The NYTimes reports today that despite enforcement on both sides of the border, the Mexican marijuana trade is stronger than ever. That’s according to law enforcement officials! Anita Bartholomew looks at the price tag of the War on Drugs and concludes America can’t afford marijuana prohibition.

And Michael Phelps’ apology is still making the news rounds.

Radley Balko has a letter he’d like to see (but won’t):

Dear America,

I take it back. I don’t apologize.

Because you know what? It’s none of your…business. I work my ass off 10 months per year. It’s that hard work that gave you all those gooey feelings of patriotism last summer. If during my brief window of down time I want to relax, enjoy myself, and partake of a substance that’s a hell of a lot less bad for me than alcohol, tobacco, or, frankly, most of the prescription drugs most of you are taking, well, you can spare me the lecture.

James Joyner sees a recipe for success:

The juxtaposition of these two stories at YahooNews this morning is a tad creepy: Michael Phelps acknowledges photo using marijuana pipe and Santonio Holmes goes from drug dealer to Super Bowl MVP.

Thomas Hawk wonders, who the hell cares that Michael Phelps smoked pot?

Surely had this man been enjoying a martini instead of a bong nobody would have given a rats ass. And yet marijuana is no more harmful to your body than cigarettes and alcohol. The “war on drugs,” complete with the propaganda that Michael Phelps in this case somehow did something wrong is idiotic. At present we are spending way too much money prosecuting and incarcerating people for crimes associated with marijuana when smoking pot and getting high really is no different than downing a six pack or if you’re rich, a nice bottle of cabernet sauvignon.

The criminalization of marijuana has gone on too long. It has taken a huge toll on society enforcing it and ensuring that most of the money associated with the trade goes directly to organized crime and gangsters on the streets rather than a more sensible approach where it is sold through liquor stores and taxed like other arguably less than healthy things in our society (alcohol, tobacco gasoline, etc.).

It was the Great Depression and the need for tax revenues that finally got the United States to end the prohibition on alcohol. Maybe this most recent downturn and a need for tax revenue will finally convince people that marijuana ought to be legal as well.

A change I can believe in! (In fact, it was the top vote getter.)

AND REMEMBER: Seattle Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill was arrested on marijuana possession charges last week in Atlanta. From the Post Intelligencer’s sports blog (via Slog):

Said Hill: “I am embarrassed by the incident Saturday morning and the poor judgment I showed. Please understand my actions were not consistent with the type of person I hope to become.”

Let’s suppose the allegations against Hill are true, and judging by his statement, they seem to be. If Hill smokes pot — in this case during the offseason in his hometown — do you care? If so, why? And please spare us the argument that it’s wrong because it’s against the law. Jaywalking, participating in an NCAA Tournament office pool or playing poker on the Internet are against the law, too. That doesn’t make them wrong in the minds of most reasonable people.

RELATED: From the sky, Google Earth revealed a two-acre field of weed to Swiss police.

JOE WINDISH, Technology Editor
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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • Manchester2

    I couldn’t disagree more strongly. When I saw this headline, it disturbed me. I wouldn’t want my teenage son to smoke marijuana, period. So many look up to Phelps as a role model. Strike two, Michael. One more strike, and you’re done.

  • greenschemes

    Yeah I guess its time for the drug debate.

    Those who advocate it say its none of your business and yet if you legalized drugs it most certainly would have more regulation then almost any other thing. Look how much regulation has been affected by Booze. Why you must even have baby seats that expire now because of Booze. Think your Baby deserves a jaunt to the store with an inebriated mother?

    Well I don’t think she deserves one to the store with a high mommie either. Now. Im arguing for the legalization of it. The legislation, regulation and rules, laws and etiquette that would result would be astounding.

    Whats the definition of high? How do you measure that. If its legal then their has to be a legal definition of high. On and on and on it goes.

    Yeah its my business…legal or illegal.

  • Spector

    Oh my, I guess Nancy Regan should have spent more time watching ESPN! Cause marijuana can make you …one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen!

    The guy was hitting a bong — so what! It wasn’t heroin or crystal meth for heaven’s sake! And it did not violate the sports doping rules, so he didn’t break any rules of sport. And just to split some more hairs here, smoking is not illegal, “possession” is, because it violates some ancient Marijuana Tax Stamp law. So, it was his friend’s Roor and his friend’s weed — so your Honor, I would argue technically Michael didn’t do anything illegal! Was it a personal vice, a weakness, like enjoying smoking cigars, drinking beer or enjoying a nice glass of scotch or glass of wine on occasion? Perhaps some Puritans out there may think so — but was it “criminal” per se? I’d argue not. If so, maybe that Cannabis Tax Stamp law needs some serious rethinking.

    I think this entire episode should be used as an opportunity to open up the drug issue to new, healthy public discussion. Should we continue spending hundreds of millions of dollars per year to prosecute and jail responsible adult marijuana users or would there be some better ways to direct those taxpayer funds?

    Mike, hold your head up. You have NOTHING to apologize for. You’re a great swimmer, a great kid, and are still a model of good sportsmanship. And when you do hit that bong, hit it like a champ!

  • greenschemes

    I think this entire episode should be used as an opportunity to open up the drug issue to new, healthy public discussion. Should we continue spending hundreds of millions of dollars per year to prosecute and jail responsible adult marijuana users or would there be some better ways to direct those taxpayer funds?

    Yeah lets just spend billions regulating it. That makes more sense.

  • AustinRoth

    I dislike prohibitions in general, defined as disallowing adults to indulge in behavior that is known to them to be mildly detrimental in some ways, and recreational good on others, in any form. And I dislike marijuana prohibition severely in particular.

    It would not cost $B’s to regulate – it would generate revenue. I am sick of the nanny state trying to tell me if I can smoke, drink alcohol, eat fois gras, drink sugary soda, trans-fat fried food, etc.

    Adults have an inalienable right to make their own choices about what they ingest, even ones that some people consider bad. And save me costs to society when they get sick crap! It is overused, and who can truly think the cost to society of the lost generation of incarcerated user and low-level dealers, and the general lack of respect all this causes towards law in general, is better.

    • Dr J

      You said it, Austin. And this particular prohibition isn’t even consistent with the ones on the books. Marijuana is less impairing than alcohol, less addictive and harmful than nicotine. The government is not just nannying us, it’s doing so capriciously.

  • kritt11

    Here in America we build our sports figures up so that they are worshiped like gods. When we find out that they are human we are outraged. Maybe we should expect to find a flaw or two in our talented, hardworking yet ultimately human athletes. If you don’t build them up as superhuman in the first place, you won’t be so disappointed when they turn out to be just like everyone else’s kids who have tried marijuana or gotten drunk.

  • greenschemes

    Adults have an inalienable right to make their own choices about what they ingest,

    Not when what they ingest endangers my life..sorry..nanny state or not……if your actions might infringe upon my safety and welfare then you do not have that right.

    I will agree that if you ingest something that harms you but in no way harms me then I have no problem with your choice, but if your choice makes you inebriated and a threat to my children playing in my front yard or on the way to school then it IS my business and it does require regulation. Period.

    • Dr J

      Exactly, think of the children.

      God knows the headlines are filled with enough “children attacked by crazed stoners” stories already.

    • AustinRoth

      Seriously GS, you think POT infringes on your safety? More than other legal substances?

      And to be clear, I didn’t say unregulated, even if I didn’t specifically say laws similar to alcohol and cigarettes would be the logical model.

      So I said it now. Does that change your opinion, or do you still think marauding bands of potheads suffering from reefer madness will descend upon your household and go all Manson on you and your family?

  • DLS

    The Phelps example is not a “cause” for people on the Left, who are infantile when it comes to personal conduct and facing the word “no,” to legalize all drugs, or even promptly to decriminalize marijuana. I’m no fan of the Drug War, but I’m also not a fan of post-1960s mindless defense of any and all misconduct and an insistence on a “right” [sic] to do whatever one wants, that there is no such thing as impropriety, or right or wrong, or offensiveness (Religious Right members, Southern whites, and businesses excepted, of course).

    As to drug reform, each drug is different and must be addressed individually. Alcohol is so strongly embedded in our culture that it is self-defeating to try to restrict its use strongly, as “Prohibition” attempted to do (it was not absolute prohibition, there were no searches on the street, etc.). That is obviously _not_ true for marijuana, commonplace and relatively-harmless as that drug happens to be nevertheless.

    The Phelps issue is no excuse for a childish rush to, or demand for, marijuana decriminalization.

  • DLS

    And before someone reminds me, related to the foregoing,

    “people on the Left, who are infantile when it comes to personal conduct and facing the word ‘no,'”

    that some libertarians, who find shelter on the Right by default due to assault from the Left, are similarly infantile (the dishonest or ignorant will state that _all_ libertarian-leaning people are that way), I’ll remind you that there’s a distinction and a difference between the normal libertarian, who is not anarchic, wholly atomistic, and similarily infantile, and the kind of person who’s a cousin to the radicals’ legacy on the Left, who claims “libertarianism” as a rationale and an excuse for any and all behavior, about which “offensive” as a word and even a concept is irrelevent. (They’re childish libertines who don’t care, in other words, and similar to the most radical leftists insofar as personal conduct and misconduct are concerned.)

    Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing marijuana decriminalized, but it’s what the community as a whole decides and votes that matters.

  • DLS

    Actually, where drug reform can start is by treating jails and prisons the way we view hospitals and expensive diagnostic equipment — just ask the lefties who not only want to provide government health care to everyone but who also want to rationalize and reform the system by viewing hospitals and expensive equipment more ruthlessly than HMOs do. Hospitals are expensive, dangerous institutions and nowadays we believe only the badly ill belong in them. The same should be true with imprisoning people. While you must also be willing to look at “white-collar” crimes the same way, non-violent drug crimes (possession violations, say) really should not get people thrown into prison, at least not for something as mild as marijuana, if distinctions among drugs are being made.

  • DLS

    ** TANGENTIAL NOTE **

    “Here in America we build our sports figures up so that they are worshiped like gods. ”

    Believe it or not, K, I heard on a local AM radio station today a comment related to this, during a discussion the host was having with a former pro football player. There’s so much attention paid to these kids throughout their lives (no, I do not like this phenomenon) that something good can be argued to have developed as a result. All the experience with (excess) attention and hype and pressure (I’m disgusted with parents and other adults who ruin sports for the kids!) at least makes them able to handle, even as younger players in professional sports (their first few years in pro sports), the hype and pressure with big games such as the Super Bowl this weekend.

  • Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing marijuana decriminalized, but it’s what the community as a whole decides and votes that matters.

    That’s basically tyranny of the majority, which is not what this country was founded on, DLS.

    Allowing politicians to legislate morality based upon what the majority of the public wants is a horrible idea and is the surest way to have our freedoms disappear one by one.

  • greenschemes

    Nicrivera

    Almost every basic human act can be broken down into a morality argument. What are you advocating? Other then anarchy?

  • Almost every basic human act can be broken down into a morality argument. What are you advocating? Other then anarchy?

    In general, laws should be created to protect people’s lives, liberties, and properties (i.e. laws against murder, laws against assault, laws against battery, laws against rape, laws against kidnapping, laws against theft). I would also include laws against fraud and libel.

    Enforcing “morality” is not the proper role of government in a free society. And determining what kind of rights people should have based upon what the majority wants is also not conducive to a free society. That’s why the Founding Father’s explicitly created the United States as a Republic and not a Democracy.

  • robotsoul

    According to this: http://www.newsy.com/videos/phelps_photo_flop/
    he may loose millions in endorsements which is crazy considering this would up the celebrity status of anyone else. I don’t see how this is any different from watching playoff winners shower each other in champagne after a game. Drawing arbitrary lines as to what is legal and what is not is not useful. Other drugs that constitute a social harm like heroin and meth are arguably in a different category, but there is a defensible reason for prohibiting those drugs. Whereas marijuana is less harmful than other socially acceptable legal drugs like cigarettes. As for Phelps, sure he is in a different category of celebrity, he has a nice all-american boy image, but it’s just that, an image in reality he is a superstar for accomplishing something that most people can’t even dream of, and he is 23-years-old other people in his position have done worse things than hit a bong. Leave him be.

  • DLS

    “That’s basically tyranny of the majority, which is not what this country was founded on, DLS.”

    I knew somebody would say that. It’s not tyranny if it’s not tyrannical but what most people want, plus it is reasonable. Completely restriction-free access to drugs is not reasonable. My saying so in no way can be misconstrued to mean, for example, that I support something I have been at the forefront on record against, civil asset forfeiture.

    Libertarianism, which underpins my own philosophy of living as it does anyone of English heritage, does not mean licentiousness or libertinism, or anarchism or atomism.

    “Almost every basic human act can be broken down into a morality argument.”

    In fact, as Robert Bork correctly has stated, we legislate (and enforce) little else. The key is to define as well as to secure the consent of the governed (in the proper manner). And the constitution makes explicit (and constitutional) that people can, under proper means and circumstances, be deprived of their rights, as well as their property and even their lives. It’s a heavy responsibity that is associated with the power to do this. But there is no question that it can be done and was anticipated by the Founders. (They didn’t want such powers to be corrupted as well as corrupting.)

  • nahummer

    I laughed when I first saw the story, but now just feel sorry for Phelps. The drug war has done so much damage, from misinforming the public to costing billions to wasting the lives of millions languishing in prisons. I don’t know if I buy into the conspiracy theorists who blame the cotton industry on demonizing hemp and its byproduct marijuana, but there seems to be little justification for the current state of the law. It’s less harmful (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6474053.stm#drugs) than tobacco and alcohol and far less addictive. Instead of wasting money on enforcement and incarceration, money could be made if it were legalized and taxed. Law enforcement resources could be freed up to fight real crime which would be reduced due to the loss of income from drug sales. The current system just makes no sense, I blame Reefer Madness.

  • greenschemes

    Austin Roth.

    The typical position of the “legalize marijuana” crowd do not approach the argument from a rational perspective but rather its my GAWD DAMN RIGHT to SCREW MYSELF UP and PISS on you for trying to tell me that I dont have that right.

    Fine. I really dont care if you want to spend your entire life stoned, just as long as your job consists of standing on the back of a garbage truck picking up trash cans daily. Because you know when I go have that triple bypass surgery I franky dont care if the surgeon ducks out the back and smokes a cigarette but I sure as hello care if he ducks out the back and tokes on a reefer or has a couple swigs of whiskey.

    I do not care if he had three pounds of transfat and inhaled 2 dozen oysters and 6000milligrams of cholesterol prior to the surgery but I sure do care if he toked, snorted or fried up some heroin or Meth prior to cutting me open.

    Each year there are thousands and thousands of deaths and the emergency rooms are full of people who have injured themselves quite seriously as the result of being drunk or intoxicated or close to such. There are many more who visit those same hospitals who have been injured by others who are drunk. DESPITE regulation, legislation and laws addressing the behavior of drinking and drunks the deaths and injuries just continue unabated.

    Now we want to legalize Cannibus because after all the guys smoking it are just fun loving guys and gals who are out to have a good time. When in reality the amounts of Death and destruction that occur even with legalazation will continue to climb causing MY insurance rates to climb. Causing my Auto Insurance to climb. My new car will have to have added saftey features because now we have a million new intoxicated drivers on the road. The legislation will escalate and the price will be steep.

    But we will save 1 billion on throwing those fun loving druggies in the slammer only to replace that billion with a 100 billion in more health care costs and more legislation and tougher enforcement laws and hiring more cops to patrol our streets trying to catch inebriated druggies.

    On and on and on it goes.

    Do I think my house will be swarmed with druggies? No. But I do think the country will be swarmed with billions more in unintended consequences.

    Sometimes as a parent you just have to say no cause its the right thing to do. To this.. NO….go to your room.

    • Dr J

      GS, drunk driving is indeed a problem, but your pot arguments don’t have the facts behind them. Advocates do approach the argument from a rational perspective, debunking many of the myths you’re citing, while pointing out the harm caused by current policy is very, very real. (See for example http://www.drugpolicy.org/marijuana/factsmyths/)

      While no one’s arguing we should all drive stoned, both driving experiments and traffic studies give marijuana a relatively clean bill of health, particularly when compared to alcohol. From http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5449:

      “Britain’s Transport Research Laboratory found that volunteers performed better on a driving simulator under the influence of pot than they did after consuming alcohol. According to the study, marijuana only adversely impacted subjects’ ability to maintain a constant speed and control while driving around a figure-eight loop. Reaction time and all other measures of driving performance remained unaffected. Researchers also noted that the subjects who had smoked marijuana – unlike alcohol users – were aware of their impairment and attempted to compensate for it by driving more cautiously.

      “Similar results were also reported in March by a South Australian team at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology at the University of Adelaide. Their epidemiological review of automobile accidents found that alcohol “overwhelmingly plays the greatest role in road crashes … [and] conversely, … marijuana has a negligible impact on culpability.” The study was a follow up to a 1998 analysis of 2,500 injured drivers that previously determined cannabis to have “no significant effect” on drivers’ culpability in motor vehicle accidents.”

  • greenschemes

    Dr J

    I have another test we should try. Why dont you go have triple by pass surgery and let all the Doctors and nurses in the room get good and stoned before they proceed.

    Nothing has been debunked in my mind. We all know drunk driving is a bane. We all know that the reason they would report accidents from drugged up people as much less is because its basically against the law and as such people understand they are breaking the law and could go to jail. Therefore they drive very cautiously when stoned or they dont drive at all. However legalize it and give you a slap on the wrist for driving DUI and voilla a million druggies hit the road driving irresponsibly just like drunks do because its basically a 500 buck fine and not 20 years in jail.

    I wonder how many DWI’s we would have if a dwi was an automatic 20 years in prision……or even 5 years.

    The Fact that Pot smoking has a statistically insignificant affect on automobile accidents is a good thing. It continues to reinforce the fact that the war on drugs is working.

    • Dr J

      “The Fact that Pot smoking has a statistically insignificant affect on automobile accidents is a good thing. It continues to reinforce the fact that the war on drugs is working.”

      Then the fact that very few planes are hijacked by crack-smoking leprechauns should boost your faith even further.

  • greenschemes

    Then the fact that very few planes are hijacked by crack-smoking leprechauns should boost your faith even further.

    Yes I am very relieved that our drug enforcement agencies have prevent the hijacking of any airline by crack smoking leprechauns. Now if we could just convince those leprechauns that they can find fulfillment in life with other pursuits other then crack smoking then we would not have to spend so much money keeping eyes on potential leprechaun suspects.

    • AustinRoth

      What a truly appropriate avatar you have GS – a crying baby. You seem to use about the same thought processes as one as well.

      Oh well, it is your right to think that the country is better served by spending billions of dollars locking up pot smokers. As it is my right to understand how small-minded you are on this subject.

    • AustinRoth

      Oh, and to get back to the specific case of Mr Phelps, I think this covers it perfectly:

      “I merely note that this broken wreck of a man’s failure to win any more than a pathetic fourteen Olympic gold medals (so far) is a terrifying warning of the horrific damage that cannabis can do to someone’s health—and a powerful reminder of just how sensible the drug laws really are.”

  • greenschemes

    AustinRoth

    Thanks AR Ill let your comments stand as a testament of what the social left does when they dont get their way.