Stoned and stupid

Politics + Other Mistakes  
By AL DIAMON  |  July 10, 2013

You can almost see the IQ points evaporating.

The stoners pushing a referendum to legalize the use of marijuana by adults in Maine's most populous city seem to be growing dopier by the toke — in both senses of dopier. Their campaign to turn Portland into Potland relies heavily on an ill-considered premise that's guaranteed to turn off potential supporters.

Let me be clear — or at least as clear as the smoke-laden air surrounding this issue allows. I think laws banning the possession and use of marijuana by those 21 or older are stupider and more outdated than Cheech and Chong routines. They've done nothing to stop anyone from using the weed. They waste scarce law-enforcement resources. They use up costly space imprisoning people who are no threat to society. And they don't stop teenagers from inhaling all they want.

When a statute is that ineffective, it ought to be repealed. If I ever get a chance to vote to end the prohibition against ganja, I'll proudly mark my ballot in favor of freedom and common sense.

That is, I will unless the pro-pot forces of the Washington, DC-based Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) keep promoting their noxious campaign against alcohol.

I don't smoke dope. But I do drink. I support allowing everyone to make his or her own choices (and bear his or her own responsibility) when it comes to recreational drugs. There are advantages to all of them, as well as drawbacks and dangers. Pretending otherwise is every bit as brainless as believing you can do away with a commonly occurring substance simply by passing a law. If that were true, we'd have made cancer cells illegal.

Unfortunately, there are those in the cannabis campaign who aren't quite as open-minded. The MPP has online ads that claim, "Alcohol is highly toxic, which is why it produces hangovers and long term damage to users."

These are almost exactly the same misleading claims made by neo-prohibitionists in their efforts to restrict access to liquor. In reality, depending on levels of consumption, alcohol is no more toxic than butter, aspirin, or the Christian Civic League. Excessive exposure to any of them is going to leave you talking to Ralph on the big porcelain telephone.

David Boyer, the MPP's Maine political director, told the Portland Press Herald, "[M]arijuana is an objectively less harmful substance than [beer]."


The short-term side effects associated with a single moderately sized doobie include loss of memory, distorted perspective, problems with coordination, and difficulty learning. In other words, about the same problems that crop up after slamming down a six-pack.

The long-term consequences of heavy use of loco weed are even scarier. The average reefer contains three times the amount of tar as a similarly sized tobacco cigarette. Those carcinogenic hydrocarbons not only increase your chances of getting you-know-what, but can also cause lung infections, obstructed airways, and impairment to the immune system. The increased heart rate and lowered blood pressure experienced by those with THC is their systems is a recipe for heart attacks.

I'll put that list up against the danger of cirrhosis of the liver caused by chronic alcoholism any day.

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