Even without smoking it, some Conservatives get really confused by pot | 01/16/2014
Case in point: Conservative columnist S.E. Cupp in the New York Daily News. Sarah Elizabeth believes that “enthusiasm for marijuana legalization runs against liberal orthodoxies on other big issues,” such as gun control.
The same argument used against guns is used for pot: that legalizing pot and making it more available will reduce crime. No good liberal would say the same of guns, though there is substantial evidence to prove more guns equal less crime. [Emphasis added]
Actually, the evidence shows there is a strong correlation between having more guns and having more injuries and homicides from gunshot wounds, as borne out by the gun violence statistics in the U.S. (or any war zone) compared to other modern industrialized countries, while the only evidence that more guns make crime rates go down is from a single academic, and is both ambiguous and disputed.
She appears to not realize that no liberals argue for the banning of all guns; they argue for better regulation of them to reduce gun violence - just like every other modern industrialized country in the world has managed to do, and just like they’re arguing for marijuana.
There is zero evidence that an increase in marijuana consumption increases violent crime - other than that caused by its criminalization. On the contrary, the available data strongly suggests that legalizing and regulating marijuana would actually place restrictions on marijuana’s availability (such as to school children), and deprive violent criminal gangs, such as Mexico’s notorious cartels, of a significant source of the cashflow that underpins their power and capacity to inflict harm.
If S.E. would take the time to talk to almost any random teenager, she would discover that it is currently much harder for teenagers to procure alcohol than marijuana. Marijuana can have lasting cognitive effects on adolescent brain development, so this ease of availability should concern everyone, Conservatives included.
Here’s something to think about: legalizing pot smoking actually means society has a greater ability to regulate the supply and consumption of it than when pot is criminalized.
Cupp then scoffs that,
We’re told pot users will “responsibly” use marijuana in the privacy of their own homes. But what barometer are they using to determine that persistent recreational drug users, who have presumably broken the law before by possessing marijuana, are responsible people? And why aren’t lawful gun owners afforded the same level of trust?
This is just fatuous. Lawyers, accountants, scientists, and Presidents smoke marijuana - in fact people of every age, profession, ethnicity, sex, income bracket, and religion smoke marijuana, the vast majority of which are happy, functioning, productive, responsible members of society. Cupp would no doubt be surprised to learn just how many of her fellow conservatives smoke pot on a regular basis and yet are somehow not dragging the rest of society down an apocalyptic wormhole in the process.
A new father getting fatally shot in a movie theater for texting during the previews is just one obvious example of why lawful gun owners aren’t afforded the “same level of trust” as marijuana smokers: because unlike a gun, you can’t kill someone with a joint. But,
If progressives want to keep gun control in the crosshairs - and many have said they do - they’ll have to reconcile this intellectual incongruity.
There is no incongruity here; just an evidence-based harm-minimization approach, rather than an ideological approach.
But for other Democrats who, like [Bloomberg], promote an expansion of the health nut state, but want to also support legal marijuana use, does it really work to rail against trans fats and restrict the smoking of cigarettes but allow pot smoking (and the sloth and munchy-induced snacking that comes with it)?
Firstly, despite some socially liberal tendencies, Bloomberg is a self-professed Conservative, and he’s not in favor of marijuana legalization. Secondly, “sloth and munchy-induced snacking” indicates Cupp’s source for marijuana information is That 70’s Show. Thirdly, we have the same situation with pot as the “noble experiment” of Prohibition. Except unlike alcohol you can’t die from consuming pot, it doesn’t cause people to become violent risk takers, and it has significant benefits in treating a wide range of medical ailments, from glaucoma to mitigating the suffering of cancer patients.
Pot is far less harmful than alcohol (and tobacco), and the data suggests that as marijuana use goes up, alcohol use declines. So on a health basis, you could argue that its net effects are neutral to beneficial. (The effects are definitely negative for the young and mentally ill however.)
Moving on to taxes, Cupp asserts that:
there are already complaints in Colorado that pot is over-regulated and over-taxed. There’s a 15% excise tax levied on “average market rate” marijuana, a special 10% sales tax and the state’s general 2.9% sales tax will also apply. Yikes.
Economists suggest this could make Colorado’s pot industry too costly for the state and the consumer, in which case users rely on an inevitable black market to pop back up, making Colorado a tourism-only pot state. Will progressives really admit, in that case, that their own high taxes and burdensome regulations crippled an industry with so much potential?
Now you might think with such prohibitively high taxes and burdensome regulations, demand for weed would be disappointing. Except demand in Colorado is far outstripping supply. You might also think that conservatives with a focus on aligning government revenues with expenditures would be happy that revenue generated from an activity they wouldn’t even participate in (ahem) is helping to reduce budget deficits. And you’d probably also conclude that if the taxes were shown to be high enough to inhibit demand and create a black market - then taxes would be lowered.
It’s hard to tell if these arguments stem from a simple lack of familiarity with the facts, or from a selective reading of them due to ideological blinkers. Either way, the confusion is real.