Savages: Stone’s Stoner Film Reminds Us Why Marijuana Should Be Legal

With director Oliver Stone's penchant for unhinged narco-mayhem, Savages, based on Don Winslow's 2010 novel, is likely to illustrate why keeping weed illegal no longer makes legal, fiscal or even moral sense.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Universal Pictures

The new Oliver Stone stoner film, Savages, opens today, July 6. It’s based on Don Winslow’s 2010 novel, but I’ve noticed in reviews that John Travolta has a line about marijuana that isn’t in the book: “This stuff’ll be legal in three years,” he says. “Embrace the change.” It’s an apt update.

Travolta, mind you, doesn’t play some wishful-thinking pothead. His character is a corrupt federal anti-drug agent who, in the novel, seems burned out on the futile task of marijuana interdiction. He’s just as weary of watching the ghastly violence, both in Mexico and the U.S., that results from the illegal trafficking of a multi-billion-dollar drug that at least half of America now believes should be legal. Our largest cities appear to believe it too, including New York, where police have been told they should no longer arrest people found in possession of small amounts of pot; and Chicago, where last month the city council voted resoundingly to let cops give most marijuana violators tickets instead of handcuffs so they can focus on more important crime-fighting targets.

More: Read Richard Corliss’ review of Savages

Given Stone’s penchant for unhinged narco-mayhem, Savages is likely to illustrate, as the book did, why keeping weed illegal no longer makes legal, fiscal or even moral sense. Mexico’s powerful and vicious drug cartels – one of which is depicted in Savages as muscling in on a thriving clandestine pot business run by two buddies in California – earn more than $30 billion a year trafficking drugs into the U.S., and marijuana accounts for as much as half of that. Which means illicit cannabis cash is responsible in no small part for the more than 55,000 drug-related murders in Mexico since 2006, including the kind of macabre cartel massacres and beheadings that in Winslow’s story (if not necessarily in real life) seem poised to spill across the border.

Decriminalizing marijuana, a drug widely considered no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco when consumed moderately, is one sound way of depriving the traffickers of their revenue and the monstrous arsenals it buys. I don’t smoke the stuff myself, so I don’t have a dope dog in this fight; and I don’t support the legalization of harder, genuinely ravaging drugs like cocaine. But Savages is a useful pop-culture reminder of the absurd, Prohibition-style tragedy that conventional drug-war thinking on marijuana has brought us to. Criminalization too often means that production and sale are in the hands of quasi-degenerates like Winslow’s protagonists, Ben and Chon (OK, they help Third World kids; so did Pablo Escobar) or homicidal psychopaths like Elena and Lado, the Mexican cartel’s queen and her enforcer. Or weed-peddling street gangs in Chicago, where more people have been murdered this year than U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan.

More: Four Decades Later, It’s Time to Scrap the Dead-End Drug War

And that’s only a part of the mess we’ve created. More than half the drug arrests U.S. law enforcement makes each year are marijuana-related – and almost 90% of those are for mere possession, which in lock-em-up states like Florida can get you a year in jail for an amount as small as 20 grams, or less than an ounce. In the end, the country squanders an incredible $8 billion a year busting and incarcerating marijuana users – a figure that climbs to $14 billion when you include the tax revenue to be gained if marijuana sales were legal and regulated. (Little wonder that 300 economists, including three Nobel laureates, called this year for marijuana legalization.) At the same time, there’s a clear racial component to wrestle with: while African-Americans represent only 14% of U.S. marijuana users, they account for 31% of marijuana arrests.

Even though the Obama Administration and much of the rest of Washington are sticking to their marijuana demonization script – especially in an election year – much of the rest of the country is moving beyond the Nixonian drug-war mindset. Colorado and Washington have put the marijuana legalization question on their November ballots. In Oregon, pro-legalization candidate Ellen Rosenblum won the Democratic primary for state Attorney General. (So far she’s running unopposed in the general election.) And in the recent Texas primary, pro-legalization candidate and former El Paso City Councilman Beto O’Rourke defeated an eight-term congressman and is almost assured a November victory in his heavily Democratic district.

It’s also fitting (despite the awful Spanish in Winslow’s novel) that Savages opens just days after Mexico elected a new President, Enrique Peña Nieto. This week Peña echoed most of his Latin American counterparts when he told PBS, and indirectly the White House, that the drug war is “not working.” While Peña said he doesn’t favor legalizing drugs himself – even if he did, no Mexican President is likely to say so given the $1.5 billion in interdiction aid the U.S. is sending south of the border – he did call for a hemispheric debate on drug-war strategy that includes legalization. Many U.S. officials worry that Peña intends to go soft on drug trafficking, as his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) did in the 20th century when it last held Mexico’s presidency. He insists that isn’t true, although last month he told me that Mexico’s priority, more than reining in trafficking, “has to be reducing violence.” But the U.S. would do well to listen to Peña since the PRI isn’t as apt as his predecessor’s party to toe Washington’s drug war line.

Last month, Uruguay even proposed legalizing marijuana and making its government the drug’s sole seller. No one of course is suggesting the U.S. consider anything along those lines – that would be socialist. But if stories like Savages underscore anything, it’s that even government bureaucrats are preferable to ghastly butchers when it comes to dealing pot. It’s a change we’re ready to embrace.

137 comments
Pat Shane
Pat Shane

Estimates show that marijuana is America’s number one cash crop, making more money than corn and tobacco. However, marijuana remains untaxed. 

Over 500 of the nation’s top economic professors from prestigious schools such as Harvard, MIT, University of Chicago and George Mason University have shared their opinion in supporting the removing the prohibition and imposing the taxation and regulation of marijuana as a way to slow the federal deficit. 

Please join electedface.com and sign the petition at electedface.com supporting the taxation and regulation of marijuana. 

When you sign up for electedface members can even create their own groups and will automatically be connected to their state legislatures, allowing users to lobby their point of view in numbers. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Buds Roses
Buds Roses

You are a liar. No one would ever have sex with an animal or sell their own kid for cannabis. That is RIDICULOUS!!!! it isn't that valuable and it is widely available so why would anyone even consider that crazy shit!! sorry for my language but that is such BS. Even if they did those things there are laws against that and they should be arrested. 

Buds Roses
Buds Roses

17 states have legalized medical cannabis. It will be federally legal soon. There is no turning back. 17 states and the nations capital. They have already licensed 5 dispensaries and multiple grow licenses in Washington DC.

Buds Roses
Buds Roses

That is strange because Alcohol is legal and I would say that alcoholics are usually quite obnoxious. And according to the majority of the largest doctors and medical research organizations cannabis heals not harms, even when smoked :)

Buds Roses
Buds Roses

cigarettes are the number one killer at about half a million deaths a year in the US. Cannabis has never killed anyone in thousands of years of recorded use. So what would people be suing for?

Smoking may not be the best way to medicate but if the smoke causes any damage than that would just be considered a side effect, and probably the only one. Even dr Sanjay Gupta said that by vaporizing your cannabis you remove 100% of the health risk. You can also ingest it in an edible form. There are also very potent concentrated forms of cannabis that allow medication with very little smoke. Cannabis may have some things in common with pure tobacco but not with nasty, chemical ridden, cigarettes.

Buds Roses
Buds Roses

    In 2007, in Florida,  cocaine was responsible for 843 deaths, heroin for 121, methamphetamines for 25 and marijuana for zero, for a total of 989 deaths. In contrast, 2,328 people were killed by opioid painkillers, including Vicodin and Oxycontin, and 743 were killed by drugs containing benzodiazepine, including the depressants Valium and Xanax.    Alcohol directly caused 466 deaths, but was found in the bodies of 4,179 cadavers in all.Alcohol is responsible for about half of all highway deaths and half of all homicides. Not too mention assault, robbery, rape, child molestation etc..

Buds Roses
Buds Roses

If you want to see cannabis legal than you gotta vote for Obama again. I know he has been a bit of a pain to us but he is our only hope and i think he will come around. 

LuckyNucky
LuckyNucky

Let me think for a sec.. nah. I'm gonna let the King of Campaign Fodder get re-elected because Dopes want more dope? (This excludes Cancer patients, and the medically needed.)

Buds Roses
Buds Roses

Hey Sandra, thanks for your stance on legalization and speaking up! Please consider cannabis over any pharmaceutical if you have any medical issues. I encourage you to speak with your regular doctor about this and if they are not knowledgeable than seek out a doctor out that has some knowledge or specializes in medical cannabis. I only say this because even aspirin kills hundreds of people a year, every "drug" causes overdose, except Cannabis. I also noticed that you have tried cannabis before but it seems you did not enjoy it that much. That is very typical of many people to have a poor experience because there is a lot of bad cannabis in the world and it is due to the fact that it is illegal. So what many Americans have tried is harsh, stinky, moldy, old, ridden with chemicals etc.. Also because of cannabis being illegal there has been very little choice on what kinds are available. We know from the legal dispensary model in California that all patients have different needs for different issues at different times of the day. Patients need selection. So if you have no choice you may only get to try low quality kinds that don't work for what you need. On the flip side many people try medical grade cannabis and they find it way to potent. This again is because it is illegal and cannabis has only been bred to have high thc and now because of the studies allowed and testing and growth of the movement we are finally  breeding cannabis that is low in THC and high in other medical cannabinoids like CBD that have little psychoactive effects. We actually just won 3rd place at The HIGH TIMES Medical Cannabis Cup in Northern California for highest CBD strain... and we grew it VEGANICALLY :)

Buds Roses
Buds Roses

        I don't think using cannabis responsibly puts anyone in a "drug induced stupor", it is actually the fact that most patients want to get off pharmaceuticals that put them in a drug induced stupor and use cannabis that helps them but allows them to function. Also, Americans use substances all day every day to "deal"/because they enjoy it. No one should be put in jail for "altering their own conciseness". Caffeine is used to "deal" just like alcohol, cigarettes, sugar, recreational activities, many of them dangerous and can kill you, sexual climax,  bodybuilding, runners high(that can destroy your body) etc...

Buds Roses
Buds Roses

Did you know some key terpenoid in cannabis is also found in hops? Myrcene is the name. What scientist are learning about terpenes and the role they play in medical cannabis is fascinating.

Diana Maras
Diana Maras

I would be shocked if they ever legalized weed. Doesn't this country have a history of being in cahoots with drug cartels all over the world? Think they're really going to harm their partners in crime for a few stupid votes they'd get anyway from the morons in this country?

Aristeo Velarde
Aristeo Velarde

 

Do you even know? More than a thousand videos showing

vote fraud in Mexico. Peña Nieto, the virtual president denies it all! He

simply says, “My opponents set this whole massive thing up, the videos, the

lost ballots, the missingballot-boxes, the Soriana cards (prepaid cars in the

amounts of $100, 500, 1000 pesos), all made up”

 

Media bought, cops bought, priistas (equivalent to US republicans)

bullying anyone trying to vote, cops stopping people from voting, bulling of

people who don’t agree with the results, you get the picture (W. Bush vs All Gore,

Florida like stage in all Mexican states)!

 

See for yourselves, the videos allegedly made by

opponents (some, by trusted media outside México), but Enrique Peña Nieto

insists “all made up”.

 

These are the few videos made for English speakers,

all videos created in just a few days. Pena says: “Actors hired” to make

Enrique Peña (virtual president) look bad? Can someone orchestrate all of it in

a few days, all over Mexican states? You be the judge:

 

1.                

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

 

2.                

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

  

 

The videos below are all in Spanish, but you don’ have

to speak Spanish to understand Spanish, just keep this in mind, the first shows

a congresswoman fully identified talking and explaining that the cards were to

incentivize their vote for the PRI. The opponents had already warned the IFE, official

governmental organization which organizes the elections, about it since February

this year :

 

 

3.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

 

In these other video, the cards shown are the cards (1800,

000); !they exist! Not false as he claims when he speaks in press conferences:

 

4.         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

 

 

 

5.         Some

of the PRI members are, either very stupid or ignorant; or somebody told them do

whatever it takes to win, you won’t get in trouble; we have everyone in our

pockets. One member of his staff, fully identified, made a video giving away steak,

a stove, or money for votes:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

6.         And this

one shows the places set up under false pretenses such as, free health

checkups, free dental work, etc. You can see not only how they hand over money

(500 pesos bills) for votes, easy to understand, every one fully identified:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

 

I’d like to hear your comments, after all México is your

neighbor. You should know what they are all about!

 

If you speak Spanish and still don’t believe after

seeing the videos, is evident that you are either a moron or un pendejo

arrastrado. Remember! Thousands of videos have been steadily coming out since,

and before the election started. 

Distantsmoke
Distantsmoke

I love that liberals want to criminalize soda, transfats ( anyone remember what theater popcorn used to taste like), twinkies and anything else that doesn't taste like cat pissed cardboard, but mind altering chemicals should be legal. And no I'm not fat, in fact my nickname is Toothpick. But because some people can't control themselves when eating liberals want to outlaw anything that might make anyone fat. I wonder what they will do after they've finally legalized marijuana, LSD, cocaine and all the other liberal pharmacopeia, and they discover that there are still people who can't control their desires? Will they then find themselves thinking about criminalizes their favorite drugs?

Roger_Murdock
Roger_Murdock

Let me guess. You're a self-described "conservative" who believes that we should continue the complete criminal prohibition of cannabis? But you'd consider a mere tax on soda to be an outrageous "big-government violation of individual liberty" and a textbook example of the "nanny-state" run amok?  (For the record, I oppose both cannabis prohibition and soda taxes.) But frankly, sugar has been responsible for  many more deaths than cannabis has.  (There are an estimated 300,000 obesity-related deaths in America each year.  Annual deaths from cannabis? Zero.)  The problem with your argument and most such left / right "hypocrisy" arguments is that they're a two-way street.  If "liberals" are hypocrites when it comes to individual liberty, so are many "conservatives." My suggestion is to drop the "Red Team" blinders and try thinking for yourself.  BTW, I wrote a comment below explaining why cannabis prohibition is anything but conservative. I'd be interested in hearing your reaction.

Distantsmoke
Distantsmoke

1. Transfats weren't taxed, they were banned and theater popcorn became tasteless crap.

2. Bloomberg (NYC) isn't talking about a tax on soda, he wants to ban sodas that he thinks are too large for one person to drink. That is criminalization of soda.

And yes, I do believe in the complete criminalization of cannabis. Apparently disagreeing with YOU earns me your scorn. By all means let us not discuss why we believe in different solutions. Much better to verbally kick someone in the teeth when they disagree with you.

Liberals are such a$$holes.

RobinDouglas
RobinDouglas

And it made better rope, which is one of thereasons it was made illegal. Companies like DuPont were starting to market synthetic fibers and knew they couldn't compete with hemp, so they got the government to go on a propaganda campaign to target the smoking kind of cannabis, and get it ALL made illegal.

It never had anything to do with marijuana being harmful (which it is not).

RobinDouglas
RobinDouglas

"...a drug widely considered no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco when consumed moderately..."Incorrect. Marijuana is not harmful at all. NO ONE has ever died from using it. No one. Ever. You cannot say that about cigarettes or alcohol. 

So your sentence should have read that marijuana is less harmful than cigarettes, alcohol or prescription drugs, which together kill millions each year.

Of course, even though this is an article that sheds light on the probem, I can see where a large media outlet  might be afraid of the real truth.

Malcolm Kyle
Malcolm Kyle

Prohibitionists dance hand in hand with every possible type of criminal one can imagine.

An unholy alliance of ignorance, greed and hate which works to destroy all our hard fought freedoms, wealth and security.

We will always have adults who are too immature to responsibly deal with tobacco alcohol, heroin amphetamines, cocaine, various prescription drugs and even food. Our answer to them should always be: "Get a Nanny, and stop turning the government into one for the rest of us!"

Many of use want to see an end to prohibition, but not necessarily because we want to use drugs (they are already available to us 24/7 on practically every street corner). No, we wish to see proper legalized regulation because we are witnessing, on a daily basis, the dangers and futility of prohibition. 'Legalized Regulation' won't be the complete answer to all our drug problems, but it'll greatly ameliorate the crime and violence on our streets, and only then can we provide effective education and treatment.

The whole nonsense of 'a disaster will happen if we end prohibition' sentiment sums up the delusional 'chicken little' stance of those who foolishly insist on continuing down this blind alley. As if a disaster isn’t already happening? As if prohibition has ever worked?

iamhe
iamhe

when legalized the inner city economy will crash....

Roger_Murdock
Roger_Murdock

As a conservative-leaning libertarian, I wish more “conservatives” would wake up to the fact that there is NOTHING conservative about cannabis prohibition. Conservatives are supposed to believe in principles like limited government, individual liberty, respect for the 10th Amendment, and opposition to the "nanny-state."  Conservatives are supposed to be committed to ending hugely-expensive government programs with a proven track record of failure. It’s pretty hard to square any of those with support for the war on (some) drugs. It’s painfully clear that most “conservative” opposition to drug policy reform stems from the misguided belief that this is a “liberal” issue (and should therefore be reflexively opposed). It’s not. The drug war has been a bipartisan disaster. There’s also an extremely tired “culture war” aspect to conservative opposition. “But only ‘hippies’ and leftists like pot.” Um… no, that’s simply not true. And even if cannabis (or any other drug) is disproportionately enjoyed by “liberals,” THAT’S NOT A PRINCIPLED REASON FOR CRIMINALIZING IT! It's also a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. "Conservatives" might get a larger share of the "stoner" vote if the former group weren't so eager to arrest and incarcerate the latter.

Opponents of reform like to say that “marijuana isn’t harmless.” Of course, very few things in this world are (and non-toxic, non-violence-promoting cannabis is clearly LESS harmful than legal booze). But more importantly, that’s not the question. The question is not even whether the benefits of cannabis outweigh its risks. The question is who decides in a free society: adult citizens for themselves or politicians for all of us? The question is should we continue to spend billions we don’t have (and forego billions more in lost tax revenue) on an unwinnable and increasingly unpopular war, a war that only empowers and enriches organized crime, fuels gang violence, promotes official corruption, undermines respect for the law, turns millions of ordinary Americans into “criminals,” and drives a huge wedge between police and the communities they're supposed to "serve and protect"? The question is should we be sending men with guns to arrest our fellow citizens and lock them in cages for the “crime” of possessing a plant (or engaging in consensual exchanges for its sale)? This madness can’t end soon enough.

And if that appeal to principle doesn't sway you, consider this political reality. Support for maintaining the idiocy of cannabis prohibition is CRUMBLING. Run a Google image search for “cannabis Gallup poll” and look at the trendline. In 1969 (the year polling began), only 12% of Americans wanted to legalize pot. In the mid-90s that number had crept up to 24%. Last year, support for reform hit 50% and it continues to grow FAST. (The Internet era has not been kind to the drug warriors and their propaganda.) An even more recent Rasmussen poll from a few weeks ago showed 56% support for re-legalizing cannabis with only 36% opposed.  Support for reform also gets stronger the younger the demographic (support goes from a low of 31% among those 65+ to a high of 62% among 18-29 year-olds). It’s all over but the shouting at this point. I don’t know if it will happen this year, next year, or 5 years from now, but it WILL happen. Let's get it over with already and put this shameful chapter in our country's history behind us.

Bryan Schneller
Bryan Schneller

Excellent post, this is an enlightening perspective on the political and cultural aspects of why so many people want this substance to be illegal. The anti-pot citizens simply don't realize that pot is not a life-ruining drug like meth and crack and heroin, because they've had that misinformation drilled into their heads directly and subtly (the media) all their lives. Examples of subtle anti-pot messages: the severe way that many news anchors tend to articulate the word "marijuana" as if it's a terrible thing to even be speaking of; and the way that the media dubs that k2 crap "synthetic cannabis" when it clearly has no more to do with cannabis than with broccoli. When a headline reads "three men sent to hospital after smoking synthetic pot", that reinforces the negative perceptions by anti-pot people who aren't actually familiar with the issue.

 

The science, the economics, the sociology, they all speak for themselves. The trick is finding a platform to parsimoniously communicate the realities of the issue so that purveyors of the baseless, thoughtless, hearsay arguments against pot have no place to run for cover. It's simple, if the American public is capable of participating in a democratic society, there is no way they will allow the Newt Gingriches and Michele Leonharts of the world to continue denying efficacious medicine to terminally ill patients by threat of jail, taking children from their parents, denying financial aid to aspiring students, stealing private property, and destroying the rights to life, liberty, and independence over their political opposition to a safe substance that many intelligent people WANT to use. You said it, it's the internet age and you simply cannot lie to the American people for your profiteering, bs government job creation purposes anymore. There is a clear difference between pragmatism and pseudoscience, and the aggressively dismissive reaction so many politicians have to the subject screams "I'm actively insisting on something I know is not true so I'm worried that you're refuting it!"

One day we will be explaining to our children why/how the American government once took rational everyday American adults and children as political prisoners and smashed their lives for using an excellent medicinal and recreational substance that grows naturally. I have a great lack of respect for most of our "leaders" and this issue is like a window into the workings of their corruption and non-leadership... and I have little respect for any police officer who has willingly partaken in a bust for cannabis alone. There is no acceptable reason to take commands thoughtlessly or to put your job before basic human morals, ever.

It'll happen soon but until then, at least pot is extremely ubiquitous.

Ken Ferguson
Ken Ferguson

Thank you for an excellent, well thought out post. 

revraygreen
revraygreen

I am on this earth to see that cannabis is legalized for all man......and no more prison sentences or arrest.....

Your 2 Cents’ Worth: Sunday, July 1, 2012 – When cannabis is destroyed by the police, they are destroying the work/creation of the God they so profess eternal love for. When Christ helped the blind see it was cannabis, when he helped the crippled walk it was cannabis. It was the first medicine. The first sail on the first ship was cannabis.— South Side Reverend

http://www.dmlive.tv/press/gre...

TheMokoda
TheMokoda

I used to be (USED to be) both a user and dealer of marijuana, and I think you have to offset the points made in this article and in a MOVIE with the reality of the end drug user.  If you all could see what I have seen, you would not be so quick to want this stuff legalized for 'getting high'. Medical/industrial use? Okay, I will acknowledge the benefits in those areas, but I have literally known many people willing to do some very inhuman things (I'm talking sex with animals and even selling their own kids), not for 'hard' drugs, but for pot. Seriously. Not that those situations are at all common (in fact they are the very extremes), but that potential exists for every person who makes the decision to 'fire one up'. 

Then again, 55,000 people horrifically murdered for a drug that, were it legal, half of them might not have been, is a pretty strong case too, hard to ignore. The problem is, if we legalize it for medicinal/industrial use, and try to 'control' it, we will have done nothing; there will still be an illicit trade in marijuana for recreational use. If on the other hand we make it legal for such recreational use, anyone who knows anything about it knows it would not be easy for most people to only use it 'moderately', whatever that even means.

The reason the "War on Drugs" has failed is because we fail to address the REASONS people do recreational drugs. Take that away, and the dealers and cartels have no one to sell it to! As long as people want to use, and are willing to pay for it, there will be people willing to take the risk to provide illegal drugs. So, until we have addressed the problems that are driving usage, legalizing yet another mood-and-mind-altering substance, no matter how relatively 'harmless' it may be, would be stupid and irresponsible.

Phil DeBowl
Phil DeBowl

If people could grow their own they wouldn't have to sell anything to get their MerryWanna. The notion that government is supposed to "control" what we ingest is assinine,and doomed to fail just as we are seeing. Legalization can't come fast enough.

TheMokoda
TheMokoda

Yeah, that’s a pretty good point, but I think we have to be careful when we condemn the idea of government ‘controlling’ things. There comes a point at which you have to draw a line. Suppose we had no government controls over anything. Should it be allowable to give a 3-year old a shot of bourbon so he’ll quit being fussy and go to sleep? I realize that’s very extreme, but the point is, there has t be some measure of control, otherwise we’d have anarchy. The argument is, HOW MUCH control should we give the government? My personal belief is that marijuana should not be made legal, but if it is, it should be strictly controlled. I understand and respect that you have a different opinion, but it’s one that I am unable to agree with.

wm97
wm97

Glad to hear that you think the world would have been greatly improved if you had been sent to prison for a good, long stretch. Improve the world and turn yourself in for your past crimes right now.

The people you describe must be the "very extremes" because I have met tens of thousands of pot smokers and never seen anyone that looney. But that's beside the point. It is pretty obvious that pot doesn't make people crave sex with animals or sell their kids. If anyone does do that, then you don't need a drug law to arrest them, do you?

As for the 55,000 dead, we know exactly when that problem started, and we know exactly why. The year was 1914, and the cause was the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act. Within a few months of its passage, medical societies across the nation were publishing editorials blasting the law as a medical, criminal, moral, and social disaster.  You can read all about it in the first few chapters of Licit and Illicit Drugs at http://druglibrary.org/schaffe...  This is the same sort of thing that happened when they passed alcohol prohibition - a huge increase in violent crime. You can read about what alcohol prohibition did at http://druglibrary.org/prohibi...

BTW, none of the things you mentioned had anything to do with the marijuana laws. Marijuana was outlawed for two major reasons. The first was because "All Mexicans are crazy and marijuana is what makes them crazy." The second was the fear that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana - exactly the opposite of the modern "gateway" idea.

Only one doctor testified at the hearings for the Marihuana  Tax Act of 1937. The representative of the American Medical Association said there was no evidence that marijuana was a dangerous drug and no reason for the law. He pointed out that it was used in hundreds of common medicines with no significant problems. In response, the committee told him that, if he wasn't going to cooperate, he should shut up and leave.

The only other "expert" to testify was James C. Munch. His sole claim to fame was that he had injected marijuana directly into the brains of 300 dogs and two of them died. When they asked him what he concluded from this, he said he didn't know what to conclude because he wasn't a dog psychologist. He also testified in court, under oath, that marijuana would make your incisors grow six inches long and drip with blood (like a rabid Bugs Bunny). He also said that, when he tried it, it turned him into a bat. He then described how he flew around the room for two hours.

Mr. Munch was the only "expert" in the US who thought mj should be illegal so he was appointed US Official Expert on marijuana, where he served for 25 years.

In short, the laws were absolute lunacy passed by lunatics. Congress didn't even know what the law was about. You can read more about it in the short history of the marijuana laws at http://druglibrary.org/schaffe...

And, just in case you were interested, yes, this idea of legalization has been studied before. In fact, there have been numerous major government commissions around the world over the last 100 years that studied the subject. They all concluded that the marijuana laws were based on ignorance and nonsense. They all concluded that the marijuana laws do more harm than good, no matter what you think of the dangers of marijuana. You don't have to take my word for that. You can read them yourself at http://druglibrary.org/schaffe... under Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy.

TheMokoda
TheMokoda

I’m sorry, but I’m just not willing to read through such a long diatribe and try earnestly to get your point, and you wouldn’t convince me to change my position anyway so I saw no point in trying to absorb it all. An abundance of words does not a valid argument make! Nor does sarcasm.

Now, you have stated something that I neither said nor meant regarding my going to prison. I made that statement in order to provide background of my personal experience with marijuana. Had I gotten caught, I should have gone to prison, but I didn’t, and it would be stupid for me to turn myself in now for something I no longer do, and I’m not that stupid. Your point on that is therefore ignorant and although I realize you were trying to be sarcastic, the point is simply not well taken.

Also, I am in no position to KNOW that you have not met 10’s of thousands of people and actually know them well enough to assess their character, but unfortunately, I just don’t believe you are telling the truth on that. I did state quite clearly that those examples I gave were VERY EXTREME (perhaps you don’t know what that means) but that the POTENTIAL for such extremes does exist for EVERY person who uses that or any drug. The chance may be very, very low, but it does exist.

Emerald Laughter
Emerald Laughter

Some people can't handle Freedom, should those who can be penalized for the actions of the stupid, irresponsible, and wicked?  I think not.  Alcohol does 100 times the damage and it legal, because Prohibition does not work.  You can not legislate morality.

TheMokoda
TheMokoda

Well, at least this comment is a bit more civil that your response to my other comment. While I agree with your basic point, when you generalize that without taking into account the inevitable bad side, it’s irresponsible. Such concepts should never be the basis for legislation. It’s not about legislating morality (which you’re right, can’t be done) but we can, and should, legislate peoples’ ability to negatively affect others through their poor choices, and more often than not, using ANY drug is a poor choice.

TheMokoda
TheMokoda

First of all “I” am not prohibiting anything, and second, I get your point, but I don’t see protecting others from my (or others’) poor choices as a moral judgment, but I can understand how someone might see it that way. I just don’t.

Phil DeBowl
Phil DeBowl

Sure it's about legislating morality. When you say it is mearly about protecting "others" from some nebulous harm resulting from another persons "poor" choice you are making a moral judgement. Are you for prohibiting alcohol also?

LuckyNucky
LuckyNucky

 Makes no sense to give money away while this Country continues to tax everything to death. Here is an opportunity to establish a new direction by discarding Nixon's failed War on Drugs Policy, but they would prefer spending the money to enforce a law the majority of Americans don't want. I ask the Obama Administration why?

TheMokoda
TheMokoda

"I ask the Obama Administration why?"

No you're not. You asking commenters on a forum why.

sfsocla
sfsocla

I don't even smoke weed and I don't understand why it isn't legal. It is ridiculous to lock people up for smoking pot. It is less harmful than booze or cigs.