Last Update: 15 Aug 00
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REPLY #13 TO
(R) You argue that drug use makes a person more likely to commit crimes. It is a risky behavior, which makes a person more likely to commit 'real' crimes. Would I be right in summarizing your argument in this way?
(MB) That is an acceptable summary of that particular portion of my argument against Drugs.
(R) Even though I diasagree with the generalization that the greater likelihood of committing a crime should itself be criminal, I will accept it for now, because I believe that the evidence is overwhelmingly against the proposition that all narcotics possess these social ills.
(MB) Now, this is not what I argued. You can't arrest somebody for doing something that is otherwise legal simply because they are "likely" to commit a crime as a side-effect. For example, you can't arrest an adult for drinking a beer, but you *can* arrest him if he drinks more than the legal amount and then drives his car. One or two beers won't make you drunk and consuming them is entirely legal even though it *would* make it more likely that the alcohol's influence could result in the drinker committing a crime. The same reasoning could apply to small amounts of marijuana, but not to "hard" drugs such as heroin, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamines, etc.
(R) Just as the word "drug" is too broad a category, I think that "narcotic" is, also. Different narcotics have wildly different effects.
(MB) That's why there are different levels of penalties for sale, manufacture, possession and/or use of different substances.
(R) I am fully aware of the social dangers of heroin and crack cocaine. You claim that the same dangers are true of the soft drugs, like marijuana.
(MB) This would be correct in the same way that beer, wine and liquor can all get you drunk. The difference is in how much of each must be consumed in order to be in violation of legal BAC levels. Other than that, however, at equal BAC levels, you're just as drunk whether you got there by drinking beer or whiskey. It's being drunk that is the criminal activity -- not the consuming of any particular alcoholic beverage. Again, the same reasoning applies to drugs. You can get just as high from marijuana as from any other drug. It just takes more pot smoking to get there and the likelihood of overdosing is much less.
(R) The only evidence I know of is to the contrary, i.e., The National Academy of Sciences Analysis of Marijuana Policy of 1982- and many others I won't bore you with. As you would expect, they are all referenced on sites like that of NORML. So, my question is- where is the evidence that marijuna (or MDMA, or hallucinogenic mushrooms) are more likely to make someone commit actual crimes?
(MB) The Department of Justice has a large amount of published evidence to that effect. Prison system profiles of inmates show that at least 70% were marijuana smokers. Getting high (or drunk, for that matter) tends to reduce inhibitions that might otherwise prevent someone from committing a criminal act. Also, there's the factor of crimes which are committed by poor pot smokers in order to get the money to buy more marijuana.
NORML and the other advocacy groups argue that not all pot smokers commit crimes, but that argument approaches the issue from the wrong side. Not all drinkers get drunk or drive while intoxicated, but those activities are still crimes. I think that a similar approach could be workable for "recreational" marijuana use although there is no empirical measurement of how "high" somebody is that is equivalent to BAC testing for being drunk.
(R) Let me give you NORML's URL, because it cites respected scientific studies in its attacks on the myths surrounding marijuana- myths which both sides of the issue have bought into: http://www.natlnorml.org/facts/myths.shtml
(MB) I encourage all readers to get as much information as they can on this (or any) issue.
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