Thursday, December 02, 2004

Anti-Reefer Madness

"The Liberal guy pushes drug use because everyone knows drugs sweep away a woman's natural reluctance to behave like a barnyard goat."
So goes the tragically humorous quote of the day as posted at Praktike's Place. The quote is from an article by Gary Aldrich appearing on the right-wing website In that piece, Aldrich rails against the forces advocating for the legalization of medicinal marijuana, and to a larger extent, those pushing for the ultimate decriminalization of marijuana in all settings. Forget alcohol, according to Aldrich marijuana is the drug that causes women to lose their inhibitions and chastity - and apparently take a liking to some form of beastiality. Who knew? Just think of all the conservative men that have been wasting their money on drinks for their dates and prospective conquests at bars and watering holes.

By way of background, Aldrich himself is a founding member of The Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty, a nonprofit group that describes itself as "dedicated to the Constitution and Bill of Rights." Ironic choice of icons though, since Patrick Henry was famously, and vehemently, opposed to the ratification of the Constitution in the first place. A telling internal contradiction perhaps.

The rest of the piece is rife with ad hominem attacks and equally bizarre (and repetitive) statements that are, not surprisingly, unsupported by any evidence. The whole article seems worthy of "quote of the day" status.

Pushing to legalize marijuana is the best evidence of the remarkable, deadly selfishness of your average, self-centered Liberal. They know the above facts better than most because many of their close friends have become addicts, and their lives were destroyed.

Yet selfish, self-centered Liberals don't care about any of that - they just want their marijuana, cocaine, or whatever designer drug is in fashion...

We have ceded enough ground to the selfish, self-centered, and often deadly Liberals who really don't give a damn what happens to their brothers and sisters.

They just want their drugs.
In one moment of particularly prurient froth, Aldrich seems to undermine his case, and those that argue that marijuana has no medicinal value:

What [liberals] won't admit is that many cannot enjoy their sexual activities without using the drugs - this is the dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about. The effects of marijuana and cocaine are often more powerful than Viagra. [emphasis added]
Really? More powerful than Viagra? That is a dirty little secret, but I bet you Pfizer is more concerned with its revelation than those over-sexed liberals. Think of all those poor men using the watered-down potency enabler Viagra instead of the erectile dynamo that is marijuana. Move over little blue pill, it's little green leaf time. Bob Dole, I smell an ad campaign - no pun intended.

Aldrich proceeds to echo another of the popular anti-marijuana arguments - the gateway meme:

Marijuana is also a sneaky drug. It's considered a gateway drug because once the casual user smokes it and enjoys its "benefits" without a serious consequence, the user concludes that the same could be true for other, more serious drugs. Thus the escalation begins and, for so many poor souls, their lives completely unravel. To feed their out-of-control drug habit, the addict often turns to a life of crime. After they have begged, borrowed, and stolen money and valuables from their friends and families, their future becomes the life of a serious criminal, and prison cannot be far behind.
Leaving aside, again, the fact that alcohol probably fits the mold better than marijuana as a gateway drug since it by nature lowers inhibitions to dangerous and risky behavior, Aldrich might actually be on to something. He seems to indicate that the casual user who discovers that marijuana has no "serious consequence[s]" might be inclined to assume, by extrapolation, that other more pernicious drugs are equally harmless. If they have been fed a line about marijuana, how can they trust the rest of the anti-drug message?

But this is all the more reason for people to adopt a more realistic approach to teaching children about marijuana vis-a-vis other drugs. If marijuana is lumped in with cocaine, heroin and other more dangerous substances, and there is no attempt to differentiate, then the credibility of the messenger will be undermined if and when young adults realize that the dangers of marijuana have been overhyped. It would be much healthier if the detrimental effects of marijuana were honestly appraised, and not exaggerated beyond reality. At least trust won't be shattered at first contact.

Predictably, Aldrich himself falls into the trap by conflating marijuana use and cocaine use, never discerning the two.

I know the unvarnished truth about marijuana in a professional and personal way. Many of the criminals I jailed hooked on some sort of drug, having started their sad journey with alcohol, then marijuana - but I also have two addicted relatives whose lives are forever stunted physically, and mentally.
That is how he begins an anecdote that seems to be leading to a discussion of how marijuana ruined lives and futures. He continues:

Full recovery for both is not expected, and one suffers a permanent heart condition because of the use of cocaine. Their permanent disabilities will likely shorten their lives and dictate how they live in the meantime.

I also have a close friend whose relative stuck the family fortune - and it was considerable - right up his nose as he snorted cocaine for decades. All the money is now gone, and he still uses. [emphasis added]
So his cautionary tales about marijuana use end up really being about the use of cocaine, and the devastating effects that can follow. Is it any wonder kids are confused and mistrustful? Is this really the best way to establish an intelligent program for curtailing the use of hard drugs? I think honesty is the best drug policy.

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