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Marijuana Legalization: A Dissent

| January 11, 2014

Not the way to go: 'Making marijuana available to anyone over the age of 21,' writes Steve Robinson, 'seems to me to be a sad statement of societal surrender, rather than an uplifting event.' (Mardi Gras 2011)

Not the way to go: ‘Making marijuana available to anyone over the age of 21,’ writes Steve Robinson, ‘seems to me to be a sad statement of societal surrender, rather than an uplifting event.’ (Mardi Gras 2011)

A couple of summers ago, a 20-something of my acquaintance went to Europe with a few friends. In typical 20-something fashion, they designed an itinerary that had them racing across the continent at a one-day-per-country pace. Their longest stay? Three days in Amsterdam, the marijuana capitol of Europe. But a funny thing happened to this group of suburban young people. They found that by day two they were more than ready to leave Amsterdam behind. The city of Anne Frank, Van Gogh and canals, they came to realize, has a sort of tacky patina, thanks to the widespread and accepted use of marijuana. Of the city’s numerous cannabis cafes, what these young Americans had thought would be very cool turned out to be pretty dreary, with all the charm of an urban bus depot.

Now, thanks to voters in the states of Colorado and Washington, we will finally get a chance to examine the highs and the lows, if you’ll excuse the expression, of legal marijuana use in the U.S. We will get to see how many people drain their bank accounts with multiple visits to the new cannabis shops, and how many just  dabble in an occasional stoned Saturday night; who winds up stumbling into rehab, and who decides that a relaxing joint in the evening is more pleasant than a cocktail after work.

(This is quite apart from the 20 states that currently permit doctors to prescribe marijuana for the treatment of various illnesses and debilities. What studies have been done—and there are not many—lend support to the anecdotal evidence that marijuana is useful in controlling seizures and alleviating chronic pain. Here in Florida, voters may get to vote on a constitutional amendment this November that would legalize medical marijuana. Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi oppose the ballot measure, and have said they will fight it in court.)

We can all recite the arguments for legalization of marijuana: new tax revenues, a blow to organized crime, regulatory oversight of the product, better for you than alcohol. And let’s all agree that incarcerating people for possessing illegal drugs is a colossally stupid law enforcement tactic. But while legalization of cannabis was inevitable, I’m not certain that Colorado’s and Washington’s new laws are cause for rejoicing. Making marijuana available to anyone over the age of 21 seems to me to be a sad statement of societal surrender, rather than an uplifting event.

Colorado’s first few days of legal pot sales (Washington’s will happen later this year) went smoothly, according to an account in the Denver Post, which has wisely decided to devote a full-time reporting team to the new law. Not surprisingly, in spite of long lines the first day’s events were described as “mellow.” To some extent, the prices being charged in Colorado–$30 to $50 for an eighth of an ounce on day one, about what you’d pay for a good bottle of bourbon—will have a self-limiting effect, and purchases are capped at an ounce a day per person. Serious stoners will find themselves visiting the ATM more than usual as the pot shops are not permitted to accept credit cards.

But the most telling part of the Colorado law, which gets back to that observation about Amsterdam, is that public consumption of pot is still prohibited: You can’t smoke it on the street, in your car, at a restaurant, or in a park or campground. The folks in Colorado who drafted the new law are conceding that marijuana use in the privacy of one’s home has been widespread for decades, and is no more harmful than social drinking. But the legislators drew the line at toking in public, and that would seem to indicate some squeamishness on their part about the wisdom of what they have done. It is an acknowledgement that places where lots of people gather to get high are no more appetizing to the average citizen or tourist than a beer-soaked frat party. It’s probably just a little quieter.


In case you’re wondering, yes, I am a child of the ’60s and, yes, I did inhale. Like so many others of my generation, the arrival of children in our lives hastened an end to any kind of drug use—it’s hard to lecture kids on right and wrong if you’re openly flouting the law. As we aged, most of us made the turn to beer, wine and spirits. Many drink in moderation, yet many others do not, and the damage caused by excessive drinking is enormous. So, if we concede that one legal intoxicant, alcohol, has exacted a huge toll on our society, how is that an argument for legalizing yet another intoxicant, which may ultimately cost society in similar ways: work and school absenteeism, addiction, traffic accidents and overall diminished productivity among heavy users? It’s not as if millions of drinkers are suddenly going to switch to pot. What is more likely to happen is that many drinkers will add marijuana to their portfolio of intoxicants, and at least some of them will probably move on to harder drugs as well.

Excessive use of alcohol demonstrably leads to aggressive, often violent behavior; heavy use of marijuana has an overall sedating effect—and if given the choice I’d easily choose the latter. But widespread unfettered use of both of them together lands us in uncharted territory. Reaching for an analogy here, there is a difference between driving at 80 mph on the Interstate because everyone seems to be doing it, and raising the speed limit to 80, which would be an official endorsement of driving that fast. Believe it or not, there are many people who obey the speed limit simply because that’s the law.

Amid the thousands of words written on the early days of the Colorado law were accounts of old-timers (read 50-ish) traveling great distances to be in the state for Day One, all of them humming versions of an “I never thought I’d see the day” refrain. In recent years, I have developed a great fondness for craft beers, marveling at the different flavors and textures of imaginative, creative brews. But if I ever found myself driving eight hours to buy an $8 bottle of Belgian tripel, I would seek immediate help. It would be, well, kind of sad.

Steve Robinson moved to Flagler County after a 30-year career in New York and Atlanta in print, TV and the Web. Reach him by email here.

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36 Responses for “Marijuana Legalization: A Dissent”

  1. Moochee says:

    [Comment Disallowed: offensive.–FL]

  2. Jim R. says:

    Steve
    The evils caused by alcohol prohibition are well documented and the evils of drug prohibition are just as bad. It has given rise to the drug cartels, thousands of murders and filled jails all over the country. The fact that the majority of those incarcerated for non-violent drug possession are black is another evil all by itself.

  3. songbird says:

    Great insight Steve! I’ve been undecided on this issue, so I really appreciate your take on it!

  4. Pete Guither says:

    The non-argument regarding adding one more intoxicant is ludicrous, particularly when you consider how many different intoxicants exist merely within the alcohol variety. Why should we have craft beers if we already have whisky? Do we really need another intoxicant? Why can’t you just enjoy whisky instead? What about rum? We don’t need rum. People can drink vodka.

    In a free society, the default is legal. It is up to you to come up with a good reason to criminalize a substance (which you can’t seem to do, since you’re not interested in locking people like yourself up).

  5. Reaganomicon says:

    “But a funny thing happened to this group of suburban young people. They found that by day two they were more than ready to leave Amsterdam behind. The city of Anne Frank, Van Gogh and canals, they came to realize, has a sort of tacky patina, thanks to the widespread and accepted use of marijuana. ”

    You mean like how many people that visit New Orleans, Key West, or Vegas are ready to go after a day or so? I think the issue here isn’t the “widespread use of marijuana” but the fact that Amsterdam, like many other tourist destinations, attracts people for different reasons and one of those reasons is marijuana. If you spend your time in New Orleans on Bourbon Street and you don’t venture away from it then guess what? You’ll get really tired of that tacky patina. Maybe your friends need to learn to plan their vacations better?

    “Making marijuana available to anyone over the age of 21 seems to me to be a sad statement of societal surrender, rather than an uplifting event.”

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but that’s exactly all this statement is – an opinion. Making X available to X seems really sad, a bloo bloo bloo *wipes tears*. Your parents probably said something similar about rock and roll, and I know I’ve said the same thing about cellphones.

    “But the most telling part of the Colorado law, which gets back to that observation about Amsterdam, is that public consumption of pot is still prohibited: You can’t smoke it on the street, in your car, at a restaurant, or in a park or campground. ”

    In Florida, you can’t drink in your car, you can’t (typically) walk down the road drinking a beer in public, parks and campgrounds generally ban alcohol. It’s also my understanding that you can’t smoke cigarettes in places that serve food.

    And,

    “But if I ever found myself driving eight hours to buy an $8 bottle of Belgian tripel, I would seek immediate help. It would be, well, kind of sad.”

    No, it would be glorious, if you are a real craft beer connoisseur.

  6. Roger says:

    “Serious stoners will find themselves visiting the ATM more than usual as the pot shops are not permitted to accept credit cards.”

    Yeah because my black market drug dealer totally takes AmEx.

  7. Mary Cannady says:

    I am posting this under a pseudonym for obviousl reasons. Excellent article! One point I disagree is that “at least some of them will probably move on to harder drugs as well.” From growing up in the 60’s knowing pot heads and reading research, I would replace probably with “may.” it doesn’t sound so extreme. Based on my experience with this drug I found it to accent the chronic pain rather than alleviate it. But that is just me. if it worked i would be stoned 24/7. I seriously doubt these legit users of the drug will drain their bank accounts. I would have to say that a good percentage of these users have been buying it on the street for years. Unless you are seriously addicted I doubt one would work all week to blow it all on pot. Just my thoughts.

  8. Paul McClancy says:

    Here’s a little info from Russ Belville:

    Prohibitionist: The tax story is equally misleading. Taxes on alcohol come nowhere near paying for what it costs society. These include criminal-justice and health care costs, and the most expensive of all, lost work productivity and absenteeism. Marijuana would be the same: a net drain on society.

    Russ: This is the Sabet Conjecture. Any marijuana taxes would be too little to pay for the increased costs to society, because alcohol costs society more than the taxes it brings in. The Sabet Conjecture conveniently omits two salient points:

    Alcohol is both toxic and addictive and used by far more Americans than marijuana;

    Marijuana is already being used by Americans and we are reaping $0 in tax revenue and spending $13,000,000,000 to prohibit it.

    So if marijuana use stayed steady, we’d have the same costs from marijuana as we do now and we’d bring in some taxes and we’d save a lot of that $13 billion in law enforcement. If marijuana use went up, we’d have even more tax revenue and the costs from just the increase in marijuana use would have to be more than $13 billion for this equation to make sense.

    But a recent Canadian study showed that a pot smoker costs society 1/8th that of an alcohol drinker and 1/40th that of a tobacco smoker. It worked out to $20 per pot smoker per year in costs. Do you really think we can’t raise $20/year in taxes from pot smokers who are accustomed to spending $150 to $600 an ounce for a weed?

    And please, spare me the worry about lost productivity and absenteeism when most companies allow their nicotine addicts many extended breaks per day to go outside and get their fix and every company I know of still gets by on “Hangover Monday”. Some companies even allow their employees to consume alcohol on the lunch hour!

    So, please my dear friends stop using the Sabet Conjecture.

  9. Lefty Wilbury says:

    Today I spoke with a fellow at United For Change, and he informed me
    that in Flagler, petition submissions were lower than anticipated.
    (medical marijuana petition)

    I was called to verify that my petition was genuine.

    • barbie says:

      Oh, there’s a lot of that going on. Those who benefit from the continued prohibition of a plant are making it as difficult as possible to use the system we have to submit signatures on a petition for a given cause to be put on the voting ballot. You’ll probably get additional calls, if you haven’t already.

  10. Yellowstone says:

    “What is more likely to happen is that many drinkers will add marijuana to their portfolio of intoxicants, and at least some of them will probably move on to harder drugs as well.”

    Well, uh-h . . . sorta like those booze-heads that went on to pot – then higher quality drugs like oxy, ecstacy, breathing paint fumes, then leaping off tall buildings!

    Time to grow up and get real – stupid people are always going to do stupid things. Just learn to get out of their way to self-destruction.

  11. didijustreadthat? says:

    [Comment Disallowed. Please make your point without being personally offensive.–FL]

  12. rickg says:

    Legalization of Marijuana will set us on a continuum of less crime, less incarcerations, less stress for all of us. Pot is much less a problem than alcohol and should be legal world wide.

  13. Shmuelman says:

    Your article was seriously misinformed on many points that make me think that you did not do any research when you wrote this. I will address a few here.

    Amsterdam is tacky? From the use of marijuana? I assume that you have some specific examples that you will publish in a follow up opinion piece. Holland has MUCH LOWER marijuana use rates than the United States. They are wealthier per capita than the US. The Dutch are taller than Americans and healthier than Americans and live longer than Americans. I wonder how that factors into the “tackiness” of Amsterdam.
    You are projecting, without an iota of evidence, what marijuana use is like by comparing it with alcohol intoxication. Marijuana is use is vastly different in its long and short term effects. Marijuana is about as non-toxic an item as you can ingest. It leaves no hangover. You cannot overdose and die from it like you can from alcohol. It has a fraction of the effect on drivers, It has none of the addiction characteristics of alcohol, which requires rigorous medical supervision to detoxify (you can die from “cold turkey” alcohol withdrawal.) The lack of research was forced by the DEA ban, who said, ipso facto, that cannabis had no medical value and posed significant health risks. However, there are more and more serious studies and 100,000’s and maybe millions of people say that they get more relief from cannabis than from prescription drugs. And to say that marijuana is more problematic in the long run for pain management than oxycontin and other powerful, addictive opioids (think Rush Limbaugh going out to “score”) is just absurd.
    Your comment “the legislators drew the line at toking in public” is absolutely wrong. The legislators did not make up the cannabis laws in Colorado or Washington. That was part of the Colorado Constitutional Amendment approved by voters. If it was left up to legislators, it would still be illegal, and in Denver, the city council and mayor tried to recriminalize public use, until they were reminded that it was marijuana, whether they like it or not, is now legal by the overwhelming decision by the electorate.

    Nothing is free. Anything and everything can be abused. It is not up to the government to endorse or stigmatize my own personal choices, or like the status quo pundits say “sending the wrong message.” The wrong message is the enforcement of drug laws at the end of a gun, millions of arrests, millions of years spent in prison, and 100’s of billions of dollars to control personal choices. Conservatives freak out when Bloomberg banned soft drinks, or a politician wants to ban assault rifles. Everyone has a right to own a gun, and in lots of places, take it to the mall. But marijuana? Not so much, I mean, after all, can’t you already have a beer?

  14. [Inappropriate handle] says:

    [Comment disallowed: your points are all valid. Too bad you had to lace them in a gratuitously offensive handle. Try again.–FL]

  15. chris says:

    alcohol and cannabis couldnt be any different ……the effects couldnt be any different alcohol is about 100Xs worse…there is no such thing as a sick call from smoking to much weed the night before…..cannabis & driving is the equivalent of a .05 BAC completely legal but increases your chance of a car accident X2……..Caffeine is more addictive and dangerous to one’s health than cannabis could ever been……..the assertion that people will be stumbling into rehabs is laughable and am calling BS on your 3rd hand account of amsterdam its the cleanest most beautiful city in europe…….

    • RHWeir says:

      I don’t now about only the equivalent of .05 BAC. Driving while stoned could be and is very dangerous. It messes with your depth perception something fierce. Also, judgement is way impaired. No one should ever drive after using any cannabis. Otherwise, could you hand me a grape Nehi and pass the circus peanuts. Getting hungry over here.

      • barbie says:

        Pot affects different people different ways. Some people have no problem with their “depth perception” after smoking it, to give one example. Sounds simply as if it didn’t agree with *you*, personally :(

  16. RHWeir says:

    Just legalize weed, it simplifies so much. No you cannot operate a vehicle if you have smoked or ingested marijuana, no minors cannot buy or use weed and yes it must be taxed and no more bootlegging. Use the same ground rules and penalties as alcohol which is a much more toxic and dangerous substance. Potheads are normally stationary objects while drunks are mobile and much more aggressive. Chronic use of marijuana does cause among other things, depression so use the same or similar warnings as are used on beer bottles now. No open consumption if not allowed on premises or in the area, light up and enjoy! Cough, cough, ho, ho!

  17. karma says:

    The school kids in Colorado eat carrots and apples for lunch while Mom and Dad sit home getting high eating bon-bons and chips. Only in America.

  18. Lefty Wilbury says:

    Steve Robinson is a polarizing figure – he has some strong opinions, and it makes for interesting writing.
    I usually disagree with him though.

  19. Observer says:

    I have never heard or read of someone beating up thier spouse while under the influnce of marijuana……it’s always alcohol…always…..yet this society finds it ok to legalize that crap…..

  20. wm97 says:

    “So, if we concede that one legal intoxicant, alcohol, has exacted a huge toll on our society, how is that an argument for legalizing yet another intoxicant, ”

    The author missed the real point. Alcohol is not legal because it is good for anyone, or good for society. Alcohol is legal for one reason, and one reason only. That is because — as bad as alcohol is — prohibition only made things worse. Among other problems, it triggered the biggest wave of public corruption the US has ever seen. Corrupt cops were being sent to prison literally by the trainload. Al Capone owned an entire town and had the local police escorting his shipments. It also triggered the biggest teen drinking epidemic the US has ever seen. Early supporters of prohibition turned against it because prohibition made it easier than ever for their kids to get drugs. Teenage girls started frequenting bars for the first time. And so forth.

    The message here is about PROHIBITION. Prohibition only makes matters worse. That is the problem.

  21. wm97 says:

    “The city of Anne Frank, Van Gogh and canals, they came to realize, has a sort of tacky patina, thanks to the widespread and accepted use of marijuana. ”

    I have been there myself. First of all, there aren’t a lot of these shops, per capita and they aren’t particularly obvious. There are no crowds of homeless marijuana addicts waiting to get into them. Furthermore, at no time during my visit did I observe anyone smoking mj on the streets of Amsterdam. Outside of the coffee shops – which were clean, orderly, and quiet — not much different from a Starbucks in the US — I never saw any marijuana, or use of marijuana at all.

  22. wm97 says:

    “But widespread unfettered use of both of them together lands us in uncharted territory.”

    Yeah, because we have had tens of millions of people smoking tens of thousands of tons of the stuff in the US for the last fifty years so we really don’t have enough information about all the major calamities that might be coming down the line if tens of millions of people smoked this stuff.

    I am sure the sky is falling for some reason. We just have to figure out what it is. Make up as many lame ideas as you can imagine.

  23. Brian Kelly says:

    In the prohibitionist’s world, anybody who consumes the slightest amount of marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own homes are stoners and dopers that need to be incarcerated to protect society.

    In their world, any marijuana use equates to marijuana abuse, and it is their god given duty to worry about saving us all from the evils of marijuana use.

    Who are they to tell us we can’t choose marijuana, the safer choice instead of a glass of wine for relaxation, after a long, hard day, in the privacy of our own homes?

    People who use marijuana are smart, honest, hard working, educated, and successful people too, who “follow the law” also.(except for their marijuana consumption under it’s current prohibition of course) .

    Not the stereotypical live at home losers prohibitionists make us out to be. We are doctors, lawyers, professors, movie stars, and politicians too.

    Several Presidents of The United States themselves and Justin Trudeau have confessed to their marijuana use , as have a long and extensive list of successful people throughout history at one point or other in their lives.

    Although, that doesn’t mean a dam thing to people who will make comments like “dopers” and “stoners” about anybody who uses the slightest amount of Marijuana although it is way safer than alcohol.

    To these people any use equals abuse, and that is really ignorant and full of hypocrisy. While our society promotes, glorifies, and advertises alcohol consumption like it’s an All American pastime.

    There is nothing worse about relaxing with a little marijuana after a long hard day, than having a glass a wine.

    So come off those high horses of yours. Who are you to dictate to the rest of society that we can’t enjoy Marijuana, the safer choice over alcohol, in the privacy of our own homes?

    We’ve worked real hard our whole lives to provide for our loved ones. We don’t appreciate prohibitionists trying to impose their will and morals upon us all.

    Has a marijuana user ever tried to force you to use it? Probably not. So nobody has the right to force us not to either.

    Don’t try to impose your morality and “clean living” upon all of us with Draconian Marijuana Laws, and we won’t think your such prohibitionist hypocrites.

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

  24. Florida Native. says:

    I used to be against this but not anymore. Alcohol is much worse. Legalization would empty the prisons,put the Mexican drug cartels out of business and provide for a substantial base for tax revenue. The only reason liquor was ever legalized to begin with is that this county was in such pitiful shape(as it is today) was to so it could be taxed and finally bring the country back into the black and it worked. If they want to outlaw anything then outlaw cigarettes and red light cameras.

    • wm97 says:

      “The only reason liquor was ever legalized to begin with is that this county was in such pitiful shape”

      Actually, alcohol was legal in the US until 1920. It was outlawed because it was a serious problem — as opposed to the other drugs, which were not perceived to be a serious problem. Because of the publicity campaigns against alcohol, alcohol-related problems fell steadily from their pre-prohibition peak in 1911 to 1922. After 1922, alcohol-related problems rose steadily. By 1925, alcohol-related problems were already 30 percent above the pre-prohibition records.

      In addition, alcohol prohibition caused huge public corruption. Corrupt cops were sent to prison literally by the trainload. Al Capone owned an entire city and had cops escorting his shipments. In addition, it caused the biggest homicide wave the US has ever seen. In addition, it triggered the biggest teen drinking epidemic the US has ever seen. Early supporters turned against it because prohibition made it easier than ever for their kids to get booze. Prohibition was passed with a campaign of “Save the Children from Alcohol.” It was repealed with a campaign of “Save the Children from Prohibition.”

      Alcohol is legal for one reason only — because prohibition is such a huge disaster.

  25. m&m says:

    The photo and the let it grow can mean a lot of different things..

  26. didijustreadthat? says:

    [Comment disallowed–again. Offensive, inaccurate and infantile. Please keep in mind: this is not a First Amendment zone. Read our Comment Policy. Thanks.–FL]

  27. Steve says:

    Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond on this issue, which is clearly of considerable importance to a lot of people.
    As far as the comment by Shmuelman, the core of the legalization process was indeed a voter-approved amendment to the Colorado constitution; but the specific statute signed into law by Gov. Hickenlooper, which became Article XVIII, Section 16 of the state’s constitution, was the result of recommendations by a 24-member task force comprised of legislators, law enforcement officials, consumers, growers and others. For those who are interested, the law in its entirety can be found here: http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/Colorado/ and here: http://www.regulatemarijuana.org/s/regulate-marijuana-alcohol-act-2012
    As for Amsterdam, it was not my intention to besmirch an entire city, especially one with so rich a history. The observation made by my acquaintance referred to the area of the city where marijuana use is widely tolerated. The young tourists found the whole scene to be rather dreary. In fact, the Netherlands has tightened some of its pot laws precisely because of the downside Amsterdam has experienced in being a magnet for marijuana tourists. Colorado, with its large tourist industry, will undoubtedly be watching carefully to see how many people choose Colorado as a destination simply because of its new laws.
    Finally, with reference to the debate on medical marijuana, I am in favor of any drug that alleviates suffering, and doctors should be free to prescribe marijuana when it is truly efficacious.
    Thanks again to all for participating in the debate!

  28. Bunnell Resident says:

    Legalization would not be a sad state of social surrender, rather a recognition that free people in a free society should be free to do whatever they choose. Crimes should be focused on what harm a person does to others. Drug use is a social issue and should not be a criminal issue. Our government methodically shreds our freedoms. Better to swing the pendulum the other way and that way is personal liberty.

  29. Clifford Schaffer says:

    Marijuana was outlawed for two major reasons. The first was because “All Mexicans are crazy and marijuana is what makes them crazy.” The second was the fear that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana – exactly the opposite of the modern “gateway” nonsense.

    Only one MD testified at the hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. The representative of the American Medical Association said there was no evidence that marijuana was a dangerous drug and no reason for the law. He pointed out that it was used in hundreds of common medicines at the time, with no significant problems. In response, the committee told him that, if he wasn’t going to cooperate, he should shut up and leave.

    The only other “expert” to testify was James C. Munch, a pharmacologist. His sole claim to fame was that he had injected marijuana directly into the brains of 300 dogs and two of them died. When they asked him what he concluded from this, he said he didn’t know what to conclude because he wasn’t a dog psychologist. Mr. Munch also testified in court, under oath, that marijuana could make your fangs grow six inches long and drip with blood. He also said that, when he tried it, it turned him into a bat. He then described how he flew around the room for two hours.

    Mr. Munch was the only “expert” in the US who thought marijuana should be illegal, so they appointed him US Official Expert on marijuana, where he served and guided policy for 25 years.

    If you read the transcripts of the hearings, one question is asked more than any other: “What is this stuff?” It is quite apparent that Congress didn’t even know what they were voting on. The law was shoved through by a small group of lunatics with no real awareness by anyone else of what was happening.

    See http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm for an entertaining short history of the marijuana laws.
    See http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/taxact.htm for the complete transcripts of the hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.

  30. Clifford Schaffer says:

    The question of what to do about drugs is not a new one. Over the last 100 years there have been numerous major government commissions around the world that have studied the drug laws and made recommendations for changes. You can find the full text of all of them at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer under Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy.

    They all reached remarkably similar conclusions, no matter who did them, or where, or when, or why. They all agreed that the current laws were based on ignorance and nonsense, and that the current policy does more harm than good, no matter what you assume about the dangers of drugs. You don’t have to take my word for that. Read them yourself.

    If you are new to the collection, start with Licit and Illicit Drugs at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/cu/cumenu.htm That is the best overall review of the drug problem ever written. If you only read one book on the subject, make it that one. It will give you a good summary of what you would learn if you read all the other major reports.

    In 1973, President Nixon’s US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse completed the largest study of the drug laws ever done. At the end of their study, they said the real drug problem was not marijuana, or heroin, or cocaine. The real drug problem, they said, was the ignorance of our public officials who keep spouting off with solutions but have never read the most basic research on the subject.

    In a perfect illustration of their point, Nixon refused to read his own commission’s report. The full text can be found at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/nc/ncmenu.htm

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