Intellectual Honesty And Pot

So, three weeks? Sorry to my readers.

Today’s topic was put in my mind by the infamous ONT at Ace’s place.

Via our Marginally Honorable Chairman and profane podcast personality Brent Cochran we have this idea

I will say this about legal pot: I’m in favor.
I’ve been really really drunk.
I’ve been really really stoned.
I was far safer stoned than I was drunk. I never blacked out when stoned. I never got sick when I was stoned. I never was out of control when I was stoned.
Are there issues? Are there side effects and consequences? Damn straight. Such is life. But I can’t be intellectually honest, I can’t be ok with booze, while being against pot.
I’ve flipped on the issue. [Emphasis Added]

As I’ve noted before, my personal preferences with regard to drugs are shaped by my past experiences. I won’t pretend otherwise. Nor, for that matter, will I be ashamed of it.

Having said that, I also tend to call for intellectual honesty on a semi-regular basis, I suppose I should take this opportunity to try and demonstrate it myself.

I don’t think the comparison between pot and booze is precisely equal. While alcohol is abused, and a significant number of people do use it primarily as a mind altering substance (or more euphemistically “social lubricant.”) I’m not sure this is the primary intent for anything beyond a small minority. Indeed lots of people don’t look at alcohol count per se, but rather their flavor preferences when choosing a drink. (I have to phrase it this way because I think Bud Light tastes like crap, but it’s preferred by a lot of people, it’s also a measly 4.2% alcohol. If people were choosing based on that it’d never be bought. One of the But Select varieties is 2.8%!

Now as I said, there are a significant number of people who drink for the sole purpose of getting drunk. Indeed, one rarely goes through college without meeting someone who declares they like vodka because “you can’t even taste it!” I find these people depressing to say the least. (I tend not to meddle in other people’s business, otherwise I probably would be a scold at them).

Now in full disclosure I have, myself, drunk to excess, and a few notes about this: 1) I don’t particularly care for the feeling of being drunk, it feels like control is slipping and I like being in control of myself and 2) the few (probably less than three) times I’ve been REALLY HAMMERED are actually sources of embarrassment for me that I won’t go into other than to say, I wasn’t really in a good place for at least one of them. (Oddly, I was still more lucid than the pot smokers at our card table at this point as demonstrated by the fact that I could shuffle the deck of cards and they couldn’t even remember what game we were playing.)

Now compare this to pot. Pot’s primary purpose is the mind altering effects. Full stop. I’ve never met anyone who likes the smell or taste of it (unlike say a cigar). Indeed people go to great lengths to create edibles that totally disguise the pot itself. It seems to me the fundamental nature of these things are different.

If there is an analog to pot, I’d argue it’s not alcohol, but psychedelics such as Psilocybin (magic) mushrooms, ecstasy and LSD, drugs whose purpose is the mind altering effects with limited other benefits*. So if we’re talking intellectual honesty, than being for pot legalization means you need to also accept the legalization of these drugs.** And that’s a road I’m not willing to cross. And I don’t think it’s intellectually dishonest either, especially when considered in the context of a fuller view of alcohol.

*Whether there are benefits to pot use in specific cases such as severe epilepsy or chronic pain isn’t what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about causal use outside the medical context.

**I don’t think intellectual consistency requires you accept the legalization of all drugs, especially the highly addictive drugs like meth and heroin. Their addictive nature makes them not analogous to marijuana, which does has shown a level of addictiveness but not on anywhere near the same scale.

3 comments on “Intellectual Honesty And Pot
  1. The idea that there should be some sort of fairness or parity in those things that society has decided to accept versus those things that it has decided to make illegal is a childish and naive view.

    And….until we understand how marijuana affects the developing brain, it is reckless in the extreme to relax restrictions on its use.

    • Stepping outside of the legal question for a moment, we’re making moral distinctions. And I think, if you’re going to advocate for a specific policy you should strive for at least some level of intellectual consistency. Otherwise we might as well just play calivinball/will-to-power type preference rule making (or as I call it “RBG jurisprudence.)

      Now at a societal level (as opposed to the individual) how we got where were are is not a mess given that a whole lot of this is just a result of something akin to what economists call “spontaneous order.”

  2. Pingback: News of the Week (March 26th, 2017) | The Political Hat

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