The Bathtub Gin of Cannabis

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Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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  1. Avatar Rufus F.
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    I’m always a bit skeptical when pro-legalization people try to argue that pot is safer than alcohol. Both of them are intoxicants and, if used incorrectly, can be hazardous. The difference is that we all admit that lots of people drink once they’re old enough to, and that some of them will overdo it and have to “learn to hold their liquor”, while others will turn out to be problem drinkers and need more serious help. For most people, the behavior is channeled into responsible social drinking and it’s not a problem later in life.

    With pot, anyone who uses it is already a criminal, so there’s less social pressure to learn how to “hold their pipe”. We want them to just not smoke pot, instead of learning to do so responsibly. Responsible adults quit smoking and problem users keep using in privacy. I think this is part of why people who smoke when they’re young and overdo it often turn into hardcore prohibitionists, instead of just deciding that, if you smoke marijuana, you’d better be smart about it. “Responsible” is defined as quitting for pot, where it’s defined as moderation for booze.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Rufus F.
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      @Rufus F.,

      I’m always a bit skeptical when pro-legalization people try to argue that pot is safer than alcohol. Both of them are intoxicants and, if used incorrectly, can be hazardous.

      A lot depends on what you mean by “safer.”

      On the one hand, it’s true that safety is almost all in how you use a thing. Even cyanide is safe, and useful, if handled properly. And we will need to develop a culture of responsible drug use after we legalize.

      On the other hand, I’ll eat a pot brownie for every shot of whiskey you take, and we can see who puts whom in the morgue.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Rufus F.
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      @Rufus F., As a matter of simple fact, Rufus my friend, there has not yet been a death in America that can been attributed directly to the toxic effect of THC (the woo ingredient of pot). Alcohol, on the other hand, is very much a toxic substance (which is where drunken vomiting comes from; our bodies are evolved to try and expel toxins) and people lethally poison themselves to death with it very frequently. So as a matter of relative toxicity pot objectively is considerably “safer” than alcohol.Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Rufus F.
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      @Rufus F., In terms of social costs of consumption, drunken driving and drunken fighting are huge problems. All high people want to do is sit on the couch, order pizza, and watch Seth Rogen movies.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Christopher Carr
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        @Christopher Carr, Okay, look everyone, I’ll concede the point about toxicity and maybe the point about fighting, although that sort of depends on the person- I’m one of those really friendly drunks who makes jokes and grins foolishly (not the huggy kind).

        All I’m saying is that it will be better when parents can sit down with their kids and tell them how to smoke pot responsibly. Full disclosure: My inspiration here is that I still have the faint outline of a black eye I got about a month ago when I stupidly smoked three joints on an empty stomach, having also had 1-2 botttles of beer; when I stood up from my chair, I blacked out and hit the floor. Wham! All I’m saying is that young people get more guidance on how to drink properly, while using marijuana at all is considered “improper”.

        Incidentally, this does bring to mind a comparison I wish the pro-pot people would make: drunken sex is often quite lousy, while stoned sex is generally pretty fantastic. I’m guessing that will not be mentioned in any of the campaign ads.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Another issue with bathtub gin is the issue of “wouldn’t you rather have a bottle of wine? A sixer of beer?”

    Because, lemme tell ya, I do not particularly enjoy hard likker at all. A bottle of Plungerhead is far more pleasant from where I sit. How many folks in the Prohibition Era were stuck drinking gin when, really, they just wanted a damn beer?

    How many people have done (some other drug) because, hell, marijuana is way too expensive/difficult to find this week and the guy on the corner has this, that, and the other but no weed (or the weed he has is twice the price of whatever happens to be on special)?

    I’d bet that a lot of non-weed drug use would disappear if weed were legalized… in the same way that the removal of prohibition re-normalized drinking beer and wine at the expense of, among other things, gin.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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      @Jaybird, Those goddamn leftists in Portugal did away with drug prohibitions alltogether and now are suffering some of the lowest drug uses in Europe (let alone Europe and North America).Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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      @Jaybird, I would agree that use of drugs other then weed would decrease when/if it it is legalized. But no way would all other use stop. Many addicts end up using certain drugs because they are looking for specific feelings. Coke, oxy’s and pot produce different highs. In fact one of the most irritating, although minor, things about dealing with addicts is a fairly common tendency to snobbishly look down on users of other drugs. As in, an alcoholics saying they are a better kind of addict then those damn pot smoking hippiesReport

  3. Avatar Will H.
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    says:

    Old war story here.
    The bass player from my old band was a roadie for Mountain for the longest.
    Cat Stevens was playing in Kansas City. There was a lot of stuff called ‘THC’ that was going around at the time, and a lot of it wasn’t what they were calling it. This guy was standing behind the people that were scoring for Stevens, waiting to get his dope. Turned out to be PCP.
    So, Stevens gets his dope, but the lights started messing with his head, and he went off on a bad trip. He left the stage and got into a limo to head out to the airport.
    This is the song that Cat Stevens wrote about the experience:

    Report

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