From the Nothing Can Stop A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Come Dept.
by Jim Greenfield © August 25, 2014
Isn’t it ironic that the movement to legalize marijuana across the nation appears to have gained irresistible momentum just as new studies come out showing that marijuana causes chronic brain damage and long term reduction in iq among young people whose brains are still developing? A recent Duke University study shows a long term eight percent drop in i.q. among teenagers who use pot regularly. Apparently this reduction in intelligence is not reversed even when young users stop abusing the drug. A Northwestern University School of Medicine study published in the “Journal Of Neuroscience” found that marijuana use causes structural brain damage, corroborating an earlier study at Harvard Medical School.
Colorado and Washington states have already legalized marijuana and it is defacto legal in many other states where law enforcement against possession is virtually non-existent. There is growing pressure to decriminalize pot at the federal level as well from advocates who apparently don’t believe the scientific evidence and claim pot is harmless. As a fallback position they sometimes argue unconvincingly that at least it’s not as bad as alcohol, a claim not supported by any evidence. Evidence of the linkage between marijuana use and mental health problems such as depression, low self-esteem, loss of motivation, poor memory, and schizophrenia are ignored by the pro-pot crowd. The rising popularity of legalization among the uninformed public has cowed politicians into either silence, or open support of legalization.
Proponents of pot legalization compare the so called “war on drugs” with prohibition in the 1920’s. To which I say, “What war on drugs?” Pot legalization heads claim prohibition doesn’t work. Actually, prohibition does work. When there were stiff prison terms for possession of all classes of drugs, such as in the 1950’s, drug abuse was almost non-existent, except limited use in a few big city slums . It is illogical and naïve to believe that legalizing a dangerous substance will not result in a substantial increase in its use.
The clearest example of the effect of legalizing a behavior that was previously illegal is pornography. Back in the days when pornography was illegal it was extremely rare and hard to come by – found only in secret sleazy back alley stores in sleazy back alley neighborhoods. After the Supreme Court struck down anti-pornography laws in the 1970’s in the name of free speech, pornography proliferated at an exponential rate. Today pornography is found everywhere, in stores that advertise openly throughout the country in otherwise respectable neighborhoods, on the internet, and on cable tv. Could anyone argue that this proliferation would have occurred if pornography hadn’t been legalized?
This is not to take a position about whether pornography should be legal. Clearly that genie ain’t going back in the bottle. The point is rather that demand for any product that is illegal and illicit is depressed. Legalizing any previously illegal product not only de-stigmatizes its use, but makes it commonplace and easy to obtain. It also results in widespread marketing and advertising, and a huge expansion of the market for that product. Pot stores are coming soon to a neighborhood near you. And if you think legalizing pot won’t make it easier for your kids to get it and get addicted, dream on.
So what will be the impact on our nation of multiplying the use of a drug that has now been scientifically proven to make people stupid? Duh. There will be more stupid people. In my opinion we already have an ample supply of stupid people and don’t need more.
And for my libertarian friends, think about this. The unfortunate thing about potheads is that, like other stupid people, some of them vote. And who do you think they vote for? Libertarians? I don’t think so. They vote for Democrats. They vote for demagogue politicians who promise to give them free handouts to support their addictions, debilitated life style of dysfunction, degradation, inability to hold a job, and chronic dependence on the welfare state, common bi-products of chronic drub abuse. So, libertarians, put that in your pipe and smoke it.
The libertarian argument for legalization goes something like this. We believe in freedom. (So do I). Every adult should be free to engage in any conduct he chooses so long as it causes no harm to anyone else (the libertarian prime directive). Ingesting marijuana, or any other drug, may harm you, but it causes no harm to anyone else. Therefore, according to libertarian dogma, you should be free to use it.
The problem with the libertarian argument is that it’s simplistic, just as the libertarian formula which purports to provide the solution to all public policy questions is simplistic. The problem, which is ignored by the libertarian creed, is figuring out where to draw the line between where self-destructive conduct harms only yourself and where it harms those around you. Would anyone argue, for example, that the children of a drug addict aren’t harmed by their parent’s drug abuse?
The truth is that, like libertarians, I have no desire to interfere with people who want to harm themselves unless, and here’s the problem, their self-destructive behavior harms me as well, which in fact, it does. If you want to go out in the Mohave dessert and shoot up on meth or heroin, go ahead. Have at it. But if you’re living next door to me, or working in my company, or your kids play with my kids, sorry pal, don’t tell me your drug abuse does me no harm.
And another thing. Libertarians believe in freedom, right? So do I. But would you argue that widespread drug abuse increases freedom? What a superficial conception of freedom! Do you define freedom mechanistically to mean soley the physical ability to move your body around and do what you like with it, like for example the “right” to put brain destroying chemicals in your body? How about a subtler and more profound notion of freedom? In vedic philosophy the Sanskrit word “moksha” means liberation, not physical freedom to do what you choose with your body, or even political liberation, but liberation of the mind from ignorance and suffering, i.e. “enlightenment.” As the Beatles said, “You better free your mind instead.” Does allowing drug abusers the “freedom” to become enslaved to their addiction truly promote the cause of liberty in any meaningful sense? Maybe there are some things we don’t need to be free to do because we know how it ends.
It makes perfect sense for Democrats to support marijuana legalization because most stupid people vote Democrat. But for Republicans it is stupid to be pro-pot, and would make more sense to advocate re-criminalization rather than de-criminalization. Let’s not throw in the towel, but get our young people off the drugs, and into the work place where they can start paying taxes, and hopefully figure out that the government is not their friend, so they wake up and start voting Republican or Libertarian.
The more philosophical point is this. Freedom is rather a rare and delicate commodity. Most men throughout history have lived under one form or another of despotism. To remain free, a people must be capable of clear, intelligent thought. If we permit our population to be further dumbed down and degraded, dysfunctional, dependent, and addicted to brain-addling substances, the demands to expand the welfare state even more will be irresistible. If you want to understand the connection between a compliant, brain dead population and mass subservience to centralized authority, go back and re-read Aldous Huxley’s classic, “Brave New World.” If the trend of expanding drug abuse accelerates, the citizens of this pothead nation, even those of us who don’t use drugs, will lose what’s left of our freedom.
Serving all humanity, but mainly serving myself, this is Jim Greenfield.
2012 study from Duke University. Researchers studied nearly every child born in a small town in New Zealand since the 1970s. They gave them I.Q. tests as teenagers then another later in life. They asked about their marijuana, alcohol and other drug use. The study concluded that those who regularly smoked marijuana did lose, on average, eight I.Q. points.