The Russ Belville Show

I don’t know who the hell Steven Crowder is.  I’ll give him points on his delivery, editing, and cinematography, but his supposed “take-down” of pro-legalization arguments is pathetic.

The video is posted on some conservative’s website where the author claims “Steven Crowder destroys pretty much every pro-marijuana argument” and that “Stoners lie. Or they’re just too stupid to know the truth.”

The author declares Crowder’s video to be “awesome” for making the following points:

  1. Marijuana is more harmful than alcohol, not less.
  2. Legalizing pot increases use. It does not decrease it.
  3. There is almost no one in prison for convictions of marijuana use alone.
  4. Marijuana makes you much more likely to suffer from psychosis.
  5. The biggest reason for the increase in use among young people is the propaganda that it’s harmless.

Crowder’s a reefer mad idiot.

1) Is alcohol more dangerous than marijuana? Well, let’s take a look at all the people who’ve died of marijuana overdoses. Oh, yeah, zero, because it is non-toxic, whereas some college kid overdoses and dies on alcohol almost every week. Maybe we should compare all the public vomiting, domestic violence, and auto fatalities from marijuana as compared to alcohol.

Yes, marijuana is fat soluble. Yes, the brain is mostly fat. From there, reason goes out the window.  The reason the liver processes alcohol is because its job is to remove poisons from the body. It says something about drugs that our bodies reject them and their metabolites within three days, but our bodies hold on to cannabinoids as long as possible.

Our bodies do not have an endoethanol system, but we do have an endocannabinoid system, which is what cannabis triggers for the “high” we experience.

2) Numerous studies have shown that the legality or illegality of marijuana has little effect on its use. As his video shows, plenty of teenagers are getting a hold of it, despite it being illegal in Michigan for all but medical use. Sure, Ann Arbor is decriminalized, but I can find you the same set of pot smoking teens in Enid, Oklahoma, if I want to.

But suppose legalizing marijuana does increase use. So? Perhaps that’s a bunch of people who choose pot over Oxycontin, and their health improves as they suffer fewer side effects. Maybe it’s a bunch of college kids who trade “keg stands” for “gravity bongs”. Nobody ever seems to worry about increased alcohol use, because I never hear for any campaigns to ban humorous Super Bowl beer ads.

Are there more teens smoking marijuana in the medical and decrim states?  Yes, but they were already smoking before they became medical or decrim states.  It’s not that law changes make people smoke pot, it’s that where people smoke pot, they change the law.

3) The stats on people in prison for marijuana – first of all, sucks for that 1% – 1.4%, huh? What, we have to imprison a token (pardon the pun) number of first time non violent marijuana offenders in order to scare the rest?

But really, it’s not this low figure they keep citing. Remember, they’re citing “marijuana only” offenses. Well, guess what happens if you’re busted with a pound of weed and you have a lawfully-purchased hunting rifle? There’s a “marijuana and guns” charge. How about a kid? Now add in “felony child endangerment.” Did you and a bunch of friends chip in for that pound? Now you’re a “felony conspiracy”. And don’t forget all the probationers, parolees, and “third-strikers” who get busted for even as little as a joint who get sent back to prison for original crimes that don’t register as “marijuana only”.

Plus, this figure does not include the people who end up in county and city jails, many there because they can’t afford bail, others sentenced there by local statutes more severe than the state statute.

4) Ah, marijuana and psychosis. A sixty-year study of mental illness in the UK found no rise in rates of psychosis or schizophrenia, even as the popularity of cannabis grew in the hippie era. Another meta-analysis of mental hospitals in England, Wales, and Ireland found no variation in schizophrenia from 1996-2006.

Fact is, about 1% of the population is schizophrenic. Now, indeed, if they smoke weed, it can exacerbate and hasten the onset of their psychosis. But schizophrenia is a complex disorder, mostly rooted in genetics and somewhat in environment. Certainly if cannabis brought on psychosis in mentally healthy people, we should have seen a massive rise in schizophrenia in America correlating with 1979, when 60% of high school seniors admit to having tried pot.

5) Increased use by young people, no doubt, is reflective of propaganda, but not from the legalization side.

That nice chart showing “perception of risk” vs. “youth use” does indeed show that the riskier kids think pot smoking is, the less they’ll do it. In the late 1970s, pot was thought of as harmless and more kids did it than have ever been measured.

Then you’ll see the increase in risk perception beginning in 1980 with Ronald & Nancy Reagan and the “Just Say No” campaigns. “This is your brain on drugs” commercials. Over-the-top lies about the risks of marijuana, combined with an increase in drug testing, did indeed scare teenagers into not using marijuana.

But then came Bill Clinton. Notice how the risk perception plummets in Clinton’s first term. How do you tell kids smoking pot will lead them nowhere when a pot smoker is president? Then came the medical marijuana movement in Northern California in the mid-1990s. And then came “The Google”.

It’s not so much that drug legalizers came up with awesome propaganda about marijuana that turned the kids on. It’s that the drug legalizers have been telling the truth about marijuana but only with the advent of the internet did they have the means of countering the million-dollar ad buys from the government. And then kids, who had been told “I now have evidence that smoking one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an A-bomb blast” (Ronald Reagan, 1981), could now look up facts and science on cannabis on the internet.

Still, even as 18 states have medicalized, 15 states have decrimmed, and 2 states have legalized (god, I love to type that last part!), past-year use hovers between 30%-40% and perception of risk has hovered between 20%-30%.  Maybe we’ve reached the equilibrium where kids understand the actual risk of cannabis use.

And if you want those kids to get the actual risks of heavy cannabis use of developing adolescent brains, you can’t gain their trust with commercials of eggs in frying pans.

6 [Bonus]) Crowder notes that people buy weed at dispensaries and sell to kids.  He posits that the cartels won’t go away, because people who make their living through crime will find another crime with which to make their living.  So, then, we should give the marijuana market to criminals?

No matter what we do, some kids are going to get their hands on weed.  Just like beer.  But when a kid gets a hold of some beer, no violent murdering criminal organization profits.  Maybe a homeless guy earns $20 buying a twelve pack for some teenagers, and the money that got spent at the store at least provided some jobs and some tax revenue for the state, which then can use some of it for alcoholism treatment for some kid who started drinking too young.

With marijuana, the kid doesn’t even have to find the homeless guy.  He just finds another kid who’s the school weed dealer.  You ever notice you don’t find any school beer dealers?

7 [Bonus]) Cauliflower-ear guy warns us that it’s a myth that nobody has ever died from a THC-involved accident.  I’m sure you didn’t get that ear fighting strawmen like this one.

We never say “nobody dies from marijuana related accidents”.  We say “nobody dies from marijuana”, as in “an acute toxic overdose”.  Of course people can die in pot-related wrecks!  So, why aren’t we calling for a return to alcohol prohibition?  And why aren’t we banning in-dash car computer systems and stereo systems?  There are all sorts of irresponsible behaviors drivers engage in that lead to wrecks.

But marijuana prohibition doesn’t stop those wrecks and it may contribute to them by failing to provide to users a social construct for responsible marijuana use.  Look at the stats for drunk driving, which have dropped greatly since the advent of M.A.D.D. in the 1980s, an increase in the drinking age to 21, a decrease in BAC limits to 0.08, a strong educational campaign on drunk driving, and better trained police officers and more drunk driving patrols.  There is no “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Stoned” commerical on TV.

8 [Bonus]) Steven flashes some stats from California that claim since medical marijuana was legalized in 1996, all sorts of terrible crime stats have gone up.  This comes from the California DEA, so it’s unimpeachable, huh?

Well, it turns out that the sheriff of the LAPD and sheriffs in a few cities in Denver have long since put the “dispensaries cause crime” canard to rest.  It’s also funny to me how they’ll cherry pick a bunch of stats to scare folks about pot and crime and never bother to point out that every person with a medical recommendation in California is a criminal act eliminated every day of their lives

If Crowder is so “awesome”, have him give me a call on my live show at 971-533-7111 any weekday between 4pm-5pm Pacific.  I guarantee him a much tougher pro-pot interview than some teenager in Ann Arbor.

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5 Comments for this entry

  • WakeUpDead says:

    I want some of that pot that stays in my brain that keeps effecting me, think of the money I could have saved! Geez these people are nutz!

  • WakeUpDead says:

    Oh and no one is saying legalize for 12yr olds!

  • Doug420 says:

    Crowder, funny report, the opposition talks to psychologists because doctors know more about how cannabis really works and the body. what he taught me is he thinks weed is bad for you , and I am pretty sure he doesn’t even have any weed.

  • DeeperDish says:

    I just wrote an email to Crowder. Let’s see if he’s up to the Radical Challenge, so to speak. I won’t hold my breath. I’m amused that he brought up Kevin Sabet’s ‘cultural legacy’ argument, as if tyranny of the majority is a valid argument for prohibition.

  • rsteeb says:

    Viva Ann Arbor! Thanks for the glimpses of my home town. I recall when they made pot possession a $25 ticket “offense” — about the same time I got a $35 ticket for *backing* into a parking stall!

    I got your “truth” right here, Crowder: To keep Cannabis illegal while tobacco and alcohol are freely available would be *MURDEROUSLY STUPID*.

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