Thursday, May 02, 2013

What reports of the Boston marathon bombers' marijuana use tell us about America

The Washington Post profiled the Tsarnaev family on  its front page on April 28, 2013. Both of the Tsarnaev brothers are reported to have been frequent marijuana smokers, although the older brother gave it up several years ago. Perhaps what is most striking about the reportage is that for every person interviewed, the brothers' marijuana use is held out as one of the strongest signs of their other-wise normal "American-ness."  It seems everyone who knew them characterized their embrace of pot smoking as evidence of their integration into the norms of American student life in high school and college -- even if they sometimes were obnoxious neighbors throwing loud, drunken parties. All the statements flatly contradict the myths of 1930s anti-marijuana ideology still repeated in law enforcement anti-drug classes that marijuana use is a tip-off to or cause of deep deviance. To the contrary, to those who knew Tamerlan, they saw his changing personality to the tortured soul who goes off to Dagestan in the fact that he stops using Cannabis. This description of marijuana use as the mark of the well-adjusted young American adult is remarkable in several ways.

First, those who are reporting what they know about the Tsarnaev brothers are not reporting Cannabis use as deviant or threatening. Second, indeed, when Tamerlan Tsarnaev said he was no longer going to be using Cannabis, this was seen as suggestive of dark, threatening changein his personality. Third, the reporters transmitting these interviews in their newspapers are utterly blase about these interpretations. No one is even commenting that pot use is normative. Rather the implication is that dramatically and inexplicably abandoning pot use  is consistent with adoption of a terrorist ideology.

Given how marijuana use is being characterized in what is, to date, the most heinous crime of the year, if there ever had been a consensus that marijuana use is wrong or at least a mark of deviance, there is almost a complete absence of any evidence that anyone feels this way anymore -- even when the marijuana users are presumed to be cop-killing mass murderers!

There is a conclusion that must be drawn. The prohibition on the use of marijuana is itself immoral not only because it infringes on the inherent autonomy of individuals to make choices that are not harmful to others (which is true), but is immoral because the state lacks the moral authority to deprive liberty for conduct that is not wrongful. This is a subtle but important distinction.

There is not yet an American consensus that people have the "right" to use marijuana the way there is a consensus that there is a First Amendment right to choose a book to buy in a bookstore. But there is a consensus, I think, that the government has no authority to punish behavior that is not wrongful because the U.S. and state constitutions never convey such authority to the government. For example, if meat-eaters, lets say elected a majority of the legislature, they would not have the constitutional power to provide for imprisonment of persons who eat soybean-based artificial meat. No matter what kind of health or safety rationale was proposed to ban soybean meat, the eating such products is not wrongful and cannot constitutionally be punished.

What the conversation about marijuana in the Tsarnaev case tell us is marijuana use is widespread and normal, and not evidence of or suggestive of immoral or violent behavior -- indeed, the opposite!

Behavior that the public does not believe is wrong, cannot be punished in the name of that public. Courts should be able to rule when a law no longer enjoys a moral consensus, they have the power to invalidate the continued enforcement of that law if that enforcement deprives people of liberty by subjecting them to imprisonment.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Physicians Health Programs are below the radar, expanding scope, and gaining political power. Giving an organization police-like power and complete opacity allows them to do whatever they want. There is no oversight, accountability, or transparency involved. They are now trying to expand beyond the allegations of substance abuse and have started a campaign to expand to the "disruptive physician" and will refer these people to a facility in Kansas for evaluation. They are also claiming that there model of recovery should be the standard of care for other organizations and claim an 80% success rate.

They are working to get certain bills passed under the radar that will decrease individual rights and give them more protection and power, they have infiltrated the AMA, and have rode the "war on drugs" bandwagon to increase support. Their impact is also seen in the upcoming DSM-V diagnoses of substance abuse disorder where any drug or alcohol use falls under the same umbrella as addiction. They are heavily indoctrinated in 12-step philosophy and, along with the ASAM and the associated treatment facilities and drug testing labs aligned with them, create a great deal of power that could cause real problems for medical care and education.

It is because they hidden from public view that they are so dangerous as they are surreptitiously working behind the lines of the 12-step ASAM institutional rehab drug war agenda. They do not usually make waves by expressing in public their zero tolerance us against them mentality so this bomb-bong hypothesis is reflective of their numbing stupidity.

The corruption is well known to those who interact with them. Any criticism is met with ad hominem attack. They engage in political abuse of psychiatry, coercion, threats, disinformation, and fraud. It is time to expose this threat to justice, liberty, integrity, and thought.