5 Pro-Marijuana Arguments That Aren't Helping
I have a lot of friends and family who smoke pot, and the majority of them are pretty vocal about wanting it legalized. Let me make perfectly clear right off the bat that I'm not coming at this as an "anti-pot" guy because I personally don't give a shit if they legalize it, and it doesn't bother me that people smoke. I've done my share of illegal substances.
But goddamn are pot advocates some of the most annoying fucking people on the planet. I'm not talking about the average Joe who just wishes it were legal. Hell, those people are inching into the majority and comprise a significant portion of our own audience. I'm talking about the people who push it so hard that they're just short of going door to door, like Mormons. And they get so aggressive and misguided in their arguments that I'm pretty sure that they are their own worst enemy at this point.
I take this guy totally, 100% seriously.
I'm at the stage where I cringe every time I hear...
Taxing it Will Save the Economy!
This one seems to be the dominant argument ever since the economy went to shit. "Legalize it and tax it! With all the money we'll save from enforcement and all the tax money we'll take in, it'll balance the budget!" And no, I'm not exaggerating the claims -- here's one of the more articulate articles that literally says marijuana would "save the economy."
"Look, up in the sky!" "...what?"
He cites some pretty big numbers. "Full legalization would bring in [...] $6.2bn annually if it were taxed at rates similar to those on alcohol and tobacco." Man, that's a lot! But when you put that up beside the total taxes collected in 2010 ($2.1 trillion) and the current national debt ($14.4 trillion), the dent it makes is comparable to trying to change the orbit of the Sun by shooting it with your BB gun.
There's no doubt that legalization would create some jobs and bring in some tax revenue. But it's a drop in the bucket, and when you start presenting that drop with titles like (as in the wake of the Prop 19 legalization movement in California last year) "Save California: Legalize Marijuana" and "To Save California, Legalize Pot", it makes it sound like you have no fucking idea what you are talking about. In fact, it makes it sound like a bunch of young stoners making shit up, and that gives opponents an excuse to dismiss everything else you're saying.
It's the same when the advocates say that we'd be able to "fix the budget" by eliminating the cost of marijuana-related law enforcement, based on this insane idea that once the drug is legal, we'd no longer need any of that. As if the country would suddenly turn into a free-for-all, grow-your-own, weedathon where there are no regulations or restrictions on its production, and yet everyone would just volunteer to report and pay the $50 per ounce tax out of a sense of civic duty. Why? Because people prefer to do things the legal way? That's true... because they fear going to jail. Which means you still fucking have to pay for cops to investigate and arrest people who use unauthorized pot.
This is what opponents were trying to explain during the California legalization debate, that you're going to need a shitload of new regulations to figure out just exactly what activity you're legalizing, and what happens to the people who violate the new laws. Do you get the FDA involved in regulating the THC content? So then you need somebody enforcing those regulations, right? And to go after the stronger, black market stuff? Then we'd still have DUI arrests to deal with, and figuring out what weed does to your health insurance premiums, etc.
Oh, wait, it'll create jobs? Well, why didn't you say so? We totally overlooked that part!
Again, let me make clear that whether it's legalized or not, my life doesn't change. I couldn't give less of a shit. It's the dishonesty of the arguments themselves, and the way you're absolutely bludgeoned with these on the internet, that I find infuriating. And none piss me off more than...
We Need it for Cancer Patients! And to Make Paper!
This is a tactic used by almost every advocate I've ever met. See, they don't want to legalize pot because they want to smoke it and get high. No, they're only concerned on behalf of cancer patients. And they'll have martyrs they can pull out as examples, like that guy who was fired for using medical marijuana on the job. That's what legalization is really about, right, TokeOfTheTown.com?
I'm all about the medication, baby.
This is usually lumped in with the general defense that "Hemp can be used for lots of things! You can make paper out of it. Clothing. Rope." Hell, marijuana was only made illegal because the traditional paper industry was afraid superior hemp would take over, right, website that has "420" in the URL?
I hear both arguments from friends constantly, and not a goddamn fucking one of them has cancer. None of them has ever had a need for, nor owned a rope. And before they started reading "facts" off of a pro-weed website, not one of them thought twice about the paper industry. It's a bullshit, back-door argument. And, again, it makes everything they say seem invalid -- the same as when states that do legalize for medicinal use immediately see half of the patients use it, not for cancer, but mysterious "chronic pain" or "stress relief." In other words, they lie so they can get medicinal weed, not caring that it makes the entire campaign seem like a lie.
Yep, you're a far less healthy person without marijuana. It is the only medication that can treat your obviously debilitating disease.
People want to get high, and I just wish they'd come out and say it. Of all the arguments I've ever heard, I've never had a solitary person step up and just say with unmasked honesty, "I want to get stoned without the fear of being arrested." Which is ironic to me because it's the only argument I've ever heard that makes sense. It's the only one that's even remotely logical.
Putting up this front that weed is a magical cure for all things economic not only requires you to bend the truth beyond recognition, but makes it seem like you're admitting that simply wanting to get high is not a valid reason to make it legal. In fact, the cancer patients who do in fact benefit from it wind up becoming the victims of your bullshit. When a perfectly healthy guy with dreadlocks and cannabis leaf t-shirts stands up next to the cancer patient and pretends the interests of the cancer patient are all he has in mind, it makes it look like both of them are full of shit.
Take that, cancer!
It's Good for You!
So the picture I'm starting to get is that pot advocates saw the government's old, ridiculous anti-weed propaganda that grossly exaggerated the harm of the drug and decided that the best way to combat that was to simply tell equally silly lies in the opposite direction. So in my lifetime I've seen the argument go from "pot isn't as bad as other illegal drugs" to "it doesn't hurt you" to literally saying weed is "good for you." You know, like it's Vitamin C or calcium.
Hell, he's doing those other people a favor by giving them a contact health boost!
For instance, when various studies showed that THC might slow the growth of some tumors (while making others grow faster), all of the studies pointed out that they got their results by injecting the chemical and not getting lab rats to smoke joints (a pretty major fucking difference). Yet, pot advocates immediately took those results and translated them into endless headlines asserting that smoking weed "cures cancer." Never mind that all of these studies on the positive side effects of TCH and other chemicals in cannabis go way the fuck out of their way to tell you that this does not mean that smoking weed will cure your cancer.
That's because on the whole, breathing smoke of any kind, is not good for you. And with pot, you're inhaling smoke into your lungs and holding it there for a long time, and that's going to damage the tissue. In fact, just three joints a day do as much damage to the lungs as twenty cigarettes. We can be fair and cite this study saying there is no connection between cancer and smoking marijuana. Though we could also cite the studies that have found the opposite to be true.
But even if we take cancer off the table, there are a whole host of negative effects we can list. Right after smoking, the average heart rate increases between 20% to 100%, and that effect can last up to three hours -- your risk of heart attack shoots up fivefold within the first hour of using. If you have anxiety disorders, there's even more bad news. It's being found more and more that modern pot can actually cause panic attacks, and is a high risk for triggering an already existing condition. In the still-growing brains of younger smokers, it can stunt basic emotional development and promote paranoia. And just on the whole, users are far more likely to come down with illnesses and miss work than non-users. One of the biggest debates right now is whether younger users are at higher risk for the emergence of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia.com cites 30 studies that show a connection.
Dude, don't be bogartin' that shit.
But again, I'm not trying to fall back to the government's "one joint will drive you insane" scaremongering. Pot is not as bad as heroin. That isn't my point. But don't go the other way and start acting like the shit is fucking broccoli.
It's at this point that someone always brings up...
Alcohol and Tobacco are Worse, and They're Legal!
Yep, booze and cigarettes are pretty fucking bad for you. Deadly, even, if they're abused. Hell, I had a doctor tell me straight up that if I didn't quit drinking entirely, I'd be dead within the next five years. I've never heard a doctor tell someone that about their weed smoking. Drunk driving and smoking-related lung cancer have literally killed millions.
In fact, here's a not-at-all-retarded rebuttal from a legalization advocate in response to a "Foundation for a Drug-Free World" pamphlet that claims pot is more dangerous than alcohol. In case you didn't read that, it's exactly what you'd expect from a site that runs its articles over a background of marijuana leaf gifs, versus a highly generalized and exaggerated claim from an organization that is obviously anti-pot. The argument being, "Pot is worse than booze!" "Nuh-uh, alcohol is worse!"
I know, hon. I know.
But here's the thing about that entire debate: It doesn't fucking matter.Throwing out death tolls from tobacco smoke, drunk driving and liver disease makes perfect sense as an argument for making those things illegal. It makes zero sense when trying to convince somebody to make pot legal. Don't you understand that "It will kill fewer people than cigarettes!" could apply to fucking anything? You could pass a law that lets 12 year olds carry concealed guns to school and it'd kill fewer people than drunk driving.
"I want to shoot you so bad, my dick is hard."
If the argument is that pot is the safer choice, then by that rationale, it's also safer than deep-throating a cactus or mouth-fucking a rattlesnake. Is someone obligating you to choose between the two? There's not a third option of just not doing either of them? That has baffled me for years, and I still don't understand it. But I've heard it. A lot. As if the legalization of one unhealthy activity obligates us to legalize every single thing that's less lethal than that.
You have to remember that the people who have the power to change these laws are old, rich, stuffy white guys who for the most part don't smoke weed. When they hear rebuttals like this, they're picturing a six year old kid stomping his foot and screaming at his mother, "Why can't I play that game? Jimmy's mom lets him play GTA, and that's way worse!" The end result is still that you're arguing for the right to make things worse than they were before.
It's not Addictive!
Of course, the thing that scares society about any drug, and the thing that makes alcohol and tobacco so deadly, is addiction. This is crucial to any argument for legalization, because you can't talk about "freedom" to use some product if that same product in fact takes away your ability to freely choose to stop using it. You don't hear people at AA meetings sit around and reflect on how awesome it is that they have the freedom to drink.
Here, I have to admit my own personal experience bias -- my brother used to love giving me that "it's not addictive" line as he was lighting up his tenth one-hitter, with four hours of sunlight left in the day. He couldn't go more than a couple of hours without lighting up, but he's probably just an isolated case, right?
This woman is no longer alive because my brother smoked her.
It's been suggested that because most users aren't habitual, the majority of people will never develop a severe dependency on pot. Much in the same way that not everyone who drinks will become an alcoholic. In fact, according to that link, about 15% of drinkers will develop a major dependency, as opposed to around 9% of marijuana users.
That's just the statistics for "severe" addictions. They claim that between 10% and 30% of marijuana smokers will at least fall into a minor addiction. Note that neither of those statistics are 0%. You know, the threshold for "not addictive."
Opium. It's less not-addictive than pot.
This is where my brother loves to bring up our uncle... I'll call him Thundercock Soulpuncher. Uncle Thundercock smoked pot his entire adolescent life during the 1960s and 70s, and when he decided to file away his partying days and join the adult world, he had no problem at all stepping away from weed. But studies from 1983 to present show that the average THC level (the chemical in pot that gives the buzz) back then was about 4%. The same group found that over the last few decades, the seized pot they studied had risen to over 10%, with some plants as high as 30%. It's predicted that in the next five to ten years, that average will reach around 15% before it hits a plateau.
What's that mean? It means you get higher faster, using less of the drug. It also means that younger, inexperienced smokers have a higher chance of addiction than ol' Thundercock because they're smoking stickier shit.
Now, once again, it's widely believed that pot is much easier to quit than smoking, booze, heroin, and just about every other drug out there. But the belief that "it's not addictive" is bullshit. Want an easy way to see if you're addicted? Give it up for a year. I have a feeling that would be tough for a lot of you, considering how many can't go one fucking week without working it into a conversation. It's tough to give up something that you've built your entire personality around.
But just keep in mind: if you want to see a day when the cops won't hassle you for smoking it, you're going to need to be a lot smarter about how you argue the issue, that's all I'm saying.