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Philosophers stoned


As a philosopher, I evaluate the good and bad in arguments for a living. In this professional vocation, just as I have yet to encounter a sound argument for daylight savings time, I can equally report that I have yet to encounter a sound argument for perpetuating status quoanti-cannabis legislation and enforcement. Where scientific standoffs on social policy exist, and where, as the American President Jimmy Carter succinctly put the matter, in his Address to Congress 1977, “penalties for possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself”, I infer that cannabis prohibition, whether or not one personally has any interest in using the substance, is morally unjustified. Many thousands of lives have nevertheless been ruined by an outdated, scientifically uninformed and socially regressive policy, where, as I recently learned in conducting research for the book, in 2008, one person in the United States is apprehended on a marijuana possession or use charge every thirty-eight seconds. Country-western singer, songwriter, and marijuana advocate Willy Nelson just got busted in Texas in a high-profile arrest, but how many friends and relatives, people we may know lacking Willy’s access to competent legal counsel, are subject to the same inconvenience for the sake of copping a little high?

Activism in support of legalisation has nevertheless been sluggish and ineffective, and many myths and misunderstandings about cannabis persist. California voters had the opportunity on the 2 November 2010 election ballot to vote on the legalization of cannabis, and they turned the measure down. So did Swiss voters in November 2008 on a nation-wide initiative referendum in my newly adopted ex-pat homeland. None of this stops people wanting to smoke pot or enjoying the particular organically chemically altered state of consciousness that the drug affords. Any and every one in virtually every country in the world, the Netherlands and a handful of others notably excepted, can in principle go to jail and have their property confiscated, depending on local laws, for infringing against anti-cannabis prohibition. The fact that cannabis is illegal is a very good reason not to smoke it, but what is a good reason for its being illegal?

What I would mostly like to see – after all the young people who have been recklessly jailed on cannabis possession for lightly experimenting with their consciousnesses are released from dangerous penal confinement and their criminal records expunged, with compensation for their losses and nuisance legislation in the worst cases – is for responsible, mature adults to try to see cannabis for what it is. The most dangerous drug I have ever personally ingested, but that I am legally permitted to consume almost every day to whatever extent I choose, is alcohol. I would not dream of returning to the disastrous days of prohibition in the United States during the Roaring Twenties on a worldwide basis for the sake of avoiding alcohol’s addictive and negative behavioural consequences. What I would prefer is for thinking persons to lead the way in promoting the progress of a humane and mature scientific perspective on cannabis. We should recognise that cannabis, compared with legal psychoactive substances like alcohol and tobacco, is a relatively harmless and potentially psychologically, medically and spiritually beneficial “soft” drug. Its use is widespread and well-regarded in our cultural history. It’s the substance of choice for increasing numbers of people who find getting high pleasurable and who are willing to defy the law almost everywhere in the world for something they consider their moral right to enjoy.


Fear and loathing surrounds decriminalisation
Exploring the "failing" drug war, from the Netherlands to Mexico and California to Connecticut.
Jesse Strauss Last Modified: 18 Jun 2011 16:52


"The war on drugs has failed," said a recent report compiled by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which comprised a former UN secretary-general, former presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, a former US Secretary of State and a host of public intellectuals, human rights activists and politicians.

The well-credentialed group wrote the 24-page report[English/Spanish] describing exactly why and how they came to the conclusion that the "War on Drugs" has failed, and what to do, in terms of policy, to redeem the damage they say it has caused.

The report states: "The implementation of the war on drugs has generated widespread negative consequences for societies in producer, transit and consumer countries," arguing that the drug war has caused massive illegal movement of capital, the loss of many lives and a negative perception of drug users "who are stigmatised, marginalised and excluded".

Alternately, the Commission supports "experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organised crime and [to] safeguard the health and security of their citizens," or, in short: decriminalisation.

But key players in the "war", namely the United States' largest drug enforcement and policy agencies, see things very differently, arguing that current policy is fcomprehensive and successful.


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Thank you for a very nice presentation, libramoon.
"The fact that cannabis is illegal is a very good reason not to smoke it"

oh ya because that totally stops people from using it...Weed is everywhere, it's not going anywhere, end of story, legalization hurts the black market/criminals.

I don't want to beat a dead horse too much but there are plenty of benefits to legalization. And don't even get me started on the (un)constitutionality of federal govt regulating prohibition.

All the anti drug propaganda in the US is bullshit. Alcohol is the most destructive drug here and yet the government doesnt warn people about it, though they say all the illicits are so bad/worse when statistcly that's a lie.
And, there's the 2 different mindsets regarding drugs-criminal problems vs health problems, the US takes the criminal aproach when in reality addiction is a disease and should be treated as such. The current system borders on tyranny if you ask me and it is the opposite of liberty.
Well if there was a total end of prohibition there would be a LOT of lay offs. Many peoples jobs depend on prohibition, it is sick. Tyranny in my opinion.
The fucked up part is that the "war" is already lost, it hasnt accomplished a damn thing positive and the legal drug trade(synthetics) pretty much proves how much people want to get intoxicated and proves that designer drug dealers aren't stupid, they totally went around the law.

Barney Frank has introduced a bill that would take the Federal Government out of the situation and that would be a big start to making the situation more reasonable.  Right now, the Feds offer big money incentives to the states and counties for hunting down and incarcerating drug users and their suppliers.  If you call the local law and say you've been robbed, they may or may not show up that same day.  If you call the local law and tell them that you think the people next door are selling pot, you will see them at your door in less than half an hour and probably kicking down the door of the house next door at the same time.  That's because they get big bonuses from the Federal government for making these busts.  If that were no longer the case, the states and counties would abandon these priorities and begin to take care of actual crime instead of spending money chasing pot heads.  In this economy, in particular, there just isn't enough money to do that.  That scenario would drive down the price of pot and put most of the suppliers out of business.  The average user would simply grow himself a plant in the back yard and that would cut out the profits for the pot being brought in from Mexico and Canada.  The overall effect of getting the Federal government's noses out of our personal habits and stop them from rewarding local law for ignoring real crime in order to make money for their raises and fancy cars and equipment would be to free up billions of dollars for schools, libraries, college scholarships, health care, etc. etc. 

So, tell me this; why is our president still insisting upon keeping these Federal rewards in place? 

But you are missing the point here.  Marijuana makes people satisfied with what they got and these people don't strive to get ahead.  They are poor consumers and our "Economy" is at stake.  A hippy from the sixties wasn't interested in buying new cars or appliances.  They didn't need a new fridge because the color got out of style.  They didn't need expensive clothes and cavier.  They were content just being with friends and loved nature and simple things.  That's bad for businesses and couldn't be tolerated by those striving to sell you things that you really don't need.  The Fake Economy's future was at stake.  I have become a good law abiding, blind, Economy dependant consumer since I quit long ago.

I completely agree with you on this. Plus how can we win the war on drugs if people keep on using drugs wow thats deep. Also how can we win the war when the ATF does a brilliant move like give mexican drug lords weapons as a plan to stop giving mexican drug lords weapons. Legalization of marijuana will do way more good then bad over 1 million people are arrested and jailed just for marijuana a year...if it was legal that would free up our over worked courts and cost us taxpayers way less for sending pot smokers to jail over and over. Plus it would create a few not many but a few jobs such as hemp ropes, clothes, paper mills etc. It should be legalized and treated like alcohol cant drive while smoking or if you have smoked, you cant be high at work etc.


Ya those potheads are a serious threat!...
I love how some people will say drugs are bad then turn around and drink alcohol or take anti anxiety and anti depression meds or prescription pain killers-which are almost doctor prescribed heroin.

"Drugs are bad"... drugs are substances that alter consciousness...


"Stop breathing"...


( As I have always responded )

Marijuana makes people satisfied with what they got and these people don't strive to get ahead.  They are poor consumers and our "Economy" is at stake.

That's actually just one of the excuses that was and is still presented against pot.  The truth is that those pot smoking hippies of the 60's and 70's are now the rich consumer oriented upper middle class.  They were the college students and community organizers of that time and have moved up to high paying jobs and running their own businesses and politics. 

The truth, as I see it, is that marijuana doesn't do anything to anyone past the point where the high wears off.  It isn't addictive and it doesn't keep people from being who they are.  It doesn't alter the brain or destroy motivation.  It just gets you stoned for a little while.  Other than that, it has some very effective medical applications and is likely the best thing out there for depression. 

The majority of the pot smokers that I'm aware of these days are retired older people, professionals, executives, business owners, college professors, etc. They work, take care of their families and are never in trouble unless they get caught with a joint or selling a half bag to a friend at which point their lives are ruined and the government is suddenly having to support their families for them while they do jail time.  The young, uneducated, unmotivated are primarily into alcohol.  Of course, I only see the part of the world that I see.

The only negative to pot is that it's illegal.  The only reason it's a profitable product for criminals to sell is that it's illegal.  The only reason it's still illegal is that the pharmaceutical companies have a huge lobby against it for obvious reasons.

The truth is that the average diet today contains chemicals that produce a myriad of harmful physical conditions and is far more dangerous than smoking pot. 


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