[THS] Karl Denninger: California Grows A Brain?
psalience at fastmail.fm
Tue Jan 12 19:45:36 CET 2010
Tuesday, January 12. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in Politics at 12:41
California Grows A Brain?
Prohibition - the worst mistake our federal government ever made when it came to
restraining freedom, in that all it did was provide the fuel for criminal gangs to buy
weapons, bullets and harm lots of innocent bystanders - was ended by The
Depression and a need for tax revenues.
Now California in the crunch of a massive budget deficit is considering the first act of
sanity in a nearly-100-year old drug war that has similarly done nothing to promote
general societal welfare, but has locked up hundreds of thousands of non-violent
Americans who have engaged only in consensual adult transactions and acts, wasted
hundreds of billions of dollars, fueled wars in foreign nations and provided the money
that criminal gangs in the United States have used to buy weapons with which they
have terrorized the population.
I am speaking of Assembly Bill 390 - The Marijuana Control, Regulation, and
>From the summary:
This bill would remove marijuana and its derivatives from existing statutes defining
and regulating controlled substances. It would instead legalize the possession, sale,
cultivation, and other conduct relating to marijuana and its derivatives by persons 21
years of age and older, except as specified. It would set up a wholesale and retail
marijuana sales regulation program, including special fees to fund drug abuse
prevention programs, as specified, to commence after regulations concerning the
program have been issued, and federal law
permits possession and sale consistent with the program. It would ban local and
state assistance in enforcing inconsistent federal and other laws relating to
marijuana, and would provide specified infraction penalties for violations of these new
marijuana laws and regulations, as specified.
It's about damn time.
Never mind that there's a lot of use for the hemp plant that has nothing to do with
getting stoned, and virtually none of it is legal with our insane prohibition on growing
of this plant.
Specifically, hemp makes an excellent biofuel feedstock, it is suitable for very high-
quality paper production at lower cost than made from trees and the fiber is useful
for a whole host of industrial and consumer end product uses, yet it is virtually
impossible, given the insane "public policy" view toward the plant, for any of this to
Let's face reality here folks: we currently allow the sale and consumption, under
regulation, of two substances that are far more dangerous than marijuana,
Tobacco. Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, has been characterized as
"the most addictive substance known to mankind" (Dr. Everett Koop, former US
Surgeon General, among others) by many in the medical profession. The preferred
route of consumption (smoking) liberates dozens of known carcinogens including four
nitrosamines that are formed from the natural components of the tobacco plant when
it is burned. Nicotine is a direct poison in addition to being highly addictive; the
nicotine in just four cigarettes, if extracted and injected into the blood is sufficient to
kill an adult. The smoke, in addition to the known components unique to the tobacco
plant contains benzene, toluene, polonium, acetone and many other known poisons
and carcinogens. Tobacco, irrespective of the route of consumption (including
"smokeless" uses) has an extremely high addiction rate (near 100%) and the
addictive property is chemical (that is, it is a physical addiction formed by alterations
of brain chemistry.)
Alcohol: Alcohol is a direct bodily poison; 50% of those who reach a blood
alcohol level of 0.5% will die. It is physically addictive with heavy, repeated use. It is
a known carcinogen, particularly potent with cancers of the liver and stomach. It
produces profound impairment of motor skills and coordination in most users with
blood alcohol levels of 0.08% and above.
In contrast marijuana produces motor impairment with consumption, although there
is no generally-accepted "level" of intoxication that produces a profound impairment,
as the common tests currently available do not test for actual THC (the active
ingredient in marijuana that produces intoxication) content of the blood or breath,
but rather they test for metabolites - that is, what the body produces when
marijuana is consumed and is eliminated in the body. These tests thus check for
previous use, not current intoxication. Nonetheless intoxication is readily perceived
by impairment of fine and gross motor skills.
Marijuana has no known "LD-50", or toxic dose sufficient to produce death. It is
psychologically addictive (as are all things someone "likes", including sex) but has no
known route of physical addiction in the human body due to permanent alterations of
brain chemistry (as with tobacco or alcohol.) It is harmful when smoked as is
tobacco, but there are alternative means of consumption (including devices that heat
but do not burn the material as well as through eating either of the plant itself or
through extracts, as the active ingredient is oil-soluble and thus is trivially extracted
into, for instance, butter) that do not involve the risks inherent in smoking (of
Despite claims that police do not "target" marijuana offenders about half of all
persons arrested for drug offenses are in fact arrested for marijuana violations in the
United States - and that number is close to 750,000 persons a year. Some 90% of
those arrested are charged only with possession of the substance - not "sale or
manufacture", which includes those growing the plant for personal (whether
medicinal or recreational) use and consumption. This number of arrests dramatically
exceeds the number of people arrested and charged for all violent crimes combined,
including murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Many of
these arrests result in permanent felony records for the person who gets "busted" - a
legal disability that can and often does follow the smoker for life, resulting in severely-
damaged employment prospects, never mind (in many states) the revocation of one's
right to vote and a permanent federal bar on the lawful ownership of a firearm.
Nobody that I'm aware of claims that smoking weed is good for you. Certainly, I do
not. But I also don't argue that having a drink is good for you, or smoking a
cigarette - yet within a couple of miles of my home there are literally a dozen
commercial establishments that will happily serve me as much poison in the form of
alcohol as I wish to purchase and consume in their restaurant or bar.
All of this consensual adult activity is of course taxed, and ostensibly the taxes
thereby generated go toward education and help for those who become addicted to
these substances and wish to quit.
For those who operate a motor vehicle (or fly a plane, or otherwise endanger the
public) while intoxicated irrespective of what they're intoxicated on, I say arrest 'em,
prosecute 'em and stop 'em from doing it again. For the driver who gets caught
while stoned (on whatever) there are currently-available ignition interlocks that
amount to a coordination tester (a "video-game" like device) that will refuse to allow
the vehicle to start if the driver is intoxicated. Mandate the installation of one of
those on your vehicle for five years for a first offense (you pay for the device too of
course!) and permanently for repeat offenders. If the offense is related to a
commercial operation (e.g. truck driver, train driver, pilot, etc) permanent revocation
of one's commercial operating privileges are appropriate on the first offense. We
already charge drunk drivers who kill someone in an accident with manslaughter,
and this should continue.
But we as a society should have thrown off the BS racist arguments (not to mention
the corporate hegemony) used to "support" marijuana prohibition decades ago when
the transactions and consumption involved are entirely between consenting adults. It
is simply none of my damn business what you choose to do on your private property
so long as your actions do not harm me, and smoking a joint in your living room or
growing a half-dozen dope plants in your closet does me no harm at all.
Today we simply can't afford this sort of stupidity - anywhere - in our government
and law-enforcement spending.
Three quarters of a million people a year who have to be processed through the legal
system, each at a huge cost ($10,000 or more each - assuming there's no jail
involved - for those who go to prison it's $30k/year/each+!), furthering a political
agenda we do not have the money to support.
Never mind that I have plenty of use for the extra jail cells, cops and prosecutors -
we can start by locking up Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein and Timmy Geithner for
openers, along with everyone else involved in actually ripping other people off during
the bubble years.
100,000 jail cells vacated and our "narco" cop divisions should be just about right to
divert to a far more productive pursuit.
Don't bogart that bill California.
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