For all the marvels of the web anonymity doesn’t get its full due.  Sure anonymity can hide molesters and terrorists, but it can also nurture an important conversation that wouldn’t happen otherwise.

Witness the ongoing thread on cannabis use at The Daily Dish:  People sharing their marihuanna use experiences as if they were talking to their close friend in confidence.

For example:

I’m 41 years old and a contract manager with a government agency. Treasurer for the PTA.  Father of two active boys. The funny thing is, I am only in the closet professionally and where the parenting thing makes it an issue.  Most of my friends, who are also professionals, are in the same position as me.  We work hard, handle our business, and see no logical reason why this particular drug should be not just illegal, but as heavily stigmatized as it currently is.

or

I’m 41 years old and a contract manager with a government agency. Treasurer for the PTA.  Father of two active boys. The funny thing is, I am only in the closet professionally and where the parenting thing makes it an issue.  Most of my friends, who are also professionals, are in the same position as me.  We work hard, handle our business, and see no logical reason why this particular drug should be not just illegal, but as heavily stigmatized as it currently is.

or

I’m 68.4 years old, and I’m in the MaryJane closet too.  If I got busted, I’d lose a lot. Michigan has medical marijuana now, and I have some minor medical things that might qualify: migraines, for instance.  But I don’t just need it, I LIKE it, and it seems harmless enough.  It even revs up my libido.

or

I’ve smoked probably a dozen times in my life. I don’t do it anymore because for whatever reason, it leaves me in the stupids for about 36 hours, and I usually can’t spare that.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize just how ridiculously widespread pot use is. The closet of people who either currently or have in the past used marijuana on a semi-regular basis includes probably 75% of the people I know, including highly successful doctors, lawyers, public health researchers, IT professionals, small business owners, architects, local and state politicians, farmers, mechanics, chefs, teachers, researchers, community leaders, my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course the musicians and artists in the crowd too. Yes, I have seen abuse of marijuana sidetrack lives and ambitions, and have true negative impacts on people, but those instances as a percentage of the use I’ve observed are tiny, and far, far lower than the negative impacts of cigarettes or alcohol.

I recognize that we can’t just legalize it and be done. Legalize it with caps on THC levels, blood THC levels for drivers, levels for intoxication at the workplace, tax it at 200%, ban advertisements on TV and billboards, advertisements that target kids, and set a legal smoking age. But all of that is eminently do-able.

See here, here or here (among others)

Bravo Webb!

March 31, 2009

Jim Webb takes on prison reform, and by extension, on drug policy reform.  About time.

Surprisingly he’s got backing from left, right and quite a few in between.

Perhaps we will finally get Switzerland and other tax havens to open up a bit, and make it harder for drug dealers, tax cheats and dictators to stash the cash.

UBS already coughed up 300 account holder names the U.S. claimed were tax evaders, and the U.S. is now suing to get another 52,000.

Frank Rich points out how the Great Depression brought an end to prohibitionism, and coincided with lowered influence by the Church and fundamentalist movements.

We can already see this in how little attention is being paid to Obama’s stem-cell changes, or to Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination.

However Frank does not mention recreational drugs at all, which is another parallel I would argue.  Reform is coming.  The stars are aligning.

Beyond lowering crime and the costs of policing, prosecution and incarceration, a more sensible drug policy would help immensely with very explosive situations we have in Mexico, Afghanistan, Colombia and parts of Africa.