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What should be the punishment in Douglas County for the first count of marijuana possession?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on March 1, 2006

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Photo of Rebecca Ford

“I think there needs to be an investigation of their particular situation and how serious it is. Then they should base their rehabilitation on that.”

Photo of Tony Mall

“Just time served. Being arrested and bonded out should be enough for the first offense.”

Photo of Claire Dooley

“I think you should get a really big fine. If you get caught again, you should definitely get some jail time.”

Photo of Brett Bohon

“They should be forced to smoke it all in one sitting. That should be enough.”

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space_rabbit_kerosene 12 years, 3 months ago

Other than daily coffee I am not one to indulge in the use of any mind altering substance very often, once or twice a year. When I was in my late teens and early 20s I smoked a fair amount of marijuana, addiction was never a factor. In contemporary America, to say I belong in jail or owe a fine for the occasional choice of using a mind altering substance is at the height of hypocrisy considering the HUGE alcohol tobacco and pharmaceutical industries. The pharmaceutical industry peddles psychoactive substances all social demographics. We teach our children mind altering drugs are accepted coping mechanisms for life's basic problems. Often these drugs are administered using highly coercive tactics far surpassing that of your typical nickel and dime drug pusher. Yet any one who smokes a joint belongs in jail or should have their money stolen from them in the form of ineffective fines. Mind altering substances have been a major part of human culture pretty much sense the dawn of human culture. Desires to eradicate this element of human culture are misguided and unattainable.


enochville 12 years, 3 months ago

Oh, boy! We are going to have a lot of responses today. Especially by those who think Mary Jane should be decriminalized.

I think we should be talking about other drugs, like meth, which in my opinion is the drug causing the most problems in the US today.

I think the government should publically fund a detox and rehabilitation treatment program for all serious, addictive substances (meth, crack cocaine, heroin, oxycotin, etc). Members of the public could voluntarily commit themselves to the treatment, or commit a drug crime and be forcibly placed in treatment.

The opposition will cry: 1) "People should be free to do what they want, especially when they are not hurting anyone but themselves". I respond, "you call addicts free?" When you talk with an addict, it is the drug that talks back. They are not free to make their own choices; they are slaves to the substance. I say if you care about people at all, emancipate them, give them a clear mind that is no longer a slave to the drug so that they can think for themselves. And as far as hurting others. There is not a soul addicted to one of these serious drugs that is not hurting others by doing at least one of the following (i.e., devastating their family relationships, no longer providing for their children, stealing to pay for their drugs, or if they have no connections are taking resources from the community or charities that could be used on others including emergency hospital care).

2) "It would be too expensive". My response, "It will be very expensive, but treatment programs will save us a fortune as well." We would be able to cut back some, not completely, on local police costs due to repeat possession offenders, incarcerations, child welfare services, FBI drug operations, emergency care in hospitals, reduction in thefts, etc.

3) "Treatment only works if you are a willing participant". My response, "I agree that if someone is bound and determined to use once they get out, they will go back to it, but you underestimate how often, once a person has been detoxed they recognize how the drug has been ruining their life and will reach out to the helping hand extended to them". Most rehabilitation services out there are filled with people who were forced to be there, yet they experience some success. Even for those who want the treatment, many will fail after the first round. But, with each successive round of treatment, the likelihood of them being able to stay off the drug increases.

We may not be able to emancipate all addicts, but that does not mean we should not fight to free as many as we can. Our efforts will matter to those who succeed and their families. This is not "their" problem. It is our problem. Serious, addictive drug abuse costs society so very, very much. Probably the most cost efficient way to begin is to bring treatment programs to prisons.

enochville 12 years, 3 months ago

i_tching: I agree

Solomon: I disagree with your statement, "But the net effect, I believe, would be to bring overall abuse down." I don't believe the abuse of any substance would go down through legalization. Think of all the legal, prescription drugs that are abused. As you pointed out, think of the number of people who abuse alcohol. The forces that draw people to abuse drugs would not be addressed or affected through legalization. In fact, you might get a few more people to use for the first time because they may think "it must not be that harmful if it is legal" or the few people who are actually detered by the thought of getting caught by the law may go ahead and try it if it is no longer illegal.

Your other arguments may be true though.

trinity 12 years, 3 months ago

put all them CONvict potsmokin' people in the middle of the roundies for all to see and jeer at.

i'm not a lawrencian, just live fairly closeby; but, seriously, are y'all's commissioners really sort of-i don't know what a good word would be, even! :)

neopolss 12 years, 3 months ago

One only needs to look toward Amsterdam, or Spain, and see that legalization of Marijuana did not bring about the end of society. Studies showed neither an increase or decrease in the amount of users, yet I am sure the savings to the tax payer were sufficient.

Make no mistake. Government is in the business of drug regulation. The DARE generation has developed a good and evil view of certain drugs, when in reality it simply is not true. Most drugs, when used properly or in moderation, do not pose a risk to society. Marijuana has many helpful benefits, and believe it or not, heroin was at one point a legally used drug. Each "bad" drug can be just as potent as any "good" drug. Which is to say that Oxycodin can be just as lethal as heroin, yet one is legal, the other is not. These good and evil views have been fabricated by pharmeceudical companies, who want their products to be prescribed, not weed.

To honestly argue legalization, you need to argue danger against society, and lack of education. Marijuana persecution is a waste of our time as taxpayers, and a larger waste of police enforcement. The war on drugs was a multi-billion dollar waste of tax dollars that produced negligible results.

Caffeine - the US's number one approved drug.

Brett is a "project manager." Is he on the Apprentice?

neopolss 12 years, 3 months ago

I'll add to my comments. Criminalizing drug use is not working. The money we are using for crackdowns, stings, judicial and criminal systems, needs to be poured into other areas such as detox programs, education, and prevention.

guardBack 12 years, 3 months ago

I don't know about you, but I sure as hell don't trust the Government to tell me what I should and should not do with myself. Cigarrettes are legal. They kill millions of people a year. Most illegal drugs only kill people because they are illegal. Prohibition ring any bells? Al Capone? The birth of organized crime?

This is a great first step.

Also, no one will set up manufacturing plants for pot. It's too easy to grow. Giant AK-47 plants for everyone!!

beatrice 12 years, 3 months ago

There should be no punishment. I'm with the decriminalization crowd on pot smoking - it isn't addictive and harmful like meth, and it certainly doesn't do the harm caused by alcohol. With all the "legal" drugs we have today, with commercials telling us to ask our doctor for a perscription to (fill in blank), the idea that pot is still illegal is rather silly.

Topside 12 years, 3 months ago

Hellloooooo Nurse, Claire can slap me with a big fine anytime.
Anyway, it all depends i guess, catch someone with a joint or two-confiscate and throw it out. Trunk full- probably needs to be arrested. I don't want to get into a big legalize it or not debate. But, I think we are at a point in our society against the "war" on drugs that we should probably pick our battles. And, resources could be better spent going after smugglers and such without tying up the system with users.
The worst episode of a COPS-like show ever was this vice squad in Houston or something and they set up a sting in a real crap hotel in a definite recessed area of town. They posed as marijuana dealers and put out the word and busted blue collar people ( from the looks of it) as they came to buy 10-20 dollars worth of pot. THATS IT!! I sat straight up on the couch and could not believe thay had such an elaborate sting to bust people basically for nothing. If it had been a large drug buy or some kind of ABSCAM deal then I could see it. I just sat there feeling sorry for the people of Houston that their tax dollars were being squandered on a bunch of pot heads that at least half of would probably never be tried or fined. Nice. Sorry I got on a bit of a rant there.

Jay Bird 12 years, 3 months ago

I think you should be able to get caught with a fat sack at least once for every lame roundabout we have. The bigger the roundie, the bigger the baggie. Smoke two joints and you want to chill out, have two Jack and cokes, and you want to tear someones head off. Humm. Just smoke em outside, don't want you breaking the smoking ban.

BunE 12 years, 3 months ago

Young man, you are going to smoke all of that reefer, right in front of me! NOW!

cutny 12 years, 3 months ago

I say smoke it up. Like the old saying goes, drunk drivers run red lights, stoned driver's stop for the green ones.

acg 12 years, 3 months ago

LOL cutny, that was good. I don't think there should be any penalty for having pot. Pot makes people happy, giggly, hungry, horny and then sleepy. How can any of these things be bad? People who are high are generally not angry, hateful people. We could use more of those in this world. I've often thought our world leaders would get more done in the ways of peace and cooperation if they would sit down and smoke a big fattie before each world conference. When you're sharing a doobie with a bro it's hard to want to bomb their country and starve their people.

jonas 12 years, 3 months ago

Sue: I don't think you or Brett ever met some of the folk I ran across in this town. If caught with anything less than a half ounce they could smoke it all down in one sitting and still be marginally coherent afterwards, cuz they usually smoked up to a quarter a day. You'd be higher than a kite from the contact high, and they'd be beating that level on you were stuck on in whatever video game happened to be playing.

We could maybe tweak the idea a little though. Like have them smoke it all in one sitting, them have my Tae Kwon Do instructor run them through a regular one or two class workout. I think that 160 leg raises, pushups crunches 400 punches etc would be a good end of session deterrent for awhile.

acg 12 years, 3 months ago

jonas Lawrence would be full of the most physically fit potheads in the free world.

djazz 12 years, 3 months ago

If alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine are our worst demons, why not a $200 fine if you even THINK about using them? $400 if you are caught red handed with a cup of coffee and a cigarette.

juscin3 12 years, 3 months ago

popping illegal balloons found at car dealerships-Harley, that is too funny! That thought has ran across my mind a time or two. Thing is, it would take forever to just get them down to ya cuz the string is so daggum long! LOL Is there hellium in those things? Man, if so, what fun you could do with that!

beatrice 12 years, 3 months ago

TOB: As soon as joints start being sold with filters, then I'll support you on the dopers with brooms idea. In the meantime, why don't the smokers clean their own filth. Littering is still illegal. I know, give the bar owners who allow their patrons to litter a fine -- say, $100 a butt. That will take care of it. Or, put sand in the roundabouts and turn them into giant, citywide ash trays.

(Okay, I am just pulling your leg on the bar owners being fined part.)

jonas 12 years, 3 months ago

Mou Hitotsu Bobu (1moreBob): That's really a pretty good idea, but to be fair, just make it a one for one exchange. 20 butts for one pack.

But where would you put all them butts. A smelly store you would have.

Ubermime: I, personally, would get a somewhat sadistic pleasure out of making potheads do all those excersises after smoking all that reefer.

Has anyone seen the guy in town that looks just like John Kerry? He's sitting near me in the computer lab right now.

RonBurgandy 12 years, 3 months ago

"Littering and....littering and...littering and...smokin' the reefer. Now me and Rabbit are going to watch you guys smoke the whole bag."

badger 12 years, 3 months ago

Jonas wants to build an army of pothead ninjas to take out the meth pirates that killed his parents.

I support this notion.

I think that a first-offense possession should carry the risk of jail time if you're carrying more than a few joints' worth, but otherwise I'd rather see a fine, some community service, and perhaps probation. Everyone screws up now and then and gets caught doing something they know better than to do.

However, a second-offense possession should include jail time, and be a felony, and also involve rehab.

Thing is, I know some people who have gotten busted, and some people who have used drugs for years without ever getting busted. It seems to me that the folk who got busted did stupid things, like driving around smoking, driving around with half an ounce in the glove compartment and an invalid license in a car with expired tags, smoking at 2am on a grade school playground, smoking on the front porch, and starting a bar fight while carrying a saleable quantity of pot. The people who haven't gotten busted take their pot, go home, and smoke it at home while hanging out with friends or smoke it while camping on private land. It seems to me that if you get busted twice, you're probably not the brightest fish in the barrel, you know? You might be best off in jail where you won't run with scissors or anything.

enochville, I agree with what you said regarding addiction. However, not everyone who uses illegal drugs is an addict. I'd say the average pot smoker is no more addicted to pot than I am to my morning cup of coffee. It's a nice part of my day, but not something I get upset if I have to do without for a while.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 3 months ago

Cost of prosecution does not come free.

Additionally: New jail space cost about $54,000 tax dollars per bed. Some prisoners can be housed on the low end @ $22,000 tax dollars per year.

Cost of incarcerating a Federal male prisoner: $199.57 per prisoner/per day Approx: $73,000 tax dollars per year

Cost of incarcerating a Federal female prisoner: $316.34 per prisoner/per day Approx: $111,000 tax dollars per year

Cost of incarcerating a provincial prisoner: $114.14 per prisoner/per day.

The cost of alternatives such as probation, bail supervision and community supervision range from $5-$25/day.

Seems like a lot of money for non violent offenders. Save the space for those who rape and murder.

badger 12 years, 3 months ago


You are wise. I had forgotten, in my wish to help jonas in his quest for vengeance, about the Pirate Effect and its importance with regard to global warning. Indeed, we can't afford to lose any more pirates, or summer will be starting in March.

trinity 12 years, 3 months ago

how many bong hits does it take the lcc to issue an edict?

lol how 'bout it everyone? guesses?

beatrice 12 years, 3 months ago

badger: "However, a second-offense possession should include jail time, and be a felony, and also involve rehab." Dude, are you smokin' something? Jail time -- and rehab??? -- for smoking pot? Rehab is a fine idea for addictive drugs like meth, but pot isn't addictive. The lifestyle of being a pothead can become a habit, but not an addiction. For most, it doesn't even become a true habit, but a passing phase.

The reason pot is still illegal is because of the influence in Congress from the large drug companies. They don't want and they fight against the unregulated competition. It is all about money.

Oddly, it is interesting that many who are against the smoking ban in businesses are in favor of the continued "ban" on pot, even if enjoyed in the privacy of one's own home.

jonas: best of luck with your battle against the meth pirates. Sorry for your loss. When recruiting your army, I recommend plenty of free Nacho Cheese Doritos and Snickers bars. You will have to turn potheads away in no time.

jonas 12 years, 3 months ago

badger: I thought I was being more subtle than that. Very perceptive. Of course, what few people know is that, in my normal non-jonas life, my real name is Capt. John "Jitters" Blackjack, who was recently catapulted to Admirality of the Meth Pirates guild, for his role in fighting the pot-ninjas. Of course, now that I've told you, I'll offer you high commands in my new order to buy your silence.

. . . or I could just have you whacked, ya'know.

trueninetiesgirl 12 years, 3 months ago

beatrice i think you are so right it is all about the money. what do they do with the drug money they collect from people? i think they give it to what ever state they are in at the time. anyone know what they do with the money???????oh and it is great outside my daycare kids are just having so much fun outside. but we do have a chance for rain on saterday. so i think you all should call in sick. or just go home ,say you feel sick... have a great day every one

beatrice 12 years, 3 months ago

Rain, oh sweet rain, how I miss thee. Remember when I was wishing for a wet Christmas? I'm still wishing. Here in Phoenix we had some clouds yesterday with a few drops falling, but it wasn't enough to count as "measurable rain." So we are now 133 days without rain! Can you imagine such a thing? (I think we will soon need to start wearing the water retention suits, like in "Dune.")

Staci Dark Simpson 12 years, 3 months ago

I would much rather encounter someone in a dark alley smoking pot than drinking whiskey. Thats a no brainer. But if we did have to punish people smoking pot tie them in a chair with an open bag of chips and a pizza on the table in front of them. That is torture my friends!!

Wouldn't that be sweet to see pothead ninjas performing on roundabouts? I see a play in the works at the Arts center!

acg 12 years, 3 months ago

trinity, the wise old owl said three. Three bong hits to get the that bong hits or licks to the center of a tootsie pop? Oh hell who cares, pass me the bong....and a freakin' tootsie pop.

acg 12 years, 3 months ago

Uh, that sort of scared me a little.

linux_chick 12 years, 3 months ago

Agreed. Spend our tax dollars hunting down murderers and sex-offenders, not stoned hippies buying out Steak n Shake at 4am.

My 2 cents says, let 'em go. Throw them in jail when they rob someone... I really don't care how many joints someone smokes in the privacy of his or her own home.

wonderhorse 12 years, 3 months ago


Naw, Steak and Shake at 4am is where the drunk frat boys and sor girls are. IHOP for the stoners.

Matt Woodard 12 years, 3 months ago

Guess Brett wants to see the puff, puff, but don't pass rule enforced on those who are caught. Just for the heck of it, I'll agree with him. Hey, they paid good money for it, they should be allowed to smoke it. Right? lol

My Answer: Make it similar to a speeding ticket. 2nd offense could be like reckless driving (b/c they are so stupid for getting caught twice). 3rd offense and thereafter: you're at the DUI level perhaps with probation in their future. Really no sense in crowding the jails anymore unless they are caught distributing large quatities -again, stupidity factor.

How hard does the Gov't truly work to keep drugs off the street/out of the country? Hardly ever hear of any major drug busts anymore. We're more concerned with keeping terrorists out than keeping drugs out anymore. Yet, they both destroy many lives. Should one be more important than the other? Which one kills more people in a year? Yes, a terrorist could do a lot of damage in one swoop, agreed. And yes, perhaps the drug smugglers (Bush could call them terrorists also) are outwitting our patrollers. However, "hard" drugs like heroin, crack, coke, E (if you would include it), etc. seem to be more "consistent" killers. I could be wrong...I'm entitled. :)

Perhaps they just want us to toke up or pop those happy-fun-time pills they give out legally and forget about what is going on around us. The best way to do that today would be to go outside and enjoy the sunshine! Wow! Have a great day, all!

badger 12 years, 3 months ago

Beatrice said:

"Dude, are you smokin' something? Jail time -- and rehab??? -- for smoking pot?"

Nope. Jailtime for a second offense at breaking a federal law. Rehab because you've obviously fried your brain pretty seriously to be dumb enough to get busted a second time. If you can't take, "Hey, I got arrested," as enough of a warning to get smart about your consumption, then you have a problem and you need some serious help. How many people you know get busted just sitting calmly at home smoking weed with some friends? Most people getting busted are doing something stupid, and if they don't learn from the arrest experience, they need some help to learn not to mix 'stupid' and mind-altering substances.

I think marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and treated just like tobacco. But it hasn't been, and until it is, it's a federal law. I can say, hey, kid, it's OK, you broke the law and got caught, now cut out the 'stupid' and get smart. Here's your second chance. But you blow the second chance, you're not a learner, and you start to lose a little bit of the right to make your own choices. I'm not talking about ten years in jail, but a second offense does need to be a felony and put you in for a year or so.

We don't like the laws, we should change the laws. But just letting people keep on breaking the laws and not deal with escalating consequences each time, I'm not cool with that.

Pot is a drug. It contains mind-altering chemicals, much like alcohol and tobacco. It may not be heroin or meth, but it's still a controlled substance that has a wide range of effects on different people. You can't even say it's not addictive. It's not universally addictive, like crack, where almost everyone who uses it more than once is going to get hooked. However, I can't look at the friend who wakes up, smokes up, gets up, loads a pipe, has a little breakfast, takes a few hits off the pipe while he's getting ready for work, goes to work, smokes on his breaks, comes home and fires up a joint to 'unwind' from the day, then stays steadily stoned for another six hours until he goes to bed, I can't look at that guy and say he doesn't have a serious problem. I can't look at someone who brings pot to a party at my house despite my very clear instructions that no illegal substances will be tolerated, because he just needs a little bit of mellow to get him through social situations, and not think that he's got dependency issues.

It's not a harmless substance. It's not a particularly (on the spectrum of drugs) dangerous one, but I agree with Ubermime that it's not less dangerous or 'better' than alcohol and tobacco, and it deserves at least that much respect for the fact that it is a mind-altering substance of what I'd consider to be an equivalent degree.

trueninetiesgirl 12 years, 3 months ago

sorry it must be all this allergy med i am on sorry about the spelling of ...saturday....thanks for pointing it out to

sunflower_sue 12 years, 3 months ago

Jonas (8:33) Yes, I like your idea of expanding on the punishment but lets make it really humiliating. Make them take gymnastics! All the calisthinics plus make them do some of the "easier" stuff on the balance beam. The 9 year olds could use a good laugh and it would be educational for them as well.

badger 12 years, 3 months ago

Oh, and jonas, if it's all the same to you, I'll take the job offer instead of the death offer.

I think I need to be Captain DreadBadger. I'll sail the middling seas, leaving the high ones to you, bringing fear and doom to the pot ninjas.

What's your Guild stance on monkeys vs. parrots?

sunflower_sue 12 years, 3 months ago

V&C, Oh my, I just scanned past and saw your little plot with me stuck in the middle. Going to have to have the hubby read that one before it gets permanently zapped from cyber space. (Is it hot in here?) WHEW!

sunflower_sue 12 years, 3 months ago

MD, Just had hubby read it. It made him a little bit "bothered." I'll be back later. Got something I have to go take care of.

linux_chick 12 years, 3 months ago

my mistake, wonderhorse :)

I think IHOP is great. Guess I would've never made it in a sorority had I tried. Though some Steak n Shake meals are close to 3,000 cals a pop I've heard, which may explain some recent trends on the greek hills...

wonderhorse 12 years, 3 months ago


That's OK--I'd hate to tell you how I know all of this.

Although, if you have been partaking, you miss a lot of the more subtle nuances of the conversations going on around you.

wonderhorse 12 years, 3 months ago

V and C

I'd say from the reactions that you might have found a new career. You ought to save anymore and get it published.

beatrice 12 years, 3 months ago

badger: "You can't even say it's not addictive." Yes, I can, and I will again -- marijuana is not addictive. (now, whether I am correct or not is another matter, but ...) People who smoke regularly do not go through the same types of physical withdrawls as do people who use other drugs, such as alcohol or meth, so for that matter it is indeed less harmful than alcohol abuse. At least that is what I remember reading on the subject, although I must admit I have never spent an entire evening researching the subject on the internet, so I am certainly not an expert. Yes, it is a mind-altering chemical that should be discouraged, but that doesn't make it addictive.

I agree that burner-losers who do nothing but want to smoke pot all day long are just that, losers. Same goes with a lot of people -- those who constantly overeat, don't exercise, sit and watch sports constantly, or shop constantly, whatever. Again, these are bad habits, but not physical addictions. Although you say people aren't having their doors kicked in now, if a second offense included jail time then I am confident that it would only be a matter of time before hearing of some yahoo cop/prosecuter/D.A. doing just that. Sure, people could learn lessons in life, but jail is too heavy a price to pay for just being stupid. If just being stupid is a crime, then anyone who owns one of those "books for dummies" should be locked up.

And you should kick anyone out of your house who brings pot to smoke at your party. That just isn't cool.

jonas 12 years, 3 months ago

badger: Parrots are better if trained to talk well. If not, monkeys. But neither make the same statement as penguins.

O-Bob: But remember, the worm IS the spice.

wonderhorse 12 years, 3 months ago


I just went to The G, School of WebMD, and typed in marijuana+addiction. It took me to a page that had six different links to organizations dedicated to helping people with mj addictions to quit (no NA wasn't one).

Don't know what that means.

Matt Woodard 12 years, 3 months ago

Bea: "And you should kick anyone out of your house who brings pot to smoke at your party. That just isn't cool."

That is, if you do not wish to have it there or share in the late night trip to Burrito King. And, I agree. It is not addictive. Certainly, and absolutely, nowhere in the legal drugs (alcohol/cigarette) neighborhood of addiction. How much could Phillip Morris make selling pre-rolled J's? Enough to cover their advertising costs to remind us how damaging and deadly their product is.

Matt Woodard 12 years, 3 months ago

Aw hell, we shouldn't even be here discussing this anyhow. We should be down on the porch at Free State, inhaling carcinogens and throwing back a Copperhead -- ya know, the legalized drugs that are good for easing the pressures of the day -- discussing this while the hippy in the corner twists one up to be passed around on this gorgeous day. Seriously!

Time to go outside!

linux_chick 12 years, 3 months ago


Agreed. Then legalize it. It's an outdated law anyway we hold on to, not for medical reasons, but because it's political suicide for our representatives to even appear lax on drug use. We have legalized substances with more harmful side-effects, ie: nyquil.

Marijuana is illegal because of a perceived Mexican-immigration problem nearly a century ago that was a catch-all way to segregate the Mexican population from whites (as in sending as many Mexicans as possible to jail) and invoked initially only in southern states. Why, then today when we're "more enlightened" do we still have this law initially legislated for racist practises still on the books? Kind of backwards...

linux_chick 12 years, 3 months ago

Note: I'm not saying nyquil is particularly harmful, but it is perception altering and dehydrating... which is something

More reading if anyone is interested. I'm sure many of you have heard this all before:

sunflower_sue 12 years, 3 months ago

MD, Allright, how do you know I have hardwood floors in my kitchen??? What is my kitchen island top made out of?

badger 12 years, 3 months ago

Addiction isn't just a set of physical responses based in whether you have withdrawal symptoms.

It's a psychological, physiological, or emotional dependence, an inability to function at what you consider your 'normal' level without something, usually a habit or a chemical. For example, if you can't face your job without a drink, there's a good chance you're addicted to drinking alcohol. If you can't get through a three-hour movie without stepping out to smoke, you're probably addicted to smoking cigarettes. And if you can't make it through a few hours of hanging out in someone's living room talking to people you know and like without a joint, then there's a good chance you're addicted to smoking pot.

Now, are you addicted to the substances, to the feelings you get from them, or to the habits of using them? Ask a smoker what the hardest part of quitting is; he'll tell you that kicking the physical part is relatively easy compared to the moment that stress hits and he needs a smoke. The chemicals are out of your system relatively quickly and your body usually physically adjusts to no nicotine within a week, so why isn't the addiction gone? Because the psychological and emotional facets linger.

So, when people say pot isn't addictive, it may not be physically addictive, but it's habit forming. I've known too many people who just couldn't cope with some situation or other unless they were stoned to discount pot addiction as a myth.

Bringing the pot to the party after being asked not to was a social faux pas and really not that big a deal in the Grand Scheme. However, the fact that he 'needed a little mellow' to get through the social situation is telling, and to me it says 'addiction' or at the very least 'dependence'.

As much as one would like to dismiss the burnout losers as just that and remove them from the debate as examples of pot users, I believe that everyone's gotta own their fringe. This means Christians gotta own Phred Phelps, environmentalists gotta own the ELF, and pot advocates gotta own Smokey the Burned-Out Six Foot Carrot. Retooling the demographic so it suits your argument just hurts you in the long run.

Part of owning your fringe is saying, "yeah, this is what happens when someone takes my particular position to an extreme."

I don't condone imprisoning people for being stupid. Not enough prisons for that. I suggest imprisoning them for getting caught mixing 'stupid' with mind-altering substances twice. Cops aren't out there kicking in Joe Citizen's door to catch him with a bong right now, and in most cases a second pot conviction merits prison. Heck, in a lot of cases, a first pot conviction merits prison. How would softening the law on a first conviction and leaving the law the same on a second conviction cause the law enforcement response to be more aggressive? I'm not being antagonistic; I honestly don't see it.

badger 12 years, 3 months ago

Linux_chick said:

"Agreed. Then legalize it. It's an outdated law anyway we hold on to, not for medical reasons, but because it's political suicide for our representatives to even appear lax on drug use. We have legalized substances with more harmful side-effects, ie: nyquil."

You'll get no argument from me at all on that. I fully support legalization and openly advocate it. I just don't support the notion that we shouldn't enforce laws cause they're stupid. We should change stupid laws; it's the only way we'll ever get a coherent code of law that people will respect and appreciate.

jonas: my parrot hasn't yet mastered speaking. He may actually just be a blue jay painted green, now that I look at him. I think I'll trade him in on a monkey. I tried a penguin, but it fell off my shoulder backwards every time a plane flew over.

sunflower_sue 12 years, 3 months ago

MD, sorry, I knew you would "strike out" on guessing what the island top is made out of. Every year, I get at least one "turkey" on my kitchen island, usually around Thanksgiving. Then again, I got a "turkey" on it before it was my kitchen island, too. Now do you have a better guess?

Badger, that was a very thoughtful approach to dependency. So many of us tend to look past the emotional/psychological side of the arguement. Being completely square, I've never even tried pot. But I am fully aware of being a "social" drinker. I will occasionally have a drink at night with the hubby after the kiddies are to bed, but if I'm around lots of friends, I'll almost always partake. It was a good point you made.

beatrice 12 years, 3 months ago

sun_sue: I don't know what the kitchen island is made of. When I saw the live webcast, however, I recall it was covered in pleather.

badger: "As much as one would like to dismiss the burnout losers as just that and remove them from the debate as examples of pot users, I believe that everyone's gotta own their fringe." I don't agree with the reasoning on this one. If I drink a glass of wine with dinner at home, I don't feel a connection with the college student who binge drinks and then drives into a pole on the way home. But alcohol is addictive. Lets compare it to non-addictive things. I eat food. Some people are obese. Must I "own" the obese eater? How do the two relate? One person buys more shoes than they could possibly wear in a lifetime. If I own a pair of shoes, am I then linked with the other? I don't believe so. If a person is a responsible hunter, must they own Dick Cheney? Well, okay, I'll give you that one.

Anyway, just because someone does something to excess, that doesn't mean it is addictive, especially when the vast majority of pot smokers aren't burned out losers that must smoke to get through all social events. It means that person in particular is doing something to excess. It speaks nothing of the substance itself. You have linked the behavior with the substance. If it wasn't pot, I suspect the same person would be doing something else to excess.

badger 12 years, 3 months ago


It is not about doing something to excess, the notion of addiction. It is about not being able to function at your 'normal' level without it, about having a dependence. Frequency of use has much less to do with it than necessity of use.

As to the drunk driver? No, as a drinker you don't have to feel a connection with him. But let's say that someone wants to ban alcohol, and you join an advocacy movement to oppose it. They point to the drunken driver. You don't get to say, "Well, he doesn't count as a drinker because he's just a loser anyway. Drunk driving isn't about drinking." Owning your fringe means that if you are engaged in advocacy of or representation of a cause, an idea, or a population, you acknowledge that the wingnuts, the losers, and the freaks are extensions of your own philosophy and behaviour. You can, if you wish to, explain how your philosophy is different, and you're encouraged to distance yourself and advocate for your own non-fringe variant, but the fringe reflects on the movement as a whole.

I'm pagan. There are a lot of freaked-out weirdoes out there doing all sorts of things that reflect badly on me when I tell someone I'm pagan. I can't say, "Well, they're not really pagans because I don't like how they reflect on me." They are, in essence, part of my demographic, and it's futile for me to try and tell people they're not, when the outside observer looks at both of us and sees 'pagan'. Much more productive for me to explain that while, yes, that's an example of paganism, it's an example of it carried to unhealthy extremes.

Much the same, the legalization movement needs to acknowledge that, yes, if pot is legalized some people will use it irresponsibly, and it's their goal to get across to those outside the demographic that irresponsible use won't be the norm, and that there are societal causes of substance abuse that are independent of marijuana's legality or illegality. They also need to face up to the fact that not everyone uses pot responsibly, and talk about how responsible use could be encouraged. This is where we as a culture have mostly failed with regard to alcohol, in not facing up to the fact that sometimes, people are going to put things in their bodies in an irresponsible manner, and all we really, as a society, can do is educate them about the real dangers of substance abuse (I include legal drugs here, like alcohol or caffeine) and work to minimize the damage done when someone engages in irresponsible use of a mind-altering substance.

Liberty 12 years, 3 months ago

I say 3 strikes, then your off to the city commission.

thunderbuns 12 years, 3 months ago

They should have to work at U.S. Bank as punishment.

No wait.......then they'd start using the harder stuff, like meth.

Hmmm, I'll have ta get back to ya on this one......

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