Reefer Madness, Redux

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Karl Marx, building on Hegel, noted that history repeats itself first as tragedy, and then as farce. Had he foreseen the War Against Pot, perhaps he would have added, “but often both at the same time.”

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has had manufactured a scientific study confirming that there is, in the measured language we’ve come to expect from such studies, a “cannabis pandemic” threatening the health and sanity of the world’s population. As usual, this finding rests on the enormous number of citizens consigned to “treatment” for their supposed marijuana dependence. Which, given that most people caught holding a single joint are forced to choose between “treatment” and prison, really puts the statist in statistic.

But trust the UN not to leave it at mere tragedy: UN Drugs ‘n Crime director Antonio Maria Costa had to toss in his own scientifically unfounded assertions about how today’s cannibis is “considerably more potent” than the pot everyone at the UN was smoking a few decades ago, “no longer that different from other plant-based drugs such as cocaine or heroin.”

This is asinine, even apart from the fact that there’s never been a single documented “marijuana overdose” (it’s not clear whether such would even be possible). Put simpl~ people smoke pot in order to get high. Once high, people either stop smoking, sit back, and relax; or they keep smoking, and fall asleep. With very few exceptions, pot smokers aren’t going to wreck the house, beat the kids, or take the car out for a joyride. (They’re not even going to accidentally set the bed aflame, because unlike tobacco, pot must be relit for each toke.) At worst, they’ll down a couple bags of chips or a box of Twinkies (though the nascent War on Obesity may soon make that its own crime). If anything, the UN drug crew should be lauding potent pot, because it allows smokers to get high with fewer puffs, and thus endure fewer lungfuls of smoke.

Costa had but one sensible thing to say, though of course he didn’t understand it as such: “Policy reversals leave young people confused as to just how dangerous cannabis is.” His overestimation of that danger is farcical; his ability to craft UN policy based on that overestimation, tragic.

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