The Lies and Half-Truths of Those Who Oppose Marijuana Legalization

This month the Baker Institute at Rice University has been hosting an online debate with the title “Will legalizing marijuana improve civil liberties?” While the four participants have different views on legalization, three of them agree that civil liberties would improve under legalization.

The one who thinks civil liberties would decrease under legalization is someone most people have never heard of, but marijuana users should be aware of; former Obama staffer Kevin Sabet.

Reefer Madness/The Burning Question (1936)“Since legalization would increase use,” Sabet writes, “it is important to briefly dwell on the possibility that legalization might decrease civil liberties, especially for vulnerable populations like children. Marijuana smoking during pregnancy has been shown to decrease birth weight, most likely due to the effects of carbon monoxide on the developing fetus. Marijuana addicts 1 out of every 6 children who ever try the drug. Marijuana affects the developing brain in acute ways; one recent study found that persistent, heavy young users had on average 6-8 lower IQ points by age 38 relative to non-users (even if heavy use stopped in adulthood).

“Marijuana’s harm extends beyond that done to the individual. Marijuana intoxication at least doubles the risk of getting into a car accident; costs from marijuana-related hospital stays are substantial; marijuana addiction costs the state money for treatment; etc.”

While many of these assertions have nothing to back them up, a couple are outright falsehoods. Studies have shown that states with greater medical marijuana availability have fewer traffic accidents. Many studies have shown marijuana to be less addictive than caffeine. The “recent study” Sabet sites regarding IQ has been challenged by others, something Sabet never mentions (of course).

“John Stuart Mill famously wrote that ‘… over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.’ Mill argued that ‘The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of the community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.’ Since marijuana can cause addiction,” Sabet writes, “forcing people to lose control over their own self and in the process inflict harms onto others, its use can decrease overall civil liberties.”

Marijuana forces people to “lose control over their own self?” This is the face of the opposition to marijuana legalization folks. Lies and hysterical assertions backed up by no proof whatsoever.

Under Kevin Sabet’s logic, banning things like alcohol would increase civil liberties. Alcohol makes you lose control, so if it’s banned, civil liberties will increase. In fact, someone who eats at McDonalds could eventually have a heart attack while driving and plow into a bus full of children. So if we ban McDonalds and driving, we can increase the civil liberties of those kids in the bus.

You see where this type of thinking leads?

– Joe Klare

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  • Hardrock1a

    This dude is about as ignorant as they come.

  • David Matson

    Yes, very strange.