November 5, 2010

"[I]t is absurd for any government to prevent people from growing a naturally-occurring plant that requires no processing to provide humans with pleasure."

"It's pretty basic, actually. This is a core freedom for human beings and requires an insane apparatus of state control and police power to prevent it from occurring. All you have to do is burn a plant and inhale the smoke. If humans are not free to do this in the natural world in which they were born, what on earth are they free to do?"

Andrew Sullivan, pushing back Josh Marshall, who writes:
... I just don't know if I think marijuana should be legalized at all. Maybe it's that I'm getting into my 40s. And maybe I'm a hypocrite.... But [my Dad] had this very contradictory and hard to rationalize position which was that he was fine with people smoking pot but keeping it at least nominally illegal kept public usage in some check. Again, how to rationalize that in traditional civic terms? Not really sure. But frankly, I think I kind of agree.
So, for Marshall, it all comes down to who's skittish or formal about law? This is a pleasure that is open to everyone except those who adhere to the law. Everyone else can go ahead, but — perhaps as a sop to the rule-followers — they'll have to feel uneasy about it.


Scott M said...

Possibly. Keep the speed limit around 70 keeps most of us from breaking the law only a little bit (75 or so) instead of people flying around at 100+.

mccullough said...

I'm all for letting morons smoke pot legally. Just don't expect me to pay for their health care or for their unemployment or meals or housing.

But since we have to give Medicaid to lazy stoners and help pay to raise their kids, the least they can do is get their act together and get a job.

There's no easier "crime" to get away with than smoking pot. Just don't do it in public and definitely not on government property.

Only idiots need marijuana to be legalized. Smart people don't get caught doing it.

The Dude said...
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Phil 314 said...

growing a naturally-occurring plant

As opposed to what? An unnaturally-occurring plant?

Is there some genetically-altered super-hallucinogenic weed out there that we haven't heard about?

garage mahal said...

We should follow our founders, who were pretty fond of the plant. In Washington's diaries he documented that he separated the seeds by sex, which would lead one to believe he was enhanceing the potency of the plants. Other quotes by Jefferson, Jackson, Madison, and Monroe alludes to the fact they were using it for purposes other than strictly agricultural purposes.Jefferson smuggled Chinese hemp seeds to America and is credited with the phrase in the Declaration of Independence, "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Washington reportedly preferred a pipe full of "the leaves of hemp" to alcohol, & wrote in his diaries that he enjoyed the fragrance of hemp flowers. Madison once remarked that hemp gave him insight to create a new and democratic nation. No wonder they wrote such great and creative documents.

traditionalguy said...

One wonders about distilling liquor in one's own yard without a government paid tax. I have heard that to legally follow the ATF rules any distiller has to sell all its product to the Government and then buy it back thereby paying a tax. Could this also be applied to MJ plants? Governments really love finding taxable items in great demand.

Freddy Hill said...

"Natural" is the marker that separates good and evil in the eyes of the feeble-minded.

Hemlock: the natural way to kill yourself! The green alternative to potassium cyanide! the healthy way to die!

Chennaul said...

Well this is better than the logic offered by Matt Welch of *Reason* magazine-

which went something like "winners do drugs" ; the pitcher of the World Series was on Reeefer Times!

Basically he does the snowballing argument for those against and then he makes the irrational tie in that somehow "winners do drugs".

Probably plenty of counter examples to that-which the public know first hand particularly when he lumps *drugs* all together.

Then he makes the insinuation that somehow because the World Series drug user uses drugs this makes him better-and the proof-

He's on the cover of Reefer Times!


That again is the editor of Reason magazine.

[I might be paraphrasing and getting the name of the magazine wrong-you're all welcome to listen to him again in his Blogginghead's with Ann. Once was enough for me.]

Automatic_Wing said...

Yeah...I don't get the "natural" requirement. If it's processed by humans, then it's OK to ban it? How does that make any moral sense?

Chennaul said...

growing a naturally-occurring plant.

Really that's their argument? I haven't followed the link but I've got two words for that postulate-

Opium. Poppies.

Unknown said...

Does Andy think smoking it isn't OK if it doesn't naturally occur in his immediate environment?

I think Andy's big problem is doing a lot of things that provide him with pleasure and he didn't care whether they were unhealthy or not until he had to deal with the consequences.

PS Why do I think garage's little factoids that the Founding Fathers were a bunch of potheads come from the same place that says everybody important in history was homosexual?

The Dude said...
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garage mahal said...

Bad edit. That should be Washington separated plants by sex.

It's pretty clear at least some smoked it, they smoked tobacco, smoking hemp wouldn't be a huge stretch? How high they got is anyone's guess. But then why is it illegal to grow hemp if you can't get stoned off it?

The Dude said...
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EnigmatiCore said...
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Jim said...

If you support the continued legality of alcohol, then there's no basis to make marijuana illegal.

Alcohol is more of a gateway drug than marijuana. It leads to more acts of violence and injury. It's highly addictive and can be deadly when consumed in excess.

The biggest opponents of legalization? The beer, wine and spirits industries that rightfully fear that a great portion of the population would abandon the wonderful joys of drinking yourself stupid for a more mellow buzz.

garage mahal said...

What the heck happened to Jim.

Skyler said...

I've never met a drug abuser that couldn't find drugs no matter where they were or how little money they had remaining. They have drugs in jails, even.

Outlawing drugs has only served to justify a growth of state power and allows only the most violent and powerful drug merchants to be in the business.

Moose said...

Yes, legalizing pot will advance human freedoms *so* far. It would be monumental.

Oh, by the way - why did all those pot farmers vote against it again?

Jim said...

What the heck happened to Jim.

Same Jim. You assumed too much if you thought that I was a doctrinaire conservative.

Bet you didn't know I was for the legalization of prostitution and gambling too, did you?

Prostitution prohibition funds a lot of criminal activity, is dangerous for the both the practitioner and the client, not to mention what happens to the women (and some men). Better to legalize and regulate it a la the Bunny Ranch. After all, how many relationships in this country are just glorified prostitution anyway? Bring it out in the open.

Every argument against gambling is null and void. Why? Powerball and MegaMillions. If it was such a pernicious evil, then why do our state governments sponsor it? It's not rich people playing Lotto: it's regressive taxation. Let people make book, play lotto, slots, whatever. Las Vegas proves that it can be done legally and cleanly with the proper regulation and supervision.

garage mahal said...

We agree on more things that I had ever thought.

Jim said...

An additional note on gambling: If state governments can run Lotto, why shouldn't the federal government?

The jackpots would be enormous. The revenue it would bring would be astronomical enough to eliminate a good number of income-based taxes.

Let the people play!

kent said...

And maybe I'm a hypocrite....

Oh, no, Andrew. Not you, goodness knows.

Jim said...

We agree on more things that I had ever thought.

Maybe the "Legalize It" platform should be the basis of bipartisan compromise in DC?


BJM said...

A few reasons why I voted no on 19:

-I'm concerned about legalization from a public safety aspect. Stoners will drive and operate heavy equipment, they will smoke on buses and in places where a driver or operator may be impaired.

-How will job related drug testing, such as in public transportation, be enforced if one can be exposed to THC in the public square?

-One can enjoy a cocktail, a glass of wine or a beer without plunging into alcoholism. Just as one can smoke an occasional doobie and not turn into an addict or coach potato. It's matter of personal will and I don't buy that argument against legalization.

-Legalizing weed will not cut down on the use crank and crack. More addicts abuse meth than any other illicit drug.

-Prescription abuse and other illegal drugs will still be used; so drug related medical, social costs and crime won't decline much.

-Taxes and grower licenses/fees won't offset the cost of collecting and enforcing them as it will be impossible in a state the size of CA to track 2-3 plants grown for personal use. The state receives sales tax if I buy a tomato plant or packet of seeds, if I grow them from harvested seed they do not know they exist. Will we have weed nannies peering over our back fence?

I voted no because I haven't seen a realistic plan for managing legal weed and the ramifications.

We've enough on our plate in CA for the moment.

chickelit said...

"Natural" is just vestigial vitalism.

Isn't Sullivan's whole toke on the matter just an effort to beat a drug charge affecting his citizenship process?
I could be wrong there.

Skyler said...

"-I'm concerned about legalization from a public safety aspect. Stoners will drive and operate heavy equipment, they will smoke on buses and in places where a driver or operator may be impaired."

They already do that.

garage mahal said...

Maybe the "Legalize It" platform should be the basis of bipartisan compromise in DC?

I'm with you there, but I think we both know that will never happen, sadly. The anti crowd can never give a real coherent explanation why personal consumption of weed should be prohibited. Whether it be legalization or decriminalization. The government trusts you with thousands of things you can drink, eat, drink, or smoke - or even grow like salvia - that will make you sick, hallucinate, or die.

Cammie Diane said...

We live in an apartment complex (in the middle of the Emerald Triangle, which is the center of pot production in California) where I'd estimate 75% of our neighbors have 215 cards and smoke marijuana legally. And that's why I was in the ER with my two year old daughter last month, because she is allergic to the marijuana smoke that is everywhere (even in her bedroom since the apartments share a common attic).

I have a very hard time seeing marijuana as "harmless" when our family is forced to breath in the smoke in our own home because our neighbors have the "right" to smoke something that is still federally illegal.

David said...

Heck, you can't even grow corn in your yard for your own table if the government doesn't want you to.

rcocean said...

I think it outrageous that we haven't legalized more unhealthy and unsafe drugs. Who is the government to tell me when and where I can take drugs? I'm all for legalizing cocaine, heroin, crack, speed, and LSD.

But we need to discourage smoking tobacco - that stuff can kill you.

Oh, and we need National Health Insurance too, because the government needs to take care of everyone's medical needs, no matter what.

Synova said...

There are good arguments for pot legalization but the argument that it is a naturally growing plant is not one of them.

Jim said...

There are good arguments for pot legalization but the argument that it is a naturally growing plant is not one of them.

I would agree there. Of all the reasons, it is the absolutely least persuasive...and, as our fellow commenters have aptly proven, the most easily ridiculed.

jr565 said...

If pot required processing, does that mean Andrew would be against it? Why is that even a relevant factor?

AllenS said...

That should be Washington separated plants by sex.

Separation will do nothing. You have to remove/pull the male plants. Male plants will start to flower. That's how you can tell. Next, will be plants that look half male half female. Those also have to be pulled. Unfortunately, the biggest plants are always male. If you start with 10 plants, you'll end up with about 4 female plants in the end.

AllenS, former pot grower

Omaha1 said...

I actually agree with Andrew for once that pot should be decriminalized. However his argument is characteristically stupid for reasons mentioned earlier in the thread - opium etc.

I just think it is way too harsh for kids to have a permanent criminal record for doing something that the president himself has publicly admitted to.

The consequences of a dumb kid being caught with marijuana are just too much - limited access to student loans, limited job prospects, et al. The idea that it should only cost you if you get caught is indefensible. I also believe we should not have laws that are routinely ignored by a large percentage of citizens.

RCOcean, your comment about tobacco reminded me of something - my husband recently went to a concert in California where people were openly smoking pot everywhere but he had to go outside to a special area to smoke a cigarette. Maybe if he rolled his own he could have gotten away with it.

AlphaLiberal said...

It's not often in a Sullivan-Marshall debate that I side with Sully. But, I do here.

For Pete's sake, people are rotting in jail for marijuana offenses. Mexico's MJ war is increasingly bloody.

Marijuana prohibition was a bad idea when done in reaction to hysteria. It's a bad idea to keep it.

Legalize it, tax it, take away business from the mob, cut some ballooning prison costs, and save billions in police state costs.

AlphaLiberal said...

As far as our President's, I'm pretty sure our last three inhaled.