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A Tale of Two Supermen—and Their Drugs

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Posted on Oct 22, 2009

By David Sirota

For better or worse, our American Idiocracy has come to rely on athletes as national pedagogues. Michael Jordan educated the country about commitment and just doing it. A.C. Green lectured us about sexual caution. Serena Williams and John McEnroe taught us what sportsmanship is—and is not. And Charles Barkley outlined how society should define role models.

So when a single week like this one sees both the Justice Department back states’ medical marijuana laws and a Gallup poll show record-level support for pot legalization, we can look to two superjocks—Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps—for the key lesson about our absurd drug policy.

This Tale of Two Supermen began in February when Phelps, the gold-medal swimmer, was plastered all over national newspapers in a photo that showed him hitting a marijuana bong. Though he was smoking in private, the image ignited a public firestorm. USA Swimming suspended Phelps, Kellogg pulled its endorsement deal and The Associated Press sensationalized the incident as a national issue about whether heroes should “be perfect or flawed.”

The alleged imperfection was Phelps’ decision to quietly consume a substance that “poses a much less serious public health problem than is currently posed by alcohol,” as a redacted World Health Organization report admits. That’s a finding confirmed by almost every objective science-based analysis, including a landmark University of California study in 2006 showing “no association at all” between marijuana use and cancer.

Alcohol, by contrast, causes roughly 1 in 30 of the world’s cancer cases, according to the International Journal of Cancer. And a new report by the Cancer Epidemiology journal shows that even beer, seemingly the least potent drink, may increase the odds of developing tumors.

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Which brings us to Armstrong. This month, the Tour de France champion who beat cancer inked a contract to hawk Anheuser-Busch’s alcohol. That’s right, less than a year after Phelps was crucified for merely smoking weed in private, few noticed or protested the planet’s most famous cancer survivor becoming the public face of a possible carcinogen.

“Apparently, it’s perfectly acceptable for a world-class athlete to endorse a substance like alcohol that contributes to thousands of deaths each year, as well as hundreds of thousands of violent crimes and injuries,” says Mason Tvert, a co-author of the new book “Marijuana Is Safer.” “Yet a world-class athlete like Michael Phelps is ridiculed, punished and forced to apologize for marijuana, the use of which contributes to zero deaths, and has never been linked to violent or reckless behavior. Why the double standard?”

The data prove the answer isn’t about health, and our culture proves it isn’t about widespread allegiance to “Just Say No” abstinence. After all, whether through liquor commercials, wine magazines, beer-named stadiums or cocktail-drenched office parties, our society is constantly encouraging us to get our liquid high.

No, the double standard is about know-nothing statutes and attitudes promoting the recreational use of alcohol and banning the similar use of marijuana—all thanks to retrograde mythologies of post-’60s Americana. In our now-dominant backlash folklore, the patriots are the strait-laced Joe and Jane Sixpacks—and the Armstrongs who encourage their drinking. Meanwhile, the supposed evildoers are the pot-smoking Cheeches, Chongs and Phelpses, whose marijuana use allegedly underscores a dangerous hippie-ness.

Ergo, the moral of this Tale of Two Supermen: To end contradictions in narcotics policy and permit safer recreational drug choices, we have to first reject the outdated Silent-Majority-versus-Counterculture iconography that defines so much of our politics. We must, in other words, replace caricatures with scientific facts and mature into something more than an Idiocracy.

We should all be able to imbibe—or inhale—to that.

David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books “Hostile Takeover” and “The Uprising.” He hosts the morning show on AM 760 in Colorado and blogs at OpenLeft.com. E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com.

© 2009 Creators.com


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By online_doctor, January 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment

Michael Phelps should have not been criminalized as such. He was only at the wrong place at the wrong time, but he did not do anything wrong. As cool as it is to smoke pot, fighting to ban marijuana can also be seen as cool. In their fight to eradicate pot use, they have sacrificed one of their biggest heroes.

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By Green Smoke Reviews, April 4, 2011 at 4:00 am Link to this comment

It is truly a shame that our government and even celebrity sportsmen such as Lance Armstrong is endorsing what is probably the most dangerous drug in the world. Alcohol causes so much more destruction and end to lives than most other class A drugs. I think the consumption of alcohol and its availability needs to be thoroughly scrutinized on its benefits for a society. Just speak to any ER doctor or staff to begin with.

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By Night-Gaunt, January 29, 2010 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

Taking drugs, of various sorts and effects are as normal as eating and sex. Both of which are good at altering our consciousness by what they induce in our bodies i.e. release of drugs in our systems. So the idea of “drug free” is part of the Drug War propaganda one should not be listening too.

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By salbers, January 29, 2010 at 4:47 am Link to this comment

The rationalization of this article that one drug is less harmful than another misses the point. 

The goal should be to live a totally drug-free life.

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By kids water shoes, October 27, 2009 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment

The data prove the answer isn’t about health, and our culture proves it isn’t about widespread allegiance to Just Say No abstinence.
Could not have said it better myself!!!

Kim

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By Sepharad, October 27, 2009 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment

Tony, jimson weed has no connection to marijuana except that as far as I know there are no laws against growing it and, as you say, it’s very dangerous. A local old hippie, who noticed it in the disked-up orchard next door, told me about his friends and others getting rich drying and selling the stuff to those seeking novelty in their hallucinatories. Hard to believe but the world is full of dumb well-funded risk-takers. My husband and I have been pulling it out because there’s nothing else green growing in that newly-disked orchard, we sometimes are in there with our horses, and we’ve observed in many cases that horses avoid bad stuff UNLESS there is nothing else green to be had in the immediate vicinity. Unfortunately, it is about as persistent as blackberries and spreads faster than you can pull it. We’re contemplating using a nasty weed killer on it. Owner of that orchard says either way is fine with him, but he doesn’t want to do anything himself.

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By Tony Wicher, October 26, 2009 at 10:38 pm Link to this comment

Hey, dim man - Not smoking pot obviously didn’t help you at all. You make it clear you didn’t have any intelligence to begin with.

Some people even pot just can’t help.

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By Tony Wicher, October 26, 2009 at 10:29 pm Link to this comment

Hey, dim man - you’re still dumb. Stopping smoking pot obviously didn’t help you at all.

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By Joan Moore, October 26, 2009 at 9:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, Diman, those dirty hippies of the 60s who fought the system would sure be surprised to learn that their dope smoking caused their minds to be so complacent and clouded about the conditions around them.
The progressives who comment on this site who constantly question and challenge the system in thoughtful and provocative ways would be surprised too, given that the overwhelming majority here support the end of cannibus prohibition.
I have used the herb for over 40 years now and have had a satisfactory career in the Labor movement fighting the system and have been an activist all my life.  Now that I am a senior citizen, cannibus has a more theraputic effect than a recreational purpose and my mind is not clouded in the least…and never was.  Most users will tell you that it makes them more reflective and introspective…which helps us percieve the human condition in more thoughtful ways.  It is also why artists and musicians commonly use cannibus.
So you base your opinion on a one time experience and believe you know how it effects everyone? 
I find it interesting too, that after days of comments here, yours is the first of it’s kind to adhere to the regressive attitude that has brought us the War on Drugs and it’s horrible consequences.
I thank you for sharing, Diman, Im sure it will generate more comments.

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By Blackspeare, October 26, 2009 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

As for Phelps, he got the perfect body for a swimmer and his accomplishments show it.  But as for Armstrong, he’s a sly guy!  His recovery from testicular cancer laced his body with drugs that gave him a physiological advantage.  The question that remains is when do drugs present an unfair advantage——before or during a competition?  In other words, if an athlete takes drugs to get to a certain point and then stops so he is basically drug-free during an event——is that an unfair advantage?

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By diman, October 26, 2009 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

Don’t worry guys they will make pot legal in a couple of years, so you will stay permanently stoned and stop question the system at all. Don’t you understand that this is what they need - a clouded mind. I tried pot in my days, didn’t like it for a bit, you just become dumb and laugh at anything like some jerk. Keep you mind clear guys or you just might miss this red-white-and-blue dick fucking you in the ass.

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By PatrickHenry, October 25, 2009 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment

“The first diesel engine was designed to run on vegetable oils, one of which was hemp oil. In the 1930s Henry Ford produced an automobile composed of 70 percent hemp plastic which also ran on hemp based fuel and oil. In 2001 the “Hempcar” circled the North American continent powered by hemp oil.


The paintings of Rembrandt (1606- 1669), Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) and Thomas Gainsborough (1727- 1788) were painted primarily on hemp canvas, often with hemp oil based paint. Over 50 percent of all chemical pesticides sprayed are used in the cultivation of cotton. Hemp is eight times stronger than cotton and more air-permeable. Hemp can grow vigorously (up to 16 feet) in 100 days without the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides… healthier for your skin and the environment.


One acre of hemp can produce as much raw fibre as 4.1 acres of trees. Pulping hemp for paper would produce a strong paper that lasts incredibly long and doesn’t yellow with age. Also, using hemp as a raw source for paper would eliminate the need to cut down our dwindling old-growth forests which contribute to climate control and clean the air we breathe.

Hemp has a higher quality fiber than wood fiber. Far fewer caustic chemicals are required to make paper from hemp than from trees. Hemp paper does not turn yellow and is very durable. The plant grows quickly to maturity in a season where trees take a lifetime.

Pot is NOT harmful to the human body or mind. Marijuana does NOT pose a threat to the general public. Marijuana is very much a danger to the oil companies, alcohol, tobacco industries and a large number of chemical corporations. Various big businesses, with plenty of dollars and influence, have suppressed the truth from the people. 
…POT IS ILLEGAL BECAUSE BILLIONAIRES WANT TO REMAIN BILLIONAIRES!”

http://www.world-mysteries.com/hemp4all.htm

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By scotttpot, October 25, 2009 at 11:00 am Link to this comment

Marijuana allows people to see thru the charade of materialism, patriotism,
militarism,and capitalism.This scares the crap out of the defenders of the status
quo.

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By scotttpot, October 25, 2009 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

D.R. Zing-I was diagnosed as bipolar 8 years ago and took the medication that
the expert doctors recommended for two years . I was still so depressed.I
switched to everyday cannabis 6 years ago and weened myself off of the 3
medications I had been taking.Cannabis helps me and no relapses yet.
Of course,Cannabis might not be good or enjoyable for everyone.What is?  But I
don*t know of any real studies linking pot to mental illness.That sounds like reefer
madness fear mongering.

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By Howie Bledsoe, October 25, 2009 at 9:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I really wonder why Kellogs would turn up their noses to the use of weed. Who else but a munchie-driven stoner would eat that shit?  It´s unhealthier than the weed itself!

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By Anyse, October 25, 2009 at 5:54 am Link to this comment

I agree. I just had some Bass Ale this week and it is ghastly (I tried it because they were out of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale). I know American popular beer has few hops as well as a short brew cycle, making flavored water, a la cola, as good an alternative. Usually, American beer is tasteless and a ”quick“ drink as it can only be tolerated that way (like a shot of Stoly!). Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or a nice Guiness, are nicely aromatic and are to be relished a bit at a time for their flavor as well as grace! Also, it pays to go to any good micro-brewery for a good brew as well. Here in Sacramento, there are quite a few and, unfortunately, with the economy, they are also fading out one at a time with the best remaining. The best in Sacramento, should anyone want a great beer here, is at the Rubicon on Capitol Ave. Maybe I will even see you there as you try their Pale Ale or even Red beers. Good beer is worth every cent. Busch is worthless at any price - I would not drink it if it were free. By the way, one can get Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for less than a dollar per bottle in as 24-pack from Costco or a 12-pack from Wal-Mart. I prefer Costco, of course.

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By montanawildhack, October 25, 2009 at 5:25 am Link to this comment

I’ve always thought Lance Armstrong to be a pimp and a shill—-this just proves it…  And the fact that Bud Light is America’s best selling “beer” is proof of the average Americans lack of taste and intelligence…  “Why do I drink watered down piss water?  Well gosh, the TV told me to drink it…. The TV also tells me what to wear, eat and how to think… I like TV.”  We’ve become a nation of fricken Chancey Gardeners…. End rant….

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By Night-Gaunt, October 24, 2009 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment

If we don’t get a theocracy here first maybe.

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By mike112769, October 24, 2009 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

Pot will probably be legalized within five years.

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By G.Anderson, October 24, 2009 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

Hypocracy, and addiction that’s what this country is all about. Billions spent on tranquilizers, and SSRI’s, that can be dangerous, can cause mania, and for which many scientific studies have shown no benefit. Many of these drugs actually create the very symptoms they are supposed to fix. But they are highly profitable to those that prescribe them as well as those that make them.

What happens to all that if pot gets legalized?

Then there are the Narco gangs of Mexico, and Central and South American. How many homicides have there been in Juarez Mexico this year; over who gets to smuggle dope into the USA, through El Paso? How many murders of police, and children? For billions and billions in profits.

What happens to all of that if drugs were made from felonies to misdemeanors?

Bullets flying all over South Central, shoot outs in front of day care facilities, and mothers mourning for a child who caught a bullett by mistake. It happens every day from LA, to Chicago, to the East Coast.

What happens to the gangs business in drugs, if drug use were decriminalized, or licensed?

Where’s the moral outrage over this? It’s pure hypocracy. If everyone who has ever used illegal drugs in this country were behined bars, 90% of this nation would be in jail.

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By Anyse, October 23, 2009 at 10:50 pm Link to this comment

Talk about insane! I live with chronic pain, nausea, lack of appetite and insomnia (caused by the prior three). I had to dig through so much crap just to be able to find a doctor who can give me a prescription for the medicinal use of marijuana. First, I had to find a doctor, which took a while as I had to FIRST find a cannabis club’s phone number so that I could then get the name and number of a doctor (they don’t put their names anywhere too accessible because, I guess, the stigma of being a doctor who prescribes marijuana seems to be rather touchy these days). Next, I have to have my personal physician write this doctor a letter describing my “conditions” for which medicinal marijuana may be prescribed. I have to present myself to the physician and pay an “out of plan” medical appointment fee because my health plan does not support medical marijuana use (no matter how “proven” it is). Then I have to pay a fee to my county’s Health and Human Services office for an annual “card” that I will need to have so that I can possess and use marijuana in public places as well as at home. Oh yes, I learned that I can have up to 2 pounds in my home at any time without fear of arrest when I present this card to law enforcement personnel.

I should be able to go to my doctor, get a prescription, and then just go to the plan pharmacy for the prescribed marijuana types and amounts with a co-pay (it is a “prescription,” isn’t it, like any other and should be treated as such). However, I have to go elsewhere to get the medication and, as of now, I am not sure if Medi-Cal will pay for it as part of my health care. In California, it is, legally, a “medicine” and, with all of this hassle, it seems to me that it should be treated the same as the marinol (THC tablets), liquid morphine and the fentanyl that I use every day. By the way, the marinol is totaly ineffective for what it has been prescribed.

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By D.R. Zing, October 23, 2009 at 9:57 pm Link to this comment

To Scottpot:

Uh, no.  You’re talking about normal reactions that actually give some people the giggles at first, and that experienced pot smokers laugh off or wish they could once again attain without smoking twenty bucks worth of Kush in a sitting. 

I’m saying this (again):  Pot is not harmless to people who are genetically prone to schizophrenia, autism, or manic depression.  For those individuals marijuana can be a harmful experience. That’s all I’m saying.

I don’t think the possession or growing of marijuana should be a criminal offense.  If that’s what you you think, too, then don’t undermine your own credibility by saying pot is totally harmless to everyone. It’s not.  But neither are peanuts or chocolate. 

Be sensible with your arguments. Advocate responsible, appropriate use.

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By Marshall K, October 23, 2009 at 8:45 pm Link to this comment

I’ve been a lifelong pot smoker and am now 55.  I’ve
stopped for about a year now.  I think it should be
legalized, but it is not the benign, harmless herb so
many people are touting here.  I think I wasted a lot
of my life as a stoner, although a lot of it has been
fun.  It allowed me to do work that was less mentally
challenging, but OK, because I was high.  I avoided
some types of activities and work, because I couldn’t
do it high.  I think if I hadn’t been a stoner, I
would have chosen different life paths, and probably
different life parters, too.  I won’t say I have
regrets, but pot use can definitely have a profound
effect on how your life is lived.  Also my lungs are
not all that great.  There were times where pot gave
me great insight, motivation, and creativity.  I
enjoyed it a lot.  It didn’t ruin my life.  I’m just
not sure that being a stoner was the best way to live
my life.  It was a choice I made and everyone should
be free to make that choice.

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By scotttpot, October 23, 2009 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

D.R. Zing—Waking nightmare? You mean that feeling some people don*t like
when they indulge in cannabis.That feeling that most of modern life ,our lives ,
are just games and rituals? Ego dissolution-Glimpses of reality.
Scary?

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By D.R. Zing, October 23, 2009 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment

Seriously,

I’m for the decriminalization of marijuana. 

But I do disagree with folks who say it is never harmful. If your grandpa was schizophrenic, autistic or bipolar, your reaction to pot might not be the average reaction and in fact it might resemble a waking nightmare more than good buzz, in which case you better hope you have a nice poppy garden in your backyard to lounge around in.

I’m sorry. It’s hard for me to be serious about this subject, but, yes, our nation’s drug laws are completely insane, the media’s indirect enforcement of those laws by public humiliation is reprehensible, and anyone who thinks marijuana is a really good high ain’t been doing enough full-scale research.

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By D.R. Zing, October 23, 2009 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

Myself, I don’t enjoy the marijuana high at all.  Well, maybe a little.  I get about 15 minutes of euphoria followed by about eight hours of paranoia, munchies, cigarette cravings, general dread, insomnia, restlessness, and wanting to have sex with just about anything that moves.  But that’s just my bad reaction and it naturally regulates my use of it—only after breakfast.

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By scotttpot, October 23, 2009 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment

Marijuana should be made legal as a safer choice to alcohol and tobacco.
I was able to end 20 plus years of hard drinking by switching to cannabis.
I haven*t had a drink for 15 years
.We need doctors,lawyers,athletes,musicians,writers,politicians to admit they used
or use marijuana and it*s not harmful on any level.Take pot out of the closet.

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By Colleen McCool, October 23, 2009 at 1:14 pm Link to this comment

Michael Phelps is the recipient of McCool’s 2009 Rebel With Just Cause Award.!! http://mccoolportraits.com/index.htm

Neither the USA Swim team or Kellogg’s cereal and munchie company had a problem with him despite an alcohol-related arrest in 2004.  Michael had nothing to apologize for but Kellogs and the Swim Team should reconsider their decision to punish Phelps for making a safer social and health choice to simply celebrate with friends.  Stop driving our children to drink and use dangerous pharmaceuticals!

Marijuana or cannabis is one of the most benign chemicals know to man.  Stop harassing people for making a safer choice. We need to focus on neglected and abused children of more risky, violent, aggressive behavior causing drugs, not the children of parents who made a safer choice.

The really risky drugs are the legal ones. Over a thousand people die each day due to tobacco use! Close to 300 a day die from prescribed pharmaceuticals. The tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceuticals gangs deal drugs causing more death annually than all illicit drugs. We tolerate their salesmen!

The debate over medical marijuana or cannabis is really a scandalous controversy over whether this very safe, effective, easy-to-grow herb should be allowed to compete with expensive pharmaceuticals with side effects guaranteed to make life no longer worth living.

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By Big B, October 23, 2009 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

Montanawildhack

POT has been helping ugly people have sex for generations, just like booze! (only when you wake up beside that chick named “Vince” after a mary-jane bender, you don’t immedietly throw up on your shoes. Well, not right away, anyhow)

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By Paul Weber, October 23, 2009 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I take the libertarian view that all drugs should be legalized, including heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. My approach is basic: you have the right to ownership of your own body. The state has no right telling you what you can or cannot consume, so long as you are not endangering others (drunk driving, for example).

Actually, these substances are already legal, under the ninth and tenth amendments to the Constitution. Congress has no jurisdiction is matters pertaining to personal consumption of herbs, weeds, and plant extracts.

Under the tenth amendment, those powers not specifically delegated to Congress (and you will search in vain for an enumerated power to regulate plants) are prohibited to it.

Under the ninth amendment, the enumeration of rights in the Constitution (speech, press, gun ownership, etc.) cannot be construed to deny or disparage other rights held by the people. The right to control of your own body and what you consume is clearly one of those rights.

There are hundreds of practical arguments for legalizing all drugs, but I prefer to start with the ethical and constitutional approach.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 23, 2009 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Sirota exposes two myths of our time. Athletes as “super” and the Drug War. Both are examples and confluence of two misplaced ideas deified/demonized and propagandized in different ways but both are still falsehoods. The athlete, more important in our culture than engineers, held high whereas certain drugs are considered evil if not of the Devil and vilified as such no matter what their true effects. If it is legal it doesn’t matter how dangerous and damaging it is. It is legal and has the automatic imprimatur of being good. It is all marketing, and psychological conditioning on a mass scale of time and population. [See Edward Bernaise on that.] This is for you Montanawildhack who is blind in one eye and the other is bleary by the propaganda you eat whole. Give me marijuana over that killer tobacco any day.

1938-The mechanical decordicator was patented that was a boon to the hemp industry. It could strip the 20’-40’ semi-annual harvests of the shrub in record time with much less labor and time and expense than ever before. Also a means of producing cheaper paper that was acid neutral and didn’t pollute the rivers with mercury runoff came about. But the forest and paper barons had their way regardless.

The word “hero” has been so cheapened in our culture I am loathed to use it except in quotation marks. A sports player a hero? Nonsense. But that is manipulation of the masses again.

Before the First World War they complained that the ‘weed’ caused people to be languid and lazy unfit for war. But then after they repackaged it as making “negros and spicts” hypersexual, especially toward their lily-white gals. It was re-legalized temporarily in 1938-1945 for the war effort. See it does have a practical use. Hemp is different from maryjane—no stimulant in it. It is an all American industry left to rot by moneyed interested for their own aggrandizement and our detriment.

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By anaman51, October 23, 2009 at 12:25 pm Link to this comment

A number of years ago we in the Northwest watched in disbelief as one of the local NBA stars was pulled over while speeding and found to possess marijuana. The media and law enforcement jumped on the condemnation bandwagon immediately, reviling him for being “a bad role model.” He was a basketball player, for crying out loud—-he wasn’t running for Pope!

He was a star, a consistent scorer, a good man in the paint, a team player. He was always in the thick of it during the crucial last minutes of each game. His marital life was without scandal. He was healthy. Will somone please explain to me what part of his life was being ruined by the evil weed to such an extent that being raked over the coals of illegality was helpful to him?

Some like it, some don’t. Nobody’s forcing you to smoke it. Chances are you know someone who gets stoned every day, and you haven’t a clue. Nobody dies from an overdose, and studies consistently find that all the old stories about pot doing bad things to you are only government propaganda scare tactics.

I’ll say it again—-live and let live.

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By cmarcusparr, October 23, 2009 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

I can’t comment authoritatively on marijuana; however, our national drug policy clearly favors substances with commercial value. Alcohol can be controlled by the government through taxation of corporations that distribute it (the tax burden nevertheless is transferred to end-users who pay the tax hidden in the retail price). Marijuana is a plant (cannabis) grown from seeds, the control of which is more problematic. The end-user can easily cultivate it, subverting government control and tax.

Our laws reflect the demands of a powerful elite corporate culture in America, contrary to the neo-conservative opinion that the laws, considered sacrosanct, protect “individual rights.” (That said, since the 1870s and leading into the 1920s, corporations have been waging a legal battle as entities with the same rights as U.S. citizens. Corporations are not a person, not a citizen. They are institutions dedicated to continuous enrichment of the institution.)

Spirits should be more closely regulated in the United States and highly taxed to pay for the medical and social damage inflicted by their consumption. By imposing a tax to benefit microbreweries, beer should be decentralized from large manufacturing and distribution centers and replaced by regional brewers and brew pubs.

And marijuana should be legalized, commercialized, and taxed. Its legalization would go a long way to reducing our federal deficit and even paying for universal health care.

But rather than do the mature, intelligent thing, as David Sirota eloquently states, we prefer to form ranks in politically polarized camps and scream at one another while imbibing our substance of choice. As with all choices, the correct moral choice lies in doing the least harm to the fewest number of citizens. Marijuana legalization is the moral choice.

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By garyrose66, October 23, 2009 at 10:32 am Link to this comment

What’s ironic is with such focus on “kids” using mj that one one seems to cover the fact that there are really millions of adults in their 40s-70s who are “high performing” professionals who use mj regularly with no deficit and no addiction. These adults would, if encouraged and protected, “come out” in vast enough numbers to change the idiocracy by demonstrating that their regular non controversial use does not prevent them from holding down important and productive jobs.  They would prove that mj is a better, safer, and more useful mood enhancing drug than alcohol, and that it by no means is a “gateway” to anything else.  It is simply a plant, an herb, and it is a pleasant, positive and natural part of the world’s environment.  Except for the soft on drugs club that is wielded by hyocritical ideologues we would have moved into a realm where one could grow their own, give it to friends, and with commercial application generate a vast new revenue stream while putting drug cartels out of business, and keep our police and court system busy with real criminals.

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By AuntBec, October 23, 2009 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

As far as I’m concerned, Lance Armstrong is a sell out and always has been.  Just because he “beat” cancer has never made him a hero in my eyes.  It makes perfect sense he would be hanging out with the “Bud” crew of the red, white, and blue.

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By melpol, October 23, 2009 at 9:08 am Link to this comment

There is an estimated 500 thousand drug dealers in the states, each lives large. A
massive police net can snare most of them. Recruiting 50 thousand new police
informers and paying them in seized drugs can spread the net even further. But
massive prisons would have to be built.  Libertarians want to let addicts shoot
heroin into their veins and snort coke.  It would put most drug dealers out of
business and end the high costs of sending them to prison.

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By politicky, October 23, 2009 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

ps,  See Norm Stamper’s writings on the Huffington Post, or his books for a san
view from a law enforcement perspective.

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By politicky, October 23, 2009 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

The fact that marijuana is illegal by federal law benefits only law enforcement
agencies looking for funding, prisons guards who are in unions, and private
prisons.  It is absolutely ridiculous, and that is coming from someone who doesn’t
even like the stuff.

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By Ouroborus, October 23, 2009 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Xntrk, October 23 at 4:30 am #

Oh, come on; it was the La Guardia report.

http://tinyurl.com/yh3mxol

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By Existentialist, October 23, 2009 at 8:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Xntrk is pretty much correct.  There was the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 that officially criminalized the plant.

But, let’s go back for a second.  I’m going to rattle this stuff off the top of my head.  Anyone feel free to elaborate on the bits I have left out.

Hemp has a very rich and long history as a cultivated product, in the United States.  A draft of the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.  Washington and Jefferson both grew and cultivated hemp.  Benjamin Franklin also opened the first US publishing company, and they printed on hemp paper.  At different times a few southern states required farmers to grow it.  Henry Ford was a proponent of the use of hemp.  In fact, he advocated the use of hemp fuel, reportedly used hemp plastic paneling in one of his first cars, and continued to grow hemp after 1937.  The government encouraged hemp to be grown for the war effort during WW2.  It was considered necessary for winning the war.  See “Hemp For Victory”:  http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-117344919147932597#

The nature of its criminalization had NOTHING to do with science.  Nothing.  It had everything to do with greedy corporatism and racism.  Harry J. Anslinger, the man also responsible for the failed alcohol prohibition (which also gave that substance over to the black market—the mob), was a very racist man.  Here are some of his sentiments in the mid-30s:  “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”  William Randolph Hearst, owned a newspaper industry and logging industry.  In the 30s, new technology was easing the production of hemp.  Well, this threatened Heart’s logging industry, and also how his news was printed.  He exclusively used tree pulp.  His papers had been printing articles demonizing Mexican immigrants and their use of a ‘wild tobacco’ as some feared they would steal the jobs of white men.  Lammont DuPont was another character in its criminalization, because of the invention of nylon, made through the use of gas and coal.  These three men criminalized a very useful plant.

More people die each year from alcohol, tobacco, pharms than ALL illegal substances combined.  Did you also know that the Bayer company invented/patented heroin?     

What Michael Phelps represents is everything against the ‘above the influence’ bs.  He proves that you CAN be a successful person (he’s won so many medals for swimming) and consume cannabis. 


“We all know that Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll destroyed the moral fiber of the Nation. As long as marijuana use was limited to Jazz aficionados and Blacks, who cared?”

Ahh, but Ragtime was considered the music of the devil and destroying morality in its day, too.  One more thing to add to the pile of things that supposedly destroyed morality (from the point of view of one ideology).  Can we add the holy book of genocide…ahem…the Bible to that pile as well?

The problem was those female youths (at a time when a definite youth culture, vis-a-vis college, was emerging) associating and smoking marijuana with those ‘darkies.’  Since Anslinger believed the use of marijuana would turn you into a rapist, sex maniac negro, then we must protect the innocent white women from being raped by ‘savages.’  In the words of Anslinger:  “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”  Oh, we wouldn’t want that now, would we.

Nearly 80 years on, it is evident how much damage the lies of a few men have done, and how much work needs to be done to get the truth out.

It is time to re-legalize this plant, arguably the biggest cash crop in the US.

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By Purple Girl, October 23, 2009 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

True Free Market adherents not only believe access to the market must be unhindered to all, but also Unmanipulated. It is the Demand of consumers that drives the market.
Capitalism is the antithesis- a supply side doctrine. It’s not just meeting the Demand, but creating it.
Big Pharm has done exactly what Big Tobbaco did- selling products which guarantees future consumption- an addiction. They can predict “Futures” because they have manipulated the level of Demand. Captured (caged) consumerism.
Limiting the amount of competition and influencing future levels of demand are essential to Capitalism. The Free Market is innately unpredictable, subject to the unseenble forces in demand.
‘Free Market Capitalism’ is an oxymoronic term.
Capitalism is the means to harness the Market- thus it is not Free. Wall Street doesn’t bet on what is going on now in the market- but what will happen, adding additional incentives to control the outcomes.
The US is no more a Free market than “merry Ol Englands” Monarchy or Communist China.
The legalization of Pot is not the only telltale indicator we have lost our Right to a Free market- so is the healthcare debate over a public option. American Citizens are being denied the right to access the merchants side of the market table as a collective entity. We are limited to those Few Logos(Crests) as providers and subject to the products they choose to offer.
In a true Free market it is not the Consumer who is subject to the merchants whims, but the merchant beholden to the Consumers.

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By montanawildhack, October 23, 2009 at 4:18 am Link to this comment

I’ve said it before and , god help me, I’m going to say it again….

POT= Plenty of Trouble…

I pity anyone who doubts the sagacity of that acronym…..

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By Joan Moore, October 23, 2009 at 3:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is yet another reason that canibus/hemp was made illegal in the 30s. 
Popular Mechanics at the time introduced new farming techniques that would make industrial hemp a viable alternative to paper pulp.  At the time, William Randolph Hearst had huge holdings in the paper pulp industry in the Pacific Northwest and sought, successfully, to demonize the crop as Marijuana, assasin of youth.  Hearst employed racism to suggest that white women would fall victim to Marijuana crazed Mexicans and Blacks.  He used his vast newspaper empire to label the crop, known as hemp up to that time, Marijuana and worked to get the Marijuana Stamp Act adopted by congress.  Most people didnt realize that Marijuana was hemp/canibus or they would not have been supportive of the new law.
Of course, there are other reasons too, that the herb was domonized, including the alcohol and tobacco industry opposition, but Hearst was the major factor in creating the myths about Marijuana.
Another irony, is that during WW2, there was a shortage of hemp for rope and other products needed for the war effort, so the government instituted a program called Hemp for Victory and 4H clubs all over america were urged to produce the crop.
It all comes down to the greed of powerful interests and the need to control the populice thru law enforcement.  It will take at least another generation to fully eradicate the astounding misinformation that is still out there about this age old plant.

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By Xntrk, October 23, 2009 at 1:30 am Link to this comment

Sirota is correct about marijuana, but his familiarity with history is about what I’ve come to expect. Talk about a subject that is little studied, but frequently misrepresented…

Marijuana wasn’t condemned because of the Hippies. It was banned in the 30’s [Maybe 1937?]. It was easy to ban, because it was popular with Blacks, and we all know how closely associated they are with the Devil. I believe it had quite a bit to do with the end of Prohibition. Both as a sop to the anti-fun crowd, and to do away with competition for the now legalized liquor industry.

The Blacks weren’t going to effectively protest making it illegal - Just about everything they did was illegal anyway in many towns. They continued to use it too, and jazz musicians who were predominantly Black were all assumed to be stoners.

I have read that Louis Armstrong used it every day. In the mid-‘50s, when I was an under age habitue of the Jazz Clubs in Seattle, its use was pretty common among both the fans and the musicians.  Robert Mitchum was busted for smoking it in 1952 or 1953. The Beats used mj 10 years before the Hippies came along. All the Hippies did was smoke it publicly in crowds, and throw away the sunglasses most users wore to hide the red eyes. Haven’t you noticed how many jazz musicians wore sunglasses day and night?

The other thing the Hippies did was make marijuana the drug of choice for a generation of white kids. It lost its image as a drug used by Blacks and became known as the gateway drug that led innocent, white, teenagers to the Gates of Hell, and beyond. We all know that Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll destroyed the moral fiber of the Nation. As long as marijuana use was limited to Jazz aficionados and Blacks, who cared?

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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, October 22, 2009 at 11:23 pm Link to this comment

Sepharad,

Jimson weed is a very dangerous poison containing atropine and scopolomine. A single use can be and often is fatal. Only an foolish kid or an idiot would even try it. I never heard of anyone selling it. What’s it got to do with marijuana?

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By Sepharad, October 22, 2009 at 11:11 pm Link to this comment

Marijuana is harmeless and benevolent if used in moderation by average people—though it IS easy to overuse MJ and still think you’re performing brilliantly in your work when you’re not—and it is a great painkiller for cancer patients as well as people dying of AIDS, as some friends of mine did back in the day, swearing that marijuana was the only pain reliever that didn’t increase their anxiety and actually cut the pain to a bearable level.

Today however found a not-so-harmless drug growing all over the adjacent orchard: jimson weed. Use a little of the seeds and you hallucinate for weeks; use too many and you die. This has many different names and has appeared in literature and tradition ever since the Odyssey (in which the weed appears as a poison), was common among medieval Arabs in Al Andalus ... and yet still others say the Gypsies invented it. Google on it and there are tons of lore. Also, you can get rich growing this stuff too if you find the proper niche market.

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By Tony Wicher, October 22, 2009 at 10:53 pm Link to this comment

Marijuana is so harmless and indeed benevolent that there is no good reason to regulate it at all. I would not go quite as far as hard-liner Bill Hicks who proposed that its use should be made mandatory, but I would be in favor of government programs that encourage its use, especially as as part of treatment programs to get people off of dangerous drugs including alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, heroin, prescription pain killers, tranquilizers, anti-anxiety drugs, etc.

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