Absolution and Hypocrisy in the Marijuana Debate

- - posted in politics

Here’s something that’s really been pissing me off lately. I’ve seen a bunch of conservative pundits and columnists, who are and have always been against marijuana legalization or even decriminalization, writing columns about their experiences with pot and then still insisting it should be very very illegal. Most obnoxiously of these was David Brooks (no I am not linking to it; go find it yourself if you really wanna read it).

First of all, from these columns, I don’t think these conservatives had very good dealers. I think a couple of them might’ve even gotten burned, and I’m really sorry to hear that, but these guys miss one really important point: each and every one of them smoked pot, some of them a lot of pot, and they’re all really successful people right now making huge amounts of money. So… why exactly are folks supposed to get thrown in prison for doing what David Brooks did on his way to being a pretty successful dude? Our own President, whom no one can say hasn’t achieved anything because he’s the goddamn President, smoked hell of weed as a kid. So, what’s the danger? Steve Jobs smoked weed. Bill Gates did. I have, many times, and I do not consider myself to be a failure in the slightest bit.

Here is my prediction. Washington and Colorado have both legalized marijuana for recreational use. In the next few years… absolutely nothing earth-shatteringly terrible will happen as a result of that. We will not see roving bands of degenerates beating up strangers for fun. We won’t see a huge uptick in crime (we’ll almost just by definition see fewer arrests, because now they won’t be arresting people for possession). We may see more people smoking weed, but maybe not. What I think we will see is this:

  • An end to the racial disparity in marijuana prosecution, because there won’t be any.
  • Some tax revenue for the states of Washington and Colorado, we’ll see how much but it will be nonzero.
  • None of these pundits will back up and admit they were wrong in the end.

Another thing that I will be very curious to see studied is the rippling effects on those economies from fewer people being arrested, fewer families being broken up, fewer lives destroyed over marijuana possession. I also have a feeling that we may see some reduced usage of other, still-illegal drugs like methamphetamine, but that’s just a hunch and obviously I don’t have any statistics I could back that up with. I’m curious to see what the effect will be, but I see no reason at all to assume that the effect will be negative overall. Insofar as it was supposed to reduce overall drug use and combat drug-related crime and societal woes, the so-called War on Drugs has been in every measurable way an extraordinarily expensive failure. We should be, frankly, embarrassed at throwing our money away for so many decades on a losing battle like this, and never once trying to see if maybe legalization or decriminalization would yield better results.

So I’m sick of people saying that marijuana should be illegal because it’s illegal now and criminals do it, when these criminals' only crime is the thing we’re considering whether it should be legal or not (that’s assuming the whatchamajiggy or whatever that logical fallacy is; it’s bullshit!). I’m also sick of clearly successful people saying they smoked marijuana back in the day but you totally shouldn’t because you’ll never be successful like they are. Those people are dicks, they’re hypocrites, and they’re selling you a line of bullshit. Don’t believe them, space cadets.