Reuters columnist Bernd Debusmann ‘gets it.’
In a society awash in alcohol, he dares to ask the pivotal question:
Why do our laws embrace and celebrate the use of alcohol, an intoxicant that directly contributes to tens of thousands of deaths annually and countless social problems, while stigmatizing and criminalizing the use of cannabis, a substance that is incapable of causing lethal overdose and is associated with far fewer societal costs?
Driven to drink by marijuana laws?
via Reuters: The Great Debate
Tough marijuana laws are driving millions of Americans to a more dangerous mood-altering substance, alcohol. The unintended consequence: violence and thousands of unnecessary deaths. It’s time, therefore, for a serious public debate of the case for marijuana versus alcohol.
That’s the message groups advocating the legalization of marijuana are beginning to press, against a background of shifting attitudes which have already prompted 13 states to relax draconian laws dating back to the 1930s, when the government ended alcohol prohibition and began a determined but futile effort to stamp out marijuana.
Of course, I can’t help but blush when Bernd highlights my forthcoming book, Marijuana Is Safer, as the inspiration behind his astute analysis.
The case for adding a compare-and-contrast dimension to the debate is laid out in a statistics-laden book to be published next month entitled “Marijuana is Safer, So why are we driving people to drink?” The authors are prominent legalization advocates – Steve Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Mason Tvert, co-founder of SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation).
“The plain and simple truth is that alcohol fuels violent behaviour and marijuana does not,” Norm Stamper, [Editor’s note: Stamper is on NORML’s advisory board] a former Seattle police chief, writes in the foreword of the book. “Alcohol … contributes to literally millions of acts of violence in the United States each year. It is a major contributing factor to crimes like domestic violence, sexual assault and homicide. Marijuana use … is absent in that regard from both crime reports and the scientific literature. There is simply no causal link to be found.”
I’ll be providing folks with further information regarding Marijuana Is Safer in the coming days and weeks. (The book is expected to hit stores by mid-August). But for now, why not join the vibrant discussion taking place on Reuters.com on whether pot prohibition is driving America to drink?