My brother and I were once having a debate about the legalization of marijuana. His argument was that it shouldn’t be legalized, because you have to draw a clear line of which drugs can and can’t be legalized and never betray that line, because it might end up being a slippery slope.
My argument was that it should be legalized, because it’s already on THIS (safer) side of the line, since alcohol is clearly much worse than marijuana.
My whole theory is that the way we look at drugs is basically backwards – or, failing that, a bit skewed.
It’s possible that as you’re reading this, you’re hopped up on caffeine from soda or coffee. Caffeine is the best example of a drug with real side effects that is widely consumed because it’s mild enough to be socially acceptable. That said the acceptance leads to regular & frequent use by MANY MANY MANY.
Slow reaction time, more dopamine – caffeine is like a mild form of a madeup hybrid drug, Crackahol. If I was listing those symptoms as symptoms of marijuana, would you feel justified in supporting its continued illegalization (assuming you already did)? Probably.
3/4ths of Americans supposedly drink coffee regularly, and 9/10 consume caffeine somehow every day. Social proof is so powerful that even though I can list facts and figures about why caffeine is a mind-altering drug and you probably won’t think twice about it over your next cup of coffee.
Even though caffeine is milder than hard drugs, it’s strong enough to make your Pituitary gland think there’s an emergency going on. But moving on…
Look at Alcohol Objectively
Let’s consider the political ramifications of deciding which drugs should be legal or not.
There are some who would like to de-regulate all drugs (cough Ron Paul cough), and those who probably support bringing back Prohibition.
Given Aristotle’s principle that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, we have to assume there’s some line between total regulation and deregulation that would work the best. But where is that line?
Start with alcohol. Clearly, people want their booze. Prohibition was so bad that it gave rise to some of the top criminals of the 20th Century.
Imagine if there was some other substance, say “Substance X,” that no one knew about, that had all of the same characteristics of alcohol and the same statistics (drunk driving fatalities, liver problems, etc.). If people suddenly found out about this, would they be totally for alcohol, or would they want it heavily regulated, or even banned?
Think about it objectively, like an alien studying human civilization. If you were an alien, you would see the humans consumed this Substance X in mass quantities. It was available in a variety of forms, some of which are acceptable over lunch and dinner (call it “beer”). In its concentrated forms, it had more powerful effects, where humans congregate at buildings built solely for the distribution of Substance X. These buildings then become a sort of mating ground – the males fight psychologically and physically for dominance and the women pick and choose the best humans to mate with.
Excessive abuse of Substance X leads many humans to vomiting, next-day headaches and in some rare cases, even death. Substance X severely inhibits driving capabilities, so humans drive huge machines totally impaired, leading to huge amounts of traffic fatalities.
Yet humans are totally hooked – one human government once tried to ban it, and entire crime syndicates rose, providing underground distribution of Substance X. I think I don’t have to make it any more clear how drugged/doped up we people are every day, even on the milder drugs like caffeine and TV. Not necessarily the worst thing in the world, but it helps to be aware of it.
Where to Draw the Line?
What’s better politically – to ban something like Substance X (alcohol), or to let the people have it because they’ll do it anyway?
If you want to ban it, that means you want the line drawn closer to home than most. Maybe you think caffeine is causing major health problems for both kids and adults. Maybe the government should more heavily regulate the foods you eat. Maybe you should just turn commie.
If you’re like most and want it legal, then where do you the draw the line of its own legality? Why can’t 17 year olds drink it, but 22 year olds can? Why can’t you have drive through liquor stores?
If you’re like my brother and Captain Picard in Star Trek: First Contact, then you say “the line must be drawn HERE! This far, no farther!” Taking it farther only takes you down the slippery slope.
I generally agree with that, except that I think marijuana is already on the “safer” side of the line. It could also be a great way to keep the working class sapped of their energy and unmotivated so that the elite, drug-free (thanks, D.A.R.E!) intellectuals are free to reign. I’m joking. Sort of. Not really.
One thing we don’t talk about with drugs ARE the class issues. The way I see it, we’re dividing up into three classes: the ruling class (those with the most economic leverage and who don’t need to work for income), the thinking class (those who have jobs that don’t involve manual labor; about half of us), and the working class (those who have jobs with manual labor).
There’s a clear pecking order. The ruling class leverages their capital to get both other classes to do their work for them. The thinking class still works, but can leverage their higher incomes to get others to do their manual labor. The working class basically drinks a lot.
Think of most of the jobs you’ve had, and you’ll see that you fall into one of these categories. It’s possible you really have a manual labor job even though you’re not installing someone’s pool or cleaning their toilet.
In the ruling class, you would be in favor of opiates, depressants, stimulants and other stuff they use to numb down the mentally “ill” and their manic depression symptoms, to control those who work in the factory. Working at a gas station two summers during college (working class; it doesn’t seem like manual labor but it is because there’s no thinking work really), I couldn’t tell you how many industrial workers would come in and buy alcohol, many on a daily basis. Their lives involved making someone from the ruling class rich in their 9 to 5, and then going home and drinking so that it was an easier fact to accept.
So if you’re ruling class, you love alcohol. You also love pot, because there’s no way the workers could rise up against you if all they’re thinking about is fourthmeal at Taco Bell. You also love stimulants like caffeine because they keep your thinking class compatriots working and thinking hard.
Sometimes I think that the form of government I favor is generally just the most suited government for huge companies and tycoons like Andrew Carnegie to work in. If I think that’s a good thing, then I’d want to be consistent with that idea. In that case, I would have to be for legalized caffeine, alcohol, and marjiuana.
You might say, “wouldn’t legal cocaine help CEOs somehow too?” My answer is: “Doesn’t matter.” Crackahol and any of the current legal drugs seem strong enough already.