and glamorized across all segments of society to the point where even a sometime-conservative blog host sings the praises of a piece of crap show like Breaking Bad. It’s not going to be the drug of only the underclasses anymore, but it will drag more people down into the underclass.

    nk (dbc370)

  5. (a) I think there’s a reasonable space to be drawn between “the feds should butt out and let the states decide”, and “marijuana should be legal”. I take the NYT editorial as saying the former.

    (b) Twice in my life i’ve been part of a social circle of people who smoked often. None of them, either time, matched the stereotype. The first set were all people who went on to be successful silicon valley engineers; the second set is a diverse crowd that includes some very successful people and some marginally successful people.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  6. Dude, Breaking Bad was awesome. Can’t wait for the sequel, er, prequel.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  7. NY Times editorial board endorses states’ rights. Women, minorities, hardest hit.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  8. Here is a study by Brown University of self-reported marijuana use and marijuana arrest statistics from New York City.

    The general gist of this is common knowledge in New York.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  9. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/nibrs/addendum-for-submitting-cargo-theft-data/asr

    seems to give racial breakdown for number of persons arrested, and has a seperate line (18b) for marijuana in particular.

    I do not know how to get the actual table, just this instruction for how to use the table.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  10. Carlos Slim’s buddies will not have to worry about the DEA and the Border Patrol as much. Sulzberger’s buddies will be able to have drug dispensaries’ accounts in their banks.

    nk (dbc370)

  11. *marijuana* dispensaries

    nk (dbc370)

  12. I’ve never heard a good argument as to why they required a constitutional amendment to outlaw alcohol but all this other stuff they can ban by fiat.

    That being said, while I think the federal laws should be repealed I also do not support eliminating my state’s laws. I’d rather we wait 5 years or so and see how things work out in Colorado and Washington.

    JNorth (3adc09)

  13. pot was banned in 1937, the problem is they want to promote the consumption of marijuana, clearly they see as a version of the waters of Lethe,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  14. I’ve never heard a good argument as to why they required a constitutional amendment to outlaw alcohol but all this other stuff they can ban by fiat.

    That’s easy. Alcohol prohibition was before Wickard. The interstate commerce clause was then thought to be about interstate commerce. Now we know better, and if Congress decided to restore prohibition it wouldn’t need any steenkin’ amendment. (In 1937 they didn’t actually ban it, they just imposed a tax which they then refused to collect, so it was practically illegal but they could pretend it wasn’t. By the time the courts finally blew that pretense up in 1969, modern commerce-clause theory was already well entrenched, so they switched to that basis and officially banned it.)

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  15. Wickard and the 2005 medical marijuana case where Scalia cited it are just crazy.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  16. A society that no longer favors self-reliance and personal responsibility, and proudly traps over half of its citizens on government assistance has no right to decriminalize additional mind-altering substances. When this country begins raising responsible men and women who are ready to become adults at 18 rather than 26, then we can have this discussion.

    Sean (69ccc8)

  17. I haven’t seen an editorial given this kind of prominence in the New York Times…maybe ever.

    It took over the entire editorial page – there was no other editorial, and the signed Op-ed/editorial on the same page was also about marijuana and it didn’t even start on the editorial page, but on the first page of the Sunday Review.

    What’s wrong with the editorial is that getting rid of Prohibition, probably cerated the heroin epidemic. You won’t solve any major crime problem by ending the prohibitio on marijuana. TThey also think it doesd very little harm – I think it can do harm – damage brains and send people intoa wheelchair.

    That said. the laws are much too tough right now, and it ought to be regulated like
    steroids or amphemtamines and ordinary users really shouldn’t be bothered too much.

    By the way, heroin also really should be legal by prewscription. For people who have become addicted. The great harm comes from keeping it illegal. The antodote should be sold over the counter.

    Other drugs really can’t be legalized.

    Sammy Finkelman (a551ff)

  18. It should be legalized and heavily taxed like beer, wine and booze.But there have to be safeguards. We should have an easy chemical test to see if drivers are impaired by THC. And the flower child crap that’s it, NATURAL, MAN! has to stop. What is annoying about pot advocates is that at the same time we have rightly demonized tobacco as unsafe we now are being forcefed nonsense that pot is totally safe and healthful. Anything that gets ingested by smoking and introducing compounds, many toxic, to your lungs is going to impair lung function short term and be carcinogenic long term. I don’t smoke anything and would encourage family and friends not to smoke. But pot is little worse than alcohol. It is only a gateway drug because it’s sold on the same streetcorner as hard drugs. if it were in 7/11 between Bud and Marlboro the gateway thing will be over.

    Bugg (3a2abd)

  19. I hope the lessening of restrictions on marijuana — both legally and symbolically — in turn, makes the nanny-state hysteria against tobacco and cigarettes, and now electronic cigarettes, look more ridiculous than it already is.

    I was reading about how a concert at the Hollywood Bowl awhile back had a lot of people lighting up (ie, doobies, not cigarettes), which should give the anti-smoking-even-outside brigade look more absurd and also two-faced if they shrug off situations like that but not one where folks are hauling out a Marlboro, much less an electronic cigarette.

    Mark (2604a9)

  20. Anything that gets ingested by smoking and introducing compounds, many toxic, to your lungs is going to impair lung function short term and be carcinogenic long term.

    Where pot is legal, you will find many people enjoying their THC through vaporizers (like e-cigs) and edible varieties. It’s almost like the open market works to benefit people better than nanny government.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  21. If the carefully read the New York Times editorial, you will see it’s confused, wanders all pve rthe place, and has no point. They don’t know what they want anybody to do, except that they would like President Obama to order the Attorney General to conduct a study that would permit the removal f marijuana from Schedule II.

    They take no position on two various bills now before Congress, on the grounds it has little chance of passing. They are critical of Obama’s passivity or inaction or temporizing on this issue. but not critical of him. They praise the states for doing things. The bottom line is; “It’s time for Washington to get out of their way.”

    But it has. What they don’t like is that the Justice Department could change its policy at any time and so could the next administration, so they’d like this enacted into law.

    Sammy Finkelman (a551ff)

  22. JNorth (3adc09) — 7/28/2014 @ 8:40 am

    I’ve never heard a good argument as to why they required a constitutional amendment to outlaw alcohol but all this other stuff they can ban by fiat.

    At that time (1917) the Supreme Court was interpreting the constitution so as to severely limit the federal government’s ability to regulate commerce. It could only regulate “interstate
    commerce” States were often stopped by the “due process” clause of the 14th amendment but prohibition of alcohol was considered a health related matter and not interfered with.

    When there was some federal prohibition of narcotics in 1914 it was done in the form of
    levying a tax.

    By the mid-1930s the Supreme Court was no longer an obstacle.

    Sammy Finkelman (a551ff)

  23. > Where pot is legal, you will find many people enjoying their THC through vaporizers (like e-cigs) and edible varieties

    Even in places like NYC, where pot is illegal, you find those things. Although edibles are a problem because it’s harder to control the dose and the cost::dose ratio is higher.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  24. I believe I mention this every time it comes up…

    My brother threw away his life on marijuana. While he was bright when he young – before sixth grade when he started, on marijuana he becomes stupid. He can’t plan for the future, and he can’t handle his kids, and the best job he could hold down was pizza delivery.

    When he occasionally quits, it takes exactly seven days for it to clear out of his system. The lights come on. He can see the future again. He can make intelligent jokes. He can handle his troublesome kids. I have a brother again.

    Having personally seen the long-term destructiveness of the drug, even my natural small-l libertarian-ness can’t get me over it. It’s a scourge. It’s suicide. It’s harmful to those around the user. The impairing effects last days to weeks. Weeks.

    Like they say about health care; wait till you see how much it costs when it’s free. Same with marijuana. Wait till you see how much it costs our society when we stop fighting it.

    luagha (5cbe06)

  25. Fair point. It’s my unsupported intuition that legalization will lead to less smoking, but I haven’t looked into it in detail. It’s just that Colorado’s “buddy mix” and “comfy crackers” and strawberry crunch bars look very appetizing and probably don’t make you cough.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  26. Luagha, I’m sorry to hear about your brother.

    But in my experience, he’s not typical.

    I consume marijuana roughly once a week. *When I am actively under the influence*, I can’t plan, and couldn’t work, and can’t handle anything serious. But the same is true when I’m actively drunk: I couldn’t plan, or work, or handle anything serious then, either. And just like I can drink in moderation so that I only get drunk *at a time and place where I don’t need to do any of these things*, I can consume marijuana in moderation so that I only get high in a time and place where I need to do those things.

    The same, from what I can tell, is true of the friends with whom I consume, and the friends whom I know to consume but with whom I do not consume.

    Still, certainly, some people can’t, just as some people can’t manage to control their drinking. It *sucks* that this is the case. It’s a terrible, terrible thing for them and for the people who love them.

    But their experience isn’t the whole picture, just as my experience isn’t the whole picture.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  27. I don’t see how legalizing the weed is a positive step for anyone. It is a gateway drug, if for nothing more than it will have the buyer/user rubbing elbows with folks who sell and/or use far stronger and debilitating substances.

    We need to push our society toward a Soma-less existence, as life is not truly experienced unless it is through clear eyes and with a fully functioning brain. And I speak as a person who lived in SoCal in the 60s, 70s and 80s, who saw it all and lost more than a few good-hearted friends to this abuse.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  28. As an idle question, aphrael; and obviously you can’t go back in time and obviously it’s a personal question…

    Have you tried tracking your IQ over your years of use?

    My brother started out at IQ 130. I can’t say where he’s at now.

    How do you track when you’re not under the influence? You’re aware that impairment, depending on the person, can continue for up to two weeks? If you partake weekly you may not feel ‘buzzed’ but you remain continually impaired?

    What happens when you quit for a full month? Can you tell the difference?

    luagha (5cbe06)

  29. and, as an X1/9 and 500 Abarth driver, they had damn well better not be banning ANYTHING by Fiat!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  30. Off topic: I saw the Lego movie. It makes even less sense than “Frozen”

    It makes about equal sense with what goes on in a dream.

    Sammy Finkelman (a551ff)

  31. I have to go contemplate agreeing with a NYT editorial position; that doesn’t happen often.

    In general, I think the war on drugs (including pain killers and age limits) should be declared lost and abandoned.

    Teaching is a better way of handling the problems of use, and the legal system already has other mechanisms for dealing the problems of abuse (drunk driving being an example.)

    htom (412a17)

  32. It is a gateway drug, if for nothing more than it will have the buyer/user rubbing elbows with folks who sell and/or use far stronger and debilitating substances.

    How is someone going to a pot dispensary in Colorado rubbing shoulders with folks who sell and/or use far stronger and [more] debilitating substances? If I go to a liquor store, is the same true of me?

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  33. Luagha,

    (a) no, I haven’t had an IQ test to my knowledge since I was a preteen.

    (b) I was not aware that impairment ever lasts up to two weeks. I have seen people be impaired for as much as a week, but … it’s *noticeable*, both to them and to the people around them, that they are. I have noticed that in myself, nor have I had reports of it from the people around me, including people who are skeptical of drug use.

    (c) I have in the past quit for years at a time. I do not notice a difference between my state when not using and my state two days after using.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  34. Colonel Haiku, carlitos has a good point at @32: I don’t see how buyers of *legal* marijuana would be rubbing elbows with the people who sell and/or use stronger and more debilitating substances, unless those substances were also legal and sold by the same vendors.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  35. Sammy Finkleman did not understand The Lego Movie.

    I guess there wasn’t enough subtext for him to ferret out.

    luagha (5cbe06)

  36. Here’s a quick and easy rule of thumb: PROHIBITIONS DON’T WORK.

    They never have and they never will. It is as simple as that. Weighing the merits of a drug prohibition is a fool errand because the demand for drugs and the supply to meet that demand will never be diminished. It is akin to weighing the merits of prohibiting the sun to rise in the morning and set in the evening. Magical thinking will never cure our social ills.

    What’s worse is that prohibitions diminish respect for the rule of law. In a nation of laws, respect for the law is a paramount concern. Because of the excesses of the War on Drugs, many Americans feel contempt for the law and, especially, federal law. We are moving toward a perverse consensus, much like the one that prevailed during Prohibition, that laws are for chumps.

    Good for the Times.

    ThOR (130453)

  37. I don’t care what happens to the druggie. Just don’t drive a car; don’t have access to a gun; don’t live in a high building where you can drop things, including yourself, on others; other stuff like that.

    Q. What’s the difference between a four-year old child and a bag of cocaine.
    A. Eric Clapton would never let a bag of cocaine fall out of a window.

    nk (dbc370)

  38. 13. Like legalized gambling, another tax stream.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  39. 37. Nitpicking, I believe it was through the bars of a balcony, > 20 stories up.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  40. Al Capone and Bugs Boran were cheap chiselers. http://www.wirtzbev.com/

    nk (dbc370)

  41. I totally agree with Patterico’s point about decriminalizing marijuana will lead to a push to decriminalize other drugs.

    Personally, I think this should be done. Let the drugs of every category fall under a regulated state rather than the completely unregulated black market it is in now.

    Will it lead to some lost souls losing themselves in drug use? Sure, but it will be by their own choice and it already happens now.

    Dejectedhead (a094a6)

  42. 28, 33. I was 2.44(Bio) on, 4.0(Electronics) and 3.2(CPTS & Math) off.

    Also a full triathlon off, smoking Camel straights. Your mileage may vary.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  43. It has been one of the largest { “cash money,homey” } revenue producing plants in the last 30 years.
    Republicans had better wise up and come up with ideas on how to make the feds history on the ganja prosecution.
    More state rights.

    mg (31009b)

  44. And yet they are moving on to de facto tobacco prohibition, why is that?

    narciso (ee1f88)

  45. Drugs have been with us since the founding. The welfare state is a more recent perversion. The two do not mix well. We are living in the strangest sort of wonderland where every city has a huge and highly visible underground that delivers drugs in daylight in parking lots and gas stations with almost no legal consequence. And this can only be so because the powers that be have deemed it acceptable as long as we continue to pretend it doesn’t exist. This plays an unknown role in our local governance, but it is silly to think that the large flows of blackmarket wealth haven’t come to the attention of our mayors and city councilmen, let alone the cop on the beat. We compound our problems when we declare alcohol and drug abuse as diseases and try to frame their abuse as a public health issue. But this is quite rational if we accept the welfare state. In a progressives’ eyes, the public is like a herd of cattle, and those things that challenge the fitness of the herd are legitimate causes for massive intervention. And this intervention ends up being applied to us all in a variety of unexpected ways. Ranging from IRS policies that target all sorts of perfectly legal activities, like running a grocery store in a downscale urban neighborhood where an unusually large portion of their revenue is received in small bills (currency,) to drivers on the eastcoast with Florida plates who attract the attention of local police forces. As we continue to fail at “winning” the drug war, these interventions will become more and more intrusive. All justified by the State’s “responsibility” to ensure the health of the herd.

    We’d have a much brighter future if we legalized drugs and eliminated welfare altogether. That would place the responsibility for each person with the appropriate party. And it would have a variety of beneficial outcomes in unexpected places like the city hall.

    bobathome (5ccbd8)

  46. narciso – weed is being sold to everyone that buys it as medicine.

    mg (31009b)

  47. The 21st Amendment made alcohol illegal unless your state (or territory) said it was legal. Yeah, it “repealed Prohibition”, right. In Chicago, besides the on-the-table various application and license fees to the Liquor Control Commissioner who is also the Mayor, an on-premises license needs an envelope to the alderman. The last one I heard about, it was $8,500.00, and I’m told that’s for the poor side of town. Upscale aldermen charge more.

    nk (dbc370)

  48. this is how america creates jobs anymore

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  49. But a lot of court time is spent on people addicted to methamphetamine and cocaine, and I don’t get the sense that the system does much for these people; if you get cured, it’s because you yourself have decided to be cured.

    This! It is good to see that someone in Patterico’s line of work sees the same thing I see from the other side of things. Except for one thing: there is no cure, there is only remission; but perhaps that’s semantics.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  50. nitpicking and sticking up for Eric Clapton (one time druggie or not)– it was an open window 53 stories up, and Eric was not there at the time.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1991/03/21/nyregion/eric-clapton-s-son-killed-in-a-49-story-fall.html

    elissa (ed94eb)

  51. > They said the window, about 6 feet high and 4 feet wide, was left open after it was cleaned by a housekeeper. The boy, who was not in the room during the cleaning, darted past the housekeeper and somehow fell out the window, which was not protected by a window guard, the police said.

    And drug use doesn’t appear to have been involved at all.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  52. Incidentally, while I don’t have window guards, I also have no children and no local friends with small children. Window guards would seem to me to be essential for anyone who does.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  53. Have you tried tracking your IQ over your years of use?

    I cannot speak to pot as it wasn’t what I used, but I know a guy who was a brilliant mathematician, IQ off the charts (>150) who has been smoking pot for at least 30 of the last 40 years, and still is. He’s unemployable and while his IQ might still be fairly high (hard to say now), his common-sense-quotient is around zero.

    He’s a big supporter of Obama.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  54. Were I in charge of legalizing pot, it would go like this:

    Nationally, the rules would be the same as for alcohol: states could ban it, regulate it, etc, and importing into a state in violation of the laws thereof would be a federal crime, except that states could not discriminate against products of other states. At least for now, I would also make importation into the US subject to a heavy duty and health controls — banning it would be harder than it is worth. Instead, you’d only get the higher value stuff.

    In my state (CA), I would restrict sales to a licensed subset of stand-alone liquor stores, with the rule that violation of the terms of the pot license would also cost them their liquor license. I would make all these pot dispensaries and medical marijuana laws go away as they are mostly BS. Liquor stores and their owners are known quantities and their regulation is well understood.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  55. Kevin M – were I still a California resident, I would vote for a ballot measure to implement that plan.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  56. And yet they are moving on to de facto tobacco prohibition, why is that?

    The well-known “Bluenose Conservation Law”

    I believe that some time back the Berzerkly city council banned public tobacco use and permitted public pot use the same day.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  57. I don’t see how legalizing the weed is a positive step for anyone. It is a gateway drug…

    So is alcohol.

    Question: Should being drunk in private be criminalized? Followup: Why is someone else smoking pot in private your business?

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  58. By the way, heroin also really should be legal by prescription … Other drugs really can’t be legalized.

    Heroin is a self-limiting drug, as to some extent is pot. While tolerances increase gradually, heroin addicts take a fixed dose and no more for a while. This dosage can be prescribed. Don’t know if it’s a good idea (but a better idea than Methadone), but it can be done.

    Meth and cocaine are things that addicts do until they run out, then seek more. There is no way to prescribe for them, as “enough” is undefined. Legalizing these drugs would be extremely problematic.

    Pot people use until they forget they were smoking pot, so in that way it is self-limiting. Booze also limits in the sense that you have to remain conscious to drink. In either case the necessary dosage is inconsistent so again you cannot prescribe.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  59. Have you tried tracking your IQ over your years of use?

    Would you say Carl Sagan’s IQ was affected by his regular MJ use? How about Richard Feynman?

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  60. Drugs have been with us since the founding at least 6,000 B.C.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  61. Sagan? Definitely.

    Feynman experimented with MJ a little, then stopped; at least according to wikipedia.

    luagha (5cbe06)

  62. Didn’t alcohol consumption decrease when it was legalised?

    No. I will post on this later, but prohibition actually “worked” — if by worked you mean decreased usage.

    Patterico (a2ae70)

  63. Kevin, I like your questions. With your kind indulgence I will tweak them just a bit:

    Question: Should attempting suicide in private be criminalized? Follow up: Why is attempting suicide in private your business?

    felipe (960c75)

  64. states will still be able to prohbit marijuana

    this proposal just makes it to where it’s not a crime that america’s fascist and corrupt federal government will be able to exploit

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  65. Congress has always had it within its power to fund the studies needed to legally de-list Cannabis from Schedule-I, where has the NYT’s been all these years?

    askeptic (efcf22)

  66. Milhouse (c63fe5) — 7/28/2014 @ 12:24 pm

    Isn’t Sagan a Global Warmist?
    Question answered.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  67. To discuss how prohibition “worked,” one could contrast the actual results with the pre-Prohibition claims of the Temperance Movement. How prohibition would solve poverty and crime, and how our jails would be converted into factories.

    I think that alcohol consumption during Prohibition decreased by a max of 30%. Was it worth it? We’re still dealing with 51 jurisdictions of bureaucracy, and a whole milieu of taxation, regulation and corruption 80 years later.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  68. askeptic – I’m pretty sure the NYT was anti-legalization until now, and that’s what makes this editorial significant: it signifies a change in the NYT position which mirrors a change that’s happening in the broader culture.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  69. Isn’t Sagan a Global Warmist?

    Sagan’s dead. When he was alive he was a warmist, but at the time there was some evidence for that theory. Not a lot, but enough that an intelligent person could hold that position. Luagha, what makes you think his IQ was affected? Do you think he would have been even more frighteningly intelligent had he not been a stoner?!

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  70. First of all, I don’t understand how a “result” can be “racist.” Racism has to do with a state of mind. A result might disproportionately affect minorities, but that is not the same as “racism” — and I think the subtle attempt to equate the two is deliberate and deserves pushback.

    As Millhouse pointed out in #3, if you are of a mind to go after a certain race or races, you can look at the behaviors that are more prevalent in that community and legislate accordingly. The other way to accomplish it, if you are of a mind to, is with tactics like the so called “driving while Black” offense. If you see a member of the target race driving a vehicle, you pull them over on a pretext and them see what you find. That doesn’t prevent a cop from pulling over White offenders if the circumstances call for it, but the cop always has the ability to confiscate the contraband and let the offender off with a stern warning. And, if we are talking NYC, the cops don’t even have to restrict themselves to those driving vehicles. If it is an “impacted” neighborhood, just put everyone against the wall and pat them down. Never know what you might find.

    Anon Y. Mous (8ec442)

  71. I think the FDA should be reduced (more like restored) to the task of assuring that what is claimed to be in some concoction is actually in it, and that all adverse reactions are reported.

    The DEA should be dismantled.

    You should be able to walk into the corner store with a script from your private physician and obtain all the laudanum you can talk him into giving you, and no one can step up and stop you from buying it from whoever is selling unless the product is not what it is claimed to be.

    Insurers can have their own standards for what is covered and what is not covered in terms of medical necessity within the regulations of whatever state is imposing them.

    The population of abusers stays at a steady level – black markets, prescription fraud, smuggling and self-manufacture we will always have with us but that goes for addicts, too. The cost of prohibition does not outweigh the costs, which include denying sick people dignity and choice and control over their pain, people quite willing to manage their situation with a physician, in some attempt to keep loadies and layabouts from an illicit pastime.

    SarahW (267b14)

  72. Sagan was Mr. Nuclear Winter, which was a precursor of current climate mania justifying social change.

    SarahW (267b14)

  73. In my delightful urban milieu, welfare payments arrive promptly on a bi-monthly schedule. Crack dealers, I am told, like to joke that “Mother’s Day” comes twice a month for their clients. Just like barkeeps who order extra kegs for big-game weekends, crack dealers stock up for a rush of business when the checks show up. Between welfare checks, business slows down to a trickle. Not surprisingly, financially motivated urban crime measurably decreases when welfare checks are being cashed (see: http://www.people.hbs.edu/ffoley/Crime.pdf ).

    If you have ever wondered where the enormous sums of money originate that animate the drug trade, the answer is easy: the Federal Treasury. The petty theft we all associate with drug addicts is a stopgap to cover the lean times between welfare payments. My guess is that there is no more than four degrees of financial separation between Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and the Sinaloa cartel’s “El Chapo” Guzman. The Bob Bennetts of this world are the greatest thing that ever happened to organized crime.

    ThOR (130453)

  74. Anon Y Mous – in NY, possession is an infraction, but possession in public view is a misdemeanor.

    It’s a common tactic of the NYPD to stop people, demand that they empty their pockets, and then cite them for possession in public view. This usually leads to overnight detention followed by a plea to a lesser offense; but since there’s a striking racial difference in terms of who gets stopped in the first place, there’s also a striking racial difference in terms of who gets arrested for possession in public view.

    (There’s a lawsuit under way to force the NYPD to abandon this practice).

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  75. I don’t see how legalizing the weed is a positive step for anyone. It is a gateway drug…

    So is alcohol.

    Question: Should being drunk in private be criminalized? Followup: Why is someone else smoking pot in private your business?

    Kevin M (b357ee) — 7/28/2014 @ 12:13 pm

    I’m not a drinker and that horse left the barn years ago. Their use is none of my business, but I wouldn’t want to be encouraging others to take that same “Loser” path.

    Colonel Haiku (a08a41)

  76. 72 –
    He was also part of the team in the late-50′s that wanted to explode a nuke on the back side of the moon as a response to Sputnik…..
    That must have been an MJ-induced fantasy.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  77. 74- I don’t think those who are pursuing the NYPD will settle for any less than the complete dismantling of the Department – or, in any case, that is what the result of all their suits would be, even if it still exists.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  78. “How is someone going to a pot dispensary in Colorado rubbing shoulders with folks who sell and/or use far stronger and [more] debilitating substances? If I go to a liquor store, is the same true of me?”

    Perhaps not with the seller, Carlitos, but most def when using in a social setting/environment. On your liquor store scenario?… only if you stumble over the drink sitting/leaning against the storefront or laying in the gutter.

    Colonel Haiku (db4096)

  79. Question: Should attempting suicide in private be criminalized? Follow up: Why is attempting suicide in private your business?

    I believe suicide is a basic human right, up to the point where it takes other people with it.

    There are arguments about people ducking obligations (e.g. to their children), but suicide isn’t the only way to be an, um, deadbeat.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  80. Reading the excuse making and “but what abouts” only reinforces how far to the lowest common denominator our civil society has sunk… just my 2 cents.

    Colonel Haiku (db4096)

  81. happy, you use “fascist” so much it means nothing when you say it.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  82. #78… drink should read “drunk”

    Colonel Haiku (db4096)

  83. yes it does

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  84. I don’t believe pot affects IQ. It affects other things, like the ability to get off the couch, and what a friend of mine calls CDF (common dog f***).

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  85. no it doesn’t.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  86. People who choose to smoke weed – and especially in light of the potency nowadaze – should do themselves a favor, save their money and just ask a friend or loved one to whack them in the head a couple times with a sledgehammer …

    Colonel Haiku (e6799b)

  87. and they can take that free, unsolicited advice to teh food bank… Losers!!!

    Colonel Haiku (e6799b)

  88. carlitos, most people who drink, and in fact most people who chronically get drunk, are functioning members of society and no more sleep in the gutter than pot smokers do. I am willing to bet you will find homeless people of both persuasions.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  89. The pols know if they placate the sheeple with dope and handouts, they’ll be eating out of their hands.

    Colonel Haiku (e6799b)

  90. whack them in the head a couple times with a sledgehammer

    colonel,

    not to defend pot smoking, but that’s just stupid. People get wasted because they like the effect, which is not the same as having your brains bashed in.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  91. Prohibition is corrosive and corrupting. There is no good that comes from prohibition that couldn’t be obtained through some other means that doesn’t destroy our civil liberties or society.

    Xmas (0493b2)

  92. yes it does Mr. M

    this is a policy question we’re discussing

    and depending on what policy we follow we will either expand or delimit the purview of a fascist enterprise, namely the federal government of the United States of America

    inasmuch as fascism is a super-bad thing (I have links), then the ascertaining of the preferred policy choice becomes a very simple matter

    q.e.d. and butter tarts my friend

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  93. 90… they smoke it long enough, it will be… leave ‘em dazed and thoroughly confused.

    They all cheered when the Feds increased their Victory Gin ration!

    Colonel Haiku (a08a41)

  94. 88… what’s missing, Carlitos, is that they’re “functioning” at a reduced level.

    Colonel Haiku (a08a41)

  95. 71. SarahW (267b14) — 7/28/2014 @ 1:30 pm

    I think the FDA should be reduced (more like restored) to the task of assuring that what is claimed to be in some concoction is actually in it, and that all adverse reactions are reported.

    Or there has to be some way or several ways of getting around it.

    But even this limited function is a problem.

    Quality or purity regulations are so tight, combined with limits on prices paid so that they don’t go up during shortages, that we get shortages of generic drugs and vacines.

    And the FDA, because of something that once happened in China over 25 years ago by now, has made illegal the sale of the dietery supplemment trytophan becaus eof supposed dangers even though it is not the tryptophan itself, useful for any number of purposes you can find in diet or nutrition books from the 1980s and earlier.

    It would cost so much to get approved again, nobody does it.

    The DEA should be dismantled.

    There’s a question how to approach it.

    You should be able to walk into the corner store with a script from your private physician and obtain all the laudanum you can talk him into giving you, and no one can step up and stop you from buying it from whoever is selling unless the product is not what it is claimed to be.

    This might be an idea. It is very important that the dosage be known and accurate.

    Sammy Finkelman (a551ff)

  96. If your life is so crappy that you have to imbibe mind-altering substances to cope with it, or ameliorate its effects, you need to really arrange a make-over before it totally overwhelms you.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  97. I say “up with people!” and down with substances that detrimentally effect their true happiness, potential and ability to live up to their Creator’s intent.

    Colonel Haiku (f8c86d)

  98. What askeptic said!

    Colonel Haiku (f8c86d)

  99. If you read up on Sagan’s actual accomplishments in science and his foolish views (being taken in by nuclear winter given volcanic counter-evidence, being a global warmist despite the period from 1945-1975, etc etc) he’s not a brilliant person nor a brilliant scientist.

    What he WAS, was a brilliant science popularizer. And for that, we thank thank him and honor him.

    luagha (5cbe06)

  100. All aboard teh Oblivion Express!!!

    Colonel Haiku (f8c86d)

  101. Ridin’ that train, high on propane…

    Colonel Haiku (f8c86d)

  102. It will leave you looking like Bernie Sanders (I-VT). I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy

    Colonel Haiku (a08a41)

  103. Ridin’ that train, high on propane…

    Colonel Haiku (f8c86d) — 7/28/2014 @ 2:54 pm

    I can just see Hank Hill cheering that one on…

    Bill H (f9e4cd)

  104. his foolish views (being taken in by nuclear winter given volcanic counter-evidence,

    I don’t think he was taken in by that; it was more of a deliberately dishonest campaign sponsored by the USSR. Hey, I didn’t say he was honest or patriotic, just highly intelligent; I don’t think anyone can deny that.

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  105. I don’t think “nuclear winter” actually originated with the Soviet Union.

    Sammy Finkelman (702d53)

  106. Here’s a series of statements that are undeniably true, followed by a question for the potheads:

    1. If marijuana is legalized, its use will increase. Some/many people who are already smoking will increase their intake, and some/many people who avoided the drug because of its illegality will start using it.

    2. With increased use, instances of irresponsible use will likewise increase. For the sake of this discussion, we will define “irresponsible use” as toking up and then getting behind the wheel of an automobile.

    3. Some of these “newly minted” irresponsible drivers will cause traffic accidents. These are accidents that would not have happened had they not started smoking “legal” marijuana. Some of these accidents will kill innocent men, women, and children.

    Q: How many innocent men, women, and children are the potheads willing to sacrifice so that they and their “very successful” buddies can get high legally?

    Obviously, all of the above applies to alcohol, but that cat’s already out of the bag. I don’t see how turning another kitty loose will be beneficial to our society.

    So, once again I ask the potheads: what’s an acceptable annual number of innocent marijuana casualties? Ten? A hundred? A thousand?

    BTW, several pundits have suggested that the NYT’s support of legalized marijuana is nothing more than an attempt to inspire more young people (i.e., Democrats) to vote this fall.

    Whitey Nisson (aae971)

  107. The republicans like to keep that big tent cordoned off.
    But hey, getting a silver medal in elections pays big time.

    mg (31009b)

  108. Here is my post showing that Prohibition reduced alcohol consumption.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  109. As a career DDA, I wrecked the lives of people who used or sold marijuana that was so weak by today’s standards, it would be thrown away. Who could forget a crying man being sentenced to prison for a marijuana offense when the judge, prosecutor,defense attorney, bailiff, and court clerk all were potheads? It bothered us all so much we had to hurry home and get really stoned.

    Unattorney (95615f)

  110. yup you nailed it Mr. Unattorney

    what the NYT editorial means is that journalists and their kids love smoking pot, as well as do their peers in other media, government, and law

    and of course the potheads in the white house

    we can infer from this that marijuana use among America’s ivy league trash set is wholly and completely accepted and celebrated

    and so the paradigm finally shifts

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  111. It’s well known that the Russians pushed nuclear winter theories as a part of their attempts to push us towards disarmament, Sammy. Read you some wikipedia, it’s all there.

    luagha (1de9ec)

  112. Nah, no paradigm has shifted. Booze was too good a business to leave to the Italians, so the Volstead Act was repealed. The numbers racket was too good a business to leave to blacks, so we have state lotteries. Now, pot is too good a business to leave to Mexicans.

    nk (dbc370)

  113. There are people who wallow in debasement and degradation and there are those who profit from it. The bigger the profit, the bigger the profiteers it attracts.

    nk (dbc370)

  114. I don’t think “nuclear winter” actually originated with the Soviet Union.

    I think it did. The whole campaign for nuclear disarmament was planned and coordinated in — and funded by — Moscow.

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  115. i see your point

    i’m just skeptical that – in terms of a lucrative business – how could a free market in marijuana ever come close to rivaling the piggy trough of marijuana prohibition?

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  116. Colonel Haiku #86:

    People who choose to smoke weed – and especially in light of the potency nowadaze –

    Unattorney #111:

    marijuana that was so weak by today’s standards, it would be thrown away.

    The idea that marijuana is so much stronger now than in the ’60s and ’70s is mostly a myth.

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  117. Horse-sh*t infused Bologna, milhouse

    Colonel Haiku (5d5973)

  118. My other examples, booze and lottery have done pretty well. Does Pepsi still import Stolichnaya? That’s the free market, everybody tries to grab a piece of the pie, as much as he can.

    nk (dbc370)

  119. Where are you numbers, Colonel?

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  120. Las Vegas is probably the best example.

    nk (dbc370)

  121. 50. I stand corrected, it was not a balcony. The story, however, doesn’t clear much up beyond Clapton not being at all responsible.

    Darwin incident.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  122. I think if’n dope didn’t affect IQ pipple wouldn’t smoke it.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  123. Pot doesn’t completely explain the delusion at Carlos Slim’s, Walter White’s product must be at fault,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  124. “There’s no question that marijuana, today, is more potent than the marijuana in the 1960s. However, if you were to look at the average marijuana potency which is about 3.5 percent, it’s been relatively stable for the last 20 years. Having said that, it’s very important that what we have now is a wider range of potencies available than we had in the 1970s, in particular.”
    That’s from Alan Leshner, the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, while he was testifying in front of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime in 1999.
    Those who support the legalization of marijuana say that the data are skewed because testing was only performed on marijuana of specific geographic origins in the 1960s and 1970s, and therefore isn’t representative of marijuana potency overall. Officials obtained the samples from a type of Mexican marijuana that is known to contain low levels of THC — 0.4 to 1 percent [source: Kuhn et al.]. When these levels are compared to other types of marijuana, it looks as if potency levels have risen in the last 30 years.
    Typical THC levels, which determine marijuana potency, range from 0.3 to 4 percent. However, some specially grown plants can contain THC levels as high as 25 percent, leading to a call by some users for producers to put out mellower Mary Jane [source: Marris]. Several factors are involved in determining the potency of a marijuana plant, including:
    Growing climate and conditions
    Plant genetics
    Harvesting and processing
    Desire by small growers to maximize profit
    The time at which the plant is harvested affects the level of THC. Additionally, female varieties have higher levels of THC than male varieties.”

    Colonel Haiku (77105a)

  125. From High Times magazine: “Yes, you read that correctly! Our annual review of the world’s most potent cannabis strains — as tested by our partner labs around the globe — has taken another big step forward, raising the bar this year to include only strains that have tested at over 23 percent THC! This represents a significant increase from years past, when the threshold was a mere 20 percent, and it’s surely a testament to our growing culture, legalization efforts and, of course, the cultivation skills and genetics trading of those setting the pace on the new frontiers in Colorado, Washington and California.

    As an added bonus, and in celebration of HIGH TIMES’ 40th anniversary this year, we’re including an up-to-date list of the 40 Strongest Strains of All Time (which is to say, since we began lab-testing the entries at every one of our Cannabis Cups, covering three years, six different cities and 15 Cups in the US and abroad). Prepare to have your mind blown!

    2013: A Record-Setting Year
    Aside from 2013 being the first year since 1937 that the possession and recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older was legal anywhere in the US (thank you, Colorado), it would appear that the cannabis gods had a couple of other firsts in store for us as well.

    For instance, before the Denver ’13 Cup, the strongest strain entry ever tested at any High Times Cannabis Cup was 25.49 percent THC. In 2013,
    that record was broken — six times! LA pulled off that trick twice at the Cup there in February, and then Denver did it four times in April, with the heaviest-hitting strain going over 28 percent.”

    Colonel Haiku (77105a)

  126. So, who’s going to be the winner in the Meth wars: Bikers, or the Mexican Mafia?

    askeptic (efcf22)

  127. Fron that CNN article…”Since 1972, ElSohly says, the average THC content of marijuana has soared from less than 1% to 3 to 4% in the 1990s, to nearly 13% today.”

    Colonel Haiku (77105a)

  128. Like I said, milhouse, the usual contrarian, disinformation horse sh*t from you.

    Colonel Haiku (77105a)

  129. Oh for the Good Old Days when you could just pick the damn stuff along rural roads as it grew wild in the drainage ditches.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  130. Have you tried tracking your IQ over your years of use?

    Would you say Carl Sagan’s IQ was affected by his regular MJ use? How about Richard Feynman?

    Milhouse (c63fe5) — 7/28/2014 @ 12:24 pm

    Yes.

    Tanny O'Haley (87b2aa)

  131. I’ve seen articles on the increase of the homeless in Colorado since the legalization of marijuana. Everyone I know who smokes weed, becomes less productive.

    Aphrael,

    You sound like an alcoholic. I can quit any time I want and have quit in the past.

    But let’s forget about all the social reasons to keep marijuana illegal. Let’s do it for the environment. One marijuana plant uses from 6 to 15 gallons of water a day. 79% of California is now in “extreme drought”. Marijuana growers don’t care about killing our state.

    “During the growing season, California “pot farms” consume 60 million gallons of water a day. That equals 50% more than is consumed by the entire city of San Francisco.”

    Quit for the environment.

    http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-California/2014/07/23/California-Pot-Farms-Use-50-More-Water-Than-San-Francisco

    Tanny O'Haley (87b2aa)

  132. Here is a study by Brown University of self-reported marijuana use and marijuana arrest statistics from New York City.

    The general gist of this is common knowledge in New York.

    aphrael (98d2d0) — 7/28/2014 @ 8:26 am

    I’ve bolded the problem with the study. That any study counts on “self-reported” data invalidates the study.

    Tanny O'Haley (87b2aa)

  133. The only good thing that may come out of the legalization of marijuana is if it puts a huge crimp in the power of Mexican narco gangs. That and if it also makes anti-tobacco sentiment seem increasingly quaint and schoolmarmish.

    BTW, I don’t smoke cigarettes, but the hysteria against them remind me of the deranged emotions towards CO2 and global warming.

    Mark (2604a9)

  134. Quit for the environment.

    Since the god of Green Earth has become a deity to the left, and since human health has become a religion to that crowd too, their ethos of live-and-let-live regarding dope and, as another example, the world of GLBT, should be placed in the context of the environment and human health. Or the waste of precious natural resources because of the former, and the spread of body-impairing STDs because of the latter.

    Mark (2604a9)

  135. #106:

    Well I feel like denying all but #1, Whitey.

    #2, perhaps a bit, perhaps not. People who use drugs irresponsibly probably already use booze irresponsibly. People who avoid something that is slightly illegal and not very dangerous (pot isn’t smack after all) are also people who drive the speed limit most of the time, i.e. responsible people.

    #3: And even if #2 is a yes, again not necessarily. There may be people who drink in bars and drive drunk a lot who instead are now smoking pot at home and finding in hard to get off the couch.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  136. The idea that marijuana is so much stronger now than in the ’60s and ’70s is mostly a myth.

    Ah, no. Not so, unless it’s gotten weaker lately.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  137. carlitos, most people who drink, and in fact most people who chronically get drunk, are functioning members of society and no more sleep in the gutter than pot smokers do. I am willing to bet you will find homeless people of both persuasions.

    Kevin M (b357ee) — 7/28/2014 @ 2:24 pm

    I’m not sure why this was directed at me?

    88… what’s missing, Carlitos, is that they’re “functioning” at a reduced level.

    Colonel Haiku (a08a41) — 7/28/2014 @ 2:44 pm

    Or that?

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  138. Here is my post showing that Prohibition reduced alcohol consumption.

    Patterico (9c670f) — 7/28/2014 @ 6:38 pm

    As I noted above, probably by 30%.

    Is reducing marijuana consumption by a hypothetical 30% worth empowering drug cartels and street gangs? Is it worth ruining lives by jailing harmless drug users and low-level dealers? It’s a trade-off. In my opinion, no, it’s not worth it.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  139. Smoking pot or drinking inside your home and getting high or sleepy (or passing out) is a vastly different situation than heavy drinking or getting stoned in a public place and then driving or stumbling home (either of which puts the person as well as others at immediate risk). If only there were a way to separate the two.

    elissa (b9af8b)

  140. If we outlaw murder, only outlaws will murder.

    (These two threads really should be combined.)

    nk (dbc370)

  141. Is reducing marijuana consumption by a hypothetical 30% worth empowering drug cartels and street gangs?

    The following may not exactly be the most objective of sources, although other news operations (such as the one quoted in the article) have come up with similar conclusions or observations. If accurate, then I’m going to say the state legislature of Colorado may be onto something.

    news.vice.com, March 2014: Marijuana has accounted for nearly half of all total drug arrests in the US for the past 20 years, according to the FBI’s crime statistics. And according to the Department of Justice (DOJ), a large portion of the US illegal drug market is controlled directly by Mexican cartels. The DOJ’s National Drug Intelligence Center, which has since been shut down, found in 2011 that the top cartels controlled the majority of drug trade in marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine in over 1,000 US cities.

    Now, those cartels and their farmers complain that marijuana legalization is hurting their business. And some reports could suggest that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is more interested in helping to protect the Mexican cartels’ hold on the pot trade than in letting it dissipate.

    Seven Mexican cartels have long battled for dominance of the US illegal drug market: Sinaloa, Los Zetas, Gulf, Juarez, Knights Templar, La Familia, and Tijuana. While some smaller cartels operate only along border regions in the Southwest and Southeast, giant cartels like Sinaloa have a presence on the streets of every single region.

    The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that pot farmers in the Sinaloa region have stopped planting due to a massive drop in wholesale prices, from $100 per kilo down to only $25. One farmer is quoted as saying: “It’s not worth it anymore. I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization.”

    VICE News talked to retired federal agent Terry Nelson, a former field level commander who worked to prevent drugs from crossing the southern border. Nelson said that before medical marijuana and state legalization in Washington and Colorado, about 10 million pounds of pot were grown in the US every year. But 40 million pounds came from Mexico.

    “Is it hurting the cartels? Yes. The cartels are criminal organizations that were making as much as 35-40 percent of their income from marijuana,” Nelson said, “They aren’t able to move as much cannabis inside the US now.”

    In 2012, a study by the Mexican Competitiveness Institute found that US state legalization would cut into cartel business and take over about 30 percent of their market.

    Former DEA senior intelligence specialist Sean Dunagan told VICE News that, although it’s too early to verify the numbers: “Anything to establish a regulated legal market will necessarily cut into those profits. And it won’t be a viable business for the Mexican cartels — the same way bootleggers disappeared after prohibition fell.”

    Mark (2604a9)

  142. Mark, do you know how to go about posting the supporting links to your posted comments? If not, I’m sure some kind person will be happy to teach you. Even if you personally don’t often choose to click on links and believe you are doing others a favor by copying what you consider to be the important points from an entire article or essay, some others of us really do like to have access to the entire piece and be able to see the original source.

    elissa (b9af8b)

  143. Taney – I agree that self-reported data is potentially problematic. And yet, any time you’re surveying people on behavior, the data is per se self-reported.

    Which is to say: self-reports of drug use are better than no data at all, and they provide a different picture than arrest reports. Arguably the arrest reports and the self reports provide different biases … but in the best case, by providing different biases, they each illuminate different parts of a picture which is only understandable through competing biased lenses.

    Furthermore: I don’t have a good theory which explains why white people would be more likely to admit to drug use in surveys than non-white people would. And in order to support the theory that the self-report is biased in a way that it understates drug use by non-white people, I think you need to have a theory which explains such a discrepancy in reporting.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  144. Taney, at 134:

    *laugh*. I can see that. On the other hand, someone explicitly asked me at #28 what my experience is when I quit for a full month; I don’t know how to answer that question in a way that doesn’t entail a pattern of “I have quit in the past”. So on some level I want to ask you: what answer to the question posed in #28 wouldn’t make me sound like an alcoholic in your mind?

    I”m genuinely curious here, and not defensive (because, honestly, I don’t know you from Adam and therefore would have no reason to experience defensiveness in a conversation with you); since #28 expressly requests that I discuss what happens when I stop using, I don’t know how to discuss it without seeming like i’m engaging in the pattern you are perceiving. :)

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  145. Marijuana has accounted for nearly half of all total drug arrests in the US for the past 20 years, according to the FBI’s crime statistics

    In-freaking-sane.

    carlitos (c24ed5)


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