Odds and Ends

bullet image Jacob Sullum nails it once again with Pathetic Pot Prohibitionists

This is what passes for smart commentary among pot prohibitionists. Colorado’s path-breaking legalization of the marijuana business has revealed the intellectual bankruptcy of people who think violence is an appropriate response to consumption of psychoactive substances they do not like.

People like Kevin Sabet, the former Office of National Drug Control Policy official who co-founded Project SAM. Sabet’s main strategy for defending prohibition consists of pairing the word big with the word marijuana, based on the assumption that Americans will flee in terror from the resulting phrase.

bullet image Nancy Grace: Legalizing marijuana for recreational use is a ‘horrible idea’

Grace is not a fan of the law, telling Baldwin she thinks that legalizing marijuana for recreational use is a “horrible idea.” Grace said that she wouldn’t want anyone on pot to take care of her kids or drive a cab. She then went for the jugular, claiming that anyone who disagreed with her was “lethargic, sitting on the sofa, eating chips … fat and lazy.”

I’ve done more good for this world during the time I was sitting on the sofa, eating chips, than Nancy Grace has done in her entire career.

bullet image How Colorado disrupted the drug war by David Sirota

I think this is a must-read for strategists in drug policy. You may disagree, but the points make a lot of sense.

We know, for instance, that despite polls showing that Americans appreciated all the legitimate financial, logistical and human rights reasons to oppose the Iraq War, the country kept voting for politicians who supported that war, in part, because the war was sold as a security necessity. Similarly, while polls show Americans are uncomfortable with the National Security Administration’s mass surveillance, they also show that many are willing to tolerate it in the (factually unsubstantiated) belief that they have stopped terrorism.

It’s the same dynamic for drug policy — in Tvert’s words, no matter how compelling the financial, moral and civil rights case is for drug policy reform, in today’s fear-based political environment, “If people think something is going to kill them and their child, regardless of whether it is actually true, they will never support it.”

And that, of course, fits with the prohibitionists approach: fear, fear, fear. They trot out every discredited study to try to show that cannabis is harmful.

The answer in Colorado was to compare it to something people already know well — alcohol. Hence the “Marijuana is Safer” campaign.

“There are still drug policy reform groups who choose to avoid this message,” he says with a sigh, as we discuss MPP’s new plans to mount legalization bids in Alaska, Arizona and Maine. “There are some advocates who think that it will make people think marijuana is bad because alcohol is bad. Some think we shouldn’t be disparaging alcohol. Others are worried about the stories that suggest it may be upsetting the alcohol industry. But here’s the thing that can’t be ignored: this message has been incredibly successful.”

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