Thanks, SAM, but we’ve got it from here


A response to a March 1 piece by Will Jones about my earlier post on legalization of marijuana.

Mr. Jones alleges that I misinterpreted the data. Hardly. I only drew from the sources with which I was provided.

Brendan Ruberry

Return to the original piece.. I responded to the links he included, not one of which was the Lancet study. If I responded to the “wrong” study, then he has no one but himself to blame. I invite the reader to verify. Click every link in the article. If they can find the Lancet study which Jones insists was linked in the original article (not the rebuttal), then I’ll donate my next paycheck to SAM.

But it’s here now, so let’s look to the Lancet study. From the Discussion section: “In conclusion, our findings confirm previous evidence of the harmful effect on mental health of daily use of cannabis, especially of high-potency types.”

Did anyone hear that? It sounded like the air being let out of a very large research grant. Doing drugs every single day (especially in potent forms) can be bad for your mental health. We needed one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals in the world to tell us this? I don’t mean to downplay the seriousness of the issue, but let’s be real. For scale: Daily exposure to blue light (from smartphones, computers, and televisions) shortens lifespan and causes brain neurodegeneration in a model organism. What could it be doing to a human brain? A human lifespan? For my part, I’m more concerned about blue light. I’m completely serious about this. Maybe SAM could direct some money that way.

Jones insists that we confine the discussion to facts and not personal attacks. I’m all for that. Again, I challenge the reader to read my piece  and see if they can find a single personal attack that I launch on Jones or anyone else. I did, however, attribute exact quotes to the individuals who made them. I also made factual claims about SAM as an organization, which is historically one that advocates for prohibition. On its website, it declares its goal to “Stop Marijuana Legalization and Commercialization.” In the very next sentence, it states its primary focus is “educating the public about the harms of marijuana legalization.” So the organization’s goal is not maintaining prohibition, but to educate? Not to keep the drug illegal, but simply to prevent a majority of people from purchasing it legally? To be clear, SAM doesn’t want you thrown in jail; they just don’t believe you can make your own decisions. Glad we cleared that up.

Elsewhere on its website, SAM cheerfully suggests that “possession or use of a small amount of marijuana be a civil offense subject to a mandatory health screening and marijuana-education program as appropriate….The individual could even be monitored for 6-12 months in a probation program designed to prevent further drug use.” Imagine being subjected to a year-long probationary period where your activities and personal choices are monitored, where you are compelled to attend the drug-crank equivalent of traffic school, all because you got caught on the beach with a joint. I can’t think of a more pointless and stupid exercise of state power. But this is the logical completion of a mindset where the behavior of others — that which doesn’t affect you in the slightest way — desperately requires correction. Remind me of how this is different from prohibition?

Jones also suggests that I didn’t read the entirety of his piece. Rest assured: I did. I just don’t put much stock in mealy-mouthed vagaries that clash so obviously with the statements of his organization’s founder and one of its largest donors. To be sure, I applaud Jones for taking a more measured approach than his associates, but he shouldn’t waste my time by getting his links mixed up and then blaming me for it in print. After all, I’m only doing this in my spare time.

I’d like to close by making a request of Jones and his colleagues at SAM.

Please, on the marijuana issue, let Connecticut make up its own mind. Washington has been dictating the rules for the last 50 years, with disastrous results. Connecticut residents should feel able to decide freely without out-of-state interest groups mucking up the conversation.

To that end, I think I speak for plenty of us when I say: Thank you for your concern, but we’ve got it from here.


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