Approximate Parity

I find it rather intriguing that, while tobacco is gradually becoming illegal, marijuana is gradually becoming legal.

A long-awaited law in California kicked in today allowing anyone 21 and older to purchase marijuana at licensed shops, grow up to six pot plants at home and possess up to an ounce (28 grams) of the drug – joining Colorado, Oregon and Nevada’s expansion into recreational use by adults…

The new pot laws include several specific provisions governing its use; no smoking pot in public areas or anywhere cigarettes aren’t allowed, while traffic laws prohibit marijuana use in vehicles – smoked or ingested, even riding as a passenger.

Cannabis cannot be sold before 6 a.m. or after 10 p.m., and diespensaries and similar busineses can’t operate within 600 feet of any school – and must maintain 24-hour surveillance for security reasons.

My reading of all this is that marijuana and tobacco (along with vaping) are attaining an approximate parity with each other. They’re just different things that people smoke or inhale. But pot smoking and vaping are prohibited in the same places that tobacco smoking is prohibited – for as far as the prohibitionists are concerned, they’re all the same.

In principle, a wide range of smokers and vapers should now start pushing for smoking bans to be relaxed for all forms of smoking. They should be able to form a united front.

Something similar happened when cigar and pipe smoking got lumped in with cigarette smoking. They all became the same too. And when vaping appeared, that very quickly became the same as well.

And the more things that are prohibited, the more people find themselves being subject to restrictions, and the greater the pressure they exert against those restrictions.  While pot smokers and tobacco smokers and vapers regarded themselves as separate and distinct from each other (and superior to each other), the less likely they were to unite together against restrictive legislation. But when the law treats them as being all the same, the law itself must act to unite these disparate groups against it. And the law is the only thing that really matters.

So I expect to see these different groups gradually taking up common cause with each other, simply because the law increasingly treats them all the same. It’s the same with alcohol: if beer and wine and spirits are all treated the same way by the law, beer and wine and spirits drinkers are likely to unite against prohibition. I imagine that during the Prohibition era beer drinkers would claim that beer was less intoxicating than wine, and wine drinkers would claim that wine was less intoxicating than whisky, and each would seek separate exemptions from Prohibition. But when they were all treated the same, they all became the same product, just with different labels. Perhaps Prohibition ended when previously rival products like beer and wine and whisky were gradually united by Prohibition laws which lumped them all together. The Prohibitionists themselves created the counterforce that ultimately defeated them, and they did it using blanket bans that applied to everything alcoholic, and thereby ensuring that the counterforce would be very powerful.

I hope that makes sense.

About Frank Davis

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17 Responses to Approximate Parity

  1. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Excellent logic Frank. Let us hope a common front is created.

  2. Mark Jarratt, Binalong Bay, TAS, Australia says:

    Prohibition is an overt admission of government regulatory failure. The Iron Law of government prodigality applies: if government regulation is introduced, the cure is worse than the illness. Eliot Ness and the Untouchables (not the Indian Harijan untouchables) were Bureau of Alcohol Prohibition officers. When the Volstead Act was repealed after more than a decade of failure which increased the severity and extent of alcoholism in the puritanical USA, they morphed into the Narcotics Bureau (reefer madness panic) to preserve their influence and taxpayer funded positions. Elitist social control authoritarian approaches persist, consistent with the playbook of similar gloomy apostles of Wowserism. Hope that makes some sense too…

    • Rose says:

      It’s certainly does, I had wondered what became of them.

      “BY NOW, it was not only liberal Eastern wets like New York Gov. Al Smith who were calling for modification of the Volstead Act. A growing number of Republican leaders were abandoning the dry chorus: Nicholas Murray Butler, the distinguished president of Columbia University, had denounced Prohibition as evil and inhuman; even the saintly John D. Rockefellers, senior and junior, solid Baptist teetotalers both, had withdrawn funding from the Anti-Saloon League fanatics. In referenda in New York and four other states, voters had overwhelmingly called for relaxation of the pious laws that the farm belt had successfully imposed upon all America seven long parched years earlier. In early December 1926, New York’s federal grand jury went on record as opposed to the national prohibition laws, arguing, among other things, that they had all by themselves created “a ruthless and dangerous set of criminals.”

      And still the federal sleuths mounted large prosecutions; still the Dry Navy prowled the coast for rum runners; a week before Christmas, President Calvin Coolidge went before Congress to request still another $30 million for enforcement.”

    • Mark Jarratt, Binalong Bay, TAS, Australia says:

      Ironically, Eliot Ness died aged 54 as an almost penniless alcoholic. Hoist with his own petard. Later moves to name a US federal building after him were rejected on the basis that his conduct after departing govt employment failed to meet the required moral standards. No govt anywhere has any ethical authority to regulate the lifestyles of adult citizens or to prescribe morality, a matter for individual decision (refer the unassailable arguments of the astute Christopher Snowdon in his recent work Killjoys).

  3. You need tobacco as a mix for smoking pot – unless you vape it…so people are still smoking….

  4. waltc says:

    Unfortunately, the difference between smoking and drinking is the carefully implanted notion that secondhand smoking (a concept being transferred to secondhand vaping) is lethal to Others. This similarly seems to apply to the much more pungent aroma of secondhand maryjane–therefore the ban on smoking it in public. And also therefore, the difference between public figures calling for repeal of the Volstead Act and calling for repeal of smoking bans and taxes. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, when the guy running for mayor against Bloomberg in his second term gingerly proposed rolling back portions of the smoking ban in restaurants (or was it bars?), Bloomberg (successfully) dubbed him The Pro-cancer Candidate. Possibly only if tobacco were entirely prohibited now, as liquor was then, would anyone speak for repealing the prohibition but until the secondhand dragon is slain, the bans on smoking itself would stay in place.

  5. Joe Jackson says:

    Makes total sense, though here in the US, pot is increasingly seen as harmless and ‘cool’ whereas tobacco is still the worst possible evil. I’ve been in Denver, Colorado and found 4 pot dispensaries but exactly one ‘ban-exempted’ bar where you could smoke tobacco; it seemed to be regarded as something akin to a leper colony. By the same token, I’ve been in vaping shops which are practically temples of antismoking. One had a row of cigarette packets stuck on the wall, each one representing a proud quitter’s ‘last smoke’. Of course it’s absurd, but when it will ‘sink in’ God only knows. (BTW lastfurlong – almost all pot smokers in the US use straight grass – mixing hash with tobacco is very much an English/European thing).

    Re Prohibition etc, I highly recommend researching the history of Absinthe. It’s the antismoking template all the way, more than 100 years ago: demonising a specific product, stigmatising the user, selective and dishonest use of statistics and evidence, and behind the scenes, an unholy alliance between the Temperance movement and the French wine industry, who didn’t like the competition! They weren’t able to push alcohol prohibition any further in Europe, but in the US of course they were. And you’re right, when that failed they turned their attention to marijuana. And then to tobacco; there always has to be something. I think what’s happening now, is behind-the-scenes manoeuvring between the tobacco industry, pharmaceutical industry, government (tax revenue), and a growing vaping and next, legal pot industry.

  6. pubcurmudgeon says:

    I find it puzzling how cannabis campaigners are often so keen to assert that their drug of choice is supposedly much less harmful than alcohol. Surely they should identify a common cause and enemy rather than being happy to play divide and rule.

    • nisakiman says:

      It’s no different than the way many vapers like to evangelise about vaping while simultaneously condemning tobacco. They’re just different choices, Whether one is better than the other is moot, and largely subjective.

  7. Mark Jarratt, Binalong Bay, TAS, Australia says:

    Reminds me too of the racist prohibitionist fuelled moral panic against opium in early 1900s Australia. Opium use was seen as responsible for assorted social ills, particularly the dreadful descent into immorality of ‘pure white women’ into rent girls controlled by the Yellow Peril (evil opium smoking Chinese).

    After persistent lobbying by the opium equivalent of the Australian Temperance League, the federal government included opium in the Customs Prohibited Import Regulations.

    The pragmatic then Comptroller-General of Customs Sir Nicholas Lockyer duly reported to Parliament “As directed, opium is now a prohibited import. My officers report the quantum of opium on the streets is unchanged. The Commonwealth Treasury has however not benefited from 70000 pounds in annual opium import duties”.

    I suspect he would have liked to add “…you meddling dickheads” to that statement, but was constrained by his senior official position from speaking more truth to power.

    The situation remains that self serving politicians and bureaucracy, urged by monomaniac single issue lobbyists like ASH (clear abuse of language to describe themselves as a charity), must be dislodged from their top down control of ordinary citizens: difficult but not impossible to wind back ever increasing encroachments and micro management of personal behaviour, as the California cannabis situation may yet demonstrate.

  8. jaxthefirst says:

    I don’t quite understand the logic of the Authorities legalising pot, although it is a welcome change from the increasing puritanism shown in other areas of life. I know all the arguments about “well, people are doing it anyway,” but that could easily be applied to all number of other things – heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, drinking too much, eating chips, watching too much TV, tax avoidance, unprotected sex – but that doesn’t stop the Authorities trying to stop all those things, does it? So why does this logic apply to pot, but not to anything else that they disapprove of but “lots of people do anyway?”

    Even the tax revenue argument doesn’t stack up. Yes, maybe they’ll be making a shedload of money from pot sales (I’m assuming here that the moment it’s made legal it’s also subject to some kind of duty), but if they were that desperate to try and claw back some of the tax take that they’re no longer getting from tobacco, then surely the easiest thing would be to scale back on their anti-smoking (and anti-drinking) activities and let those numbers recover again so that the tax take starts to rise, too. Surely it’s far easier to simply stop doing something than it is to start doing something brand-new, and additional?

    Isn’t there also a danger that some bright-minded young executive from the much-despised Tobacco Companies will come up with the idea of selling convenient, high-quality pre-packaged joints to replace their diminishing sales of convenient, high-quality, pre-packaged cigarettes? They’ve certainly got all the factories and retail contacts to do so. I thought that one of the main raisons d’etre of the anti-smoking movement (almost on a par with persecuting individual smokers) was to put Tobacco Companies out of business – not give them new opportunities!

    • Frank Davis says:

      I don’t quite understand the logic of the Authorities legalising pot

      There is no logic. There never is any logic. There never was any logic.

      It’s a religion. And in the crazed far reaches of the pot mentality, tobacco is regarded as causing all diseases, and pot is regarded as curing them all.

  9. Lepercolonist says:

    The millions of legal marijuana smokers will be clamoring for areas where they can enjoy smoking their pot.

  10. waltc says:

    H/T Pat Glass. A prisoner describes the effects of the ban. Maybe, Frank, you can use this in your letters to your MP?

  11. Rose says:

    California Legalization Has Canadian Pot Stocks Smoking
    2 January 2018

    “Long line ups to buy marijuana in California and a new ETF sent Canadian pot stocks roaring into the new year.”

    “While few Canadian companies have direct exposure to the U.S. pot market — and may run afoul of the country’s main stock exchange operator if they do so — brisk buying stateside might be a sign of things to come when Canada legalizes the drug by July, Beacon Securities Ltd. analyst Vahan Ajamian said.”

    Why Aussie pot stocks are smoking the market today
    3 January 2018

    “Today’s gains appear to be related to a surge in pot stocks in Canada overnight following the legalisation of recreational cannabis in California and the launch of a pot stock ETF.
    According to Bloomberg, there were long queues to buy cannabis in California following its legalisation. This has left many expecting similarly strong demand for recreational cannabis in Canada when it becomes legal in July.

    One Australian company in particular that could profit directly from this potential boom is Creso Pharma. It spent approximately $10 million in cash and equity to acquire emerging Nova Scotia-based medicinal cannabis producer Mernova Medicinal Inc. last year.
    Not only did this give it access to the medicinal cannabis market in Canada, but it allows Creso to pursue opportunities in Canada’s soon to be legalised recreational cannabis space.”

    Suddenly “Big Tobacco” seems quite passé.

  12. RdM says:

    Appropos of nothing, except wishes for TC erosion, undermining, sapped in 2018

    Way Down In The Hole

    The Lord is a very, very busy man
    I do what I can
    But Jesus is always going for the big picture
    But he’s always there to help us out of the little jams too

    Well, I feel as though we should move right into the religious material

    When you walk through the garden, you gotta watch your back
    Well, I beg your pardon, walk the straight and narrow track
    When you walk with Jesus, he’s gonna save your soul
    You got to keep the Devil, well you gotta keep him down in the hole

    He’s got the fire, people he’s got the fury at his command
    Oh, you don’t have to worry, hold on to, hold on to Jesus’ hand
    We’ll all be safe from Satan, when the thunder, when the thunder starts to
    We got to keep the Devil, keep him on down, down in the hole

    That red horned lousy low-life underneath our boots
    Praise the Lord!
    I don’t know what it is, two dollar?
    That demon meister, three dollar?
    That Prince Devil
    Just see if you can come up with a figure that matches your faith
    You say how much has Jesus done for you
    And we got to go in with our hydraulic system and blast him out!
    People, can I get an amen!

    All the angels, they start to sing all about Jesus’ mighty sword
    And they’ll shield you with their wings, people they’ll keep you close to
    the Lord
    Now don’t pay heed to temptation, for his hands are so cold
    You gotta keep the Devil, keep him on down in the hole

    Down in the hole
    Down in the hole
    Down in the hole

    Well people, I got to speak about something
    Can I get an amen!
    Can I get a Hallelujah!
    Praise the Lord!
    Have mercy
    The Lord is a very, very busy man
    I do what I can
    But Jesus is always going for the big picture
    But he’s always there to help us out of the little jams too(2)

    Down in the hole
    Down in the hole
    Down in the hole
    Keep him down in the hole
    We got to keep the Devil down in the hole
    We got to keep the Devil, keep him on down in the hole

    Down, down, down, mighty Devil
    I send you down below my boots
    Down, down
    Filling my life with anger and strife
    Go down, mighty Devil
    Find a place to live
    Down, down, down

    Let Tobacco Control go down in the hole, 2018!

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