This is the third mjmemo podcast. In it I examine some of the harms done by the drug war. In the text found in the pages link of the same name, you will find a link to Jeffrey Miron’s lucid evaluation of the profitibility of legalizing marijuana, a link to Bio of a Space Tyrant and many interesting ideas. Don’t forget to visit mjmemo.com for movie reviews and comments on bits of American culture.
I have been busy lately and have not been doing much research or paying attention to the press. But a quick look at Marijuana Policy Project and NORML tells me the War is still being waged against Americans, Canadians, Columbians, Mexicans and the rest of the world by the self-righteous pseudo-protectors of our children. I watched the movie Traffic the other day for the fifth or sixth time. I’ve lost count. I am astonished every time I see the movie of the difference between the black market and the warriors.
The black market is steeped in pragmatism, rational to a fault, coolly and carefully weighing the costs of business against the risks of being caught. They use the engines of commerce in our society without the regulations of law. Even with their loss through drug seizures, which probably amounts to less than taxes would be, and their loss of low-level personnel which would be no different than any other high turnover employment, they make a tidy profit. I think of the movie Blow and the rooms full of money collected by George Jung and his partner Diego. (Perhaps it was not really so tidy.) Nevertheless, there is no danger of them going out of business except of course, at the hands of the warriors, and even then their losses could be counted as the cost of doing business.
The warriors on the other hand, in the name of the law and justice wage an irrational war against users first, then against the dealers. They are not diminishing the demand for drugs nor the production of drugs rushing to meet that demand. All the while they are destroying more families, individuals, national and international tranquility than the drugs themselves do.
This is an easy calculation. And with respect to marijuana, a calculation that a first grader could make. Funny that the warriors are fighting a “moral” cause when they are doing irreparable harm to so many lives, and doing it in the name of justice.
I know this sounds a bit angry, but you have to understand that I am a person with feelings.
I was reading one of the comments about this podcast found on the iTunes music store by tfoo. In it s/he applauds the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Tfoo’s mother used marijuana during chemo treatment “to great effect during her struggle with breast cancer.” This frank admission is certainly welcome even though this podcast receives only one star for my efforts. This seems to be a case where if tfoo had not had some positive contact with marijuana, there would not be even a tiny bit of sympathy for the project of fact finding I am interested in.
I am interested in finding the fairly large minority who has heard of some positive effect of marijuana use in medicine. The growing number of states that approve medical marijuana, the growing number of physicians who surreptitiously “recommend” marijuana for their patients, the patients who have found surceace in its natural and largly benign emollient will eventually win out over those who without knowing what they do because of their rudimentary moral development believe punishment cures desire and prevents further entry of the devil into our already amoral society.
Little do these moral tyros know, but it is their trust in the legal system to solve moral problems that is largely the cause of the terrible fix we are in. In my most recent meditations, I resolved that most people who are subject to the depredations of the current punitive system are adults. However, the system is designed as a method of discipline for the unruly. Have these people even had children yet? Don’t they realize that at the age of 18 or so, individuals will basically do what they want and that discipline of these sorts is an abridgment of their rights, not to mention a subversion of their adult responsibilities.
What tfoo is asking us to do, with respect to the recreational use of marijuana, is that the system of punishments currently in place, a paternalistic attempt to control autonomous persons, is to be accepted as necessary in order to eradicate that behavior. What they don’t tell us is why we should give our rights up to these persons. At least they don’t give us any factual reasons.
What tfoo does not do is spend the slightest bit of time looking at the facts of the drug war. We do not find out the cause of tfoo’s niece’s death, and I really couldn’t guess, but if his lashing out at attempts to rationalize the debate is caused by some bad experience with a drug problem, I am in perfect sympathy with his response.
My contention, of course, is that the major cause of damage to our society is not marijuana itself, but the federal prohibitions against it for both medical and recreational use. One could do less damage to themselves, their families and careers using pot for years than they could by being arrested for possessing a small amount of it.
Tfoo applauds my courage for doing this podcast, but should probably laugh at the foolishness of it. I say that though I love my current circumstances, this podcast might be reason enough for some of those who employ me to remove me from my post, though I wouldn’t call that justice. I have in the past fallen on my sword with respect to my concern for honesty and the truth, but believe that like the phoenix, the truth of my case raised me from the ashes my exile into better circumstances than those I lost. Make no mistake about some lofty notions of advancement here, I am driven by my muse to expose myself to threat even with the near certainty of large-scale grief.
I would like to offer mutual respect for tfoo’s position, but say that respect is only due for work done, not for a position gratuitiously adopted as a convenient reaction to moral ambiguity.
I welcome his response here and invite a sane discussion.
amotivational without pot