Kleiman's focused only on marijuana, not harder drugs, and even there, he says that legaalization is not a panacea, and might not even be that close. In part, he invokes images of "Big Pot," paralleling Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol, with vested financial interests in keeping those who are addicted in a state of addiction.
And, that's a good starting point. Contra some libertarians and other who say pot isn't addictive, Kleiman says, try again:
There's only one thing wrong with legalizing weed and that's that a certain number of people will get in trouble with it. ....
I mean will wind up with cannabis habits that are bad for them. Many of them will know it. Some of them won't. Also that teenagers will use more of it. We don't really want to get back to 1979 when 10% of high school seniors reported that they were daily or near daily cannabis smokers.
If anybody had intellectual reason to soft-pedal this information, it's a libertarian think tank like Rand, so I think we can say these numbers are pretty solid.A lot of people on the pro-legalization side are still in denial about the cannabis abuse problem. The numbers are about 33 million people will say in a survey that they've used cannabis in the last year. About half of those, about 16 million, say they've used it in the last month. Of those, about a quarter say they use 25 days or more per month. In a different survey that folks over at Rand did the people who smoke many days per month also use a lot more per day. That very heavy user group accounts for 85 or 95 percent of the total cannabis consumed.About half the people who are daily or near daily users just from their own self-reporting in the surveys meet clinical criteria for abuse or dependence. Cannabis is interfering with their lives and they've tried to cut down and they can't.
As for those analogies I mentioned? Here's Kleiman:
It's not just that the problem users are profitable, it's that nobody else is profitable. More than 80% of what you sell is going to go to people who are smoking too much. That is true of alcohol today.
When the booze companies tell you they're in favor of responsible drinking they must mean they're planning to go out of business. Responsible drinkers don't build breweries. Breweries are built by [sic] people (who?) drink four or more drinks a day average year round. The top decile of the alcohol population accounts for 50% of the alcohol consumed. Put it a different way, 46% of all drinks consumed in the U.S. are consumed as part of drinking binges.
Anybody who tells you, you can legalize cannabis and not have more drug abuse is fooling himself. Of course we're going to have more. The question is how much more?
This is about more than just calling out a noted libertarian like Greenwald.
Here in Texas, Rick Perry's made a comment or two about decriminalization, at least, and Wendy Davis had someone belated reaction, while Greg Abbott had the big sound of silence out of his camp. If Texas isn't prepared for a potential increase in addicted marijuana users, and what to do to address that, then it may have more problem then it bargained for. And, on the dollars side, we know that Texas is pretty cheap on governmental funding in general.
It's nice to see someone who knows what he's talking about on drug policy telling us to all tap the brakes on utopian claims about legalization.
My personal stance is that I favor at least decriminalization, and am open to full legalization of at least smaller amounts of marijuana.
But, I agree with Kleiman that this isn't anywhere near a panacea.
I'm also with him that, if we're going to do this, we need to measure pot for THC content, just like tobacco for nicotine and booze for ethanol.