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October 23, 2007

Questions Seldom Asked (political)

No, I haven’t been on vacation (what are they?), but I have been wrapping up a long project I hope to report on in the near future. In the meantime, I’ve found a bit of time for the following short entry.

Just under 10  months ago, Jon Gettman’s estimates of the value of American marijuana production caused a ripple of commentary from a gamut of drug policy experts ranging from academics to the DEA. Most accounts almost immediately raised the usual questions about “legalization” or compared pot and alcohol as intoxicants. Either omitted, or buried in the middle of most reports, was compelling evidence from government sources and also cited by Gettman, that the illegal pot market has been growing steadily since at least 1980. Also notably absent were three obvious questions Gettman’s conservative estimates should have given rise to:

1) When did that huge illegal market start to grow?
2) Why did it begin expanding when it did?
3) Why has its growth been so steady despite a determined “war” on drugs for the past four decades?

After six years spent profiling the pot market’s customer base and attempting, with little success, to interest people claiming drug policy expertise in my findings, I’m been forced to add two more questions to the ones listed above:

4) Why are humans so averse to factual descriptions of their own behavior?
5) Can our species, survive its own cognitive success?

It should be no surprise that now, after coming up with tentative answers to those questions, it’s easier to answer all five in reverse order:

5) The jury is still out on possible human extinction, but current evidence suggests that so long as our emotions can provoke us into destructive wars and mindlessly expanding our numbers, the odds favor human extinction in relatively short order, at least on a geologic time scale.

4) We humans have particular difficulty in applying scientific principles to the “Behavioral Sciences” because denial usually kicks in. Michael Shermer discuuse that problem quite lucidly in the October Scientific American.

3)The illegal pot market has continued to grow steadily because a significant fraction of those who tried it as adolescents have continued using it on a regular basis; almost certainly because it is a safer and more effective psychotherapeutic agent than those intrioduced by Big Pharma since the Fifties.

2) The pot market began expanding right after inhaled pot was introduced to white adolescents in the mid-Sixties by a combination of East Coast “Beats” and West Coast “Pranksters” who, between them,  created a youth-based "counterculture" in opposition to that being directed at post war baby boomers by Madison Avenue advertisers entranced by the brand new medium of Television.
1) The nation's pot market had remained dormant from 1937 until the mid-Sixties when pot became known to members of the multiple protest movements inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and eventually spread to unruly demonstrators against American involvement in what had been a smoldering post-colonial war in “French” Indo-China.

The truth is, as usual, both messier and more complicated than we imagined, but government demands that its drug policy be driven by a myth rigorously protected against unbiased examination may yet create the biggest mess of all.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at October 23, 2007 05:37 AM