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Saturday, January 31, 2009

"For us, the Holocaust survivors, our moral obligation is to legalize it"

This is incredible:

The Chicago Tribune reports on the curious statement of support for the pro-legalization Green Leaf party in Israel:

Even in the world of politics and its strange bedfellows, this coalition is odder than most.

On Tuesday, a party representing Israeli Holocaust survivors joined forces with the pro-marijuana Green Leaf party for a run at Israel's parliament. The new party launched its campaign in a near-empty, underground, graffiti-filled nightclub in south Tel Aviv, pledging to pursue two primary goals: to financially assist elderly Holocaust survivors and to legalize the consumption of cannabis.

While most of the attention in the run-up to Israel's Feb. 10 general election is focused on its three major parties — Likud, Kadima and Labor — and their high-profile candidates for prime minister, many Israelis are considering voting for the smaller, and quirkier, of the 34 parties officially registered.

Parties need to win just 2.5 percent of the vote, or roughly 70,000 votes, to win a seat in the notoriously fractious parliament.

The Green Leaf Party is on the verge of breaking through, and actually earning possibly two seats in the Knesset. That was the finding of pollsters before this new support from a group representing Holocaust survivors. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the pollsters findings:

Some pollsters say Green Leaf — buoyed by support from young, urban, secular Israelis — could win two seats in the 120-member Knesset in the March 28 election, leading the charge of small parties.

The ultraliberal party, whose platform includes legalizing marijuana, gambling and prostitution, was twice before on the verge of gaining access to the halls of power. In 2003, it was just 7,000 votes short of a place in parliament. This time, [Boaz] Wachtel promises to break through.

"If I didn't think we had a chance of getting into the Knesset, I wouldn't be wasting my time," he said.

h/t: Hit & Run

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 31, 2009 in Marijuana reform | Permalink

Comments

This is rather cheap politics.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-31 11:44:08 AM


..Didn't Western Standard Freedom Hero # 003, his Majesty the Prince of Pot Marc Emery provide funding for the Green leaf Party last year for some sort of a drug peace conference?

Isn't hashish one of the items that move freely through those Gaza tunnels in the same delivery boxes as guns and explosives?

If Israel intelligence can spot teenagers in a back yard in Gaza setting up a homemade rocket , surely they can spot glowing green marijuana growing anywhere in Israel.. so... where do these one million israelis get their pot ? This a lot of dope

... Israeli Wipeheads are Trading with their nations Enemies...

Thanks Marc Emery for contributing to the body count in this deadly part of the world..We guess we will see you & your gang in extradition court mid February...fashion hint: wear diapers


Posted by: 419 | 2009-01-31 12:03:15 PM


Prohibition is to blame here, 419, not Emery and not marijuana.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-01-31 12:27:49 PM


Drug prohibition was to blame for the Holocaust? Proof, please.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-31 12:47:59 PM


Pay attention, Shane. Matthew is not saying anything about the Holocaust. His comment is in response to 419's claim that pot-smoking Israeli's are helping to pay for bombs used against Israeli's.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-01-31 12:50:16 PM


Not the Holocaust, Shane. Drug profits financing terror activities.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-01-31 1:00:55 PM


...Prohibition is a limitation on human activity that prevents a bad scene from getting worse...nobody will "prohibit" a thunderstorm or a locust infestation, but they will prohibit human activities that are undesirable-- NO PARKING is a prohibition- and quite often its a good idea, unless you park there and get towed and fined, then you disagree.. prohibition is not a thing to battle with its a behaviour cue

Mr Emery donated $$ to this Political party who has teamed up with holocaust survivors in Israel.. According to the clip you post here 1,000,000 Israeli Wipeheads buy and smoke this prohibited substance,,,my point is this prohibited substance is an export agricultural product of Israels' enemy nation ( s )..

any encouragement , especially by foreigners for the Israel demand for cannabis especially during time of war is materially adding to the body count in that struggle.

Marijuana moves through these tunnels, not hamster chow

Posted by: 419 | 2009-01-31 1:17:37 PM


..unless there are 1,000,000 Israelis with medical marijuana exemptions and His Majesty the Prince of Pot is hooking them up with legal Health Canada compassionate bud services...

then I would withdraw my objection and even admit that hamster chow does indeed flow through those tunnels

Posted by: 419 | 2009-01-31 1:23:22 PM


Why are we even focusing on this Israeli pot party? This is just a left-wing pro-pot party that supports big government spending initiatives. Read up on this party! They want big bloated government welfare programs, legalize pot, legalize prostitution, want to force gay marriage, and have no foreign policy. They are a fringe party composed largely of leftist radicals and hippies. The real power struggle is between Likud(right-leaning party) and Kadima(centrist governing party and Likud spinoff). At this point, polling results show that Likud and the other parties of the right(Israel Our Home, Jewish Home, National Union, Shas, United Torah Judaism, etc) will win a majority of the 120 Knesset seats. Likud's leader is Benjamin Netanyahu. He is a strong supporter of privatizing government services and cutting taxes. During his time as finance minister, he pushed privatization and deregulation of the Israeli economy more than any previous minister. Also, he is tough on terrorism. The Green Leaf party is just another left-wing party that pines for the beginning decades of Israel's existence when the left-wing Labor Party(and other parties like Meretz) dominated Israeli politics. From 1948-1977, the Labor Party promoted socialist economics and politically correct social engineering. The people of Israel have seen through this garbage and have been moving to the right ever since. The left-wing parties like Labor, Meretz, Arab Parties, and Green Left only poll at about 25%. Even Kadima only polls at about 20%. The right polls between 55%-60%. The Israeli people have gradually woken up to how ridiculous the left's policies are. When will a majority of Canadians do the same?

Posted by: David | 2009-01-31 3:30:38 PM


P.M., if the money spent by Israelis to buy pot ends up in the hands of terrorists, then 419 is absolutely correct. Prohibition is not to blame for people smoking pot. Pot smokers are to blame for people smoking pot. The fact that they are willing to funnel money into the hands of their mortal enemies (assuming the previous assertion is true), who will then without doubt use that money to kill their countrymen, ought to tell you something about their character.

I wonder if pot smokers have any idea just how selfish and immoral their actions really are. Is there no act so vile, no vendor so despicable, no price in blood so high, that they aren't willing to perpetuate it just so they can get fucking STONED?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-31 4:12:14 PM


When you've come down from your moral high-horse, consider the following:

Suppose you're right. I don't think so, but suppose you're right that pot-smokers are to blame, and have an awful character.

How do we prevent the real problem, which is money going to terrorists?

Option one is to increase the war on drugs. Likelihood of success?: Minimal. Expense?: High.

Option two is legalize/regulate/permit Israelis to grow pot. Likelihood of success?: Near certainty. Expense?: Tiny.

Unless, of course, it's more important that nanny state paternalists like yourself get to go on moral crusades...

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-01-31 4:24:00 PM


Possibility of increasing the war on drugs in Israel since their enemies derive benefit--high

expense...? well worth it

Likelihood of Israelis being allowed to grow their own pot in a water starved land where every drop counts esp during time of war? -- zero

Expense?... their entire nation

Israel already has a Nanny State - its called the USA
and that nation are not pro pot one bit

Posted by: 419 | 2009-01-31 4:40:11 PM


This shows how poorly argued and defined the so-called legalization movement is.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-31 4:43:36 PM


...but it is true though, Marc Emery the Prince of Pot, star of the Western Standard Freedom Hero List # 003 indeed helped to fund the Green Leaf Party in Israel...

Why he did this we can only guess. that he did this we have no doubt..

Perhaps the WS will invite his Majesty the Prince of Pot to write another one of his award winning world view pot essays explaining his position. as well as bring us up to date
RE: the ongoing saga of his vasectomy

After all- he IS the leader of the marijuana movement, and is about to out wrestle to the death with the RCMP & the DEA in court
1,000,000 Israeli Wipeheads would like to know .
..............& probably, so would MOSAD

Posted by: 419 | 2009-01-31 5:05:35 PM


Why would Emery, who is in favour of the legalization of marijuana, support a political party in Israel that promotes the legalization of marijuana?

Boy, that one's a doozy...

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-01-31 5:43:37 PM


No, Zebulon, it doesn't.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-01-31 5:44:28 PM


Do you know what "nanny state" means, 419?

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-01-31 5:45:19 PM


I argue that hate crimes laws should be applied to the legalization movement. Then we can deport them like Zundel or force them out of their jobs like Keegstra.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-31 5:55:23 PM


... Israeli Wipeheads are Trading with their nations Enemies...
Posted by: 419 | 2009-01-31 12:03:15 PM

Lets not forget the biggest drug runners of all...the CIA

Posted by: JC | 2009-01-31 6:31:39 PM


We imagine Nanny State refers to ones own government setting things up nationally so that they take care of every aspect of your life, from cradle to grave, and in the process one s own freedom is severely compromised..To some a nightmare society of Big Bothers Big Socialist Sister

is that an acceptable defination of a non dictionary pop culture term or did we miss something ??

Posted by: 419 | 2009-01-31 6:32:14 PM


Well, P.M., that's what just about every pro-pot type espouses when reminded of the fact that they and they alone are responsible for drug-related crime. "Come off your moral high horse." Of course, it's more morality than any practical consideration that makes us retain laws against murder, laws against rape, laws against theft, and so on. So please consider the company you choose when you take this tack. But then, a demographic that already allies itself with criminals and terrorists by funding their activities in exchange for getting high is unlikely to be dissuaded by such arguments, isn't it?

To take your logic to its ultimate conclusion, we could eliminate all crime by legalizing everything. No expensive police; no expensive courts; no expensive lawyers. Crime would drop to zero because nothing would be a crime. There would be a hideous spike in immoral acts like kllings and robberies, but since such acts would no longer be illegal, you'd claim a paper victory, supported by statistics. Your alternative to the "nanny state" is complete anarchy.

Your argument that the war is unwinnable is nonsense. Almost no one smoked pot in 1900, although practically everyone smoked tobacco. Now marijuana as actually more respectable than tobacco, if you can believe that, a situation driven solely by fashion. And the salient attribute of fashions is that they go OUT of fashion.

P.S. To answer your question, how do we prevent the money from going to terrorists, the answer is simple: Eliminate the terrorists. The Gaza strip is already showing signs of turning back to fighting amongst one another, and no further acts by Hezbollah, apart from a few bottle rockets, since the war of 2005.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-31 7:03:27 PM


This shows how poorly argued and defined the so-called legalization movement is.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-31 4:43:36 PM


Ya know what Zeb? As much as I am pretty much pro-choice on just about everything, I have to agree with you. That's why I almost always stay away from the drug issues. It seems and endless go - round of arguments both rational and irrational.
And until there is a little less hysteria on the subject, I won't touch it.

Now I have to go look for my Doritos. :)

Posted by: JC | 2009-01-31 7:07:47 PM


I didn't say I agreed with your original argument. I believe that it is immoral to make marijuana illegal. But I granted your premise for the sake of a *different* argument.

We can agree about this: There is nothing *intrinsically* immoral about doing drugs. There is something *intrinsically* wrong when it comes to murder and rape, etc.

That's a difference that makes a significant difference. We outlaw drugs because of the consequences. The consequences on the drug user (nanny state), possibly on those who care for the drug user (a paternalistic application of the harm principle, with the assumption that this kind of harm, harm based on our concern for someone, counts), impact on likelihood of criminal behaviour while under the influence, and so on. If we already grant consequentialism in this case, then it is perfectly legitimate to insist that the consequences of keeping it illegal does more harm than good.

You can stay on your moral high horse, if you want. You can continue to lay the blame on pot smokers, if you want. You would be logically required to lay the blame on people who drank alcohol during prohibition as well, and maybe that's a conclusion you will happily assent to.

But at least consider the argument that I'm making. Apart from who is to be blamed, what policy should the Israeli government pursue? Since there is nothing intrinsically wrong with smoking pot, and it is wrong only if the bad consequences outweigh the good, why not consider the consequences of legalizing it and seeing if that won't lead to more good than bad?

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-01-31 7:20:24 PM


We should persecute drug dealers and users like we do child pornographers and their patrons - without mercy or toleration.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-31 8:16:32 PM


":...what policy should the Israeli government pursue?..."

reduce demand
reduce supply

they may have to use some persuasion to accomplish this as 1,000,000 people are a big task to co ordinate compliance--
Does anybody know what the Israeli criminal code has in the way of penalties for Cannabis cultivation, smuggling, sales and us ?

We can't imagine they are in any way soft of cannabis -

Israel conducts interesting leading edge research into the mechanics of cannabis intoxication on the human brain at the U of Jerusalem,

We have never heard of any of research from there suggesting that legal pot is a good idea or that Israel should be first to legalize it in the world...

Posted by: 419 | 2009-01-31 8:23:36 PM


We have never heard of any of research from there suggesting that legal pot is a good idea or that Israel should be first to legalize it in the world...

Posted by: 419 | 2009-01-31 8:23:36 PM


Fair enough...have we heard the opposite?

Posted by: JC | 2009-01-31 8:27:31 PM


Actually, P.M., no, we can't agree that it's not immoral to to drugs, especially since by not singling out marijuana you've chosen to lump it in with intensely destructive drugs like heroin and crack. These drugs mike such a trembling wreck out of a person that unless their habit is maintained at someone else's expense, falling into crime to pay for it is all but inevitable, because even if the drugs were legal, they'd still cost money.

In fact, the tremendous costs to society is why these once-legal drugs were outlawed in the first place. Your vague hedging at "consequentialism" demonstrates that you are on weak ground here; if you have to resort to philosophy to justify your position, you've lost the argument. Philosophy deals with the abstract. Drug laws are grounded in the reality of their negative effects when not taken under proper medical supervision.

And yes, those who purchased illegal booze during Prohibition, thus lining the pockets of violent criminals, would be guilty of the same moral crimes as pot smokers today. Of course, this moral stigma would not apply to those who brewed at home and neither bought nor sold to the criminal element. I know that "progressives" out there find the concept of morality pathetically quaint and obsolete or just plain tiresome, but that says more about them than it does about society--and little of it good.

Israel would run into the same problems as Canada if it legalized pot, not the least of which being that it would be violating several drug-control treaties to which it is a signatory. You cannot wish away an international cooperative on the strength of abstract and philosophical tinkering, my friend. It would be criminally irresponsible. But then, those who pooh-pooh morality often show antipathy toward responsibility as well.

The fact remains that people ARE willing to fund criminal and terrorist activity rather than stay sober. You can play these "what-if" games all you like; it won't alter this inescapable reality. There really are people out there who are that selfish, that degenerate, that utterly narcissistic, that blood for pot is perfectly acceptable to them. And funding violent crime and acts of destruction to further one's personal pleasure is unquestionably immoral.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-31 8:42:51 PM


JC wrote: "Fair enough...have we heard the opposite?"

Nice try. You're the one advocating change. Therefore the burden of proof lies with you.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-31 8:45:42 PM


P.S. And P.M., I have already described the course Israel should take--keep pot illegal and eliminate the terrorists. And if an Israeli citizen is proved to have purchased dope from someone with connections to terror, then file charges as being an accessory to terror in addition to the drug charges. Let me ask you this, P.M.--assuming you already smoke pot, would you continue to do so if the penalty was death?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-31 8:57:44 PM


The burden of proof is on those who would oppose liberty. Any restriction on liberty requires justification, liberty is the baseline.

Shane: I've already told you that I don't smoke pot. Three times, I believe. I'm not interested in smoking pot, or any other illicit drugs.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-01-31 9:12:46 PM


P.M. wrote: "The burden of proof is on those who would oppose liberty. Any restriction on liberty requires justification, liberty is the baseline."

And the reasons for the restrictions on drugs have been extensively proven. The Civil War, the Opium Wars, the increasing dysfunction of formerly "clean" societies as drug abuse takes hold. You, on the other hand, argue that we should legalize them on the basis that they haven't been legal in your lifetime and therefore we should give it a shot just to see what would happen, when those who are able to actually read history already know.

"Shane: I've already told you that I don't smoke pot. Three times, I believe. I'm not interested in smoking pot, or any other illicit drugs."

Remember, I said "assuming" for the sake of argument. And you did not answer the question: If you *were* a marijuana smoker, would you continue to smoke if the penalty were death?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-31 9:25:35 PM


Nice try. You're the one advocating change. Therefore the burden of proof lies with you.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-31 8:45:42 PM


Its a legitimate question. Either answer it or butt out.

Posted by: JC | 2009-01-31 9:57:45 PM


Remember, I said "assuming" for the sake of argument. And you did not answer the question: If you *were* a marijuana smoker, would you continue to smoke if the penalty were death?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-31 9:25:35 PM


If in your world the penalty for pot smoking should be death...then why not for parking tickets?
If that's the world you advocate I don't want you in mine.

Posted by: JC | 2009-01-31 10:00:22 PM


Slave owners used the same arguments about liberty to justify owning human beings. There must be limits to liberty in order to maximize it for all, not just a few.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-31 11:52:37 PM


JC wrote: "Its a legitimate question."

I'll decide what's legitimate and what isn't.

JC wrote: "Either answer it or butt out."

I've already answered it, on this thread and numerous others. The ill effects of drugs are well known. And the sole excuse for legalizing them seems to be that some people will break the law to get them.

JC wrote: "If in your world the penalty for pot smoking should be death...then why not for parking tickets?"

Now who's not answering the questions? I'm just trying to get a feel for how many people out there are so hopelessly stupid that they'll risk execution for something they totally do not need.

JC wrote: "If that's the world you advocate I don't want you in mine."

Funny, isn't that what Hamas and Hezbollah say about Israel? I was SO not wrong to equate those who fund criminals and terrorists with the criminals and terrorists themselves. It would appear they share a link that goes beyond commerce.

Getting cranky, JC?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-31 11:54:23 PM


P.S. I'll butt out when I think the time has come, not when you think the time has come. What you think don't count.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-31 11:55:31 PM


Being a Holocaust survivor does not make one intelligent nor wise, and the Greens are for the most of the radical hard-Left regardless of the country. Therefore the ones in Israel are no different from the ones in Canada, Europe or anywhere else. Most of Israel's problems are due to leftists/socialists and she would be much better off to shed them.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-02-01 11:39:13 AM


P.S. I'll butt out when I think the time has come, not when you think the time has come. What you think don't count.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-31 11:55:31 PM

The question was directed to 419, just for the sake of discussion.

After all Shane, your so 'hysterically" anti-pot your input is the same everytime. Totally predictable, totally emotional. I'm looking for some legitimate debate and that aint you. Not on this subject anyway.

Posted by: JC | 2009-02-01 2:32:58 PM


JC, this is a public forum, not a private chat session. Anything you ask or say can be questioned or rebutted by anyone else. You agree to these terms by posting on this blog, as do I, as does everyone. Deal with it or take your own advice.

I have yet to hear a convincing rebuttal on the point of international treaties, on the point of some countries legalizing while others don't (particularly in the case of Canada and the United States), or on the lessons learned during the Opium Wars, which most potheads have never even heard of.

As for "hysteria," I'm not the one getting making personal attacks, or demanding proof of a negative, or talking about my fellow debaters like Hezbollah talks about the Jews; i.e., "I don't want you in my world." If that's your idea of logic, I shudder to think of what you would call emotion.

Chuck all the mud you like. Only your reputation will be the worse for it.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-01 5:56:34 PM


And the reasons for the restrictions on drugs have been extensively proven. The Civil War, the Opium Wars, the increasing dysfunction of formerly "clean" societies as drug abuse takes hold. You, on the other hand, argue that we should legalize them on the basis that they haven't been legal in your lifetime and therefore we should give it a shot just to see what would happen, when those who are able to actually read history already know.......

Since nobody else seems able to answer this and has backed off for some inexplicable reason, I will try. First off, I am fairly certain there is a difference between opium and marijuana. For the latter, the Opium Wars and the Civil War wouldn't apply. For that, there is no reason why one couldn't place a few restrictions on it rather than an outright ban as is done with alcohol. For opium and its relative drugs, even then there are certain trade-offs. I am not familiar with the Civil War situation, but with the Opium War much of the problem was the trade imbalance that China intentionally created. Opium was the only competing good Britain could find. Had China opened up its economy sooner, it could have benefitted from European technology and advancements. Arguably the conceit of the Chinese Ming and Qing dynasties prevented the import of new technologies that, while unnecessary at the time, could have created a competing Chinese state and displaced some of the opium trade.

Posted by: Danny S | 2009-02-01 9:25:07 PM


First, Dan, don't say you're "fairly certain" there's a difference between opium and marijuana, and leave it at that; that's not an argument, but an opinion. Opinions are a dime per railroad car.

It's true that dope is not smack, but many on this board argue for legalizing narcotics on the same grounds as marijuana--an abstract notion of liberty. They blithely dismiss the social consequences as irrelevant, the necessary cost of liberty. So the lessons of the Civil War and Opium Wars do, in fact, apply, because they paint a vivid picture of what happens when a society loses control of drug addiction.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to aver that the Chinese brought their addiction problem on themselves, because they didn't begin fellating the English soon enough. As though poisoning a population and throwing a war or two on top of that were the proper response to a sovereign nation's simple refusal to do business with you. Remind me to count my fingers afterward if I ever shake hands with you. :-)

In any case, the following flies remain in the legalization ointment:

1. Israel, Canada, the U.S., and numerous other countries are signatories to drug-control treaties; they cannot simply legalize and start selling on a whim.

2. It would not be practical, legally or politically, to legalize pot in Canada while it remains legal in the U.S., because it kicks the argument of crime reduction in the head. Smugglings drugs to the U.S. would remain illegal (in fact, smuggling any product, legal or otherwise, is a crime in itself), so the underworld would remain involved.

3. Many countries that have tried legalizing pot have begun quietly recriminalizing it again. Even Amsterdam has lost patience with drug tourists and the government has begun a policy of not renewing the licenses of its famous cannabis-selling coffee shops. And marijuana is most definitely illegal in Islamic countries.

I've been on these blogs enough to know that pot smokers don't like being stigmatized. But their pathologically selfish natures make them very poor candidates for sympathy. And, like most narcissists, they blame the uncaring world for their troubles.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-01 10:10:35 PM


No, Shane, I've made the case both for legalizing all drugs and, separately, have granted, for the sake of argument, a "social consequences" argument (which I called "consequentialist" and you shrieked "no philosophy allowed!")

The argument was offered, and you didn't respond. The argument was that legalizing marijuana has less negative social consequences than keeping it illegal. One benefit is this: It will take away a large pot of money from terrorists, mobs, the mafia, and shift the business of marijuana to legitimate, transparent, and legal businesses.

I have also provided you with several medical journal articles demonstrating the negligible and possible positive effects of marijuana. You have urged that there are other studies, but haven't yet produced any.

So far, I'd say the pro-marijuana legalization side has offered numerous positive arguments. Your response remains the same: Marijuana is bad as far as your health goes (true, but uninteresting since the extent of the bad is so minimal as to be laughable); legalizing marijuana in Canada or Israel ignores the stance of the U.S. on this issue (okay, fine, but can we just agree that legalizing marijuana is the right thing to do, and then see about pressuring the U.S. into changing their attitudes?); marijuana users are the ones who deserve all the blame for the funding of terrorist groups (I granted this for the sake of argument, and for no other reason, and then suggested an alternative argument).

Was there anything else? Oh yeah, something about the history of marijuana illegalization. But the history is irrelevant in this case, unless we want an explanation. But we're not looking for an explanation, we're looking for a justification.

Oh, right, and marijuana smokers are selfish, pathological, narcissistic and so on. Even if they were, who cares? We're not judging characters, but the status of a social policy.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-02-01 10:25:49 PM


PM,

1. You’ve made a case that’s convincing to yourself and others sympathetic to the idea, largely based on an abstract and extreme notion of liberty, which does show a philosophical approach. Philosophers make good teachers but poor statesmen.

2. You don’t know that legalizing marijuana would have fewer negative social consequences, because it’s never been tried a) in your lifetime, and b) in a post-1960s-drug-culture era, which any student of history and social studies would admit is a completely different ballgame than the Depression era. You just assume that it will. Killing people’s demand for pot, whether by education or harsh enforcement or both, would also keep money away from criminals. But instead of fighting crime, which takes time, effort, and money, your solution is to give in because it’s easier. Congratulations: You would make an excellent slave.

3. I have produced numerous references in other blogs highlighting the negative effects of marijuana, many collected over decades of experience. Most of the studies that glowingly endorse marijuana as a miracle medicine are of recent vintage, lack long-term verification, and have been produced in a new era of intensely politicized science.

4. If the extent of the bad effects marijuana has on your health are laughable, the same is true of tobacco and alcohol. Alcohol won’t damage your lungs, or even, unless you really overdo it, your liver or brain. Long-term marijuana use is known to effect short-term memory, cognitive function. And it is far more damaging to your lungs than tobacco. And no, we can’t “just agree” that legalizing marijuana is the right thing to do. This is your fallback whenever you’re pushed into a corner by the medical or geopolitical realities: “But it’s the right thing to do!” That is opinion, not fact, and is not an opinion I share.

5. Who cares if we make laws designed to accommodate and even encourage selfish, pathological, narcissistic, and socially destructive behaviours? I do, and so do a great many others. “Who cares!” is not an argument, it’s an attitude. Something that marijuana smokers and their supporters are going to have to lose if they want to win this fight.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-03 12:16:50 PM


Shane:

"1. You’ve made a case that’s convincing to yourself and others sympathetic to the idea, largely based on an abstract and extreme notion of liberty, which does show a philosophical approach."

All arguments are philosophical. Philosophy *just is* the analysis and presentation of arguments. To say that I've presented an argument is to say that I've taken a philosophical approach. You've done the same thing.

I deny that I've used an "abstract and extreme" notion of liberty in my arguments. If you'll look back over our arguments, you'll notice that the overwhelming majority of my arguments have followed a "social consequences" approach, rather than a liberty approach.

I've done this precisely because I see that you do not find individual liberty persuasive. I've done my best to use arguments that I hoped you would find persuasive, even if they are not the most important arguments for my conviction that marijuana ought to be legal.

"Philosophers make good teachers but poor statesmen."

Irrelevant to the issue. It doesn't matter who would make a good teacher or a good statesman, what matters is whether or not the moral approach to marijuana is to legalize it, or keep it illegal.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-02-03 12:24:24 PM


"2. You don’t know that legalizing marijuana would have fewer negative social consequences, because it’s never been tried a) in your lifetime, and b) in a post-1960s-drug-culture era, which any student of history and social studies would admit is a completely different ballgame than the Depression era. You just assume that it will."

In parts of Canada, marijuana is all-but legal. Police officers won't hassle you, and it is as though the stuff were legal. And the consequences have not been disastrous. Amsterdam has had legal pot for a while and, while they want to re-illegalize it because of tourists, native Amsterdamers smoke less pot now than when it was illegal.

Secondly, I don't merely assume, I have reasons for thinking that it won't have negative social consequences. At every university I've ever been to, people smoke pot. Regularly. In the U.S., in Canada, in England. There are little to no negative consequences on campuses (unless you get caught). There are other microcosms capturing different cultural slices of a population where people smoke pot all the time. And in none of those, near as I can tell, are there serious negative consequences that can be justly attributed to marijuana.

Of course, extrapolation is difficult. And it certainly does not necessarily follow from the fact that campuses have no serious negative consequences from pot-related stuff, that Canada, in general, would be similar. But since I haven't yet found a segment of any population, anywhere in the world, for whom smoking pot has had serious negative consequences (apart from getting caught, which, to avoid begging the question, we exclude as a relevant consideration), I think I'm justified in extrapolating.

But, agreed, this is an inductive, not a deductive, argument that we're having. It is about what is most probable/most likely, not will/will not.

In addition, there is a raft of medical studies that at least allow us to exclude the concern that marijuana is devastating to the health of the smoker. It is not.

"Killing people’s demand for pot, whether by education or harsh enforcement or both, would also keep money away from criminals. But instead of fighting crime, which takes time, effort, and money, your solution is to give in because it’s easier. Congratulations: You would make an excellent slave."

I'm not sure where to begin, since my position is the one more consistent with refusing to be a slave. In fact, the stuff you say after "congratulations" has nothing to do with what you say before it.

Also, stick to the subject. If we're talking about social consequences, then talk about social consequences. "Giving in" would be bad if we were "giving in" to some activity that was intrinsically morally bad. But we (implicitly) agreed to shelve our "philosophical," abstract, and controversial conceptions of what is intrinsically good or bad, and focus instead on the social consequences, assuming only standard or less controversial notions of what counts as "good" and "bad". Such as health, wealth, long life, healthy families, etc.

To rephrase the question: Would continuing the war on marijuana have good or bad social consequences, disregarding our commitments to, in my case, individual liberty and, in your case, the belief that marijuana is intrinsically immoral?

I am saying that legalizing marijuana would have overall good social consequences. It would free up the police to focus on what you and I would agree are crimes worthy of pursuing (murder, rape, theft, etc.). It will not have devastating consequences on the health of those who smoke pot. It will not annihilate the family. It will not lead to more of the crimes that you and I agree about. It will not weaken the economy. It will provide us with cheaper clothes (competition), better rope, and so on. It will provide some people with what will actually help with some medical condition of theirs. It will no longer ruin lives through arrests. And so on.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-02-03 12:43:15 PM


"3. I have produced numerous references in other blogs highlighting the negative effects of marijuana, many collected over decades of experience. Most of the studies that glowingly endorse marijuana as a miracle medicine are of recent vintage, lack long-term verification, and have been produced in a new era of intensely politicized science."

Interesting. I would argue that the more recent studies are better, because they rely on more modern scientific devices and methods. I especially do not trust any marijuana-related medical claims released by the U.S. government.

I also do not trust the studies that proclaim marijuana to be a "miracle" drug. I think they're bollocks. Marijuana eases pain, of that I'm sure. Marijuana increases appetite, and of that I'm sure. Does marijuana do, medically, much else? I don't know, and I'm skeptical.

There are good studies being conducted on an on-going basis. I will post them.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-02-03 12:47:50 PM


"4. If the extent of the bad effects marijuana has on your health are laughable, the same is true of tobacco and alcohol. Alcohol won’t damage your lungs, or even, unless you really overdo it, your liver or brain. Long-term marijuana use is known to effect short-term memory, cognitive function. And it is far more damaging to your lungs than tobacco."

False. I won't belabour what others will see through.

"And no, we can’t “just agree” that legalizing marijuana is the right thing to do. This is your fallback whenever you’re pushed into a corner by the medical or geopolitical realities: “But it’s the right thing to do!” That is opinion, not fact, and is not an opinion I share."

Thank you for the analysis of my argumentative style, but style is irrelevant. I could also point to your rhetorical whoppers, but that gets us no further in the actual debate.

Separately, expressing "x is a fact" is the same as expressing "I believe x is a fact." Replace "fact" with "true" and you get the same outcome.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-02-03 12:56:03 PM


Finally:

"5. Who cares if we make laws designed to accommodate and even encourage selfish, pathological, narcissistic, and socially destructive behaviours? I do, and so do a great many others. “Who cares!” is not an argument, it’s an attitude. Something that marijuana smokers and their supporters are going to have to lose if they want to win this fight."

Please pay attention, Shane: That marijuana smoking is a "socially destructive behaviour" is *precisely* the point at issue. I did not say "who cares whether or not they engage in socially destructive behaviour," because someone engaging in socially destructive behaviour is something that we all have reason to care about.

What I said was who cares whether or not they're selfish and narcissistic. It does not deductively follow from someone being selfish and narcissistic that they engage in socially destructive behaviour. It is possible to affirm the former and deny the latter. That is because the connection between our attitudes and our behaviours is not as clear-cut as some (you?) make it out to be.

If I'm concerned about "negative social consequences" then part of that concern must, necessarily, be a concern about "socially destructive behaviour."

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-02-03 1:04:41 PM


1. Not true. Arguments are *rhetorical* and *logical*. Philosophy has many meanings but the most commonly used is the critical analysis of orthodoxy and the discipline concerning logic, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology. It is at its heart an abstract process. Wonderful for sharpening the mind; not so great for explaining why things are as they are, and certainly a lousy foundation for policy.

2. If you want to convince me, show me results, or at least convincing proof of likely results. “Because it’s never been tried,” “anything would be better than what we have,” and “it’s the right thing to do” is not proof.

3. Entirely relevant to the issue, for the reasons laid out in 1.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-03 1:21:56 PM


PM wrote: “In parts of Canada, marijuana is all-but legal…”

1. Then what’s the problem? And has it occurred to you that the reason Amsterdamers smoke less pot now is not because it was legal for a while, but because that generation of potheads is getting old, with fewer fresh takers to keep the numbers up? Do you really think that making something harder to do increases the number of those doing it?

2. Yes, and we’ve seen what bastions of tolerance, moral rectitude, self-discipline, law-abidedness, and intellectual and emotional maturity our universities are, both in the student body and, increasingly, in the faculty, heavily represented by the first generation to consume marijuana in quantity. Yes, that’s a wonderful argument.

3. You’re not looking very hard, then. But you probably don’t want to find anything either. How you could miss the above traits becoming increasingly typical of universities (and the cause of increasing social alarm) is difficult to fathom. Looking with your eyes shut is not looking.

4. There is also a raft of studies, most of them older and more proven, that shows that smoking pot IS bad for you. Or do you really think it’s just a coincidence that all this propaganda about the miracle of pot has only been coming out within the last ten years or so? Are we supposed to believe that all scientists who came before were incompetent buffoons? Funny, isn’t that what the baby boomers (who make up the majority of today’s scientists) used to say about their parents?

5. You would make a good slave because you think it’s better to give up fighting a difficult enemy that will always be at your doorstep than to remain vigilant. The war on crime is also unwinnable; using your logic, we should scrap that too.

6. I agreed to nothing. But if we are to focus only on social consequences, they can be summed up thus: a. The gateway effect, which often leads to use of harder drugs and intensely destructive behaviour. b. Pot smokers have long been known to let their academic performance slide, which can have significant long-term effects on the youth’s prospects and his ability to fulfill the social contract (we raise and educate you; you give us the best you can). c. Abusing any mood alterer puts stress on families and sometimes breaks them, and the family is the basic unit of society. Alcohol can be consumed to a degree that does not impair mood or functioning, and in fact most do so; nobody takes only one puff of pot. (Tobacco, incidentally, is not a mood alterer.)

7. The police could be further unburdened by not writing parking or speeding tickets; the argument that their time is wasted on “minor” crime is fatuous. Pot is not a healthy substance any way you count it. Pot use is never easy on a family and usually a sign of another problem, just as most drug abuse is. And hemp does not make better rope than nylon, because nylon, unlike hemp, doesn’t rot. Hemp fabric is also coarse and difficult to work compared with cotton, wool, and synthetics; as cloth it is serviceable but hardly ideal. As for ruining lives through arrests, well, that argument could be made for any offence, couldn’t it? Therefore it is not valid, unless you’re prepared to argue that nothing should be an offence.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-03 1:40:32 PM



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