Ed Brayton’s usual failure to think it through when it comes to drug policy

October 22, 2010

Ed relates the sad tale of a kid who brings his parents’ pot to school and rats them out to the po-po.
It’s pretty obvious, right? Getting kids to turn their parents in to the authorities is pretty, well, 1984 . Fascist.
Yes, yes it is.
but how is discourse served by this stupid gotcha journalism of the absurd?
It is not. and this is why Ed irritates me when he spews out this nonsense without a single bit of perspective beyond the kneejerk civil liberties position.
A questioner brings the right point to the table.

So where’s the cutoff? Is armed robbery reportable but burglary not? If the parents were running a meth lab, would that be enough of a risk that you’d support the child informing? How about a marijuana operation where Mexican drug cartel personnel were in and out of the house constantly?

Exactly. What is the principle at stake here? Should children not be informing on their parents for any type of legal infraction? That actually makes sense to me as a workable principle, akin to spouses not having to testify against each other.
How would this work though? Would a bust that originates with a child of the suspect be ruled out of the courtroom evidence? That would seem to be a remedy.
Or are you asking children to pick and freaking choose what represents a beyond-the-pale crime versus a wink-wink, we-disagree-civilly-disobediently?
That is a bullshit principle, to put that sort of burden on children.
Ed, you can do better. There are complexities here in terms of the application of principle to public policy. You often do better with similarly complex issues. Just not when it comes to the drug laws that you don’t like.

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82 Responses to “Ed Brayton’s usual failure to think it through when it comes to drug policy”

  1. Gretchen Says:

    Umm, Ed isn’t asking the children to do anything. He isn’t placing any “burden” on them at all. He’s blaming D.A.R.E. for instructing children to turn their parents in for something they would only perceive as bad because the officers told them it was, almost certainly through lies, and almost certainly without informing them of the consequences.
    Quite frankly I don’t think it’s a good idea to encourage children to turn in their parents for anything other than abusing them, but especially not for something that harms no one if left unreported but everyone involved if reported. For someone who accuses Ed of not thinking things through, you sure didn’t bother to put a lot of thought into this post.

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  2. Gretchen Says:

    Oh, and by the way….mad the swine is a troll. I would’ve thought that should be obvious from his post, but apparently not.

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  3. Raging Bee Says:

    Ed isn’t just disagreeing with the kids narcing on their parents; he’s mostly disagreeing with the grownups’ reaction — specifically, the act of packing the kids off to live somewhere else, without a hint of actual abuse or misconduct on their parents’ part. That’s the main issue here. Where do you stand on that part? Do you agree with this draconian and disproprtionate response? If not, then you really shouldn’t have a problem with Ed’s position here.
    We all agree that this is a complex issue. That’s why we’re pissed about the authorities’ simpleminded and irresponsible response. Where, exactly, is Ed wrong here?

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  4. Rob Monkey Says:

    I think part of the confounding factor here is that the kids are specifically being educated to rat out their parents, and yes, the fact that it is just marijuana is a confounding factor. All of the examples given, such as running a meth lab, or making the kid live in a cartel operation, seem to be obviously detrimental to the kid’s upbringing. The parents smoking a little pot now and then is hardly the same thing, and yet the kid is encouraged to turn in his parents to the police. It may technically be illegal for dad to give his 18 year old a beer to drink, but do I want the cops telling the little 8 year olds to turn in dad if it happens?

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  5. Captain Mike Says:

    “What is the principle at stake here? Should children not be informing on their parents for any type of legal infraction?”
    I might be wrong here, but I don’t think anyone is angry at the kid. I know I’m not.
    I am angry about the laws that make marijuana possession a crime, in part because they have horrible consequences. This is one of them.

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  6. Spartan Says:

    So you’re essentially complaining that he didn’t blog the way you wanted him to? You want him to launch into an exposition on the complexities of these issues; what’s stopping you? More importantly, what specifically did Ed write that you disagree with? If he would have thought it through when it comes to drug policy, he would realize that when he wrote ‘x’ he was wrong; what’s your ‘x’. You seem to agree that there are complexities involved, but don’t say anything about the cop who says he wants children to rat out their parents; this cop has thought through these complexities to your satisfaction?
    No DM, you can do better. Then again, you’ve taken some wacky positions on drug use; I still can’t believe you don’t see a categorical difference in harm between marijuana vs heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs, which was the subject of one of your previous posts.

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  7. DrugMonkey Says:

    Gretchen,
    whether someone is a ‘troll’ or not in your estimation means essentially zero when it comes to whether or no the point is valid for discussion. In this case it is.
    He’s blaming D.A.R.E. for instructing children to turn their parents in for something they would only perceive as bad because the officers told them it was, almost certainly through lies, and almost certainly without informing them of the consequences.
    Well, that’s kinda the point about police and the law. The officers and the legal system tell people that can’t otherwise work it out for themselves (kids need to be taught things, would you agree?) what is beyond the pale. “through lies”? dude, wherever jurisprudence is interesting it is complicated. that means shade so gray. calling something “lies” betrays both your real position and a lack of appreciation for complexity. recreational marijuana possession and growing is currently illegal in most US jurisdictions, full stop. Again, are you suggesting we should pick and choose?
    he’s mostly disagreeing with the grownups’ reaction — specifically, the act of packing the kids off to live somewhere else, without a hint of actual abuse or misconduct on their parents’ part. That’s the main issue here. Where do you stand on that part? Do you agree with this draconian and disproprtionate response?
    I disagree that Ed has made it clear that this is his principle instead of being motivated by his picking and choosing which laws offend his eye and which do not. I think his typical commenters in that thread and similar betray an even more extreme version of this. You, by describing illegal activities as being “without a hint of actual… misconduct” make the point very effectively. You oppose the specific law, therefore you object to the actions of the police and the child. To repeat, where is your threshold? What represents “actual abuse and misconduct” that justifies kids narc’ing on their parents? Or can you just make the general prescription that it is never appropriate and call for evidence-exclusion rules?
    Rob Monkey- again with the picking and choosing. So who is the arbiter of “harm”? You? Ed Brayton? His leegalize eet civil liberties pals? Sara Palin? Or can we strive for something that is an actual principle that can be consistently applied? otherwise this is just whining about drug laws dressed up in FauxNews style sensationalism about how outrageous it is that kids are busting their parents like 1984…

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  8. DrugMonkey Says:

    you’re essentially complaining that he didn’t blog the way you wanted him to?
    No, I’m criticizing him for what I take to be his position based on this and prior posts. He’s free to blog it, and I’m free to take issue with his dumbassery.
    what’s stopping you?
    What on earth do you think this discussion is about?
    don’t say anything about the cop who says he wants children to rat out their parents;
    I would strongly consider the position that evidence of the child cannot be used to convict the parent save in very extraordinary circumstances. That threshold would need to be explored, of course. OTOH, I also believe in the rule of law and the aspiration for consistency. Thus, the nature of CPS type intervention in the family is a key consideration. What most emphatically does not come into the calculus is a personal position on whether one particular law, i.e., marijuana criminalization, is good or bad.
    I still can’t believe you don’t see a categorical difference in harm between marijuana vs heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs, which was the subject of one of your previous posts.
    I never said any such thing. Feel free to point to where I did. I suspect you are confusing my position on the potential of these substances to cause dependence with 1) the conditional probability of dependence and/or 2) an inability to grasp the difference between drug dependence and “harm” to the individual and group.

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  9. TBRP Says:

    Add me to the list of readers curious about what Ed wrote that you actually disagree with.

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  10. Robert S. Says:

    Or are you asking children to pick and freaking choose what represents a beyond-the-pale crime versus a wink-wink, we-disagree-civilly-disobediently?

    Um, yes?
    I do think that a kid wouldn’t run to the po-po if they jaywalked with their parents. I would expect them to go to the police if they saw dear old dad take a pickax to that damn uppity “fill in the blank”. Or if they knew mom was about to try and blow up a clinic, or military recruiting office.
    Are there grey areas? Of course there are. But there are also areas that are damn near perfectly black and white.

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  11. Gretchen Says:

    DrugMonkey,
    Your response to me was borderline incoherent, but I think I can determine what you’re asking.
    Should kids be taught? Certainly. Should it be the role of police officers to teach them? Absolutely not– not about drugs or anything else. If we want them to learn about the effects of drugs, they can do so perfectly well in science class. If we want them to learn about the law, they can do so in government and social studies classes. They should not be told about how to view the law or what to do about people breaking the law in public schools, much less by people wearing a badge.
    “Using these drugs is illegal” is a fact. “Taking these drugs is bad and it will ruin your life” is not, nor is “People who use these drugs should be sent to prison.” Yet these things are what D.A.R.E. teaches. I feel sorry for the pot-smoking parents who were gullible enough to think otherwise, or at least not think about it seriously enough to realize that subjecting their kids to that would be a really bad idea.

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  12. Kengi Says:

    The government has made the gray-area choice for us. Government officials go to school and implore children to turn in their parents for smoking weed. Outside of drug use, I don’t know of any other crime where the government goes into elementary schools to train children to be snitches.
    You don’t see something wrong with that?

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  13. FrankenFish Says:

    Jeebus! What a stoopid-ass post! Got nothing better to blog about today?
    Saying that this latest post by Brayton and other like posts by him (ummm which ones?) are pointing to some horrific conclusion manufactured by you,…well…maybe you should try to get attention doing something else for a while. What a waste.

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  14. delurking Says:

    Next time I see you jaywalking, I’m recording it and sending to the police.

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  15. qetzal Says:

    Your point about the overall principle is an interesting take, but I disagree that Brayton was merely spewing out nonsense without a single bit of perspective beyond the kneejerk civil liberties position. He wrote:

    Why exactly is having parents who smoke pot any more dangerous than having parents who drink alcohol? By almost any measure, the former is actually less dangerous.

    IOW, Brayton’s perspective is that marijuana use by parents in their own home is less dangerous to their children than is alcohol use. Yet the former results in arresting the parents and removing the children to foster care, where the latter does not. Seems like a reasonable perspective to me, even if it’s not the one you think is most important.

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  16. Robert Says:

    The point I certainly got was that our prohibition policies about drug use, especially marijuana, are far more damaging than the drugs themselves.
    We have a child who reported his parents over what essentially amounts to mild intoxication because of absurd scare tactics taught by police and now has been removed from his home (along with a younger sibling).
    And you are seriously trying to argue that Ed is the one who has perspective issues?

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  17. Walter Says:

    Jesus. I cannot believe people can actually be this morally deficient. If DrugMonkey cannot, by himself, see what is morally reprehensible about the event then he is morally retarded. I am sorry, I don not like sinking to name calling, but this stupid post deserves nothing but. This kind of short sighted moral stupidity is ridiculous, and dangerous.

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  18. A Says:

    Just as you may testify against your spouse, children should have this option against their parents; any principal restriction on the admissibility of their testemony seems highly problematic to me.
    I do also disagree with the that criticism on the enforcement of a law should be independent on the opinion one has regarding the law itself: Assuming that banning marijuana is a wrong decision, one might conclude that enforcing the ban on marijuana is bad, too. “The law is the law” is not the only stance on this.
    Finally, a – from my point of view – better example than axe-murdering to judge “cops going to schools and encouring children to rat out their parents” is parking in a restricted area. While I do consider this a punishable offence, I would consider the trust inside a family a higher good.

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  19. Spartan Says:

    I still can’t believe you don’t see a categorical difference in harm between marijuana vs heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs, which was the subject of one of your previous posts.
    I never said any such thing. Feel free to point to where I did.

    Here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/drugmonkey/2009/12/alcohol_and_marijuana_use_epid.php
    With context, bold and emphasis mine:

    It is very odd to me that the public view on drug harms seems to exist in a sort of good/bad binary state that does not appear to be graded with anything resembling a specific measure of “harmfulness” whatever that may be. If we may take the public willingness for legalization as a reflection of some global harm evaluation, that is. Some of the more philosophically defensible arguments, along the line of libertarian civil liberties and what not, would seem to be entirely independent of drug identity, right? So it must be something about the level of harm. The public appear to feel that there is a categorical distinction between marijuana and some other popular drugs but I just don’t see where it is supported in terms of any given harmful outcome including risk of dependence, interference with ability to function when acutely intoxicated, acute risk of death, risk of toxicity to brain or other major organ with repeated use, etc.

    This part of your post is referring to a graph comparing public legalization support for various drugs, including cocaine, heroin, and meth. I assume that those are the ‘popular drugs’ you are comparing to marijuana in your quote above. Or doesn’t that count as ‘any such thing’?

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  20. Leni Says:

    We should clarify something: Mad the Swine is less of a troll and more of a poe. That’s why it’s so amusing that you quoted him.

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  21. What? Says:

    Seriously… This blog is getting disappointing.

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  22. Michael Johnson Says:

    I agree with some of the other commenters that it’s clear what Brayton’s argument is. He says exactly six things about the story:
    1. Balko spotted it.
    2. It made him (Ed) cringe.
    3. The police liked the outcome.
    4. Parents who smoke marijuana are roughly on a par with parents who drink alcohol.
    5. Rationality seems to suggest not destroying a family merely because the parents committed a crime that is roughly morally equivalent with drinking alcohol.
    6. The outcome of the event was irrational.
    Notice that Ed says nothing about the kid, about whether kids should report their parents for illegal activities, or even about whether marijuana should be legal (though of course that’s his position). ALL he says is that the irrational outcome of destroying a family because the parents smoke pot makes him cringe. Doesn’t it do the same for you?
    Oh, and Mad the Swine is not a troll. She/he is a poe. You got poewnd.

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  23. Jason Says:

    Yep. I can’t decide if DrugMonkey is that misguided or just deliberately being provocative or playing devil’s advocate or something. This was really poorly thought out as the commenters have universally pointed out.

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  24. Felix Says:

    I would say this is a question of ethics, not law or civil liberties.
    A child should not be expected or encouraged to inform on its parents.
    This is the principle at stake.
    It is a very strong principle which lessens with the age of the child, the nature of the crime committed and the level of harm or distress caused to the child by the parent.
    If the crime is minor and the distress is low then the principle can hold for the lifetime of the child.
    If the crime is terrible (i.e. murder) then the distress of knowing alone may be enough to overcome the principle.
    So to address your questions:
    | Should children not be informing on their parents for any type of legal infraction?
    Only of their own free will.
    | Would a bust that originates with a child of the suspect be ruled out of the courtroom evidence?
    The nature of this discussion is not legal. However, the answer to this would be No. (Since the child has already suffered the burden)
    | Or are you asking children to pick and freaking choose what represents a beyond-the-pale crime versus a wink-wink, we-disagree-civilly-disobediently?
    Of course! It is up to the child to decide at what point the feel they have to report their parents.
    | That is a bullshit principle, to put that sort of burden on children
    The burden for the child arises from (A) being aware that your parent done X and (B) that X is wrong and (C) that other people who do X get into trouble with the police and therefore the child has a decision to make.
    To avoid the burden the child would have to have avoided one of these pieces of general knowledge about the world.
    The pain of the burden comes from having to go against your family bonds, it doesn’t matter whether the the legal code says that in certain circumstances a child should do X and in others the child should do Y since the child would not be aware of that, and would still have the internal struggle over what to do.

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  25. Disgusted Says:

    Does anyone doubt that treating a family this way could wreck it? Encouraging kids to betray their parents is evil. Agreeing with DARE’s actions in this matter is evil.
    You should be ashamed.

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  26. JimC Says:

    When I read this as the headline on scienceblogs I had to do a double take. I read Brayton’s story this morning and his point was obvious. The drug is question is certainly no more harmful than alcohol and to destroy a family over it is nonsense.
    Drug monkey is clueless and clearly incapable of reading comprehension.

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  27. DrugMonkey Says:

    Encouraging kids to betray their parents is evil. Agreeing with DARE’s actions in this matter is evil.
    You should be ashamed.

    Really Disgusted? and what part of

    It’s pretty obvious, right? Getting kids to turn their parents in to the authorities is pretty, well, 1984 . Fascist.
    Yes, yes it is.

    was unclear to you on this score?
    She/he is a poe. You got poewnd.
    Still not seeing why your opinion as to the intent of the commenter has anything to do with the relevance of the comment itself. No doubt the libertardians over at Ed’s place cannot believe anyone might have a nuanced view of the validity of legalizing recreational drugs….
    Spartan- well I suppose I did use that phrasing. I also made several additional comments, some of them in response to you, in that thread. through that post and the ensuing commentary it is entirely clear that what I was discussing is the false notion that marijuana is completely harmless. perhaps I took a slightly different connotation to your use of “categorical” today and thought you were referring to a matter of degree rather than presence/absence of harm. Is this what you meant? a matter of degree? Are you stipulating to the fact that marijuana is in fact harmful? I dunno, you seemed to grasp the point here. Your comment today suggests you’ve forgotten this (and two prior) comment of your own.
    Assuming that banning marijuana is a wrong decision, one might conclude that enforcing the ban on marijuana is bad, too.
    A, perhaps. one might also conclude that personal preference is a pretty thin standard for the rule of law and civil society. conveniently pretending facts are not so is also a pretty thin standard for deciding if something is a “wrong decision”. here’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for someone on the leegalize eet side to stipulate to the established harms, be rational about the effect of decriminalization on (increased) use and therefore increased harms, eschew the waaahmbulance comparisons to alcohol* and make the argument that those are acceptable risks given the civil liberty issues involved.
    *gee, if the pot fans are so convinced that alcohol is so harmful, why are they not on the barricades calling for prohibition Mark II. Oh yeah, because harms are actually irrelevant to their thinking. Why don’t they just drop all this comparison of harms nonsense (which invariably assaults the existing body of knowledge on the effects of marijuana) and fight it straight up on civil liberty grounds?
    Brayton’s perspective is that marijuana use by parents in their own home is less dangerous to their children than is alcohol use.
    Perhaps so but he’s wrong. because he, like many of you, are in denial about the fact that marijuana causes harms. the idea of “more” or “less” dangerous depends entirely on the specifics. try googling “children removed from alcoholic parents” or similar…obviously it happens too. try it for methamphetamine, same thing. now it *could* be the case that this removal to the relatives was highly unusual for the type…or, since the news accounts are so scant, it could be the case that the sort of neglect or contributing factors that leads to kids being removed in those other cases were at play here as well.We simply don’t know. unless we assume that there can’t possibly be any harms associated with marijuana in this case. I take issue with that assumption.
    But there are also areas that are damn near perfectly black and white.
    eye, beholder.
    Gretchen- whether I agree with the DARE program or not, your contention that the police have no role in instructing the public on the law that they enforce is mind boggling. Have you not heard of community policing? Do you not live in a neighborhood that has it and schedules the occasional sitdown with the local representative of the police? sheesh.

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  28. DrugMonkey Says:

    The drug is question is certainly no more harmful than alcohol and to destroy a family over it is nonsense.
    and since I didn’t contradict either of these point, it appears to be you who is “clueless and clearly incapable of reading comprehension”.

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  29. becca Says:

    Oh, DM DM DM… must you play with fire? I’m very shocked and disturbed you don’t seem to see how you will wreck havoc with people’s emotions with this topic.
    This is not just another story you can play off as “oh, hahaha silly potheads think anyone getting punished for doing something ILLEGAL is automatically fascism!”. This is someone’s family. This is someone’s children who were taken away. It doesn’t cut much deeper.
    There is a 1984 scenario here, but it’s with CPS much more than D.A.R.E.
    Drug policy cannot be a basis for taking kids away from their parents. Full stop.
    Neglect and abuse are the relevant benchmarks.
    “OTOH, I also believe in the rule of law and the aspiration for consistency. Thus, the nature of CPS type intervention in the family is a key consideration.”
    AHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA you think CPS has to play by consistency and the rule of law???? SRSLY???? And you think this has NOTHING to do with race/economic status and a wide variety of ugly isms of our society? And you think that a system based on ‘preponderance of the evidence’ NOT ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ even encourages the PRETENSE of the noble principles you supposedly believe in?
    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    *LOLSOB*
    Anyway, assuming we can all agree on that (barring other serious infractions on the part of the parents) CPS was totes out of line and that is by far the saddest part of this story, then I don’t see anything incredibly, terribly wrong with DARE telling kids drugs are illegal, even if that results in legal action.
    On the other hand, it’s bound to be incredibly messy and sticky. I think there is a developmental stage at which kids aren’t good at ethical nuance. I know an 8 year old who seems totes convinced that swearing (including e.g. ‘crap’) is every bit as bad as operating a meth lab.
    On the other hand, I also know an 11 year old who’s judgment about whether her parents should be locked up I’d trust a lot more than said parents. I would be very interested in the kid’s perspective in this story.
    In other words, we DO ask kids to pick and choose. We expect them to know not to report their parents for speeding, or for parking illegally. We expect them to report abuse (not in the ‘hold them responsible’ sense, just in the ‘who else will do it’ sense).
    But kids won’t always get it right. It is a disgrace to take their best efforts and twist them to destroy their family.
    This is how I think this went down: kid knows their parent is having problems. Kid believes, based on what an officer told them, that reporting their parent will result in help and treatment. The authorities try to take away the child solely as a means of leverage to ensure lawful behavior of the parent.
    If so, it’s not ‘a sad story’. It is profound evil.

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  30. Drug Monkey, you’ve written some raving nonsense in the past, but now I’m actually questioning your mental well-being. This post is seething with emotion and a seemingly personal animosity toward Ed. You’re putting (ungrammatical) words in his mouth. Then you lie about your position on the categorization of drugs, as Spartan pointed out.
    When someone is as rabidly against something as you are, like homophobes, one can reasonably suspect that there are hidden personal issues at hand. Why don’t you blog about why drugs make you feel the way they do? Just maybe not on ScienceBlogs :-\

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  31. qetzal Says:

    I wrote:

    Brayton’s perspective is that marijuana use by parents in their own home is less dangerous to their children than is alcohol use.

    You replied: “Perhaps so but he’s wrong.”
    Perhaps he is. But he did make a point. One that you ignored or overlooked in your haste to accuse him of spewing nonsense. And your apparent unwillingness to acknowledge your error does you no credit.

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  32. monson Says:

    DM is a dirt bag

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  33. DrugMonkey Says:

    assuming we can all agree on that (barring other serious infractions on the part of the parents) CPS was totes out of line and that is by far the saddest part of this story,
    yeah, well, the available evidence doesn’t support that. all we know is that the kids were sent to the relatives, heck we don’t even know for how long. what I *do* know is an asston of situations (through people I know in family law as well as the community of children within which my kids exist) in which removal from the parents was the last fucking resort and plenty of non-removal “we all can agree” probably should have been removal situations.
    All we have to counter the base rate in the population at large is…people wanting to see hamfisted treatment of the poor innocent takes-a-toke-every-other-fortnight behind every DARE tree. sorry, not on board with your assumption in the least.
    kid knows their parent is having problems. Kid believes, based on what an officer told them, that reporting their parent will result in help and treatment. The authorities try to take away the child solely as a means of leverage to ensure lawful behavior of the parent.
    If so, it’s not ‘a sad story’. It is profound evil.

    see? you find it hard to believe that there could have been any criteria on the minds of the police other than “hey, caught with a joint! woo hoo, take the kids away!!!”.
    must you play with fire? ..This is someone’s family. This is someone’s children who were taken away.
    Look dumbass, and I say that with the greatest appreciation for your sustained insightful commentary and also in the plural, drug addiction affects “someone’s family” and “someone’s children” as well. Toxic overdoses of teen girls on totes safe MDMA affects “someone’s family”. The folks who cannot kick weed, have been smoking for decades and know full well it is fucking up their lives but have lived without so much as trying to seek treatment because shit, everyone knows pot isn’t addictive so it must be their own personal failing and gee if they just try a little harder….are in “someone’s family” too.
    I am not criticizing Ed for being sympathetic to families torn apart, hopefully temporarily, because of drug use and the DARE program. I am criticizing him for his continued stance that the marijuana is totally without harms that could possibly inform his opinion on public policy. (and if anyone has ever seen him post on MJ in a way that recognizes harms and finds them an acceptable compromise because of some other policy goal, I’d like to see it)

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  34. DrugMonkey Says:

    When someone is as rabidly against something as you are
    and what, pray tell, am I “rabidly against”?
    I think rather you should ask yourself why any comment from me that suggests that marijuana is anything other than sweetness and light and our natural right as Amurricans inevitably results in people going shitnutts on the internets.
    Drug Monkey, you’ve written some raving nonsense in the past, but now I’m actually questioning your mental well-being. This post is seething with emotion and a seemingly personal animosity
    HAHAHAHA, oh the fucking irony.

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  35. Spartan Says:

    the ensuing commentary it is entirely clear that what I was discussing is the false notion that marijuana is completely harmless. perhaps I took a slightly different connotation to your use of “categorical” today and thought you were referring to a matter of degree rather than presence/absence of harm. Is this what you meant? a matter of degree? Are you stipulating to the fact that marijuana is in fact harmful?

    Yes, it is potentially harmful; are you now agreeing that the harm caused by pot is less than most other drugs, including alcohol? You seem to always retreat to the idea that you are arguing against people who assert it’s absolutely harmless; if you’re just railing against that extreme, fine, but your posts on pot don’t usually make that nuance clear, and thus look like attacks on the large number of people who do understand the harms and still don’t think it rises near to the level justifying criminalization. You criticize Ed for not going into enough depth on the complexities of an issue, but often disparagingly refer to the ‘legalize eet’ crowd as if there is no complexity to that issue at all. But maybe your readers are supposed to understand that when you say ‘legalize eet’ crowd you mean ‘legalize eet because it’s completely harmless’ crowd. Bit of a difference there though.

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  36. Taz Says:

    I am criticizing him for his continued stance that the marijuana is totally without harm
    Where did he say this? The only possibly relevant part of the post states:
    “Why exactly is having parents who smoke pot any more dangerous than having parents who drink alcohol? By almost any measure, the former is actually less dangerous.”
    Not the same thing at all. You’re beating up a strawman in order to defend a bad position. Encouraging kids to turn in their parents for smoking pot is wrong, period. It’s not even a close call.

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  37. becca Says:

    CPS has a very hard job- both type I and type II errors are often tragic.
    Having seen a ‘false positive’ justified post hoc with a trumped up charge of alcoholism, I get very, very squeamish about taking away kids first, worrying about diagnosis and/or treatment (or legal consequences) for parents second. There is something off about this whole ‘parents were released with a promise to appear in court, kids were taken away’. Maybe there’s more to the story and CPS is being wise. Maybe it’s really as scary as it appears to me. What I do know is that the data are vague- we can’t *know* whether it made sense or not.
    No matter how much we want to believe in the rule of law, should we automatically assume that if someone gets into trouble then ‘there must have been a good reason’?
    Why on EARTH would you presume your anecdotal gut feeling is an accurate picture of the general rate of CPS errors? Particularly when, as a parent, you have strong emotional incentive to view them as ‘not a threat to parents like you’.
    From what I know of you, if someone were to say to you “I don’t see the police abusing their authority, therefore it doesn’t happen/isn’t relevant”
    – that wouldn’t fly with you in most situations. Why is it so hard to fathom CPS will sometimes be composed of people who can abuse their power?
    I can tell that drug abuse is an emotional topic for you, and you made a good point about everything being someone’s family.
    I will tell you what. I will stop and think about my child dying of an MDMA overdose. I will stop and think about how gutrenching that is. I will *think* and *feel* about what it means that ‘that is someone’s family too’. As best I can.
    So, please, stop and think about how you would feel if CPS took your kids away for something you could not stop, or could not get them to *believe* you stopped. Or for no reason at all, other than you yelling at a social worker in a moment of insane sleep deprivation post-newborn, in a nightmarish scenario that snowballed into loss of custody. Or because you weren’t the same color as your child. Or because of your religious beliefs. Or because you refused a medical procedure.
    Otherwise, I will criticize you for NOT being sympathetic to families torn apart. Because all of those things happen.

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  38. DrugMonkey Says:

    You’re beating up a strawman in order to defend a bad position. Encouraging kids to turn in their parents for smoking pot is wrong, period. It’s not even a close call.
    if you are suggesting that my “bad position” is being in favor of kids turning their parents in to the police it is you who is tilting away the straw figurine. and, one might add, not even taking a minimal stab at actually reading what I have to say on the topic. my position was that while encouraging kids to turn their parents in to the police is bad, conditioning this in any way on the fact that the infraction was pot possession is a mistake and indicative of a common refusal to acknowledge any harms of marijuana. In the case of Ed, he has a consistent history of posting on drug law with precisely this stance- harms are totally irrelevant if we’re talking marijuana. take a search tour of his blog for marijuana and contrast that with methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin. a, cannabis holds a special place in his blog heart. b, barely a mention anywhere of any harm related to any recreational drug that is of the biomedical variety (as opposed to the legal variety). My position provides balance.
    the large number of people who do understand the harms and still don’t think it rises near to the level justifying criminalization.
    that “large” number of people appears nowhere in the comments to my posts on the topic of cannabis. Instead my comment threads are filled with harm denialists that apparently cannot grapple rationally with even the data provided in a single scientific paper. As I have commented on more than one occasion, if the people who are pro-legalization would refrain from trampling over the available scientific information in the exact same way they accuse the vast right wing/ONDCP/NIDA/scientist conspiracy of overstating and “lying” about the available evidence I’d have much less of a problem and FWDAOTI much less frequently.
    Did you catch the BM’s post the other day? Turns out that only 0.8% of prisoners in CA state prisons are there for possession of marijuana charges that amount to personal use. Going by the leegalize eet crowd on the intertubes one might have assumed something more like half of the people in jail were poor innocent Joes/Janes who liked to smoke a joint now and again. Also the law enforcement in CA asserted that “most” MJ arrests were catch and release- not even booked at the police station. Again, going by the toobateriat this is most astonishing.
    It amuses me no end the way that people who favor drug decriminalization are willing to make all kinds of wild exaggerations while practically foaming at the mouth about alleged ReeferMadness style excesses on the part of those who are against recreational drug legalization. As I have said repeatedly, I am not fond of either type of excess and the abuse of available information.

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  39. holytape Says:

    drugmonkey,
    mad the swine was either a troll or a poe. The give away was that he referred to Refer Madness as a documentary.
    I think that pot was almost besides the point. The creepiness was that the police were getting kids to turn on their parents for relatively minor offenses. The police were happy that the kid did that without acknowledging that the kid is now in foster care.

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  40. DrugMonkey Says:

    holytape, the news account I read said the kids were with “relatives”. Not exactly what one thinks of when you use “foster care”.

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  41. What Drug Monkey doesn’t get is that the law making marijuana illegal is idiotic and never should have been passed in the 1930s in the first place. As such, it certainly should not be used as a vehicle to remove kids from a parents home, any more than if a woman tried to disguise herself as a man in 1920 and tried to vote, her kids should be taken away.
    Cognitive dissonance.

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  42. DrugMonkey Says:

    I doubt you have the slightest idea whether I think laws making marijuana illegal are a good or bad idea. I disagree with you though, that we should pick and choose our personal approach to various laws and assert them as universals. Are you fond of other people doing this with laws that you hold dear?

    Like

  43. DrugMonkey Says:

    aha, now I see why we have so many mouthbreathers over here complaining without actually knowing anything about what I said.

    Like

  44. Ema Nymton Says:

    Wow, Drugmonkey.
    You really are a worthless fucking moron.

    Like

  45. Don Says:

    My first time here, and my last. No intelligent life found.

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  46. Spartan Says:

    In the case of Ed, he has a consistent history of posting on drug law with precisely this stance- harms are totally irrelevant if we’re talking marijuana. take a search tour of his blog for marijuana and contrast that with methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin. a, cannabis holds a special place in his blog heart. b, barely a mention anywhere of any harm related to any recreational drug that is of the biomedical variety (as opposed to the legal variety). My position provides balance.

    I can’t believe you cannot see the most obvious explanation, although I can’t speak for Ed: most people believe there is a contrast between pot vs meth, cocaine and heroin for chrissakes, and they have very good reasons to do so. I don’t think the case can be made that it’s more harmful than alcohol, which many people use as a measuring stick. You implied that you don’t believe that marijuana is as harmful as other drugs when you said you didn’t say what you actually had said, but you didn’t answer my straight question to you asking that specifically. Don’t you think a weighing of the harms of a particular drug’s use and abuse should be relevant to one’s positions on drug laws that pertain to it? Do you think that an honest weighing of all the harms (not just dependence) places marijuana on an equal level to those other three drugs, and thereby demands an equal treatment by Ed in order to be consistent?

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  47. Samantha Vimes Says:

    I don’t remember the police ever telling kids that it’s dangerous to run burglary rings and if their parent is involved in burglarizing houses or businesses, they need *help*, which they will be given if the kids turn them in.
    We’re already (as a society) picking and choosing which crimes we’re asking kids to turn their parents in over. So you pretty much have to justify *why* we should be doing that with marijuana and not owning unlawful firearms.

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  48. JimC Says:

    So essentially DM you would have been ok with various public services tearing up families for having a beer during prohibition? Seeing how it was illegal and all.
    Not much difference here. Both practices are poor health choices and a good argument could be made that alcohol is the worse of the two.

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  49. Tamakazura Says:

    And just as I was thinking: “wow…it’s been months since someone lobbed a public grenade around here…it’s almost like they must be playing nice with each other behind the scenes!”
    So, how about you tell us why Ed is wrong and you are right instead of just attacking him for taking a predictable position?

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  50. Leni Says:

    Again, Madtheswine is a poe.
    He’s quite funny, actually. Which doesn’t make him wrong, of course. It just makes it more funny that you quoted him, DM. It’s like quoting the Church Lady or Colbert or Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. But to be serious instead of ironic or humorous. It just makes it more amusing to the rest of us. Is that really so hard to see?
    For the record, DM, but not that it matters, I think the meanness is completely unwarranted. I’m not a fan of your opinion on marijuana laws, but I don’t think you’re a horrible person or a worthless moron. That’s completely shitty and you don’t deserve that.

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  51. TBRP Says:

    aha, now I see why we have so many mouthbreathers over here complaining without actually knowing anything about what I said.

    I don’t think you’ve actually said anything here other than “Ed doesn’t understand. Neener neener neener.” It just looks like you’re trolling.

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  52. Sean Says:

    You didn’t just get taken in by a blatant, blatant, super-clear Poe (“You wouldn’t want Barack Obama looking the other way when his illegal relatives sneak in from Kenya, would you?” and “Happily, the state stepped in, or we might have found his decapitated body in a ditch in Mexico somewhere.”). You took a direct quote from it and made it the centerpiece of an article as if it was legit. That demonstrates, to me, a critical lack of “lemme stop and actually think about this”.
    “I disagree with you though, that we should pick and choose our personal approach to various laws and assert them as universals.” I’m not sure what the alternative is. Surely some laws are ridiculous, surely some laws are heinous and we are morally obligated to break, and surely others are necessary, and surely we all make judgments about laws that we think should be accepted by everyone. (That’s a great deal of what politics is, of course.) What you call “picking and choosing”, when there’s no specific hypocrisy involved, is what I call “critical thinking”.
    Are young kids good critical thinkers? No. Which, in my opinion, suggests we should only really encourage them to report things that CPS should actually be involved in (I don’t really think being a public nuisance or even mild vandalism should count either). And as far as I can tell, mere possession of pot doesn’t rank. (If you think that last bit is a stupid position, please provide decent evidence that pot users generally are incapable of parenting well; my anecdotal knowledge suggests otherwise, so I’d need something more substantial to counter that.)
    “I am not criticizing Ed for being sympathetic to families torn apart, hopefully temporarily, because of drug use and the DARE program. I am criticizing him for his continued stance that the marijuana is totally without harms that could possibly inform his opinion on public policy.” Totally false. He didn’t discuss the potential harms of marijuana at all in that post (except to suggest that they weren’t bad enough that mere possession of some amount of pot disqualifies someone as a parent). Nor did you in your original post. You instead vaguely suggest that Ed should see the situation as being the same as if the parents had been running a meth lab, and then complain that he doesn’t make that distinction, which only you and some Poe thought needed to be made in the first place.

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  53. Gilbert N Sullivan Says:

    aha, now I see why we have so many mouthbreathers over here complaining without actually knowing anything about what I said.

    Disagreement with your premise and argument maketh a mouthbreather? Golly… glad you cleared that up!

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  54. Galwayskeptic Says:

    ‘So it must be something about the level of harm. The public appear to feel that there is a categorical distinction between marijuana and some other popular drugs but I just don’t see where it is supported in terms of any given harmful outcome including risk of dependence, interference with ability to function when acutely intoxicated, acute risk of death, risk of toxicity to brain or other major organ with repeated use, etc.’
    I have never, after many discussions with many different neuroscience/psychopharm researchers in the department at which I study (psychology and neuroscience; I’m just an undergrad, this is a genuine request for information, not an attack on your assertions, which I’m not qualified to contest) been told that marijuana is addictive (risk of dependance), carries an acute risk of death, or carries a significant risk of toxicity to major organs. I think it’s a given that it interferes with your ‘ability to function’ in that nobody would advise driving a car after taking some, for example.
    I am currently on an exchange year in a university in the Netherlands. Marijuana is (rather famously) legal here, but you know what? A minority of people in the Netherlands regularly smoke it. In fact, at the university, the exchange students are the only people talking about it. Regular Dutch students hardly bother with it at all. I will also mention that this university specialises in biological psychology, neuroscience and psychopharmacology and as of yet, I haven’t found a single researcher/lecturer/professor that would make the claims you are making about marijuana.
    I know you’re busy, but could you link some articles where you got the evidence for these claims? Thank you. I generally like your blog, btw.

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  55. Walton Says:

    Um… what the fuck, DrugMonkey? This isn’t a complicated moral issue. It’s pretty fucking clear-cut. I’ve never read your blog before – I just spotted the title of this post in the Scienceblogs header – but I am now entirely confident in saying that, on this issue at least, you’re completely wrongheaded.
    The ludicrous “War on Drugs” is causing absolutely massive damage. Prosecuting and imprisoning people for the “crime” of smoking weed in their own homes is, simply, batshit insane. Marijuana should be legalised, taxed and regulated, exactly as alcohol and tobacco are. I know you didn’t say that you support drug prohibition, but treating the issue as if it were “complicated” is simply idiotic. It isn’t. The “War on Drugs” is a demonstrably-harmful bullshit policy which exists to pander to authoritarian morons and the right-wing media, not for any rationally defensible reason. There is no reasonable scope for debate here.
    There’s a big difference between encouraging kids to inform on their parents for a crime that actually hurts people, such as armed robbery, and encouraging them to be complicit in the destruction of personal freedom by turning their parents in for a “crime” that shouldn’t be a crime at all. Personally, I certainly wouldn’t ever turn anyone in to the police (even someone I disliked) for a non-violent drug offence: I believe drug prohibition is wrong, and I believe it’s perfectly legitimate to disobey a morally wrong law.
    I’d also point out that the US criminal justice system (state justice systems moreso than the federal system) is so profoundly fucked-up, so barbaric and punitive, and so heavily weighted in favour of police and prosecutors and against individual defendants, that I would have serious moral qualms about co-operating with the law enforcement authorities in general. I’d turn someone in if I were certain that they had committed rape or child molestation or something along those lines, but I can’t imagine ever informing on anyone even for a non-violent property offence, let alone a drug crime. It seems to me rational, and morally legitimate, to mistrust governments, police and penal systems in general, given how horribly abusive and destructive these things tend to be.

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  56. Greg Laden Says:

    Doesn’t the fact that growing, possessing, or smoking pot, while perhaps not good for you (the same can be said of bacon, tobacco, and a lot of other things) is simply, indubitably, NOT a criminal act in any normal sense of the word (other than the technical one) mean that not turning anyone in for it is almost always the right thing to do?
    Also, according to the law, IIRC FLOTVSIW, close relatives are not expected to testify against each other. Would this apply to children against parents? If so, why would we expect, or especially, train, kids to turn in their parents.
    Kids in schools these days are routinely trained to do so in public schools at least in Minnesota.

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  57. leegalize eet

    Funny, I listened to Peter Tosh quite a bit in the past, and don’t recall this “eet” pronunciation. Do you put supporters of legal alcohol in leprechaun voices?

    Why don’t they just drop all this comparison of harms nonsense…and fight it straight up on civil liberty grounds?

    Works for me. Harm to ourselves shouldn’t be criminalized. Harm to others should be, whether people are on drugs or not.

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  58. rnb Says:

    I was going to Godwin this discussion, but thought of a different argument.
    If a child became aware his parents were in violation of the Fugitive Slave Act, should we be encouaging the child to turn in his parents?

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  59. rnb Says:

    Thinking about it a little more, what bothers me is the police seem to be indoctrinating kids who don’t have a great deal of ability to analyse and reject pernicious ideas.
    Can parents opt out of DARE programs, without having to home school?

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  60. doctorgoo Says:

    JimC @48 makes an important point that I’d like to expand on:

    So essentially DM you would have been ok with various public services tearing up families for having a beer during prohibition? Seeing how it was illegal and all.

    …or even today: if a parent is drinking alcohol in front of their children (when there isn’t another adult to take care in an emergency) … should the child be taken away?
    Or if a parent breaks a law (such a speeding) that endangers a child, would your first thought be to have CPS take away the child?

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  61. Isabel Says:

    “His leegalize eet civil liberties pals?”
    Racist stereotypes. DM is a racist!
    :Next time I see you jaywalking, I’m recording it and sending to the police.”
    DM is perfect!
    “you are arguing against people who assert it’s absolutely harmless; if you’re just railing against that extreme, fine, but your posts on pot don’t usually make that nuance clear,”
    DM also never actually quotes anyone because those people do not exist at least not on my memory of reading this blog.
    And I wish on any child that their parents regularly used cannabis rather than alcohol. I know many people who blame their miserable childhoods on alcohol. It incites many men to violence for one thing. Want to hear some more stories? Then perhaps you can direct me to a single, made up story from one of your NIDA websites….
    “Maybe there’s more to the story and CPS is being wise. Maybe it’s really as scary as it appears to me. ”
    It is certainly possible that the cannabis is being scapegoated (by the DARE cops, the kid, and the CPS) for some unrelated serious issue.

    Like

  62. PalMD Says:

    I’m fascinated. It’s remarkable to me that folks can’t evaluate some of the subtleties of a discussion that has two parts: the police-state informing issue vs the legalize my favorite substance issue.
    We clearly (I think) shouldn’t be enlisting kids in the drug war to narc on their parents. Kids should be able to go to authorities when they see something dangerous, but shouldn’t be actively looking for their parents stash. The “drug war” helps blur this line.
    However, rational drug policy, which most of us hope to see some day, can only be built without sense-addled denialism. Pretty much every substance that affects the CNS in ways we perceive as pleasurable has other effects that are undesired. Many libertarians may disagree with any regulation, but part of creating a safe society is recognizing potential harms and designing laws that regulate potentially harmful substances in a rational way, one that recognized potential harms and benefits (and by “benefits”, I mostly mean people’s desire to get high because that’s really the only proven benefit of EtOH, cannabis, caffeine, nicotine, etc.).
    The overblown irrational insanity from commenters (even ignoring the “ur an ahole” comments) is telling. It’s basically a libertarianism in service of the desires of the individual trumping the needs of society. If that’s really your philosophy—that your own desires take precedence over societal need for regulation—just admit it, and you can go play at your tea party rally.

    Like

  63. DrugMonkey Says:

    Exactly PalMD- it is also a problem when we are willing to use *any* rationale in support of out policy position. Because then we are validating out opponents using similarly arbitrary arguments. Hypocrisy, if you will. And Brayton spends most of his blog efforts skewering exactly this. Yet SkepticDudeBrayton has trouble when ration and consistency counters a presumably strongly held viewpoint on personal drug use. Kinda like he did (and you did, to be fair) with Krazee Koran Burning dude.
    The funny thing is that if there was a blogger able to make the case for “I accept all these harms in service of civil liberty” it should be Ed. I’d like to see that argument, personally. Trouble is, the pot fans can’t *ever* stipulate to harms for some reason…

    Like

  64. becca Says:

    DM, I’ve certainly learned from your blog that some people will be completely committed to irrationality when it comes to accepting data about the negative side of legalizing cannabis.
    However, in this particular case, I strongly suspect that far MORE people will have strong emotions that may interfere with rationality about the two huge police state issues.
    For clarification, there are TWO 1984 scenario issues here that have NOTHING to do with cannabis (the crime could easily have been e.g. a DUI and the concerns would be the same):
    1) One can be concerned that encouraging people to rat out their families may encourage loyalty to the state and rule of law, but at the terribly high price of loyalty and familial bonds. This is the concern that you explicitly mentioned.
    2) One can be concerned that CPS, which is not subject to many of the constraints law enforcement is based on our constitutional rights, is tearing apart families based on flimsy reasoning. This is the concern you haven’t mentioned, that is what unsettles me most about this story.
    In other words, there is a LOT of role for emotion in this story that has NOTHING to do with peoples feelings on cannabis.
    DM, if you were studying responses to this story as a social scientist, your ‘confounding factors’ would be so much bigger than what you’re trying to study it would be hopeless. This is a HORRIBLE case to illustrate irrationality about cannabis- there are just too many other things that make people see red (legitimately, in my personal view).
    I should hope you can deduce from the facts that
    1) I love to comment on your blog about anything I remotely care about
    and
    2) I rarely comment about illegal drugs
    that I really don’t give a flying fig about that aspect of this story. But I think it is very reprehensible to mention this story and NOT express care and concern for the family torn apart.

    Like

  65. DuWayne Says:

    I’m really sorry to see this, because you’re completely and utterly off your nutter on this one DM. This post is virtually incoherent and your responses to comments are only moderately less so. Ed’s post was entirely coherent and though his post was mostly about the actions, rather than the substance, it is entirely consistent with his position on illicit drugs. Further, his position isn’t particularly problematic. When it comes to cannabis versus alcohol, the alcohol is considerably more dangerous. If you want to compare cannabis to other illicit drugs, which Ed consistently believes should also be legal, it is flat fucking ridiculous to claim that there are many drugs that are less dangerous than weed – in terms of relative harm.
    That doesn’t somehow imply that cannabis is bereft of harm. It might even shock you to note that Ed is entirely cognisant of that fact. He’s my fucking brother for fucks sake, he’s more aware than most people are. The problem is that Ed isn’t a toxicologist, neurologist or pharmacologist. Neither is he much more well versed in addiction than my eight year old son. The relative harm of various substances, potential substances of abuse is beyond his purview. He doesn’t address it because a) it’s just not his realm and b) because it really isn’t relevant to the posts in which he addresses it.
    The important issue here is the fucking police going into schools and lying to children, to convince them to narc out their parents. And please don’t start playing fucking games about what we know about what these DARE officers were saying to the kids. I went through the fucking DARE presentations and have continued to pay attention. They were couching this shit in terms of “helping” the parents and if they said anything about the children being removed from the home, they downplayed it as much as possible.
    The thing is, the actual topic of encouraging children to inform on their parents is irrelevant to the completely fucked up here. There is absolutely no excuse to be pressuring children to inform on their parents, except in the case context of actual danger/harm to the child – ie. abuse and neglect. There is absolutely no legitimate excuse for or reason to pressure children to spy on their parents.
    Your entire post is a strawman attack that has only peripheral relevance to what Ed wrote. That you don’t see that and insist that Ed is somehow inconsistent or ignoring important truths, shows that you have lost all ability to discuss this topic rationally. This is extremely disappointing to me, because I really like you and have immense respect for you. I also have had a very strong appreciation for your discussions about cannabis before now, even though I have often disagreed.
    But this post is way beyond something to disagree with. It is completely and utterly unhinged.

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  66. Isabel Says:

    “The funny thing is that if there was a blogger able to make the case for “I accept all these harms in service of civil liberty” it should be Ed. I’d like to see that argument, personally. Trouble is, the pot fans can’t *ever* stipulate to harms for some reason…
    Posted by: DrugMonkey | October 24, 2010 11:43 AM
    64
    DM, I’ve certainly learned from your blog that some people will be completely committed to irrationality when it comes to accepting data about the negative side of legalizing cannabis. ”
    Can either of you provide an example of this “irrationality” strawman? I am calling you both out. Give us some fucking examples of commenters irrational clinging to a view of cannabis as a substance of sweetness and light and magic, totally harmless. I would really like to know where you are getting this bizarre idea.

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  67. Ed Brayton Says:

    I just happened across this post. I don’t see much point in defending myself on the substance here because many of my readers did a fine job of doing that for me. But in response to the accusation of “dumbassery” and that I should “go play at a tea party rally” the only response I care to offer is this: Fuck you.

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  68. There is something more fundamental to consider when you are expecting children to turn in their parents: you are essentially supporting the perspective that a child has the mental capacity to make that sort of judgment call!
    They simply cannot. In fact, there are many adults who do not possess the skills of dialectical reasoning, and would have a difficult time cognitively making that sort of decision – it’s a moral call. It doesn’t matter the extremity of the situation (jaywalking vs. terrorism). It’s a matter of capability and higher reasoning capacities.
    But to those of you who sincerely believe that children possess the ability to judge their parents’ actions in a given situation, and, even worse, should be “taught” how to do so given ANY set of circumstances, I employ you to contemplate this:
    How would you feel if your jury in a trial consisted of nothing but children?! I bet you’d be a bit uneasy – even if you had just jaywalked.
    Political issues such as these have a way of clouding the issue, especially when children are involved. If children had any capacity for this type of decision, they should then also be able to vote, drive, drink, and possess all other rights and responsibilities that adults do.
    Seems kinda silly, don’t you think?

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  69. DrugMonkey Says:

    But in response to the accusation of “dumbassery” … the only response I care to offer is this: Fuck you.
    For a dude who has near daily blog entries called “Dumbass Quote of the Day” you sure are touchy about having some of your stuff described as dumbassery, Ed. Interesting, that….

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  70. Dunc Says:

    What’s with the endless “leegalize eet” bullshit? You going to be performing in blackface next?
    “Oh, hey, I can try and discredit a position I can’t actually muster a decent argument against by resorting to cheap racist stereotyping!”
    Feeling a bit short on traffic recently, eh?

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  71. MJ Says:

    PalMD at 62 takes up the issue of a “rational drugs policy.” Fine. Let’s look at the case at hand. The question under discussion in Ed’s post (the goalpost seems to shift here) is whether a “rational drugs policy” prefers outcome (a) or outcome (b):
    a. If the parents smoke pot, their children are removed from their custody.
    b. If the parents smoke pot, their children are allowed to remain in their custody.
    (Obvious caveat: ceteris paribus. Yes, if the parents smoke pot AND do other things that might damage their children, that’s a different story. But please note that the story at hand mentions nothing at all about the parents abusing, neglecting, or otherwise harming their children. And I assume that Ed was assuming the ceteris paribus clause hadn’t been sprung. And I assume that he’d change his tune if he’d found that it had.)
    Ed’s claim was clearly that (b) was the correct policy. Most commenters, including myself, endorse it as well.
    But PalMD has an argument against this position. It goes: the only positive benefit to smoking pot is satisfying people’s desires to get high; yet there are negative effects on society; and putting people’s desires above the good of society is just libertarianism or teabaggerism; implicit premise: libertarianism and teabaggerism are for fools; conclusion: only fools pick (b).
    That’s a woefully inadequate argument, given the case at hand. Forget the libertarians (I’m not one, though I like Ed’s blog). I’m a consequentialist. That action is right that brings about the greatest good for the greatest number. One doesn’t have to be a teabagger or a libertarian to endorse (b). One can be a consequentialist. Not removing children from their families when their parents smoke pot may result in some harm, but not more harm than removing them.
    The basic error in PalMD’s reasoning is that he conflates “rational drugs policy” with “what it’s rational for an individual to do in a circumstance.” It may well be the case that parents have a decisive reason, all things considered, not to smoke pot. But this is irrelevant with respect to our policy positions: “rational drugs policy” deals with what we, as policy-makers, have most reason to do. And given that people will smoke pot, whether they have decisive reason not to or not, we (as policy makers) must decide whether to endorse (a) or (b), and do so on the basis of *our* choice’s effects. I simply cannot see how (a) brings about the best outcomes.
    Now, I’m straw-manning a little, but tu quoque. PalMD clearly wants to talk about the question of whether a rational drugs policy includes the legalization of marijuana, not whether it endorses (a) or (b). But the latter is the question under discussion, and the former is not what most of the comments are concerned about.
    So let me sum up. There are people here defending Ed. Many of us thought his post was endorsing a drugs policy that endorses (b) rather than (a). In the context of that discussion, it is difficult to see what PalMD is talking about. Not all of us are libertarians, and libertarian premises are not necessary to argue for (b) over (a). Furthermore, it is not necessary to claim that marijuana is harmless to argue for (b) over (a). All I claim, and all I’ve seen many others claim is this: add in all the harms marijuana does or can do, still, (b) has better outcomes than (a) (CETERIS PARIBUS).

    Like

  72. Walter Says:

    As a Latin American I find the discussion of the possible harm of drug use highly hypocritical and stupid. Yes, no drug is completely harmless. Smoking pot can lead to undesirable side effect, although they are highly exaggerated. But criminalization also has side effects. If you do not care about your own people who are needlessly sent to jail that is O.K. with me, it is your country and you can turn it into a wasteland if you want. But criminalization also affects our countries across the southern border. So far over 28,000 people have died because of your stupid war on drugs, and that is Mexico only. I know that if they are not white if may not matter much to you drugmonkey, but it matters to us. Hey, your country sold us DDT, and you still sell us guns, and is all good business. Well, we produce a plant. I think that a little pot in exchange for guns and DDT is not a bad bargain. Maybe drugs should be grown here in America, so all the killing was confined between U.S. borders. Then you would understand how much your stupid war actually hurts.

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  73. smitty Says:

    Bravo, Drugmonkey!
    All of the stoner slacker fans of Brayton’s far left wing yellow journalism get pretty pissed off at you for taking him to task. Why is this site called Scienceblogs when it hosts a purely political blog like his? Nothing he rants about has anything to do with science.
    Apparently marijuana addicts are just like every other type of chemical dependents. Stating the obvious which gets between them and their drug enrages them. The parents in this story obviously put their pot use above their children. When the father was asked how the kid got a hold of those joints he/she brought to school, he told them it was none of their business.
    There is nothing in this story indicating that the DARE program instructed children to turn in their parents. Whatever the reason for removing the kids was, Ed leads us to believe it was just for possession. He intentionally made the story even more vague by leaving out that the kids weren’t dumped into the foster care system. The alcohol analogy is senseless. These parents could have chosen to have a couple of drinks to unwind if moderate use of intoxicants was the case. Lots of people give up weed once they become parents or partake occasionally when not in the presence of their children. In this home, it was as easy as sneaking a cookie for these kids to snag a few joints.
    What is the matter with Ed anyway? I’ve witnessed many blog wars between some of the most polemic authors. Never have they devolved into actually cussing people out for disagreeing. Especially a blogger who calls people “dumb-asses” routinely.
    Skepticism has gone out the window when a deliberately vague story is so easily spun and bought into hook, line, and sinker!
    Another low brow practice unique to this website is labeling every commenter who intelligently parts from the standard group-think as a “troll” or “poe”. It doesn’t require any effort or intellect. AFAIK, these have never been scientific terms.

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  74. Walter Says:

    smitty, do us all a favor an move to Mexico. It is easy to favor a war when you do not pay the human price. Jesus. Just because we are brown does not mean it does not hurt.

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  75. Anonymous Says:

    “smitty, do us all a favor an move to Mexico. It is easy to favor a war when you do not pay the human price. Jesus. Just because we are brown does not mean it does not hurt.”
    The subject of this thread is not immigration. Marijuana dependence doesn’t discriminate against white native-born US citizens. From the sketchy details provided, I assumed the suspects were white. AFAIK, North Carolina small towns don’t have much of an immigrant community. Are you privy to more specific information than the rest of us? How do you presume to know my race? Smitties come in black and white.
    On Tuesday, the state of California will be voting on whether to make the recreational use of marijuana legal. Guess what? I am planning to vote in favor of the propositions. That is the proper way to affect policy in this great country of ours. Ol’ Ed might consider contributing to the effort to reform Michigan’s drug laws.
    Did you know that the Mexican government is dead-set against California legalizing marijuana? The premise is that the murderous drug cartel violence will drastically increase because of increased demand. But like you, I’m convinced it will kill off half of their profits. California-grown cannabis is far superior in quality to the Mexican tumble weed, so I highly doubt that will be the case.
    So Walter, if I want to show compassion for Mexicans, should I vote “no” like they want me to?

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  76. smitty Says:

    “smitty, do us all a favor an move to Mexico. It is easy to favor a war when you do not pay the human price. Jesus. Just because we are brown does not mean it does not hurt.”
    The subject of this thread is not immigration. Marijuana dependence doesn’t discriminate against white native-born US citizens. From the sketchy details provided, I assumed the suspects were white. AFAIK, North Carolina small towns don’t have much of an immigrant community. Are you privy to more specific information than the rest of us? How do you presume to know my race? Smitties come in black and white.
    On Tuesday, the state of California will be voting on whether to make the recreational use of marijuana legal. Guess what? I am planning to vote in favor of the propositions. That is the proper way to affect policy in this great country of ours. Ol’ Ed might consider contributing to the effort to reform Michigan’s drug laws.
    Did you know that the Mexican government is dead-set against California legalizing marijuana? The premise is that the murderous drug cartel violence will drastically increase because of increased demand. But like you, I’m convinced it will kill off half of their profits. California-grown cannabis is far superior in quality to the Mexican tumble weed, so I highly doubt that will be the case.
    So Walter, if I want to show compassion for Mexicans, should I vote “no” like they want me to?

    Like

  77. Walter Says:

    I actually agree with you. I am afraid we have a misunderstanding. I am all in favor of legalization, and not just because of civil liberties issues, but because the harm the war on drugs causes to the people and economy of Latin American countries, not just Mexico. Is true, many Latin American politicians oppose legalization, but if you ask the people they are usually in favor. Politicians in Latin America are corrupt, they oppose legalization because of the money they get from the U.S. to fight the drug cartels, money that is often channel into the drug cartels. Hey, the government of Guatemala was paid money so the U.S. could infect part of its population with syphilis and gonorrhea. Our politicians in Latin America care not a bit about the people. Legalization is the only proper thing to do. Did you know that during the 90’s over half of Bolivia’s economy revolved around the illegal drug trade? How can you run a Latin country when the U.S. will prevent you from developing your most productive crop? While at the same time the U.S sold us DDT and guns. I say this as unapologetic socialist, so it irritates me when I am called a libertarian. I despise them even if we agree with legalization.

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  78. smitty Says:

    Thanks for your reply, Walter. And for explaining why the government officials in Mexico (so far that’s the only country I’m aware of opposing the proposition)are opposed. That makes a lot of sense. The most tragic aspect of The War on Drugs is not what happened to this particular family. It’s the unintended consequences of enriching the Latin American drug cartels.
    Now I understand your reaction to this story.The War on Drugs has caused a lot of destruction in the bigger picture.
    I still agree with DrugMonkey’s criticism of Ed’s article. We have the ability to change our laws. This family chose to patronize the illegal drug trade, which makes them part of the problem. We need to change our laws and policies, not defy them. Habitual pot use isn’t completely harmless. But I believe criminalizing it has been the wrong approach. Still, for now, it’s illegal. But there is obviously a lot more to this particular story that warranted placing the kids with relatives.DFTCW routinely exaggerates stories so the comments are just as outrageous.
    It will be really interesting to see how all this unfolds if we pass the proposition. I’m sure several other states will be encouraged to pass similar laws. Eventually, the federal government will have to back down like they did with alcohol prohibition.

    Like

  79. Isabel Says:

    Thanks for sharing your perspective, Walter. These are aspects of the Drug War that we should be talking about more.

    Like


  80. It’s basically a libertarianism in service of the desires of the individual trumping the needs of society. If that’s really your philosophy—that your own desires take precedence over societal need for regulation—just admit it, and you can go play at your tea party rally.

    This is tremendously foolish. Rational social policy should be founded on a) promoting and not violating human rights and b) having – in practice, demonstrably, taken as a whole – the best outcomes in terms of well-being.
    The criminalization of these substances contradicts both of these.

    But criminalization also affects our countries across the southern border. So far over 28,000 people have died because of your stupid war on drugs, and that is Mexico only. I know that if they are not white if may not matter much to you drugmonkey, but it matters to us.

    Perhaps DM should investigate Plan Colombia a bit. If he’s so concerned about the harms of pot to those who choose to smoke it, he might be interested in the involuntary harms from having a hostile military spray tons of herbicides cut with other poisons over your villages and fields.

    Like

  81. noman Says:

    “It’s remarkable to me that folks can’t evaluate some of the subtleties of a discussion that has two parts: the police-state informing issue vs the legalize my favorite substance issue.” It’s actually not a “legalize my favorite substance” issue.”
    It isn’t a “legalize my favorite substance” issue, it’s a “when can we finally get rid of this wrong-headed, irrational, obviously counterproductive, colossally wasteful, utterly failed policy, which tears families apart, brings war to our streets and destroys countless lives, all for the fundamentally insulting reason that we must be protected from ourselves” issue.
    “(and by “benefits”, I mostly mean people’s desire to get high because that’s really the only proven benefit of EtOH, cannabis, caffeine, nicotine, etc.).”
    So you’re prepared do dismiss medical marijuana completely?
    “It’s basically a libertarianism in service of the desires of the individual trumping the needs of society.”
    Can you point out how telling people what they can and cannot put into their bodies benefits “the needs of society?” How are “the needs of society” being met by the drug war? From where I’m sitting, it looks like our current drug policies are doing an excrable job in that regard. And I love how you dismiss almost everyone who questions DM’s half-baked rant as being Ayn Rand-worshiping fringe libertarians. While some libertarians do oppose the drug war, as they oppose the government doing anything at all, it is absurd to smear everyone who questions our insane drug policy and DM’s stalwart defense of it as being callous “I gots mine, fuck everybody else” teabaggers.

    Like

  82. e-cigarette Says:

    Hey, the IRS is using the same tactics to rat our people you know that cheat on their taxes… old school fascist maneuver.

    Like


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