Last Update: 15 Aug 00
Return to "Drugs" essay
REPLY #14 TO
(R) You seem to have this view that my smoking maurijauna is hurting society or someone else in some way.
(MB) My views are in reference to the general effects of usage of marijuana and other illegal drugs.
(R) I don't agree with this at all. I have never commited a crime, I've never gotten violent, I've never done anything while under the influence that I wouldn't have done straight.
(MB) I guess any evaluation of your statement would depend largely upon what you *would* do while straight...*grin* In any case, the argument itself is insufficient.
As parallel examples, consider that there are also some folks who can drink copious amounts of alcohol and not suffer any sort of impairment even though their BAC might be well over the legal limit. Yet, I doubt anybody will argue that drunk driving laws should be changed or eliminated because some people don't suffer the same physical and mental effects that befall everybody else. Consider that some people have unprotected sex and are fortunate enough to never contract an STD or have an unintended pregnancy. Yet, I doubt that these cases will motivate anybody to call for the cessation of the promotion of safe sex. Or, consider that the fact that there are a few mature and intelligent 16-year olds is not sufficient reason to change laws which specify the age of adulthood.
The bottom line is that one person's example can't be extrapolated to represent the behavior of a larger group. Invalid stereotyping can work from both positive and negative viewpoints.
(R) I think you have swallowed the anti-drug propaganda hook, line and sinker.
(MB) No, the point here is that the rare exception does not invalidate the general rule as far as our legal system is concerned.
(R) I would be the first to agree with you that I don't think drugs are good. But that is a very personal choice, and I strongly believe in letting every individual make that personal choice free from anti-drug lies and propaganda.
(MB) Our legal system recognizes that personal freedoms have limits. One such limit is expressed by one of my favorite and oft-referenced maxims, "Your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins". I would have no objections from a legal standpoint to personal drug use if it didn't lead to so many things which significantly affect society with practically no real accompanying benefits.
(R) The proper way to change behaviour in our 'enlightened' society these days is to give an individual all the information and facts and let them make their own decision.
(MB) And, what if the all-too-common outcome of such personal decisions is injury to the person and property of others with no balancing positive contributions to those same people and their property?
(R) Sadly this is not the case. The anti-drug crusaders want to ban these substances, spread lies about them, wildly inflate the value of drugs seized to make themselvels look good.
(MB) There's no doubt that there is a certain level of spin-doctoring going on in the so-called "War on Drugs". But, the pro-drug people aren't innocent of using the same tactics. It would seem more responsible to err on the side of caution in this case.
Take the case of those who promote the use of marijuana because of the claims of certain medical benefits. That sounds pretty good at face value until you realize that the number of people for whom marijuana would be the most effective treatment is the most minute fraction compared to the numbers who wish to have their marijuana smoking legalized. So, what positive spin should be used to promote the use of marijuana by the 99%+ who would not be using it for medicinal purposes?
(R) You say that people should go about changing the laws throught the proper channels, but one of the main reasons its so hard, is due to the lies of the anti-drug crusaders. The average person hear all that negative stuff about maurijauna, and find it hard to comprehend that it might be all lies.
(MB) The problem with that argument is that there really is *no* positive case to be made in favor of marijuana use by the general population and there is considerable evidence of its deleterious effects on users. The "personal freedoms" argument really doesn't go very far. What else is there?
(R) If you can't convince somebody with logic and reason, do you resort to lies and force?
(MB) Well, the Church has been resorting to that for thousands of years, so I guess it's a tried-and-true technique...:-( But, I think you're going a bit overboard in portraying the effort as being "lies and force". Whether one agrees with the methods used, I don't know how one can argue against the goal of attempting to improve the welfare of the general public. By the way, just so there's no doubt that I'm consistent in my views, I also support the pressure being applied to the tobacco industry and the efforts to dissuade kids from using tobacco.
(R) What does that say about the person imposing the force? Do they get a kick out ot telling other people what to do?
(MB) It's a matter of looking out for the welfare of the general public and not one of "getting kicks" from doing so. We are supposed to have a government which is representative of the wishes of the governed (all rightful and sarcastic skepticism notwithstanding). Such a government must necessarily have a vested interest in the welfare of the general public and will place it above individual "freedoms" which are generally damaging to the public's welfare. If you think about it, that's really the basis of why almost *anything* illegal has been legislated to be that way.
(R) I think its very similar to relegious extremism, forcing ones point of view on someone else.
(MB) Possibly, except that religion has no facts to back up its claims.
(R) Enough ranting, I've got a couple of questions to ask you. Question 1: Can you give any real examples of harm done to society by the use of pot? You repeatedly say "your right to freely swing your fist ends where my nose begins." but do you have anything else?
(MB) The evidence is abundant concerning the deleterious effects of marijuana smoking. The harmful effects to the body are well documented. The cases of stoned individuals wreaking havoc on innocent people are comparable to those of drunk drivers. The news often reports cases of school bus drivers and others who have had spectacular and fatal accidents resulting in many deaths and injuries while under the influence of marijuana. There are too many instances where pot smoking has caused substandard or dangerously incompetent job performance. Many of these people get fired, can't get other jobs and may become dependent on crime to obtain money.
I don't think that the "What harm does it do to society?" argument is very compelling. It would be far better to emphasize the opposite question: "What *good* does pot smoking do for society?". Until that question receives a sufficient answer, the only evidence is negative and that doesn't bode well for any chance of future legalization.
(R) Question 2: Does this 'harm' justify criminalizing pot, and people who have done nothing else but possess pot?
(MB) Harm committed against people and property is not a trivial matter. It should also be rather obvious that nobody merely "possesses" pot without having any intention of using it (or selling it to somebody who will use it).
(R) I contend that the only *real* danger in using pot is getting busted.
(MB) The evidence would seem to suggest otherwise.
(R) I've got a couple of responses to your responses:
(MB) Great! Fire away...
I think you're rather off-base here. The police don't keep the property seized in drug busts. It is sold at public auction and the drugs are destroyed. There is no doubt that there is a lot of bogus information going around, but neither side is innocent. As with almost any issue, each side puts its own favorable spin on things in order to advance its own agenda.
(R) What? I've seen many shows on TV that feature cops driving around in fancy cop cars that have logos on them, like ''this car was provided by your local drug dealer" You seem to be sidestepping my point though. They directly benefit from stuff that they seize. Don't tell me that they are so perfect that they never abuse that!
(MB) Did you notice that those same shows also generally feature the investigation and trial of those same cops? How do you think the cops "benefit" in any legal way from what is seized in drug busts?
[RE: You mention that you think drug use is an escape, and seem to think that all drug use results in intoxication. This is untrue. I used to smoke marijuana quite heavily and I never would consider the effect I got intoxication.]
What would you call the effect? Remember that "intoxication" is not something which applies only to the overuse of alcohol. I doubt you're going to claim that you smoked marijuana only for the taste.
(R) I would call it more like enlightenment. More like an expanded sense of empathy, spirituality, and oneness with the universe. Unfortunately it goes away!
(MB) No emotion or emotional state endures forever. If you were always happy and never experienced any other state with which to compare that feeling, how would you know you were "happy"? Wouldn't you eventually wonder if that state was all there was to experience? And, how could it be truly appreciated unless it was in contrast to states of *not* being happy?
When under the influence of any mind-altering drug, your own ability to accurately assess your state of mind is, itself, altered. Therefore, you can never really be sure of what you are experiencing. True enlightenment is never attained artificially and it never goes away. It is attained through reason and understanding and is experienced with one's faculties completely intact and functioning. Drugs actually make it *less* likely that you will ever truly attain that state.
Your statement "Unfortunately it goes away!" is the sentiment which leads to psychological and physical addiction to one's drug of choice. Since it is difficult to spin addiction into being anything good, that's just another argument added to the case against drug use.
(R) The main reason I chose to stop, was I came to realize that searching for happiness in an external substance is very limiting.
(MB) Good for you! Unfortunately, too many others are too weak of character to reach or accept the same conclusion. It's my hope that your character will remain strong.
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