Dogs in the Night
In “Silver Blaze” Sherlock Holmes remarked that the case depended on the strange behavior of the dog in the night. When Dr. Watson objected that the dog had done nothing, Holmes replied that was precisely the point: a normal dog would have barked.
Americans legalized marijuana de facto, thought still not de jure, fifty years ago (Hmm, sounds like another essay topic to me). During that half-century, many dogs have chosen not to bark. Now is the time to point out this strange behavior.
Who are these sleeping dogs? Drug Warriors have populated the world with slumbering beasts that, taking a single smell of marijuana, will leap up as growling, snarling, baying Cujos (perhaps “Baskervillean hounds” would better preserve the metaphor) rampaging to destroy the world if their Prohibition leashes were removed. Here are some of the members of that strange bestiary.
Reefer Madness: The Marihuana Tax Act rode in on the back of the insane marijuana-crazed killer. That dog, which lived only in one trumped-up newspaper story, a Bureau of Narcotics-funded movie, and Harry Anslinger’s testimony, fell asleep as soon as the act was passed and has been in a coma since the 1940s. Drug Warriors still refer to it on rare occasions; why are they never asked to give an example?
Drug-addled Children: Everyone has heard that drugs must remained banned to prevent untold masses of children from becoming irredeemable addicts and destroying their futures, if not their very lives. Since the mid-1970s, 18 states and the District of Columbia have accepted medical marijuana and about the same number have decriminalized personal possession or use. In a history now spanning forty years, teen use in medical and decriminalized states is still no higher than in Prohibition states, and is no higher than it was in those states before they reduced or eliminated penalties. Ironically, Monitoring the Future has consistently shown that illegal marijuana is easier for teens to get than is legal alcohol. The child-devouring dog slumbers on.
DUI Dog: This beast was also born in Reefer Madness and is the whelp of that bitch Drunken Driving. If getting stoned is anything at all like getting drunk, then the highways should be littered with corpses. After all, the government’s own statistics claim that over 100,000,000 living adults have tried marijuana, and all of them were not just sitting at home. This dog has not just slept through the revolution, it too has fallen into a deeper trance. In medical marijuana states, drunk-driving deaths have decreased by about eight per cent. Well done scientific studies have slipped a strong sleeping dose to this cur. It’s comatose now.
Bad Health Bugbears: One of the scariest of the frightening dogs that have slumbered through the de facto night is the fear of what marijuana might do to its user’s health. That dog has not just slept through the past half-century, it has faded from existence. This cur’s first growl was that marijuana caused chromosome damages in Rhesus monkeys. When those studies were thoroughly discredited, the clamor was raised that, since marijuana is smoked, it must cause lung cancer just like tobacco cigarettes. When the U.C.L.A. Lung Institute showed heavy marijuana smokers had lower rates of lung cancer than cigarette smokers, the beast just grumbled “It must be bad for your general health” and went back to sleep. Now a whole series of long-term (20 – 30 years) studies of thousands of marijuana smokers show that they have no measurable health differences from the general population. This fleabag is sleeping so soundly it will never wake up.
Lazy Old Hound: This animal snarled at teens to avoid the amotivational syndrome (where do they come up with these names?). It claims that all potheads soon develop couch-lock, get lost in the Doritos bag, and accomplish nothing. Did they ever see Willie Nelson, still touring and playing about two hundred concerts a year and with a new movie coming out next month – at age 79. Did it ever hear about Prof. Carl Sagan, astronomer, author, NASA consultant, and creator-star of the PBS Cosmos series – or Louis Armstrong – or Barak Obama?
All of these mutts sleep in the Drug Warriors’ kennels, ready to be trotted out anytime an audience needs to be scared into maintaining Prohibition. They will continue to serve as horrible warnings until their strange behavior is pointed out. Anytime one of these beasts is put on display, reformers must point out how soundly they have slept through the last forty years.