The Great Marijuana Debate

A few minutes ago, I posted this tweet:

Ok. Gymmed, showered, groceried. What now? Cigar and blog? Beer and TV?

I got a couple good-natured responses. This was one of them:

neither, cigar + weed mixed together until a blunt is created. Light, toke and enjoy

Then I said:

Ha. Those days are long behind me.

Then, what started out as a reminiscent missive became the debate to end all debates when his reply came:

its funny, ppl quit smoking weed but keep drinking. If you do research you will find weed is much MUCH safer and better for you

(I left the person that I spoke with anonymous only because I don’t know how he feels about being talked about publicly.  They are more than welcome to comment and take credit for their thoughts, but I want that to be their choice, not mine.)

I’ll spare you all the rest of the back and forth, but I feel like my stance on alcohol versus marijuana is both clear and correct. The biggest difference between the two substances is legality. That’s it. I don’t smoke marijuana because it is illegal.

When you dissect the arguments for legalizing marijuana, most of them are sound. In fact, this is a big in fact, I agree that enough firm precedent exists in this country to legalize marijuana in the relatively near future. AND I’M OK WITH THAT. My argument against marijuana isn’t a fundamental one, it’s a practical one.

Look, I’m no angel. There may be a time place when I have to defend a loved one or make any number of snap judgement calls that could potentially land me in a bit of hot water, but those scenarios would all be dictated by instincts. Whether or not to buy a bag and smoke a bowl, even if I just sit on my patio without bothering anyone, isn’t instinctive. It’s a long-term thought process with multiple steps.

The go to argument for most when discussing the legality of marijuana is that weed is safer and better for you than alcohol. My response to that argument is, “So what?”. Alcohol being legal HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MARIJUANA BEING ILLEGAL. Its a sad commentary on the state of your logic if the first thing you say when confronted with reality is “but its better than beer!”.

Really, though, most of the people the fight the hardest to legalize marijuana do the cause the most harm. Arguing marijuana against alcohol is a lost cause. Beer, and by virtue of ingredient, alcohol, is ingrained in our culture. Right or wrong, that’s an undeniable fact. Beer ads in national magazines, on TV all afternoon and evening, during every sporting event worldwide… no one is ever going to beat beer.

But, the pro-marijuana person says, drinking and driving kills people and ruins lives! Smoking weed just makes you lazy for an hour.

Agreed. Drinking and driving is high on the list of most unforgivable, irresponsible things that a person can do. Drinking and driving is MUCH worse than smoking a bowl while you watch the Indians game tonight. There is only one thing that drinking and driving has in common with smoking weed; they’re both illegal.

There’s where the argument derails. The pro-marijuana majority doesn’t take into account that it’s just as illegal for me to cause a scene in public whether I’m drunk from alcohol, high from weed or even sober and just being an asshole. Same ticket, same fine, same opportunity for me to be a dick to the police and end up spending a night on a very uncomfortable bench. It’s not the substance that gets me into trouble, it’s the behavior.

I’ve finished a Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA in the process of writing this post. Just one. It hasn’t hurt my liver, because I don’t overload my liver to the point of adverse effects. I’m not drunk, but I realize that scientifically, this 9% alcohol by volume ale is enough to cause slight impairments to my reaction times. I’m a responsible drinker, who’s sitting on my patio futzing around with my blog.

Its apples to oranges to compare a person who responsibly uses marijuana to an alcoholic that regularly drives drunk. That’s no different from comparing a person who responsibly uses marijuana to a career thief, or mugger, or much worse. Those are behaviors, not substances.

I’m the person that the pro-marijuana people profess to be, just with a different substance. And that’s fine. Personally, I have no problem with someone doing what I’m doing right now, just with a bowl instead of a bottle, but it’s not legal. That’s why I’m not doing it, and its also why I have no sympathy for those who have created trouble for themselves by using or selling marijuana.

A person can do dumb things and hurt themselves and others drunk, they can do dumb things that hurt themselves and others high, and a person can do those same dumb things sober. Believe me, I’ve done them all in each state of mind. I know plenty of people who have smoked marijuana that have led good lives. No criminal issues, no broken marriages, no abusive parenting. I also know people who smoke weed that are no good thieves that routinely beat up their girlfriends and end up in jail. Guess what. I know people in both of those groups that smoke weed, drink beer and who do neither. Being a bad husband or parent isn’t a substance, it’s a person. If the government re-enacted prohibition tomorrow, and I had a beer on my patio, I’d be the same fundamental person that I am right now. If, with the same legislative stroke the government made marijuana legal and I smoke a bowl, I’d still be the same man. No abusing either substance, I wouldn’t run my car into a family of four and I wouldn’t ruin my relationship.

I have friends and family members that were ruined because of an addiction to marijuana and I have many friends that were ruined by addiction to alcohol. I blame neither substance, I blame the sad fact that those I care about let those substances control them. Its their fault, regardless of which one is legal.

I believe in personal accountability, so I’m actually for the legalization of marijuana with the same controls and stipulations that surround alcohol. But today?  Its illegal, so I’m drinking a beer.



Filed under Civic Duty, My Opinion

11 responses to “The Great Marijuana Debate

  1. Anon

    i like what you have to say on this and i will put together an intelligent response. Putting it simply and quickly for now, comparing the legality of drinking and weed is not me saying that drinking should be outlawed. I am saying if thats okay then clearly this should be.

    I love to smoke pot and i will probably never stop, however should i be ticketed for my passtime of choice, i dont bitch as i am well aware of the consequences of my choices, i go to court and i pay my 50 dollar fine. Its no different then when i get a speeding ticket, i knew i was breaking the law but i am comfortable with the consequences.

    • You’re missing he point again. The only argument that is going to hold any water in congress is an argument that DOESN’T MENTION ALCOHOL AT ALL. Saying that alcohol is legal, so marijuana should be also is pointless. The argument for marijuana needs to be completely independent of alcohol.

    • I do give you credit for acknowledging the consequences of your actions, though. At least you’re not a whiny “OMG, this ticket is unfair because weed should totally be legal.” person. That counts for a lot.

  2. Ray

    Josh, I happen to know that you’ve never been much of a pot smoker, younger days or not, so I’m somewhat surprised that you’ve decided to chime in on this subject. I clearly recall ten years ago your smoking pot days were (at least largely) behind you. I like that you’ve chose to base your argument strictly on legality. That’s a choice many pot haters will not take, instead pointing out the negative effects which are pretty slim. I, like you, respect the law, but I am more drawn to Marijuana than Alcohol, possibly from growing up under the care of a hateful, raging drunk. That’ll do it for you I suppose. I can’t possibly see how anyone would defend alcohol when the two are compared, but that can be a nurture vs nature thing. I’m not saying Pot should be legal, just that there’s no way alcohol should.

  3. Ray

    Tobacco was also ingrained in our culture, some would say Cotton and Tobacco built this country, however as more and more information comes out the Tareyton ads have disappeared and the truth commission comes in with their inane, self-righteous garbage. If Smoking tobacco got you high, though, you’d see a lot more people fighting a lot harder to save it. The end of this argument to me, is that people want to get fucked up. Alcohol is the most ‘socially acceptable’ way. Let’s not gild the lily though, Alcohol is dirty, low and habit forming. No better than heroin. Except someone has deemed it legal.

    • You’re right that I don’t have much negative to say about pot, especially when compared to other drugs, alcohol included.

      As far as saying alcohol should be illegal, in that case, marijuana should remain illegal along with anything else that can affect your thoughts or actions. Arguing that one kind of fucked up is better than another kind of fucked up is lazy and unrealistic. You can’t compare a person that smokes a bowl twice a week quietly at home (the same way I have a couple of beers every now and again) to a raging alcoholic. You know as well as I do that pot can take over lives.

      And why are you surprised? Most of us haven’t been politicians, but we constantly complain about the government, right?

  4. Anon

    I am going to keep this short and sweet because i have a joint to smoke.

    Frankly, it doesnt matter if weed is legal or not, i am going to smoke it.

    i dont have the money, time or desire to try to get congress to change thier views on pot, so i dont need to put together a good argument on why it should be legalized.

    The fact is, if your out at the bar and leave to drive home and get pulled over, you are prolly failing a breath-a-lyzer. Not because you drank to much or were being irresponsible, but because you got pulled over for your taillight being out

    Legal or not, i believe every adult in america should be smoking weed

    my dad drank when i was a kid, not much but a few beers or mixed drinks every night, he ended dying from scerois (or whatever the word is) of the liver. It was a terrible death painful and slow.

    I have never been so high i have made a poor choice, being high doesnt impair my abiltiy to drive or my overall health. I have never gotten so high i have puked. I have never been so high i slept with an ugly girl or my friends mom, i have never “blacked out” from a hard night of smoking

    The thing about drinking is it can get away from you, even if you are an experienced drinker, one drink to many and suddenly you cant stand up any more. You may think you know your limits but if you didnt eat you get drunk faster, if its to hot you get drunk faster, if you dont have enough water in you then you get drunk faster. there are variables with drinking that frankly dont exist with weed. Just put the lighter to the joint and smoke it
    and NO MATTER WHAT you are going to be under control but significantly more chill, you cant have a weedover or get to high. its just not possible (as my mom would say) on the weed

    Also have you ever drank when your mad? it only hightens the feelings of anger, betrayal or loneliness. You ever notice that when people kill themselves they dont have a fresh smoked joint roach next to them and some papers? Nope its a bottle of booz and some pills

    Pot was made illegal through a hardcore propaganda machine thatincluded adds where a child killed his mom with a frying pan after smoking pot.

    it has remained illegal primarily because its a good money maker for the local governments.

    as far as why i am not in politics, i dont have the funds or know how nor do i pretend to have them


  5. Anon

    sir again you are missing the point

    look back at your entire life, have you ever thrown up from drinking?

    Have you ever driven when you probably shouldnt have?

    Have you gotten more drunk then you originally intended?

    If your not lying the answer is yes to at least one of the above.

    so that means, even w/ you a responsible drinker, it can get awayfrom you.

    in closing, if i had a choice between my children never drinking but smoking pot thier entire life or never smoking pot and drinknig forever.

    I know which one i’m choosing

    • If you’ve never driven high or smoked so much that you’ve done stupid shit, you’re either lying to yourself or you’re the only person I’ve ever met like that.

      And again, why is pot ok? Without mentioning any other substance.

    • Also, since I’m pretty sure that you can read, I assume you saw that I said I think marijuana should be legal. Right?

      I also said that the majority of users did the most damage to the movement to be legalized. Welcome to the majority.

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