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April 24, 2014

One older notable voter (and former Justice) eager to see marijuana legalized

Though his opinions no longer are very consequential, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens can still make news with his views.  This new NPR piece shows this to be true regarding marijuana reform:

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens made some news in an interview with NPR's Scott Simon on Thursday. Scott asked him if the federal government should legalize marijuana.

"Yes," Stevens replied. "I really think that that's another instance of public opinion [that's] changed. And recognize that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction. Alcohol, the prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has I think been generally, there's a general consensus that it was not worth the cost. And I think really in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug."

April 24, 2014 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

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We need to outlaw tobacco.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Apr 25, 2014 2:13:15 AM

Tobacco kills 400,000 people a year. Say none goe sfor under $250,000 in medical cost. The end of life care alone costs $100 billion.

1) One would require consensus to ban in over two thirds of people (zero chance).

2) To enforce the ban, one would have to execute 10,000 illegal dealers a year, and lash a million users. To deter. (Zero chance)

3) The survivors would live to hundred and bust Social Security.

So tobacco deaths are necessary.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 25, 2014 3:47:33 AM

Re tobacco deaths

Can one imagine our population were Cain not to have killed Abel and toxic drugs were not abused .

Posted by: Docile Jim Brady - Columbus OH 43209 | Apr 25, 2014 5:12:02 AM

Of course, Stevens is wrong. There IS a difference between the two. Pot changes the brain chemistry of even a casual user permanently. Of course we did just find out that pot is terrible on the heart (It is harmless!) as well.

The "tobacco" argument is 3rd grade nonsense below the logic of supposed adults. Just because one pandora's box has been opened, it does not mean we should open another. Tobacco is a product used for centuries and is cemented in our culture. It is nearly impossible to ban such a product. By opening the pandora's box of legalizing pot, you are ensuring that another product dangerous for individuals and society as a whole becomes a permanent part of our culture.

By legalizing it you are encouraging more people to use it. That is just nuts.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Apr 25, 2014 9:08:17 AM

TarsIsQtr,

Your arguments are singularly unpersuasive.

Posted by: anon1 | Apr 25, 2014 10:21:44 AM

| Marijuana-Impaired Driving a Growing Threat|
Weed-Involved Auto Fatalities Triple in 10 Years
By Buddy T / February 06, 2014/ About.com

[A study conducted by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health]
found that alcohol involvement in deadly auto crashes remained stable from 1999 to 2010
Drug involvement in fatal crashes, however, increased
from 16.6% in 1999
to 28.3% in 2010.

Rates of marijuana involvement in fatal crashes during the same time period went
from 4.2%
to 12.2%.

The researchers believe the decriminalization of marijuana use, for medical and recreational purposes, is a significant contributor to the increase in driving deaths
involving marijuana.
"The marked increase in its prevalence as reported in the present study is likely germane to the growing decriminalization of marijuana," said lead author Joanne Brady
Another study found that smoking marijuana doubles the risk of having an auto crash.

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 25, 2014 10:50:23 AM

The "tobacco" argument works for my [inmate] friends.

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 25, 2014 10:51:22 AM

Anon1,

You are perfectly free to decide that the findings of studies published in the Journal of Neuroscience and the Journal of the American Heart Association are "unpersuasive." I would surely find your argument unpersuasive as well, that is, if you had actually taken the time to make one.

There is nothing less persuasive than a person incapable of even articulating an argument.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Apr 25, 2014 11:17:05 AM

TarlsQtr: Here are some arguments. I await your response.


1. Prohibition has failed to control the use and domestic production of marijuana.
The government has tried to use criminal penalties to prevent marijuana use for over 75 years and yet: marijuana is now used by over 25 million people annually, cannabis is currently the largest cash crop in the United States, and marijuana is grown all over the planet. Claims that marijuana prohibition is a successful policy are ludicrous and unsupported by the facts, and the idea that marijuana will soon be eliminated from America and the rest of the world is a ridiculous fantasy.

2. Arrests for marijuana possession disproportionately affect blacks and Hispanics and reinforce the perception that law enforcement is biased and prejudiced against minorities.
African-Americans account for approximately 13% of the population of the United States and about 13.5% of annual marijuana users, however, blacks also account for 26% of all marijuana arrests. Recent studies have demonstrated that blacks and Hispanics account for the majority of marijuana possession arrests in New York City, primarily for smoking marijuana in public view. Law enforcement has failed to demonstrate that marijuana laws can be enforced fairly without regard to race; far too often minorities are arrested for marijuana use while white/non-Hispanic Americans face a much lower risk of arrest.

3. A regulated, legal market in marijuana would reduce marijuana sales and use among teenagers, as well as reduce their exposure to other drugs in the illegal market.
The illegality of marijuana makes it more valuable than if it were legal, providing opportunities for teenagers to make easy money selling it to their friends. If the excessive profits for marijuana sales were ended through legalization there would be less incentive for teens to sell it to one another. Teenage use of alcohol and tobacco remain serious public health problems even though those drugs are legal for adults, however, the availability of alcohol and tobacco is not made even more widespread by providing kids with economic incentives to sell either one to their friends and peers.

4. Legalized marijuana would reduce the flow of money from the American economy to international criminal gangs. Marijuana’s illegality makes foreign cultivation and smuggling to the United States extremely profitable, sending billions of dollars overseas in an underground economy while diverting funds from productive economic development.

5. Marijuana’s legalization would simplify the development of hemp as a valuable and diverse agricultural crop in the United States, including its development as a new bio-fuel to reduce carbon emissions. Canada and European countries have managed to support legal hemp cultivation without legalizing marijuana, but in the United States opposition to legal marijuana remains the biggest obstacle to development of industrial hemp as a valuable agricultural commodity. As US energy policy continues to embrace and promote the development of bio-fuels as an alternative to oil dependency and a way to reduce carbon emissions, it is all the more important to develop industrial hemp as a bio-fuel source – especially since use of hemp stalks as a fuel source will not increase demand and prices for food, such as corn. Legalization of marijuana will greatly simplify the regulatory burden on prospective hemp cultivation in the United States.

6. Prohibition is based on lies and disinformation.
Justification of marijuana’s illegality increasingly requires distortions and selective uses of the scientific record, causing harm to the credibility of teachers, law enforcement officials, and scientists throughout the country. The dangers of marijuana use have been exaggerated for almost a century and the modern scientific record does not support the reefer madness predictions of the past and present. Many claims of marijuana’s danger are based on old 20th century prejudices that originated in a time when science was uncertain how marijuana produced its characteristic effects. Since the cannabinoid receptor system was discovered in the late 1980s these hysterical concerns about marijuana’s dangerousness have not been confirmed with modern research. Everyone agrees that marijuana, or any other drug use such as alcohol or tobacco use, is not for children. Nonetheless, adults have demonstrated over the last several decades that marijuana can be used moderately without harmful impacts to the individual or society.

7. Marijuana is not a lethal drug and is safer than alcohol.
It is established scientific fact that marijuana is not toxic to humans; marijuana overdoses are nearly impossible, and marijuana is not nearly as addictive as alcohol or tobacco. It is unfair and unjust to treat marijuana users more harshly under the law than the users of alcohol or tobacco.

8. Marijuana is too expensive for our justice system and, as in Colorado, should instead be taxed to support beneficial government programs. Law enforcement has more important responsibilities than arresting 750,000 individuals a year for marijuana possession, especially given the additional justice costs of disposing of each of these cases. Marijuana arrests make justice more expensive and less efficient in the United States, wasting jail space, clogging up court systems, and diverting time of police, attorneys, judges, and corrections officials away from violent crime, the sexual abuse of children, and terrorism. Furthermore, taxation of marijuana can provide needed and generous funding of many important criminal justice and social programs.

9. Marijuana use has positive attributes, such as its medical value and use as a recreational drug with relatively mild side effects. Many people use marijuana because they have made an informed decision that it is good for them, especially Americans suffering from a variety of serious ailments. Marijuana provides relief from pain, nausea, spasticity, and other symptoms for many individuals who have not been treated successfully with conventional medications. See articles of families with epileptic children moving to Colorado for treatment with marijuana. Many American adults prefer marijuana to the use of alcohol as a mild and moderate way to relax. Americans use marijuana because they choose to, and one of the reasons for that choice is their personal observation that the drug has a relatively low dependence liability and easy-to-manage side effects. Most marijuana users develop tolerance to many of marijuana’s side effects, and those who do not, choose to stop using the drug. Marijuana use is the result of informed consent in which individuals have decided that the benefits of use outweigh the risks, especially since, for most Americans, the greatest risk of using marijuana is the relatively low risk of arrest.

10. Marijuana users are determined to stand up to the injustice of marijuana probation and accomplish legalization, no matter how long or what it takes to succeed.
Despite the threat of arrests and a variety of other punishments and sanctions marijuana users have persisted in their support for legalization for over a generation. They refuse to give up their long quest for justice because they believe in the fundamental values of American society. Prohibition has failed to silence marijuana users despite its best attempts over the last generation. The issue of marijuana’s legalization is a persistent issue that, like marijuana, will simply not go away. Marijuana will be legalized because marijuana users will continue to fight for it until they succeed.

Posted by: anon1 | Apr 25, 2014 12:22:34 PM

|4th graders caught dealing pot at Colo. elementary school|
By CRIMESIDER STAFF/AP/April 24, 2014
GREELEY, Colo. - School officials in northern Colorado are asking parents to be careful with their newly legal recreational marijuana,
after fourth-graders were caught dealing the drug on an elementary school campus.
… three 10-year-old boys and a 10-year-old girl at Greeley's Monfort Elementary School, faced tough discipline but not suspension or expulsion.
[John Gates, director of safety ] would not elaborate on their punishment.

Only one student admitted to trying the drug …

www.cbsnews.com/news/4th-graders-caught-dealing-pot-at-colorado-elementary-school/

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 25, 2014 1:08:20 PM

anon1-

1. Nice perfectionist fallacy. OF COURSE prohibition has "controlled the use" of marijuana. If it had not, you would not need to be advocating for its legality. No sane person believes that marijuana use will remain the same or decrease if it is legal. In other words, it has controlled it, just not perfectly. By your standard, there is no sense in having any speeding laws because there are still speeders!

As far as it being the biggest cash crop, nonsense. (It is no wonder that you cite nothing.) http://blog.sfgate.com/smellthetruth/2012/08/14/is-marijuana-the-u-s-s-top-cash-crop/

2. This one is particularly pathetic. Prove it. And please do not supply useless stats like above, give something useful. What you supply is useless if you do not supply the proportion of minorities that USE marijuana. If 13% of the population is smoking 50% of the weed, there is no bias if they make up half of pot arrests.

More importantly, even if true your point does not make a case against pot laws. It makes a case against bias in law enforcement. I suspect you feel that there is a bias in murder convictions as well but doubt you are calling for the repeal of all murder laws.

3. I love this one. We should repeal the pot laws because people just go around them anyway (your argument in your first point) but laws regulating children smoking pot will SURELY WORK! Did you forget your dose of Latuda today to fight that problem with being bi-polar?

Cigs and alcohol are very prevalent among teens because it is easy to get due to its legality. Being illegal, more expensive, and rarer is why fewer kids smoke pot that cigs or drink booze.

4. Ah, yes. They would just close up shop and get real jobs if pot was illegal. Do you even read your own stuff? Actually, they would move on to other things including "unregulated" pot that could be stronger than these ironclad regulations you suddenly want to impose.

5. A false choice fallacy. Hemp can be legalized without pot and already has been in Kentucky. There is no reason that the Feds cannot do the same without legalizing pot.

6. Nonsense. The articles I noted previously were from the last year, one published this week. Pot is terrible stuff.

7. Tell that to the kid in Colorado.

8. Ding! Ding! Ding! The real answer (other than liking to get high). Love those revenue streams! The same is true of heroine, crack, and meth, right? The government could make money taxing them? Ready to make that argument?

9. Marinol

10. That is not an argument.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Apr 25, 2014 2:43:41 PM

TarlsQtr,

On this point, you are on the wrong side of history. Common experience with marijuana (and my friends and I have plenty) refutes your arguments. Anon1 is the clear winner. Working in that prison environment all those years has, understandably, made you too tight. Light one up, have a few tokes and mellow out.

Posted by: observer | Apr 25, 2014 4:37:11 PM

Observer,

Thanks for making a couple of the most pathetic arguments one could ever make.

First, anecdotes are allowable as proof now? Well, here is one for you. MY prison experience is that previous marijuana use (and other drugs) is a great indicator of who will be incarcerated. Former and current pot smokers made up a huge percentage of my students. Roughly 80-90% of those incarcerated were using drugs at the time of arrest or had used them in the past.

Secondly, you obviously do not have any idea what it means to be "on the wrong side of history." All of the left wing "isms" such as Nazism, Socialism, and Communism are on the "wrong side of history." Those supporting slavery were the "wrong side of history." None of these had anything to do with majority or minority support, they had something to do with supporting evil. I may die as the last supporter of pot laws but that does not make me "on the wrong side of history."

As far as needing to toke a few, I will leave that to you. My life is sufficiently happy that I do not have to run from it with intoxicants.

Posted by: TarlsQtr1 | Apr 26, 2014 5:12:30 PM

TarIsQtr1


you write: "MY prison experience is that previous marijuana use (and other drugs) is a great indicator of who will be incarcerated."

Looks like we'd better build many, many, many more prisons, for maybe 2/3 of the population??

Posted by: observer | Apr 26, 2014 6:53:24 PM

Any evidence that 2/3 of the population are using illegal drugs?

Posted by: TarlsQtr1 | Apr 26, 2014 9:57:22 PM

TarIsQtr1, observer overstates the percentage of folks who have used marijuana, at least according to the following poll:

In U.S., 38% Have Tried Marijuana, Little Changed Since '80s
Fewer young adults have tried it today compared with in the 1970s and 1980s
by Lydia Saad

PRINCETON, NJ -- Even as Americans' support for legalizing marijuana has doubled, and more than 20 states have loosened marijuana restrictions in various ways, Gallup finds relatively little increase throughout the past three decades in the percentage of U.S. adults who say they have tried marijuana. Thirty-eight percent of Americans admit to having tried marijuana, compared with 34% in 1999 and 33% in 1985.

Still if we assume that the current population is 350,000,000 then 38% is many, many millions of folks (too lazy to do the math). So observer still right in principle: have to build lots more prisons. P.S. How many folks have died from marijuana use? maybe 100?? How many have died from cigarettes: 400,000/year? How many have died from alcohol? LOts and Lots. So Tars, hate to say it; but you lose this argument.

Posted by: Dave from Texas | Apr 27, 2014 6:46:29 PM

Dave from Texas stated: "observer overstates the percentage of folks who have used marijuana,..."

Actually, he lied about it just as anon1 lied about marijuana being the largest cash crop in the US. As I always say, if you have to lie to make your point perhaps the point was better off not made.

You stated: "So observer still right in principle: have to build lots more prisons."

Wrong again. His assertion and your support for it is based upon the ridiculous premise that I (or anyone) intends to incarcerate anyone and everyone who has ever tried marijuana. I do not know anyone who supports such a position, do you? If not, then why would he bring such nonsense up and why would you support it?

You stated: "P.S. How many folks have died from marijuana use? maybe 100?? How many have died from cigarettes: 400,000/year? How many have died from alcohol? LOts and Lots."

It scares me that most of you here are lawyers. You guys could not escape from a wet paper bag if forced to use "logic."

I have already made it pretty clear above that I do not care whether pot is more dangerous, less dangerous, or equally dangerous than booze and butts. They are legal and a permanent part of our culture. That said, it is absurd to believe that we should make another harmful substance a permanent part of the culture as well.

But let's address your comment anyway. Pot smoking results in 5 times the carbon monoxide inhalation, 3 times the tar, and higher levels of ammonia and hydrogen cyanide than what you receive in a cigarette.

Nice stuff there.

In other words, your numbers are fake. The reality is this. Most pot smokers also smoke cigarettes. A large percentage of lung cancer victims who smoke both are almost definitely blaming it on the cigarettes and not the pot. Not to mention the obvious, that cigarettes are legal so OF COURSE the number of deaths attributed to it will be considerably larger than those attributed to a relatively rarer and illegal substance. 3,094 people died of heroine overdoses in 2010. By your "logic", heroine is 129 times "safer" (400,000 divided by 3,100) than cigarettes.

You stated: "So Tars, hate to say it; but you lose this argument."

I hate to say it; but your logic is a big epic fail.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Apr 28, 2014 11:31:22 AM

LOL, I obviously meant "heroin" and not a female hero.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Apr 28, 2014 1:04:37 PM

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