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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Heritage Foundation FAIL

The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank that publishes papers on various public issues. Recently, they published an article in which the opposed legalization of marijuana. I'm pro-legalization, but I figure I'd give them the benefit of the doubt and read the article.

I had hoped there might be some newer arguments or evidence proffered, but it was the same ol' blizzard of bullshit I've seen countless times before. Here are few excerpts with my comments:

Legalization advocates claim that marijuana and alcohol are mild intoxicants and so should be regulated similarly; but as the experience of nearly every culture, over the thousands of years of human history, demonstrates, alcohol is different. Nearly every culture has its own alcoholic preparations, and nearly all have successfully regulated alcohol consumption through cultural norms. The same cannot be said of marijuana. There are several possible explanations for alcohol’s unique status: For most people, it is not addictive; it is rarely consumed to the point of intoxication; low-level consumption is consistent with most manual and intellectual tasks; it has several positive health benefits; and it is formed by the fermentation of many common substances and easily metabolized by the body.

Alcohol is rarely consumed to the point of intoxication? Has this guy ever been on a college campus?

Marijuana advocates often point to the Netherlands as a well-functioning society with a relaxed attitude toward drugs, but they rarely mention that Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most violent cities. In Amsterdam, officials are in the process of closing marijuana dispensaries, or “coffee shops,” because of the crime associated with their operation.[26] Furthermore, the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has expressed “concern about drug and alcohol use among young people and the social consequences, which range from poor school performance and truancy to serious impairment, including brain damage.”[27]

How about we compare the US to the Netherlands?

Lifetime prevalence of marijuana use among those 12+:
US- 36.9%
Netherlands- 17%
Lifetime prevalence of heroin use among those 12+:
US- 1.4%
Netherlands- 0.4%
Per capita spending on criminal justice:
US- €379
Netherlands- €223
Incarceration rate per 100,000:
US- 701
Netherlands- 100
Homicide rate per 100,000:
US- 5.56
Netherlands- 1.51

So, in the Netherlands, where marijuana has been decriminalized to a large degree, the rate of marijuana use is lower, the rate of heroin use is lower, they spend less money on locking people up, they have fewer people in prison, and a much lower murder rate.

From this, we can see that:

1) Decriminalizing marijuana did not lead to a surge in use

2) The "gateway drug" argument is bullshit (use rates of other drugs are lower in the Netherlands)

3) Decriminalizing marijuana did not lead to a surge in crime.

Which country do you think has better drug policy?


The lack of FDA approval means that marijuana may come from unknown sources, may be adulterated with foreign substances, or may not even be marijuana at all. Pot buyers have no way to know what they are getting, and there is no regulatory authority with the ability to go after bogus manufacturers and dealers. Even if one overlooks its inherently harmful properties, marijuana that is commonly sold is likely to be far less safe than that studied in the lab or elsewhere.

All excellent reasons for it to be legal.

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