"If A Measured, Rational Debate Over America's Extremist Drug Policies Can Take Place In Time Magazine, Then It Can Take Place Anywhere."

Just weeks after Time‘s Joe Klein declared “legalizing marijuana makes sense,” the magazine is once again extolling the virtues of liberalizing cannabis prohibition.
Writing in the Sunday edition of Time.com, author (and frequent media critic) Maia Szalavitz asks, “Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?
Citing statistics from researcher (and frequent Salon.com blogger) Glenn Greenwald, Szalavitz reports that Portugal abolished all criminal penalties regarding the use and possession of cannabis (and other drugs) earlier this decade — opting instead to treat drug use strictly as a health problem. So what happened?

“Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success,” says Glenn Greenwald. … “It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does.” (NORML Note: You can listen to audio comments from Greenwald on the NORML Daily Audio Stash here.)
Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal’s drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.

Writing on his own blog, Greenwald comments on the significance of his findings, as well as the fact that they are finally being recognized by the mainstream media.

Few political orthodoxies have more of a destructive impact than our approach to drug policy. Our harsh criminalization framework results in the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of American citizens, breaks up families, burns tens of billions of dollars every year, erodes civil liberties, turns our police forces into para-military units, and spawns massive levels of violence and criminality — all while exacerbating the very harms it seeks to address. If a measured, rational debate over America’s extremist drug policies can take place in Time Magazine, then it can take place anywhere.

Of course, to those who reflexively demand that we maintain pot prohibition, the very suggestion that eliminating (or softening) criminal penalties will not lead to an exponential explosion in use (much less be associated with a potential decline in drug use) is an anathema. Writing in the drug prevention and treatment newsletter Join Together, Jim Gogek offers the same tired allegations: facts be damned!

Legal marijuana would mean more access to marijuana. The number of marijuana users would spike, including teens. Problems related to marijuana use would spike. … Right now, there are 127 million alcohol users and 14 million marijuana users in this country – because one is legal and the other isn’t. But, most alcohol users don’t get intoxicated. … With marijuana, you get intoxicated every time you use it. That’s the whole point. … It severely hurts your ability to perform at school and work. It saps initiative and drive. It increases confusion. In other words, it makes you stupid. … Marijuana is the loser drug: That’s the big problem with it.

To their credit, the editors at Join Together have allowed me the opportunity to rebut Mr. Gogek’s claims, which I do here. Feel free to join the discussion.

0 thoughts

  1. Does anyone know when we will see a poll for the legalization of marijuana on a national ballot?
    this is getting RIDICULOUS, i just want to be able to walk to the store and pick up a pack of real smokes. Stop trying to control people’s lives and what they put in them.
    If people want to smoke they can,no one is forcing them to.
    It’s obvious that the drug war is a failure and will continue to fail unless something is done about it.
    this topic gets me so hot i need to smoke just to chill.
    Anyways, good riddance and continue to educate!

  2. “It severely hurts your ability to perform at school and work. It saps initiative and drive. It increases confusion. In other words, it makes you stupid. … Marijuana is the loser drug: That’s the big problem with it.”
    – I disagree to an extent. I am just as productive high if not more, I’m more relaxed and not scatter brained with a.d.d.
    However it’s not for everyone, but it doesn’t do any long term damage to your brain at all.

  3. Mr. GOGEK must have just come off a time machine from the mid 1930’s to the present time. Has the same PROHIBITION MENTALITY from the 1930’s and really does’nt have a iota on what the hell he is talking about. Sounds like to me he has that BIG BROTHER and ORWELLIAN MENTALITY and must enjoy living in a POLICE STATE where nobody can ingest a drug that is not FDA approved and about fourteen states already have approval for the use of marijuana on medicinal and decriminalized level. PROHIBITION HAS DESTROYED MANY PEOPLES LIVES AND FAMILIES. So Mr. Gogek hop on your time machine and go back to the time where you where you really belong and leave us alone. 420 ALL YHE WAY!

  4. I have a 4.0 cumulative GPA at a top tier university. I’m a junior majoring in finance. I smoke weed every single day. It doesn’t affect motivation if you don’t let it. Jim Gogek is utterly clueless.

  5. With the problems the printed press is going through right now, I think we actually have an opportunity to drive rational discussion of Marijuana in the mainstream press to a higher level than it has ever been in the past, or even is right now. Click my name for details (seriously, this is not spam!).

  6. If marijuana is a “loser” drug that “makes you stupid”, that Jim Gogek guy must be stoned all the time.

  7. compared to Greenwald’s discussion about legalization, Gogek’s language in this exerpt reads like a high school freshman’s first attempts at school newspaper. Rife with strongly but simply worded allegations, he cites nothing to support his views, and uses common vague unsubstantiated language and in fact seems to have gotten some of his statistics wrong. I think there’s a little more than just 14 million marijuana users in this country, and I think probably most people do drink alcohol for that low level buzz that you can get from just a single drink. Me? I prefer pot to alcohol, ironically because pot doesn’t impair me the way even a single drink would.

  8. Everytime I hear another intelligent point of view on this issue I am uplifted. As long as we the people continue to voice our collective opinion of this extremely harmful policy someday we will see the end of it!
    Talk on brothers and sisters talk on!

  9. its True tho Marijuana makes some people Lazy
    but its still MORE SAFE then AlcohoL~
    Blame iT On a a a AlcohoL – Jamie Foxx
    POTHEAD 4 LiFE…Whats Upp New York!!!

  10. Looks like nothing more than listening to a bunch of trolls if you ask me. Mr. Armentano has a lot of humility and patience to put up with these arrogant and excessive people. Just look at all of their arrogant and snide remarks in the comments section! I realize that they are shooting themselves in the foot, but that doesn’t make it any less disgusting. The fact that people like that are in positions of political and business power is appalling.
    And as if that wasn’t bad enough, one of them says, “They should ALL move to california” or something like that. Not likely!
    And something tells me he didn’t mean SoCal.
    Absurdity at it’s best.

  11. The facts I have trouble are why our leaders decided to make cannabis illegal. Looking at history it was for pure greed and racism. Knowing this and it is well documented in history. Then why do we still have lawmakers that insist putting more people in jail and wasting billions more is the way to proceed. Could it be for racism and greed if you look at the facts today this is the conclusion you will reach. It is time to end the greed and racism in our great county END THE WAR ON US (DRUGS)…
    Anslinger, our first drug czar subscribed to a theory that smoking weed made darkies uppity. I suppose that is the rational today as well?? Personally I could deal with some uppity darkies if they would just quit putting one million in jail every year. Spend the 100 billion wasted to provide universal health care for all Americans…I like uppity darkies anyway!
    Cherokee Fred Jesus

  12. that is awesome hopefully those fat cats in office will read this and take some pointers and let us smoke in peace.if gay people can get married we should be able to smoke marijuana without being worried about being arrested.

  13. Just several things I want to say 1.) I am a Christan, I smoke pot and think it should be taxed and regulated just like cigarettes, and alcohol. 2.) I went to college, got high on the way to school EVERY day and pulled A’s and B’s in all my classes (oops there goes the argument that it makes you dumb) 3.) and for several years I worked TWO jobs to support my family (another myth busted) so to all the people using these same old arguments, Please come up with some better ones frankly your boring the shit out of me.

  14. “Right now, there are 127 million alcohol users and 14 million marijuana users in this country – because one is legal and the other isn’t. But, most alcohol users don’t get intoxicated. … With marijuana, you get intoxicated every time you use it.”
    LOL…. JEee guy, i had a 3.5+ GPA all during high school, never had a problem with smoking pot, and i did smoke it all throughout high school. But guess what… > alcohol lead to immidiate intoxication and addiction, and problems soon followed once i turned 21, and when it became “LEGAL” to drink. THis is the most backassward shit i’ve ever read.

  15. Since we’re showing off…
    I have a Bachelor of Science degree and a 3.8 GPA, graduating with honors at a prestigious college. I smoke pot nearly every day. I love to learn and I take pride in my work. I work 40-50 hours a week and I pay all my bills on time. My credit score is the best of anyone I’ve ever met.
    I am a model American citizen and I smoke pot.

  16. Thank you, Paul Armentano NORML Deputy Director
    for your intelligent and honest words at the Join Together site.
    This is the very reason I continue to send money to NORML.
    You KNOW how to respond to these ridiculous acquisitions whereas I cannot respond in such a manner.
    Thank you sir.

  17. And remember kids, only losers smoke marijuana. If you smoke pot, you will never become President or a 14-time gold medalist!
    Not everyone who drinks alcohol gets intoxicated? What happened to the whole “buzzed driving is drunk driving” ads they had? And yes, there is a way to get “buzzed” with marijuana, just don’t smoke so much, just like when you consume too much alcohol.
    This guy has no idea what he’s talking about.

  18. its a hot topic and i hope it get hotter pot smoking needs to be legal now, people vote people in to office that can help the cause, vote out people that hurt the cause ,demand real change in this nations drug laws.if the USA changes its drug law it could focus law enforcement at real crime and not at its citizens blacks would feel immediate relief from government oppression, as most people in prison and jail for drugs are black, and real crime would reduce as cost would be lower and jobs to pay for drugs would be created, IE farming hand packing and rolling transporting and sales people ,all this could be taxed and the government and its people could feel relief ,bla bla bla people get out and vote and call your reps and write Washington !! people are going to use weed jail time or not people are not going to stop using weed and to the people that say the feds should have the death penalty for drug users will guess what you might just send your kids or your kids kids to jail prison and a hole in the ground 6 feet deep over 1930’s propaganda weed wont kill ya but the drug laws on the books kill people in prison each and every week or get them raped just think raped in jail for smoking a little weed !!!

  19. This is ridiculous.
    I’m about to be graduating with honors from a top tier liberal arts college, and heading my way to graduate school at an Ivy. I smoke at least 4 times per week, often more.
    Common, enough with the bullshit.

  20. Well, I must congratulate Paul Armentano for his response to this horrendous piece (referring to the Join Together piece, not the Time piece). I especially applaud his sticking to the facts, and to avoid responding to the “pot makes you stupid” part of the article and thus giving it any dignity.
    I,however, am never shy about stooping to the level of my opponent, as I view anyone who supports drug prohibition as an opponent of the human race, and will say to Mr. Gogek that it takes stupid to know stupid, and it is ironic we have to argue the case for pot so much because prohibitionists like Mr. Gogek insist on calling the kettle black!!!

  21. Why oh why do people still insist on the reefer madness propaganda? It makes me smile to know that those voices are being drowned out (heh as i was writing this a drugfree commercial came on). i know kids that have no problem getting weed but i never see an underage kid walking out of the store with a 6 pack.

  22. Here was my thoughts after reading most of those replys to Jim Gogek’s article and corresponding comments on there said thread.
    Prohbition works? True, under prohibtion model and the continuance of the “drug war” drug use in the U.S. has only increased %1200 since the 1930’s..no big deal there..
    Decrim model? Why not, then we can release the actuall 5% of small time drug offenders that wrongly wound up in a harsh privatized prison system or possibly the Rockeffeler law terms for just non violent simple possesion.
    Meanwhile we can keep the other 30% to 60% percent of those really really super bad guys who grew a few plants and sold a few bags of crack back in the 90’s locked up forever where they surely belong….so that they can never do it again! Ever!
    That should work….right?
    lol…….Tree of Life

  23. guys, this really is happening. the movement is in full steam as if the 60s+70s were a blip away. the prohibition on cannabis and hemp is going to end and will not last 90 years.
    adults are going to be able to purchase cannabis at stores cannabis grow their own. anyone is going to be able to eat american grown hemp seeds! and how knows how many other uses we are going to get from these wonderful weeds.
    please join the cause.
    http://www.change.org/ideas/view/legalize_the_medicinal_and_
    recreational_use_of_marijuana

  24. great video on rationale of legalizing cannabis. and don’t forget people that implies industrial hemp as well!!!
    we will be scratching our heads two years after legalization and wonder what in the hell took so long.

  25. I noticed on the Join Together piece he brings up underage drinking.
    How many underage drinkers existed before the repeal of prohibition?
    I’ve done a few searches but can only find statistics for modern times.

  26. Reading up on the Sunlight Foundation’s Apps for America winners, I found White House 2. You can create your own list of priorities, and then they add yours in to everyone else’s and track them overall, by state and by congressional district on their sister site, Hello Congress. It’s another way we can directly influence debate in the media and maybe eventually in Washington D.C.
    I’m not asking you to check it out to raise the priority of legalizing marijuana, that’s already high on the list. I’d just like to see more people involved and more diversity of opinion. Libertarians got involved early and heavily, and I fear the site runs the risk of being ignored by everyone who doesn’t agree with their entire agenda.
    http://whitehouse2.org
    Let’s take the debate higher.

  27. These guys are simply scared to have to go out and get a real job. But, I thought of a good question for all those Prohabitionists. Why do you continue to aid and protect the Drug Cartels profits? Are you getting kickbacks too? Maybe framing the question in that light may get some that are against ending the drug war to think in other terms.

  28. Funny stuff.
    You know what’s awesome about alcohol? If you have more than four drinks in a night, you wake up feeling absolutely awful the next day. Isn’t that great? It’s perfectly legal, but it tears your insides up bad, makes you vomit like you’ve been drinking Mexican water, and leaves you incapacitated the following morning. It’s the drug of choice of college students everywhere.
    Never had a hangover til my very first night attending college.
    I skipped class the next day because of how god awful I felt. I was 18 years old.
    Hit a water pipe before going to bed, and wake up refreshed. Wake up feeling great.
    I enjoy taking a small hit before engaging in hobbies. I enjoy a large hit before engaging in chores. I love a huge hit before I have to mow the lawn. Headphones on, eyes red. It’s a blast. That’s right, cutting grass is a blast on grass.
    One beer is enough for me to “feel it”. What’s this joker expect for us to do, take shots of beer or wine? Sip out of a flask like his daddy did?
    A little hit off a pipe doesn’t get me high. Gets me mellow.
    And about laziness, to quote the late, great Bill Hicks:
    “They lie about marijuana. Tell you pot-smoking makes you unmotivated. Lie! When you’re high, you can do everything you normally do, just as well. You just realize that it’s not worth the fucking effort. There is a difference.”

  29. i blaze up before work all the time.
    it makes the job a whole lot easier and much more fun.

  30. I dont understand why we pay politicians that are so far behind in times compared to the general public. When the public speaks the politicains should jump!

  31. Alcohol must be the winner drug. Only about 85,000 losers from the winner drug per year. Zero deaths from the loser drug. I want the loser drug.

  32. Most alcohol users don’t get intoxicated? Is… is he completely fucking daft? How the HELL does that even make sense? If most alcohol users don’t get intoxicated, why are there so many DUI arrests in this country? Why the need for the DUI checkpoints?
    This man makes me want to cry.

  33. FYI, “I get high before work all the time” type comments are not the arguments people need to be making. Stick to the stuff Mr. Armentano uses. Don’t be an anchor to this inertia we’ve got going!
    Donate to NORML, LEAP and MPP if you truly want results.

  34. I think that for so many reason’s that Marijuana will become legal. I personally look to the mercy side of the argument. When I stand before the Creator, I will not have to worry about all the sick and dying people that I have personally helped with Marijuana to stimulate appetite, and keep their spirits up..No I will not have to cringe with fear, while I think of the Millions of people that I helped into prison, Like the Politician’s will!!!!
    Plenty of room in Hell for Politician’s!!! Change is coming America!!!!

  35. When I can afford to buy it I smoke @ least 4 times a day every day. Wake and bake is my fav, I can blaze one and drive with no problem, no way I would try that after two beers. As a matter of fact I quit drinking years ago because I got tired of hang overs, and why do the politicians get to tell me what I can and cannot put into my body. How much of a shit fit do you think they would throw if we again made alcohol illegal?

  36. Like some of the other commenters, I am a 4.0 college student and an occasional pot smoker. It has not affected my motivation in any way.
    Yet, alcohol is perfectly legal, and I have three roommates that get drunk and do stupid shit, and parents that get drunk to the point of stupidity, then can’t get out of bed the next day. The only reason why marijuana isn’t legal is because big pharma will never let that happen.

  37. I know individuals who were valedictorians of their class that smoke daily. I know teachers that smoke marijuana. I have smoked everyday, multiple times a day for eight years. I am a straight “A” student. How can crap be published saying marijuana hurts learning and is a loser drug. The people I know that don’t smoke marijuana have turned out to be the scum of the earth, not the smokers.

  38. This Jim Gogek is a damn moron. Had he done some actual research on Wikipedia, NORML, etc. he’d how ignorant he is.
    But it is more important that the focus be put on the solution rather than the problem. The reform to cannabis laws needs to focus more on the solutions to current problems it presents.
    Just like the NORML Contest ad:
    Create an American industry
    Create Millions of new jobs
    Generate Billions in revenue
    Generate Billions in taxes
    Increase prison space for violent offenders
    Increase police patrol of violent offenders
    These are problems America has to deal with, so why not put the focus of them? We can reform cannabis laws and have a huge effect on these issues at the same time. We must continue to educate and increase awareness of how the current Drug Policy is a detriment to our society.

  39. Sign this petition for a national vote for legalization of cannabis and its derivatives: criminaljustice.change.org/actions/view/national_vote_on_legalization_of_cannabis

  40. Did Mr Gogek have kids, I bet they ran away from his arcaic Nazi mind and the torture this closed minded individual like this do to thier family, Out of ignorance of looking at the real problem (HIMSELF) He blames it on the marijuana, not the real problem.

  41. alcohol users don’t get intoxicated. … With marijuana, you get intoxicated every time you use it. That’s the whole point. … It severely hurts your ability to perform at school and work.
    What an idiot. I just retired after 26 years of federal service. Never went to work or school drunk or stoned so I wouldn’t know. After 26 years of being subjected to this stepped up rhetoric of the ignorant and drug testing I can speak my mind without reprisal.
    I wish I could put down this toxic whiskey and smoke some weed. Its been a long time and I’m still not stupid.

  42. I didn’t start smoking in earnest until after I almost graduated from college but dropped out. After I started smoking daily was when I started holding jobs for longer than a year, went back to school to finish my bachelors, did a little stint of competitive figure skating, and then smoked my way through grad school to the tune of a 3.67 GPA. I was a lifelong C student and this just blew my Mom away. Blew me away too.

  43. There is a specific characteristic of many people who use cannabis. They seem to be questioning souls. They seem not to buy in to the BS that is required by the plutocracy.
    To those who have totally bought into the corporate mindset, having qualities not required by the plutocracy is stupid. This is the philosophy that brought us the “War in Iraq” and the “Financial Meltdown”. Not to mention millions of people with no health care.
    My personal opinion of cannabis use is that it enhances creativity. Creativity is a great quality to have.

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