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July 29, 2010

"Are Opponents of Marijuana Legalization Getting Dumber?"

The title of this post is the heading of this amusing new item over at Stop the Drug War on the challenges experienced by those challenging the proposed legalization of marijuana in California.  Here is the full text:

The opposition to Prop. 19 in California would like you to believe that marijuana rots your brain. So it's just a bit ironic that the people writing their slogans couldn't pass a 3rd grade English class.

This one from Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana remained on their site for weeks after being mocked around the web:

Our children’s future are in your hands…

And this week, the anti-pot group Public Safety First launched a new ad campaign that had to be corrected immediately:

As California goes, do does the rest of the country.

Hey, mistakes happen. Maybe it's a bit childish to focus on something so trivial when so much is at stake. But I can't help but indulge my amusement at the notion that growing support for legalization has left our opposition in the hands of a bunch of remedial grammar students.

Inspired by this amusing item, I spent a little time checkout of some of the materials and arguments set forth on the website Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana.  The folks at CALM have put together an effective set of anti-marijuana materials, but I kept thinking that the same arguments can (and historically have) been made against having alcohol legal.  Consider this intro at the CALM website:

Our children's future is in your hands.... Vote NO on Legalizing Marijuana in November 2010:

  • Protect them from the message that smoked marijuana is harmless because it’s legal.
  • Protect them from the crimes related to growing and selling marijuana in your neighborhood.
  • Protect them from an increased number of drugged drivers
  • Protect our workplaces from workers using marijuana

It seems that if you replace the word marijuana with alcohol (and the word drugged with drunk), the very same arguments could be forcefully made against legalizing beer, wine and all other potent potables. 

I make these points not so much to claim that CALM's concerns are not valid, but just to highlight the reality that the debate and dynamics surrounding pot prohibition in the early part of the 21st Century still seem to me so very parallel to the debate and dynamics surrounding alcohol prohibition in the early part of the 20th Century.  For this reason, unless and until opponents start claiming that repealing alcohol prohibition was a huge mistake, I am disinclined to find compelling their assertions that repealing pot prohibition would be a huge mistake.

July 29, 2010 at 09:21 AM | Permalink


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"I make these point not so much to claim that CALM's concerns are not valid, but just to highlight the reality that the debate and dynamics surrounding pot prohibition in the early part of the 21st Century still seem to me so very parallel to the debate and dynamics surrounding alcohol prohibition in the early part of the 20th Century."

"I make these point not so much to claim that CALM's concerns are not valid"

"I make these point"

Posted by: Grammar Police | Jul 29, 2010 11:53:09 AM

Pretty funny how all the comments on the CALM website are anti-marijuana, and when I posted my opinion, the comment got deleted. You know they are clowns when they won't even debate the thing they are fighting for. Anyone should always accept and enjoy a debate if they are truly fighting for something they believe in, because it gives them a chance to strengthen their argument and teach others - but these people are exact opposite. They shout out "prohibit marijuana" and when we ask "why" they call us stupid and say "protect the kids". I'm pretty sure that protecting the kids from marijuana is the least of their concerns, and that they are just another corrupt brainless lobby reciting, like a robot, what they're paid to say.

Posted by: Vince | Jul 29, 2010 1:26:36 PM

Thanks for catching my typo, Grammar Police, which is especially ironic within a post that notes others making typos. I have now fixed the typo you flagged, and another one I found now that I re-read my comments. One of the many joys of blogging is how easy it is to fix typos. But, especially in light of Vince's post, I do not plan to delete your post noting one of the typos in my original post.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jul 29, 2010 7:14:23 PM

Marijuana proponents need to honestly answer the following questions:

Can anyone deny that there will be more drugged drivers on the road;
More "altered states" in the workplace; and
The inevitability of a thriving black market.

Please explain how any of the above benefits society.

It's funny how the "protect the kids" argument has been trivialized by proponents.

Posted by: mjs | Jul 29, 2010 8:24:40 PM

Remember the opponents of conceal carry permits? They were the ones who thought violence and Chaos would follow. Turns out that that did not happen. The anti marijuana folks are trying to use scare tactics and I hope the folks of California don't fall for it. It is time to legalize marijuana for adults.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 29, 2010 8:27:12 PM


When is it time to give up? Can you say the drug war on marijuana has been successful? Prop 19 has addressed all of your above concerns. Remember way way back one of the reasons marijuana became illegal was the thought people of color was smoking marijuana and trying to get with white women. The scare tactics will not sway the people of California.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 29, 2010 9:50:59 PM

Anon: As you have done, proponents continue to trivialize legitimate concerns with outdated, Blazing Saddles-type arguments.

Posted by: mjs | Jul 30, 2010 9:41:42 AM

The Supremacy has solved the problem of greater access, and its resulting increase in consequences. In the case of marijuana, these include impaired driving, paranoia, obesity, apathy.

If someone advocates the prohibition of marijuana, that kills hundreds, then they must advocate the prohibition of alcohol and cigarettes that kill half a million people every year. If they do not, they need to shut the eff up, the lousy paid off hypocrites and internal traitors. Tobacco companies should be growing marijuana, and making the profits and collecting the taxes now going to the Taliban, and narco-terrorists. Prohibitionists who do not advocate the abolition of cigarette and alcohol are traitors and collaborators with the terrorist enemy.

The solution is the adult pleasure license. At 18, everyone is entitled to one. If one gets or makes trouble from the consumption of adult pleasures, the licensee accumulates points. At three points, the license is suspended. Draconian penalties awaith anyone serve an adult pleasure to an unlicensed person, including the death penalty for felony murder if the licensee kills someone on the road after being served an adult pleasure and driving impaired.

This scheme leaves the overwhelming majority of adult pleasure consumers alone, and stops addicts and other problem users. For more discussion, including the preservation of privacy, see:


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 30, 2010 3:12:59 PM

MJS has the war on marijuana been successful? I couldn't help but notice you did not answer the above question?

Posted by: Anon | Jul 30, 2010 5:57:28 PM

The drug cartels and the Arabs are so wealthy, they are buying legitimate local businesses. These then make legitimate political contributions to local politicians to protect the interest of their drug businesses.

I would like to see an investigation of abolitionists since they promoting the interests of the enemies of our nation. Are they connected to Arabs or to narcoterrorist organizations?

Most Arabs in the US are Christians. They know better than anyone the oppression that follows dominance of the political system by Islamist extremists. They cannot believe how naive our leadership is in kowtowing and enabling the enemies of the USA.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 31, 2010 4:34:40 AM

Anon --

Has the war on poverty been successful? Has the war on disease been successful? Has the war on crime generally been successful? Has the war on terrorism been successful?

The answer in each case is no. Just as there is still marijuana consumption, there is still poverty, disease, crime and terrorism.

The fact that a war has not yet succeeded, and might not ever fully succeed, is scarcely a reason to stop fighting. More often, it's a reason to fight harder.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 31, 2010 8:43:50 AM


I speak for myself not anon above. I simply do not want my tax dollars fighting something that is not ever going to be won. The money could be put towards the things that you mention like poverty,disease, serious crimes, and terrorism. I respectfully disagree about stopping the fight against marijuana if something is not working (which it is most clearly not)you change directions and find something that will work. Simply if an adult wants to consume marijuana they should be able to. Bill I also want to add I do not use marijuana but I support those who do it safely just as I support those who drink responsibly. I think its time to stop giving people criminal records for marijuana.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 31, 2010 3:53:35 PM

Has the war on disease been successful?

Bill you do know that there will soon be 15 states that allow Marijuana to be used against certain diseases?

Posted by: Anon | Jul 31, 2010 3:58:47 PM

I will meet your sensible challenge, mjs, to explain where I hope this all is going. You ask: "Can anyone deny that there will be more drugged drivers on the road; more "altered states" in the workplace; and the inevitability of a thriving black market." In order:

1. There may be more drugged drivers on the road, but there may be fewer drunk drivers as some social drinkers move to be social pot consumers. And, given that texting while driving seems to be as dangerous as DWI/drunk driving, I wonder if you would trust the government to use this argument to prohibit people from having cell phones in their cars?

2. There may be more "altered states" in the workplace, though so what if that altered reality does not impact job performance. I suspect some people currently go to work drunk and/or hung over, and it leads to their dismissal if/when they do not do their jobs well.

3. I actually hope that legalization will reduce the impact and harms of the current thriving black market in pot. My sense is that there has not been a thriving black market in alcohol (despite existing high tax rates and limits on sales) since Prohibition. I doubt pot legalization will end the existing black markets immediately, but I do not know of any reason to suspect the black markets in pot will get worse.

The biggest point is that the "protect the kids" argument often proves false and that ineffective prohibition can often hurt kids more than sensible regulation could help them. Indeed, if we really wanted to protect kids from the known forces that most commonly cause non-disease deaths/injuries, we ought not let them drive until 21 (or even later) and also keep them from serving in the armed forces until 25 (or even later). The point is that "protecting kids" is a benefit that (1) needs to be proven, and (2) needs to be balanced against other costs/benefits. Sensibly, in my view, we have struck that balance by letting teenagers drive and letting adults drink and then trying to regulate the harms of these behaviors. When I advocate pot legalization in CA, I am essentially urging a "natural" experiment in that state to see if we might end up doing better by kids and others by ending prohibition. We seemed to think that was the right call on alcohol not too long ago, and I want to watch and learn from a modern experiment on the pot front.

Posted by: Doug B. | Aug 1, 2010 4:31:42 PM

I own my own copany. I been redcul for not haveing our enploes do drug testing. One of the reason my dad was in ww2 is to keep falks that belive in drug teasting out of our country. I wish i leave in calf i woud vote yes on prop 19 i dont care for my grand kids to beable to go over to some one house and buy there wed. Least if it is control they wont beable to buy it like they do now.there is no controll and i realy belive if you want to keep it elgae than you suport the drug cartel and our childern in buy it

Posted by: Douglas | Oct 23, 2010 9:56:36 AM

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