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December 29, 2009

Might pot prohibition come to an end in the next decade?

This postby Jonathan Adler at Volokh, which is headlined "A Marijuana Tipping Point?", prompts the question in the title of this post. That post notes this recent AP article discussing increased state-level efforts to decriminalize marijuana possession and use.  Here is a snippet from the AP piece:

Washington is one of four states where measures to legalize and regulate marijuana have been introduced, and about two dozen other states are considering bills ranging from medical marijuana to decriminalizing possession of small amounts of the herb.

"In terms of state legislatures, this is far and away the most active year that we've ever seen," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, which supports reforming marijuana laws.

Nadelmann said that while legalization efforts are not likely to get much traction in state capitals anytime soon, the fact that there is such an increase of activity "is elevating the level of public discourse on this issue and legitimizing it."...

Opponents of relaxing marijuana laws aren't happy with any conversation on the topic, other than keeping the drug illegal. "There's no upside to it in any manner other than for those people who want to smoke pot," said Travis Kuykendall, head of the West Texas High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area office in El Paso, Texas. "There's nothing for society in it, there's nothing good for the country in it, there's nothing for the good of the economy in it."

Legalization bills were introduced in California and Massachusetts earlier this year, and this month, New Hampshire and Washington state prefiled bills in advance of their legislative sessions that begin in January. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but guidelines have been loosened on federal prosecution of medical marijuana under the Obama administration.

Even so, marijuana reform legislation remains a tough sell in some places. In the South, for example, only Mississippi and North Carolina have decriminalization laws on the books.  "It's a social and cultural thing," said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based marijuana advocacy group.

Responding to this piece, Adler makes a fine point about two factors that should make those who favor legalized marijuana hopeful about the long-term prospects of the demise of pot prohibition:

First, the polling data I’ve seen suggests younger voters are much less supportive of marijuana prohibition than older voters. Insofar as this represents a generational difference, this would suggest that opposition to marijuana prohibition would rise over time.  Second, as the story notes, many states are in dire need of new revenue sources.  This could make the legalization, and taxation, of marijuana more attractive to politicians.

So, dear readers, I encourage you all to look into your crystal balls and make a prediction about whether come 2019 we will be talking about the the "Teens" as a decade in which high times became legal.

Some recent related posts:

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There is absolutely no legitimate reason for marijuana to be illegal. I don't know if a majority of people are going to figure that out by 2020, but there is no question that they will eventually.

Posted by: JC | Dec 29, 2009 5:29:09 PM

Professor Berman, have you seen a documentary called "The Union: The Business Behind Getting High?" It's about the current marijuana trade in British Columbia against the backdrop of the history of marijuana prohibition in the United States. I think you would really enjoy it if you get a chance to see it (lots of public libraries have it). Here's a link: Click Here

Posted by: JC | Dec 29, 2009 5:41:50 PM

"There's nothing for society in it, there's nothing good for the country in it, there's nothing for the good of the economy in it."

There's a lot for society in it, there's a lot of good for the country in it, and there's a lot of good for the economy in it. The only ones who stand to lose are people whose jobs depend on the continued existence draconian, outdated, shortsighted, and anti-democratic prohibition laws: cops and drug traffickers.

Posted by: Anonymous | Dec 29, 2009 6:03:02 PM

Anonymous --

You are, as they say, entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

Your statement that prohibition laws are "anti-democratic" is false; indeed it's absurd. According to a Gallup poll Doug mentioned here a few weeks ago, the country supports continued marijuana prohibition by 54% to 44%. That is less of a margin than in the past, but it would be considered a landslide in a presidential election.

Gallup's polling also shows that, over the years, a majority has NEVER supported legalization.

Finally, the law that keeps marijuana illegal at the federal level, the Controlled Substances Act, was passed more than 30 years ago by one of the most liberal Congresses in half a century. Since then, we have had 15 or so congressional elections, and control of the House by both Democrats and Republicans. During all that time, not only has the CSA not been repealed, it has been made more stringent. And marijuana remains today where it has always been, on Schedule I.

In view of the strong and enduring public and legislative support for keeping marijuana illegal, your claim that prohibition is "anti-democratic" is baloney.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 29, 2009 6:23:31 PM

Anonymous:

Bill Otis made mincemeat of the "anti-democratic" prong of your argument--the rest is equally wrongheaded.

There is nothing draconian about the prosecution of small quantities of marijuana--most first offenders receive a diversionary disposition. Further, I can assure you that cops and drug traffickers will still have plenty to do if marijuana is decriminalized.

Posted by: mjs | Dec 29, 2009 7:26:33 PM

Within 10 years, marijuana will be legal everywhere. This is a good thing. Relatively harmless, it bring a few hours of pleasure in an otherwise miserable world. Even the most right wing Christian Republican must admit that God Almighty would hardly have given us a plant that grows almost everywhere and has given pleasure to millions if the plant were anything but good. Of course, you can't drive when high. You have to sit with friends and listen to, say, Ina Gadda Davida. Have los of munchies on hand. And, if you're lucky, have someone you love nearby and engage in that other wonderful thing that God Almighty has given men and women with which to achieve great pleasure in, as I say, an otherwise miserable world.

Posted by: anon14 | Dec 29, 2009 8:04:15 PM

Marijuana prohibition will end just as alcohol prohibition ended. It will be difficult for Democrats and Republicans to reverse this failed experiment, but when they do they will establish government programs to employ the displaced Civil Servants now working to enforce marijuana prohibition.

Posted by: beth | Dec 29, 2009 10:54:33 PM

MJS:

In Ohio first offenders are subject to severe penalties. The least of which is a small fine. But then there is that 6 months driver's license suspension. Lets make sure you can't work. The real bad one is that you are now banned from ever owning a firearm. All for smoking a joint.

SC might like this --the best part is that you can decriminalize mj but that won't get rid of driving while drugged prosecutions where the user hasn't smoked in a couple of days but still has enough metabolite to garner a conviction. The concentrations aren't evidence based, so the rather large net picks up the formerly stoned as well as presently buzzed. Now that's rent-seeking activity for the lawyer, the prosecutor, the cop, the judge, the jailer, substance abuse counselors, and mad mothers.

Posted by: K | Dec 29, 2009 11:03:39 PM

You cannot legalize substances that kill 400,000 and 100,000 people respectively, and by horrible deaths, many at the peak of skill and responsibility. Then prohibit a substance that kills 1,000 a year.

This post suggest a solution to addiction and dysfunction from all adult pleasures.

http://supremacyclaus.blogspot.com/2009/03/legalize-adult-pleasures-but-license.html

It would be advantageous to legalize marijuana, and prostitution for many reasons, including defunding our enemies, and generating $billions in tax revenues. Those opposing legalization of adult pleasures are collaborators with Taliban, Commie insurgents, and narco-terrorists.

Why is change so slow? The reason is that one must wait for members of the hierarchy to die, and to be replaced by others with more modern views. So it takes decades to enact the obvious. Example. Slavery was known to be wrong by intellectuals in the 1750's. It took 100 years to end it.

In the case of marijuana and other illegal drugs, those promoting prohibition are aiding and abetting our enemies. This justifies the mass arrest of the lawyer hierarchy, brief show trials, and summary executions. Get rid of this generation of lawyer hierarchy by killing it lawfully. That way, the public does not have to wait for these incompetents and traitors to pass away of natural causes. Killing these incompetents is a short cut to change. Their replacements will also know their fates if they obstruct progress.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 29, 2009 11:38:04 PM

anon 14 --

"Within 10 years, marijuana will be legal everywhere."

I take it you are quoting what legalizers were confidently saying 10 years ago.

"This is a good thing. Relatively harmless..."

Relative to what? Heroin is "relatively harmless" compared to rat poison, so should we legalize heroin too? It does, after all, provide a fantastic high, so I'm told.

"...it brings a few hours of pleasure in an otherwise miserable world."

The world has it troubles to be sure, but on the whole, particularly in this great, generous and (still) free country, life is good. If you think otherwise, I'm sorry for you. (That's not sarcastic).

"Even the most right wing Christian Republican must admit that God Almighty would hardly have given us a plant that grows almost everywhere and has given pleasure to millions if the plant were anything but good."

The theological argument for legalizing dope. Far out -- so to speak.

"Of course, you can't drive when high."

Only lots of people do, and more will if the legal barrier to pot is lowered or removed, meaning that there will be more fatalities. But what's that compared to party time?!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 29, 2009 11:43:00 PM

Marijuana will be legal and we will be a more free and generous country. Life is good, but perhaps it will be better with less government.

Posted by: beth | Dec 30, 2009 12:16:19 AM

Would one of the prohibitionists here care to explain exactly why it is that recreational marijuana use should be illegal?

Posted by: JC | Dec 30, 2009 12:33:28 AM

Marijuana has many adverse physical and mental effects. Again, the dose-response curve applies, as it does to cigarettes. For example, smoking 4 cigarettes a day causes no harm, and may help with Alzheimer's. Very few can restrict daily cigarette use to four without external controls. The same applies to marijuana, depending on quantity consumed.

http://alcoholism.about.com/od/pot/a/effects.-Lya.htm

However, the dumbass prohibitionist lawyer would have to prohibit cigarettes which kill 400,000 people and alcohol, which kills 100,000 each year, and both of which cost a third of the health budget, in order to justify the continued prohibition of marijuana.

I take no stance except in favor of logic and consistency, to bring respectability to the now incompetent rule of law. I can favor legalization of marijuana or effective prohibition (by executing 10,000 dealers of alcohol or cigarettes a year and caning the users until they quit). I can not favor dumbass inconsistencies and lawyer incompetence that cost a lot, and are in total failure, bringing opprobrium on the rule of law by making it look stupid.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 30, 2009 7:24:22 AM

I'd say the current budget crisis and likely the Obama Administration will come and go without it happening nationally - I'd guess one or two states at most may pass such legislation before the economy returns to good health. Washington's probably the best bet.

However, Adler and this whole string miss the big "tipping point" that IMO is more likely to become decisive: The outcome of the cartel wars in Mexico. For border states, it's an absolutely pivotal concern that could pretty much go supernova at any point. If that happens, the debate will change.

Marijuana generates 60% or more of Mexican cartel revenues, depending on whose estimate you prefer, and the Mexican army is being outgunned, outmuscled and outsmarted. In Juarez, just across the river from El Paso, civil authorities have lost all control and two years of martial law have failed to subdue the violent gangs feuding with each other over access to the bridge and the route to US markets. Mexico is the world's 12th largest economy, a huge trading partner of the US, and at risk of failed state status. (Porfirio Diaz nailed it when he said "Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States.)

When this was happening in Colombia, nobody in America really cared. Now that it's happening in our backyard, more people are becoming concerned. But when the beheadings and daily mass slayings start happening in Dallas, El Paso, Phoenix or San Diego, I predict you'll see US law-enforcement leadership looking for any possible means to de-fund their enemies, similar to the Prohibition-era response to the Valentine's Day massacre, etc..

I don't want that to happen - legalizing pot isn't worth the price. But that's the trend that makes me think pot legalization is a more serious possibility than in years past. The other stuff - personal freedom, Ag jobs, economic growth, tax revenue, etc. - sound nice but won't be decisive. Only Fear can drive a policy change that big.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Dec 30, 2009 8:39:48 AM

Grits - I think you're right, but another way of looking at it is that the violence is the price we're paying for criminalizing pot, thus legalizing is worth the price.

I also think that legalization will be influenced by the % of the population negatively affected by the criminal justice system eg. they have a son, father, brother, friend arrested and or incarcerated for a pot offense.

Posted by: beth | Dec 30, 2009 10:04:43 AM

You people are smoking too much pot if you think that Congress will ever decriminalize marijuana. This is the same group of lilly-livered Democratic cowards that, even after the Department of Justice, the courts, and the US Sentencing Commission have told them that the 100:1 crack/powder ratio is unfair and baseless - even after they have an overwhelming majority in both houses - have utterly FAILED to do the most simple, obvious, and un-controversial fix to our nation's drug laws. One, that BTW, would do a world of more good in striking a balance of equity and fairness in the law than marijuana reform for white people.

And you think these buffoons are going to legalize your ganja? And have to explain why they are "soft on drugs" every other November?

Dream on, dope smokers.

Posted by: Ferris Bueller | Dec 30, 2009 10:29:21 AM

Grits and beth --

Between 2003 and 2007, I was Counselor to the Administrator at the DEA.

The criminalization of marijuana is a longstanding national policy and enjoys broad subscription among both Democrats and Republicans. It is codified in the CSA, which, as I noted earlier on this thread, has been around for more than 30 years with not even a hint of repeal; indeed it has become more restrictive, not less.

While I was the Counselor, I got to know something of the culture of the DEA and of the temperament of those in Congress most influential on this issue. These people would correctly view legalization of marijuana brought about by fear of violence from the cartels as surrender to thuggery, and they will never do it.

I am not going to go into the dangers of smoked marijuana, having done so before. No serious person known to me believes long-term use of smoked marijuana is good for your health. The only debate is whether it's moderately bad or extremely bad. There are some medicinal effects of THC, but that chemical is already available as a legitimate, prescribed medicine in Marinol. While I was at DEA, we approved further research, undertaken at the University of Mississippi, on potential other or further uses of marijuana for medical purposes. But smoked marijuana is not medicine. It is dangerous, and overwhelmingly it is not even purported to be used as medicine. People smoke dope to get high. That's the real story.

I repeat: I know the people at the DEA. We lost agents in the war to which you refer, so DEA is well aware of the price. The DEA's response will never be to surrender to these violent criminals.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2009 10:49:00 AM

How would legalizing marijuana be surrendering to any criminals? Having joints sold at Starbucks by "barristas" would seem to be the last thing any criminal would want, simply because the pay is so much less.

Unfortunately, this will probably happen piecemeal. Already marijuana is legal to various extents in many states. There is no major influx of violent pot dealers.


Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 30, 2009 10:55:15 AM

Many things are not good for our health. I guess the question is how much government control over our lives will we tolerate and how much are we willing to pay to be protected from these personal life style decisions.

The DEA will not be making these decisions, although they will be lobbying for more control using our tax dollars. The DEA has been on the decline for some time and is not considered to be a high preforming effective agency.

Posted by: beth | Dec 30, 2009 11:01:53 AM

beth --

"Life is good, but perhaps it will be better with less government."

Amen. And the best way to get less government is to cut its limitless appetite for money. The money part is no secret; indeed everybody knows it. The money comes from borrowing and taxing, and it goes to the explosive growth of entitlement spending. These are the things that have to stop if we're going to have less government.

The people on this blog understandably focus on criminal justice issues. But the huge majority of Americans have nothing to do with the criminal justice system. They might get the occasional speeding ticket, but that's it.

What makes a difference to this huge majority is the government as it actually exists in real life, i.e., as the thing that sends you the tax forms we're all going to be getting in a few days, and dilutes the value of the dollars it permits you to keep by inflating the currency to pay off (slightly) its gargantuan and growing debt. High taxation, deficit spending, limitless borrowing, inflation and the consequent anti-growth and anti-jobs effects are the "big government" people really want to be free from. For them, all the talk about marijuana legalization is just background noise. They would happily settle for a government that lets them keep more of what they earn; doesn't pile debt on their grandchildren; and restrains, rather than abets, inflation.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2009 11:28:51 AM

True that the DEA isn't going to call the shots, but as Bill points out, there is broad support in for keeping marijuana illegal across the political spectrum in DC, from President Hopey to the Reddest Congressmen from Hooterville.

Hopey's one concession to the dopers was to let the states play the tune a little. But he couldn't help buy literally LAUGH when someone asked him about decriminalization. Further, his bone-throwing to California is subject to change as soon as we get President Palin or President Pawlenty in 2012 or 2016. So, if I were in California I wouldn't invest in Tommy Chong's new company just yet.

At the end of the day, we are dealing with the same Congress who can't pass crack/powder equalization, a concept ALL parties agree on, out of fear of voter backlash. What kind of pot-addled hippie do you have to be to think they are "on the verge" of decriminalization?

Unless there is a major seismic shift in national politics, something much different than the incremental nudge to the left and right we've seen in the last 70 years, then all signing up for a medical marijuana card is going to do is provide a nice list for the DEA when the next Republican administration takes over.

Posted by: Ferris Bueller | Dec 30, 2009 11:35:40 AM

beth --

"Many things are not good for our health."

Which is scarcely a reason to encourge use of yet more such unhealthy things.

"I guess the question is how much government control over our lives will we tolerate and how much are we willing to pay to be protected from these personal life style decisions."

And the answer, which you did not dispute, can be found in the years-long and bipartisan support for the CSA. And now that you mention it, LSD, crack, heroin and meth can also and for identical reasons be viewed as "personal life style decisions," as can, I suppose, torturing kittens. But society rightly criminalizes all these things.

"The DEA will not be making these decisions, although they will be lobbying for more control using our tax dollars."

Actually, the Anti-Lobbying Act prevents executive branch agencies from lobbying Congress for or against legislation. Whether the current administration will obey the Act, I don't know. We obeyed it rigorously when I was the Counselor.

"The DEA has been on the decline for some time and is not considered to be a high preforming effective agency."

While I was there, the DEA grew in personnel and effectiveness. We expanded both enforcement and education operations. You don't say who it is that considers the DEA to be less than a "high performing" agency. Who is it specifically, and what is the factual basis for that characterization?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2009 11:43:14 AM

Bill:

I have to disagree with you on one big point. Clearly most Americans (and many LE professionals) view marijuana differently.

Drug enforcement wags do themselves and their argument a great disservice when they continually try to lump marijuana in with clearly more serious controlled substances or posit bogus theories about it's dangers. Constantly moving the goal-posts ("dangers of *smoked* marijuana" today, "gateway drug" in the 1980's) only shows the vapidity of the arguments against control. Historically the ban is more a racial and cultural ghost from hysteria over Mexicans in the southwest and urban blacks who enjoyed their "tea".

The fact that 12 states have basically decriminalized the stuff shows that it is viewed much differently. There is no "medical meth". Most reasonable people wouldn't suggest that marijuana is as dangerous, deadly, or costly to society as alcohol - because it isn't - by any empirical measure.

Doing this cheapens any other potentially valid arguments against controlled substance prohibition. Just as insisting on a 100 to 1 ratio for crack versus powder, long after no reasonable social science, statistic, or data supported such a formula, has basically cheapened the use of mandatory minimums where they do make sense. Sometime you policy wags are your own worst enemies.

But we do agree that the political reality remains that Congress and Hopey aren't going to die in this (pot-smoke filled) ditch.

Posted by: Ferris Bueller | Dec 30, 2009 12:37:07 PM

"People smoke dope to get high."

Do you think there's something inherently wrong about that? I'm not trying to be facetious. If marijuana had absolutely no adverse health consequences at all, would you still support its prohibition based solely on the fact that consuming it would result in an altered state of consciousness?

Posted by: JC | Dec 30, 2009 12:38:31 PM

"There is no "medical meth".

Yes there is. It's called Desoxyn.

Posted by: JC | Dec 30, 2009 12:46:01 PM

JC: More properly, there is no "medical meth" law which allows "patients" to legally cook up buckets of hoot in their bathtubs. HTH.

Posted by: Ferris Bueller | Dec 30, 2009 12:48:15 PM

Ferris --

Marijuana is less dangerous than meth, heroin and the other drugs I mentioned, and is routinely treated as such by prosecutors and courts. But it's no good for you. I'm always amazed at how people who are outraged at the numerous health dangers of smoking ordinary cigarettes are ready to think that smoking joints is like going to your personal fitness class.

But I digress. The reason I discuss marijuana together with the other drugs is that the libertarian argument for legalization extends to heroin et al. every bit as much as it does to dope. The argument is that I get to choose my own "lifestyle," and if I want to make unhealthy decisions about what I put into my own body, that's up to me, not the state.

The problem is that this argument does not AND CANNOT draw any distinction between marijuana and any other drug. What's really going on is that marijuana, and "medical" marijuana in particular, are, as a philisophical and analytical matter, the cat's paw of wholesale legalization of everything -- LSD, crack, meth, you name it.

That of course would be a public health catastrophe, and the electorate wouldn't stand for it. So the legalization movement insists on keeping the other drugs out of the discussion. For the same reason, I equally insist on putting them back in.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2009 1:18:09 PM

Who cares if marijuana is good for you? As long as cigarettes are legal, it's hypocritical to use THAT as an excuse for prohibition. It's a helluva lot safer than alcohol or tobacco - we can all agree on that.

The video game "Grand Theft Auto" has no redeeming social value either that I can determine, but that's not justification for banning it. The question is not whether government should "encourage its use," but whether government should use the criminal justice system to ban marijuana, video games, or whatever else Bill and his ilk may disapprove of. Alcohol consumption, for example (particularly accompanied with driving), is discouraged in the US, but not banned for adults. It's not an either-or thing.

The statement that DEA will never "surrender" reveals a quite limited, myopic and ideology-driven worldview. Personally, I'd call taking 60% of the drug cartels' profits away "winning." But I guess we're only "winning" if we put a few more cartel leaders on the Forbes billionaires list, to judge by Bill's stance.

As for who considers DEA a poorly performing agency? I'd encourage you to read some of the GAO analyses of DEA's inner workings over the past decade or so - most of them aren't too flattering. Or you might check with some of the whistleblowers they've sacked to see if their analysis matches yours.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Dec 30, 2009 2:28:06 PM

Bill: What is the attitude of DEA types and influential Congress people about the 400,000 people killed by cigarettes, and the 100,000 people killed by alcohol? That last figure does not include the half of the murder victims and the half of the murderers who are legally drunk, the half of car crashers who are drunk, the half of even child porn downloaders who are drunk. Cut out alcohol and you cut all crime in half.

Half the suicides are drunk (15,000 out of 30,000), almost as many as the total of all murder victims. The murder victims and the suicides are young people with responsibilities. In lost productive man-years, those may exceed those of the 500,000 sudden cardiac deaths, which happen to old smokers.

This bias, this denial, this difference in attitude makes the dumbass lawyer look stupid.

I have offered a good solution to these attitudes, arrests, brief trial, and execution of these elites. So the progress can take 5 years, not 50 years. Anybody likely to miss these dumbass lawyer incompetents, and terrorist lover collaborators? Any chance they are being paid by narco-terrorists who would go out of business if legalization took place. These are very rich. They buy legitimate businesses, and continue to run them as legitimate businesses, for example a store. The store and its employees then make good donations to the campaigns of these internal traitors. There is no apparent connection to narco-terror, but they are agents of the narco-terrorists.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 30, 2009 2:46:47 PM

"Who cares if marijuana is good for you?"

A welcome admission from those quarters more typically admiring themselves for their "compassion."

"The video game 'Grand Theft Auto' has no redeeming social value either that I can determine, but that's not justification for banning it."

Take it up with Nancy Pelosi. You lefties continuously complain about the drug laws. Wake up. You've got Congress as seldom or never before. If you can't convince your own allies, that's your problem, not mine.

"Alcohol consumption, for example (particularly accompanied with driving), is discouraged in the US, but not banned for adults."

Very cute. Alcohol consumption accompanied by driving is not banned per se, sure. But DUI sure is.

"The statement that DEA will never 'surrender' reveals a quite limited, myopic and ideology-driven worldview."

I was there. You weren't. I'll say it again: The DEA will not surrender to the violence and multiple murder of the cartel drug lords. I got to know a number of agents who had been shot by the people to whom you now want to give a business license. These agents are not cowards.

"Personally, I'd call taking 60% of the drug cartels' profits away 'winning.'"

Not even you can be enough of a fool to think that people who'll blow your head off at the drop of a hat will dutifully pay their business taxes.

"But I guess we're only 'winning' if we put a few more cartel leaders on the Forbes billionaires list, to judge by Bill's stance."

Perhaps you could name a few cartel leaders on the list. I don't know of any myself, but I know you wouldn't just make it up.

Would you?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2009 2:55:31 PM

Bill:

I think you're quite wrong about the mass of proponents of decriminalizing MJ (both potheads and LE). Very rarely do they mention "hard drugs", not out of some grand deception, but because they simply aren't interested in anything but pot.

You're argument seems to rely on the notion that there is a monolithic group of "drug addicts" that want a buffet of everything out there - it's the old "gateway drug" canard re-vamped - and it's patently false. There is NO STUDY, anytime, anywhere that links the majority of chronic pot users to higher rates of other drug abuse. None. It's like suggesting homosexuals natually want to have sex with boys - while it's a popular belief among a vast swath of ignorant Americans that this is so - I'd hope that those of us with a few more years of book learnin' can avoid these sort of silly, baseless assumptions.

What I'm telling you, and what you are just not hearing, is that arguments like yours are the ones that most injure continued prohibition of more serious controlled substances. If you truly believe that coke, meth, and opiates still ought to be controlled (as I do) then demonizing pot is the wrong way to go about it.

By continuing to hold out that pot must be controlled, even though you can't really give a serious reason, and in the face of tremendous evidence that pot is far less dangerous than lightly regulated substances like alcohol, you just look logically challenged.

As best I can tell, your argument is that finally acknowledging that marijuana isn't any more harmful than rum (and probably less so, on a chronic basis) will somehow open the floodgates to toddlers legally injecting heroin into their eyeballs.

The arguments over the years have gone from "pot will make you a crazed fiend", to "pot will cause you to lose all hope and ambition", to "pot is the gateway drug" - rinse and repeat - rinse and repeat. Not a shred of evidence that any of it is true.

The fact that "medical marijuana" is as disengenous as "gateway drug" doesn't make the latter any more compelling. Seriously.

You cannot make a logical argument that pot is dangerous enough to merit control, so you resort to the argument that we have to hold the line somewhere.

Weak, weak, weak.

Posted by: Ferris Bueller | Dec 30, 2009 2:57:01 PM

Bill, you continuously talk about "smoked marijuana" and "smoking joints." Would you agree that marijuana injested through non-smoking means can be a viable health/medical option?

Posted by: DEJ | Dec 30, 2009 3:17:03 PM

Ferris --

Having been at this for a few hours today, I'll just say this for now:

I am not worried in the least that the laws against hard drugs will be watered down. It's a straw man to say that my arguments against dope endanger all drug prohibition, there being no such danger. Whence springs your notion that there is?

That society tolerates some harmful substances such as cigarettes and alcohol is scarcely a reason to go for a trifecta. The idea is not to achieve symmetry. The idea is to minimize the damage to people's lives as much as is practical. The fact that the world is full of harm and harmful substances is not a reason to be blase' about adding another one to the list. It is, to the contrary, a reason to be MORE cautious, not less, about adding to it.

"I think you're quite wrong about the mass of proponents of decriminalizing MJ (both potheads and LE). Very rarely do they mention 'hard drugs', not out of some grand deception, but because they simply aren't interested in anything but pot."

In one sense this is refreshingly honest: Indeed, they're just interested in getting buzzed. How wonderfully worthwhile.

In another sense, you've got it wrong. I hear ALL THE TIME, including quite a bit right on this blog, that it's not about dope, it's about freedom. But, as I was noting, the "freedom" argument is mostly a fraud and, in any event, seems magically to get tucked in the closet when the subject of harder drugs hoves into view, even though the laws barring them are every bit as much an encroachment on freedom as the laws against dope.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2009 3:34:38 PM

Bill, how is it that whenever you disagree with someone you inevitably accuse them of making things up - every single time? It's boring and not very constructive to converse on such terms, but since you're too lazy to google and too ignorant to read the newspaper, RE cartel leaders on the Forbes list, see here:

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/10/billionaires-2009-richest-people_Joaquin-Guzman-Loera_FS0Y.html

As far as whether cartels will pay taxes, I have to believe you're being disingenuous because I don't believe you're that stupid. Just like with the CA medical dispensaries, if pot were legalized distributors would get it from legal, mostly domestic sources. That's the point: It would take the market away from the cartels. In CA, the non-cartel-based domestic market expanded to meet medical mj demand in just two growing seasons. Nobody gave a "business license" to the cartels.

As for the DEA not "surrendering," it's just not their call. They don't make policy, they just enforce it. If the political situation changes in the way I described and the law changes, they won't have a damn thing to say about it. Local cops like former Seattle PD Chief Norm Stamper are much more pragmatic about such matters, and the locals' voices are much more important politically than DEA's.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Dec 30, 2009 4:16:26 PM

I am quite sure that there are many persons that suck off the public teat at the DEA who are against decriminalizing marijuana; however, I'm not sure they give a tinker's damn about whether the "drug lords" are going to open up any Starbucks selling joints; I imagine their desires are a little closer to home than that. It's entertaining to witness yet again the hysteria which grips the reefer-madness crowd. Decriminalization will come--of that I have no doubt--but more of the frozen-in-time crowd has to check out of this mortal plane before it happens. A simple matter of demographic change will do it.

Posted by: Mark | Dec 30, 2009 4:27:51 PM

One joint can alter your ability to drive in a way that one drink of alcohol does not. Why add another hazard for the driving public?

Posted by: mjs | Dec 30, 2009 4:31:14 PM

"I got to know a number of agents who had been shot by the people to whom you now want to give a business license."

As if the cartels in Mexico are going to stay in the marijuana business once it's legal. The last thing those people want is for marijuana to actually be legalized.

Posted by: JC | Dec 30, 2009 4:43:39 PM


JC: Do not underestimate the power, sustainability, and need for black markets. The cartels will remain in business just as the mob has remained in the otherwise legal cement business in New York City.

Posted by: mjs | Dec 30, 2009 4:56:18 PM

Bill: Out of one side of your mouth you (rightly) suggest that "medical marijuana" is a transparent ruse for people to recreationally use pot - and then suggest it makes sense to keep marijuana a scheduled CS ... well ... just because?

And yes, I certainly contend that this sort of disingenuous argument does real harm to the support of prohibiting other controlled substances in the very same way that the 100:1 crack/powder ratio, and the government's 20 year insistence on it's rectitude, has done serious harm to the use of mandatory minimums in all cases. Do you honestly think there would be any momentum to do away with mandatories for 924(c) (guns) and more serious drug quantities if it wasn't for the stupendously ridiculous insistence that crack was 100 times worse than powder? Of course not.

Further, there are very clear studies that show the 100:1 ratio effects impact how minority communities see the law, the government, and the police. The "No Snitchin'" campaign, as one example, is born out of the experience of individuals facing long crack mandatories opting for substantial assistance. One of the main goals of such penalties is deterrence and RESPECT FOR THE LAW. In this regard, ignorant crack cocaine policy has undermined all mandatory provisions - including those that make sense for violent and repeat offenders - and hurt respect for the law in a large part of the American public. Insisting on the holiness of crack policy has made a mockery of the whole system.

It's the same here. By "holding the line" on pot, for no articulable good reason, insisting that in needs to be regulated in the same way as cocaine and heroin, you do real harm to the argument that any CS bears regulation.

Stop hurting the law, Bill.

I don't want my toddler smoking meth.

Posted by: Ferris Bueller | Dec 30, 2009 5:06:59 PM

"JC: Do not underestimate the power, sustainability, and need for black markets. The cartels will remain in business just as the mob has remained in the otherwise legal cement business in New York City."

Do you seriously believe that the cartels actually want marijuana to be legal?

Posted by: JC | Dec 30, 2009 5:18:00 PM

JC: I didn't say the cartels want marijuana to be legal but cautioned that they will nefariously remain a player in the production and distribution of the drug.

Posted by: mjs | Dec 30, 2009 5:24:54 PM

Ferris Bueller: Your arguments have been far more disingenuous than those of Mr Otis. There is wide-ranging coalition of parties who want all mandatory minimum sentences abolished. Further, the inner-city distrust and enmity of police and the "system" predates crack penalties and will live-on long after crack penalties have been rationalized.

Posted by: mjs | Dec 30, 2009 5:34:52 PM

mjs: "I didn't say the cartels want marijuana to be legal but cautioned that they will nefariously remain a player in the production and distribution of the drug."

me: the notion that drug cartels will be able to compete with multinational corporations like Philip Morris for production and multinationals like Wal-Mart for distribution is rather surreal. Yes, there may be some tax fraud/tax evasion and organized crime may be involved, but it will be minor. big corporations aren't going to let the profits of legal marijuana go to the small fish.

Posted by: virginia | Dec 30, 2009 6:00:35 PM

"JC: I didn't say the cartels want marijuana to be legal but cautioned that they will nefariously remain a player in the production and distribution of the drug."

So ending alcohol prohibition was a mistake, then, because mobsters like to own bars and liquor stores? That bird isn't going to fly, mate.

Posted by: JC | Dec 30, 2009 6:02:37 PM

DEJ --

"Bill, you continuously talk about 'smoked marijuana' and 'smoking joints.'"

That's because what the deate is actually about.

"Would you agree that marijuana injested through non-smoking means can be a viable health/medical option?"

I would agree that THC can, in some unusual cases, have therapeutic effects. Generally these are found in wasting diseases such as AIDS.

Of course THC is already legally available by prescription in Marinol. Not that this has anything to do with it anyway, since, as Ferris correctly notes, this whole medical marijuana business is a ruse.

The pro-druggie crowd isn't up in arms because they want to sit at home wearing THC patches. They want to sit at home doing the bong. Surely you know this.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2009 6:34:06 PM

mjs: You either don't know the history of MM's very well (which goes back to the founding of the republic), nor the history of the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of '86 and '88, if you want to suggest that there was a "wide-ranging coalition" of any sort set to abolish federal mandatories for violent crime prior to the crack/powder ratio's implementation 20 odd years ago.

The "coalition" is born strictly, and directly, from the experience of those poor "low level drug offenders" caught in the 5 gram crack net. All the major advocates on the matter, FAMM, Sentencing Project, ABA, NACDL, the Federal Defenders focus almost exclusively on drugs. This is no small part because MM's are 80% drug cases federally.

I agree that there is no doubt that these advocates want to throw the 924(c) baby out with the crack bath-water, but one has BRED the other (my point entirely), and while there have always been waxing and waning of mandatory use in this country, there has not been any modern "wide-ranging coalition" formed because of any other reason beside "low-level" drug offenders (see 1970's federal repeal, the Rockefeller repeal in NY, for other examples - again, low-level drug users are the driver). People may then adopt a broader approach once they start advocating against things like crack, but if you are going to argue the current mandatory minimum debate would be just as great without crack I have a bridge to sell you.

My point being that BAD DRUG POLICY initiated an environment where any other sound policy gets chewed up as well and the argument is completely analogous to Bill's wrong-headed insistence that pot is really, really bad and needs to be a CS, even though he can't 'exactly say why.

Further, there certainly is no other mandatory issue outside of crack/powder where parties as "wide ranging" as the DOJ are included. That's just a fact, as is the notion that abolishing all mandatories is just as pie-in-the-sky as decriminalizing pot at the federal level. This very Congress, the one that can't equalize powder and crack when the DOJ itself says the penalties are unjust, just passed several new mandatory provisions this session.

Your notions of what drives the inner-city's heart are also very compelling -- in your own mind -- but not as compelling as facts. I suggest you read any of the Sentencing Project or USSC reports on this topic (there are many) to see actual studies done in the last ten years that specifically show an erosion of faith in the federal system do primarily to the imposition of mandatories in CRACK COCAINE cases.

Posted by: Ferris Bueller | Dec 30, 2009 6:54:33 PM

Grits --

Did your parents ever teach you any manners? I'm serious. You're one of the most self-righteous, arrogant and disagreeable lefties I've ever encountered, and I've encountered plenty.

Other people on this blog holding your views manage to make their arguments without the venom. Can you? If you want to talk to me, you'd best start. If you don't, that's fine. It's your choice. I'm willing to have a substantive debate. I'm not willing to be the target for your spitting.

You identify yourself on your website as having done "opposition research" and I can see that you were well qualified for the job. For those who don't know, "opposition research" is the euphemism used for people who go through the opposing candidate's trash to look for dirt. And it's not limited to political candidates. It was done to Robert Bork, very ironically on the theory that Bork didn't think enough of the right to privacy.

I don't know whether you went through anyone's trash and I don't care to know. I'm happy to have a substantive debate and I do it all the time -- far more often than you -- but I will not have it with someone, like you, who makes a point of being as rude as possible.


Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2009 6:58:11 PM

Bill: He calls you lazy and ignorant, and you call him a political hack who digs through people's trash cans -- I'd call that about even for failure to engage in a debate on the merits.

Some of us are still waiting for a reason pot needs to be a CS other than "because it is already."

...

Posted by: Ferris Bueller | Dec 30, 2009 7:03:49 PM

Bill, don't fib. You're not willing to have a substantive debate. Not even close. I'm just giving you back what you dish out here all the time - sans the red herrings and accusations that people are lying about their motives.

You accuse me of making things up, so I proved I didn't. But don't be surprised if when you take cheap shots, someone takes offense and treats you with the same disdain you routinely show for others.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Dec 30, 2009 7:25:04 PM

Mark --

"I am quite sure that there are many persons that suck off the public teat at the DEA who are against decriminalizing marijuana; however, I'm not sure they give a tinker's damn about whether the "drug lords" are going to open up any Starbucks selling joints; I imagine their desires are a little closer to home than that. It's entertaining to witness yet again the hysteria which grips the reefer-madness crowd. Decriminalization will come--of that I have no doubt--but more of the frozen-in-time crowd has to check out of this mortal plane before it happens. A simple matter of demographic change will do it."

I heard exactly the same thing 40 years ago about the coming abolition of the death penalty, and largely from the same people. Only a funny thing happened on the way to abolition, i.e., a thousand or so executions. But I'm sure you guys are right this time.

P.S. I guess there are people at DEA "sucking off the public teat," although not as many as at DHS. The DHS folks at least do something to earn their right to suck, since they made sure that "the system worked," as Janet Napolitano said, before being contradicted 48 hours later by her boss, who interrupted his Hawaiian vacation quite briefly, but long enough to opine that the system's performance was "a catastrophic failure."

I trust I can count on you to help remove this Keystone Cops group from the "public teat"?

P.P.S. Can I also count my former colleagues at the US Attorney's Office as among those sucking off the public teat? Can't have these bloodlusting prosecutor's running around, can we?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2009 7:25:37 PM

Ferris Bueller: So the "No Snitch" sentiment would magically disappear if crack cocaine penalties are reformed. Well I have a double-decked bridge to sell you!

Please don't give me The Sentencing Project as an independent, objective source.
The USSC has had a long standing position to rationalize crack sentencing but not for the reasons you cite.

Posted by: mjs | Dec 30, 2009 7:31:06 PM

Ferris --

"He calls you lazy and ignorant, and you call him a political hack who digs through people's trash cans -- I'd call that about even for failure to engage in a debate on the merits."

Actually I said that I don't know whether he digs through people's trash and don't care to know. I do know that is what "opposition researchers" have done and gave an example. As for his being a political hack, take a look at his website and draw your own conclusions.

"Some of us are still waiting for a reason pot needs to be a CS other than 'because it is already.'"

Because marijuana is an unhealthy substance whose habitual use contributes to cramped and wasted lives, and sometimes poses dangers to non-users.

I am well aware that other unhealthy substances are not illegal (at least not illegal in all circumstances, although they are quite illegal in SOME circumstances). But as I have said repeatedly, apparently to an unhearing audience, the fact that we permit some unhealthy substances, or permit them in some circumstances, is not a reason we should add to the list. Indeed it is a reason to do the opposite.

You once said that my arguments were "weak, weak, weak." I'm not quite sure how a participant in a debate gets simultaneously to be its judge. I think we have to look for a different judge.

I have a nominee: Congress. Right now it is controlled by a majority I think is appallingly wrong on just about everything. But I am nonetheless willing to accept it as the judge, partly, of course, because it is its opinion rather than ours that counts.

Again and again, year after year, for more than a generation, legalizer groups have made their case to Congress But they haven't won in the past and they aren't winning now.

You might say that the reason for this is conspiratorial: Congressmen are corrupt or bought off by the DEA or whatever (although I've been hearing a lot today that the DEA is a powerless bystander in this debate). But suppose that's not so. Suppose that people in Congress actually are trying to do what they believe is right.

You can't win an argument just by proclaiming you've won. You actually have to convince someone who is not necessarily predisposed toward your side. The marijuana legalization side now has a Congress as sympathetic to it as any it is likely to see. So where's the beef?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2009 8:35:41 PM

"Because marijuana is an unhealthy substance whose habitual use contributes to cramped and wasted lives, and sometimes poses dangers to non-users.

I am well aware that other unhealthy substances are not illegal (at least not illegal in all circumstances, although they are quite illegal in SOME circumstances). But as I have said repeatedly, apparently to an unhearing audience, the fact that we permit some unhealthy substances, or permit them in some circumstances, is not a reason we should add to the list. Indeed it is a reason to do the opposite."

Remind me again, how many people have died from marijuana use?

Posted by: JC | Dec 30, 2009 8:54:03 PM

I am a person who does not use marijuana but have friends that do use. I say let the states make the money not the drug cartels. I vote to legalize.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 30, 2009 9:51:29 PM

I say legalize marijuana and let the taxes pay for our crumbling roads,bridges,levys,etc. The alternative is to keep giving our money to the thug cartels and the violence that comes with them. Seems like an easy choice to me.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 30, 2009 10:54:23 PM

Bill writes: "Actually I said that I don't know whether he digs through people's trash and don't care to know. I do know that is what "opposition researchers" have done and gave an example."

Gee, you know what? I could name a bunch of disreputable things lawyers have done. Maybe I should follow Supremacy Claus' lead and attribute them all to you with no evidence, just giving examples of things you might have engaged in? After all, other lawyers done so we must assume you might have too.

What a sleazy, POS statement. You're showing your stripes, Bill.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Dec 30, 2009 10:56:26 PM

JC --

It won't do any good to remind you again, because you don't listen.

Nonetheless, since you asked without rancor, I'll answer: Drugged driving (the drug most frequently involved being marijuana) is the second leading cause of driving fatalities, behind drunk driving. I do not know the exact number. It has to be in the hundreds.

Here is one paper on the effects of marijuana (and other drugs) on driving. It was put out by NIDA, a division of the National Institues of Health.

http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/driving.html

Here is another: http://alcoholism.about.com/od/pot/a/pot_driving.htm. The first four paragraphs of the report are as follows:

"Driving after smoking even a small amount of marijuana almost doubles the risk of a fatal highway accident, according to an extensive study of 10,748 drivers involved in fatal crashes between 2001 and 2003.

"A study by the French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research published in the British Medical Journal found that seven percent of drivers involved in a fatal highway crash used marijuana.

"The researchers estimated that at least 2.5 percent of the 10,748 fatal crashes studied were directly caused by the use of marijuana.

"The researchers concluded that the risk of being responsible for a fatal crash increased as the blood concentration of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, increased. Even small amounts of marijuana could double the chance of a driver suffering an accident, researchers said, and larger doses could more than triple the risk."

Now maybe the French have body chemistry different from Americans, but I doubt it.

I recall one horrifying story of a woman, Chante Mallard, who, under the influence of marijuana and (she claimed) Ecstasy and booze, unintentionally ran down some fellow on the street, impaled him on her windshield, drove home and left him there to die, which he did.

Don't believe it? I wouldn't blame you, but here it is:
http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/06/27/windshield.death/

Yup, that marijuana sure is harmless stuff! But what's a few corpses here and there WHEN WE CAN HAVE PARTY TIME???!!!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2009 11:17:12 PM

Grits' statement: "Bill, don't fib. You're not willing to have a substantive debate. Not even close."

The truth (from Pete Guither at Drug WarRant):

"A DEBATE ON WEDNESDAY

"I've been asked to be the moderator for "Tough Trade-Offs: The Drug Legalization Debate"

"This debate will take place on Wednesday, November 15 at the College of Law Auditorium at 504 E Pennsylvania Ave in Champaign, Illinois and will feature William Otis, JD, Counselor to the Administrator of the DEA and Bryan Brickner, PhD, author and Illinois drug law reform activist.

"William Otis, JD, is a graduate of Stanford Law School and former Special Counsel to then- president George H.W. Bush. After law school, he worked in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice for seven years before becoming head of the appellate division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. He was also an informal advisor on criminal justice issues to President Bush when he was Governor. For the past three years, he has been Counselor to the Administrator of the DEA, the official capacity in which he will speak next Wednesday.

"Bryan Brickner, PhD, graduated from University of Illinois in 1988 and was a walk-on for the UIUC basketball team. He was commissioned as an Army officer through the Illinois ROTC program and served in Saudi Arabia in 1991. In 1997, he received his doctorate in political science from Purdue University. In addition to NORML, he co-founded IDEAL Reform, a group that is working to pass a medical cannabis bill in Illinois. He is the author of several books including Article the first of the Bill of Rights.

"The debate is sponsored by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Federalist Society and the Coalition of Student-Professionals for Social Change." ###

The following was not slated to be a debate, but that's how it turned out:

"Drug War Addiction
(Accurate Press, 2001)
BOOK FORUM
Wednesday, March 13, 2002
4:00 p.m.

Featuring the author, Sheriff Bill Masters, San Miguel County, Colorado; with comments by William Otis, Former Federal Prosecutor.

The Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Watch the Event in Real Video
Listen to the Event in Real Audio (Audio Only)

Sheriff Bill Masters is a veteran of the "Drug War." He was so good at it that he won an award from the Drug Enforcement Agency. As the years passed, however, Masters began to harbor misgivings about the drug war. A few years ago, Masters came to the conclusion that the drug war is itself an addiction —and that drug prohibition is more damaging to the fabric of American society than drugs could ever be. Masters has served as sheriff of San Miguel County, Colorado, since 1979 and has become America's first sheriff affiliated with the Libertarian Party. In his new book, Masters advocates a return to the basic principles of personal responsibility, simple laws, and limited government." ###

I also debated drug legalization at Penn Law School several years ago.

But Grits says I'm not willing to have a substantive debate -- "not even close" -- so we know it must be so.


Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 31, 2009 12:40:51 AM

The tobacco companies should be licensed to grow marijuana.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 31, 2009 12:48:36 AM

I am amused at the scenario where a lawyer uses isolated anecdotal evidence--yet again--in an attempt to support his argument. Unfortunately, the "argument" fails to recognize that the alleged "cure" is worse than the alleged "evil." Locking up pot smokers--in the country that leads the world in caging its citizens--is tantamount to Nero's fiddle playing, and ultimately just as effective at regulating other people's morality. Future generations will wonder how people who demonstrate the same pathologies as our anti anti-warrior were ever taken seriously about anything.

Posted by: Mark # 1 | Dec 31, 2009 3:29:38 AM

Ooooooooops. I forgot the debate I did most recently, at the University of Tulsa Law School on September 24. This one was taped:

http://media.law.utulsa.edu/FedSocLiveDebate092509

It goes on and on, for over an hour, and the audio is poor, but there it is. Still, if you happen to watch it, don't believe what you're seeing, since grits has assured us, with his usual degree of confidence (and truthfulness), that I am "not willing to have a substantive debate. Not even close."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 31, 2009 4:07:01 AM

Mark # 1 --

"I am amused at the scenario where a lawyer uses isolated anecdotal evidence..."

Were you amused by the Chante Millard case too? A real laugher, that one. If you have a certain turn of mind.

"...in an attempt to support his argument."

Which would be one more piece of evidence than you use to support yours. But if you're looking for more than anecdotal evidence about the unwholesome effects of marijuana, you might scroll up the page a few inches to my post on Dec 30, 2009 11:17:12 PM. Don't strain yourself, though, since your mind is not about to be changed by evidence, statistical or anecdotal.

"Unfortunately, the 'argument' fails to recognize that the alleged 'cure' is worse than the alleged 'evil.'"

I believe this is called assuming your conclusion. Still, I see your point, sort of. Why would anyone think it's evil to impale some guy on the windshield while driving drugged -- on marijuana and (possibly) other drugs -- and let him just hang there to die? Girls just want to have fun!

"Locking up pot smokers...is tantamount to Nero's fiddle playing, and ultimately just as effective at regulating other people's morality."

News flash: Most of criminal law is an attempt to regulate people's morality.

"Future generations will wonder how people who demonstrate the same pathologies as our anti anti-warrior were ever taken seriously about anything."

Translation: Having failed for a generation to win the debate either with the national electorate or in Congress, I'll just declare my side the winner anyway by announcing the findings of my crystal ball.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 31, 2009 4:37:09 AM

One notes the drinking of alcohol in the windshield impaling accident.

Bill, if you are willing to institute draconian measures to prohibit cigarettes and alcohol, then you may argue to continue the prohibition of marijuana. Those kill 400,000 people, and 100,000 respectively a year. Alcohol is a factor in half of all crimes, car crashes, suicides. The impact on productivity is quite large. Draconian means executing dealers and beating users. There would not be enough beds in all prisons, all hotels, all shelters to house prisoners otherwise.

Or else, banning the less harmful substance and allowing the far more harmful ones needs an explanation for the discrepancy in attitudes toward these substances 100's of times more harmful.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 31, 2009 5:44:19 AM

Bill, glad to know you've engaged in a substantive debate somewhere else. Too bad you're not willing to do so here.

Doesn't make your debate tactics above any less sleazy.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Dec 31, 2009 7:52:56 AM

Grits --

Is that a backhanded concession of the falsity of your blanket statement that I am "not willing to have a substantive debate. Not even close."?

P.S. Since what I said in these law school debates is what I say here, to concede that those debates were substantive is to concede that this one is as well. If you want proof that the law school debates tracked what I say here, the tape is there for you to play.

P.P.S. No one at the debate, including those opposed to my position, claimed my argument wasn't substantive. You might also see that I stayed past the closing hour and took every question until we had to vacate for the next class.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 31, 2009 10:24:05 AM

Grits --

To follow up in the sleazy tactics department, do you recall who put out this whooper: "Bill, Dudley and SC are just bloodthirsty, believing that all killing by the state is inherently, morally good in all instances while the application of common sense utilitarianism is for pussies."

You've gotten huffy about my supposedly attributing to you beliefs you don't have. You regard this as a sleazy tactic (which it certainly would be if it ever happened). You can understand my surprise, then, to wake up one morning to find the assertion that I believe "all killing by the state is inherently, morally good in all instances." The assertion was unencumbered by any citation to or quotation from any post of mine.

The reason for my surprise was that I believe no such thing, never said any such thing, never implied any such thing, and would, like any normal person, regard the proposition as absurd.

Do you recall who engaged in the sleazy tactic of attributing that risible belief to me?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 31, 2009 10:56:02 AM

Bill: I admit there are two types of people lower than lawyers, convicted felons and journalists. The lawyer is honest, "I am an advocate." The journalist lies by the selective omission and inclusion of facts, despite their Code of Ethics.

http://www.spj.org/pdf/ethicscode.pdf

The violation meter is whirring on Grits and you demean yourself by arguing with him. They are advocates but do not disclose that.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 31, 2009 2:57:55 PM

SC --

"The violation meter is whirring on Grits and you demean yourself by arguing with him."

I hear you.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 31, 2009 5:25:02 PM

As long as we are throwing ad hominem bombs and generally providing a textbook example of no-holds-barred, win-at-all-costs rhetorical combat, I will ask:

Does Bill Otis have seemingly endless time to post on this blog because folks are no longer willing to deal with his cranky, hyper-technical, endlessly self-justifying ass in the real world?

I mean, seriously, he is supposed to be some bigwig in the federalist/Bushie right, but he seems to have nothing to do but comment endlessly on this blog. I guess maybe he is just like one of these amazing people who doesn't need to sleep and does more before breakfast than you do in a week. But on the other hand, maybe even the right-wing foundations just aren't sending him work any more.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 2, 2010 8:51:29 PM

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