Marijuana legalization in Mass. – high or low?

mariuana16I’ve often thought that, for an adult, getting mildly exhilarated without the caloric intake of wine or other alcoholic beverage would be a good thing.  And doesn’t the government already intrude either directly or indirectly in too many of our personal decisions?  So why not legalize marijuana, as a referendum on the Massachusetts ballot in November would allow?

I certainly favor the new law governing the medical use of marijuana, notwithstanding the ineptitude of the state’s implementation.  But a recent op ed by Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh and Attorney General Maura Healey has me reconsidering whether legalizing pot for general recreational use is really such a good idea. Alaska, Colorado, Washington State,  Oregon and the District of Columbia have done it. States do control how much marijuana adults over the age of 21 can have in their possession, and limits how many marijuana plants they can have. But studies reveal that where pot has been legalized for adults, use among teenagers has increased dramatically both in absolute terms and compared to teen marijuana use elsewhere.

The three Massachusetts officials also cite studies showing that regular use of pot during adolescence can “impair brain development, shrink school and career outcomes, and even lower IQ.”  Those who start in adolescence are also more likely to become dependent.  Other reports cite a significant increase in the number of emergency room visits in the year after Colorado legalized marijuana.

The percentage of traffic fatalities attributed to marijuana use has doubled in Colorado since the legalization of marijuana. There has also been an increase in marijuana-related calls to poison control emergency lines.

Cannabist writers dismiss these problems noting it’s just that new users don’t know how to use pot properly. NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote of her out-of-body experience on consuming a marijuana-laced candy bar, and she (a self-described very occasional user) details the horrible things people have done while under the influence of marijuana, especially, it seems, in edible form. Dowd notes that, at least with alcohol, users know what they’re getting into. Could this really just be a problem with regulation, dosage control and education?

In 2014, cannabis promoters organized a “Consume Responsibly” campaign.  But given the horrific problems we’re now experiencing with opioid abuse, easy access to cheap heroin, family impact of alcoholism, does it make sense to add pot to the mix and stir?  I think not. But please, dear readers, weigh in on this one.  I really want your feedback.

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32 Responses to Marijuana legalization in Mass. – high or low?

  1. No toxic basis to criminalize marijuana
    [Globe letters section]
    MARCH 13, 2016

    BACK IN 1966, concerned that so many young people were harming themselves through the use of marijuana, I began to review the medical and scientific literature to help clarify the nature of this harmfulness. Much to my surprise, I discovered that it was a substance remarkably free of toxicity. In fact, it is far safer than any pharmaceutical or recreational drug. There is no record of a single overdose death around the world from its recreational or medicinal use. Compare that to aspirin, which is responsible for more than 1,000 deaths per year in this country alone.

    Many of those who staunchly defend the prohibition against marijuana believe we do not yet know enough about it to be able to make the kinds of decisions that are now necessary. Despite the US government’s three-quarter-century-long prohibition of marijuana and its confinement to Schedule 1 of the Drug Control and Abuse Act of 1970, it is nonetheless one of the most studied therapeutically active substances in history; to date there are more than 20,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature referencing the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids, nearly half of which were published within the past five years.

    By contrast hydrocodone, a pharmaceutical opioid which is responsible for a large and growing number of overdose deaths from illicit use, yields just more than 600 references in the entire compilation of the available scientific research. The entirety of this research supports none of the claims made by Governor Charlie Baker and his colleagues in their op-ed in the Boston Globe (“Do not legalize marijuana in Massachusetts,” March 7).

    Lester Grinspoon

    Auburndale

    The writer is Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

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  2. Hopkins Holmberg says:

    This is a tough question. I’m going to have to figure out my vote by November. Historically, we have decades of propaganda from various Federal agencies making Pot any ultimate evil, and thus maintaining their budgets. We are also a generation into a failed, and expensive, “War on Drugs”. We also have the experience of other developed nations that have been more open to pot and seem to have survived, Netherlands comes to mind.

    “given the horrific problems we’re now experiencing with opioid abuse, easy access to cheap heroin, family impact of alcoholism, does it make sense to add pot to the mix and stir?” — I’ve been staring at that scentence; something seems wrong with it. I guess the only thing missing is the kitchen sink. In a time of candidates raising fears by dumping a list of angst provoking words, I think this is much the same: a collection of thinly, if at all, related problems that without any logic can lead us to scream “No!”

    Incidentally, the doubling of traffic accidents related to pot in Colorado is a weak use of stastical language unless more detail is provided. What if the old average annual rate was 1.5 and in recent years the number presenting was 1. Then a year with 2 would appear to be a “doubling” although it could be no evidence of change. “Doubling” is inadequate without more numbers.

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    • aronsbarron says:

      You really see my raising the possibility of a link between marijuana, alcoholism, heroin (not in terms of chemical properties but in terms of social problems) as linking me with “candidates raising fears by dumping a list of angst provoking words?” Really?

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      • modernhamlet says:

        Frankly, yes. That sentence definitely harkens to the blatantly wrong-headed “gateway drug” argument. This state has a serious opiate problem. We also have a rarely discussed national alcoholism problem. But neither of those problems has anything at all to do with marijuana.

        The only dangerous thing about marijuana is getting caught with it.

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      • Yeah, really. Try reading the history of the subject in the references I have provided and you will see a long history of loose, inflammatory, and highly misleading language in the campaign against marijuana. You are repeating a lot of it. Therefore, your column sounds more like hysteria than good sense. That’s just a fact.

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  3. Linda green says:

    Margie,
    You write “where pot has been legalized for adults, use among teenagers has dramatically increased…” Teenagers are adults? What about all the research that’s been done in the adolescent brains development?
    Though I haven’t followed details on the subject has there been talk of age limiting on purchasing pot?
    Linda

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    • aronsbarron says:

      The states that have legalized recreational marijuana, as distinct from medical marijuana, all have age limits. However, The idea is that “where pot has been legalized for adults,” it has become more readily available for teenagers.

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      • modernhamlet says:

        Which studies are saying that teen use in CO and WA are up dramatically? Because all the sources I find say otherwise and/or are based on 2013 data, before full-scale legalization and sale was in place.

        The fact is, if a kid wanted to smoke pot in Colorado or Washington (or Massachusetts for that matter) it was just as easy before legalization than it is now. Access to pot is not a barrier to entry for teens. Period.

        I’m against anyone under 21 (and DEFINITELY under 18) smoking pot. There’s enough evidence to suggest the impact on brain development is significant. But suggesting that legalization somehow made it more available or that more kids are trying it isn’t supported by the available evidence.

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      • The states that have “legalized” are nothing compared to California. California has more stores selling marijuana than all the “legal” states combined. Depending on the day you ask, there are probably more stores in Los Angeles alone than there are in any state that has “legalized”, and most of those are evading the local laws, rather than following them.

        Those stores have been operating for more than ten years. They have looser rules than in any of the “legal” states. For example, there are no age limits. If a teenager can convince a doctor that he needs a recommendation letter, then the kid can get it and legally obtain marijuana and use it. The only enforcement of age limits for getting into marijuana stores is done voluntarily by the stores themselves.

        Many people have referred to it as the “wild, wild West” of marijuana. There are so many stores in California that the DEA effectively gave up trying to bust them years ago.

        Even with all of that, use of marijuana by teens in California is lower now than it was in 1996 when the law was passed, and public support for full legalization is up.

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  4. Rob says:

    I’ll just leave this here: http://www.alternet.org/drugs/latest-scince-debunk-marijuana-myths

    There’s a whole lot of misinformation going around and I was sad to see our elected officials perpetuating the myths (particularly as it could help the opiod crisis).

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  5. aronsbarron says:

    to modernhamlet, the study you asked for was by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and reported on by the Denver Post. http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_29271398/fed-study-says-pot-use-by-youth-rise. It was December 2015.

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    • Federal law forbids any Federal employee from saying anything that might support legalization. They couldn’t tell the truth about the subject without violating the law, even if they wanted to, and they never want to tell the truth because the truth would mean the end of the DEA.

      Don’t take my word for that. Read the history of the subject yourself. See “Historical Research on Drug Policy” in the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy.

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  6. aronsbarron says:

    Just this week, Bertha Madras, a professor of psycho-biology in the Psychiatry Department and Chair of the Division of Neurochemistry at Harvard Medical School said that where pot has been legalized, under-age usage has increased to 11.3 percent. In states without legal use, just 5.99 percent of underage people reported using. Reported in the Boston Business Journal.

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    • I can’t find the reference so I can’t comment specifically yet, but what they typically do with those things is cherry-pick the data. Choose the right states, years, and ages, and you get any result you want.

      If you want a really good example, then see California because the laws there are looser than in any of those states and the laws have been in place longer. There are thousands of stores openly selling it and the only age enforcement is done voluntarily by the manager of the store. This has been going on for 20 years now.

      If a teenage disaster was going to happen, we would have seen it already. Use by teens in California is down since the law was passed.

      Tobacco smoking is down even more, if that tells you anything. We don’t put anyone in jail for tobacco but we are managing to convince kids that it is not a good idea.

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    • Just in case you ever take a college class in logic, the fallacy you are looking for is:

      Post hoc ergo propter hoc

      That is, it is the belief that because Event B occurred after Event A then Event A must have caused Event B. As in, a bird flew past your house and then it rained, so the bird must have caused the rain.

      If you say you believe in the “gateway” idea in any college logic course, you will flunk the course.

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  7. aronsbarron says:

    Yesterday I sought the opinion of a highly regarded individual who for years has been doing youth work. His programs have become national models. He cited case after case of young people whom he has known who have gone on to more dangerous substances, especially heroin, He really sees marijuana as a gateway drug. In my years of covering the issue, I never did, but I couldn’t speak to that from the vantage point of his kind of experience.

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    • This is covered extensively in the Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy.

      Step 1 – Go to Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer Ask him if he has ever read any of them. You will find that he has never read any of them. You will find that he never even knew these works existed. This person is no “expert” whatever experience he may claim. That much is obvious from his belief in the “gateway” idea. That idea has been debunked so thoroughly that even the DEA does not use that claim anymore.

      To start you off with some of the more recent analysis of the topic, this comes from “Marihuana as Medicine, Assessing the Science Base,” by the Institute of Medicine, 1999. This was the official US Government study specifically commissioned by the US Drug Czar to settle the issue of whether marijuana is medicine. You can find the full text at http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/iom/IOMReport.htm

      The particular portion dealing with the “gateway” idea is found in Chapter 3. It says:

      The fear that marijuana use might cause, as opposed to merely precede, the use of drugs that are more harmful of great concern. Judging from comments submitted to the IOM study team, this appears to be an even greater concern than the harms directly related to marijuana itself. The discussion that marijuana is a gateway drug implicitly recognizes that other illicit drugs might inflict greater damage to health or social relations than marijuana. Although the scientific literature generally discusses drug use progression between a variety of drug classes, including alcohol and tobacco, the public discussion has focused on marijuana as a gateway drug that leads to abuse of more harmful illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
      There are strikingly regular patterns in the progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. 80, 81 In fact, most drug users do not begin their drug use with marijuana; they begin with alcohol and nicotine and usually when they are too young to do so legally. 81, 89
      The gateway analogy evokes two ideas that are often confused. The first, more often referred to as the stepping stone hypothesis, is the idea that progression from marijuana to other drugs arises from pharmacological properties of marijuana itself. 81 The second interpretation is that marijuana serves as a gateway to the world of illegal drugs in which youths have greater opportunity and are under greater social pressure to try other illegal drugs. This is the interpretation most often used in the scientific literature, and is supported by — although not proven by the available data.
      The stepping stone hypothesis applies to marijuana only in the broadest sense. People who enjoy the effects of marijuana are, logically, more likely to be willing to try other mood-altering drugs than are people who are not willing to try marijuana or who dislike its effects. In other words, many of the factors associated with a willingness to use marijuana are, presumably, the same as those associated with a willingness to use other illicit drugs. Those factors include physiological reactions to the drug effect, which are consistent with the stepping stone hypothesis, but also psychosocial factors that are independent of drug-specific effects. There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular drug effect. One might argue that marijuana is generally used before other illicit mood-altering drugs, in part, because its effects are milder, but in that case, marijuana is a stepping stone only in the same sense as taking a small dose of a particular drug and then increasing that dose over time is a stepping stone to increased drug use.
      Whereas the stepping stone hypothesis presumes a predominantly physiological component to drug progression, the gateway theory is a social theory. The latter does not suggest that the pharmacological qualities of marijuana make it a risk factor for progression to other drug use. Instead it is the legal status of marijuana that makes it a gateway drug. 81

      Note the final sentence. Instead it is the legal status of marijuana that makes it a gateway drug. That is, it is the laws themselves that put all these drugs in the same black market that accounts for the perception that it is a “gateway”.

      As your “expert” if he has even read this report. You will find that he has not read it, or any other.

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    • Ask this “expert” which particular chemical in marijuana causes people to crave completely different drugs they have never had. Your expert will not be able to name any such chemical or describe how this is supposed to work. That idea is a belief in witchcraft, not science.

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    • This idea was a hoax from the day it was created. Marijuana was originally outlawed in some states because of the fear that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana — exactly the opposite of the modern nonsense.

      When the MTA was passed in 1937, Harry Anslinger, then head of the FBN, was asked specifically if there was any connection between marijuana and heroin. The testimony was:

      MR. DINGELL: I am just wondering whether the marihuana addict graduates into a heroin, an opium, or a cocaine user.

      MR. ANSLINGER: No, sir; I have not heard of a case of that kind. I think it is an entirely different class. The marihuana addict does not go in that direction.

      MR. DINGELL: And the hardened narcotic user does not fall back on marihuana.

      MR. ANSLINGER: No, sir: he would not touch that.

      From the testimony of Harry Anslinger for the Marihuana Tax Act at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/anslng1.htm

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    • In 1944, the La Guardia Committee Report confirmed what Anslinger had said about the connection between marijuana and heroin. They concluded:
      From the foregoing study the following conclusions are drawn:

      Marihuana is used extensively in the Borough of Manhattan but the problem is not as acute as it is reported to be in other sections of the United States.
      The introduction of marihuana into this area is recent as compared to other localities.
      The cost of marihuana is low and therefore within the purchasing power of most persons.
      The distribution and use of marihuana is centered in Harlem.
      The majority of marihuana smokers are Negroes and Latin-Americans.
      The consensus among marihuana smokers is that the use of the drug creates a definite feeling of adequacy.
      The practice of smoking marihuana does not lead to addiction in the medical sense of the word.
      The sale and distribution of marihuana is not under the control of any single organized group.
      The use of marihuana does not lead to morphine or heroin or cocaine addiction and no effort is made to create a market for these narcotics by stimulating the practice of marihuana smoking.
      Marihuana is not the determining factor in the commission of major crimes.
      Marihuana smoking is not widespread among school children.
      Juvenile delinquency is not associated with the practice of smoking marihuana.
      The publicity concerning the catastrophic effects of marihuana smoking in New York City is unfounded.

      Note that: The use of marihuana does not lead to morphine or heroin or cocaine addiction and no effort is made to create a market for these narcotics by stimulating the practice of marihuana smoking.

      From: http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/studies/lag/conc1.htm

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    • In 1951, the story on the “gateway” idea changed.

      Where did the perception come from this time? Well, if you have ever seen movies from this time period like High School Confidential, the perception was that kids in high school were starting to use drugs. What’s the answer? The answer is always the same. The Boggs Act of 1951 quadrupled the penalties in every single offense category and, by the way, the Boggs Act had a whole new rationale for the marijuana prohibition.

      Do you remember the old rationale — that marijuana was an addictive drug which caused in its users insanity, criminality, and death? Just before Anslinger was to testify on the Boggs Act, the doctor who ran for the Government the Lexington, Kentucky narcotics rehabilitation clinic testified ahead of Anslinger and testified that the medical community knew that marijuana wasn’t an addictive drug,. It doesn’t produce death, or insanity, and instead of producing criminality, it probably produces passivity, said the doctor.

      Who was the next witness? Anslinger. And, if you see, that the rug had been pulled out from under everything he had said in the 1937 hearings to support the marijuana prohibition. In what I call a really slick Federal shuffle — Anslinger, you know, had been bitten bad enough by what he said, he didn’t want that again — he said, the doctor is right, marijuana — he always believed, by the way, that there was something in marijuana which produced criminality — is not an addictive drug, it doesn’t produce insanity or death but it is “the certain first step on the road to heroin addiction.” And the notion that marijuana was the stepping stone to heroin became, in 1951, the sole rationale for the national marijuana prohibition. It was the first time that marijuana was lumped with all the other drugs and not treated separately, and we multiply the penalties in every offense category.

      From: History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs by Professor Charles Whitebread at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm Professor Whitebread was the person who wrote the history of the marijuana laws for President Nixon’s US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, the largest study ever done — which your “expert” has never seen.

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    • Since your forum seems to have a length limit, here is what the US Institute of Medicine had to say on the subject, in two parts. Their report, “Marihuana as Medicine, Assessing the Science Base” is the OFFICIAL report commissioned by the US Drug Czar to settle the issue of whether marijuana is medicine. You can find the full text at http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/iom/IOMReport.htm

      It says (first part): The fear that marijuana use might cause, as opposed to merely precede, the use of drugs that are more harmful of great concern. Judging from comments submitted to the IOM study team, this appears to be an even greater concern than the harms directly related to marijuana itself. The discussion that marijuana is a gateway drug implicitly recognizes that other illicit drugs might inflict greater damage to health or social relations than marijuana. Although the scientific literature generally discusses drug use progression between a variety of drug classes, including alcohol and tobacco, the public discussion has focused on marijuana as a gateway drug that leads to abuse of more harmful illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
      There are strikingly regular patterns in the progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. 80, 81 In fact, most drug users do not begin their drug use with marijuana; they begin with alcohol and nicotine and usually when they are too young to do so legally. 81, 89
      The gateway analogy evokes two ideas that are often confused. The first, more often referred to as the stepping stone hypothesis, is the idea that progression from marijuana to other drugs arises from pharmacological properties of marijuana itself. 81 The second interpretation is that marijuana serves as a gateway to the world of illegal drugs in which youths have greater opportunity and are under greater social pressure to try other illegal drugs. This is the interpretation most often used in the scientific literature, and is supported by — although not proven by the available data.

      Like

    • Part 2 of what the US Institute of Medicine had to say about the subject:

      The stepping stone hypothesis applies to marijuana only in the broadest sense. People who enjoy the effects of marijuana are, logically, more likely to be willing to try other mood-altering drugs than are people who are not willing to try marijuana or who dislike its effects. In other words, many of the factors associated with a willingness to use marijuana are, presumably, the same as those associated with a willingness to use other illicit drugs. Those factors include physiological reactions to the drug effect, which are consistent with the stepping stone hypothesis, but also psychosocial factors that are independent of drug-specific effects. There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular drug effect. One might argue that marijuana is generally used before other illicit mood-altering drugs, in part, because its effects are milder, but in that case, marijuana is a stepping stone only in the same sense as taking a small dose of a particular drug and then increasing that dose over time is a stepping stone to increased drug use.
      Whereas the stepping stone hypothesis presumes a predominantly physiological component to drug progression, the gateway theory is a social theory. The latter does not suggest that the pharmacological qualities of marijuana make it a risk factor for progression to other drug use. Instead it is the legal status of marijuana that makes it a gateway drug. 81

      Note the last sentence. It is the legal status that places it in the same black market that accounts for any “gateway” effect. That is,your “expert” is using the negative effects of the law as an excuse for the law.

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    • Here is another way you can tell this idea is complete nonsense. Ask him if he considers alcohol and tobacco to be “gateway” drugs. He will certainly tell you that he does.

      Then look up the actual deaths attributed to drugs in the US each year. The numbers are (approximately):

      Tobacco – 400,000
      Cheeseburgers (obesity) – 350,000
      Alcohol – 80,000
      All the illegal drugs combined — about 20,000
      Marijuana – 0

      In other words, these people think a “gateway” drug is one that causes almost half a million deaths per year in the US, but leads to drugs that cause far fewer deaths. Does anything about this strike you as just plain backwards? Alcohol and tobacco aren’t “gateways” — they are the end of the line. In terms of addictiveness, damage to the health, etc., alcohol and tobacco rank right up there with the best of them, and actually worse than most illegal drugs.

      You clearly haven’t read any of the research that has been recommended. If you had, you would know for certain that the drug laws never had anything to do with protecting public health and safety. That is evident just from the way they explain the “gateway” idea. It is clear that this is an idea with no good sense or logic behind it. It is simply a bogeyman.

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    • Here is what the most recent study by the Canadian Government had to say:

      We feel that the available data show that it is not cannabis itself that leads to other drug use but the combination of the following factors:
      ·· Factors related to personal and family history that predispose to early entry on a trajectory of use of psychoactive substances starting with alcohol;

      ·· Early introduction to cannabis, earlier than the average for experimenters, and more rapid progress towards a trajectory of regular use;

      ·· Frequenting of a marginal or deviant environment;

      ·· Availability of various substances from the same dealers.

      from http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/canadasenate/vol1/chapter6_stepping_stone.htm

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    • This comes from Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding, the report of President Nixon’s US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (1973), the largest such study ever done by the US Governmment.

      In the National Survey, among the adult respondents, 70% thought that marihuana makes people want to try stronger drugs such as heroin; 56% of the youth in the 12-to-17-year-old category agreed with the same statement. These perceptions contrast with another finding in the same Survey which revealed that 4% of current marihuana users have tried heroin. On the other hand, very few respondents perceived alcohol and tobacco to be precipitants of other drug use.

      Studies of the escalation process demonstrate that the rates of progression vary from one group to another and from one segment of the population to another. There is no set proportion of marihuana users who “escalate” to the use of other drugs. The other drugs which some marihuana smokers use vary according to the social characteristics of the population in question. Within some groups, heroin may be the choice; in other groups, it may be LSD.

      Marihuana use per se does not dictate whether other drugs will be used; nor does it determine the rate of progression, if and when it, occurs, or which drugs might be used. As discussed in Chapter 11, the user’s social group seems to have the strongest influence on whether other drugs will be used; and if so, which drugs will be used.

      From http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/nc/ncc3_18.htm

      You will note that, at the time it was written, that they did not consider alcohol and tobacco to be “stepping stone” drugs. That is because the idea has changed. It was once “stepping stone”. When that idea was proven wrong, they went to the more vague “gateway” idea, and then had to include alcohol and tobacco to try to deal with the obvious fact that most people start with alcohol and tobacco. They change their stories every time the old story gets blown out of the water. In fact, none of the excuses they mention (including this one) actually had anything to do with why we have these laws.

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    • I could go on with even more quotes from even more studies of the subject. You will notice that none of the people who tout this “gateway” idea are able to name any studies at all to support their idea. The best evidence they have is that a small minority of pot smokers also have used some other drugs. This isn’t exactly surprising news simply because people who do one risky thing in life are likely to do other risky things. People who have one drug problem are more likely to have problems with other drugs, too. If you have ever met an addict one of the things you will note is that they don’t just abuse one drug. They abuse everything they can get their hands on, in no particular order. The “gateway” is in the person, not the drug.

      Again, ask this “expert” if he has read any of the materials I have referenced here. You will find that he has not read any of them. Ask him if he will read them and give you his opinion. He will tell you that he doesn’t need to read them because he already knows it all, and besides, that research is biased, outdated, and doesn’t count — even though it will be quite clear that he can’t even name the titles and knows nothing about it.

      Don’t take my word for this. Try it yourself and see.

      Then read the research yourself. You said you were on an honest quest for real answers, so why haven’t you done that? Start with Licit and Illicit Drugs at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/cu/cumenu.htm Your posts will improve dramatically as soon as you do.

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    • You also ought to think about the “prevention” logic behind this. We are afraid that some kid will smoke a joint and get a craving for heroin. To prevent that, we will throw the kid in jail and drag him through the criminal justice system. The first step will be to lock him up with some really bad characters who know where to get the bad stuff.

      Just FYI, if you want to look up the HBO specials they have done on prisons and jails, you will find one from several years back where they interview a number of prison wardens. All the wardens admit that their prisons are full of drugs and the only difference from the streets is that the prices in prison are higher.

      So Step One in preventing kids from going on to heroin is to give them a really bad experience where they can meet some real drug dealers.

      How does this even make sense? If you want the kid to come around to being “normal” then wouldn’t it be better to place them somewhere where being “normal” provided real incentives to be “normal”? Instead, we think we will solve their psychological problems by locking them in a hell-hole with a bunch of real animals. Every drug user I have ever seen go to jail came out with one thing they were proud of — better connections for drugs.

      Why don’t we do the merciful thing and just horsewhip them in the middle of the street?

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    • Let’s not forget the other argument your “expert” will make. He will undoubtedly argue that illegal drug dealers commonly lace their marijuana with stronger stuff to get people hooked unknowingly. This argument is face-palm stupid for a number of reasons:

      1) Marijuana smokers like marijuana. They typically don’t like things like heroin simply because the effect is not anything close to what they want. Therefore, if someone laces marijuana with heroin or something else, it will be noticeable immediately, In about fifty years of familiarity with this topic, I have heard of only a few cases in which people bought marijuana that was laced with something else. In every case, that marijuana dealer lost them as customers on that very sale.

      2) The effects of laced weed are very clear and unmistakable. Like, for instance, if it is laced with heroin, you are likely to experience sudden vomiting. If it is laced with cocaine, your mouth will get numb. If it is laced with PCP, there will be a strong chemical taste. If it is laced with LSD, the heat of combustion will destroy the LSD before it can have any effect. In all cases, the effects are wildly different than marijuana so any experienced marijuana user would know the difference immediately.

      3) It makes no economic sense to try to slowly addict someone to heroin with long-term use of marijuana. Let’s forget the sudden puking that heroin causes and pretend that the pot smoker would not notice that. The idea is that a little bit of heroin distributed over several ounces of marijuana over time would leave someone waking up some morning with heroin withdrawals. Heroin is quite a bit more expensive than marijuana so this would take a big investment in giving away free heroin for the small chance that a few of these people would get hooked (while they didn’t notice the vomiting, nodding out, etc.). The dealers are supposed to be doing this even while every heroin dealer knows that they can sell all the heroin they have right now, without doing any of that. The fact is that any
      “self-respecting” heroin user or dealer would be absolutely horrified if you wasted their favorite drug by sprinkling it on joints. They know that half of every joint goes up in smoke and they wouldn’t want to waste that much (which is why they inject it).

      Don’t believe me? Ask any heroin addict why they commonly carry around a paper bag. It is a barf bag. They are likely to vomit at unexpected times and need to be prepared. Did you ever meet a pot smoker who wanted to carry around a barf bag?

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      • And I should have added, to extent that the argument that drug dealers lace their marijuana with other things to get people hooked unknowingly is true — that is simply an effect of the fact that marijuana is illegal. If it was legal then accurate labeling of contents would be required and consumers would know what they were getting. Also, the laws would prevent lacing of marijuana with other drugs so any dealer who did so would suffer the same penalties as any beer seller would suffer if they laced their beer with heroin.

        Again, to the extent that the argument is even true (which is not much), it is a problem caused by the laws themselves. People such as your “expert” commonly use problems caused by the law as the justification for the law. If your problem is headaches, they are recommending that we treat them by application of a bigger hammer to your head.

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      • aronsbarron says:

        This is the first time I have heard anything about lacing marijuana with anything, much less heroin. It’s just not on the radar screen.

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  8. This quote, recently in the news from President Nixon’s top advisor explains what the modern war on drugs is really all about:

    At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

    I must have looked shocked. Ehrlichman just shrugged. Then he looked at his watch, handed me a signed copy of his steamy spy novel, The Company, and led me to the door.

    The idea that the drug laws are there to protect public health and safety is a long-term fraud. From the words of the very people who built the modern drug war, the drug war is really about the worst kind of politics. That isn’t my opinion, that is the statement of the people who built it. “Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

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