I just teamed up with women’s lib writer Barbara Walker and Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School to publish on Kindle Pot Stories and Atheist Essays 

One piece, “Pot Story,” offers a very persuasive polemic for legalization and at the same time shows some of the misery and suffering that unwise laws have caused over the decades.  One section describes Harry Anslinger, the founder and first commissioner of the Prohibition Movement, as a conspicuous bigot and inarguable moron. 

Ms. Walker, in her inimitable style, writes of the abuses of religion over the centuries and the mistreatment of women, mostly due to original sin.

Also included is a podcast of Dr. Grinspoon where he categorically states there is no physical damage to the body at all.  He tells the story of how he first turned on, exhorted by none other than Carl Sagan on a cruise to a conference in Europe. 

If you’re interested in marijuana, either medically or recreationally, this is a must read so you’ll know what you’re doing or talking about.  Lot’s to discuss, n’est-ce pas?  


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our benevolent rulers see fit to give us another form of SOMA? And in the most liberal states? hmmm.  People have been waking up the past few decades, atheism is on the rise, people aren't listening to the corporate news anymore (at least the younger demographics); now they want to "give us" our freedom back?

We do live in a democracy though.  The progress on marijuana has mostly been from voter initiatives.  The general disapproval of drug users and drugs caused drug prohibition. 

People are still pretty thoroughly indoctrinated on the subject.  Drug users are a convenient scapegoat, and they have a very negative stereotype of them. 

I asked a question about marijuana chemistry on a Usenet chemistry group years ago.  All I got was people bashing me.  All I had done was to ask a question, and they "knew" all about me as a marijuana user.  They "knew" I was far beneath them in some way. 

Laura, thanks for the vignette about old times.  I found the part interesting about the cop NOT arresting you because his partner wasn’t there.

The cop threw it all into the grass, telling us we were really lucky his partner wasn't there because otherwise he would have to arrest us, and all those drugs would mean years of jail time

Shows how arbitrary and superficial the justice system is.  If that cop was in a nasty mood, let’s say he had an argument with his wife at breakfast; your life would have taken a turn toward hell, the penal system.

Justice shouldn’t be a matter of luck, but right and wrong. 

To Pat, how do you feel about this country having over two million prison inmates?  More than Communist China, more than the rest of the world combined!  What an insult to reason and humanity.  I’m glad this unnecessary suffering so many people isn’t on my conscience.  

  If that cop was in a nasty mood, let’s say he had an argument with his wife at breakfast; your life would have taken a turn toward hell, the penal system.

Maybe he'd been directed to do that by the prosecutor. He was trying to scare us with the talk about his partner.

Yes, it was all very colorful, interesting and sometimes profound.  I would be using marijuana if I weren't allergic to it. 

Richard, prosecutor's often have to follow the laws. Period. That's the major problem with the three strikes laws. They allow no compromise. They're bullshit imho.
I do agree with a good deal of what you say and I'm an advocate of legalization. What an adult does in private, with the standard provisions of doing no harm, should not be up for debate.
That being said, having followed the exchanges between you and Pat, you seemed to come off as harsh and judgemental of one person for the actions of a collective profession.

prosecutor's often have to follow the laws

This is probably true.  That's why I'm curious how a prosecutor deals with being against the drug war.  How do they cope in their own minds? 

Probably being a prosecutor does mean having to seek prison time for things that to someone opposed to drug prohibition, aren't crimes at all.  Such as growing a lot of marijuana.  Or, as I said, being a smalltime marijuana dealer who treats their clients well.

If I try to imagine being in this situation, it seems brutal.  To cope mentally, I imagine prosecutors might have to turn off their empathy for the victim.  Or judge them as "riffraff". 

I don't feel judgmental about it, but this is a situation I haven't been in and I'm curious about what it does to people in it. 

I've encountered police in the drug enforcement situation.  But you don't get to ask this kind of question when they're doing their job.  They're there to intimidate and exert force.  So I'm curious about what it's like on their side. 

You could look at it in a positive way also.  In one of the Stephen Donaldson Covenant novels, there was a passage that stuck with me forever.  Something like "Only the powerless are innocent.  To be powerful is to be guilty.  Only the damned are saved".  Prosecutors also do a lot of good.  As Pat pointed out to us. 

But I wonder how he and prosecutors in general feel about the victimizing by prosecution of people who haven't really done anything wrong.

Prosecutors and judges see the HUGE role of drug prohibition in our criminal justice system.  They see all the drug-related murders and drug-related crimes.  The courts are clogged with such cases.  They SEE the downside of drug prohibition for themselves.  So what does it feel like to be a reluctant Drug Warrior? 

My social psych professor at NYU, Phillip Zimbardo, devoted this career to these questions.  He wrote the back page promo for my Mirror Reversal and plugged his own The Lucifer Effect.  The authoritarian personality has a way of categorizing behavior.  They weren’t prosecuting innocent people they were doing their job.  The killer is the third precept of the principle, that which makes any evil possible, the belief they were doing “for a greater good.” 


k.h.  Well said, thanks.  I didn't mean to single out Pat.  It's the system that's despicable.  Of course I realize most officials are cogs in the wheel. But these people have had their way long enough. Consider the Corrections Corp of American lobbying for stricter drug laws and more prisoners. And they coerce inmates to work so they make even more money aside from the exorbitant amount they charge the government.  It's like in China. 

It's not the good of society that drives the system; it's money.  

3 minute video of British show talking about US prison system, some interesting statistics:


Thanks for keeping this important post alive, Sky. I couldn't get the video but I know the stats pretty wel

The video is there, and it's interesting and funny.

Pat, I enjoy this debate and will answer the best I can.  Just remember you represent “the system” so try to mind your manners and no vile language please.  I’ll try to answer any reasonable, well-thought-out criticism. 

You said i>stereotyping. If anyone needs to apologize, I suggest it's you, for your irrational depiction of an entire group of people.>>>

Quite right, I did apologize.  It’s just that the crime against reason and the American people is so egregious one tends to generalize a bit in determining the source of guilt.  As a former pot smoking, Viet Nam War-protesting hippie, it’s difficult to stay objective and not let emotions becloud one’s thinking by forming stereotypes.  To me at the time, anybody who didn’t smoke was a war mongering, militant “flag-waver” who condoned dropping burning phosphorus (napalm) on primitive villages on the other side of the world. Ever see the famous photo of the naked child running away from her burning village?  Ever get burning phosphorus on your skin?  Sprinkling water on it makes it worse.  I think anyone with a tinge of human compassion for the war victims would have a tendency to generalize. The culprits all wore the same uniform.   

< false and scurrilous accusation once again.>>>

For one thing I didn’t mention any names, only referring to previous comments.  I’m trying to find my “scurrilous accusation” but all I can come up with is a very important and germane question.

i>… I asked a reader here, a prosecutor, if he was thinking of Reefer Madness (Harry’s propaganda film, rivaling his contemporary, Joseph Goebbels) when he sent innocent kids to a life of iron bars, clanging doors, sterile aluminum and food pigs would be reluctant to eat—not to mention the loneliness and self-alienation..>>>    

I admit I’m failing to differentiate between the judge and the prosecutor, the latter being the person who analyzes the evidence, determines if a law had been broken and then recommends punishment.  I fail to see the difference between recommending and pleading for punishment and actually sentencing the unfortunate victim. 

All right, forget about Reefer Madness.  I see you’d rather not answer the question after two tries.  Better put, what was your excuse or rationale for pleading that the accused be incarcerated for the trivial offense of smoking pot and getting high?  I think it’s a fair question, fairly posed—it’s the very topic of the debate. 

So, while you’re at it, I have another question you’ll probably find equally offensive and embarrassing to answer, yet equally appropriate being we’re on the subject.  

Question:  Knowing full well that this country leads the world in the incidence of prison homosexual anal rape, more than the entire world’s other countries combined, did you take this into account when you recommended periods of time for the incarceration?  Did you ever think about the horror of being raped under these circumstances and what it might do to a young’s man self-esteem and self-image, not to mention risk of STDs.  Was the violation justified?  In other words, did the punishment fit the crime? 

As black comedian Chris Rock yells out contemptuously in his Harlem stand-up routine:  “All the kid did was smoke a joint and get high and they sent him to jail.”



what was your excuse or rationale for pleading that the accused be incarcerated for the trivial offense of smoking pot and getting high?

Did Pat ever actually try to get someone jailed just for smoking MJ? Where is your evidence for that accusation?



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