The debate over legalization of cannabis

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by bostjan, Mar 1, 2017.

  1. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Spill over from multiple threads on the P&CE forum:

    Keep this debate clean or mods will shut this down.

    The topic is, basically pro's and con's for legalization of cannabis. Related topics include health risks, the potential for addiction, driving under the influence, regulations, etc.

    To start off: Bostjan is pro-legalization. My stance here is that the government has a terrible track record accurately determining anything to do with the above. What people do at home is their personal business.

    On the other hand, I believe that use in public is another matter, and DUI is a concern. The government owns the roadways, so their jurisdiction extends over keeping those safe.

    The latest spill-over from the Trump thread was the debate of whether pot is addictive or not. My stance is in line with scientific data that suggest that pot is addictive, but far less addictive than other substances often used for recreational highs.

    To expand into another topic- medicinal use. My stance is that pot seems to show promise as a remedy for several neurological diseases, but that there could be a lot more data on this to make a properly informed decision.

    Ok. Go.
     
  2. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I've taken the possibly-unusual stance that I'm hesitant, but generally on the pro- side of legalization for any number of reasons. But- at the same time I'm against the idea of regular use, in the same way that I don't think people should drink every day.

    I made a comment a couple of times on this forum that I feel like people don't have the same sort of respect for weed that they have for alcohol. Obviously it doesn't apply to everyone, and I'm not going to deny the ability for people to be perfectly functional and regular users at the same time, but a lot of the regular users I've encountered were a lot more willing to deny the effects it had on them than most alcoholics I've encountered who were often well aware of what they were doing (even high-functioning alcoholics). That's all just anecdotal of course, and could be pretty far off from reality maybe, but it's how I see it.
     
  3. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I've had the same experience. I think that a great deal of my experience with pot users is specific to the cultures I've been around. Spending most of my life in Michigan and Vermont, two places with some cultural similarities - anecdotally:

    I've worked with many many people who had no qualms with getting high and then coming to work a shift. Some of these folks were reckless individuals. That led me to associate pot use with people who are generally irresponsible. Upon deeper afterthought, I think it might have been much more the other way around - I worked with some irresponsible people whose lifestyle reflected their habits, and the conclusion of causalities may have been false.

    The people with whom I currently work are quite conservative, although my contacts through the music scene here are the polar opposite of that. I've noticed that both sides of the political fence here are pretty comfortable with pot and with alcohol.

    I was once a pretty heavy drinker. In fact, that could be the understatement of the new millennium. But I went completely dry for about nine years, and I'm at the point now where I am comfortable enjoying 1-2 beers in a social situation for toasting. I've never smoked cigarettes. I watched people on my father's side of the family smoke their lungs out.

    I think it's better not to have any vices than to have vices, and I think that people with addictive personalities are more prone to fall into vices, and have a more difficult time getting away from them. But I also think some vices are more dangerous than others. Honestly, I think pot could ruin a person's life if it were abused to that level, but I also think that on the list of things that ruin people's lives, pot is extremely low on the list - lower than cigarettes, lower than hard booze, lower than "hard drugs," and lower than gambling.

    I also think that there is a ton of misinformation on both sides of the debate. Probably a lot of it is true on the fringes, but taken to extreme. Probably smoking way too much pot will give you cancer, but I highly doubt one dose would have any statistically significant impact. I believe that smoking way too much pot can make a person develop schizophrenia, but again, I don't think there is really much danger of this from moderate intake. On the other hand, I don't think that pot makes people any better at pondering philosophical issues or makes anyone more artistic. I think that's just a perception based upon the slightly altered reality users experience and the boost in confidence precipitated out of that.

    Ultimately, I think relaxed regulations will win out in the USA. I don't think Trump's time as president will see fast progress toward that end, though.
     
  4. JSanta

    JSanta SS.org Regular

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    I'm pro-legalization, but there has to be a quick mechanism to tell if someone is under the influence, i.e. a breathalyzer test for alcohol.
     
  5. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    One of the state legislators here suggested a sobriety test with electronic accelerometers. I do not think that will gain traction. We had discussed in another thread how the influence of THC is more aimed at higher functions than motor coordination.
     
  6. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    I tend to agree with Bostjan on this, and my experiences, though anecdotal, mirror his.

    I tend to favor legalization, even though I don't personally partake. It makes sense for economic reasons, for law enforcement reasons, for reducing crime, for increasing tax revenues, etc. It just needs to be regulated similarly to alcohol (age restrictions, usage restrictions (e.g., driving) and so forth).

    I know two people that smoked who went on to be successful in life; one became a medical doctor and the other a programmer for Microsoft. Everyone else I personally have know that smoked regularly has had limited success in life at best, though like in the OP, I'm not sure that that's because they smoked. It could well be that they would never have been successful anyway due to their personality, work ethic, irresponsibility or whatever and the weed is coincidental.

    Interestingly, I live in Texas, one of the most conservative states, if not THE most conservative state, in the US. We have always prosecuted marijuana offenses as felonies (outside Austin). But I heard on the news this morning that the Harris County District Attorney (think Houston, the third most populous city in the US) will no longer prosecute marijuana offenses if they are a first time offense. The new approach will be to require first time offenders to take a $150 class on decision making and keep a clean record. People who fail to take the class in the allotted time period, or people with multiple offenses, will still be prosecuted.

    Its not legalization, but its a huge step for such a conservative state. And if this can happen here, I suspect that legalization is around the corner nationwide (including the federal government) within the next decade or so.

    The times, they are a changin'.
     
  7. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    (I know it's technically against the rules of this forum to discuss it ((I was even previously banned once)) but I don't see how we can have this topic without bringing up personal use, so please don't ban me, just delete this comment if you feel it is an infraction, but I'd like for it to not be considered an infraction)

    It's very difficult for me to see marijuana as dangerous. I first used it when I was 13. I never got in [exceptional] trouble at school, I graduated with honors, I got a scholarship to go to the university that I wanted to go to. I continued to use it in university, continued doing well in school, I got a scholarship to go live abroad for a year all expenses paid (it ended up being more like half-expenses but I digress). Uh-oh, there's no pot in Japan. After years of daily use, I'm gonna go off it. Will I get cranky? Will I get restless? Will I spend all my time missing it and thinking about it? Turns out, no. None of that stuff. Not even a little.

    My parents both smoke it. I didn't know about that and never smoked with them until I was 20. We had a nuclear family. Dad works, stay at home Mom who's involved in everything (PTA, soccer coach, you name it), me and my sister. I don't consider myself that smart despite doing well in school (which you do not need to be smart in order to do imo), but my sister is really smart. Like, valedictorian in high school and got her masters in Engineering in a year. So obviously my parents' habits didn't make us dumb or cause us to have a bad life growing up. They had/have a good relationship with each other, we all went on family vacations every year, we were a regular TV sitcom family.

    We can talk about how much it affects your ability to drive, but I literally do it almost every day. My friends and family do it, too. Of the people I'm imagining specifically, I can't think of a time that any of them has gotten into so much as a fender bender, myself included. I am not advocating that someone else should drive while impaired. Maybe me and my kin all just genetically special.

    I understand this is all anecdotal, and not even remotely scientific. I'm just explaining why for me personally it's more difficult to see marijuana as any kind of threat. In my own life, it has not negatively impacted in any way:
    my schooling
    childhood
    relationship with my family and friends
    work performance or ability to get a job
    health
    love life
    my finances

    Yeah, I'm not a perfect person. And who knows, something bad might happen to me, yet. But as far as I'm concerned, my life is and has been dope, and way better than a lot of other [non-pot] people's lives, so how could it be that marijuana use is considered even remotely problematic?

    Have I seen other potheads screw up their lives? You bet. But I simply don't believe that the fundamental cause is related to marijuana use. In a hypothetical reality where pot didn't exist, they would have still screwed themselves. At least, maybe you could understand why I myself might hypothesize in such a way?

    Needless to say, I look forward to the day that I can buy it at Walgreens. Honestly one of the woes in my otherwise stellar life is that my dealer lives in a bad neighborhood and I don't like going there. It's like they took potholes from all the other roads and built them together into a pothole road. No pun intended.
     
  8. CapnForsaggio

    CapnForsaggio Cap'n (general)

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    Nowhere in there do you say anything like:

    'MJ has imporved my life, or increased my potential.'
    In many lines, you seem to be describing your "normalcy" IN SPITE of MJ.

    As a libertarian, I say 'do as thou will...' but I think you are using a standard addict's mindset:

    'See, it doesn't ruin my life! (yet)'
     
  9. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I'm all for a plan that keeps prisons reserved for violent people, and non-violent drug offenders are pretty far from my idea of what a felon should look like. If you can follow me through time, there were not always prisons. People used to be punished publicly. If you messed up in life a little, you'd get thrown in the pillory for target practice from passers-by with past-its-prime produce. If you messed up really baldy, you'd be killed in nasty ways, we don't need to go into detail. Early prisons were for folks who fell somewhere in between, and it was not a very common practice - but the conditions were pretty dire. Modern prison was a up-dated idea for the 18th century, where folks could be separated from society without being put to death or publicly shamed - just to get them away from where they were dangerous.

    But this, for me, all comes back to the purpose of government and the role of penalty in modern society. The purpose of government is to protect its citizens, their lives, their property, and their liberties. The role of penalty in modern society is to correct harmful behaviour.

    If a citizen transgresses the law, there must be retribution or else there is no point in enforcing the law, and further, no point in writing the law in the first place. For property crimes, the penalty could be to repay the cost of the property against which the crime was perpetrated. For violent crime, the perpetrator must either be made non-violent somehow, or segregated from the innocent to prevent further violence against them. For all other crimes, it makes no real hard sense at all to impose more than a fine.

    So, in that sense, I would move to release all non-violent drug offenders from prison, and have them sort out their own personal matters. If they committed a property crime, related to drugs or not, then they should pay, financially, their victims, plus a fine. Obviously, these folks will be unable to pay anything to anyone if they are incarcerated. If they are fully dependent upon their drug addiction, they'll also be unable to pay, but this would at least give them a chance to do so and be consistent with the general philosophy of the role of the penal system within the larger general role of the government.

    I think I read something like one in for Americans uses pot (or maybe used, past tense), but it's certainly a very common substance. It is never surprising when pot users succeed in life or fail in life, seeing as how they are a pretty spread out cross section of demographics. I've known people who used harder drugs than that and been quite financially successful in their careers and their personal lives. I don't know how much this argument means, though, since there have been serial killers who made six figure salaries...

    Arguing for legalization from the ground up, to me, is a strong approach. I think anyone responding that the argument is fallible because his personal beliefs are contrary is simply in a weak rhetorical position.

    There are plenty of other perspectives out there, though.

    From a high level, with plenty of empirical appeal, there are plenty of people who went to jail for pot-related crime in the 1980's and 1990's and into the 2000's, and I think it is safe to say that a) locking those folks up marginally, at most, affected the safety of the streets, and b) the prison system was becoming increasingly overcrowded, and the prosecution of pot users was a contributing factor.
     
  10. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    What do you do for recreation that increases your potential?

    I watched movies, I played guitar, I played some video games, I lifted some weights, I went running, I crocheted a scarf, I painted a mountain, I drank some booze, I played with the dog, I ate at a new restaurant, I read Jurassic Park, I went to the beach, I argued with people online, etc.

    None of these things increases your potential.
     
  11. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    People's tolerances and reactions very wildly though. I don't smoke anything 99% of the time (cigarettes included), so the tiniest bit of weed hits me like a ton of bricks. I'd 100% be a danger to myself and anyone around me in that state, and it usually lasts until the next day. I still feel uncomfortable the next day driving to work even- feels like I shouldn't be doing it. But I can, and lots of other people do, drive after having a beer or two- and that doesn't make it ok to drink and drive.

    Another thing that doesn't come up very often is that I have my doubts that anyone really knows what they're smoking and where it came from. Everyone just gets their recreational drugs from "some guy who got it from some other guy", and then spend all day arguing about whose is better or stronger. Who knows what's in that stuff. I certainly have no idea. I think it would be naive to just expect that people involved in drug traffic aren't going to cut corners or put who-knows-what in their product to either save money or keep people coming back to them. Everyone I know who smokes, their stuff has a different smell and a different effect, which is a lot of why I distrust it. I at least know what alcohol does and because it comes through proper channels, I can know roughly where it comes from, and there's some accountability.
     
  12. bigfau91

    bigfau91 SS.org Regular

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    Having lived extensively in Amsterdam/U.S. its clear that jailing people for pot use causes more problems than potential harm from abusing it. Potential tax revenue alone and new evidence from states where its legal should be enough at this point to convince most skeptics. It really is a surprise that this is still such a big deal, once it is legal people really just stop obsessing over the negative subculture surrounding it and you have to learn to use it responsibly. Its only a matter of time before full legalization occurs throughout the states.
     
  13. CapnForsaggio

    CapnForsaggio Cap'n (general)

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    I think many of those things do increase your human potential... culturally, physically, mentally.

    But hey, I'm not trying to convince anyone to self-improve. /s

    My state (OR) has one of the lowest graduation and literacy rates in the country.

    My country's voters just elected a narcissist weirdo.

    Why would we want to self improve?
     
  14. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I think we all have habits. Habits could be playing with your dog, playing video games, brushing your teeth, eating a salad before dinner, washing your hands three times after touching a doorknob, or smoking...

    Some habits are vices. Some habits are healthy. Some habits are just empty habits. Which classify as which, often times, is subjective.

    Where we run into trouble is when someone sees a habit and calls it a vice and offends the person performing the habit. So, we can rely on our observations to determine if a habit is healthy or unhealthy or neither.

    Pot smoking is not a healthy habit for the vast majority of people. I have concluded, from the polarization of the articles out there, that neither healthy nor unhealthy is probably not the correct of the three options. So that leads me to believe that pot smoking is unhealthy for most people, and potentially healthy for others (people with epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, and so forth). It has been shown to lead to schizophrenia when abused, etc.

    Well, the same could be said about eating sugar. You don't need to eat refined sugar in your food, and, even if a little bit is harmless, a whole lot is very unhealthy. I don't disagree with that logic.

    But I think the risks of pot are more serious than the risks of refined sugar. Certainly less, though than the risks of taking strong opioids or insuflation of refined stimulants. But...I also believe that these things could, for the sake of argument, have appropriate medicinal uses. Someone in chronic pain with an incurable disease? Give them opium. Why not? Maybe they'll become addicted, though, but what does it really matter? And I don't think people abuse a substance simply because it is there. There are tons of OTC medicines that could be abused, and sometimes they are...but usually not.
     
  15. CapnForsaggio

    CapnForsaggio Cap'n (general)

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  16. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    Usually that sort of stuff doesn't factor into the conversation of whether or not something ought to be legal. I feel like in the discussion of whether or not something should be legal, people tend to focus on the potentially negative aspects.

    But yes, I do feel that it both improves my life and increases my potential sometimes.
     
  17. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I think this is a very rational argument. Legalizing it gives it potential for taxation, regulation, etc. etc.

    Criminalizing it just makes more criminals.

    Look at prohibition in the USA. The temperance movement people had their way, and we tried it, and, well, it didn't work. In fact, it was a borderline disaster.

    Too much salt is bad for you. I happen to love salt. It doesn't affect my blood pressure. It's something genetic, since everyone in my family is the same way. But, hey, salt is bad. Should we criminalize salt, because we know it can kill you? It's an absurd argument, right? Well, it is to me, because it's really not the government's business to tell me what to eat or not to eat. I have family and friends for that. :)

    I think we all have at least one unhealthy habit. I could be wrong, since that statement is really an blanket conjeture, but who doesn't do something that they probably shouldn't do? If we criminalized everything that was bad for us, I believe we would be a country of only criminals. On the other hand, if we focused on prosecuting crimes that have actual victims, like assault, buglary, robbery, murder, rape, etc., and not victimless crimes like drugs, peeing on a bush, consentual buggery, etc., then I really think this country would be at least marginally safer.
     
  18. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    I wonder how a diabetic might respond to that.
     
  19. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Yeah, I live in one of those places. It's not criminalized, though. For me, at least, that's a pretty bold line to cross between a two cent sugary soda tax and having to go to court to defend myself against felony charges for getting pulled over with an empty soda can rolling around under the seat that a police dog sniffed out. :lol:

    But you raise a very good point. We are living in a strange time. Tobacco is all but criminalized at this point. Pot is just on the flip side of that line, I think. If we get to a point where it's criminal to smoke a cigarette and perfectly legal to light up a fatty in front of the day care building, then we might have taken things too far. :lol:

    I think society has taboos for things, and those should be respected to some extent. But the law should only exist to the end of protecting our people from harm, protecting our property, and protecting our liberties. Pot, honestly doesn't really play a part in that one way or the other, to me.
     
  20. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Or a severe asthmatic to smoke? :eek:
     

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