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Debunking this week's hottest pot myths point-by-point

Illustration for article titled Debunking this weeks hottest pot myths point-by-point

Earlier this week, heavyweight columnists David Brooks and Ruth Marcus weighed in on the debate over the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado. Armed with reason and findings from several studies, Time's Maia Szalavitz has served up a refreshing piece of debunkery that tackles their misinformed contentions head-on.

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Photo Credit: AP

Writes Szalavitz, on the subject of pot's inherent immorality:

Brooks focuses his opposition to legalization on the idea that marijuana smoking is "not a particularly uplifting form of pleasure and should be discouraged more than encouraged," based, it appears, largely on the fact that he embarrassed himself during high school by smoking before a class presentation.

But why does this mean that marijuana should be illegal? Would arresting the teenaged Brooks have been a better way of ending his use than his own realization that it made him appear foolish? To ask the question is to answer it.

It's hard to argue with a straight face that arresting Brooks would have helped. In fact, research shows that kids who are arrested and put into the juvenile justice system for any type of crime, including marijuana possession, are almost seven times more likely to have criminal records as adults than kids with similar levels of youthful misbehavior who are not arrested.

Our current laws already fail to deter around half of the population from trying marijuana by the time they reach adolescence. And black people are at least four times more likely than whites to be arrested for cannabis, despite the fact that they use and sell the drug at around the same rate as whites. If heavy arrest rates were a deterrent, blacks might logically have much lower use rates— and yet, they do not.

Is subjecting black people to potentially harmful arrests that do not reduce marijuana use a higher moral path for society than legalizing marijuana and applying more effective strategies, such as the successful methods that have reduced cigarette smoking? And to take this line of thinking to its natural conclusion, where is the morality in selling alcohol and cigarettes, both of which have been linked to known health and societal harms?

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Read the rest over at Time.

ht Maggie Koerth-Baker.

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DISCUSSION

Pot is a mind-altering drug. It may be milder than alcohol, but it causes impairment. It doesn't matter to me much, I avoid smokers and places where there is smoking. And no amount of argument is going to convince me that smoking a drug is any better than drinking one. (I don't drink alcohol either. It is by preference. I prefer to spend my money on other things and I've seen far to many of my family destroy themselves with it.)

What I truly hate though is the people who hide behind their rights as though it absolves them and others of responsibility. It doesn't matter if its their Second Amendment Rights, or the laws that make smoking tobacco or weed legal, or the laws that make alcohol legal. I think a lot of it has to do with the idea (at least with smoking or alcohol) that its only the person consuming the product that is affected by it. Of course, any rational person understands its not true - anyone with a problem with alcohol or drugs is a problem for everyone around them, including themselves. Their actions have far reaching and devastating consequences that can reach out and strike at random. But in the end, that matters little.

For me, the only difference it makes is the idea that I now have double reason to avoid areas where smokers are if pot is legal somewhere I'm at. My father once told me, "When it comes to smoking and drinking, you don't have a choice. Its a person's right to do it where and when they want to." Except, he forgot, I can always chose to avoid the places where that happens. Even if it means I don't go to family get-togethers - even if it makes me a virtual prisoner. There is always a choice. Unfortunately, a lot of people take that personal choice of mine as an affront and judgement of their existence and life choices. Sadly, there's nothing I can do about that except shrug and walk away.