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March 26, 2007

Booze, Cigarettes, and the Presidency

Perhaps the most grotesque inconsistency among the many that characterize our (unadmitted) policy of drug prohibition is that the two psychotropic agents best documented as dangerous to user health are alcohol and tobacco; yet both may be  legally bought, sold, possessed and used by legally defined ‘adults’ in every state. That becomes even more absurd when one considers that merely being found with any amount of pot often generates  either a misdemeanor or a felony charge, usually the latter.

My first clue that chronic use of cannabis was related to both alcohol and tobacco was the early discovery that everyone applying for a pot recommendation was a chronic user who’d also tried alcohol; and the vast majority (eventually found to be 91%) had also tried cigarettes. Those discoveries, plus my own early weakness for both led me to realize that had pot been available when I was in High School, I’d probably have become a pot smoker and my whole life would have been quite different— not necessarily better or worse, but certainly different.

Of course, such ‘what if’ history can’t change reality, but it does point up the importance of watershed decisions made by nearly every adolescent: which drugs to try, and when?  Despite the overwhelming evidence provided by  its own studies since 1975, ONDCP continues to insist that advertising can prevent ‘underage’ adolescents from trying illegal agents and also persuade them to wait until they are of ‘legal’ age before trying alcohol and tobacco.

That’s why it was very interesting, although hardly surprising, to learn that both Barack Obama and Laura Bush struggle with a cigarette habit. The only thing I have time to add right now is that of the many ‘other’ agents tried by the chronic pot smokers I’ve interviewed, tobacco retains the tightest grip (at least 1 in five of those who ever tried cigarettes struggle to remain abstinent) and I have spoken to only four current smokers who insisted that they enjoyed cigarettes and had no intention of quitting.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at March 26, 2007 05:51 PM