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Barbara Kay Says Mean Things About Marijuana Users and the Reform Movement

Barbara Kay's latest column on marijuana policy at The National Post is a remarkable achievement. I've simply never seen an article that endorses marijuana decriminalization while simultaneously serving up such silly anti-pot propaganda.

Kay maintains that she supports decrim, but opposes legalization, urging proponents to "inquire more deeply into recent scientific findings" about marijuana. After encouraging a science-based debate, Kay launches into a series of wildly unscientific generalizations:

…because alcohol in moderation is culturally aligned with enhanced fellowship and animated human interaction, it is therefore a communal as well as an individual good. Conversely, the purpose of marijuana is the alteration of consciousness, an end achieved by a process that thrives in solitude and mental torpor.

What!? Rather obviously, the "enhanced fellowship and animated human interaction" achieved through alcohol use is the direct result of the "alteration of consciousness." Kay is literally suggesting that marijuana users seek "alteration of consciousness" while alcohol users do not. That is just not true. What else can I say? People use alcohol and marijuana for the same reason. They like the way it makes them feel.

Equally dishonest is her characterization of marijuana use as a "process that thrives in solitude and mental torpor." To whatever extent marijuana is consumed in more solitary settings than alcohol, mightn't that have something to do with the fact that one is illegal and can get you arrested, while the other is sold openly at bars, concerts, and sporting events? Here in the U.S., public use of marijuana at interracial jazz clubs was one of the reasons the drug became prohibited to begin with.

Whenever one reads such silly arguments, it's only natural to wonder what the author wants. People don't just go around pretending alcohol doesn’t alter consciousness because that's what they believe. No one actually believes that. Right?

In this case, it seems Kay is motivated by animosity towards what she describes as "the nihilist agenda of cynical all-drug legalizers who are exploiting marijuana’s relatively innocent image as their Trojan horse." If that's what she thinks drug policy reform is all about, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by anything else she says.
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Cultural Alignment Indeed

I might believe “alcohol in moderation [as opposed to marijuana] is culturally aligned with enhanced fellowship and animated human interaction,[and] it is therefore a communal as well as an individual good” once I see people pass around a shot glass of tequila the way they pass each other a joint.  Not happening.

Promoting alcohol use...way to go Kay!!!

I don't appreciate her promotion of alcohol and believe it sends the wrong message to our kids. If she enjoys such a dangerous drug fine, but she needs to keep in mind that alcohol in general is often not used in moderation, i.e. the majority of people who drink have driven on the roads while drunk at one time or another -- not to mention the liver problems and brain damage it can cause to people who become addicted to it for long periods. There are also studies showing a link between people with mental problems/homelessness and the consumption of alcohol. We have so many problems with alcohol that we need to quickly get a safer alternative for enjoyable recreation on the market.

Marijuana sells to social people too!

"Equally dishonest is her characterization of marijuana use as a "process that thrives in solitude and mental torpor." To whatever extent marijuana is consumed in more solitary settings than alcohol, mightn't that have something to do with the fact that one is illegal and can get you arrested, while the other is sold openly at bars, concerts, and sporting events? Here in the U.S., public use of marijuana at interracial jazz clubs was one of the reasons the drug became prohibited to begin with."

How dare the drug war force marijuana smokers underground, make their source littered with narcs, demonize the practice of smoking, and otherwise disperse the crowd, but then to blame drugs for making people stay away from people? I wish I could go to a rock concert, buy a fine cannabis joint, and smoke it up with the whole crowd. Instead I could recieve paramilitary arrest.

Why are people so stupid when it comes to talking truthful and scientific about drugs?

our time has come...

For the first time in our history we have a presidential candidate we can actually vote for that opposes drug prohibition: Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr.

Yes, Bob was a staunch drug warrior - but only in a legislative context. That does not excuse his past. But I do feel perplexed that many in the drug reform blogger world would rather give Bob Barr the bums-rush than support. It simply makes no sense.

I would like to remind everyone that we've embraced LEAP, and have little problem accepting their epiphany as genuine. And when it comes to drug warriors, these folks take the cake. So, if we in drug reform were at all logical thinkers - and we seem to believe we are - then we should be doing the two-step behind Bob's parade, not raining on it.

Kay is part of a right wing group called Civitas

Kay is a prominent member of Civitas, a right wing group in Canada that has the ear of the current neo-con/con Prime minister Stephen Harper but has remained largely in the shadows since its inception. They claim to be open to all political persuasions, but one only joins through being sponsored and the membership is composed of conservative and neo-conservative analysts, writers, media people, lawyers, etc with some libertarians sprinkled in.

Their ideological positions are a blend of puritanical Canadian and US neo-con/republican and evangelical . Protecting marriage, promoting the drug war, promoting a more white Canada, etc. Rory Leishman is another member and a quote from him appears in a National Post (Canadian paper) article ( about the in-site decision by the BC justice and how it represents dangerous "judicial activism".

They are a growing group and they actively recruit young members.

She rehashes lies that have been used to re-classify cannabis in the UK and makes some ridiculous statements as you all have pointed out. But then hypocrisy and an aversion to facts and verifiable data are the hallmarks of the modern North American "conservative" mind.

Thank-you to the National Post(never thought I'd say that) for mocking her drivel and sticking to their guns on Cannabis legalization.

What she and her ilk is really all about

About the trojan horse argument: what these people are REALLY opposed to is giving ANY drug a fair and balanced trial. They're beginning to understand that given a fair trial cannabis just might achieve legal status and enter normalized society like most other things.

That doesn't fix their knee-jerk emotional response, and the realization that they might have to give magic mushrooms, MDMA, LSD and even heroin a fair trial scares the shit out of them. "What if", they shudder, "we were to realize that a legal approach to all those drugs are ACTUALLY more efficient ways of preventing harm that using our punitive Drug War".

Vast, obscuring emotional turmoil sets in at this point.

Barbara Kay, meet Richard M. Nixon

From Fred Gardner's excellent article a couple years ago:

From the oval office tapes, May 26, 1971, President Richard Nixon in conversation with Art Linkletter, a radio and TV "personality."

Nixon: Radical demonstrators that were here the last, oh, two weeks ago. [unintelligible] They're all on drugs. Oh yeah, horrible

Linkletter: They sit down with a marijuana cigarette to get high-

Nixon: A person does not drink to get drunk.

Linkletter: That's right.

Nixon: A person drinks to have fun.

It's been my sad observation that movement (neo)conservatism has suffered from that same unthinking, arrogant hypocrisy since its' inception, having 'wandered off the reservation' of traditional conservatism long ago. Ms. Kay and her ilk are indicative of that waywardness...and that hypocrisy.


Prohibition is breeding hate crimes....

The key to understanding Nixon is his concern with "radical demonstrators' making him look bad. Hippies that at least were trying for the truth instead of the lie. And these people smoked pot.

How can people who alter their consciousness with marijuana be persecuted? People are allowed to alter their conciousness with alcohol and even tobacco (haste, shortness) and be treated differently than people who choose marijuana? I think marijuana drug users are descriminated against! The drug war should be brought down on the basis of it purpetuating a hate crime. How is it much different to hate a religion (such as Jewish people) or hate a class of people who just happen to use marijuana?

Whats really inside the...

Trojan horse? Tyranny in the form of prohibition. Whatever the problem, prohibition makes everything worse. Ms Kay wants attention/benefits and is getting more than is deserved.

Talking out her arse…

Living in Holland, it's quite rare to see someone in a coffeeshop smoking a spliff on their own. Groups of two, three or more passing a joint between them are a common sight though. How does that factor into her argument? Of course it doesn't, because she doesn't concede that liberals have ever been near enough to power to try out their ideas. Hello! Over here! Beside Belgium and Germany (which has a higher rate of drug use than Holland, but never mind that).

But wait, I forgot, the Dutch drug policy is an "unmitigated disaster" and has led to all kinds of societal problems — including social obedience, reduced violent crime/hard drug use and less waste of police time. Silly me. If that was worldwide, shit, we might enter some kind of enlightened age or something, during which we'd spend less money on guns n' such.

"Cheaper, readily available cannabis will escalate consumption and exacerbate well-documented harms in that population." Er… Not true, actually. Only around 10% of Dutchies actually smoke — the majority of cannabis purchasers here are foreigners. And what's this I hear about medical marijuana? Wouldn't that seem to dent the theory that it's bad for you? Plus, decriminalization, by definition, removes criminals from the equation — meaning those dodgy fuckers who'll sell a bit of hash and try get you onto their lovely heroin at the same time will be out of business. How is that a bad thing? Um…

No, better to get boozed up and fight! At least that's socially acceptable.

Enhanced Fellowship?

Has she forgotten that alcohol causes aggression?! She must have never heard of the term liquid courage.

My drug is better than your drug.

I think part of the problem is that people who demonize pot have very little first hand knowledge of what weed is all about. They are so far removed from the culture that they imagine it as being something akin to a bunch of heroin addicts in a shooting gallery. They think they can tell who the stoners are by looking at them, and would be shocked to find which of their friends are the very people they refer to as "mentally torpid".

Ms. Kay should go to a vapor lounge and get to know some of the people she's passing judgment on. I suspect that finding out she's wrong is one of the things she fears most, and a likely reason for helping to push the whole thing as far underground as possible.

Alcohol: the Original Gateway Drug OK

Hey, dumb bitch! Alcohol is the gateway drug you pretend marijuana is. You sound like a real hypocritical and ignorant moron... life in prison and rehab is the best thing for idiots like you... undoubtedly another crackhead christian!

Yahwah, what crap and self delusion.

Remember, the drug war is a religious war waged by extremely dangerous fundamentalists within the modern temperance movement!

Think of them as orthodox idiots continuing to kill and/or incarcerating gnostics for daring to disagree with their dogmatic delusions.

When someone tries to kill or incarcerate you you're supposed to try to kill or incarcerate them back!

"the nihilist agenda of cynical all-drug legalizers"?

What a pile. I'm not sure if I'm quite a full-tilt all-drug legalizer or not, but the argument is basically that the war on drugs does more damage than the drugs themselves. Plenty of life and death evidence to support this, so why suspect people who feel this way of being nihilists? Conceivably wrong- but nihilist, not giving a shit about anything, that's ridiculous. Typical hard right demonization of opposing views, trying to stifle public debate.

If she or anyone wants to make a serious argument against legalization, they need to be honest about all the damage the war on drugs is doing, such as the carnage in Mexico right now and in so many other places, and then make their best serious argument (not just an intimidating slogan) that the cost of legalization or harm reduction would be even worse.

As far as alcohol vs. cannabis goes, she's just, to be mean about it, being pathetic. The main difference between alcohol and weed is that alcohol is so much more deadly, whether by traffic crashes- including pedestrians, or other murders/suicides, overdoses, chronic abuse, reckless accidents, fights, and fetal alcohol syndrome (thank you mommy, for choosing alcohol). It's also the drug of choice of sexual perverts preying on children. There's every reason to think marijuana saves lives by providing a safer alternative to alcohol, which has so well earned the epithet killer alcohol.

Who knows how many lives have been and are being lost due to the suppression of medicinal marijuana and research into its potential?

The circle of liberty and justice for all still really, really needs to be widened.

A process that thrives in

A process that thrives in solitude and mental torpor (meaning listening to Pink Floyd and eating Cheetos on the couch) is much safer than a bunch of "social" drunk idiots beating each other up outside the good ole drinkin hole, sleeping with complete strangers and then "driving" home in their vehicles to beat up their wives waiting for them at home (that's if they make it home alive).

Tripping in the solitude of home....

Good one dude! I love Floyd and would also torpor to bands like Led Zeppelin, Yes, or even ELO. Cheedos rock! But I also love tortilla chips. Why do people want to arrest us?


they're too afraid to address the real issues affecting society. The drugs are used as a scapegoat. It's how they rationalize the madness in the world. besides, 'lazy potheads' make terrible soldiers... supposedly. property seizure is a big incentive as well. the sad thing is that it seems like its like the dinosaur in the corner that no one wants to admit is real. The prison industrial complex supports our economy in an unbelievable way. I believe, unfortunately, it's far too serious and complex of an issue to cut cleanly from any position.
this country is very afraid of change, and has been for a long, long time. fortunately, lobbying groups are snowballing for our cause and we have momentum on our side. im holding out hope for a day when cannabis shares a legal status alongside alcohol (which is appropriate, to say the least) and an end is brought about to the oppressive subjugation of otherwise law abiding, and peaceful citizens.


I think the alcohol is clouding her thoughts !

the way i see it

when your government lauched its war on drugs it wasnt for your peoples good or anything to do with you lot at all, in my opinion. :) ok world war 2 ends the cold war follows, it ends everyone in the world pulls in watching thier boarders waiting for somthing to happen paranoid. drugs transported from all over the world being sold all over the world. when your at war you dont ask permission to enter the boarders of your enemy. war on drugs means drug dealers means none nationals meaning other countrys. under the banner of war on drugs your government could have and would be fools to not have used it to meet other objectives. the government that blows shit up and feeds its public silly stories and half arsed explinations like little children.

Theres always a bigger picture than the one your in

Why is it always Pot, Pot, Pot?

Why is it that when people talk about decriminalization, they only mention marijauna? My guess is that it's because that is the only drug that is "socially acceptable" to mention when commenting on this subject.

The only time people should be arrested/charged with a "drug crime" is when there was a violent crime committed in conjunction with it.

Anyone that argues that drug abuse or addiction rates would be higher here in the US if we legalized a small amount for personal use has not looked at the drug use or addiction rates of foreign countries like the Netherlands.

Just look at the rate of alcohol related crimes during prohibition as compared to now. As long as we keep drugs taboo, there will be plenty of young people lining up to abuse drugs and who feel the need to rebel and take their drug use to the excess.

Wake up people!


Information for Today!

image of a dry, manicured mature female cannabis flower, or bud
Q. What is Marijuana?

A. "Marijuana" refers to dried female flowers of varieties of cannabis, the hemp plant,1 that contain 3% or more tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Smoked or eaten, it causes dry mouth, reddened eyes, a faster heartbeat, and a feeling of being "high" for a few hours. Different strains have different sensual effects, ranging from sedative to stimulant to none at all. Cultivated cannabis is listed as an illegal drug in the US &emdash; even industrial varieties that do not have enough THC to produce "marijuana."
Q. Who Uses Cannabis?

A. There is no simple profile of a typical cannabis user. It's been used by millions of people from all walks of life for thousands of years for hundreds of medical, social and religious reasons, as well as for personal relaxation.2 Several of our greatest Presidents farmed hemp.3 About one in three American voters now say they have tried it.4
Q. How Long Have People Used It?

A. Since Biblical times.5 It has been common throughout history, even in America6, with about 12 million regular users in the US today.
Q. How Does It Affect Your Health?

A. No drug is always safe for everybody, but after 150 years of scientific study, the only proven health problem from cannabis is that its smoke can be linked to bronchitis.7 The smoke contains potential carcinogens, but there are no proven cancers. The risk can be reduced by taking smaller inhalations and exhaling in a few seconds, by using a "vaporizer" to release THC without burning, or by eating it. May cause drowsiness, distraction or anxiety. Moreover, it is a safe and effective medicinal herb with proven therapeutic value in treating hundreds of symptoms and ailments, including glaucoma, MS, asthma, arthritis, cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, nausea, anorexia, depression, stress, etc.8 The US Institute of Medicine (IOM) determined in 1999 that "Except for the harms associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications."9

New study confirms that marijuana does not cause brain damage.
Q. Has Anyone Ever Died From a Cannabis Overdose?

A. No; not even once.10 It is difficult to gauge the eaten dose, which can lead to unpleasant, but non-lethal effects. Judge Francis Young studied the evidence, and ruled in 1988 that "marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume." This comparison chart shows the number of deaths from selected substances in a typical year.*

Tobacco 340,000 to 425,00

Alcohol (excluding crime/accidents) 150,000 +

Legal Drug Overdose (prescription) 14,000 to 27,000

Illegal Drug Overdose 3,800-5,200

Aspirin180 to 1000+

Marijuana 0

* Based on US Surgeon General and other statistical sources.
Q. Does Cannabis Lead to Hard Drugs?

A. No, it does not.11 According to the 1999 IOM report, "There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the use of other illicit drugs." In fact, there is some evidence that suppressing cannabis may lead people to use hard drugs, as happened in Hawaii. NIDA study links marijuana crackdown to increase in methamphetamine "ice" in Hawai'i.
Q. Does It Cause Violence?

A. No; if anything, it reduces it.12 The only crime most cannabis users commit is obtaining and using marijuana. The US Shafer Commission report, one of the most comprehensive studies ever done on drugs, reported that cannabis smokers "tend to be under-represented" in violent crime, "especially when compared to users of alcohol, amphetamines and barbiturates."13 The California Attorney General's panel wrote in 198914 that "objective consideration shows that cannabis is responsible for less damage to the individual and society than alcohol and cigarettes." The federal government reports that 71 million Americans have smoked it … possibly including some of the nicest people you know.
Q. Is It Physically Addictive?

A. No, it is not,15 although some minor dependency can develop. According to the IOM: "Although few users of marijuana develop dependence, some do. But they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs." The typical pattern of social cannabis usage begins with experimental use in the late teens and peaks in the early adult years, followed by a period of leveling off, and a gradual reduction in use.16
Q. What About All Those Scary Advertisements and Stories?

A. Most sensational claims of health risks cite no studies or sources at all. Others rely on a handful of inconclusive or flawed reports.17 The government uses exaggeration and scare tactics to discourage marijuana use, like the "Reefer Madness" campaign of the 1930s18 and the PDFA today. Unfortunately, that just glamorizes drug use and leads to distrust.
Q. What Can We Do About It?

A. Based on scientific research, prison is not the answer. Every independent government study on cannabis has opposed jailing smokers.19 Voters in several States have legalized medical marijuana cultivation and use. Many countries around the world allow farmers to grow hemp for industrial uses. The simple fact is that cannabis use does not change a person's basic personality or sense of morality. The Family Council on Drug Awareness supports setting an age of consent for cannabis to regulate adult use.

Please write or call your elected officials. Tell them you want them to show tolerance. Regulate medical marijuana and responsible adult use of cannabis, free up our police resources to solve violent crime, and restore honesty in America's commitment to "liberty and justice for all."

Item# FCDA TT-0010. Additional copies available from:

Family Council on Drug Awareness, P.O. Box 1716, El Cerrito CA 94530 ·

Read Hemp, Lifeline to the Future, and Hemp for Health by Chris Conrad.
Request a free copy with any $17 donation to FCDA.

Footnotes to the text:

1. Researchers count about 50,000 industrial uses for cannabis hemp; in food, clothing, housing, paper, textiles, fuels, plastics, medicine, sealants, and more. Sources: Encyclopaedia Brittanica, US Dept. of Agriculture; Conrad, Chris. Hemp: Lifeline to the Future, 1993, 1994.

2. In The Bible, God told people to use all the seed bearing herbs, which describes the cannabis plant. Genesis 1:12, 29-31, 2:15. Coptic Christians, Rastafarians, Hindus, Sufis, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, and other churches consider the plant to have sacramental value.

3. Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, who wrote about tending to his female plants and a "curious" preparation of hemp (1794), and others. President Bill Clinton smoked marijuana in college in the 1970s.

4. National Institute of Medicine (IOM). Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. National Academy Press. Washington DC, 1999.

5. Archeologists report that cannabis was one of the first plants cultivated by humans &emdash; about 8000 BC. Columbia University History of the World, 1972. Its fiber was used for rope, paper, sails and garments. It was used as medicine in China by 2700 BC. US Dept. of Agriculture Yearbook, 1913. It was smoked in India by 1400 BC. Atharvaveda.

6. A tradition in the Middle and Far East, Turkish smoking parlors were featured at the 1876 US Centennial Expo in Philadelphia. An exhaustive two-year study of "gunjah" smokers in India, the British "Raj" Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, 1896, found no "physical, mental, or moral" reason to ban or restrict cannabis use.

7. "The only clinically significant medical problem that is scientifically linked to marijuana is bronchitis. Like smoking tobacco, the treatment is the same: stop smoking." Dr. Fred Oerther, MD, 1991.

8. Conrad, Chris. Hemp for Health, (Inner Traditions/Healing Arts Press). 1997. Grinspoon, Dr. Lester. Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine, 1993. Mikuriya, Dr. Tod. Marijuana: Medical Papers, 1839-1972, 1972.

9. National Institute of Medicine, IOM. Op. cit. 1999.

10. Young, Judge Francis ACT et. al. vs DEA; Docket # 88-22. 1988.

11. Costa Rican Study, 1980. Jamaican Study, 1975. US Shafer Commission, The President's Commission on Marijuana & Other Drugs, 1972.

12. This has been reported in virtually every study ever done on cannabis. Furthermore, the "Siler Commission," 1931, studied US troops in Panama and found "no impairment" in personnel who smoked cannabis off-duty. The FBI reports that 65-75% of violent crime is alcohol related.

13. Shafer, Op. cit. Marijuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding. 1972.

14. California Attorney General's Research Advisory Panel 20th Annual Report, 1989 (released 1990; portions suppressed).

15. IOM, Op. cit. 1999. Mikuriya, Op. cit. 1972. Young, Op. cit. 1988. LaGuardia Comsn., NY Mayor's Report. 1944. See footnote 19.

16. Kaplan, John; Marijuana: The New Prohibition, 1970. Shafer, Op. cit. 1972. NIDA National Household Surveys, 1970-1999.

17. Old reports "purporting to show structural damage in the brains of heavy marijuana users [has] not been replicated with more sophisticated techniques." In fact, new research indicates that cannabis may be neuroprotective and can prevent brain cells from damage caused by strokes or head trauma. IOM, Op. cit.1999.

18. Federal bureaucrat Harry Anslinger's campaign of bigotry against cannabis use. His lies were eventually exposed, (Sloman, L. Reefer Madness.) but not before marijuana prohibition was enacted in 1937. The ban was written in secret and passed over the objections of the American Medical Association and hemp businesses. Conrad, Op. cit. 1994.

19. Among them: Indian Hemp Drugs Commission (British, 1896); Siler Commission (US Army, 1933); LaGuardia Commission (NY, 1944); Shafer Commission (US, 1972); LeDaine Commission (Canada, 1972); Alaska State Comsns. (1989, 1990); California Attorney General's Research Advisory Panel (1990), etc.

Weed Does not make you go out and do stupid things..More people Die from drinkin and smoking cigrettes.

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