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Thread: Prohibition and Legal drugs in Society

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Prohibition and Legal drugs in Society

    First off, what exactly is a 'drug'?
    Second, why is alcohol legal in the western world and not mary jane?
    Third, why is any drug illegal? Again, refer to question two (and four).
    Fourth, related to the second question why is mary jane tolerated in Muslim countries and not alcohol?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Your asking to many questions.......
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    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Sorry, I don't have any answers for you. Just wanted to say that your questions remind me of the scene from "The 13th Warrior" where the muslim guy is saying he can't have fermented grain (and something else -- basically he can't have wine or alcohol) and the Viking-type guy tells him meade is fermented honey. I think he gets good and drunk thereafter.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    First off, what exactly is a 'drug'?
    Second, why is alcohol legal in the western world and not mary jane?
    Third, why is any drug illegal? Again, refer to question two (and four).
    Fourth, related to the second question why is mary jane tolerated in Muslim countries and not alcohol?
    1) a drug is either a substance that is used as a medicine or a substance that causes addiction or affects the mind
    2) alcohol is legal in the western world because it is part of most people's culture, religion, social gatherings, and the like. It is mainstream, and isn't as easily abused. people can have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine with dinner, because it tastes good and won't affect their mind the way weed would. marijuana is a drug that is highly-addictive, is a gateway drug, and is part of an odd subculture. it is used much less than alcohol, and is less profitable in business than alcohol.
    3) some drugs are illegal because they cause addiction and create a dangerous subculture of violence. sure, i s'pose you could say alcohol does too. so, i don't know. but i think it is harder for someone to control a heroin/cocaine addiction than an alcohol addiction. again, refer to #2, as alcohol is a mainstream integral part of our culture, affecting relgion, sport, family, friends, etc. They tried to eliminate it with prohibition, but it didn't work...it has just become too powerful in America and Western culture. Let's try to eliminate what we still can, what is still largely unpopular.
    4) I don't know, but those Muslims are missin' out on some great beverages.

    Just my opinion...

    Keep in mind that I have never smoked weed (AND NEVER WILL) and enjoy alcohol every now and then, thus the possible bias in my answers.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  6. #6
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    1) a drug is either a substance that is used as a medicine or a substance that causes addiction or affects the mind
    2) alcohol is legal in the western world because it is part of most people's culture, religion, social gatherings, and the like. It is mainstream, and isn't as easily abused. people can have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine with dinner, because it tastes good and won't affect their mind the way weed would. marijuana is a drug that is highly-addictive, is a gateway drug, and is part of an odd subculture. it is used much less than alcohol, and is less profitable in business than alcohol.
    3) some drugs are illegal because they cause addiction and create a dangerous subculture of violence. sure, i s'pose you could say alcohol does too. so, i don't know. but i think it is harder for someone to control a heroin/cocaine addiction than an alcohol addiction. again, refer to #2, as alcohol is a mainstream integral part of our culture, affecting relgion, sport, family, friends, etc. They tried to eliminate it with prohibition, but it didn't work...it has just become too powerful in America and Western culture. Let's try to eliminate what we still can, what is still largely unpopular.
    4) I don't know, but those Muslims are missin' out on some great beverages.

    Just my opinion...

    Keep in mind that I have never smoked weed (AND NEVER WILL) and enjoy alcohol every now and then, thus the possible bias in my answers.
    Some things you have said are undoubtedly true. Alcohol IS very much a part of Western culture. I think there are several reasons why this is - alcohol can be consumed in moderate quantities without significantly affecting mental functions, whereas marijuana is smoked only for the purposes of affecting mental functions. Alcohol also historically has served as a 'safe' source of fluid for many places where water quality is questionable. And yes it can also be appreciated on an aesthetic level for its sometimes good taste (although its not necessary the methyl alcohol itself that's so yummy). Obviously if it's consumed in large quantities it can be very much a mind altering substance and some people can git real ornery when they git likkered up. Marijuana usage, however, is not typically associated with violent behavior. Nor is there any medical evidence to suggest that any physical addiction occurs from repeated consumption. A case could certainly be made for individuals getting a mental addiction to pot, but then an equally compelling case could also be made for potato chips doing much the same.

    Both the Bible and the Koran contain passages speaking out against alcohol consumption, which most Christians have seen fit to ignore (along with exhortations not to kill and turn the other cheek), but Muslims seems to take somewhat more seriously. I'm not sure why this is and was hoping someone else might provide some idea why it might be.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    2) alcohol is legal in the western world because it is part of most people's culture, religion, social gatherings, and the like. It is mainstream, and isn't as easily abused. people can have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine with dinner, because it tastes good and won't affect their mind the way weed would. marijuana is a drug that is highly-addictive, is a gateway drug, and is part of an odd subculture. it is used much less than alcohol, and is less profitable in business than alcohol.
    3) some drugs are illegal because they cause addiction and create a dangerous subculture of violence. sure, i s'pose you could say alcohol does too. so, i don't know. but i think it is harder for someone to control a heroin/cocaine addiction than an alcohol addiction. again, refer to #2, as alcohol is a mainstream integral part of our culture, affecting relgion, sport, family, friends, etc. They tried to eliminate it with prohibition, but it didn't work...it has just become too powerful in America and Western culture. Let's try to eliminate what we still can, what is still largely unpopular.
    I think you have partially answered it: it is partly about history of a particular culture. However, it is somewhat arbitrary as to what is illegal -- at least as far as "addictive properties" and other objective criteria. I read a book once called "The Truth About Addiction and Recovery". Basically, which drugs are "big problems" is significantly effected by cultural norms and attitudes. Cultures where alcohol is villified and demonized and where the bad behavior of someone who drinks is blamed on alcohol have tea-totallers and raging drunks. Cultures where alcohol is part of healthy social functions like weddings and where people are held accountable for their own behavior and cannot just blame it on "being drunk" end up with a lot fewer problems. Alcohol is simply handled differently in those cultures. The expectation that alcohol makes you violent, out of control, etc. often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    "Gateway drug" -- to me that means that a culture has arranged things such that there is a drug that is illegal but less demonized than other illegal drugs (like marijuana in America). Once you cross that psychological line of breaking the law to get high, it gets harder to justify demonizing the harder drugs and you begin to wonder "what's the difference??" I think a lot of the negative consequences of taking illegal drugs arise from the simple fact that they are illegal. So you can lose your job over it, end up in jail over it, wind up part of a paranoid, secretive subculture that knows way too much about how to break the law ...etc. If you drank instead, you could be much more addicted and not experience a lot of those impacts.

    Furthermore, there are some good studies indicating that people wind up with addictions when they are "empty" or have "empty lives". There is good evidence that if you help folks create more fulfilling lives for themselves, the addiction may go away on its own. As one example: lots of American soldiers were drug addicts while in Vietnam. Many of them came back to the U.S. and never did those drugs again. It was situational -- a need to escape from the horrors of a dirty war.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    \Marijuana usage, however, is not typically associated with violent behavior. Nor is there any medical evidence to suggest that any physical addiction occurs from repeated consumption. A case could certainly be made for individuals getting a mental addiction to pot, but then an equally compelling case could also be made for potato chips doing much the same.

    Both the Bible and the Koran contain passages speaking out against alcohol consumption, which most Christians have seen fit to ignore (along with exhortations not to kill and turn the other cheek), but Muslims seems to take somewhat more seriously. I'm not sure why this is and was hoping someone else might provide some idea why it might be.
    I think I was thinking more along the lines of other drugs like LSD, ecstasy, and the like being part of a violent and dangerous subculture. It is a small branch off the drug tree, with marijuana being the tree trunk.

    Like I said, mary jane is the gateway drug, and people almost always use that before they get into the wierd hallucinogenic drugs and that whole scene.

    Certainly, most people smoke weed sparingly though and would never get in to that...but those that do usually use weed first.

    As far as the religion thing...I have no clue. Muslims are more strict about religious interpretation in general, IMO. Most Christians seem to view the teachings and the Bible as a general guiding spirit and foundation, and aren't as nit-picky...although, there are those who will take it more seriously than others.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    As far as the religion thing...I have no clue. Muslims are more strict about religious interpretation in general, IMO. Most Christians seem to view the teachings and the Bible as a general guiding spirit and foundation, and aren't as nit-picky...although, there are those who will take it more seriously than others.
    Just curious: how many muslims do you personally know? And how well do you know them?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner

    Like I said, mary jane is the gateway drug, .

    .
    I've always thought that that is not entirely true. While people who use marijuana are probably more likely to use harder drugs- people who drink or smoke cigarrettes are probably more likely to use marijuana. Therefore I believe that alcohol and ciggarettes are the true gateway drugs - which goes back to the important question of why they are legal and marijuana isn't. The reason IMO is entirely big business and profitability.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    There are some substances that are in and of themselves addictive - meth, comes to mind. That is just bad, bad stuff. In my experience (I know it comes as a shock but I have some experience in this area ), marijuana is not physically addictive, is not a gateway drug and is no better or worse than alcohol. I like to smoke pot. Unfortunately it is something my better half is strongly against and we have a small child. Since it is not that important to me, I don't imbibe any longer (except for those rare occasions outside the territorial limits of the U.S, in a boat, and under a doctor's supervision )

    My observation is that when people like pot too much, it is not the fault of the drug. It is not the pot that makes them addictive, it is themselves. Some people have addictive personalities. I have a friend who is just addictive in nature - beer, cigarettes, pot, and other drugs. He has had to quit them all, with occasional lapses with pot. I had another friend who was similar, and his addiction to cigarettes and unhealthy food killed him at age 46. Most of my other pot-smoking friends do so periodically and in moderation. Believe me, if pot was addictive and a "gateway" drug, all my friends would be crackheads.

    A couple bong hits and a beer is a sweet time. I miss it sometimes.
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    1) a drug is either a substance that is used as a medicine or a substance that causes addiction or affects the mind
    I believe that a 'drug' is any substance that has a body altering effect (aside from things such as food, air and water).

    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    2) alcohol is legal in the western world because it is part of most people's culture, religion, social gatherings, and the like. It is mainstream, and isn't as easily abused. people can have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine with dinner, because it tastes good and won't affect their mind the way weed would. marijuana is a drug that is highly-addictive, is a gateway drug, and is part of an odd subculture. it is used much less than alcohol, and is less profitable in business than alcohol.
    Alcohal has been around as a beverage (both for pleasure and religious rituals) for as long as humans have been growing things.
    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    3) some drugs are illegal because they cause addiction and create a dangerous subculture of violence. sure, i s'pose you could say alcohol does too. so, i don't know. but i think it is harder for someone to control a heroin/cocaine addiction than an alcohol addiction. again, refer to #2, as alcohol is a mainstream integral part of our culture, affecting relgion, sport, family, friends, etc. They tried to eliminate it with prohibition, but it didn't work...it has just become too powerful in America and Western culture. Let's try to eliminate what we still can, what is still largely unpopular.
    My read on the Drug War is that prior to about 1914 (in the USA), there were zero drug laws at all. IMHO, the one single law that was most effective at curbing 'hard' drug use was the 'Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906' (yes, well before the Drug War). This is the Federal law that requires manufacturers to list a product's ingredients on its package in descending order of concentration. Most people did not want to take things such as morphine, cocaine, etc, in their beverages and patent medicines and stopped buying them as a result. As for the modern-day Drug War and specific drugs, my reads on the subject have told me that it was pushed by frustrated Prohibitionists and was fueled by very irrational anti-immigrant xenophobias in the early to mid 20th Century. Crazy Mexicans used pot, so they banned pot; crazy Chinese used opium (and its derivatives), so they banned opiates; crazy Negros (African-Americans, for the modern PCs in the crowd) used other drugs like cocaine, so they banned cocaine; etc. And true to form, since those laws did not stop the use and trade (and the criminal black market) in those substances, they have been made progressively 'more illegal' ever since (it is amazing how much of our civil liberties, most of which had been unchallenged for over 125-150 years since the USA's independence, have been sacrificed to the generals of Drug and Vice War).

    It also truly pains me as someone intensely interested in planning and other urban issues to see entire sections of otherwise highly attactive urban areas being violently ripped to shreds over nothing more than who has the rights to that sales territory. When I was a student at UWZero in the late 1980s/early 1990s (that long ago, sigh... ), it was amazing to see the response from otherwise sane people (especially conservatives) when I suggested during political arguements that maybe the Drug War wasn't working and that we should try something else. It was like they all turned into crazed versions of James Carvill - "HOW CAN *YOU* BE SAYING THAT WE SHOULD BE *SOFT ON DRUGS!!!!* WHEN WE SHOULD BE FIGHTING HARDER AND HARDER AND HARDER, HARDERHARDERHARDER....!!!!". Yowsa!!

    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    4) I don't know, but those Muslims are missin' out on some great beverages.

    Just my opinion...

    Keep in mind that I have never smoked weed (AND NEVER WILL) and enjoy alcohol every now and then, thus the possible bias in my answers.
    I find it interesting and a bit strange when I see some of those firebrand Evengelical-Protestant types as they start railing on alcohol use, conveniently ignoring the fact that Martin Luther himself often extolled the virtues of good beer.

    BTW, I don't smoke anything and love good beer, but hate the beer's 'toxic effect'. Nor will I impose a 'no smoking' rule on a place that I don't own. If I don't like the smoke at a bar, I'll go and sit at the upwind end of the bar.

    Mike
    Last edited by mgk920; 30 Sep 2005 at 12:57 PM.

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    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Pot is not addictive, but for some it can become a habit that gets in the way of work, school or relationships. I think alcohol and alcohol abuse have a vastly more negative effect on families, relationships, job performance- not to mention all the car crashes, disease and violence it causes.

    To say pot is a gateway drug is just asinine. It may be that a future drug addict's first drug is pot, but that doesn't mean that anyone who tries pot is destined to become a drug addict. I first smoked pot in high school and it was never a gateway to anything else, except more pot here and there, and on occassion, pizza.

  14. #14
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop
    In my experience (I know it comes as a shock but I have some experience in this area ), marijuana is not physically addictive,
    Quote Originally posted by Greenescapist
    ...I first smoked pot in high school...
    [undercover]What was that? Could you repeat yourself, but talk into my lapel this time.[/undercover]
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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  15. #15
    Off-topic:
    In the late '70s a friend and I coached a little league ball team. The youth league made the coaches and teams attend a film about the evils of marijuana. It showed a couple of teenaged boys getting high outside school. They get the munchies and steal a couple of bags of chips and colas. They have no opener for the cola so they smash the neck of the bottle on the corner of a brick wall. Unable to comprehend the danger they are about to subject themselves, they begin swigging the soda from the bottles and predictably are next shown bleeding profusely from the mouth. The 8 and 9 year olds were squirming. How Louis and I kept from laughing out loud is still a wonderment to me.
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    .......

    2) alcohol is legal in the western world because it is part of most people's culture, religion, social gatherings, and the like. It is mainstream, and isn't as easily abused. people can have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine with dinner, because it tastes good and won't affect their mind the way weed would. marijuana is a drug that is highly-addictive, is a gateway drug, and is part of an odd subculture. it is used much less than alcohol, and is less profitable in business than alcohol.
    3) some drugs are illegal because they cause addiction and create a dangerous subculture of violence. sure, i s'pose you could say alcohol does too. so, i don't know. but i think it is harder for someone to control a heroin/cocaine addiction than an alcohol addiction. again, refer to #2, as alcohol is a mainstream integral part of our culture, affecting relgion, sport, family, friends, etc. They tried to eliminate it with prohibition, but it didn't work...it has just become too powerful in America and Western culture. Let's try to eliminate what we still can, what is still largely unpopular.
    ............
    #2) What?

    You don't seem to understand, up until the late 1800's with the advent of modern water systems under pressure, alcaholic beverages were MUCH SAFER TO DRINK THAN WATER, and everybody new it.

    Alcahol is the most addictive drug used for recreational purposes. It will addict and kill roughly 10% of the people who begin to use it. Alcahol is a larger gateway drug than any other.

    Huh? Doesn't affect your mind like marjiuana? HUH? WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO KID?

    Alcahol is not part of an ODD SUBCULTURE? What planet are you from?

    #3) When is the last time you saw a gang of young people who just smoked a bunch of weed go on a rampage? Decimate the snack isle of the local 7-11 maybe but a culture of violence?

    Stop what's possible while you still can?


    Its a freaking weed and it grows in a ditch, world wide, just like hops!

    Buy the way, The pub always has $1.50 bottles of Point Special, Old Style, Hams, Blatz, and Pabst.

    If your really desparate, I sell DERILECT SHOTS for $0.25 a crack!
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian dobopoq's avatar
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    1. Drug - a general term refering to the consumption of any substance or the engagement in any activity for the sake of altering consciousness, often becoming a compulsive habit with negative side effects.

    Substances: sugar, cocaine, french fries, hamburgers, marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, coffee, paint fumes, food in general (when eaten in excess), etc.
    Activities: TV, internet (CYBURBIA!), video games, sex/masturbation, exercise, fighting, criminal behavior (such as theft or murder), shopping, etc.

    2. Prohibition was ineffective, and alcohol loosens people up which has a social benefit. I've heard that Dupont was a major player in the illegalization of marijuana, because the hemp plant is a cheap and very strong fiber, but the company wanted to eliminate competition to their fibers like nylon etc. (Not unlike what GM did to streetcars around the same time.)

    3. Drugs are usually illegalized for the sake of social control, health, or economic reasons.

    4. Alcohol: I would speculate that because alcohol tends to promote arrogant and rude behavior, it is more problematic than in the west because modesty is a big part of Muslim culture. Further, the dehydrating effect of alcohol would seem to be more dangerous in the water scarce desert climate of many Muslim countries.
    Marijuana: I would speculate that Muslim culture is perhaps more introspective than western culture and therefore, the effects of marijuana are not viewed as negatively.

    by mgk920
    As for the modern-day Drug War and specific drugs, my reads on the subject have told me that it was pushed by frustrated Prohibitionists and was fueled by very irrational anti-immigrant xenophobias in the early to mid 20th Century. Crazy Mexicans used pot, so they banned pot; crazy Chinese used opium (and its derivatives), so they banned opiates; crazy Negros (African-Americans, for the modern PCs in the crowd) used other drugs like cocaine, so they banned cocaine; etc. And true to form, since those laws did not stop the use and trade (and the criminal black market) in those substances, they have been made progressively 'more illegal' ever since (it is amazing how much of our civil liberties, most of which had been unchallenged for over 125-150 years since the USA's independence, have been sacrificed to the generals of Drug and Vice War).
    I also agree with this.
    Further speculation: usury is illegal in the Muslim world which is a less capitalist oriented outlook. Charging interest to those who borrow money is fine in the west, and I think this makes people have a bigger need to both work to make money, and consume things to spend it. Alcohol fits better with this spirit of extroverted consumption. Mellowing drugs like marijuana or opium wouldn't be as good for business. Marijuana isn't as much of a threat to business interests in Muslim countries.
    "The current American way of life is founded not just on motor transportation but on the religion of the motorcar, and the sacrifices that people are prepared to make for this religion stand outside the realm of rational criticism." -Lewis Mumford

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