Skip to main content

Post Prop 19 arguments

There simply aren't any good arguments in favor of prohibition. But people keep trying. Fortunately, there are smart people like Andrew Sullivan publicly destroying these bad arguments. A snippet:

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

Should we ban roses because they give us pleasure with their beauty and their scent? Should we ban herbs, like rosemary or thyme, because they give us pleasure and encourage us to eat more? Should we ban lawn-grass because maintaining it consumes too many people's weekend afternoons? Should we cut down trees because the beauty of them can sometimes distract someone from the road? I could go on.

The point is the government has no business regulating how its citizens derive pleasure from a naturally occurring plant. Period. The whole idea is preposterous. And yet it is taken for granted.

I hope the prohibitionists continue to roll out their "best" arguments between now and the next time legalization comes up for a vote.


diabolical_mdog said…
Opium poppies are plants...shouldn't the criteria be whether it is something that humans are generally capable of using in moderation?
JohnJohn said…
Mdog! Good to hear from you!

Nope, I don't agree with that criterion at all, for several reasons:

1) Alcohol is made from plants, many people can't use alcohol in moderation, and alcohol prohibition was a tremendous failure. A failure that sadly we haven't learned from. Should we outlaw alcohol again? Should we outlaw tobacco? If not, then we shouldn't outlaw cannabis, even *if* people can't use it in moderation.

2) People can't eat fast food in moderation. By your criterion we should outlaw Big Macs. This wouldn't work any better than alcohol prohibition. People are gonna put bad stuff in their bodies if they want to, no matter what the law says.

3) Implicit in your argument is the idea that outlawing poppy seeds has helped prevent people from being addicted to heroine. This is dubious. I don't use heroine, but not because it is illegal---I've used illegal substances with little fear of arrest. I don't use heroine because I make the decision not to.

4) Anyone not convinced that drug legalization works to reduce drug use, addiction and crime, check out this Cato Institute report on drug decriminalization in Portugal...which started 9 years ago and resulted in far more good than bad.

Drug prohibition is a monumental failure. Why should we waste money, prison space and human lives to continue it?

Popular posts from this blog

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:

It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

Culture: Made Fresh Daily

There are two inspirations for this essay worth noting. The first is an impromptu talk I gave to the board of trustees at Thatcher School while I was visiting in October as an Anacapa Fellow. Spending time on this remarkable campus interacting with the students, faculty and staff helped solidify my notions about how culture can be intentionally created. The second source is Beam Times and Lifetimes by Sharon Tarweek, an in-depth exploration of the culture of particle physics told by an anthropologist embedded at SLAC for two decades. It's a fascinating look at the strange practices and norms that scientists take for granted.
One of the stories that scientists tell themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, is that science exists outside of and independent of society. A corollary of this notion is that if a scientific subfield has a culture, e.g. the culture of astronomy vs. the culture of chemistry, that culture is essential rather than constructed. That is to say, scientific c…

The subtle yet real racism of the Supreme Court

Judge Roberts, a member of the highest court in the land, which is currently hearing the sad story of mediocre college aspirant Abigail Fischer, recently asked, "What unique ­perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class? I’m just wondering what the benefits of diversity are in that situation?" 
Did you catch the white supremacy in this question? If not, don't feel bad because it's subtly hidden beneath the cloaking field of colorblind racism. (As for Scalia's ign'nt-ass statements, I'm not even...)
Try rephrasing the question: "What unique perspective does a white student bring to a physics classroom?" The answer is, of course, absolutely nothing! Why? Because race isn't biological, and is therefore not deterministic of cognitive abilities. Did you perhaps forget that you knew that when considering Roberts' question? If so, again, it's understandable. Our society and culture condition all of us to forget basic facts …