September 26, 2016

"Weed marketers have managed to corrupt the language and sell this as 'recreational' use, as if getting high was akin to hiking, tennis or soccer."

"You sip booze, you’re a social drinker or — if a gulper — a drunk. Puff on cigarettes, you’re a smoker. You’re never a recreationist."

Writes George Skelton in an L.A. Times piece with the headline "The problems with rushing to legalize marijuana for stoner use in California." He's trying to shape opinion against Proposition 64, which would "legalize marijuana use for anyone 21 and older." Skelton is being pedantic about language, but he doesn't notice the problem with saying "legalize" when marijuana trade and possession remain a crime under federal law.

Skelton thinks the word "stoner" should be used to refer to all marijuana use that is not "medical." He seems to think that "stoner" corresponds to drinker (for alcohol) and smoker (for tobacco smoking) and that "recreational" is an inappropriate euphemism. But "recreational" was only needed to distinguish "medical," and "medical marijuana" is the real scam — politically useful to get nice people to go along with halfway legalization and politically perverse in that it invites people who halfway care about law to cheat their way into access. Only the completely honest sticklers for truth and law are left on the outside.

Skelton wants the more negative word — "stoner" — but I think that "recreational" is too negative. It suggests that an individual's use of a mind-altering drug is — if not to treat a physiological ailment — just for fun. But drugs like marijuana can be used — non-medically — to heighten aesthetic awareness (to appreciate music and art), to open up a religious experience, to improve sexual relationships, and to alter routine thinking patterns — perhaps enhancing one's ability to see the repression inherent in laws that bar us from choosing what we do with our minds and bodies.

You need some human flesh on those bones, Skelton.

AND: If you didn't laugh at that last line, maybe you would if you had used some marijuana.

47 comments:

Freeman Hunt said...

"to heighten aesthetic awareness"

Isn't that usually something associated more with LSD than pot?

damikesc said...

It suggests that an individual's use of a mind-altering drug is — if not to treat a physiological ailment — just for fun.

Professor, it is just for fun. I've used it and have known plenty of others who did. Anybody who claims "I did it to expand my mind" is, to be generous, full of shit.

YoungHegelian said...

But drugs like marijuana can be used — non-medically — to heighten aesthetic awareness (to appreciate music and art), to open up a religious experience, to improve sexual relationships, and to alter routine thinking patterns

Or, when you have a bag of cookies that's going a little stale & they really need to all get eaten in a hurry.

Ann Althouse said...

"Professor, it is just for fun."

Click on the links I've provided and get back to me.

By the way, do you think sex is just for fun? Is music just for fun? Is a mystical religious experience just for fun?

If your definition of "fun" is really broad, then fine, but that's not where Skelton was taking it. He was diminishing the most rewarding things people do in life. It doesn't matter to my argument whether marijuana actually works in pursuit of these purposes. The question is what are people choosing to do with their own bodies and should the government use the power of criminal prosecution to try to stop them.

People use alcohol to enhance listening to music and having sex, but scientific evidence might very well show that these things are better without it. As for religion, alcohol is right there in the center of the most sacred Christian ritual. Does it really help? The question is offensive. It doesn't matter. Free people choose to do their religion that way and the government had damned well better stay out of it.

robother said...

Jeez, Ann, I was walking down your well-argued path, until you blew it with the last line. A drug that makes you laugh hysterically at a lame pun cannot be said to "heighten aesthetic awareness." Just the opposite.

Bob Boyd said...

How will stoners separate fact from fiction at the head shops?

damikesc said...

By the way, do you think sex is just for fun?

No. But if you're fucking a bunch of random people, it's not a vision quest of self-discovery. If you're fucking your spouse to get pregnant, then it can actually be unpleasant on occasion.

Is music just for fun?

Unless you're being paid to perform --- that is all art is there for. Fun.

Is a mystical religious experience just for fun?

Given that they tend to fall far on the utter bullshit side of the scale, yes. They are only for fun.

If your definition of "fun" is really broad, then fine, but that's not where Skelton was taking it. He was diminishing the most rewarding things people do in life. It doesn't matter to my argument whether marijuana actually works in pursuit of these purposes. The question is what are people choosing to do with their own bodies and should the government use the power of criminal prosecution to try to stop them.

But you're saying he is wrong when, clearly, he is not. It is simply for personal enjoyment. Make the argument honestly and do not claim "Well, I'm doing it for these really, really deep reasons". It's justification for a habit, not reality. Some people smoke "because they like the flavor". I don't get it, but to claim that they don't smoke for fun is ridiculous, no matter what their justification for it may be.

I don't get why people cannot be honest and just make an argument that it shouldn't be anybody's business instead of resorting to "I'm trying to expand my mind".

People use alcohol to enhance listening to music and having sex, but scientific evidence might very well show that these things are better without it.?

You seem to mistaking justifications for reality. People can justify a wealth of abhorrent actions. I'm into honesty, not people deluding themselves.

As for religion, alcohol is right there in the center of the most sacred Christian ritual. Does it really help?

At the time most religions were founded, water wasn't terribly safe. Wine was safer. I've not been to a church --- and I've been to plenty --- that still use wine with communion. All that I have attended use grape juice as the symbolic replacement for the blood of Jesus. And I've been to Catholic Mass, Methodist churches, Presbyterian churches, Southern Baptist, and even one of those new age "Christianty Lite"-style churches and none used wine.

The question is offensive. It doesn't matter. Free people choose to do their religion that way and the government had damned well better stay out of it.

But opposition to a dumb question shouldn't be based on self-justification that is simply wrong. If somebody argued "Well, it's fun and should be none of your concern", then I'd respect that. I am in support of pot legalization, in spite of the reality that it will generate more obnoxious potheads.

But when somebody claims more than "it's fun", then it is bullshit 99% of the time. Most medical claims are ALSO total bullshit.

Chuck said...

But "recreational" was only needed to distinguish "medical," and "medical marijuana" is the real scam — politically useful to get nice people to go along with halfway legalization and politically perverse in that it invites people who halfway care about law to cheat their way into access. Only the completely honest sticklers for truth and law are left on the outside.


Reason #1,971 why I adore the Althouse blog.

Ann Althouse said...

@damikesc

Think about freedom.

Think about the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.

Is that all lightweight nonsense to you?

What is life for, in your opinion? You dismissed everything that might make life worth living. You scoffed at enjoyment.

Ann Althouse said...

My concern with marijuana is that, I think, the main effect is apathy. But that's my personal opinion, and I'm open to the possibility that apathy is a valid response to life and a state of being that people can embrace and promote.

I can see why the group as a whole doesn't want the able-bodied population to become apathetic. We need that work ethic going to serve us and bring us things.

damikesc said...

Think about freedom.

Think about the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.

Is that all lightweight nonsense to you?

What is life for, in your opinion? You dismissed everything that might make life worth living. You scoffed at enjoyment.


Hardly. I scoff at people who proclaim a bullshit higher reason for their habits. If you want to smoke pot, don't assume I'm dumb enough to buy "I want to expand my mind" or other such trite nonsense.

I do not care if somebody smokes pot. If they want to act like I'm as dumb as they are, then I'll be irritated.

Let's put it on the line.
I support pot legalization.
I also support prostitution legalization.
If I own a restaurant/business, I should be permitted to permit cigarette smoking in my establishment.
If I own a restaurant/business, I should be permitted to deny service to anybody I want for any reason I want.

I'm all about freedom.

I scoff at laughable justifications.

Why is "fun" not making "life worth living"? It seems to be it is one of the biggest things that make life worth living.

Michael K said...

I understand it is good for the appetite, too.

No personal experience.

The principle reason to legalize, which I'm OK with, is to reduce the incentive for criminal activity. I'm not sure it will work but what we are doing sure doesn't. It makes people dumb and it will screw up a career in military or law enforcement, as I doubt decriminalization will affect security clearances.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I think that Odysseus story about the lotus-eaters was supposed to be some sort metaphor to illustrate the primacy of the duty to family, which isn't all skittles and beer.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Apparently, the expression is beer and skittles.

That makes more sense, now that I have it from good authority.

vicari valdez said...

my comment was deleted?

Ann Althouse said...

Mind-altering substances have been part of human culture forever. They play a role and are important. I think you are being shallow (or timid) not at least to admit that this is an interesting subject.

Paul Zrimsek said...

The equivalent to "stoner" isn't "drinker", it's "drunkard". "Recreational" is unexceptionable.

damikesc said...

Didn't say it was uninteresting. Said that the guy was making an accurate point --- one I don't care about personally but he is honest.

Saying something is "fun" is hardly denigrating it. Pursuit of fun is what life is about.

I just don't buy into nonsense justifications.

robother said...

Skelton is right that "Recreational" is a valorizing term in the parlance of our times. But shouldn't he regard its application to motorized vehicles as similarly corrupting? Or is the expenditure of energy (whether physical or petrochemical) the acid test of true recreation?

I could support MJ legalization if it resulted in RVs vanishing in Western campgrounds, one form of passive recreation replacing another. So far in Colorado, no such luck.

Static Ping said...

As to the article, I agree that it is not especially persuasive. It meanders here and there without much focus. It wouldn't shock me if it was longer and then edited into semi-incoherence. But the use of "stoner" is most certainly intentional. It's an opinion piece. He uses a word that puts his opposition in a negative light. While not exactly high debate strategy and at at least a minor logical fallacy, it is not terribly unusual nor especially remarkable. You see worse in the New York Times everyday.

As far as its effects, marijuana is probably on the same level as alcohol and tobacco. I think it is a stupid habit that is a negative for the vast majority of users, but if we were deciding on where to draw the line on legal and illegal today, the line probably wouldn't be drawn here. I could see both tobacco and marijuana made illegal or neither made illegal, but not this straddle. Given the current culture's movement on tobacco, that is not especially helpful in figuring out which way it would go.

Static Ping said...

Mind-altering substances have been part of human culture forever. They play a role and are important. I think you are being shallow (or timid) not at least to admit that this is an interesting subject.

It is an interesting subject. The problem is human culture has not had extensive welfare states for most of its history. If this was 500 B.C. the fact that my neighbor was smoking pot would mean very little to me. Either he would work his farm sufficiently or he wouldn't. If he failed as a farmer because he was high all the time, then the end result would the farm would belong to someone else, presumably someone will a bit more self-control, and the stoner would meet one of various unpleasant ends that were not my problem unless he decided to make up his losses by stealing my stuff. Today, we would be expected to subsidize the habit even if the person has no motivation in life other than to smoke pot. It's annoying to be told I don't get to have an opinion and then have to open my wallet.

William said...

Is pot the only mind altering substance in history to have no downside whatever?.......I think the "recreational" term subliminally refers to the recreational/procreational divide in sex. Recreational pot use sounds sexy......There's sufficient empirical evidence to show that pot use will not cause the collapse of civilization or totally destroy the moral character of its users. But neither is it a cure for the ills of civilization nor the deficits in the characters of its users. It should be legalized. This is taking attention away from the great moral issue of our time--no transgender bathrooms in North Carolina.

Gusty Winds said...

I've has many arguments with friends as to whether or not Golf is a sport or a game.

I say it's a game, because like cards, you can drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and smoke pot while playing. You can't do the same playing hockey.

rhhardin said...

"too open up religious awareness"

Professor of religion Paul Schmidt says that you can tell true from drugged religious experiences by the hangover.

Quaestor said...

A modest proposal, call it an experiment: All non-using (i.e. healthy) people who have spouses or lovers who use should ask them to stop, and put it in terms of I'll leave you if you don't. In other words offer them Lysistrata's ultimatum — marijuana or marriage, pot or pussy. In my experience the pothead loves her chronic more than anyone would expect.

cubanbob said...

Legalize it all and to hell with it. Let people do what they want and let them live with the consequences (for the indeterminate minority who will suffer consequences). No welfare/disability for druggies (or alkies) and no amelioration of prison sentences with the excuse that the person was addled in their thinking. We are running out of resources and need to conserve them for the worthwhile. Triage the self-intentional fools.

rhhardin said...

You'd expect weed marketers to be in the wildflower business.

DanTheMan said...

Speaking of dopers corrupting language...

My personal favorite is when people say they "experimented" with drugs.
Oh, really? What was your hypothesis? Who was your control group? Can I see your lab notebook and your experimental procedure?
:) :)

Roughcoat said...

I think that Odysseus story about the lotus-eaters was supposed to be some sort metaphor to illustrate the primacy of the duty to family

Maybe ... but whose metaphor -- Tennyson's or Odysseus's?

Odysseus would have said that a life bereft of challenge and even pain -- a life of perpetual languor -- was literally meaningless and not worth living. In his poem "Ulysses," the poet has the hero articulating this view in detail, e.g., saying "I cannot rest from travel, I will drink life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd Greatly, have suffer'd greatly," etc. I think it's safe to say that the character of Odysseus was speaking for Tennyson who was speaking for Odysseus.

n.n said...

Pro-Choice...

ALP said...

Those who think cannabis creates apathy across the board need to spend more time in cannabis themed social media. You will come across a plethora of posts with the following titles:

"Which strain do you like to smoke then clean the house?"
"I just smoked some Durban Poison and painted my whole rec room"
"Smoked some Dirty Girl and tackled that tree pruning project I'd been procrastinating on" (that is one of mine").

Etc...etc... weed and house cleaning go together like hot dogs and mustard.

Take cannabis away from an apathetic person and you'll have - a sober apathetic person.

damikesc said...

I say it's a game, because like cards, you can drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and smoke pot while playing. You can't do the same playing hockey.

I am more of a sport v art guy. Watching the Olympics, my friends are baffled that I'll call gymnastics an art. If a judge's decision is the only way to win, it isn't a sport.

Golf is, by my own admission, the lowest possible activity that one can call a sport.

DanTheMan said...

Thanks for the detailed post, ALP. This explains the widely held perception of stoners as dedicated and industrious.

damikesc said...

My personal favorite is when people say they "experimented" with drugs.
Oh, really? What was your hypothesis? Who was your control group? Can I see your lab notebook and your experimental procedure?


I did experiment.

Hypothesis was "Girl I'm dating will happily give me a BJ if she is high"
My control group was "That girl".
She'd get high.
She'd then give me head.

Thus, my hypothesis was proven accurate.

Had an original problem with her and water, but had to have a few times at a lake where she didn't do that to be able to filter that out as a requirement.

eric said...

Here where Iive we have decided State law Trump's federal law. Wisdom personified.

I've lived here for 8 years now. Last year, our city started allowing and licensing the sale of Marijuana. Because money.

This Saturday it suddenly hit me. Our town is now filled with older white men with long hair riding bikes and living near and around the library. I'd not really noticed, it happened so slowly. Where did they all come from?

Took the kids for some blizzards and some guy on a bike was yelling at people. He looked homeless. Somehow he ended up behind me at a stop light as I left the shopping center. The moment the light turned green and I started to drive away, he began to shout obscenities at us. It was a warm day and the windows were down, so we all heard quite clearly what he thought of us.

But, I'm constantly reminded that drug use is personal and doesnt have any effect on my life at all, no matter the choices the rest of the people in society make.

C.S. Lewis once wrote that we are all ships on the ocean. And if we don't maintain our vessel, we start crashing into one another.

It seems Lewis wasn't a libertarian .

eric said...

Blogger ALP said...
Those who think cannabis creates apathy across the board need to spend more time in cannabis themed social media. You will come across a plethora of posts with the following titles:

"Which strain do you like to smoke then clean the house?"
"I just smoked some Durban Poison and painted my whole rec room"
"Smoked some Dirty Girl and tackled that tree pruning project I'd been procrastinating on" (that is one of mine").

Etc...etc... weed and house cleaning go together like hot dogs and mustard.

Take cannabis away from an apathetic person and you'll have - a sober apathetic person.


This says the opposite of what you want it to say.

Why are all the examples of people getting high and then working?

Maybe it isn't being high that makes you apathetic. Maybe it's after being high. Maybe weed changes the chemical make up of your brain so that when you're not on weed, you're apathetic. But when you take weed, it's like being drunk. Suddenly, you're good looking and can sing like a rock star.

In my experience, every person I know who smokes pot does something while high. Plays musical instruments, builds car engines, exercises, etc. And I've a few friends who have been on pot since highschool.

They remind me a lot of these homeless hippies now living in my city near and around all the services for the homeless.

Thanks libertarians. Oh, yeah, that's right. You don't want them to have all these services. So that makes it Ok.

Jonathan Graehl said...

Those of us who are inclined to work hard doing high-value stuff (for pay and/or a belief that we're being useful to others) should be absolutely free to recreate as we will.

I'm naturally skeptical of anything that seems to get less high-functioning performance-hours out of my brain (+body) over my lifetime. So I'm mostly about light drinking and *extremely* rare other when assured of quality (there are different kinds etc).

As for dumb people, let's see what the effect is on their behavior. If it doesn't lead to *significant* knock-on criminality or reckless driving that inconveniences others, have at it. By this measure, perhaps alcohol should be prohibited. Yet we didn't like how that went ...

ALP said...

I use cannabis daily. I impress people as so boringly stable, industrious, and "normal" that folks around me (co workers, bosses, etc.) that are anti-cannabis will often complain to me, to my face, about the so called growing scourge of potheads on our culture. Frequently. In an attitude that is clearly intended to glean sympathy from me - so convinced they are that they are speaking to someone that never touched the stuff.


If they only knew. I love having secrets.

Clyde said...

Why should it be the business of the government what we choose to drink or smoke? We live in a nominally "free" society, where we are allowed "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Punishing people for smoking marijuana completely violates that ethos. People should be allowed to make their own decisions -- and have to live with the consequences of their choices. Neither of those rational ideas is popular in America these days, which is why we have our burgeoning, o'erweening federal government continued to grow like kudzu.

Michael K said...

"I use cannabis daily. I impress people as so boringly stable, industrious, and "normal"

No offense but you remind me of the people who used amphetamines and thought they were much more accurate and efficient but who, when observed by others or by objective metrics, were less so. There was a study on pilots many years ago on this.

"I never knew he drank until one day he came home sober."

Have you tried life sober ?

The Cracker Emcee said...

"My concern with marijuana is that, I think, the main effect is apathy."

True, I think, but in my entire life I can only think of two cases where this was disastrous for habitual (or regular, if you prefer) users. Comparing that to the habitual users of alcohol that I've known, there is no comparison.

dwick said...

"Skelton is being pedantic about language..."

heh... well, one thing Althouse can speak of authoritatively from her own extensive practice here on this blog is being pedantic about language.

ALP said...

Michael K:

You crack me up. I have no doubt you'd be one of those people complaining to me about the scourge of the devil's lettuce, unaware of what an experienced person I was.

FYI: sober all day long but just wait until I get home and fire up Netflix...

Sebastian said...

"he doesn't notice the problem with saying "legalize" when marijuana trade and possession remain a crime under federal law." Since the feds barely enforce it, there is no problem and he's right not to notice it.

Just_Mike_S said...

I laughed uncontrolably for 3 minutes or so in a Jack in the Box drive-through in the 1970s. I did not laugh at that last line, though I did smile. Guess I'm getting old.

Mountain Maven said...

So we are popularizing and effectively legalizing a drug that is arguably as bad as alcohol. only the aftereffects last for days, not hours.
It involves inhaling unfiltered smoke and intoxicants and who knows what else into the lungs, like cigarettes.
It is widely known to demotivate people and at least make them stupider in the short run.

I tell my son, don't do drugs and you'll beat out all those stoners and dopers for the shrinking number of jobs.

Mountain Maven said...

ALP,
What do you do for a living, let me guess, a surgeon?