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NORML’s Response to Tucson Shooting

After reading this, I don’t consider these people to be fellow travelers on the road to greater freedom, even though I agree with decriminalization of pot:

The part that really disturbs me is that just last year, Arizona Gov. Brewer signed a law that allows adults 21 and older to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, joining Alaska and Vermont as the only states where any citizen can be legally packing heat in public at a political rally without any sort of registration or training to do so.  Had Loughner been approached by a police officer and that pistol was found in his pocket, legally there would have been nothing the police could have done.

But if Loughner had a joint in his pocket, police could have arrested him and he may have faced six-to-eighteen months in jail.  If Loughner had been pulled over driving to the rally and a piss test revealed he had smoked a joint last week, he’d be placed into mandatory 24-hour custody and faced six months in jail.

Maybe I’m nuts, but I don’t exactly want people driving around on the nation’s highways drunk or otherwise impaired, whether drugs are legal or not. Either way, the attempt to deflect blame onto other social policies, or onto the use of gun metaphors in political dialog, doesn’t strike me as a productive response to the blame pot smoking is going to take for this guy. It amounts to say “It’s this other freedom’s fault!”

It should be noted that even though there’s some credible science linking marijuana use to an increased risk for developing schizophrenia, the vast majority of people who use marijuana will never develop the disease. There’s been research, however, that shows it can dramatically increase the risk for people with a family history of schizophrenia, so there’s likely a genetic component to it as well.

22 Responses to “NORML’s Response to Tucson Shooting”

  1. Whether or not one is pro-freedom to carry or pro-freedom to ingest the fact is that there is no risk-free option in life. If I had a medical condition that threatened my eyesight that could be held in abeyance by smoking marijuana would I think it worth a 0.5% chance of schizophrenia? How about a 2% chance? I think I would probably take the chance.

  2. DirtCrashr says:

    What happens when you get high? In my experience it results in a temporary bit of “localized temporal phenomenological displacement” – and should not be enjoyed while driving or operating heavy machinery.
    Pot smokers mostly tend to think they drive better (if slower) while stoned, but I wouldn’t want to be around someone who was operating heavy equipment under the influence.

  3. Brad says:

    Typical left-wing idiot. Not only attacks gun rights but also a generalized attack on Arizona as well. I wonder how the fool would react if he knew marijuana use made purchase of the weapon a Federal crime? His head would probably explode Scanner style from trying to contain the contradictions!

    That NORML spokesfool reminded me of a conversation I had once with a marijuana advocate. He favored legalization of marijuana, but also favored outlawing tobacco! When asked to explain his weirdly contradictory positions he explained that tobacco is sold by big corporations.

    When left-wingers pose as advocates of freedom, it’s only that, a totally fake and phony pose. They really stand for power. Power for themselves. Power taken from others. Power to reward themselves and punish their enemies.

    Good grief.

  4. Brad says:

    That’s odd. Was my comment deleted?

  5. The point wasn’t to condemn Arizona’s firearm laws. I’m originally from Idaho and quite pro-2nd Amendment.

    The point was to show that Arizona is more afraid of someone with a joint in their pocket that a Glock.

    If you can’t handle the idea of citizens using something safer than alcohol, if you support the feds using the Commerce Clause to justify banning the plant the Founders grew, if you like the nanny state dictating which medicines you are allowed to use, then you aren’t really a freedom-loving conservative.

    By the way, for DirtCrashr, Arizona’s zero tolerance for marijuana metabolites law, complete with 24 hr mandatory jail time upon detection prior to conviction in court, isn’t about keeping the roads safe or heavy machinery in the workplace safe. THC-COOH metabolites only form AFTER the impairment from cannabis has passed and are detectable in urine for anywhere from 3 to 90 days, depending on body fat, metabolism, and frequency of use.

    So Arizona is imprisoning without trial people who are in no way impaired on the roadways, simply because they used cannabis sometime in the past. Does that sound “pro-freedom” to you?

  6. And for Sebastian, we don’t want cannabis-impaired drivers on the roadways, either. Zero tolerance for cannabis metabolites in no way detects that.

  7. Brad says:

    Hi Sebastian,

    Sorry about comment #3. I’ll explain.

    When I first posted #2 it showed up just fine. I then browsed over to some other places for a while before I decided to check back and see if there were any newer comments to your post. Weirdly, comment #2 had disappeared and despite refreshing it was not to be found. Only comment #1 was appearing.

    I feared I had crossed some line and my comment had been deleted. That’s why I posted my question which now appears as comment #3. Strangely enough, the moment I posted that question, comment #2 then reappeared too!

    Some glitch in the system?

    Anyway thanx for the privilege of letting me comment on your blog. I don’t take it for granted.

  8. Brad says:

    “The point wasn’t to condemn Arizona’s firearm laws. I’m originally from Idaho and quite pro-2nd Amendment.”

    Sorry Charlie. I agree with Sebastian. The story seemed like a massive attempt at blame shifting in order to defend marijuana.

    If that was not the intention of the story, it was horribly written because the audience is understanding the story as blame shifting.

    I agree with marijuana legalization. But that is in spite of how, like the NORML writer of the story seems, so many advocates of legalization come off as left-wing jerks.

  9. Sebastian says:

    It would have been a glitch. I don’t generally delete comments, even very offensive ones.

  10. Sebastian says:

    You have a point about metabolites… I agree that kind of zero tolerance makes no sense. However, the article did kind of look like blame shifting. I’ll highlight your comment in the morning.

  11. MicroBalrog says:

    Julia! Not me!

    Julia! Not me!

  12. Steve in PA says:

    If Loughner purchased the gun legally, which we know he did, then he had to submit to a background check. Which he passed.

    If AZ had a system requiring a permit to carry a concealed weapon, he would have had to submit to the same background check, which he obviously would have passed.

    In short, it made no difference at all (in this case) whether or not AZ has a permitting procedure.

  13. DirtCrashr says:

    I did a lot of things in my youth I’m not proud of now, nor will I defend or justify. My young relative who is a pot-head has no physical condition that necessitates his card-carrying – it’s strictly recreational, not medical – the cards are ridiculously easy to get but not every jurisdiction honors them. But he’s basically a good kid and shouldn’t have to spend more time in jail than he already has, just for (more) pot, since it’s much more of a set-back and a seriously negative education than any rehabilitation. If pot is a gateway drug then prison is a punishing, gateway education in evil-arts.

    I’m for de-criminalization but not particularly impressed with outright legalization because I’m not very impressed with the level of supposed intelligence demonstrated or assumed by dope smokers.

    I’m not surprised the Arizona stupidslature wrote a law that is sweeping in nature – they can’t be much brighter than the idiots in Sacramento – our political class is not inspiring, and they are demonstrating their perfidy right now with attacks on our 1st and 2nd Amendment rights.

  14. Out of curiosity: how many people does Arizona send to prison for possession? The statute may allow it, but in practice, most states have pretty crowded prisons with more serious crimes, and it usually takes repeated offenses (or a plea bargain to possession for sale) to get prison for marijuana these days.

  15. “I’m for de-criminalization but not particularly impressed with outright legalization because I’m not very impressed with the level of supposed intelligence demonstrated or assumed by dope smokers.”

    One of the difficulties with legalization is that it sends a message to teenagers that there’s nothing wrong with smoking pot–when there is considerable reason to suspect that especially in the still developing brain, it represents a very real threat to mental health. And teenagers aren’t exactly noted for their ability to make sensible, long-term decisions. That’s why we limit their rights in a number of ways: driving; guns; alcohol; contracts; sex.

  16. “If you can’t handle the idea of citizens using something safer than alcohol,”

    This is not exactly a powerful standard of comparison, you know. Both alcohol and marijuana are significant risks to mental health, and intoxication of all sorts is a major social problem. That’s why alcohol, while not as stringently regulated as marijuana, is still regulated. It probably needs to be more tightly regulated.

    “if you support the feds using the Commerce Clause to justify banning the plant the Founders grew, ”

    They were growing hemp for rope–not for dope. I agree that the commerce clause has been absurdly abused on this (and not just with respect to marijuana). But let’s not give the wrong impression about why hemp was grown back then.

  17. “If I had a medical condition that threatened my eyesight that could be held in abeyance by smoking marijuana would I think it worth a 0.5% chance of schizophrenia? How about a 2% chance? I think I would probably take the chance.”

    I was not aware that marijuana was the only treatment for glaucoma. Of course, most people suffering from glaucoma aren’t teenagers (who are greatest risk of mental illness induced by pot smoking). But the whole point of “medical marijuana” was a fig leaf to get people with no medical need a chance to legally smoke pot.

  18. Sebastian says:

    The thing is, I’m not sure if legalization is going to make all that much of a difference in availability to minors. It wasn’t the law that kept me from smoking weed as a kid, it was knowledge that inhaling smoke into one’s lungs isn’t exactly the healthiest of practices.

  19. Clayton, thanks for responding. Let me cure your ignorance on a few salient facts:

    “most states have pretty crowded prisons with more serious crimes”

    America imprisons 2.3 million citizens, the highest overall AND per-capita rate in the world by a long shot. Half are imprisoned on drug charges. Half of all drug arrests are for marijuana.

    Whether it was possession, cultivation, or sales, we are locking up people for committing the same crime the Founders committed every day.

    “They were growing hemp for rope–not for dope.”

    Irrelevant. Whether you are caught with a pound or a plant of 18% THC medical-grade pot or 0.1% THC industrial hemp, you are subject to the exact same punishments. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington would all be subject to the death penalty for trafficking in >60,000kg of hemp (yes, America, along with such stalwarts of liberty as Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and China, has a federal death penalty for marijuana.)

    Plus, use of cannabis for recreation, relaxation, and medicine was quite common throughout history, from Chinese Emperors using it in 2727 BCE to Queen Victoria using it in the 19th Century. It was nowhere near as commonplace as growing hemp for rope (and oil and paper and food and canvas and 25,000 other applications), but it wasn’t unheard of, either. Jefferson, at great personal risk, sent agents to China to retrieve cannabis seeds of great potency, an irrelevant component to a hemp farmer. Washington diaried about removing the male plants from one of his fields, something a farmer does to develop medicine, not materials.

    “One of the difficulties with legalization is that it sends a message to teenagers that there’s nothing wrong with smoking pot”

    So the right message to send is that we lock you up for choosing the safer substance? The right message is “Use alcohol, it’s legal”? Or is there nothing wrong with drinking beer? Or smoking cigarettes, for that matter.

    Drinking alcohol at a young age is far more harmful to a developing teenage brain than is smoking pot, yet I don’t read your call for a repeal of the 21st Amendment, do I?

    Making something legal doesn’t equate to endorsing its use. Ask a tobacco smoker if he feels like government is encouraging cigarette smoking lately. It’s perfectly legal, yet socially reviled. That strategy has led to a halving of teenage smoking in fifteen years and we didn’t lock up a single smoking adult to accomplish that.

    “Both alcohol and marijuana are significant risks to mental health, and intoxication of all sorts is a major social problem.”

    That’s like saying both driving at 150mph in a sports car and driving 20mph on a moped are both significant risks to traffic accidents. If you never drive, you’ll never have an accident, but if you get on the moped or in the car, you chances of a wreck go up infinitely.

    Alcohol is toxic. It has a therapeutic ratio of 1:10. That means, if one unit of alcohol gets you drunk, ten units will kill you. Alcohol is addictive. 15% of people who try it, according to NIDA, develop a dependence and quitting alcohol cold turkey can kill you from the withdrawals. Alcohol is severely impairing. People who blow a 0.05BAC (below “legally drunk”) are statistically much more likely to suffer a severe auto accident than sober drivers.

    Marijuana is non-toxic. It’s therapeutic ratio is 1:40,000. You’d have to have a 300lb bale fall on you from thirty feet to die from it. Marijuana is less addictive. NIDA says 9% of its users fall into dependence and the withdrawals are sleep difficulties and anxiety. Marijuana is mildly impairing. People who are completely baked beyond Chong test about the same as 0.05BAC drivers – people we consider not impaired enough to be absolutely forbidden from driving.

    “That’s why alcohol, while not as stringently regulated as marijuana, is still regulated. It probably needs to be more tightly regulated.”

    No, marijuana is not regulated at all, it is prohibited. This means there are no regulations on who sells it to whom, whether IDs are checked, what an appropriate age of use is, how much can be sold, where it can be sold, where it can be grown, how it should be grown, and how it can be marketed.

    A brewer, distillery, bartender, and drinker are all governed by laws, inspected and trained by regulations and public service advertisements. A grower, smuggler, dealer, and toker face none of these requirements.

    As for Sebastian’s “the article did kind of look like blame shifting. I’ll highlight your comment in the morning.” Sorry if I wrote poorly. Again, the point isn’t criticism of the Arizonans Pack Heat law, but astonishment that a people that can be so liberal with a freedom that quite clearly can cause death of innocents, yet so regressive with a freedom that never kills anyone (except the Mexicans slaughtered south of the border because our prohibition has turned them into a bunch of Al Capones.)

    Marijuana legalization and regulation is one of the most conservative, pro-liberty positions there is. Ask Milton Friedman or William Buckley.

  20. Countertop says:

    Its worth noting that it seems like – at one point – a few years ago he stopped smoking pot (though its not clear if he restarted or not).

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/jared-lee-loughner-friend-voicemail-phone-message?page=1

    In October 2008, Tierney was living in Phoenix, and Loughner came to visit. They went to see a Mars Volta concert with friends, and Tierney was surprised when Loughner said he had quit partying “completely.” Loughner, according to Tierney, said, “I’m going to lead a more healthy lifestyle, not smoke cigarettes or pot anymore, and I’m going to start working out.” Tierney was happy for his friend: “I said, ‘Dude, that’s awesome.’ And the next time I saw him he was 10 pounds lighter.” Tierney never saw Loughner smoke marijuana again, and he was surprised at media reports that Loughner had been rejected from the military in 2009 for failing a drug test: “He was clean, clean. I saw him after that continuously. He would not do it.”

    FWIW, I come down sort of on NORMLs side on this issue (legalization) – but through personal experience – I do think there is a very dark side to marijuana use that legalizations advocates don’t want to discuss.

    Not only have I known folks who started hearing “voices” (and stopped when they stopped smoking pot) – but it does make some folks very VERY lazy. I always thought the best War on Drugs commercial was the one of the 35 year old guy smoking pot in his mothers basement doing nothing.

    That’s clearly not most people – but its enough people that its something we need to consider.

    Don’t know enough about the technical aspects of the psychosis thing, but I do know a few people who got really strange and reached out for help and the immediate cure was to stop smoking pot.

    I know folks who would argue that different strains have different impacts – and that its the “cheap” weed that causes laziness – there may be something to this I’m not sure.

  21. O. Rly says:

    “One of the difficulties with legalization is that it sends a message to teenagers that there’s nothing wrong with smoking pot– . . . And teenagers aren’t exactly noted for their ability to make sensible, long-term decisions. That’s why we limit their rights in a number of ways: driving; guns; alcohol; contracts; sex.”

    One of the difficulties with legalization is that it sends the message that the government is subject to rules just like the populace is. The fedgov lacks the police power to criminalize mere possession and sale, and can’t compact it into the doctor-pharmacy system to say that it’s regulation and not prohibition. It is prohibition. The constitutions of several states also preclude such possession and sale prohibitions, even if those prohibitions are subsequently adopted by legislatures. If we consider the government an authority, and therefore a role model, it’s really no wonder we can’t get the populace to follow the rules — just take one look at the role model.

    We don’t limit the rights of teenagers because they “aren’t exactly noted for their ability to make sensible, long-term decisions”. We limit their rights because it is adults, specifically parents, who are noted for their inability to make sensible, long-term decisions. Otherwise, the purpose for the several limitations is more often than not to prepare them for and acclimate them into a future of tyranny. The side effect of a culture always looking for someone to blame is that we’ve sought to criminalize everything and more, when the truth is that sometimes things less fortunate happen, to and by youth, as a result of humanity or its missteps, but for which there is no criminal to blame. And then, as a result of the regulatory-administrative state, adults have given up any responsibility for guidance, relying on the patchwork of laws to criminalize everyone and everything, so there is no quest to give the best guidance and hope youth and the adults they come will make the best choices, even though they won’t always.

    I didn’t see the NORML article to blame guns in lieu of cannabis. In fact, those in the gun-liberty community make the same types of sentiments for the sake of argument all the time. They will say, ‘how could you reach this conclusion with all these apparent errors, based on the way you argued these other situations?’ although they have no support for the scenario underlining the argument. Whether that’s an appropriate way to make the argument, I don’t know, but it really does happen all the time.

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