The Stoner’s Dilemma

The Stoner’s Dilemma
Posted by CN Staff on October 01, 2007 at 13:34:51 PT
By Garrett G. D. Nelson 
Source: Harvard Crimson
USA -- Paint out an exaggerated caricature of the Left and you are likely to find among “Bible-burning,” “latte-drinking,” and “tax-raising” the common epithet “pot-smoking.” A well-stuffed joint is, apparently, a familiar staple in the progressive’s quiver alongside a Che shirt and a burning American flag. Unfortunately, marijuana as political issue goes better to the tune of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” than “The Internationale,” for drug consumption, even if it frees minds, shackles the lower class into economic bondsmanship.
It is disingenuous and regressive to attack the “degenerate habit” of marijuana from a cultural stand, as conservatives frequently do. It is hard to argue that the puffs of pot that waft out of college dormitories are inculcating slothfulness or Marxism among developing generations. It is even harder to attack pot from a cultural standpoint when it is hardly the exclusive domain of young people; when presidential candidates can openly admit their use of the drug without consequence, it is clear enough that the mainstreaming of pot is complete. While the aesthetic horror of a lazy smoking hippie may still be an effective bogeyman for the farthest-right conservatives, most Americans correctly realize that marijuana is a fairly innocent drug. What most of them don’t realize, though, is how utterly irresponsible pot is when viewed from a broader social perspective. We live in an age where the Left has wisely and effectively turned their efforts toward influencing society through the marketplace. There are few consumer goods left which do not have some sort of socially-responsible alternatives. Bananas are sold with the promise that their pickers were paid and housed decently, automobiles are sold with the promise that they will sip gingerly on gas, retailers market their community activism, and even mutual funds tout their responsible investments. Our accouterments are now accountable from the point where they were dug out of the earth to the point that they arrive at our table. Yet most of the same people who insist that their apples are local, their bankers tolerant, their handbags messianic, and their maids affluent seem perfectly comfortable propping up the demand side of a trade which forces thousands of Americans into a life at the margins of society. Between all of their insistences that pot doesn’t hurt people, they seem to have forgotten that the stuff has to come from somewhere. And this is quite a large omission to make. The legal differential between consumers and suppliers of marijuana is enormous. Middle- and upper- class users of pot face essentially no consequences for their actions. Law enforcement across the country generally looks in the other direction when teenagers listening to the Flaming Lips (or their parents listening to Big Brother & The Holding Company) toke up in the evenings. When they do run into trouble, legal help is easy and effective. Nobody worries too much about serving hard time for smoking pot at home, and even hard-nosed stalwarts of the law have given up on prosecuting every offense of petty possession. At Harvard, certainly, we’re more likely to get into trouble for covering up our fire extinguisher to keep it from squawking at the smoke than we are from smoking the pot itself. For growers and distributors, though, the situation is different entirely. They form the linemen of a vast American underclass of crime and poverty. Their entire lives are, by and large, extralegal. They do not donate to politicians and they do not vote. Their trade demands that they shed their citizenry, that they give up the privileges and protections of society for them and their families. The law does not demur to strip away their freedom, and they fill up the ranks of inmates in wild overproportion—over 55 percent of the federal prison population is incarcerated for drug offenses. And this legal differential mirrors a class differential. Most drug dealers are not recent economics graduates, and most freshly-minted MBAs do not consider a career in dealing alongside their offers from McKinsey & Co. and Goldman Sachs. They are made up mostly of desperately poor people—people for whom the inflated demand of pot represents a rare economic opportunity in a world where jobs are scarce and education scarcer. Yet we continue to smoke our pot, liberally, as it were, missing among its innocent curls of smoke the sinister economic system that it sets up. One cannot sneer at the social irresponsibility of a Hummer driver and then return home to relax over a joint whose procurement demanded the subjection of an impoverished underclass on the fringes of society. This is, of course, not an argument against the legalization of marijuana. Perhaps there is a legitimate argument to be made that all of these problems could be easily dissolved by legal sanction for the drug trade. But until that point comes, we light up with the legal system we have, not the legal system we wish we had, and we cannot merely pretend that our actions have no consequences. So perhaps a measure of consumer responsibility ought to make its way over to the liberal-minded drug users of our country. And perhaps we should insert into our caricature of the pot smoker the fat cigar of the plutocrat. Garrett G. D. Nelson ’09 is a social studies and visual and environmental studies concentrator in Cabot House. Source: Harvard Crimson (MA Edu) Author: Garrett G. D. Nelson Published: Monday, October 01, 2007Copyright: 2007, The Harvard Crimson, Inc. Contact: letters Website: CannabisNews -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on October 02, 2007 at 18:42:57 PT
I agree he is arrogant but it isn't because of Harvard because we have Dr. Grinspoon and he is a Harvard person.
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Comment #13 posted by cannabliss on October 02, 2007 at 18:34:23 PT
An arrogant Harvard student? Shocking!
Pardon the sarcasm, but nothing in the attitude of this kid's writing is surprising.  He is being taught that he is one of the golden few who has the solution to the world's woes, and with just the right blend of visualness, socialness, and environmentalism, humanity can be saved.Though the condescension is so thick you could cut it with a knife, he accidentally makes a valid point. Prohibition affects lower economic strata the most. Rich kids don't say "hmmm, should I become a drug dealer or go study social, visual, and enviromental studies at Harvard?" Poor kids might say "do I work an entry-level crap job at Wal-mart or sell some crack".The kid's problem is he's so busy patting himself on the back for his mastery of words like plutocrat and demur, that he fails to identify the culprit, which is prohibition.Does my use of a fork at a meal cause crime? Silly question - of course it does not. Well, when the anti-fork league donates billions to get Congress to outlaws forks, then suddenly my fork use does cause crime. What has changed? The law, not the fork.There were no drug crimes in the 19th century because there were no drug laws, just as there are no alcohol crimes today (not talking drunk driving etc., just crimes involving sale/distribution).Maybe this guy will take a critical thinking class sometime in his senior year; if not, his education will have been worse than useless.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on October 02, 2007 at 10:23:36 PT
I read the article and looked at it and the only thing that came to mind is that he has an illusion that he is somehow superior. He's no different then any other person. I don't like people like that. Who do these types of people think they are to talk down about others.
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Comment #11 posted by museman on October 02, 2007 at 10:14:07 PT
FoM #1
This article is about hipocrisy. It contrasts two basic economic class opposites, using the 'marijuana industry' as it's example.The hipocrisy, in my opinion goes with the territory of 'yuppie' class 'concern' and 'left wing activism' in the well-off ranks. The hipocrisy of SUVs, and wide-screen plasma TVs, is right along side their various lip-services to environmental, and political concerns, and the sudden need for 'organic food.'In my mind, one cannot exist in that world of high society without a heaping helping of hipocrisy, and though the 'aesthetic horror of a lazy smoking hippie' finds agreement on both the right and the left, it pretty much resides in the hearts and minds of people who have nothing better to do than intellectualize about the plight of 'lesser people.' The hipocrisy is equal to the amount of money one makes above the poverty line, or above necessity.This man, class of '09 - Harvard is going to be a lawyer, obviously, and is practicing providing evidence without any apparent coherent content; the art of confusion and obfuscation, while seeming to be talking about something. Because he is in school, there is a requirement that the material contain some actual factual references, but not that the point be clear. One must belong to the club to decypher the codes, or have had enough experience with our great pretenders -the lawyers and politicians.Since I left the city early in life, and have managed to stay away, the 'black market' and gang-based supply lines for herb, have never been a concern for me. I made the sacrifices and the determinations that make my lifestyle and 'carbon footprint' distinctly less destructive than city life. The condemnation of my fellow still-in-the-city wage and power slaves for my freedom of person, but poverty of posession is just denial, and deep-seated jealousy, because they cannot muster the strength to break free from Babylon. I understand, but I cannot excuse it.A lot of folks have left the city with their cash, and bought out the poor folks houses and land in the country, as if that would make them more 'environmentally correct' but they just brought all their filthy crap with them, so now we have to buy water from the store, breath smog, watch the trees die - and I have even seen a couple of gang-bangers cruisin' the main street.Fortunately for all life not bent on destruction, this civilization is near it's end, and the power of reality as defined by Nature, and the Creator can, and will obliterate mans petty superimposition of his false 'reality' upon that which was, and is, and ever shall be, world without end, in the blink of an eye. By all means, we must make the attempts to set as much right as we can, but when 80% of the population is convinced that their 'job' is the only way to survive, then the economic powers and their nice pyramid scheme will prevail until the earth rises up and throws them off -soon, very soon.Until then, smoke 'em if you got 'em.
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Comment #10 posted by Yanxor on October 02, 2007 at 08:54:32 PT
Socially Responsible? Hardly
Mr. Nelson attempts to set up a contrast between the "socially responsible" free market and the "socially irresponsible" black market."There are few consumer goods left which do not have some sort of socially-responsible alternatives."Some bannanas might have been picked by workers paid fair wages, but most aren't...there is a very thriving industry of indebted servitude going on in america today.And besides, cannabis also has socially responsible alternatives - growing your own, or buying from individuals who grow their own.What's socially irresponisble is the government keeping it illegal.
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Comment #9 posted by ekim on October 02, 2007 at 08:23:08 PT
John Tyler
William F. Buckley Jr has stood tall while defending the use of Cannabis and against the prohibition. If you have the time do some reading of His i can not direct you to much but will mention the Feb 12 1996issue of National Review -- The War on Drugs is Lost good reading -- i had to say something - Bill has looked the monster in the eye and did not blink.
For that he must be given respect.
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Comment #8 posted by whig on October 01, 2007 at 21:39:10 PT
Not like his (s)election wasn't fixed, twice.
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Comment #7 posted by OverwhelmSam on October 01, 2007 at 20:11:30 PT
Yes, we are going to war with Iran. And there's nothing the American people can do about it. The murderer we put in charge of our country loves to kill people. His name is Bush and it's our fault.Frankly, I'm about ready for America to be destroyed. The American people deserve that for sitting around on their ignorant butts and believing, whatever fantasy they want to believe.
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Comment #6 posted by John Tyler on October 01, 2007 at 18:55:53 PT
on education
Wow. Is this how they teach you to write and think at Harvard? Talk about wasting your parents’ money. I hope the campus is at least pretty. It sort of sounds like the stuff Bill Buckley would write. I could never follow what he was saying either. It sounds like a very educated drunk person rambling on with no particular point; they are just enjoying hearing themselves ramble on. Back to my point… if and when cannabis is re legalized at least the threat of arrest and imprisonment would be lifted for those that work in the industry.  
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Comment #5 posted by mayan on October 01, 2007 at 18:22:19 PT
Report: Russia Evacuates Entire Bushehr Staff:
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Comment #4 posted by goneposthole on October 01, 2007 at 16:39:28 PT
Drugs, I hate them
Drugs, legal and illegal, are now the Bubonic Plague of America.It is bad. The legalization of marijuana would change all of that.Goldman Sachs gurus are pariahs compared to the local marijuana dealer. The Wall Street market mavens have become nothing more than thieves waiting for the next fool to part with his money. Your local pot dealer is respected more than the financial adviser who is only interested in taking your money and giving nothing in return. Your local pot dealer at least delivers the goods.The freshly minted Harvard MBA has nothing in mind except to fleece you from your hard-earned money. Don't buy their shtik. Buy cannabis instead.Don't use drugs. Smoke cannabis. You will at least get what you pay for.
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Comment #3 posted by BGreen on October 01, 2007 at 15:48:44 PT
Mr. Nelson is saying the black market is bad
It's not the civic responsibility of a consumer to feel responsible for obtaining cannabis from the black market, because the black market only exists at the insistence of the government.Cannabis could be grown by the user, thereby making Mr. Nelson's entire rambling diatribe a moot point.I wonder whether Mr. Nelson can tell us one single LEGAL product of which procurement DOESN'T demand "the subjection of an impoverished underclass on the fringes of society?"How about our clothes? Nope. How about our food? Uh, uh. Our coal? Yeah, right.Get the point, Mr. Nelson?The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #2 posted by potpal on October 01, 2007 at 15:26:11 PT
Garrett Nelson
Reads like he toked up on a fatty just prior to sitting down to right this thang. Food, fuel, fun.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 01, 2007 at 14:42:35 PT
A Question
What is this writer talking about? 
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