When A Lie Travels: Comparing Alcohol To Marijuana

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 September 25, 2016|
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This November, several states will vote on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and the proponents of legalization have seized on a seemingly clever argument: marijuana is safer than alcohol.  The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, an effort of the Marijuana Policy Project (or MPP), has taken this argument across the country.  Their latest strategy is labeled Marijuana vs. Alcohol.  It is a very misleading, even dangerous, message, based on bad social science and sophistic public deception.

Citing out-of-date studies that go back ten years and more, even using that well-known scientific journal, Wikipedia, the MPP never references current research on the harms of today’s high potency and edible marijuana, studies that come out monthly if not more frequently.  Indeed, their Marijuana vs. Alcohol page concludes with a 1988 statement about the negligible harms of marijuana—but that is a marijuana that simply does not exist anymore, neither in mode nor potency.  Today’s marijuana is at least five times more potent, and sold in much different form.  And the science of marijuana and its effects on the brain have come some distance since 1988 as well.

So out-of-date is the science and knowledge of marijuana from thirty years ago, it would be malpractice in any other field to suggest that kind of information about a drug having any contemporary relevance at all.  One almost wonders if the MPP thinks public health professors still instruct their students on how to use microfiche to perform their research as they prepare to write their papers on 5k memory typewriters.

It is simply misleading in a public health campaign to cite dated research while at the same time ignore a larger body of current evidence that points in the opposite direction of a desired outcome.  At great potential peril to our public health, political science (in the hands of the marijuana industry) is far outrunning medical science.  But the danger is clear: with the further promotion, marketing, and use of an increasingly known dangerous substance, public health and safety will pay the price.

Consider three basic problems with the industry’s latest campaign:

I.  Comparisons of relative dangers of various drugs are simply impossible and can often lead to paradoxical conclusions.  It is impossible to compare a glass of chardonnay and its effects on various adults of various weights and tolerance levels with the inhalation or consumption of a high-potency marijuana joint or edible.  Is the joint from the 5 percent THC level or the 25 percent level?  How about a 30 mg—or stronger—gummy bear?  A glass of wine with dinner processes through the body in about an hour and has little remaining effect.  A marijuana brownie or candy can take up to 90 minutes to even begin to take effect.

Consider a consumer of a glass of wine who ate a full meal and waited an hour or more before driving and a consumer of a marijuana edible taking the wheel of a plane, train, automobile, or anything else.  The wine drinker would likely be sober, the marijuana consumer would just be getting high, and, given the dose, possibly very high at that.

True, marijuana consumption rarely causes death, but its use is not benign.  Last year, an ASU professor took a standard dose of edible marijuana, just two marijuana coffee beans. The effect?  “[E]pisodes of convulsive twitching and jerking and passing out” before the paramedics were called.  Such episodes are rare for alcohol, but they are increasingly happening with marijuana.

Beyond acute effects, the chronic impact of marijuana is also damaging.  Approximately twice the percentage of regular marijuana users will experience Marijuana Use Disorder than will alcohol users experience Alcohol Use Disorder—both disorders categorized by the Diagnostic Statistics Manual (DSM).[1]   Marijuana is also the number one substance of abuse for teens admitted to treatment, far higher than the percentage who present with alcohol problems.  In fact, the most recent data out of Colorado shows 20 percent of teens admitted for treatment have marijuana listed as their primary substance of abuse compared to less than one percent for alcohol.

Still, the Campaign persists in its deceptions—as if they have not even read their own literature.  One online marketing tool it recently deployed was the “Consume Responsibly” campaign.  Delve into that site and you will find this warning: “[Smoked marijuana] varies from person to person, you should wait at least three to four hours before driving a vehicle.”  And: “Edible marijuana products and some other infused products remain in your system several hours longer, so you should not operate a vehicle for the rest of the day after consuming them.”  Who has ever been told that they should not operate a vehicle for four hours, much less for the rest of the day, if they had a glass of wine or beer?  Safer than alcohol?  This is not even true according to the MPP’s own advice.

Beyond unscientific dose and effect comparisons, there is a growing list of problems where marijuana use does, indeed, appear to be more harmful than alcohol.  According to Carnegie Mellon’s Jonathan Caulkins: “Marijuana is significantly more likely to interfere with life functioning” than alcohol and “it is moderately more likely to create challenges of self-control and to be associated with social and mental health problems.”

Additionally, a recent study out of UC Davis revealed that marijuana dependence was more strongly linked to financial difficulties than alcohol dependence and had the same impacts on downward mobility, antisocial behavior in the workplace, and relationship conflict as alcohol.

II.  The marijuana industry pushes and promotes the use of a smoked or vaped substance, but never compares marijuana to tobacco.  Indeed, the two substances have much more in common than marijuana and alcohol, especially with regard to the products themselves and the method of consumption (though we are also seeing increasing sales of child-attractive marijuana candies).  But why is the comparison never made?  The answer lies in the clear impossibility.

Consider: Almost every claim about marijuana’s harms in relation to alcohol has to do with the deaths associated with alcohol.  But, hundreds of thousands more people die from tobacco than alcohol.  Based on their measures of mortality, which is safer: alcohol or tobacco?  Can one safely drink and drive?  No.  Can one smoke as many cigarettes as one wants while driving?  Of course. So, what’s the more dangerous substance?  Mortality does not answer that question.

Alcohol consumption can create acute problems, while tobacco consumption can create chronic problems.  And those chronic problems particularly affect organs like the lungs, throat, and heart.  But what of the chronic impact on the brain?  That’s the marijuana risk, and, seemingly, society is being told that brains are less important than lungs.  Nobody can seriously believe that, which is why these comparisons simply fail scrutiny.

This illustrates but one of the problems in comparing dangerous substances. As Professor Caulkins recently wrote:

The real trouble is not that marijuana is more or less dangerous than alcohol; the problem is that they are altogether different….The country is not considering whether to switch the legal statuses of alcohol and marijuana. Unfortunately, our society does not get to choose either to have alcohol’s dangers or to have marijuana’s dangers. Rather, it gets to have alcohol’s dangers…and also marijuana’s dangers.

Further, marijuana problems are associated with alcohol problems.  New research out of Columbia University reveals that marijuana users are five times more likely to have an alcohol abuse disorder.  Society doesn’t just switch alcohol for marijuana—too often, one ends up with use of both, compounding both problems.

The larger point for voters to understand:  The marijuana legalization movement is not trying to ban or end alcohol sales or consumption; rather, it wants to add marijuana to the dangerous substances already available, including alcohol.  This is not about marijuana or alcohol, after all.  It’s about marijuana and alcohol.

We can see this effect in states like Colorado, with headlines such as “Alcohol sales get higher after weed legalization.”  And, according to the most recent federal data[2], alcohol use by teens, as well as adults, has increased in Colorado since 2012 (the year of legalization). If alcohol is the problem for the MPP, in their model state–Colorado–alcohol consumption has increased with marijuana legalization.  Legalizing marijuana will, in the end, only make alcohol problems worse.

III.  The legalization movement regularly cites to one study in the Journal of Scientific Reports to “prove” that marijuana is safer than alcohol.  But this study leads to odd conclusions in what the authors, themselves, call a “novel risk assessment methodology.”  For instance, the researchers find that every drug, from cocaine to meth to MDMA to LSD, is found to be safer than alcohol. (See this graph).  By the MPP standard, we should thereby make these substances legal as well.  But, seeing such data in its full light, we all know this would be nonsensical.

Further, the authors specifically write that they only looked at acute effects and did not analyze “chronic toxicity,” and cannot judge marijuana and “long term effects.”  Indeed, they specifically write in their study the toxicity of marijuana“may therefore be underestimated” given the limitations of their examinationYet legalizers ignore these statements.  Always.  It simply does not fit their narrative.

What long-term effects are we talking about?  To cite the New England Journal of Medicine: “addiction, altered brain development, poor educational outcomes, cognitive impairment,” and “increased risk of chronic psychosis disorders.”  Now think about what it will mean to make a drug with those adverse effects more available, and for recreational use.

Finally, the very authors of the much-cited Journal of Scientific Reports study specifically warn their research should be “treated carefully particularly in regard to dissemination to lay people….especially considering the differences of risks between individuals and the whole population.”  But this is precisely what commercialization is about—not individual adult use but making a dangerous drug more available to “the whole population.”

Given what we know in states like Colorado, we clearly see that legalization creates more availability which translates into more use, affecting whole populations—Colorado college-age use, for example, is now 62 percent higher than the national average. [See FN2, below].

And the science is coming in, regularly.  Indeed, the same journal the MPP points to in its two-year old “novel” study, just this year published another study and found:

[N]eurocognitive function of daily or near daily cannabis users can be substantially impaired from repeated cannabis use, during and beyond the initial phase of intoxication. As a consequence, frequent cannabis use and intoxication can be expected to interfere with neurocognitive performance in many daily environments such as school, work or traffic.

That is why these comparisons of safety and harm are—in the end—absurd and dangerous.  In asking what is safer, the true answer is “neither.”  And for a variety of reasons.  But where one option is impossible to eliminate (as in alcohol), society should not add to the threat that exists:  One doesn’t say because a playground is near train tracks you should also put a highway there.  You fence off the playground.

That, however, is not the choice the MPP has given us.  They are not sponsoring legislation to reduce the harms of alcohol, they are, instead, saying that with all the harms of alcohol, we should now add marijuana.  But looking at all the problems society now has with substance abuse, the task of the serious is to reduce the problems with what already exists, not advance additional dangers.

If the MPP and its Campaigns to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol are serious about working on substance abuse problems, we invite them to join those of us who have labored in these fields for years.  One thing we do know: adding to the problems with faulty arguments, sloppy reasoning, and questionable science, will not reduce the problems they point to.  It will increase them.  And that, beyond faulty argument and sloppy reasoning, is public policy malfeasance.

[1] See http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2464591 compared to http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2300494

[2] 2011/2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health compared to 2013/2014.

About the Author:

Seth Leibsohn
Seth Leibsohn is a Contributing Editor to American Greatness and is the host of The Seth & Chris Show, heard nightly on 960am/KKNT in Phoenix. You can connect with Seth on Twitter: @SethLeibsohn
  • Dave Edwards

    Isn’t Trumpism all about creating jobs in America?

  • kelley davis

    Hay everyone!

    SAM: Smart Approaches to Marijuana Kevin Sabet Admits Lying to Massachusetts Voters

    • kevin_hunt

      Kevin Sabet is a career liar!

  • MikeParent

    6 people die everyday in the USA from alcohol poisoning aka slcohol overdose. No ones ever died from a MJ overdose.
    Alcohol causes many disease and MJ doesn’t.
    Those are the facts.
    Anyone who says MJ is more dangerous than alcohol is a soulless liar.

    • Eric Johnson

      If smoking the reefer made everyone peace loving and happy then the ghetto slums of Detroit would be the closest thing to utopia on Earth.

      • MikeParent

        Non sequitur.
        Whites use MJ as much or more than Blacks.
        The point is that 6 people die everyday from alcohol poisoning

        • Zardoz1

          You missed his point.
          Are you high?

          • kevin_hunt

            Eric Johnson didn’t have a valid point.

      • kevin_hunt

        The slums of Detroit (or anywhere else) are violent because of poverty, not because of weed.

        • Matthew Kilburn

          Substance lifestyles help perpetuate that poverty. How many kids in Detroit are skipping school on a regular basis to get high, or getting roped into pushing drugs (a problem which will not go away with legalization)? How many of those are ever going to make it out of the “‘hood”?

          • kevin_hunt

            “Substance lifestyles help perpetuate that poverty. “?

            Proof?

            “or getting roped into pushing drugs “?

            How much profit is there in selling bootleg liquor since prohibition ended?

            The only reason that kids sell dope is that a black market exists for it.

          • Matthew Kilburn

            Dope (which actually originally refers to opiods, btw) is easier to push than liquor. It is easier to produce, transport, conceal, and consume. You can grow weed in your closet.

            What makes you think you’re going to get rid of the black market just by legalizing it? Are you going to make it so cheap there will be no gain in distributing more potent varieties, or distributing existing varieties to those who can’t purchase it legally?

            After all, how effective have we been at keeping alcohol – widely available, and mostly acceptable – out of the hands of children?

            Legalize pot, and watch usage rates skyrocket.

          • kevin_hunt

            “After all, how effective have we been at keeping alcohol – widely available, and mostly acceptable – out of the hands of children?”

            How are you going to keep any naturally occurring substance out of the hands of children? And kid can pour yeast into a jug of apple cider and wait two weeks.

            Do you have ANY proof that prohibition has reduced the demand for or supply of a naturally occurring weed?

          • Jacob Hoss

            >What makes you think you’re going to get rid of the black market just by legalizing it?
            The 21st Amendment shut down the vast majority of illegal distilleries and smuggling operations. There is no reasoning with you totalitarian bootlickers.

        • Eric Johnson

          Maybe if they can’t get a job because they would rather pick up a bong.

          • kevin_hunt

            Got Proof? “maybe” doesn’t convince me.

            “Maybe” bigfoot exists. “Maybe” space aliens have replaced your brains with mashed potatoes. “Maybe” monkeys might fly out of your but(t).

          • Eric Johnson
          • kevin_hunt

            Nice try, but your source does not claim that kids in Detroit can’t get a job because they are ‘picking up a bong’. You fail….

            From your source:

            “but the results could be consistent with the idea that previously drug-free workers could have turned to drugs after losing their jobs.

            During episodes of large increases in unemployment, the number of drug users can increase dramatically,” their paper reads.

            It’s not just the unemployed who are indulging. A surprising number of addicts are employed.

            About 21 million American adults were dependent on alcohol or drugs in 2012, the highest number on record, according to the government’s data. Half of them had full-time jobs.

            Among them, alcoholism is the most common form of substance abuse.
            But taking alcohol out of the mix, about 40% of people who are addicted to illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroine, are holding down full-time jobs too.

            Casual use of illegal drugs is also fairly common among full-time workers. About 9% of workers used at least one illicit drug in the prior month, when the survey was conducted in 2012.”

          • Jacob Hoss

            That is a total non-sequitur. Lots of lazy people like playing video games, by your logic we should ban them and spend billions incarcerating people who play them because they cause unemployment.

          • Eric Johnson

            Non-sequitur. I can play a video game during my lunch break and still be able to operate heavy machinery during work.

  • QET

    The writer’s principal argument seems to be that because we can’t outlaw booze, we must continue to outlaw weed. Not only is that a non sequitur, it suggests that if the writer had his druthers he would outlaw alcohol. Banning things/actions/behaviors is a hallmark of the Left, and I have no interest in a conservatism that would adopt the same strategy. In my view that is precisely what has gone wrong in this country. As the Left has demolished the moral foundations of communal life here, it has imagined that it can substitute legislation and administration, and we see where that has got us. Nor am I impressed with the “evidence” cited in support of the writer’s Prohibition preference. It is every bit as questionable as that of the legalize camp.

    No, the axiom that must guide all such matters was best said by Isaiah Berlin: “We are more concerned with making people free than making them happy; we would rather that they choose badly than not at all.”

    • Eric Johnson

      Go back to Reason.com with your raw milk hippie!

      But in all seriousness, since the Left went and destroyed “the moral foundations of communal life” as you so claimed, then wouldn’t legalization of reefer accelerate the already break down of society?

      It’s all well and good for people to have the right to choose between Good and Bad, but such a system would only work when there are negative consequences for choosing Bad. The bloated welfare state would have to go first, otherwise all your doing is just creating more dependents.

      • QET

        “If alcohol abuse is bad, then why add to it?”

        Because there is no natural limit to that logic. If something bad is allowed, then all other bad things must be disallowed, is what this logic amounts to. Other than the fact they are both intoxicants, there is nothing that logically connects the treatment of one with the treatment of the other. Even this writer presents statements affirming their utter distinctness. And so if you are going to make one thing the basis for banning another, totally distinct thing, you won’t stop until everything you deem “bad” is banned. That is no way to live.

        Additionally, we have millennia of evidence demonstrating the actual effects of alcohol use, both acute and chronic, over an enormous sample size consisting of billions of people across multiple places and times. All of the evidence this writer adduces in support of his argument against legalizing marijuana is recent, speculative and used small sample sizes. Long-term use *might” result in this or *might* result in that, say the “scientists.” This is not sufficient for a free people. The actual non-speculative evidence we do have strongly suggests to any but a prejudiced observer that the deleterious effects of marijuana, both on the user and on his neighbors, are less than those or alcohol by many orders of magnitude.

        The idea that the moral foundations of social life are eroded by alcohol or marijuana is puzzling to me, as I do not see them as in any way connected with those foundations.

        • Eric Johnson

          All of this conclusive evidence that you point to for legalization of marijuana is woefully out of date as pointed out by this article. Otherwise, as the author so demonstrated, the Marijuana Policy Project would be using newer studies that are not 30 + years old. All modern data we have now shows that marijuana is detrimental to both physical and mental health.

          It is one thing to argue that people have the right to make a bad decision, yet it is completely disingenuous to then claim that the Bad Decision is not really that bad at all. Which one is it? Note all the hostility the pro legalization crowd has for the DARE Program.

          If you want to get stoned, then just say so. Do not be dishonest by claiming some high ground of moral principle. (Pun intended.)

          • QET

            I’m not talking about “studies.” As evidence of anything those are of little value. I am talking about history and life. No studies are needed to demonstrate the effects of alcohol use. People have known those effects for millennia. The people that brought us Prohibition did not do so on the basis of any studies. Likewise, the actual use for many decades by many people of marijuana has produced its own evidence, and that evidence is clear that the adverse effects both to the individual and to society are not even on the road to the ballpark of alcohol. This is simply a fact and no study can change that.

            Prohibition was a crusade based not on faux science, as is typical nowadays, but on morality. Personally, while I do not accept the morality-based argument, I don’t deny that it exists, and so you and others desiring to keep marijuana illegal should just own your moral evaluation of the issue and continue to argue it on that level, instead of manufacturing pseudo-science because you think that is the sort of marketing literature you need to sell your preference to today’s consumers.

            And I am hardly having anything both ways. I do not believe that marijuana is “bad” in any sense even approximating alcohol insofar as its effects on individual abusers and societies go, but to the extent that it is seen as “bad,” then I still do not support a paternalistic government banning it. Both are substances that can be used without ill effects yet both are capable of being abused with ill effects.

            And I have not reviewed anything put out by the MPP or any other formal organization dedicated to legalizing marijuana so I have no idea whether their arguments pro don’t reflect the same sort of erroneous pseudo-science posturing that this writer represents.

          • Eric Johnson

            Bull. I would have more respect for you if you would have just said all you want to do is fire up a fatty and veg on the couch all day. That I can understand, but to spread the lies about marijuana being safe is flat out dishonest.

            If you have to lie for your ideal then your ideal isn’t worth having.

          • QET

            Yeah, no, this is nothing to do with my or anyone else’s personal habits and everything to do with the way in which people (such as the writer of this article) go about attempting to disguise their moral objections–which are not per se invalid but which I may, as in this case, disagree with–with a veneer of pseudo-science. And I did not ever claim that marijuana was “safe,” primarily because that word is a red herring. Some people will get stoned and crash their cars, just like some drunk people will. For those people, marijuana will have proved to be “unsafe.” Some people will become hospitalized and perhaps die from acute THC poisoning, just like some drunk people will with acute alcohol poisoning. For those people, marijuana will have proved to be “unsafe.” Some people will get stoned so often that they permanently alter their neurochemistry, or get cancer or other disease, just like people who chronically drink alter their neurochemistry, damage their livers, etc. For those people, marijuana will have proved to be “unsafe.” All that I grant, yet still disagree that banning the one whose historical evidence proves to be far less “unsafe” than the other, in terms of the raw numbers of people adversely affected by their use, is the right decision for a free people.

          • kevin_hunt

            “Note all the hostility the pro legalization crowd has for the DARE Program.”?

            DARE supports the harassment and incarceration of marijuana consumers. If there was a group (ISIS for example) that advocated the police kicking down YOUR door, kidnapping YOUR children, and throwing you in a filthy cage with a butt-rapist…wouldn’t YOU be hostile towards them?

            Are you aware that DARE has been totally ineffective at reducing drug use rates?

          • Eric Johnson

            I am not the one selling poison to children, so I seriously doubt the Cops will be harassing me anytime soon.

          • kevin_hunt

            Do you have any proof that state-legal marijuana shops are selling to children?

            FYI: You don’t have to be doing anything illegal to have these fascist pig drug cops harass you.

            “Two former CIA employees are suing Kansas police, claiming a raid on their home was unfounded. They say a SWAT team descended on their home in April 2012 without a warrant in search of contraband, only to find vegetables growing in their basement.

Adlynn and Robert Harte claimed that even after repeated attempts for clarification, police have refused to divulge any reasoning for the raid, the AP reports. They believe the decision came from government officials who knew the Hartes had purchased equipment from a store selling hydroponics – which can be used to grow marijuana, among other plants.

“With little or no other evidence of illegal activity, law enforcement officers make the assumption that shoppers at the store are potential marijuana growers, even though the stores are most commonly frequented by backyard gardeners who grow organically or start seedlings indoors,” reads the couple’s lawsuit.

Robert and Adlyn said their two children, aged 7 and 13, were “shocked and frightened” when a SWAT team wielding assault weapons pounded on their door just after 7:00 in the morning.

Robert Harte said that the family had three tomato plants, one melon and two butternut squash growing in the basement after using high powered lights to build the hydroponic garden years ago.”

          • Eric Johnson

            Pot candy anybody?

            What jagoff goes tomatoes in the basement?

          • kevin_hunt

            “Pot candy anybody?”

            non sequitur anybody?

            “What jagoff goes tomatoes in the basement?”

            Evidently, a squeaky-clean former CIA employee who was teaching his kids how to raise their own food. Should that be illegal?

            Drug cops converge on Georgia man’s property after spotting … okra

            Cartersville, Georgia, man says police “strapped to the gills” came to his house last week A helicopter belonging to a drug task force mistook his okra plants for cannabis, police say.

            Jokes aside, man worries: “The more I thought about it, what could have happened?” The grower was alarmed when the police helicopter swooped low over his property. Soon, Bartow County, Georgia, deputies — “strapped to the gills” and with a drug dog in tow — converged on his doorstep.

            They had the grower dead to rights.

            Except the plant that the chopper cops had spotted from the air was … okra.
            Dwayne Perry of Cartersville told CNN affiliate WSB that he is none too happy about last week’s “raid” conducted by the governor’s drug suppression task force.

            “Here I am, at home and retired and you know I do the right thing,” Perry told the station. “Then they come to my house strapped with weapons for no reason. It ain’t right.”He received many calls about all of the police officers at his home, Perry said, and he worries that his reputation in the community may suffer.”

            source: CNN

          • Jacob Hoss

            Because the DARE programme is utter bollocks, predicated on lies and hysteria. And the studies cited by the pro-prohibition crowd that seem to show that marijuana is harmful are significantly older, and their methodologies are infamously bad. There are thousands of death each year from both alcohol and tobacco, but there are ZERO deaths conclusively linked to marijuana’s effects. Unless you aren’t ashamed of being completely inconsistent, you simply cannot support marijuana prohibition without also wanting to see alcohol and tobacco (and caffeine for that matter) banned. And you can’t say that you believe in ‘small government’ whilst wanting the government to be able to tightly regulate the private behaviour of individuals based on the irrational, uninformed opinions of low-information teabaggers.

          • Eric Johnson

            You misspelled program.

      • kevin_hunt

        “otherwise all your doing is just creating more dependents.”… just like the $40K per year that it takes to house a drug war prisoner ?

        • Eric Johnson

          Rope is a lot cheaper, I will admit that.

          • kevin_hunt

            Name one country that executes people for doing (non alcohol, non tobacco, non pharmaceutical) drugs and tell me why you would want to live there.

            Do you think that Singapore, Saudi Arabia, or China fit your definition of ‘free countries’?

          • Eric Johnson

            Singapore does have a very low crime rate and they are business friendly!

          • kevin_hunt

            It’s also illegal to criticize the president of Singapore and minor gun violations carry the death penalty.

            Would you like it if it was illegal to criticize Obama in THIS country or if failing to register for a gun permit carried the death penalty in THIS country?

            Tell me what you know about the freedoms that out pot-growing founding fathers tried to guarantee for this country and why drug warriors like you would like to turn this country into a Sharia Law state.

          • Eric Johnson

            What the heck is it about you dopers that can’t take a joke? Maybe all that reefer fried your brain (which would explain why so many stoner comedies just plain suck.)

          • kevin_hunt

            You have no proof that I use marijuana. You should be aware that there are people out there that DO advocate the death penalty for drug possession. Bill Bennett, Daryl Gates, Maine Governor Paul LePage, and Ted Nugent are examples of this.

            What do you consider an example of good comedy?

          • Jacob Hoss

            So you want to execute people for marijuana possession? But let me guess, you think gun control is ‘tyranny’? Christ you people are retarded, and it’s like you’re not even ashamed of it. Stupidity has become a virtue among the American right.

      • Jacob Hoss

        How does legalising marijuana ‘add to’ the dangers of alcohol? Marijuana is less dangerous in virtually every measurable category. As for ‘the moral foundations of communal life’, I have no idea what you’re talking about. The conservative definition of ‘morality’ seems to be limited to opposing gay marriage.

        • Eric Johnson

          Bull.

    • Jacob Hoss

      How is it a ‘hallmark of the left’? It’s the right, especially the religious ones, that wants to ban everything and micromanage the private behaviour of individuals. So many American conservatives are just utterly in denial about what their side actually stands for. Their rhetoric about how awful ‘big gub’mint’ is always disappears as soon as there’s a Republican in the White House. Remember when they were all cheering for the ‘war on terror’ and calling anyone who doubted the prudence of the PATRIOT Act a terrorist-sympathising traitor?

  • Dan Schmink

    This is one of the most ignorant articles I have ever read discussing cannabis, alcohol and tobacco.

  • Brother John

    I do not indulge, and generally have little patience for those who do or advocate indulgence. But, I would like those who support prohibition to once and for all answer the followng (Bill Bennett, call your office!):

    – Where is there any Constitutional warrant for any federal legislation on the matter?

    – Given the manifest failure of alcohol prohibition, and given the apparently obvious failure of drug prohibition currently, how do prohibitionists justify the continuation of the “war on drugs?”

    – Given that the historic American nation did not indulge in substance abuse apart from alcohol for amusement or diversion, how is the current immigration system compatible with prohibition — or, indeed with the historic American nation?

  • coconutz

    this is the most idiotic piece I have ever read. alcohol will kill your liver and eating cannabis will cure it. This “journalist” has no integrity.

  • Timshel54

    Be careful what you wish for. Legalizing marijuana comes complete with a pandora’s box of social troubles not unlike alcohol.
    And who will pay? The taxpayer of course. Right from buying, selling and distribution, up to testing for impaired driving and finding numbers that are acceptable for those whose occupations put them in a high risk category, ie. airline pilots, train operators etc. etc.
    Personally, I don’t want to enter a plane knowing there’s a possibility the pilot does bong hits on his off days. And given the latest statistics regarding illegal drug use and airline pilots…I doubt the industry wants to deal with another headache.
    That’s just a tiny slice of the overall problem pie we’d have to deal with.

    • donteven

      You are so stupid it’s almost unbelievable.

      “And who will pay? The taxpayer of course. Right from buying, selling and distribution, up to testing for impaired driving and finding numbers that are acceptable for those whose occupations put them in a high risk category, ie. airline pilots, train operators etc. ”

      All this stuff already happens. You don’t think people drive while high? The only difference after this bill passes is that we can bring in tax revenue to help subsidize the law enforcement costs involved. It’s the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you’re claiming.

      “Personally, I don’t want to enter a plane knowing there’s a possibility the pilot does bong hits on his off days…that’s just me.”

      Personally I don’t want someone so stupid voting on my behalf. What exactly makes marijuana unique compared to percocets, alcohol, opioids, alcohol, or other various legal drugs? Nothing. You’ve just got a paranoid fantasy that after this bill passes people who otherwise wouldn’t smoke will end up as drug abusers which is completely counter factual to everything we know about addiction.

    • kevin_hunt

      ” Legalizing marijuana comes complete with a pandora’s box of social troubles not unlike alcohol. ”

      What makes you think that alcohol prohibition solved any of these problems?

      “Personally, I don’t want to enter a plane knowing there’s a possibility the pilot does bong hits on his off days…that’s just me.”?

      But you are OK with a pilot getting drunk on his days off? Weed has been legal in California since 1996 and planes are not dropping out of the sky there.

      “Forty percent of all pilots killed in noncommercial airplane crashes in recent years have medication in their systems — a marked increase over previous decades, according to a draft government study obtained by CNN.”

      “The most common drugs: antihistamines, which can cause drowsiness, and heart medications.”

      “It cautioned that the mere presence of drugs does not necessarily mean drugs contributed to the accident. Indeed, investigators say drugs contribute to about 3% of all fatal plane crashes — a level that has remained constant for two decades.”

      So despite the legalization trend, your ‘sky is falling’ scenarios have not come true.

  • Jeremy Johnson

    “Consider a consumer of a glass of wine who ate a full meal and waited an hour or more before driving and a consumer of a marijuana edible taking the wheel of a plane, train, automobile, or anything else. The wine drinker would likely be sober, the marijuana consumer would just be getting high, and, given the dose, possibly very high at that.”

    That would be like comparing someone drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels to a toke off a joint.
    I would have found the article more convincing had statistics from Portugal (for example) been included that have had all drugs decriminalized for over 14 years vs. Colorado for 1-2. With any decriminalization the initial use is higher followed by a sharp decrease. The article appears to cherry pick statistics in the same way the opposing side has cherry picked statistics.

  • Pit Boss

    LMAO. The writer here doesn’t list one example of harm done by marijuana. Not one. SIX people die every day from alcohol poisoning. SIX DEAD. How does this guy sleep at night pushing these lies? Is this the Trump effect?

  • dtmacb

    Yes on Prop 205 in Arizona!

  • jmquillian

    Whether or not one believes marijuana to be a greater public health threat than beer, wine or distilled spirits, the simple fact is that prohibition doesn’t work. Studies have shown that in states which have legalized medical marijuana, fewer opioid overdoses and opioid and anxiety prescriptions are written. The pharmaceutical companies and law enforcement benefit greatly from our nonsensical and totally futile War on Drugs, and that’s the only reason we continue to collectively beat our heads against the wall trying to enforce what cannot be enforced. You want to really reduce drug use? Make it a capital offence.

  • Zardoz1

    It’s not a choice between alcohol & marijuana. It’s a choice about whether to legalize yet another mental impairment. Legalizing marijuana will cause society to take step downward, instead of one upward.

    Marijuana is hard to detect & the dangers are many. Legalization will likely lead to a substantial increase in the number of impaired drivers on the roads.

    And how do people feel about having airplane mechanics & elevator repair persons be high as a kite while they’re at work? Marijuana causes people to be forgetful & inattentive.

    • Crazaychris1

      Actually marijuana is quite easy to detect through drug tests. It is done all the time. Many employers also submit their employees to random drug tests and people that work around heavy machinery I hope would be sensible enough to not be doing the job under the influence, not because the government told them not to.

    • kevin_hunt

      “Legalizing marijuana will cause society to take step downward”?

      Explain why our founding fathers grew what the DEA calls ‘marijuana’ and society did not ‘take a step downward’. Marijuana was legal for thousands of years before five robber barons succeeded in banning it by scaring gullible white folks like you with phony tales of ‘killer blacks on weed’.

  • Nobody Special

    You stupid freaking idiots are using weak arguments. Nobody has died from smoking marijuana EVER. The author even seems to make the case FOR DRIVING AFTER A GLASS OF WINE! In most states that would rightly earn you a DWAI convictions. The War on Drugs must end because it is killing people. Drug prohibition is responsible for most of the damage that drugs and drug users are blamed for. I have no more tolerance for these Big Government faux-Conservative, Nanny Statists that prefer to enshrine their personal tastes into law. Stop telling people what they can and cannot consume. It is absolutely none of your damn business!

  • Nobody Special

    By the way, WTF does this idiot Leibsohn know about “medical science”? He has a political talk radio show in one of the worst states in the country. And this guy has the nerve to talk about “cognitive impairment”!

  • Nobody Special

    “For instance, the researchers find that every drug, from cocaine to meth to MDMA to LSD, is found to be safer than alcohol. By the MPP standard, we should thereby make these substances legal as well.”
    DUH!!!

  • kevin_hunt

    “But where one option is impossible to eliminate (as in alcohol), society should not add to the threat that exists”

    So..the author admits that prohibition of a popular recreational drug is ‘impossible’, yet he wants to continue the same failed strategy with marijuana. What a crock of bullisht.

  • Lisanne

    Forgive me if I missed this in the article. Most of us know and agree that setting tobacco on fire and inhaling it into one’s lungs is very damaging to one’s health. Also, secondhand smoke is a valid concern as is the general dislike and annoyance of the smell of tobacco being burned in public.

    The reality is that marijuana is very strong and has a lot of build up that one is burning and inhaling into the lungs. That would seem to be as bad or even worse than tobacco. Also, relevant is the secondhand smoke problem. We know which houses in our neighborhood smoke marijuana regularly because the pervasive, skunk-like odor reaches us on the street and sidewalk as pass on our regular walks. It is just as offensive, even more unless you like the smell of skunk, than tobacco smoke.

    Additionally, is the fact that more and more of this smoke is being smelled and unwillingly inhaled at outdoor entertainment venues. This has been occurring since the 60’s, and was and is often associated with certain kinds of music and lifestyles. However, because of the relaxing of the laws and general attitude, it is turning up in public parks and other places more than ever before.

    As a citizen, my right to not smell this offensive odor and even more important, not unwittingly have my lungs damaged by the burning smoke, or become somewhat altered by inhalation of the drug, or become sickened by the smell by nausea or headache, is being ignored and downplayed.

    Also, I will add that while my concerns might sound priggish to some, I am a child of hippie parents and was subjected to their social experiment from (probably before) birth. I was raised around marijuana all the way through my childhood. There is nothing from my experience which would indicate this is a good idea for anyone to do or be around.

    • kevin_hunt

      “That would seem to be as bad or even worse than tobacco”…except for the fact that tobacco has been shown to cause lung cancer and marijuana has not.

      No state that has legalized marijuana allows smoking in public. Very few places allow smoking of tobacco (even outdoors) anymore.

      Why can’t edibles be legal, considering that they don’t interfere with your right to breathe?

      Also…are you for outlawing coal-fired power plants, diesel trucks, factories, and all other sources of air pollution; or do you just have an axe to grind against hippies?

      • Eric Johnson

        Reefer has 400 times the level of carcinogens as tobacco.

        • kevin_hunt

          Cite your source for that statement, Mr. Drug Tsar. You should know that it is not the 1980’s anymore and D.A.R.E. propaganda is no longer convincing.

          How many carcinogens does marijuana have when it is consumed orally and not burned?

          The CDC reports 430,000 deaths/year from tobacco and zero from marijuana.

          • Eric Johnson
          • kevin_hunt

            Nothing in your study mentioned “400 times the level of carcinogens as tobacco.”

            How many carcinogens does marijuana have when it is consumed orally and not burned?

  • Justin Potter

    I think you people should do something better with your time. Marijuanas benifits outway its cons by a long shot. You people are hurting people instead of helping them. Marijuana has been around since men have been on this planet. It has been used for medicinal purposes by all of our ancestors. Today we have a huge population who would greatly benefit from having it legalized. But because of you bored people with nothing else to do with your time chances are they will not be able to get the medication they need. Alcohol kills people everyday but you don’t fight against that. I and everyone I know will vote yes on legalizing marijuana and together we will win at election time. So find something better to do with your lives. And lastly if you guys are so concerned about the well being of our children, why don’t you put all this effort towards trying to get better education for our children. I will now burn the flyer I found on my car from you asking for my hard earned money to support your boring lives. Have a great day! Pfffp