The longer I look at data surrounding the use of marijuana the more I am convinced that the only people who don’t read are the federales. All the science I am acquainted with tells me that far from the menace marijuana is characterized as by those same federales, it is not only mostly benign, but often beneficial. Let’s cut to the chase.
Prohibition of many currently illicit substances in the US including marijuana, heroin and cocaine, instead of accomplishing its goals of zero use, has been shown to be largely ineffective. There may have been some short-term gains in lowering the numbers of publicly acknowledged users but at a cost that is too great to countenance in any enlightened nation. Even in the current era of hi-tech surveillance and data centers, the demand for drugs has not gone away and the market is flourishing. The criminals are always one or two steps ahead of the federales.
The obvious analog of Alcohol prohibition in the nineteen twenties and early thirties should be enough to dissuade us from this terrible campaign. But obviously it hasn’t.
The history of prohibition enforcement and legal wrangling is full of bad science and misinformation, corruption and lies. That should be enough to challenge the legal structure to draw up more rational laws. But obviously it hasn’t.
The hang-up is that we have been lied to so persistently that we are now convinced that the lies are true. And the federales continue the misinformation campaign because it is too lucrative to stop. Almost any program which makes a pretense to fight the war on drugs can be funded irrespective of the damage that accrues to the taxpayer or the drug user.
This is not a Christian nation (not that Christianity forbids judicious use of any substance in proper medical or holiday context,) nor is this nation any more moral than any other nation (even though we like to think it is,) nor are we better than our science makes us out to be (we may actually be the inheritors of the same genetic materials as monkeys.)
One of the minimal requirements for being a moral agent is that we let the facts stand as they are, no matter what that makes of our theories. We haven’t done that very well.
However strongly the demagogues shout, our science may one day win out over greedy, and amoral political rhetoric. The funds will dry up because the facts do not support the current system. I don’t think this is overly optimistic. But we have to remember this is the first time we have been faced with ourselves in such a way. Our deepest shames and most terrible behavior are all on the table at the moment and no matter how hard we squirm, I think we will soon make the transition into an enlightened society that lets science speak on its own terms. The sociology of the Drug War is going to change when we can relieve ourselves of this hang-up.