Thursday, February 5, 2009


Past presidential pot preferences? Chris Matthews reviewed transitioning public attitudes towards marijuana by reviewing the statements of past presidential candidates about their own drug use, from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama.

Michael Phelps is no dope-smoking slacker. Phelps has won 14 career Olympic gold medals, the most by any Olympian. By the end of 2008, he held seven world records in swimming. Now he's been "caught" with a bong, and he admits smoking marijuana, and the world is stunned that he would do something so despicable. If the swimmer had had a few beers the world would march on dumbly, but smoking marijuana--even in this day and age--has a terrible stigma. Recent scientific studies dismiss outdated "reefer madness," and bolster arguments calling for decriminalization. It's against the law, critics cry. It's a crime. So was your beloved martini, at one point.

Today, the Associated Press reports that "In the past six months, four [sumo]wrestlers have been kicked out of the ancient sport for allegedly smoking marijuana, creating the biggest drugs-in-sports scandal that Japan has ever seen."

Is the whole world going to pot?

Like many jazz musicians, Cab Calloway was no stranger to the Reefer Man.

Anti-pot propaganda from yesteryear was often tied to racist fears of blacks and Mexicans, in whose communities the use of the weed was more common. Sex was a part of it, too. A puff might result in "drug-crazed abandon," turning a "good" woman into a wanton harlot enslaved to dope, ripe to be sold into "white slavery."

Let's get real. Smoking pot a victimless crime, and according to the scientific research less harmful than alcohol, but it's been lumped with heroin and crack cocaine and other dangerous drugs for so long many people believe it belongs in that deadly category. Of course, others know better. Anyone who has been around isn't startled with the news that someone as successful as Phelps can smoke pot and not be a drooling junkie or lose his mind completely.

The government needs to loosen its grip and allow scientific research to give us the answers--but research is being stifled by our outmoded views, according to the Scientific American. "...Outdated regulations and attitudes thwart legitimate research," say the editors, and the "current restrictions on marijuana research are absurd." (read the rest of the SA article here)

Maybe it's time we looked at the pot laws again. Maybe it's time to examine the evidence with a cool head (no pun intended) like intelligent, scientific people in the modern world.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington has launched a multimedia public-education campaign on the country's marijuana laws and their impact on taxpayers, communities and those arrested.

As part of this effort, travel guru Rick Steves hosts this infomercial-style panel discussion produced by the Washington ACLU. Marijuana: It's Time for a Conversation

Marijuana: Time for a Conversation

ACLU Washington
NORML: working to reform marijuana laws


Adam Woog said...

A sports writer quoted in the Seattle Times commented that Michael Phelps is maybe not the guy to invite to a party where dope is being smoked -- the guy's got the lung capacity of a humpback whale....

Bob Rini said...

Good point, Adam. I've checked it out, and you're right. Olympic swimmers--especially gold medal winners--tend to bogart the bong.