California Governor Jerry Brown had some surprising things to say about his State legalizing marijuana. And we had some surprising things to say back!
About the AuthorMichael is a journalist and filmmaker. His award-winning documentary, Sleeping with Siri is playing film festivals across the country. Stusser runs TechTimeout campaigns in high schools across the country, asking teenagers to give up their digital devices (for a little while) in order to find balance, and perhaps even make eye-contact with their parents.
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By Zoe — 4 years ago
(Courtesy of the Washington Post)
If there is one thing you can say about New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, it is that she knows her brand. Even when she has a bad high in Colorado and uses it as the peg for a column on the messy process of marijuana legalization, she does not lose sight of her Dowdisms. Dowd may have lost her mind via mis-dosage, but in writing about it, she stays on message by describing “my more mundane drugs of choice, chardonnay and mediocre-movies-on-demand,” blaming a girlish affinity for chocolate for her misfortune and confessing her stoned fascination with the green corduroy jeans she was wearing at the time.
But while it is easy to make fun of Dowd’s bad experience with edibles, when it comes to marijuana, there is a good point tangled up in her column. A majority of Americans may favor legalizing marijuana. But that does not mean that that everyone knows how to consume it in ways that are pleasurable and safe for them, or that avoid unpleasant side effects.
Most Americans learn to drink by a process of trial and error, conducted through well-established rituals and with social support. If marijuana is to be consumed in similar ways, a lot of new consumers will have to learn how to toke.
Take Dowd’s experience. She got much higher than she wanted to because she made the not-unreasonable assumption that a candy bar was a single serving, eating the whole thing in one go. “A medical consultant at an edibles plant where I was conducting an interview mentioned that candy bars like that are supposed to be cut into 16 pieces for novices,” Dowd explains that she finds out later. “That recommendation hadn’t been on the label.”
It is one thing for experienced consumers to scoff at Dowd’s lack of knowledge. But she is not going to be alone, and asking for labeling or instructions is not unreasonable. Similarly, new marijuana consumers may look to analogous delivery mechanisms and social rituals when they are smoking joints for the first time, and expect that they ought to treat joints exactly like cigarettes
When new marijuana consumers venture beyond products that look similar to ones they already know, they will have to figure out the answers to a number of questions.
New drinkers may know intellectually that beer, wine and liquor have different amounts of alcohol by volume. But they still have to figure out what they are comfortable drinking, and then determine the amounts they can drink and the rates at which they can drink it. The difference between passing out from keg stands and enjoying High West bourbon neat is a matter of education and socialization.
Smokers and eaters of edibles will have to learn the same things with different strains of and delivery systems for pot. How many hits can they take or brownies can they eat, depending on the bud or the clarified butter in question? How full should they pack the bowl of a pipe or the oven of a vaporizer? If their tolerance is higher than a single square of Dowd’s chocolate bar, how many is optimal? What is the difference in dosage between a nice vibe at a party and hiding in a corner to avoid displaying your incoherence and anxiety?
Americans long ago decided that tee-totaling isn’t the only alternative to being a sot. If the country is to determine that marijuana ought to be legal for recreational as well as medical use, we will need to find a model for marijuana consumption that differs from the motivation-sapped stoner or the deadly violence sometimes committed under the influence.
We figured out a way to regulate alcohol rather than banning it. And we developed a vision for classy, controlled alcohol consumption, even if we occasionally tweak that model in response to dismaying social developments like binge drinking. For Maureen Dowd’s dignity, and the rest of our sakes, we should do the same for marijuana.
By Zoe — 4 years ago
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.
The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.
We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.
There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.
We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.
But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.
The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.
There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.
There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.
Creating systems for regulating manufacture, sale and marketing will be complex. But those problems are solvable, and would have long been dealt with had we as a nation not clung to the decision to make marijuana production and use a federal crime.
In coming days, we will publish articles by members of the Editorial Board and supplementary material that will examine these questions. We invite readers to offer their ideas, and we will report back on their responses, pro and con.
We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.