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What's So Funny About the War on Drugs?

For all the progress that's been made towards bringing the drug policy debate into the political mainstream, there remains a tragic tendency among many in the press to burst out laughing at the idea of fixing our disastrous drug laws. The latest embarrassing example comes courtesy of Al Kamen in The Washington Post:

Yes, we know that jobs and the economy are the marquee issues for this campaign. Even major topics such as war and education are getting short shrift among the wannabe nominees.

But those reefer-mad kids over at Students for Sensible Drug Policy are trying to, uh, smoke the candidates out on their favorite subject.

Pass the chips, dude. This is some entertaining TV. 

Pass the chips? Wow. I can't speak for Al Kamen, but there's nothing about the War on Drugs that makes me hungry for junk food. Eric Sterling didn't like Kamen's tone very much either and responded with a deservedly harsh letter to the editor:

Regarding Al Kamen’s Jan. 18 column “ ‘Reefer Madness’ for the YouTube Generation”:

This article is consistent with my hypothesis that the rules of professional conduct of journalists or some style manual require that articles about drug policy include a joke about chips, brownies or junk food. Can reporters and editors be so humor-deprived that they always have to joke about laws and policies that every year put hundreds of thousands of cannabis users in handcuffs, give them a criminal record and cost hundreds of millions of dollars on pointless police overtime. Ha, ha, ha, “pass the chips”; I’m dying with laughter.

Kamen's childishness is meant to be cute, I assume, but it plainly belittles a gutsy effort by a concerned group of young Americans to ask valid questions of candidates on the campaign trail. How odd it is that he calls attention to these young activists bravely confronting prominent politicians, only to turn around and insult them. For what…caring about something?

Is the arrest of close to a million Americans a year for marijuana a strange or entertaining thing to be upset about? For that matter, is our world-record incarceration rate and the spiraling costs that go along with it? Is the escalating violence in Mexico amusing to anyone? If these things aren't funny, then we should be applauding rather than laughing when someone works to ensure that we don't ignore these issues entirely when choosing our next president.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Drew B's picture

If people like him knew what

If people like him knew what idiotic pawns they are of the forces of EVIL which have corrupted our government they would be beyond being sick to their stomach.

All the tankers of herbicide sprayed on kids in foreign lands, all the child brides (rapes) they champion, the deaths of their neighbors' kids they thump their chests over, the sickening systemic corruption that has turned our government from one that seeks peace and common good to one that actively works to undermine others while driving us broke.

It will drive them crazy with despair once they realize they have worked for it or lauded it.

But I keep on thinking we need to go after the supreme brain-dead itself. 

Like trying to get Fay and "Save Our Society" shut down. Somehow the spotlight of TRUTH needs to shine on them in a very bright way. 

If Kamen could foresee the logical conclusion of the evils that Prohibitionists have in mind, let alone the horrors we are in the midst of, maybe he'd stop trying to play both sides and stand up against the destroyers.

no laughing matter

This article does not mention the people dying from terminal illness who are not able to access medicines and at reasonable cost. 150 countries do not have access to medicine for pain relief for even the most serious illness so vast numbers of people are living in agony and dying prematurely as a result of this brutal law while people are being persecuted. That makes prohibition a crime against humanity. I don't see much to laugh about either.

Pot Jokes are Staler than Moldy Stash

People have made jokes about marijuana for so long they’ve worn out the genre.  Even Harold and Kumar treat marijuana seriously while using it as a central theme for mostly unrelated shtick comedy. 

Old pot clichés are just as bad.  The criticism ‘what’s he been smoking?’ is meaningless since marijuana doesn’t make people dysfunctional. The cliché confuses pot with alcohol and other downers.  Marijuana jokes like these merely reinforce false stereotypes that irritate pot smokers while continuing to influence the dissemination of more idiotic drug legislation and arrests.

If commentators knew they weren’t being funny when they make banal jokes about weed, they might stop.  Most don’t have an audience, like that of a standup comedian, to moan and groan and thereby give them immediate feedback for stupid pot jokes.  Lowball humor of this type must be addressed, as Eric Sterling did, much the same way racist or sexist jokes are confronted.


I think it's also a tribute

I think it's also a tribute to how intellectually stagnant we are as a society that people can tell the same jokes over and over for FIVE DECADES, without even trying to change them up, and there is (or at least they think there is) still an audience for it.  This war has been the most detrimental strike against  humanity since organized religion, and I'm disgusted that we just keep getting suckered by snake oil salesmen.

Illness & death don't wait for Government debate and indecision

I don't think anyone can accuse a marijuana smoker of not having a sense of humor,not even a medical marijuana patient. I don't think Al Kamen should be skewered for making light of things. 

Not taking this subject seriously is not a laughing matter for many ill people though. While sick patients go to their checklist of local drug dealers to get ahold of there next dose of medicine, the patients sons and daughters are on the other end of things looking for bail money or a get out of jail free card. It would be hilarious if it weren't so damn real. 

The United States of America needs to stop making criminals out of otherwise decent citizens to feed its own Government coffers. The War On Drugs is a war that should never have been. Federal involvement in prohibiting marijuana was cautioned against and ignored. Its time to start realizing that individual liberty should be more than a pipe dream.


Let's all remember that the victors write the history , true or not and with out the internet they would still be spewing their lies

and the only way they were able to spread the lies before was because of our ignorance. We really don't know the benefits 

and the down falls of the drugs we have available now . We  need to get this behind us , the reason 2012 is the year is because they can't hide behind the lies anymore , sooner than later now the truth is in front of us all. We of course will have to act, but we won't be alone anymore.

Marc by Marc commercial???

Mark's commercial should have been prevented. This shows me that no one actually reads these posts. You use a computer to censer certain words regardless of the meaning of what is being said. I tried to e-mail the board of directors but that is not possible, they are to important to be disturbed. I looked for a way to talk to the censor and that is not possible either!

Since nothing I have sent in to post has showed up on you blog!!!

Thank your censer computer for me, it just showed the truth to us.


He laughs

He laughs as one who is completely and undeniably insane laughs. The broken mind knows not logic nor true humor. Rather, everything is funny indisciminately.

Or does he laugh as the accomplished torturer laughs? Seeing pain and subsequent behavior, knowing exactly why it happens--the human mind and nature laid raw to the scrutiny of the heartless observer. It unfolds with a grace and humor that only one with a heart of stone could enjoy.

Or does he yet laugh for another reason? Does he laugh as the fool does, seeing only small details that may build a humorous image but missing the big picture in its entirety. He sees things as they occur upon others, like the torturer in the regard that he fails to appreciate what happens to other people in equal gravity to what happens to himself.

There are places for the insane, the torturers, and the fools. Giving worthwhile commentary is not among them.

anything to keep from looking seriously at marijuana prohibition

For a long time, trash talk like Kamen's was part of a successful strategy of suppressing discussion, and presumably also was successful in distracting people with laughter from the guilt decent people likely feel over condoning or supporting arresting fellow citizens for less than nothing (preferring weed to booze). That pig circus is over now, at least out west, where the alcohol supremacists have no choice but to make actual arguments against legalizing weed, and allow voters to decide state law for themselves.

How likely is alcohol use to kill and maim, compared to cannabis use? When will alcohol supremacists, and the public health community who have a clear responsibility to share their professional knowledge on this subject, stop their chickenshit hiding from such an essential question?  

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