Friday, January 7, 2011

Marijuana Mushrooms

This was originally posted on the Power and Control blog and the original Marijuana Mushrooms post can be found in the preceding link.

No. This is not some new way to make THC with genetically altered mushrooms. (it is just a matter of time though). It is about a follow up to my story Mutiny In Montana. The Helena Independent Record has a story called Missoula marijuana ‘mutiny’ mushrooms.

Call it the Pot Shot Heard ‘Round the World.

Oh, wait. Somebody already did that.

The Examiner online news site — one of many news organizations that picked up on the story of a Missoula jury pool that dug in its heels last month at the prospect of trying a case involving “a couple of buds” of marijuana — put a variation of that headline on its story.

Others likewise had fun with it. “The Great Montana Marijuana Mutiny,” the Wall Street Journal’s legal blog termed it.

“Where There’s Smoke, There’s Change,” pronounced the Toronto Star.

And Huffington Post declared in a possible first that “Sanity Broke Out in Missoula, Montana, Today.”

Headline hijinks aside, the jury pool’s action — and the reaction to it — has serious ramifications for continued prosecution of low-level nonviolent drug crimes, not just in Missoula County but around the country.

“It was almost like a slap in the face to the system,” said John Zeimet, of the moment on Dec. 16 when he watched his fellow prospective jurors, one after another, tell Missoula County District Judge Dusty Deschamps that not only were they disinclined to convict, but wondered aloud why taxpayer money was being wasted on the case.

“The people stood up and spoke out.”

Yes they did. We could use a lot more of that in this country. The judge in the case is also speaking out.

The judge and former Missoula County attorney said he’s “more or less” convinced that marijuana should be legalized in some form, despite being “much alarmed at what I consider to be rampant abuse of what I think was a well-intentioned initiative” — that being the 2004 statewide voter initiative that legalized medical marijuana in Montana. Deschamps also voted for that initiative.

“We’ve seen some downside in the medical marijuana thing, but I’m reasonably convinced that, over the years, I haven’t seen very many criminals go out and commit horrible crimes under the influence of marijuana. Alcohol is 10 times the problem marijuana is, a hundred times.”

Yes. Alcohol is the biggest drug problem in America. And yet, we are solving that problem, little by little over time without further recourse to prohibitions.

Which brings up the other bette noirs of our prohibitionist friends. Cocaine and heroin. A recent headline from the UK says it all: Alcohol 'more harmful than heroin or crack'.

Alcohol is the most dangerous drug in the UK by a considerable margin, beating heroin and crack cocaine into second and third place, according to an authoritative study published today which will reopen calls for the drugs classification system to be scrapped and a concerted campaign launched against drink.

Led by the sacked government drugs adviser David Nutt with colleagues from the breakaway Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, the study says that if drugs were classified on the basis of the harm they do, alcohol would be class A, alongside heroin and crack cocaine.

Today's paper, published by the respected Lancet medical journal, will be seen as a challenge to the government to take on the fraught issue of the relative harms of legal and illegal drugs, which proved politically damaging to Labour

The caption on a picture included in the article encapsulates the findings.

Heroin causes harm to users, but alcohol causes considerably more harm in the wider community, study finds. Photograph: Action Press/Rex Features

Why is that? From my studies on the subject recounted in my article Heroin, only the most abused children turn to heroin. And even those must be genetically susceptible. Most people are not interested in the stuff. But suppose you are one of those who got a habit from medical use? For those people with no history of abuse detox works well. What detox does not fix is the pain in the brain left over from child abuse. We have no fix for that. Which is why addiction is different from habituation.

We are spending tens of billions a year in America on what appears to be a minor problem. In fact if we could switch alcohol addicts from alcohol to pot we might have a LOT less trouble with alcohol. In fact just such switching was considered a valid treatment for alcohol addiction before cannabis was prohibited nationally in 1937. So not only is the spending a waste, it may actually be counter productive.

Way to go my "sufficient punishment can cure any social ill" friends.

No it can't.

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