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Comment by Mac Rex on April 20, 2009 at 1:57pm
Norm Stamper

Retired Seattle police chief, member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Posted April 20, 2009 | 11:01 AM (EST)
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420: Thoughts on Pot vs. Alcohol from a Former Police Chief


Read More: 20th, 4-20, 4/20, 420, 4:20, Alcohol, April 20, Happy 420, Leap, Legalization, Legalize Marijuana, Marijuana, Marijuana Health Effects, Marijuana Holiday, National Pot Smoking Day, Overdose Deaths, Police, Pot, Pot Holiday, Prohibition, War On Drugs, Weed, Politics News

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As 5:00 p.m. rolls around my interior clock starts chiming. I'll have an ice-cold, bone-dry martini, thank you. Jalapeno olives and a twist. If the occasion calls for it (temperatures in the twenties, a hot political debate on the tube) I may substitute two fingers of Kentucky sour mash. Four-twenty? Doesn't resonate. But with April 20 approaching and Waldos of the world gearing up to celebrate their favorite day of the year, it's not a bad time to consider, yet again, the pluses and minuses of alcohol vs. cannabis.

First, a disclaimer: I am a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, but I don't officially represent the organization in this forum. That said, I can't very well check my affiliation, or beliefs, at the keyboard when I sit down to blog for HuffPost. We at LEAP are current and former cops and other criminal justice practitioners who have witnessed firsthand the futility and manifold injustices of the drug war. Our professional experiences have led us to conclude that the more dangerous an illicit substance--from crack to krank--the greater the justification for its legalization, regulation, and control. It is the prohibition of drugs that leads inexorably to high rates of death, disease, crime, and addiction.

Back to booze vs. pot. How do the effects of these two drugs stack up against specific health and public safety factors?

Alcohol-related traffic accidents claim approximately 14,000 lives each year, down significantly from 20 or 30 years ago (attributed to improved education and enforcement). Figures for THC-related traffic fatalities are elusive, especially since alcohol is almost always present in the blood as well, and since the numbers of "marijuana-only" traffic fatalities are so small. But evidence from studies, including laboratory simulations, feeds the stereotype that those under the influence of canniboids tend to (1) be more aware of their impaired psychomotor skills, and (2) drive well below the speed limit. Those under the influence of alcohol are much more likely to be clueless or defiant about their condition, and to speed up and drive recklessly.

Hundreds of alcohol overdose deaths occur annually. There has never been a single recorded marijuana OD fatality.

According to the American Public Health Association, excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of death in this country. APHA pegs the negative economic impact of extreme drinking at $150 billion a year.

There have been no documented cases of lung cancer in a marijuana-only smoker, nor has pot been scientifically linked to any type of cancer. (Don't trust an advocate's take on this? Try the fair and balanced coverage over at Fox.) Alcohol abuse contributes to a multitude of long-term negative health consequences, notably cirrhosis of the liver and a variety of cancers.

While a small quantity, taken daily, is being touted for its salutary health effects, alcohol is one of the worst drugs one can take for pain management, marijuana one of the best.

Alcohol contributes to acts of violence; marijuana reduces aggression. In approximately three million cases of reported violent crimes last year, the offender had been drinking. This is particularly true in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and date rape. Marijuana use, in and of itself, is absent from both crime reports and the scientific literature. There is simply no link to be made.

Over the past four years I've asked police officers throughout the U.S. (and in Canada) two questions. When's the last time you had to fight someone under the influence of marijuana? (I'm talking marijuana only, not pot plus a six-pack or a fifth of tequila.) My colleagues pause, they reflect. Their eyes widen as they realize that in their five or fifteen or thirty years on the job they have never had to fight a marijuana user. I then ask: When's the last time you had to fight a drunk? They look at their watches.

All of which begs the question. If one of these two drugs is implicated in dire health effects, high mortality rates, and physical violence--and the other is not--what are we to make of our nation's marijuana laws? Or alcohol laws, for that matter.

Anybody out there want to launch a campaign for the re-prohibition of alcohol? Didn't think so. The answer, of course, is responsible drinking. Marijuana smokers, for their part, have already shown (apart from that little matter known as the law) greater responsibility in their choice of drugs than those of us who choose alcohol.

Comment by James Cameron on April 10, 2009 at 10:26pm
I have to inform you to swim to Cuba if you can. Forget the cigars! They are not cigars but blunts! We have been lied too! I have spent the last few days with some great people smoking the best herb I have ever tasted. Americans really need to get their lying lower than whale shit politicians to let us in...NOW.
Comment by Talibangelist on April 8, 2009 at 8:42am
WOOOOHOOOO! 69th member of the group! Who's gonna be the 420th?
Comment by Mac Rex on March 7, 2009 at 3:55pm
Hay Lloyd LeRoi Miller, what you describe is a regular occurrence up here on Canada's British Columbia coast. Hell, there were many times, when I lived on Denman Island, on the BC coast, that we smoked Peace Pipes, bongs, joints, blunts and big Jamaican splifs, while dancing nude around a bonfire! Ahhhh, good times!
Comment by Rich Goss on March 6, 2009 at 8:32am
Lloyd, thanks for the compliment. Lester's interview clears up a lot of uncertainty that people worry about. The truth is there is no known diseases or symptomotogy caused by mj. Maybe pass the interview site on to friends of like mind. One lady on this site thought mj causes lung cancer—no way.

The reason I mention Carl Sagan is because Carl turned Lester on during a cruise ship trip a long time ago. As Dean of Harvard Medical School of Psychiatry, Lester was in a much better position to speak out. He did much research and wrote his first book on the subject, Marijuana Reconsidered in the early‘70s. I admire Lester for going against the system and doing what was right in spite of much ridicule and professional risk.

Lester and I had a laugh at Rudy Guiliani who once gave Lester a hard time. When Rudy was running for president, I mentioned to Lester that Rudy was in my class in high school in Brooklyn. I said Rudy was an autocratic, tight-ass, brown nose in high school and wouldn’t make a good chief of state. Lester then said that at a symposium in NYC on medical mj, Rudy didn’t know who Lester was and treated him like a screwball. (Rudy was a federal prosecutor at the time.) Lester said the he never met much an arrogant man in his life, and the only thing he knew about the subject was based on Reefer Madness.

Politicians have too much power over us, methinks,

Here’s the radio interview if anyone cares to listen.

Also, "Lester Grinspoon" has a few Youtube videos at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I just put one up on the “endmeme” which is one of the main themes of Mirror Reversal. Just search on endmeme. It’s an important subject because billions of people believing in the apocalypse are a threat to all life on the planet because of the risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Comment by Rich Goss on March 4, 2009 at 8:10am
Lloyd, Lester gave me the honor of being the first contributor to his new blog. I then wrote "Legalize Pot on Religous Grounds." I'll post it here since you enjoyed it. I wasn't sure if it was any good. Dr. Grinspoon liked it but he likes everything I write, so I can't be sure.

Once again, thanks for the kind words.

Rich aka Aristopus
Comment by Creature on March 3, 2009 at 8:38pm
I hope the cat peed in there.
Comment by Buffy on March 3, 2009 at 4:26pm
Grrr! People like him should be banned from having pets.
Comment by Yosef on February 26, 2009 at 10:33pm

Comment by Valis on February 24, 2009 at 3:13am
Excellent idea for a group :-) I'm surprised no-one has started it earlier. There is so much mis-information, woo and superstition out there about cannabis a community of critical thinkers like AN should be a good place to counter the myths. I do a lot of serious research about this and am amazed to still encounter the same old canards about this plant everywhere.

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