Campaign 2016 and the 420: Marijuana Policy and the Coming of Big Weed

Lambert here: Readers, I’m sorry this is a bit late. My Wifi router has been behaving very badly.

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Is marijuana[1] a weed, or plant?  That is, is marijuana a plant one does not want, or a plant that one does? Is marijuana a plant one wishes to pull up, or cultivate? For many years, public policy has deemed marijuana a weed, while at at the same time a steadily increasing fraction of the public has consumed it, as a plant. Has that fraction increased enough over the last generation to create a public policy tipping point, as happened with gay marriage? As a spoiler alert, I don’t think quite yet — judging by the cautious positions taken by Democratic candidates in the 2016 campaign — but in the same way that gay marriage in the 2000s was a good deal more palatable politically than overthrowing patriarchy in the 1970s, so marijuana as big business will be more palatable to the political class of today than just about anything.[2]

So in this post I’ll assess the tipping point, by looking at usage, and briefly look at marijuana harms, to frame the arguments of marijuana opponents. Then I’ll look at marijuana as an industry business, marijuana and 2016’s candidates, and what sort of public policy might emerge after a tipping point. Finally, I will reconsider marijuana as a plant, which will cast doubt on the public policy the country seems to be moving slowly to adopt.

Marijuana Tipping Point

Marijuana consumption is significant and increasing steadily. From the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2013:

The nationwide survey…. found that 7.3% of Americans 12 or older regularly used marijuana in 2012, up from 7% in 2011. Marijuana use has increased steadily over the past five years. In 2007, the survey found that 5.8% of Americans 12 or older used marijuana.

It’s only natural, therefore, that support for marijuana legalization[3] would increase with consumption. Pew Research:

Support for marijuana legalization is rapidly outpacing opposition. A slim majority (53%) of Americans say the drug should be made legal, compared with 44% who want it to be illegal. Opinions have changed drastically since 1969, when Gallup first asked the question and found that just 12% favored legalizing marijuana use. Much of the change in opinion has occurred over the past few years — support rose 11 points between 2010 and 2013 (although it has remained relatively unchanged since then).

Live Science has a handy map of marijuana consumption — from experimentation all the way to regular use — state by state:


(And we see the State of Maine living up to its motto: Dirigo[4].) Sadly for any immediate political impact, there’s no correllation on the map above between usage and battleground states. However, Rolling Stone did poll Iowa and New Hampshire:

A new Public Policy Polling survey from early primary states Iowa and New Hampshire has found that a solid majority of Republican respondents approve of states’ rights to carry out marijuana policy reform without the feds cracking down. The survey, commissioned by the Marijuana Majority, found that 64 and 67 percent of Republican respondents in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively, agree that “states should be able to carry out their own marijuana laws without federal interference.”

Note the “states rights” focus of the question. That’s Republicans. For Democrats:

In both states, the percentage of respondents who supported that sentiment was higher for Democrats (80 percent in Iowa; 77 percent in New Hampshire) and respondents overall (70 percent in Iowa; 73 percent in New Hampshire).

The views of the public haven’t translated into candidate support, let alone legislation, but you can see the tipping point approaching. 

Marijuana Harm

There is a vast and tendentious literature on marijuana harm, and most of it can be set aside as part of the well-funded self-licking ice cream cone that is the so-called “War on Drugs.” After all, if we can dose kids with Ritalin, and adults with Oxycontin, and have a $400 billion liquor industry, and sell cancer sticks in convenience stores, we as a society surely take a relaxed attitude about putting harmful substances into the public considered as a collective body.[5] Why not, therefore, marijuana? So out of the clutter I’ll make pick only two points: First, that “brain scans” are especially idiotic; and second, that the harm to youthful “offenders” from arrest greatly outweighs any harm that marijuna might do to them.

About those brain scans (here’s a funding request), see this from the Atlantic:

Even if [National Institute on Drug Abuse] hadn’t hand-picked extreme images from the PET scan data set, and even if they hadn’t then manipulated the color schemes to make these neurological differences appear all the more extreme, we are still left with the question of what exactly we are looking at. Different-looking brains tell us literally nothing about who these people are, what their lives are like, why they do or do not use marijuana, or what effects marijuana has had on them. Neither can we use such brain scans to predict who these people will become, or what their lives will be like in the future.

In other words, brain scans have all the scientific rigor of phrenology. The writer concludes:

Brain scans do not speak for themselves. The seemingly objective science of neuroimaging can be used to justify a moral argument for or against legal marijuana—to show it as a legitimate medicine, or as a danger to your health. … These are linguistic distinctions, not material ones.

Everything affects the brain! Processing and storing experience — among them, intoxication, whether from nicotine, alchohol, Zoloft, Prozac, or marijuana, not to mention caffeine, lead paint, aluminum cookware, gasoline fumes, the grit from typewriter ribbons,  a cloudy day, a sunny day, etc. — is one of the brain’s basic functions!  Of course marijuana affects the brain! What doesn’t?

If we are going to show that marijuana produces any unique harms for purposes of public policy, then we need comparative studies, and over time. (If any readers know of such studies, please post in comments. I wasn’t able to find one, and I’m not sure why a “relaxed attitude” would not still be appropriate, were one to be found.)

Second, about those youthful brains that must be so carefully protected:

Studies consistently find that the traumatic experience of being arrested and incarcerated for marijuana possession is the most harmful aspect of marijuana among young people. Arrest for possession can result in devastating—often permanent—legal and social problems, especially for minority youth and low-income families.

Anyhow, the American people are the ones who should and will determine harm (as they did with Prohibition), and they’re voting with their bongs, as we have seen. Of course, a self-licking ice-cream cone is hard to bring to a halt, especially one created by our militarized system of law enforcement, so let’s turn to one force that might do so: Profit.

Marijuana as an Industry

Marijuana cultivation and sale, as evidenced by instiutions like Oaksterdam University, the first medical marijuana business conference (held in Oregon), and the first-ever commerical on network news, is increasingly a big business. Bloomberg:

[T]he marijuana industry isn’t selling baggies and answering beepers. It’s a $2.7 billion business—the fastest-growing in the United States—and one that operates without any legal sanction in four states, is decriminalized in 16 others, and is permitted for medical use in a few more.

In fact, the industry is growing so fast it’s putting forth budding marketing consulants:

“In the last year, the rise of the cannabis industry went from an interesting cocktail conversation to being taken seriously as the fastest growing industry in America,” Troy Dayton, CEO of The ArcView Group and publisher of the third edition of the State of Legal Marijuana Markets, said in the executive summary of the report. “At this point, it’s hard to imagine that any serious businessperson who is paying attention hasn’t spent some time thinking about the possibilities in this market.”

Projected sales from an ArcView Group report (which made the Economist (!)):

The report projects that, by 2019, all of the state-legal marijuana markets combined will make for a potential overall market worth almost $11 billion annually.

The huge growth potential of the industry appears to be limited only by the possibility of states rejecting the loosening of their drug laws. The report projects a marijuana industry that could be more valuable than the entire organic food industry — that is, if the legalization trend continues to the point that all 50 states legalize recreational marijuana. The total market value of all states legalizing marijuana would top $36.8 billion — more than $3 billion larger than the organic food industry.

From $2.7 billion to $11 billion in four years is impressive enough; and a potential market of $36.8 billion would be enough to get the attention of the political class. ArcView CEO Troy Dayton boils it down:

“These are exciting times and new millionaires and possibly billionaires are about to be made, while simultaneously society will become safer and freer.”


Marijuana and the Candidates

The Economist reckons that Federal legalization “may be five to ten years away,” I suppose when the $36.8 billion industry is in view. So lets see where the candidates and the parties are today.

For some Republicans, marijuana policy fits neatly into the neo-confederate “state’s rights” frame propagated by Nixon’s Southern strategy. Trump:

Trump, who is leading in the polls, called for drug legalization in 1990, but has since expressed some ambivalence on marijuana policy. Trump has said to Sean Hannity that marijuana legalization in Colorado is “bad,” adding that “medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it’s bad, and I feel strongly about that.” When pressed about states’ rights, Trump said, “If they vote for it, they vote for it,” but maintained that “a lot of bad information is coming,” including “tremendously damaging effects to the mind, to the brain [see above], to everything [Oh, Donald]. So it’s a big problem.”

And Jebbie’s policies are in line with Trump’s:

As governor of Florida, he opposed marijuana policy reform, including a medical marijuana amendment on the state’s ballot, and maintained his support for a state’s right to decide. At the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, he summed up his position succinctly, claiming that marijuana legalization is “a bad idea, but states ought to have that right to do it.”

I’ll just skip the other Republicans. As for the Democrats, here’s Senator Elizabeth Warren:

The state’s most high-profile Democrat also left the door open to potentially supporting a proposed ballot question that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.

“I’m open to it. I think we’ve learned more. A couple of states have legalized marijuana for recreational use,” Warren said, encouraging more scientific study on the plant and drug…

As you can see, Warren, too, takes a “State’s rights” position. And see “Marijuana Harm,” above, for what I think of enouraging more “scientific” study. Declared presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, however, is far more sensble. HuffPo:

“Let me just say this,” Sanders began in response to a question about his position on the war on drugs during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” [kudos!] style interview. “The state of Vermont voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and I support that. I have supported the use of medical marijuana. And when I was mayor of Burlington, in a city with a large population, I can tell you very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana. Our police had more important things to do.”

With regard to full marijuana legalization, Sanders said he will look to Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, to see the effects of such a policy change.

“Colorado has led the effort toward legalizing marijuana and I’m going to watch very closely to see the pluses and minuses of what they have done.”

(In contrast to Warren, Sanders wants to study the social effects.) And I like the populist touch here:

“One of the biggest mistakes our government made after the financial crisis was not prosecuting the people responsible for the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior that crashed our economy and ruined the lives of millions of Americans,” the socialist senator from Vermont told HuffPost in a written statement. “It is not acceptable that many young people have criminal records for smoking marijuana, while the CEOs of banks whose illegal behavior helped destroy our economy do not.”

Indeed![6] And then, speaking of bank CEOs, there’s former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Those budding marijuana CEOs aren’t stupid, you know:

At an August fundraiser at the home of Democratic consultant Win McCormick and Carol Butler in the exclusive Dunthorpe neighborhood of Portland, Oregon—a state that legalized marijuana in 2014—nearly a dozen cannabis industry professionals paid $2,700 a head to get an audience with the Democratic front-runner and former secretary of state.

$2,700 a head! Ka-ching. And in fact the mother’s milk of politics got results, or at least a data point:

When Clinton made her way through a line of donors, [Leah Maurer, a pro-pot activist] grabbed her hand and said, “Thank you for all the work you have done. I really need you to consider coming out in favor of reclassifying marijuana. It’s an issue that no Republican is going to touch and it would be hugely significant to your campaign.”

“I spoke to Earl Blumenauer about that,” Clinton responded, according to Maurer. “I am thinking about it.”

Which is a nicely wonkish answer; since Clinton’s not stupid, either.

So who is Earl Blumenauer? He’s Oregon’s representative from the Third District (which includes Portland), who has been carving himself out a niche on marijuana and public policy, to which I’ll now turn.

Marijuana and Public Policy

In this section, I’ll simply extract from two papers. The first is Earl Blumenauer’s “The Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy.” Here are the bullet points from his proposal (PDF):

While individual states remain the laboratories of innovation, it is time for the federal government to ma ke sure that states, businesses and individuals are able to act in an environment that has coherent and consistent laws . Congress should pursue each of the following options: 

1. Tax and regulate marijuana. Considering the growing number of jurisdictions that legalize medical marijuana and the five jurisdictions that legalize adult use, it is time that Congress end the federal prohibition on marijuana, removing it from the Controlled Substances Act entirely and creating a regulatory and taxation framework, similar to the frameworks in place for alcohol and tobacco….  

2. Allow states to enact existing medical marijuana laws without federal interference. The federal government needs to allow states to enforce their laws without fear of interference by removing barriers to medical marijuana distribution. Removing marijuana from the schedule, or at least rescheduling marijuana to Schedule III, IV or V on the Controlled Substances Act , paired with language protecting states’ rights will ensure that patients and providers that operate in compliance with state law remain immune from federal prosecution. 

3. Reduce barriers to medical marijuana research. Congress should pass legislation changing the system by which non-federally funded researchers access marijuana by ensuring that all researchers that receive FDA, IRB and DEA approval can access marijuana without further review….

4. Allow veterans equal access to medical marijuana ….

5. Remove the ban on industrial hemp ….

6. Allow the marijuana industry to operate in a normal business environment The existing medical marijuana ind ustry and its expansion to include adult use of marijuana has and will continue to result in many new businesses facing the tax and banking problems that come with the territory. Congress should immediately remove these tax and banking barriers to allow legitimate businesses to operate in states that have legalized marijuana for medical and adult use.  … Currently, these businesses operate as cash – only enterprises which are high risk and ripe for abuse.

7. A sensible drug policy working group. Members of Congress working on these issues should formalize their working relationship.

This may seem, and in fact may be, “common sense” and “middle of the road,” and you can see how legislation could be crafted from it, but before you nod your head vigorously to Blumenauer’s proposal, check out this more expansive view of marijuana policy from the RAND corporation, commissioned by the state of Vermont (PDF):

The chapter describes 12 supply alternatives to status quo prohibition, breaking them down into three groups:

  • The two options most commonly discussed in the United States
    • Retain prohibition but decrease sanctions.
    • Implement an alcohol-style commercial model.
  • Eight options that find a middle ground between those commonly discussed
    • Allow adults to grow their own.
    • Allow distribution only within small co-ops or buyers’ clubs.
    • Permit locally controlled retail sales (the Dutch coffee-shop model).
    • Have the government operate the supply chain (government monopoly).
    • Have a public authority operate the supply chain.
    • Permit only nonprofit organizations to sell.
    • Permit only for-benefit companies to sell.
    • Have very few closely monitored for-profit licensees.
  • Two extreme options
    • Increase sanctions.
    • Repeal the state’s prohibition without creating any new, product-specific regulations.

Clearly, there is a vast range of policy options that Blumenauer has rejected, and Hillary (never imaginative) seems likely to concur with his views, given that she views him as a subject matter expert. Readers, I think you will already have seen the policy options that I prefer, and let me consider marijuana as horticulture to explain why.

Marijuana as Horticulture

Let’s return to the very beginning, to the question of whether marijuana is a weed, or a plant. I encourage you to read this piece by Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which is comparable, in its delerious intensity, to Baudelaire’s Fleurs de Mal. Anslinger’s text is designed to create revulsion at the plant by associating with users of ill omen, like jazz players and Hispanics and black people, but his subtext is the intoxicating power of the “killer weed” itself; that is, the precise reason any normal human might wish to consume it, thereby treating it as a plant. Just to pick a little of Anslinger’s subtext out at random:

“the whispering of a secret”, “a new thrill”, “wonderful reactions”, “paroxysms of laughter”, “unexplainable exhilaration”, “floating”, “private information”, “the life of the party”, “love potion”

And ZOMG!!!!!! It’s everywhere:

Acres of it have been found in various communities. Patches have been revealed in back yards, behind signboards, in gardens. In many places in the West it grows wild. Wandering dopesters gather the tops from along the right of way of railroads.

(Rather like a food forest of intoxiation. Quel horreur!) Anslinger, that is, understands perfectly well the adaptive process explained by Michael Pollan in his wonderful Botany of Desire: That the goal of many plants, being rooted, is “to borrow as many legs as possible” in order to propagate its seeds widely, and that plants borrow our legs to adapt themselves to our desires; among them, intoxication. Pollan speaks from his garden:

I realized that the bumble bee and I had a lot in common. We were both going about getting what we wanted from nature, but at the same time we were unwittingly disseminating the gene of one species and not another. The bee, like me, to the extent he thinks about this at all, thinks he’s calling the shots. (Actually, it’s she. In the case of bumble bees, apparently it’s female bees that do the work.)The bee has chosen to go to that particular flower, breaks in, grabs the nectar, runs off, gets away with the goods. But we know that this sense of control the bee feels, assuming she feels it, is simply a failure of bee imagination. What is really happening is that the plant has cleverly manipulated that bee into paying it a visit. And in the case of the bee, the plant does this by evolving precisely the right combination and kinds of molecules—the right color, the right shape, the right attitude toward the sun—to gratify the bee’s desires. We know this from elementary or college botany. This is co-evolution, two species coming together to advance their own self-interest. They wind up trading favors, often without knowing it. So how are matters any different between me and the potatoes I was planting, or me and the marijuana plant I wasn’t [ha] planting in my garden? The plants, too, in those cases, have evolved to gratify our desires.

I often think, with some humility, that plants are much smarter than I am; they know where and how to grow better than I do, and if I have a role, it’s to assist them — to lend them my legs. So let us consider for a moment which public policy our co-evolving partner, marijuana, would prefer. I think it is very clearly these proposals, from the RAND corporation’s study for Vermont, not Blumenauer’s:

  • Allow adults to grow their own.
  • Allow distribution only within small co-ops or buyers’ clubs.
  • Permit locally controlled retail sales (the Dutch coffee-shop model).
  • Permit only nonprofit organizations to sell.
  • Permit only for-benefit companies to sell.

Plants, after all, have no notion of squillionairage, and that is what, “at the end of the day,” Blumenauer’s proposal is designed to promote, along with monocultures and whatever the marijuana equivalent of square tomatoes or High Fructose Corn Syrup might be. Plants, almost by definition, find monocultures maladaptive and seek to destroy them. I feel certain that marijuana, considered as a co-evolving plant, would far prefer marijuana gardens everywhere (including mine), and heirloom marijuana, adapted to the terroir. Blumenauer wants Big Weed. I don’t. Marijuana plants don’t.

From my perspective, as the other co-evolving partner, I find the coming of Big Weed, with its standardization of dosage and delivery, along with corporate branding and marketing, repellent, and a recipe for recreating all the damage of the liquor industry, including over-consumption. Most importantly, Big Weed would extract money from my state and send it elsewhere; local growers would keep the profits — and the horticultural skills — right here.

So, will Hillary Clinton allow me to grow marijuana in my garden for personal consumption? Will she restrict marijuana advertising, exactly as cigarette advertising is restricted? Will she support local marijuana, or corporate marijuana? And what will Senator Sanders do?

Because, to me, Big Weed would be a weed.


[1] I know that the very word “marijuana,” as opposed to “cannabis,” is contested, and that some species of marijuana (“hemp”) have industrial uses. For the purposes of this post, I’m using the popular word which is, sadly, Anslinger’s “marijuana,” to refer to cannabis plants consumed to intoxicate (with pain relief considered as a form of intoxication).

[2] Full disclosure: Plenty, back (way, way back) in the day.

[3] Legalization means, in essence, as legal as liquor (and as illegal as bootleg liquor). Legalization is not the same as decriminalization, which means making penalties for “possession” very light instead of viciously draconian.

[4] Actually, Maine has an unhappy combination of pain from heavy work like lobstering, lumbering, farming, and mill work, and pain from rural poverty. IMNSHO, it’s far better to seek relief with marijuana rather than with pharmaceuticals, like oxycontin, or white powders, and the State legislature sensibly agrees. Now if only they would wake up to the tourist potential, as Colorado has.

[5] So I’m not going to go into impaired driving, pediatrics, test scores, gateway drugs, or any of the other talking points. I’m also not going to address the (contested) role of (last year’s 609,423) marijuana arrests in feeding bodies into the for-profit prison industry, ka-ching, or the racist aspects thereof, which also feed into the syndrome of law enforcement for profit, as does the ugly practice of asset seizure. Nor will I examine the ugly effects of marijuana and the War on Drugs generally on our client States, like Mexico, or our sphere of influence, the Americas.  And I will ignore the cost/benefit analysis of marijuana enforcement vs. marijuana tax collection. I also understand that my “relaxed attitude” test might also allow the consumption of white powders (declining), which I am, in fact, strongly against — slippery slope warning! — but working out how to draw a principled bright line in public policy on that issue is a topic for another time.

[6] Here’s The Weed Blog playing 11-dimensional chess:

I have felt that Bernie Sanders definitely wants to end marijuana prohibition, but that he is laying the groundwork for such an announcement of support. If he came out and simply said ‘yes, legalize it,’ he would be disregarded as a ‘crazy liberal’ and that of course he wants to legalize marijuana, and it wouldn’t go anywhere. But if he comes out and says he wants to support prison reforms, that he wants to support other criminal justice reforms, that he wants to address racial issues in America, and a bunch of other planks that make up a larger platform, he will develop a more constructive conversation. Then, after he can get the discussion on the right path, then he comes out with full support for legalization. If he does it that way, I think he will be taken more seriously by non-cannabis consumers, and even some cannabis opponents.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Mogden

    All Federal anti-marijuana legislation / regulation is unlawful. The Federal government has no power to regulate in-state production and consumption of a plant. Supreme Court decisions to the contrary are simply absurd.

    1. beth

      Well, Mogden, if what you say is true, then Congress assumed that it did last year when it passed the Agriculture Act of 2014. In that bill, it allowed farmers to grow hemp (cannabis that has very reduced TCH) and market it, if the individual state allowed it. It also gave a little money to research. This has been a boon to the CBD market.

      These articles are old:
      President Obama Signs Farm Bill with Amendment to Allow Industrial Hemp Research
      (State Hemp Research Pilot Programs to become First Step in Restoring American Hemp Agriculture and Manufacturing Industries)

      A tip for American farmers: Grow hemp, make money

  2. different clue

    Is Big Weed better than No Weed At All? I think it could be. If cannabis is monopoly-legalized for a wired insider class, how long before We the Rest-Of-Us People wonder why it is kept profitably illegal for the rest of us? Cartelism would be retro-legalized, but would remain visibly Cartelism.

    The slogan Weed for people, not for profit! might well take hold.

    1. lambert strether

      “Is Big Weed better than No Weed At All?” Perhaps, but I don’t see a reason to accept the binary alternative.

      1. different clue

        It’s better as a first step towards the goal of Free Legal Weed for People. Because if Big Crony Weed becomes legal for Insider Bussiness, people will just keep raising the pressure to extend the legalization to Free People as well.

        If indeed the Insider Governators were able to keep Big Weed monopolized for the GoverBussiness Industrial Complex for years or decades to come, those would be some very bad years or decades. I was not offering this choice as a desired end state.

    2. lord koos

      Corporate or not, cannabis is a plant that is very easy to grow, and unlike tobacco it doesn’t need a lot of fooling around with. I don’t see how legal pot will stop people from growing their own. Home grown pot will be more common than home brewed beer and wine. I’m not sure about other states, but here in WA the government shot themselves in the foot by being greedy and over-taxing cannabis. So now legal pot is so expensive that it insures the survival of the black market/underground economy where prices are about 40% cheaper. Of course, corporations could beat the costs with very large-scale operations, as soon as the federal issue is settled. The law here makes it legal to own and buy weed, while it is technically still illegal to grow your own, however with cannabis enforcement now being low-priority I don’t think it’s much of an issue.

      1. different clue

        If cannabis is crony-legalized the same way that morphine and cocaine are crony-legalized . . . . as Schedule Class II drugs under total DEA regulation . . . . then anyone daring to grow Free Personal Cannabis will be persecuted even harder than they are persecuted now . . . to protect the Legal Cannabis Crony Cartel monopoly.

        Such persecution will lead to rising hatred for government among a rising proportion of the population which feels that cannabis should logically be free and equal for citizens rather than just DEA-legal to a Crony Crapitalist Cartel.

        Weed for people, not for profit!

        1. direction

          Wow, this is an interesting discussion so far, but I also wonder who is speaking from experience. Lord Koos: tobacco is actually easy to grow, have you tried? And it produces an insane amount of seeds, volunteers everywhere. As far as processing, fine tobacco leaves for cigars may take 6 weeks to 3 months to cure rather than 2 weeks but the process is similar, and with far less manicuring, so what are you on about? Likewise, different clue, you believe that “crony legalization” will lead to greater persecution of citizens growing your own, but I can assure you from personal experience: #1 The persecution of ordinary citizens has been egregious already and can hardly get worse and #2 Law Enforcement is inherently lazy. If it’s “almost legal” they are really not going to bother with it. Believe me. If you don’t believe me, I can tell you many many stories. I have called the drug task force here to deal with problems in my neighborhood and they picked up the phone saying “Drug task force, do you have some drugs?” I told them that they could come to my house hear about hash being manufactured next door by the crazy hippee crash pad where there’s already been a shooting and multiple heroin overdoses, and they said basically that I should not to bother the drug task force with such minutiae…

  3. shinola

    Marijuana will be legalized as soon as Monsanto develops & patents a hybrid or GMO version that produces no, or nonviable, seeds and then becomes the only (gov’t licensed) seed provider.

    1. lambert strether

      That’s certainly a plausible account, which unfortunately doesn’t square with the material presented in the article.

  4. upstater

    Cannabis should be SAFE, legal and heavily taxed. Taxes should go towards the inevitable public health expenditures that will result from pot smoking.

    I believe that high THC cannabis is a public mental health hazard. THC concentrations are now as high as 15-20%. The “do your own thing” of California and BC pot growers has yielded this result after decades of selective breeding. There has been recent research which links cannabis to serious life-long psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. But additional large-scale epidemiological research needs to be done. See:

    There are plenty of other references, if you bother to look. Invariably there will be criticism that pot-smoking schizophrenics are “self medicating” and that it wasn’t the pot at all that caused their problem. This is simply anecdotal.

    There is a component of cannabis (Cannabidiol or CBD) which is under late stage 2 clinical trials for use as an antipsychotic, which is very good news, as traditional pharma antipsychotics are terrible drugs. CBD is also the compound that is believed to help control epileptic seizures. Some research has shown that cannabis with both THC and CBD is not linked to higher incidence of psychosis (i.e., pot from the 1970s).

    Let it suffice to say that widespread legalization of cannabis is an uncontrolled public health experiment. Eventually data will prove my point. Give it 5-10 years.

    We have 3 relatives that were heavy pot smokers prior to psychotic breaks; it would seem there is an Epigenetic risk for some people. Like any psychotropic long term pot use surely changes brain chemistry and pathways. It seriously juices the dopamine system, as does alcohol.

    And as with alcohol and any psychotropic substance, including pot, we must remember that a drunk or drugged public is one that is going to acquiesce to control of the 0.0001% and be ambivalent towards collective activism. Everything is chill when you’re high (at least as I remember from the 1970s). If you doubt this, go to any Native American “reservation” of an inner city ghetto for a visit.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Hmm. I think the public health experiment has been going on since the late 60s. The public conducted the experiment, and, as I say, is voting with their bongs. So be it, say I.

      That said, one reason I think Big Weed isn’t the best public policy choice is precisely that they’ll optimize for high dosage varietals and then set up a monoculture to market them. Better let us grow our own stuff. As Anslinger points out, that’s really easy. There’s no reason for a new class of squillionaires to get in the middle of the transaction.

      1. ira

        This is not your grandfather’s weed. The selective breeding and growing of ultra-high (pun intended) strains of marijuana (eg in Dutch greenhouses) is definitely a medical and public health issue. Add this to the fact that the adolescent brain is still in development (some neuroscientists believe up unitl 20 years old), and you defintely have legitimate reason for concern — again, from a purely medical point of view.

        All of this has nothing to do with the ‘war on drugs’, which has a long and sordid history, most recently in its role as a political and electoral disenfranchisement policy to be used against African-Americans, particularly intensifying under Pres. Nixon.

        1. lord koos

          All of these issues you bring up, pale in comparison to alcohol. Everyone seems fine with the easy availability of booze, even though the social costs are far higher than with pot.

        2. Michael

          The nay sayers like to perch on the non-sense that stronger THC Hemp will become a serious personal and social problem – it will only be a problem for the purveyors. This is because hemp smokers are not interested in getting blitzed. When the potency increases the size of the joints and the frequency are reduced. Excessive THC simply becomes a sleep aid, and unlike booze which has drastically anti-social, deadly and debilitates personal health and produces aggressive effects; high potency THC hemp will result in less consumed hemp not more. Alcohol is poison. The multiple of effective dose to deadly dose is very small for alcohol while in recorded medical history there has not been a single death from THC poisoning EVER! The human body contains millions of specialized THC receptors everywhere. Unlike dangerous drugs like aspirin where the effective dose and the deadly is small, there has never been a single recorded death from the direct effects of THC.

      2. upstater

        The problem is high THC weed has bred out almost all the CBD. In the 70s most cannabis was maybe 4-5% THC with a similar amount of CBD. Now it is 15-20% THC and negligible CBD. The high test pot like that is really something more common in the past decade. In the 70’s you had to smoke a whole joint yourself to get high. Now a tiny fragment of bud gets you more stoned than a whole joint would in the old days. It is like the difference between a can of 4.5% beer and grain alcohol.

        I suppose I don’t have a problem with people growing their own if the seed isn’t for high THC hybrids and there is an associated tax. There is a social cost for use of any intoxicant, don’t you agree?

        A whole lot more research needs to be done. And because it is a scheduled “drug”, research is hobbled by unnecessary regulation.

        1. craazyboy

          I haven’t kept up. The old problem was someone might sell you local roadside stuff that did hardly anything at all. Go fer the Columbian!

          I guess someone should figure out, before going into full scale production, if the new and improved stuff does really turn people into the piano player in “Reefer Madness” and we inadvertently unleash the Zombie Apocalypse in America. That would be bad. Or worser.

          Besides, we do need to slow the growth of Prison, Inc. in America, but that could be handled as a separate de-criminalization issue.

          1. Bridget

            I figured out in the 70’s that even the old, unimproved stuff turned some of my friends into zombies. But I’m Libertarian(ish)….so, if fools wish to scramble their brains, I’m inclined to let them have at it. As long as I am not expected to provide guaranteed incomes and such support to the fat, lazy, and cognitively impaired human beings they risk becoming.

              1. Bridget

                And on the subject of never being an irony-free zone, I will likewise note the conjunction of “happy” with “NC”

        2. Roger Bigod

          High THC strains may be a rational economic response to the expense and risk of growing an illegal crop. If it were legal, it could be marketed with specified amounts of CBD. Back in the day, strains were said to be “buzzy” or “mellow”, possibly reflecting CBD content.

          Aside from the bogus NIDA stuff, what we know about the development of the CNS suggests that heavy use, probably any use, is a terrible idea during adolescence. Getting the message out is more difficult because of all the lies, going back to “Reefer Madness”.

        3. John Zelnicker

          It is a myth that pot today has a higher concentration than what could be found in the 1970’s. It was just very rare and hard to find. There were cultivators working on high THC strains then and what we call “one-toke” pot did exist (in my experience it was usually Hawaiian). Since for most of the past 50 years what has been tested is that which has been confiscated, and most of what was busted was commercial grade, there are very few old reports of high grade marijuana. But it was out there. After many years and many more people working on cultivation, high grade strains are far more prevalent.

          And I’m not entirely sure that your contention that CBD has been bred out of high THC strains is true.

          1. diptherio

            Having once known some old hippies–so old they started out as beats, actually–I have heard the same thing. Good pot has always been around, it’s just easier to find now.

            I’m also not at all convinced by upstater’s claims that CBD has been bred out of high THC varietals. A friend brought back a little pill bottle from Colo. that listed the concentrations of both substances on the side.

            Conventional wisdom holds that sativas are more THC-heavy and therefore heady and energizing, while the indicas are more CBD-based and are better for pain relief and sleep aides. A little birdy told me that, I’d have no way of knowing myself, of course.

            I would also point out that more than one culture has a long history of marijuana use, and those cultures don’t seem to be any more prone to psychosis than anyone else.

        4. different clue

          I have read there there is also high CBD weed which is specifically sought out by the parents of children with otherwise-untouchable multiple serial seizure disorders.

    2. Ron

      agree generally with your position and also with lambert’s concept of letting people just grow they own but long term usage is another smoking habit but illegal is not an answer so best to let remove the illegal tag. It seems to have some benefits for certain people and there is no reason to put them in jail for its use.
      Using the drug to get high becomes another smoking habit with dubious outcomes as many of my friends now in there late 60’s are firmly addicted and show a strong likening for wine and drinking turning them into old stupid.

    3. Roger Bigod

      There’s no reason to expect high concentrations of THC to be more intoxicating. It’s usually smoked and people take a few hits, then repeat until they get whatever effect suits. Even with oral ingestion, if they’re using a constant source, they learn to titrate the dose.

      The epidemiologic studies are worthless for inferring causation. If you study a population and find that Factor X (schizophrenia) associates with Factor Y (cannabis use), it’s possible that both are associated with one or more other factors. The only way to establish causation would be to take a large, varied sample of early teens and for 10 years or so have one group take measured doses of cannabis while the control group took placebo, assuming that neither group could figure out whether they were getting drug effects. This isn’t possible for practical, legal and ethical reasons. The NIDA has a budget of $1 billion, and a large amount goes to phony science. One of their officials has stated that they wouldn’t knowingly fund research that didn’t cast drug use in a negative light. In a time of research stringency, this isn’t just waste, it’s corruption.

      The most common form of schizophrenia as the paranoid subtype. Onset is around age 20, with a “psychotic break”. Inquiry usually shows that the individual has had some features of the condition for years (worry about conspiracies, having ones thoughts read, hearing voices). Paranoid feelings occur for many people with the first few times they take cannabis, so it’s very plausible that cannabis can precipitate the first break in an individual with a predisposition to schizophrenia. It’s an open question whether this is good, in that they get help sooner, or bad, in that their social position irrevocably changes a few years earlier than it would otherwise. Probably the latter, but the point is that evidence for causation is shaky.

      1. upstater

        Of course correlation does not mean causation.

        There is early research that identifies genetic patterns that may pre-dispose an individual to mental illness or other brain disorders. The linkages to PTSD or Autism are well understood, but for disorders such as schizophrenia the markers are much less evident. And is schizophrenia one disease or many diseases?

        We have 3 members on one side of the family that have schizotypal disorders that were all heavy pot smokers. To my knowledge none of the other family members were heavy users and only a few were very occasional users. This is completely anecdotal — and there are plenty of families that have multiple cases of schizophrenia without drug use. Patrick Cockburn has a chapter on this in his book “Henry’s Demons” about his son.

        I don’t have a problem with legalization if it is done in a sensible manner and users have easy access to treatment.

        And there needs to be legitimate scientific research on the risks or benefits of cannabis.

        1. Roger Bigod

          It certainly sounds like there was a connection for your relatives. Sooner or later it will be cleared up. Schizophrenia has been the Holy Grail of biological psychiatry for decades, and it’s surprising that it’s still so mysterious.

    4. binky Bear

      I think the studies cited are corrupted by fitting the answers to the data to get desired results.
      Mental illnesses as described in the DSM 4 and such manuals are much more complex than the reductive methodology used by psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurobiologists have used to date. It is more likely that the expressions of a variety of brain damages result in the symptoms described as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression and so on, and that these are rarely simple, monocausal phenomena. The key element in substance abuse is the focus on substances which have physiological effects on the subjects experimenting on themselves. Subjects who cannot get marijuana of whatever attributed (usually without data) balance of cannabinoids or effects may substitute other substances-what do they choose through experimentation to achieve the desired effects? Central nervous system suppressants? Amphetamines? Diazepines? Cutting? Anorexia? Bulimia? Hydrocarbon huffing?
      I think we are so buried in propaganda by those who have profited from illegalization of drugs that we have no factual basis to make claims of adverse or positive effects. We are so buried in the rhetoric of substance abuse that we attribute quasi-magical powers to the subjects of our mixed desire-repulsion. 12 step program prevalence is one example. Rarely do we see consideration of stress, social inequality, mal/nutrition, wealth inequality, poverty, environmental contamination (lead and other heavy metals), socialization and cultural issues in our definitions of sanity/insanity. After all, in the US and Soviet Union mental illness could be diagnosed by one’s political leanings (Frances Farmer will have her revenge on Tacoma is a cultural touchpoint).

      I believe this is the same impulse that drives the conservative movement, which publicly repudiates drugs, alcohol, same sex relationships, adultery, pedophilia, gambling and so on with severe fervor, all the while participating in just those acts. The only way to foster a context where science can proceed in a less-biased environment towards a fact based assessment of harm is to legalize and regulate these products like foods and drugs not on the schedule.

    5. lyman alpha blob

      Cannabis IS safe already. The reefer madness crowd still cannot point to even one person who has ever overdosed using cannabis alone. Yet people kill themselves overdosing on alcohol, a perfectly legal substance, every single day.

      And as to all these stories one hears about the high concentration of THC in today’s cannabis compared to the 70s, all I can say is the hipsters back then must have been smoking the equivalent of Michelob Ultra light. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for progress! ;)

    6. lord koos

      As far as the uncontrolled health experiment, it has been going on since the 1960s with little ill effects observed. 44 people die every single day in the US from legal (and heavily promoted) prescription drugs. As a mental or physical health hazard, pot has to rate far below many other substances (Remember lead based paint?). And cannabis strains today, while indeed bred for high potency, do not always eliminate CBD. Here in WA most pot shops have products that are labelled as to percentages of THC and CBD content. Also, strong cannabis has been around for centuries — Jamaican, African, Afghan and Thai strains which have been grown for centuries, can be extremely potent. I doubt those cultures are any crazier than Americans.

  5. jgordon

    “the whispering of a secret”, “a new thrill”, “wonderful reactions”, “paroxysms of laughter”, “unexplainable exhilaration”, “floating”, “private information”, “the life of the party”, “love potion”

    That’s a pretty sinister exhortation against a plant. It demonstrates an obsessive need in a society to control both the behavior and perceptions of its constituents. Having your brain programmed from infancy by advertisers to lust after consumer products and worship a corrupt government’s praetorian class? A-OK. Taking a natural plant or fungus that (horribly!) has the potential of wiping out all that carefully-laid programming in one session? We’ll destroy you!

    It’ll be sad when the deleterious impact of the limits to growth on our economy finally cause our government and society to collapse, sure. But looking on the bright side these insane megalomaniacs will mostly be wiped out with the rest of the population–and the few who are left will mostly only be able to make life miserable for whatever local community they happen to be in. If the locals put up with them at all that is.

  6. craazyboy

    If they soak it in Roundup, spray it with pesticides and roll it for you, they are Big Joint. If they skip the roundup and pesticides, they are Big Organic Joint.

    This is better than being thrown in the joint.

    But why not give free range cannabis a chance?

  7. Ed Walker

    1. My brother did a lot of work on medicinal uses of MJ. Among other findings, he said that it blocks pain at the level of the spinal column, unlike opiods, which operate in the Central Nervous System. That’s why the opiods have horrible side effects, slowing peristalsis, slowing breathing, and death. The cannabinoids obviously have impact in the brain, but the pain relieving aspects are much lower in the CNS. I hope I got that right.

    2. Lambert doesn’t mention one of the most important aspects of legalization: it would have a huge impact on the horrifying Mexican cartels. That is one of the main points Jon Walker made at FDL, and it seems to me to be a very powerful argument.

    3. I don’t have much to contribute on the matters mentioned by upstater, which seem really important areas of study. There are about 30 known cannabinoids, as I recall from my brother. Each has a somewhat different effect. Like most psychoactive chemicals, the cannabinoids hook into specific sites in specific neurons. Some hook into pain transmitters, and that’s how they block pain. Think of endorphins, that’s the right idea. The channels are there, and the plants produce chemicals that are shaped in one place like the shape of chemicals produced by the body in the normal course.

    4. With the coming mess of an economy, MJ may turn out to be soma, as upstater suggests.

    1. John Zelnicker

      Ed – re: #3. Very close. There is actually an interconnected Endocannabinoid system in the human body. Receptors specifically designed for THC molecules and other cannabinoids are found throughout the body. In fact, the human body produces its own cannabinoid substances. Receptors are found in the brain, throughout the nervous system, in all the organs and blood vessels, just about everywhere. Among other things it mediates the effect of several neurotransmitters.

    2. lord koos

      The trend towards legalization at the federal level may have something to do with the benefits it will provide to the ruling class — keeping people sedated will no doubt be helpful in the coming decades.

  8. Brooklin Bridge

    Nothing that has potential for big money escapes big money. Not in this country. Not in most countries. However pot distribution starts, such as like the world wide web, it will end up an industry increasingly controlled by big money or the country will have undergone nothing short of a profound revolution in the meantime.

  9. abynormal

    me thinks #6 is why Trump flipped and what the ‘loudest’ candidates fear lo$$ing

    6. Allow the marijuana industry to operate in a normal business environment The existing medical marijuana ind ustry and its expansion to include adult use of marijuana has and will continue to result in many new businesses facing the tax and banking problems that come with the territory. Congress should immediately remove these tax and banking barriers to allow legitimate businesses to operate in states that have legalized marijuana for medical and adult use. … Currently, these businesses operate as cash – only enterprises which are high risk and ripe for abuse.

    “Federal and state laws (should) be changed to no longer make it a crime to possess marijuana for private use.”
    Richard M. Nixon (of course this was pre-private prison day$)

    1. abynormal

      sorry, hit send too quick…Another Great Workup Lambert
      “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

  10. tongorad

    I’d like to see a study of the effects of soul-crushing capitalist extraction on the brain.
    Smoke dope, eat cantaloupe!

  11. Greg Taylor

    Big Crony Weed is a problem that needs immediate attention. Some (many?) legalization efforts are designed and funded by groups trying to build monopolies / cartels or anti-competitive practices in some aspect of the industry. Ohio is a prime example. Growing is proposed to be restricted to a very small number of farms owned by legalization supporters.

    1. John Zelnicker

      Ohio seem to be the only initiative so far that has a monopoly on growing as part of the proposal to legalize. However, there is also a competing proposal in Ohio that is based on the framework of Colorado and other legalization proposals, with no such restrictions. The monopoly proposal, however, is very well funded.

    2. different clue

      I have heard that there are three different groups pushing three different “legalization” initiiatives at the getting-signatures stage here in Michigan. One of them is a Big Crony Weed initiative. One of them is a Legal Weed for People initiative. One is somewhere in between. I have read that the Big Crony Weed initiative language is very deceptive, and the Legal Weed for People initiative is not making much effort to point out the difference in simple language. So Michiganders will have to watch out for that. I want to make sure to sign the Legal Weed for People petition and not either of the other two petitions.

      1. hunkerdown

        Then you want to sign the MI Legalize petition, which allows home growing and such. MRC and MCC are the ones to avoid.

  12. Optimader

    All weeds are plants, not all plants are weeds. In the case of marijuana it has been a valuable cultivar for centuries, that grows with the tenacity of aweed.

    The notion of declaring part of nature illegal has always struck me as odd. The cost of the societal carnage that the prohibition experiment has wrought is imo incalculable, well beyond the wasted financial resources is the lost human potential.

    Further, the notion that it might be ok to make a plant “legal” if it is “heavily taxed” is at best puritanical. The extraordinary direct financial resources squandered on interdiction and incarceration surely outweighs any theoretical and unproven social “burden”.

    Finally regading big biz, an interesting diffentiation from say alcohol is that theoretically there is no required value added process neccesary beyond growing a plant, as contrasted with the large scale fermentation facilities/distribution/retailing/advertising investments big biz has sunk in the alchohol business model.

      1. Optimader

        Yes, i think you’re right, an unambiguous example of rent extraction.
        Imo the societal benefits that flow from decriminalization are held hostage by the enigma of how to sent up the rent extraction model, as well rationalize the percieved risk to present status quo rent extraction that decriminalization will threaten: the alcohol/pharma industries and possibly more significantly, the interdiction-incarceration-graft-cartel money laundering beauracracies.

          1. John Zelnicker

            The efforts will be made by DuPont, Dow Chemical, Monsanto and others to patent various genetic strains of marijuana, which are getting very sophisticated. Some companies are already trying to do so.

            Hopefully, the old hippie attitude of “Free the Weed” will be able to prevail. So far the early adopters of legalization and medical authorization are allowing small scale grows by individuals. This could be a way to keep the corporate world at bay at least somewhat.

            1. lord koos

              The rumor back in the day was that big Tobacco had patented a lot of trademarks, such as Panama Red, Alcapulco Gold, etc etc. It’s probably true.

          2. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

            As with brewing/winemaking – convenience. I have a friend who home-brews and it’s much more of a pain (and, to be fair, way more interesting) and time consuming than bopping down to Safeway and picking up a 6 pack of whatever. And since I”m not a beer drinker, I really can’t tell the difference that he assures me is there.

            Likewise with recMJ. I have a serious Black Thumb – I could kill dandelions by TRYING to raise them. So being able to grow four (4) cannibishrubs at home is kinda meaningless for me. It’ll be easier to go to the nearest pottery store* (heh) and pick up a bag of stuff, or even some edibles.

            Since the processed stuff, like edibles and add-ins, is not allowed for home manufacture (BHO is nasty dangerous to make!) there’s your other point of profit, for those who don’t want to ingest by smoking. See further examples at “winemaking” versus “distilling.”

            *which will likely be in Hood River or something, since Eastern Oregon is going to stick with PBR and Reefer Madness reruns.

            1. direction

              Agreed, and there’s more to it than convenience. Most of my friends’ home brewed wine tasted like shit for years, my grandfather’s as well. Then you get to the level of the lousy professional or new large scale producer, after that you get to the level of the decent swill, and then you start getting into producing the good stuff. Some people never even bother to go there. Likewise, you can throw some seeds in a ditch, but don’t expect much from the final product. Second level, you can started trying to be a professional and throw a lot of money and time into it and it’s still going to be shit. It takes experience and time to get good product.

    1. Laughingsong

      “The notion of declaring part of nature illegal has always struck me as odd.”
      Agreed. It doesn’t seem workable. If it were, why not make mosquitoes or cockroaches illegal? :-)

      1. different clue

        If the narco-intelligence money-laundering industrial complex could make money off of mosquitoes or cockroaches, they would have made mosquitoes and cockroaches illegal. Think about it . . . if you could get high from eating or smoking cockroaches, do you think cockroaches would be legal?

      2. direction

        We tried something like that. We erected a huge toll booth, but the mosquitoes are grinning madly and flipping us off as they fly through it and the cockroaches are just muttering irately as they scurry around the thing.

  13. Tammy

    I’m tired on the self righteous attitudes on both sides of the marihuana debate to cover their lack of ethical behavior and corruption. I’m as worried about fascist like tendencies that are more about profit (from both sides) than concern for families. The medical profession is for profit. Period.

    I’ll read the article more closely.

    1. different clue

      What corruption and unethical behavior is manifested by the grow-your-own subsistence-cannabis for use not for sale community is evident or even imputable?

  14. Kevin Smith

    It is interesting to compare the map of US marijuana users with the mapof US Asheley Madison users [

    There appears to be a roughly inverse relationship between the two populations [eg, high marijuana/ low AM in Oregon, high AM / low marijuana in Utah.] Whatever does it mean?

    Maybe some day someone will mashup the two datasets and explore this more. Please forward the idea to someone who can do that.

    1. diptherio

      I once knew a seriously born-again Christian who was also a heavy pot smoker. Her bible study group would toke up and read the word! She insisted that cannabis use was encouraged by the bible, although I never did get the chapter and verse from her on that one. Anyway, it might be entertaining to start proselytizing to fundamentalist Christians about how the sacred herb is a sure-fire remedy for infidelity…which they seem to have something of a problem with.

      More seriously, though, it might not be a coincidence that marijuana is favored by ascetic, celibate, monks in India and Nepal. Maybe it tones down the libido?

  15. gil gamesh

    Hah. If Clinton gets elected, then pot will be outsourced to China. Big Weed indeed.

    May marijuana have the innate wisdom to co-evolve in such a manner that it deals a death blow to neoliberalism, centrist Democrats, and the Market State. Americans, dumber than plants, can’t.

  16. Bam_Man

    Make no mistake, the big winners in “legalized marijuana” will eventually be the lawyers.
    They will go after the marijuana industry, in the same way they did Big Tobacco.
    First it must be legalized, and they need to determine where the “deep pockets” are.
    Then we will begin to hear of all the adverse health issues (emphysema, COPD, premature dementia, etc, etc).
    Mark my words.

  17. Laughingsong

    ‘That the goal of many plants, being rooted, is “to borrow as many legs as possible”’

    I agree organisms intelligently seek out partnerships in nature to help them ensure future survival. When I first started studying herbs, I noticed that some of the most beneficial herbs for humans preferred disturbed earth to grow mostly strongly in- that is, near where humans build. If a dandelion grows in your lawn (and yes, dandelions are beneficial to humans) and you mow it regularly, you will find that instead a growing a long stem, the flower will start growing lower than the mower blades. So I agree about the plants being intelligent, and prefer the horticultural approach since it is healthiest for them – and us! I don’t think our partnership plants (or most of us for that matter) thought that something like Monsanto would come into being, much less ravage the landscape so thoroughly. But I also support industrial hemp, so where does that leave the argument? Because I think industrial scale hemp could replace many other bad things like deforestation for paper and such. Argh.

    1. John Zelnicker

      Laughingsong – I recommend you look deeper and do a bit of research into the horticulture of growing industrial hemp. Although you are obviously against the “industrial players”, and I agree with your concerns, farming hemp on a large scale is not nearly as environmentally costly as other industrial crops, e.g., corn or wheat. IIRC, growing hemp is a net benefit to the health of the soil in which it grows.

  18. phichibe

    I’d add that the issue is not whether marijuana is totally benign – it is whether the collective harm of prohibition outweighs the harm of legalization. The apposite comparison is obviously with alcohol. I think that for the 10% of drinkers who consume close to a fifth of hard liquor a day, alcohol is a lifeshortening hazard. Every urban area in this country has hundreds, maybe thousands homeless whose weakness for alcohol has ruined their lives. And yet no one this side of Carrie Nation would want to bring Prohibition back.

    The truth is that every policy choice has costs. Legal pot will lead to some abuse, some disease, and a bump in junk food sales. Meanwhile it will reduce revenue to organized crime and allow law enforcement resources to focus on truly evil drugs like meth and heroin.


  19. Thure Meyer

    The continues emphasis by the media (and just about everyone else) on the mind altering effects of marijuana is misplaced and a distraction. We might as well have a parallel discussion about the other drugs we consume on a daily basis [e.g. alcohol, caffeine. tobacco – not to speak of prescription drugs], which in appropriate concentractions are hallucionogenic and even toxic.

    The medical properties (CBD’s and other cannabinoids) as well as the agricultural value of the hemp plant for American farmers should be our focus.There has also been very interesting research on the endocannabinoid system, which is very old in an evolutionary sense, and has a fundamental metabolic and adaptive role.

    There was a time when the US led the world in hemp cultivars; in fact Kentucky was famous for their hemp and it is a crop that has tremendous overall market value as fiber, construction material, oil and even high end cosmetics (the flowers). It is also very adapatable and can be grown in almost any agricultural area.

    China leads the world in hemp cultivation when our farmers are struggling to find high value crops and not just grow GMO feed corn and other subsidized crops. By the way – the first American flag was made of hemp and the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were printed on hemp paper. Its the oldest cultivated fiber in the world.

    I know the above seems somewhat prosletyzing, its not really intended that way; but its another one of those discussions that is immediately hijacked and twisted by that black hole we call the media, when we should be talking about economic and health benefits instead.

  20. washunate

    It’s only natural, therefore, that support for marijuana legalization[3] would increase with consumption

    Why is usage discussed here? Many Americans who don’t use illicit drugs regularly oppose the drug war. Maybe it’s because younger Americans are generally more reserved and respectful when discussing these things, and older Americans mistake that agreeableness for agreement? Here’s a little bit more intense way of putting things:

    The current iteration of the drug war is a relic of the backlash against the civil rights movement, a last rearguard effort to keep the masses in line. Opposition to the drug war has nothing to do with usage. It has to do with younger Americans completely fed up with the authoritarian control freaks in older generations. The drug war is reaching a tipping point because older Americans in aggregate support it. As they have been dying off, support for legalization has been increasing. National Democrats will be the last to support legalization because they are the authoritarians. They will only give in once every one else has moved on. They are directly responsible for the continuation of institutionalized racism, undermining the Constitution, destroying public health, and destabilizing foreign governments.

    Yes, we shouldn’t make too big a deal of generational differences. But we shouldn’t make too small a deal of them, either. Xers and Millennials know drugs are bad, and they know the drug warriors are hypocrites. Especially the legal ones like alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs. That’s why they support treatment rather than prosecution. Look at that chart for marijuana legalization. Support has been growing for a quarter century. A majority of the public no longer supports criminalization. And that’s despite massive, unrelenting government propaganda. The DARE generation are now adults – and they think Nancy Reagan and Just Say No are about the most idiotic things they’ve ever heard. Marijuana legalization was the number one question put to the early Obama Administration via back in 2008. The pro-science Administration has of course not been able to get the Republicans to forge his signature on the DEA order descheduling marijuana yet. He would totally respect science if only the GOP would let him run the Executive Branch.

    Maybe the drug warriors have a second wind, a plan up their sleeve to increase the popularity of the drug war, but every indication is that the psychopaths forgot to teach the next generation to be meddling busybodies. And now young peeps and kiddos are in there 20s and 30s and 40s.


    1. different clue

      I thought DARE and all other kinds of Drug Education all throughout the Education Industrial Complex have spent these decades teaching tens of millions of children how to be little Pavlik Morozovs against their parents, brothers, any other family members they catch using cannabis. Am I wrong about that?

      Anyone who remembers any of that “get your parents help” training from their time in the Public Schooling Industrial Complex should go look up Pavlik Morozov. Go look up Pavlik Morozov on the Google. Go on, look up Pavlik Morozov right now. Go. Do it. Do it Now.

      1. ambrit

        We knew a policeman in Louisiana who was tasked with being the D.A.R.E. guy. After several years of it he came to the conclusion that the program actually created more druggies than it stopped. “What’s the purpose of teaching very young kids about drugs when their priorities are leaning toward play time, TV, and snacks? We exposed young children to the drug underworld years before they otherwise would have been.” He turned into a serious foe of D.A.R.E.

    2. different clue

      I remember how Obama sneered and laughed at any bring-up of marijuana legalization on his digital “keyboard-hall” sessions on the subject. It makes perfect sense that the DLC Third Way Clintonite Obama Shitocrats will wage the Drug War Against America until the very bitterest end.

      ( What? don’t say “Shitocrats”? This is a “family blog”? Fuck that shit. This Is Serious.
      The common-enemy-of-all-humanity Shitocrats deserve to be Nuremberged and Hanged for their role in the War On Drugs.)

      1. washunate

        Preach it. The unintentional hilarity has reached a remarkable level over the past decade or so. I almost couldn’t believe Obama was so amateurish when he laughed at the legalization question. Usually the pundit class has a very polished and professional PR presence. The only conclusion I can think of is that the drug warriors are really running on fumes; they simply have no idea how to sell the police state to people who grew up in it and despise it.

  21. different clue

    About “Johnny Potseed” and growing your own under a regime of vicious persecution . . . right wing Survivalist author Kurt Saxon once had online an interesting article about how to do that. When I went to find that article again to link to it I found that article long-gone and unfindable anywhere on the interweb tubenets no matter how hard I searched.

    The gist of it went like this: line a U-Haul type garment-shipping carton with reflective tinfoil and set up your grow pots in the bottom of the carton. Have a fluorescent bulb shop-light fixture handing a few inches above the growing plants from the overhead metal bar by adjustable chain. As the plants grow taller, lift up the light-fixture within the foil lined garment shipping carton to always keep the lights a few inches above the growing plants. That set-up will let you grow a few plants with little enough electro-use and little enough thermal-imaging heat signature to avoid friendly law enforcement or utility company detection.

    I liked the way he advised the reader to tell NO ONE about your setup. “Don’t tell your future ex-wife, your future ex-girlfriend, your future ex-children, your future ex-parents, about this. Tell NO ONE.”

  22. Chuck

    I figure that, in not too many years, we’ll have cannabis growing wild along rural roads here in Oregon, in the same way we battle two other introduced species. Himalayan blackberry and Scotch broom. Attacks using biological controls have proven ineffective.

    Unlike the former, cannabis doesn’t have thorns.

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