Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Decriminalizing Marijuana

The libertarian side of me thinks decriminalizing marijuana (Cannabis) is a good idea.

Other parts of me are either on-the-fence or definite "No way!"

The "No Way" parts


Employers lose a very high percentage of candidates during "pre-screening" an the a basis of testing positive to cannabis.  Anecdotal data suggests that the fall-out rate varies between 70% and 90%.  Having tests that eliminate a large number of candidates is not a bad thing for the employer when the economy is bad.

Testing positive for cannabis is seen as a proxy for several things:
  • A willingness to disregard authority
  • A willingness to engage in illegal activities
  • A potential employee who will come to work with a broken Give-a-Golly
Decriminalizing  cannabis would eliminate the usefulness of the first two bullets but the last bullet remains problematic.  Would you want the mechanic rebuilding your car's engine to have a "Whatever (shrug)" attitude about using torque wrenches and properly cleaning and lubricating parts before assembling them?

Would employers be allowed to continue screening for cannabis use if it is decriminalized?

Mental illness

Cannabis reacts with neurons (brain cells) through a number of chemical pathways.  Many drugs used to treat the mentally ill also work through the same chemical pathways.  THC is able to block out many of those drugs because it can either out-competes the prescribed drug or it simply overwhelms it due to numbers of molecules in the system.

So, what happens when the depressed person's SSRI stops working?  Sometimes they commit suicide.


Decriminalizing cannabis will result in greater availability to kids.  Sure, laws will be passed that prohibit use by kids, but availability and the openness of use will increase and more kids will use it.

That libertarian thing:  it is about actions by adults.  If they choose to not be informed, that is their privilege.  Kids, however, need guard rails.  And the general belief is that kids who start using any kind of drug as a coping mechanism "freeze" in the development.  Do we really need any more 40 year old adults who are locked into a 7th grade outlook on the world?

The "On the Fence" parts

Criminalization results in a government subsidy to organizations that are willing to skirt the law.

Criminalization increases prices, nearly all of which falls to the bottom line as profit.

High incarceration rates feed linkages between prison culture and inner cities.  Perhaps the most toxic byproduct of prison culture is the certainty that "The Man" is out to screw you and he must be proactively screwed at any cost.  People carrying those ideas around in their heads rarely make good employees or citizens.

I could live with the negative consequences of decriminalizing cannabis if the links between prison culture and the inner city were broken.  I am dubious about decriminalization breaking that link, however.

Only 0.7 % of the people who are in state prison are there solely because of possessing marijuana. 

Three of these can hold 156 adult passengers.  1 person in 156 = 0.64%

To put that into perspective, a conventional "large" school bus has 13 rows of seats and can hold 52 adult sized passengers when packed.  0.7% is very close to one passenger among three packed school buses. 

Those who are in prison for that reason are typically there because the judicial system hung on to that charge through the plea-bargain process...or there is a vast amount of circumstantial evidence tying the defendant to a more serious crime(s) and the DA goes with the cannabis possession because it is the crime with the slam-dunk evidence.

Sometimes a broken "Give-a-Golly" is a good thing

A "Whatever (shrug)" attitude might pass for the peasant's stoic endurance of circumstances that cannot be changed.  In one place I worked, the "Whatever (shrug)" was known as the Pontiac salute.

Stoic endurance, or any reasonable facsimile is a commodity in high demand when there is little hope.

1 comment:

  1. As Colorado shows, all that legalization does is create a secondary black market as potheads try to undercut the legal, taxed weed, and it gives cover to the big drug dealers, including Columbian and mexican cartels, as they move into the area and set up local franchises that sell illegal quantities under the guise of running legit shops, complete with enforcers to shut down the competition.

    The pro-weed crowd prefers to sweep these facts under the rug.