Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Another sort of smoke

I’ve recently been following an interesting debate on a web forum (unfortunately hidden behind a registration wall) on the subject of cannabis legalisation. Now, while this isn’t something of any personal interest to me, I’ve always thought a strong libertarian case could be made for it. However, the pro-cannabis lobby aren’t going to win many supporters amongst libertarian smokers and drinkers by constantly going about how dangerous tobacco and alcohol are in comparison with their drug of choice. I have often thought that, if cannabis was legalised and sold on a commercial basis, the very Guardianistas who currently express sympathy for liberalisation would be campaigning for it to be further taxed and restricted.

Realistically, given the current ban-everything climate, the chances of cannabis legalisation in my lifetime must be infinitesimal, and certainly much less than the chances of the smoking ban being amended. We’ll see the metrication of road signs and Britain joining the Euro first. And, given the current climate of legislative persecution and social opprobrium that tobacco smokers have to endure, despite tobacco being a legal product, maybe the cannabis legalisers should be careful what they wish for. Perhaps it is better for their favourite weed to be technically illegal, but widely tolerated and perceived as something a bit cool and alternative.


  1. I've known alot of good, family-oriented men and women who have gone to jail and been seperated from their families, lost their jobs and had their lives destroyed just because they like to smoke a little marijuana. I don't know where you're from, but it may not be as 'widely tolerated' as you think. This is why it's important that it's legalized. Innocent people are being targeted just because they disagree with the mainstream on what leaves should be legal and which should not.

  2. I have long thought that all drugs should be legalised. One reason is because it's a great way to raise revenue, another is that quality standards will be brought in. I'm not suggesting that we should turn a blind eye to any substance abuse, as if people need help they need help. It's very arbitrary at the moment as to what you can legally self abuse with and what you can't.

  3. Applause, Mr Garrard: There's a good piece from Alex Massie of the Spectator about that very point, here.

    I am a hard-line libertarian though, so I would agree with such things. ;-)

    I have never understood how, in order to protect people from the dangers of drugs, it is necessary to seize shipments which obviously leads to a reduction in the quality of the drug bought on the street, thereby causing more health risk for those we are supposedly trying to protect.

    I don't do drugs by the way in case you were wondering. Well, marijuana on a weekend in Amsterdam once, but it just made me very ill. :-(

  4. I don't disagree with any of the comments, but supporters of cannabis law liberalisation do their cause no favours by banging on about what dreadful stuff alcohol is in the vein of Sir Liam Donaldson and Sir Ian Gilmore. Those who support freedom either stand together or fall separately.

  5. Dubious anyway. Years of evidence exist in regard to drinking and smoking as they are common activities many, though not all do. Hence it is possible to correlate disease statistics and infer causality. With a base for statistics being the whole population and not a small test group, and the time scale measured being generations and not months, you can look at cancer figures, point to the numbers of suffers who smoke and infer causality from correlation. You can make no claims, with anything like the reliability, for the safety or otherwise of illegal drugs. However most current understanding of why smoking causes cancer, and not just that it does, would point to the activity of any smoke inhalation having a similar effect. Years of dope smoking will have the same cancerous effects as tobacco whether or not it is pure or mixed. Additional evidence from the “E” generation of the 90’s also point to higher than normal incidents of depression among long term E users, when compared to the general population.

    On a separate note, legalising anything would infer a greater acceptability upon it and result in a greater number of participants. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether that is a good thing for the country. All the dope smokers I knew at university couldn’t spell their own names. As for harder substances that are considered chemically addictive, all governments have considered it an issue of national security in that they don’t want the wider population chemically addicted to a substance that does no good, whether or not it does harm, which can only be procured in foreign countries. It is the enslavement of the nation to foreign powers. Do we want our economy and people as dependant on Columbian marching powder as it is Iraqi oil?

  6. I am told that a growing number of cannabis users inhale the vapour using "bongs" and so are not smoking it at all, let alone mixing it with tobacco.

  7. I agree that legalisation of cannabis is unlikely in the foreseeable future, but this wasn't always the case. My father used to work in the tobacco industry and he told me that in the 1960s they expected cannabis to be legalised to the extent that they had designed cannabis cigarette packets, and had decided the contents of the cigarettes, the names of brands and advertising campaigns. In other words, they were ready to go. I asked whether he could get me any of the unused packet designs for interest, but they had all been pulped when the industry realised that legalisation was not imminent.


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