I just finished watching a documentary, "The Union, the business behind getting high", on Netflix (Netflix is my addiction).  Damning as far as setting forth an argument against prohibition, showing the societal costs of prohibition as opposed to lack of known negatives.  To be transparent about my own situation, I used as a teenager, thought better of it after getting some heroin-tainted product (which was too amazing), and never used again.  Didn't like getting high anyway.  I don't smoke, almost never drink, and it took a major disc problem before I was willing to take vicodin, and then only very briefly.  I really hate what oxycodone has done to our medical system and to management of pain in the susceptible, addictive-prone populations.  Purdue-Pharma has destroyed many lives, and made megabux, on oxycontin.  But I certainly don't care if other people use marijuana. 


The documentary set forth arguments for medical benefits in certain settings.  In some ways, they sound like "cure-all" benefits of other herbs, vitamins, and "natural products".  The costs of prohibition are significant, including infrastructure, outlays for employment of enforcing personnel, adding to distrust of government, and restriction of individual freedoms for little reason.



Costs of prohibition:

High incarceration rate.

Diversion of resources from other needs.

Miseducation of the public.

Deprives citizens of a generally safe product for entertainment and palliation.


Benefits of prohibition:

Certain industries benefit - private prisons, employment of prison guards, pharmaceutical industries.

Certain politicians benefit.  Plus, they're afraid that if they support repeal of prohibition, they'll lose the next election.

Parents get to have a soothing, false sense of security that their kids aren't using weed.  Just ocycontin and heroin.



It bothers me that marijuana is promoted as medicinal.  Even with certain benefits, the doctor is currently put in the impossible position of either being a 'go-to' person for "marijuana cards" - potentially putting their license at risk, and swamping their practice with people who want it for their 'headaches', 'back pain', and other real or not-real symptoms.  In addition, with increasing issues of oxycodone and other narcotic diversion, the DEA requires drug testing of some pain patients and if marijuana is present, their legal narcotic prescriptions must sometimes be cancelled.  With no quality control, safety regulation, dose management, it's impossible for the doctor to know what they are prescribing, or if it is safe or effective.  Not to mention, there is no training in use of marijuana and it doesnt come with long, lawyer-written disclaimers about the zillions of potential side effects that you get with, say, your cholesterol or blood pressure pills.


Really, medical marijuana seems like a 'back-door' route to  legalization.  But it's no more honest than people who want it illegal to "limit use", since it certainly hasn't eliminated use.



The primary use of marijuana is and should be recreational.  As for actual scientific trials of marijuana - I'm not sure there are any, or many, good clinical trials.  If someone wants to use it "medicinally", it should be in the same category as naturopathy or herbalism, unless controlled trials are able to demonstrate specific benefits in specific medical scenarios.  What is so bad about people having some fun?  It's safer than booze.  It's already illegal to drive while intoxicated, wehther with ethanol or marijuana.


What would happen if we eliminated the prohibition?



1 - Monsanto would make genetically engineered marijuana, and drive small players out of the market.  The Monsanto product would be Roundup-Ready, contain B. thuringensis as a pesticide, and contain zero (as opposed to almost zero) THC.  This would be a better renewable product than some of our other fiber and paper products.  (That being said, most of the hemp clothes that I have seen are really scratchy - maybe Ive just seen the wrond ones).  The tobacco companies, with existing manufacturing and marketing infrastructure, might dominate the market.


2 - Large scale use of hemp as an agricultural commodity, for fabric, fiber, and other uses, would make available billions of acres of plant material, and swamp the market with fake marijuana, resulting in sales of non-intoxicating hemp as bogus marijuana.  The only way for people to be sure that their weed is good, will be development of brand name products. 


3 - Companies like Marboro would get into the recreational marijuana industry, developing trusted brand names so that people could be reassured that they are buying "the real deal" instead of hemp intended for T-shirt manufacture or paper.  Some people would grow their own.  The plants do look pretty. 


Where is the nonsense in discussion of marijuana?

-claiming It's incredibly harmful.

-claiming Dire consequences would occur if prohibition ended.

-claiming It's a cure-all for anything that ails you.

-claiming It's a medicinal product and should be treated as medicine.


So that's my 2¢

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Replies to This Discussion

PRG, I agree with you. It doesn't matter what someone is intoxicated with, be it ethanol, marijuana, benadryl, or their cell phone - when they are driving a 2000 poound piece of steel down the road (or parking lot, or people's front yards), their responsibility is safety. It's OK to be intoxicated when not doing hazardous things that endanger others' lives, but it's not OK to be intoxicated when driving, flying airplanes, or doing brain surgery.
Thanks for a thoughtful response.

You may be right about the spinning until dizzy thing. I didn't like that either. In my grade school, some kids also were adept at holding their beath until passing out. It may have been fake, but they were popular for annoying the teachers.

I dispaired of making a distinction between a medication, and plants that had medicinal properties. Thank you for 'getting it'.

Side note- but part of the issue. The current medical-legal environment is such that if you, say, prescribe a Xanax because someone insists that it's "the only thing" that works for their panic attack or sleeplessness, and you then warn them that it's addictive, and may cause drowsiness (duh) so don't drive when taking it, then they fall asleep while operating their skillsaw and chop of some fingers, they can sue you for not warning them not to operate a skillsaw. I'm aware of a lawsuit for someone who claimed they were not warned that oxycodone is addictive, and they developed a habit. That's why, at the pharmacies here, they give you a long list of potential side effects, so they can say you were warned. For a plant, with no quality control, potential multiple substances in the plant including pestizide and growth promotant residues and 'natural' substances that vary from one variety to another, grown in one condition to another, I could see the same issue. I feel the same way about tobacco. Nicotine might actually have some medicinal properties, but tobacco is much more than nicotine. Some doctors will recommend saw palmetto for prostate enlargement, st. John's wort for depression, and echinacea for colds - but these are not actual 'prescriptions'. These remedies are over-the-counter and no prescription is needed for buying them. Im not aware of any other plant or animal remedies, in unpurified form, that require a prescription.

Im fine if a naturopath or herbalist recommends it.

By the way, I agree that it's generally probably safe. I do know of case reports related to asthma exacerbations when inhaling smoke, one in a teenager and it was fatal. Could the pot have contained adulterants? Could be. Do a few cases mean it should be prohibited? No. That's like saying cars should be prohibited because they kill people too. I think it would be safer if prohibition was repealed, and the product was monitored like other foods or intoxicants.
I just threw a bullet at my head... alas I'm still here. :P
Now that's funny! I'll have to remember that.
I googled it. Here.

Oddly enough, you can also do the same thing with "rhubarb zoroastrianism"
Hey, Bill--on that McDonald's being sued for having hot coffee story--it is the poster child for how litigious we are....Please know that this story doesn't really illustrate that. What was discovered in that suit was that the execs at McDonald's, in their goal of increasing profits, decided to sell a cheaper, and nastier tasting coffee, and to disguise it's poor quality by serving it super hot (tasted better that way). At the same time, and for the same reason (to make money, which is a corporations only reason to live) they bought a thinner, poorer quality cup to serve it in. As part of their discussions on these changes, they actually calculated how many people would get hurt and what that might cost them, and decided that they would pay for some burns they might get sued for, but would to go for the cost savings anyway. They predicted lots of burns, but there was such a nice bottom line, they felt it would cover it. So, when the award was so huge. the jury was saying that they should put a higher price on human misery, and if only the bottom line made sense to them, the jury would put it in a higher category by making the injury more costly. So, rather than being a story about greed of injured, it is a story that illustrates that a person motivated only by money is a sociopath and must be motivated to better behavior thru punishment in the only way a corporate sociopath can be hurt, in the bottom, with a big whomp. since injuring customers intentionally would now be costlier.

Do you have a link to go along with your Mc Donald's information?
I was curious too, and found this --

Dean Baker - The Conservative Nanny State (pdf)

p.68: A key fact in the McDonald’s coffee case is that McDonald’s served especially hot coffee because the heat concealed the taste. This allowed them to use a cheaper brand of coffee, thereby increasing profits.

p.71: If they can make it difficult for victims to hire lawyers, and reduce the size of the compensation even when a plaintiff wins a case, then the wealthy and big corporations will be better able to inflict damage with impunity.
I need more proof before I believe the entire scenario that Maggie has posted. Large corporations are easy enough to demonize without adding inaccurate information. By adding strawmen, it only weakens our position. I'm not insinuating that I know it is untrue. Quite the contrary, I have no idea about McDonalds policies and profit increasing techniques then or now. I just like to see statements backed up with proof. It's what this group is all about.
It wasn't my intent to present this as 'proof'. Only that these hypotheses have been floating around for some time.
Fair enough, Sacha, i will look for documentation on this case. My recollection is I had read and saved a newspaper article that relayed that in the process of "discovery" that emails and interoffice communications in written form were asked for by the litigant's lawyers, and McDonald's complied, as they are legally required to. These internal documents revealed there was a cost benefit analysis discussed, which weighed what costs would be incurred from injuries from the delivery of very hot liquid in a very flimsy cup compared to the costs saved with the cheaper materials. I will try and get that to you, but give me a day to hunt it up.
Regarding your point that large corporations are easy to demonize--
There is a movie called The Corporation, here is the wiki link

I hope you are able to watch it, or check out the summary in the link, but let me summarize:
Corporations are by law required to make money, that is the whole point of incorporation. Especially so, and common sense agrees, that if investors buy stocks, they do so in order to earn a return on it, When a stock purchase is made, and that money used to capitalize an operation, how are ethical considerations to be weighed against the obligation to create a profit for the investors? So, unless there are specific legal requirements to consider other factors on a corporation (regulation), it is unethical to make less money even if there are negative impacts on humans, or the earth, or social justice. They have no legal place in the board room.
So the point made in this movie is: What kind of person would be loosed on the rest of us, whose sole motive was to make money? We recognize that as sociopathy. And, I would assert that unregulated capitalism is responsible for far worse impacts that whatever number of persons were injured by this decision... I have bought this coffee, in these cups, and they are unstable, and the coffee searingly hot.
And if I may bring this back to marijuana prohibition -- Private prisons are also corporations, and are regulated to require them to provide basic needs, maybe even there are state regulations in contracts that private prisons must provide entertainment, for example, to prisoners.
As all do, they will seek to maximize their profits. One way they have done this is to lobby for longer sentences, and I find the whole thing incredibly abhorrent, that one citizen (owner of prison) is motivated to imprison another for personal profit. Marijuana users are victims of this. I will now run off and get citations for both of these assertions.
And you are right to ask.




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