New York Times' Blog: If Marijuana Is Legal, Will Addiction Rise?

[Editor’s Note: This interesting and informative exchange of ideas, provided by experts on cannabis regarding the future of America’s cannabis policy, was originally published July 19 on the ‘Open for Debate’ blog found at the New York Times’ webpage.] If Marijuana Is Legal, Will Addiction Rise?
By The Editors
July 19, 2009, 7:00 pm
A New York Times article on Sunday discussed the debate over whether more and more potent types of cannabis affect the levels of addiction to the drug. This particular issue has become part of the larger debate over whether marijuana should be legalized or decriminalized.
Antidrug activists say that if the drug is legalized, more people will use it and addiction levels, made worse by the increased potency, will rise too. Legalization advocates note that pot addiction is not nearly as destructive as, say, abuse of alcohol. What would be the effect of legalization or decriminalization on marijuana abuse and addiction?
*Roger Roffman, professor of social work
*Wayne Hall, professor of public health policy
*Mark A.R. Kleiman, professor of public policy and author
*Peter Reuter, University of Maryland professor
*Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief
More Honesty Needed
Roger Roffman
Roger Roffman is a professor of social work at the University of Washington.
Marijuana dependence occurs in 9 percent of Americans who have ever used the drug, and between 33 percent and 50 percent of those who smoke it daily. Approximately 3.6 million Americans are daily or near daily users. In 20 years of marijuana dependence counseling studies at the University of Washington, those who’ve sought help averaged 10 years of daily or near daily use and had unsuccessfully tried to quit more than six times.
Surveys indicate increasingly positive attitudes in the U.S. for liberalizing marijuana policies. Two ways of doing this are: (1) legalization, which would involve lawful cultivation and sale of marijuana, and (2) decriminalization, which would retain criminal penalties for cultivation and sale while removing them for possession of small amounts.
Will more people use marijuana and become dependent if marijuana is decriminalized? Probably not. A number of U.S. studies tell us decriminalization would not likely have an effect on the rates of marijuana use by adults or adolescents.
What if marijuana is legalized? No one can say for certain. Using one country’s reform example to estimate what would happen in another is very risky. How countries differ (cultural, social, political, economic) makes a big difference.
However, the Dutch ‘coffee shops’ example might give us a little insight. The de facto legalization policy in the Netherlands did not, in itself, affect rates of marijuana use among adults or young people. But rates of use among young people increased when the number of coffee shops increased and the age of legal access was 16. Then these rates declined when the numbers of coffee shops was reduced and the age of legal access became 18.
A cautious conclusion, as I see it, is that any consideration of legalization should include careful planning for how those who are most vulnerable to harm from marijuana use, children and adolescents, can be protected.
I support finding alternatives to criminal penalties for marijuana possession. Those penalties have costs (being jailed, having a criminal record, barriers to employment, loss of scholarships, to name a few) and may accomplish little in deterring use.
However, our debates need more honesty. Those favoring liberalizing marijuana policy ought to stop inferring that marijuana is harmless; it is not. Those who believe possession should remain a crime need to acknowledge that most adult occasional users are not harmed, and should be prepared to defend with data the belief that criminalizing possession is the best way to avoid harm.
Mitigating Dependence
Wayne Hall
Wayne Hall is a professor of public health policy at the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland in Australia.

What effect would marijuana legalization have on dependence?
Some people remain skeptical about whether marijuana dependence exists but let’s assume that it does and that it affects around 1 in 10 of those who use marijuana. The effects that legalization has on marijuana dependence depend critically on what we mean by the term.
If we mean replacing imprisonment with a fine as the penalty for using marijuana then legalization would have little effect on dependence. Evaluations of this policy in 11 U.S. states in the 1970s and 1980s found little or no effect on rates of use among adolescents and adults.
There is more debate about the effects of allowing a de facto legal marijuana market as the Netherlands has done since 1983 in tolerating the sale of small amounts of marijuana in coffee shops. Marijuana use increased in the Netherlands in the 1990s, but this was also the case in the rest of Europe, and policy analysts disagree about whether rates of use increased faster in the Netherlands than elsewhere.
If by legalization we mean making it legal to use, grow and sell marijuana then our task becomes more speculative because no modern country has adopted this policy. It seems common sense that legalizing marijuana use and sales would lead to more people using it regularly and this would probably mean more marijuana dependence.
Nonetheless it is difficult to say how much use may increase because there are options for reducing use under a legal market that are not now available. For example, we could tax marijuana to set the price at a level that discourages casual use, regulate its THC content, restrict sales to minors, include a health warning on packs and advise users on ways to reduce dependence risks (e.g. by using less than weekly). These possibilities make it difficult to predict the effect that a legal market would have on rates of marijuana dependence.
Marijuana dependence should be taken into account in considering whether we should legalize marijuana in any of these ways. But this concern also needs to be weighed against the costs of current policy, that is, the creation of perverse incentives to produce more potent marijuana, the widespread disregard of legal prohibition on marijuana use that could contribute to a decline in respect for law and policing; the unregulated access of minors to marijuana; and the social and economic costs of a large marijuana black market.
Not Your Grandfather’s Pot?
Mark A.R. Kleiman
Mark A.R. Kleiman is a professor of public policy at U.C.L.A., the editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis and the author of ‘Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results’. His new book, ‘When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment’ will be published later this summer.

One of the standard arguments against the legalization of cannabis is that ‘this is not your grandfather’s pot: cannabis, say the drug warriors, is much stronger now than it was a generation ago. It is, therefore, much more dangerous, and must remain prohibited.
That argument is a few bricks shy of a full load. Here are some of those bricks.
1. The average gram of cannabis sold today contains much more 9-trahydrocannabinol (THC) than the average gram sold in 1970, though there has always been some highly potent product available.
2. Emergency-room visits and treatment admissions related to cannabis have increased, though the number of self-reported cannabis users hasn’t.
3. If the only change were in potency as measured by THC content, users could (and do) compensate by smoking smaller quantities.
4. But contemporary cannabis also has a much higher ratio of THC (which tends to induce anxiety) to cannabidiol (CBD, which tends to relieve anxiety). That would be expected to create a higher rate of panic attacks.
5. Whether high-THC, high-ratio pot is also more habit-forming than other pot remains unknown. Increased treatment admissions might come from increased enforcement pressure against users. Or perhaps a cannabis habit is harder to live with than it used to be because the cannabis experience is more disturbing.
6. If cannabis were made legal, restrictions could be put both on potency and on the THC/CBD ratio. So rising potency makes no sense as an anti-legalization argument; if anything, less-potent legal pot would be expected to substitute for the more-potent pot that would remain
7. Any sort of flat-out legalization would risk a large increase in the number of very heavy users. A legal cannabis industry, like the legal alcohol industry, would derive more than half its revenue from people with diagnosable substance abuse disorders. Telling marketers they can get rich by creating disease is dangerous.
8. Instead we could choose a ‘grow your own’ policy that would allow production for personal use or by small nonprofit cooperatives, but forbid commercial sales.
Cannabis policy is fascinating because so many people smoke the stuff, but whatever we do about cannabis will leave us with most of the nation’s drug abuse problems, which center on alcohol, and most of the nation’s drug-market and drug-enforcement problems, which center on cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.
Lessons From the Dutch
Peter Reuter
Peter Reuter is a professor at the School of Public Policy and the Department of Criminology at the University of Maryland.

Experimenting with marijuana has long been a normal part of growing up in the U.S.; about half of the population born since 1960 has tried the drug by age 21. Perhaps one out of six has used it for a year or more.
This statement is increasingly true of other Western countries such as Australia and Britain.
Over the last decade most of these countries have seen three trends; sharp increases in the number of marijuana users seeking treatment, in the potency of the marijuana consumed and in the number of arrests. For example, in the European Union the number of people entering treatment programs for marijuana dependence tripled between 1999 and 2005. In the U.S., the potency of seized marijuana has steadily increased since the late 1970s, while arrests for simple possession have tripled since 1991 to 750,000.
Are these trends connected? Given that marijuana research is almost as scarce as drug-free communities, all that is available is moderately informed speculation. A recent book that I co-authored, ‘Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond the Stalemate,’ identifies five other factors that may play an influence in this. There is also no direct evidence that potency makes a difference to how much the drug hurts users’ health; most users titrate their dose with higher THC.
What would happen if the drug were legalized? The Dutch de facto legalization of sale through coffee shops is the closest available experience. The most striking observation is that marijuana use in that country is lower than in many other European countries and a lot lower than in the United States; 6 percent of 15- to 64-year-olds in Holland had used marijuana in the past year, compared to 11 percent in the U.S.
Legalization in the U.S. might be a much more commercial matter than in pragmatic Holland, where the government created a legally ambiguous regulatory system with minimal court oversight. The U.S. might find it hard to prevent producers from using their First Amendment rights to actively promote the drug. A way of avoiding this would be to remove prohibitions on growing for your own use and for gifts to others. No doubt there would still be a black market but it would allow access to marijuana without creating a full commercialization. Probably this would lead to a modest increase in the number of people who use the drug, which needs to be weighed against the elimination of 750,000 arrests for simple possession.
The Tobacco Precedent
Norm Stamper
Norm Stamper was Seattle’s police chief from 1994 to 2000. He is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the author of ‘Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing’.
Any law disobeyed by more than 100 million Americans, the number who’ve tried marijuana at least once, is bad public policy. As a 34-year police veteran, I’ve seen how marijuana prohibition breeds disrespect for the law, and contempt for those who enforce it.
Let’s examine arguments against legalizing marijuana: use and abuse would skyrocket; the increased potency of today’s marijuana would exacerbate social and medical problems; and legalization would send the wrong message to our children.
It’s reasonable to expect a certain percentage of adults, respectful or fearful of the current prohibition, would give pot a first try if it were made legal. But, given that the U.S. is already the world’s leading per capita marijuana consumer (despite our relatively harsh penalties), it’s hard to imagine a large and lasting surge in consumption. Further, under a system of regulated legalization and taxation, the government would be in a position to offer both prevention programs and medical treatment and counseling for those currently abusing the drug. It’s even possible we’d see an actual reduction in use and abuse, just as we’ve halved tobacco consumption through public education–without a single arrest.
Potency? Users, benefiting from the immutable law of supply and demand, have created huge market pressure for ‘quality’ marijuana over the past few decades. Legalization opponents are correct that today’s weed is not your old man’s weed. But the fear-mongers miss the point, namely that stronger strains of marijuana are already out there, unregulated by anything other than market forces. It’s good that responsible consumers know to calibrate their consumption; they simply smoke less of the more powerful stuff. But how about a little help from their government? Purchase booze and you have access, by law, to information on the alcoholic content of your beverage, whether it’s .05 percent near-beer or 151-proof Everclear.
Perhaps the biggest objection to legalization is the ‘message’ it would send to our kids. Bulletin: Our children have never had greater access to marijuana; it’s easier for them to score pot than a six-pack of Coors. No system of regulated legalization would be complete without rigorous enforcement of criminal laws banning the furnishing of any drug to a minor.
Let’s make policy that helps, not handcuffs, those who suffer ill effects of marijuana or other drugs, a policy that crushes the illegal market–the cause of so much violence and harm to users and non-users alike.

0 thoughts

  1. Are we at a point in the arguments where we can say “so what” to marijuana addiction?
    I am addicted to caffine but I’m not complaining about it. I love my coffee.
    Marijuana is safer, and less addictive, than coffee so can’t we just say “so what”?
    What is the harm caused by marijuana addiction?

  2. Sounds to me like legalization is comming soon.There just trying to figure out how to regulate it.Lets Keep Up The Fight .

  3. Just more hype for the prohib groups. NYT is down the shit hole anyhow as far as subscripts and ratings go. Some body must have gave them a nice hunk of money to run this story. After all its just a repeat of the proaganda the prohibs spout all the time, not actual reporting. Just shows they are gettin scared and are desperate . Are doing anything they can to obscure the truth. We are winning. I talk to people all the time about why prohibition is wrong. I that light pop on over thier heads and I smile knowing I have woke up another person to the lies and hypocracy our leaders spew . America Is waking Up! Change is coming,but from the people, not government.

  4. It will probably be as addictive as masterbating, and of cource who will admit to that? People would normally burn out on it for awhile and wait a few days or maybe a week or two. It is like sex for the mind. There is nothing wrong with having a nice big smile and still be healthy.

  5. “Emergency-room visits and treatment admissions related to cannabis have increased, though the number of self-reported cannabis users hasn’t.”
    Keep in mind if the BLACKMARKET is going to keep LACING marijuana with drugs like PCP, cocaine, and who knows what… thennn your chances of visiting the Emergency Room WILL DEFINATELY go up.
    Just a thought..

  6. The original article is such an endorsement for legalization, the author just doesn’t realize it.
    “Joyce, 52 and a writer in Manhattan, started smoking pot when she was 15… Two years ago, she checked into the Caron Foundation, a treatment center in Wernersville, Pa.”
    Well it’s a DAMN good thing she didn’t get arrested! She probably wouldn’t have been able to kick the habit and turn her life around!
    “Then there are people like Milo, 60, who recently attended his first Marijuana Anonymous meeting in Los Angeles…. He is trying to quit, he said, because his girlfriend is threatening to leave him. Besides, the drug no longer alleviates his depression and anxiety.”
    I guess not, maybe he needs to reevaluate his relationship with this “girlfriend” she sound controlling and manipulative. Again, needs help, not jail.
    “If you only have access to whiskey, your risk is going to be higher for addiction. Now that people have access to very high potency marijuana, the game is different.”
    Good point, I wish there were some type of regulatory system in place so that I could decide how strong I want my pot, and not just take whatever my dealer’s got!
    “With marijuana, ‘it’s going to take some real fatalities for people to pay attention,’ Dr. Volkow said. ‘Unfortunately that’s the way it goes.'”
    Not so, we have been waiting for a fatality for YEARS and no one seems to care. That’s the way it goes…. because in light of the fact that no one has ever overdosed on it, people still want to believe it kills.

  7. You guys forget that you can EAT IT right?
    There is so many options you have with marijuana.
    You guys put to much attention to smoking.
    If it was legalize I bet people would want to bake it more than they want to smoke it. Just like some of this guys said, we can eliminate the use of smoking by educating our people that you can eat it and show them how you can cook it. You guys are making it way to hard. Its real simple. Choose: smoke it, bake it, cook it, or have like tea or drink? your choose.

  8. “Emergency-room visits and treatment admissions related to cannabis have increased, though the number of self-reported cannabis users hasn’t.”
    Keep in mind if the BLACKMARKET is going to keep LACING marijuana with drugs like PCP, cocaine, and who knows what… thennn your chances of visiting the Emergency Room WILL DEFINATELY go up.
    legal marijuana = cleaner, safer, cheaper

  9. New York state should follow in the footsteps of Massachussetts, and urge the feds to legalize outright. The feds don’t give a prohibitionist shit about addiction or dangers when it comes to tobacco, alcohol, horse race betting, slot machines, video poker, table card game gambling, explosive fireworks and riding a motorcycle without a helmut–not enough to prohibit such activities on a federal level. It’s a completely specious argument that they are so worried about adults getting addicted to cannabis. Why do the people who matter to legalize cannabis continue to listen to prohibitionists when the country needs the revenue from cannabis. CNBC is doing a wonderful job with their report on cannabis in California. There is an article in Cannabis Culture by a Libertarian who has estimated the revenues for Alabama, and I’d like to see a similar extrapolation be reported on for each and every state and U.S. territory. That ought to boost ratings, and it’d be another hour show at least. Repeat and discuss on other programs.

  10. If the government would take a full 360 view of this situation, they could realize how to do it, or have points to start finding easy adaptable solutions.
    first off, if the government would legalize it and sell it in stores, then there would be no longer a need for a drug connect, which makes it to where u can goto the store, by weed and leave instead of dealing with a dealer who you can buy weed off, then get offered other drugs. alcohol could still be home brewed and ppl could sell it for more money, but americans and people in general would much rather go out and buy cheaper stuff at the same quality of goodness or better. if the government would sell all types of marijuana- regs mids dro exotics whatever you call it- then i would never need to risk my career or life on dealing with a drug dealer. that would also decrease robberies in the inner cities bc dealers cant rob civilians and visa versa.
    GIVE MARIJUANA A CHANCE, with responsible leadership this country could accomplish anything. but with LAZY leaders and LAZY “czars” we get elected to help with god knows what how bout we put some time into a new idea. lets step out of the box a little bit and stop listening to god damn propaganda.
    if you want to stop one problem, you have to get it from the roots. wanna stop drug problems? make them all illegal. even alochol and prescripition drugs!

  11. This is Not in direct response to any particular article. However this is just a general question/reply to consider. Just consider smoking marijuana like eating vegan. Its all green and natural and won’t destroy your organs until you over-indulge to the point of ludicracy!!
    Just my own opinions!

  12. here is the issue i see with all of this. why are they not addressing the fact that addictive personalities exist, its a psychological condition. no one addressed that the addicted person in question, if you have an addictive and compulsive personality it will manifest be it cannabis or shopping. there is enough unbiased research that states the canninbis is not addictive but habit forming, very different issues.its part of their psyche. now who is showing the data on the number of these people in cannabis addiction programs, seems to be zero, no one mentioned it. as for potency, you can only do what the genetics allow you to do. growers have become MASTER growers this is the difference in potency, with small increases in THC content from anomalies in the plant do occur but not every generation,it take a long time for the genetics to change and it is responding to being pushed by people who need/want a greater high, higher tolerances for longer time use people. like all drugs in the medical system. it seems that at every turn the people who communicate these thought are unthinking and not addressing the most basic of factors that come into play but address issues that they perceive from biased research. i know i dont have all the information but have been a medical user for a year 3 to 4 times a day for sleep and hunger stimulation, i suffer from severe bouts of depression and i would be subject to addiction due to this, i will let you know my script ran out and im moving from a state that allows it use to one that doesnt, i havent smoked in 2 weeks with no issues, try that with any other drug thats legal like percocet or oxycontine, or lunestra, or prozac, i can promise you it would be ugly and a large number would be in treatment for addiction. my 5 cents.

  13. Cannabis is not addictive.
    People have addictive personalities,
    If Cannabis is ever brought back to a social norm
    most people would seize to use it as a crutch,
    e.g. blaming their stupidity on it.


  15. I found it encouraging that there was actually some consensus that the War on Drugs is a failure, and that the greatest harm comes not from the use of Cannabis, but by the prohibition of it. Decriminalization I feel is a poor approach, in that it will create a selective enforcement, that will most likely target the poor and minorities, as has been the case of selective enforcement of other laws.

  16. What a great article. Finally a debate using good informed and intelligent people with valid points of view. This is exactly the kind of open minded debate this whole country needs to be involved in. Some very interesting points. Not much has been done as far as research is concerned due to cannabis being prohibited. We need more research. From that research we can make informed decisions. Prohibition needs to be lifted so all of the benefits of cannabis and industrial hemp can be realized. Thanks for posting this article. One of the best I’ve read.

  17. i think peter reuter is on to something-legalize it for “grow for your own use” that sounds very promising

  18. I say the rise in treatment admissions are due to more employers giving drug test and if the employee fails the employer will offer treatment over termination.also courts will often send people to rehab for failing a drug test for pot, which I feel is unnecessary.I have been a daily smoker for 27 years now.i have stopped a few times during those years for as long as 10 months.without treatment of course.also my IQ is still 136 ,I’m not a schizophrenic.nor have I ever been arrested for anything in my life.also I have been married to the same woman for 22 years.and I work every. so in conclusion id say cannabis is relatively safe ….

  19. Marijuana is NOT addictive.
    I am living proof.I have smoked weed for over 35 years,recently I lost my job and the first luxury to go was buying weed.35 years of smoking daily and I just stopped altogether and haven’t had any for over 3 months…just like that,no withdrawals,no cravings,no loss of sleep or irritability…I just stopped!
    I also smoke cigarettes,if I go longer than 2 hours without a cigarette I will pick one off the ground.
    I know without a doubt which one is addictive and which is not.
    Marijuana is NOT addictive!

  20. This is so frustrating. I had to give up smoking because I got a job that using random drug tests. I feel like legalization is getting so close, but at the same time it seems so far away. I keep sending letters to congress and having other people send them too. I hope the tide keeps turning in our favor.

  21. I think that if Marijuana were to be legalized, then its dependence will not have a major impact on society at all. I can say this from experience. I know when i have reached my limit. i love Marijuana , but i have things to do like work , etc. but knowin that i can always go back and smoke whenever i want in the privacy of my home would not make addicted or dependent on it at all. its like going home and having a beer after a hard days work. you go home and have a nice smoke, then have dinner while watching television. no harm done to anyone at all. Legalize. peace.

  22. I agree that the legalization of marijuana would give the government the ability to control the potency of marijuana. Legalization would make a huge cut in illegal sales and make it harder for minors to access. Speaking from experience I was able to get pot from the time I was 15 without a bit of problem, alcohol on the other hand was much harder to get. Not to mention alcohol is much more harmful than marijuana. Look at the deaths in our country every year from drunk drivers as well as health issues like liver damage and the effects of alcoholism. Our politicians pockets are lined with money from the drug cartels, of course they dont want to legalize it. The tax revenue from the sale of marijuana would boost our economy. At the very least let’s consider the legalization for medical use. Marijuana is not the evil drug it has been made out to be in the past. Polls have been taken that show the majority of voters (in areas where the polls have been taken) would vote yes to legalize it. Let’s end the prohibition now! Stop throwing people in our already overcrowded prison systems. The “war” on drugs needs to be directed at the real threat to our nation like heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine.

  23. This doesn’t even mean anything to me, it’s still my body, who the hell do people think they are telling me what chemical I can and can not ingest and possibly get addicted to? If I want to go suck freon out of my refrigerator I damn well will do whatever I want to this body I’m so fortunate to have.
    By the way, I don’t even smoke marijuana anymore.

  24. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to go at this legalization process as a way to keep weed out of children’s hands? (added by Mobile using Mippin)

  25. Wow. This actually left a nice warm feeling in my tummy. Considering what was said, and who said it!

  26. Thanks to NORML, LEAP, and SSDP the tide has turn in the marijuana debate, and mainstream America is starting to take this issue seriously. They’re tired of their friends and family having their lives ruined by marijuana arrests. They’re starting to realize that the federal government has banned a part of nature that was put on this earth to help people. We need to urge our representatives to support the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2009!

  27. I just read that I Phone now has an app for mecical cannabis. Internationally it shows where cannabis can be purchased legally. All of the states that have legal medical cannabis are referenced in their locations. I think the commercialization process has begun. If from these open debates comes reasonable regulations I think cannabis will become part of our everyday life as it should be.

  28. Marijuana isnt a drug its a plant.The goverment needs to stop spewing there lies to everyone.They need to legalize it already when its proven that achohal is way more addictive and harmful to our bodies then Marijuana is.They need to start arresting people for things that are ACTUALLY HARMFUL TO PEOPLE!They need to arrest people for postion of cocaine,meth,heroine and all those other stronger more serious drugs(plus,weed isnt a drug its a herb?).We have already proven that weed isnt addicting at puts you in a state of relaxtion and medation.But if they must put some kind of law on Marijuana,then do this governors: Put them in cartons like cigarrtes and put them up in stores with all differnt kinds of weed?Just like Responesible Advocate (comment#26)said its like coming home and relaxing and having a beer? Bob marley said its a forum of meditation and Acholhal just makes you drunk man?and thats a fact. People do get relaxed my smoking Marjiuana and do get drunk off of achohal. So please Obama,governors everyone in “high”power please listin to me and everyone who supports Marijuana,MAKE IT LEGAL AND GIVE IT A CHANCE ALREADY! one love NORML peace……

  29. It’s amazing to me that the cop is the only one that really gets it. The social workers and the professor
    are speaking from a skewed prospective and with false social authority. At least, I say the authority is false. In many cases the government makes it real, such as taking someone’s children away because they smoke pot. No problem if you have a six pack of Budweiser in the fridge, never mind that alcohol IS the proven problem drug. That doesn’t even matter because society accepts this cognitive dissonance without question after a few thousand Budweiser commercials and of course millions spent lobbying congress. So the social workers go marching in flexing their authority against the evil weed! Another family ruined because of a job perspective that skews one’s opinion.
    Cops seem to eventually see most people as prospective perpetrators because their jobs bring them daily into contact with a disproportionate number of scumbags. People are mostly good and decent the world over, but that’s NOT the way it looks to a career police officer or social worker unless they are way smarter than average and have had their life perspectives broadened by some unusual experience(s) that seemingly most don’t get.
    As contradictory as it seems, Norm Stamper, seems to understand the deeper reality of the issues well and his viewpoint, in my opinion, should be given much higher weight in any drug policy issue.
    Is it only me, or doesn’t all this seem to miss a point? We’re mostly talking about a few plants and most people are being told that they don’t have the right to grow and use them at their own discretion. Treating people as infants and taking the position as a parent in society without really having any sort of responsibility for how that individual turns out is not how things should work. Parents should be the only parents because government always oversteps when they get into the job of parenting. That’s because government is a blunt instrument incapable of rearing a child. If you treat a whole society or even a whole world as if they can’t be allowed to make life decisions for themselves you’ll only end up with an infantilized population and a load of problems for people to solve.
    Who are the people benefiting from having these problems to solve?:
    Cops? – $$$$, guns helicopters swat teams.
    Social workers? – $$$$, Social authority and even employment for many because of anti-drug funding.
    Government ? – Duh $$$$, there is no more corrupting influence on government than the drug war.
    The list of drug war beneficiaries seems endless and the cognitive dissonance that seems to creep into well meaning? conversations about policy comes from the dollar signs above.
    Let’s move on to solving some new problems. These are getting stale and we’ve had the answers since the repeal of alcohol prohibition.
    NORML; read the carefully written statements of your experts again. I’d love to know what you think with a hopefully new perspective on their motives. If these guys are your friends, with the exception of Norm Stamper, I’d get new friends.
    [Editor’s note: 1) these are not NORML’s experts, the blog is from the New York Times, and 2) the individuals listed as ‘experts’ chosen by the NYT are not NORML’s friends, save for Norman Stamper, who serves on NORML’s Advisory Board and will be speaking at NORML’s upcoming national conference in September.]

  30. To my understanding cannabis is not physically addictive. Everyone seems to be able to stop using it easily, except for just missing the enjoyment of it.
    But why does the issue of people being “addicted” to cannabis keep popping up? I don’t see any objective thought there.
    Someone just liking something (or someone) is not the same as addicted.

  31. My biggest problem with the debate on marijuana legalization or even the idea that marijuana is harmful drug is the oversight of every day drugs ingested by Americans that are slowly killing them. For example, take alcohol. Extremely toxic to the human body as well as cancer causing in almost every major organ. What about cigarettes? Same story. Prescription medication? Same story. Humans cannot even ingest Tylenol or Aspirin on a daily basis without posing serious risks to their circulatory systems.
    The reason marijuana is frowned upon is because our politicians and the leaders of our country have the loud majority. What I mean by this is that they are able to use there famous names and faces to push their old world ideals onto future generations through misinformation because they are Mr. Newscast and if they said it, it must be true. How many voices are not heard because they do not have the “credibility” to share the debate stage with a familiar face? Many adults and even the youth of America still believe that Marijuana can kill you through addiction or overdose. Or that those individuals who partake in marijuana ingestion are lower class citizens because it is a “drug”. What happened to the concept of forward thinking in this country?

  32. I am 37 years old.
    I have been smoking for more than 20 years 8 to 10 times every single day. I own my own remodeling company and I am quite successful. I have been arrested, done time in federal prison, and done time on paper. When I think about all the money that was involved in my case alone, I am outraged. When I think about all the families that have been torn apart and all the lives destroyed because of our Government’s so called war against a god given plant, I am extremely outraged. This is the fuel that feeds the fire in me. I welcome any moment that the issue comes up. I am very verbal, I don’t care where I am at or who is around. I recently did a window job for a woman who is a minister. I literally changed her mind completely about cannabis and prohibition. Then I sent her to norml’s website to back up what I had said to her. The tide really is turning people. It can be done! It will be done!
    Their is a new movement beginning right smack in the middle of the country. We’re moving, we’re growing, but most importantly, we’re talking, and we’re talking to everyone. So to all of my cultural friends out there, keep your eyes on Kansas…..
    And NORML, with every ounce of my being, I thank you for all your inspiration.

  33. Why the hell do you guys not know this stuff, most of you sound completely ignorant. I only read about half of these comments and some of you make good points, however you should know what your talking about.
    More people are in treatment for marijuana because the American penal system calls for these some 870,000 people who get arrested each year for possession to these drug programs.
    The real thing is cannabis prohibition regulates a lot of society and affects many people with the policing involved in criminalization. It holds a lot of power over a lot of people. It’s taking away a right to smoke something that is a safer alternative to alcohol. If your talking about addiction from marijuana. . . . .smh
    People smoke way over 40 years straight, if your talking about being addicted like this girl in that article (they picked one special case to get such a prominent feature, SOMEONE SHOULD WRITE A LETTER) are either chemically imbalanced in most cases and in the rest of the cases just mentally weak.
    Or smoking mids

  34. It is a sad state of affairs when “experts” talk about marijuana addiction and deaths. They might as well talk about the danger of dragons! Marijuana is not adictive, it is habit forming (just like anything that might bring one pleasure).

  35. I’m not surprised that the previous article has the worst possible example used to create pause within the reader considering legalization. There’s been to much of a good flow in our favor so this was bound to happen.
    NOT surprised though that she’s so against usage and is ready and willing to use her experience with weed to try to stop others from doing so
    Didn’t the article say that she went into rehabilitation? I bet she’s a “born again christian” now. Twelve stepping will do that to you, after you’re been indoctrinated enough to call yourself a failure, and accept the concept that you got yourself in the position you’re in, you worthless piece of shit. Turn to God or you’ll die in your evil existence.
    Take some responsibility and be accountable for your actions. THEN have some pride and get out of the rut you’re in.
    I completely reject this asinine claim that marijuana ruined her life. Maybe you should look into your past, Joyce and find what REALLY went wrong, instead of trying to place blame on something that is irrelevant to the reason you feel so helpless. Boo fucking hoo. Grow up, woman. For crying out loud – you’re 52 years old!!!
    And everyone else out there who thinks that MJ ruined your life, and want to restrict others from their personal freedoms, get the FUCK out of our way, or you’ll be destroyed in the process.
    One or the other; Peaceful legislative legalization, or violent revolution. I promise you – it will come. There’s enough crazy potheads out there, it would be not be wise to deny whats coming.

  36. Having consumed marijuana on an off throughout my entire life, I can honestly say that there is about 30% truth inter-mingled amongst 70% CRAP in this novelette! For one, New York is an out-lyer on any statistical graph meant to display trends in the use of ANY drug! While visiting Long Island a couple of years ago, I can honestly say that if I hadn’t smoked pot with someone I met, I most likely drank alcohol with them.
    All debate about the “increased potency” in today’s marijuana is bull! We have no idea how potent the chronic was prior to prohibition. Given that humans have had such a long-standing relationship with the plant that our brains produce their own endo-cannabinoids, I’d say that more human knowledge of cultivation has been lost over the years than we currently collectively possess. That being said, how can anyone suggest that pot has become more potent than it has ever been? For all we know, the way to grow MEGACHRON (that strain name is MINE!) was lost with the burning of the Library of Alexandria.
    We are getting closer to legalization. It should have been here in the 70’s but then Reagan happened, and we got knocked back past square one when everyone went just a little too right-wing for it. Now that we have leveled off a little, we can go back to thinking that maybe educated adults might be capable of using it with a sense of responsibility. Personally, I think that if we taught kids about safe/responsible use the way we teach driver safety, that they will be far more likely to use drugs responsibly as adults.

  37. Politics is what plays on this. The drug companies wanna know what one can make the money growing it. The politicians dont wanna be frowned upon and not get re-elected for supporting the legalization.
    It most likely will become legal the point is now, the boomers have taken over and they need to take their peace and love from 40 years ago and show it now. Dont be a hypocrite.
    Also I would love for it to be legal cuz then I know I can always get it. I mean sometimes its just a pain in the butt. Any theres the rip off of people not giving you a full eigth. Headdies are 20 a gram right now and that is just crappy.
    Kids smoke cigs, they drink beer so we know the laws dont stop them from weed. People who are on it now are not gonna stop. And no stoner has ever hit the bong and gotten in a fight.
    Plus it will hurt the druglords who do kill people and make money off the illegal sale.

  38. James@ #25:
    I understand your wanting to get this legalized for your personal use. I too would like to smoke once in a while. But please keep in mind this fight is sooo much bigger than that. There are other reasons for legalization and dismantleing this WOD’s that far out weight any personnal wants or needs in this.

  39. I think James #25 is on point, R.O.E., he’s just donating his personal tribulations to the conversation. I have done so too. There are a plethora of reasons why this should get legalized, and every one holds the same equal validity. Here in this blog, mostly the same people comment on every post. I consider you all my Brothers in this fight against our liberty and pursuit of happiness.
    Unless one disagree’s still with legalization. Then we have a problem. (Well, YOU, the opposition, will have a problem…)

  40. There are so many great points noted in the comments section (and in the article: particularly Norm’s post: ironic that the cop is the one with the most insight:)
    Regarding how to consume it: edibles would be my choice; I used to smoke cigarettes and have been quit now for over 3 years, so I don’t smoke ANYTHING!
    Regarding the effect legalization would have on consumption: I know it’s been a number of years for me, but I remember when I turned 21 just how AWESOME it was that I could legally buy booze. Guess what: after a couple of years (like anything that’s “new”) the novelty wore off and my consumption dropped to a significantly lower level.
    Regarding the effect on public safety: Gang violence and other violent crime associated with drug prohibition would essentially dry up and vanish. In addition, Police, Fire and EMS would have a lot more time on their hands managing TRUE crimes & emergencies.
    Regarding the effect on the economy: This is the kicker: how many liquor stores has anyone ever seen go out of business? What about a Starbucks? Anyone?
    EXACTLY!! The effects on the economy would be monumentally beneficial; unemployment would drop, productivity would go up. . .need I say more?
    Regarding the environment: I said this in a previous comment post and I’ll say it again: The Cannabis Consuming Community (aka “Stoner” community:) are perhaps THE MOST GREEN PEOPLE ON EARTH and have been for far longer than Al Gore and the rest of his disciples have been.
    Regarding Freedom and Liberty: It would blossom and grow like never before!!

  41. starbucks has actually closed hundreds of there coffee shops. but your point is a good one. a liquor store would get a lot more profit with tax and regulation of weed, on top of liquor sales nonetheless.

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