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Dec. 13 2009 - 2:53 pm | 658 views | 0 recommendations | 23 comments

Schizo-fornia: Why Does California Hate Tobacco, But Love Marijuana?

A dried flowered bud of the Cannabis sativa plant.

Image via Wikipedia

Ah, California: land of contradictions. Where everything is regulated, yet, in its largest city, anarchy still reigns. Where “green” is the new black, yet public transport is a joke. Where anti-immigration demagogues proliferate, yet where an immigrant who cannot pronounce the state’s name is the governor.

And where cigarette smokers are pursued with a vigor typically reserved for terrorists (I hear the legislature is now considering giving smokers the chair), and marijuana smoking is tolerated  – if not outright encouraged.

It is looking increasingly likely that California will soon legalize recreational marijuana use. Of course, the con job known as “medical” marijuana has been legal here for some time, and commercial pot growing has proliferated. But now, as the state faces a budget deficit big enough to rouse even the dullest potheads from their haze, the legislature is excitedly eying the possibility of collecting sizable tax receipts from commercial marijuana sales.

Californian cigarette smokers, meanwhile, just can’t catch a (smoke) break. In 1998, the Golden State became the first in the country to ban smoking in restaurants and bars. Taxes on tobacco are astronomical, and the state legislature is poised to raise them yet again. In the city of Los Angeles, where the smog levels are legendary, the city council is planning on banning cigarette smoking at outdoor dining areas.

Meanwhile, marijuana smoking has been defacto legalized in many California communities. In the benighted hell of Santa Cruz, the town I currently reside in, cigarette smoking is banned within 25 feet of any public building. Cigarette smoking has even been banned on the main downtown street. Yet the smell of marijuana smoke is omnipresent – even on the same streets that have banned cigarettes!

This state of affairs is incoherent. A joint of marijuana has considerably more tar than a cigarette. Chronic marijuana smoking can lead to a whole host of health problems, from memory loss to lung cancer – and, most obviously, to outright stupidity. There are dangers associated with operating a motor vehicle while stoned – not so with tobacco. I’m all for legalizing marijuana – so long as consumers are made aware of the risks associated with smoking the stuff. But to retain some semblance of sense, the anti-tobacco jihad should be called off as well.

Having kicked its tobacco habit, why is California is now going to pot?


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  1. collapse expand

    You know, there were other articles on the page you linked with the study that suggests higher tar content in joints than cigarettes. Here is one I enjoyed:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060526083353.htm

    “Study Finds No Link Between Marijuana Use And Lung Cancer”

    • collapse expand

      Good research, finding that study, Jason. A heavy pot smoker was defined as someone who smoked 1.5 joints a day. A heavy smoker of tobacco is someone who smokes 20 or more cigarettes a day. Pot smokers smoke waaaaaaay less than tobacco smokers, heheh, heheh. But, like, sure, Dude, if you don’t want me smoking near you no problem. Whatever. Peace. Hey, like, could I get a ride home after you finish that pitcher of margaritas?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    The crackheads in sacramento legalize pot

    what’s next….opium dens?

  3. collapse expand

    Uhhh… because pot actually does have medicinal value and cigarettes don’t?

  4. collapse expand

    Mr. Epstein,

    Like most of your postings, I am unclear on what your point is. You imply and suggest (“nudge, nudge, wink, wink”) but never quite state what you think the problem is or what the solution might be. You imply and hint at false arguments (“Those crazy Californian want to ban tobacco and legalize marijuana”) and then don’t quite come out say why those arguments are wrong.

    For example you state that California is a place “where cigarette smokers are pursued with a vigor typically reserved for terrorists”. This is ridiculous hyperbole, tobacco is legal in California where more than one person in five uses tobacco

    http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k3State/appB.htm#tabB.11

    perfectly legally, albeit more with greater regulations than other states. You then imply that California will legalize marijuana even though it does not have the authority to since it is banned by the Federal government. This point was made in the article you linked where a witness quite correctly pointed out..

    “[The] general counsel to the California Peace Officers’ Association and the California Police Chiefs Association, underscored there would be no protection from federal law enforcement agencies arresting, charging and prosecuting Californians for violating the federal marijuana ban.”

    So you have implied a completely non-existent situation where tobacco is some how made illegal while marijuana is legal even though the exact opposite is true and cannot legally be otherwise.

    Then you seem to argue that you favor legalizing marijuana if laws limiting legal use of tobacco are repealed. You suggest that this makes sense because tobacco is less dangerous than marijuana.

    The simple fact of the matter is that tobacco is a very dangerous substance responsible for almost one in five premature deaths in the US.

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5425a1.htm

    Marijuana does not produce any of those premature deaths. This is the DEA’s webpage about the myths of marijuana usage. While the DEA argues for how dangerous marijuana is and why it should be illegal, the DEA does claim that marijuana usage causes any premature deaths.

    http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/pressrel/pr042605.html

    Even the DEA cannot make the case, nor does it even try to, that marijuana can kill people the same way that cigarettes do.

    Your logic, to the extent that it can be determined, is mangled and your facts are all wrong.

    • collapse expand

      Maybe if you read what the author is actually writing instead of being high then you would understand that his beef is with the fact that the state is pushing more and more regulations on tobacco while doing the exact opposite with marijuana. That is his point!!!!

      Often times in this article the author is being sarcastic about the vigor in which California is pursuing anti-tobacco legislation.

      By the way, the next time you put up a link to something why don’t you try reading the information first before commenting on it. The DEA specifically state in the link you posted that marijuana is more harmful to your health than cigarettes, thus implying that it causes premature deaths.

      Please, for the love of god!!!! Get your facts straight before you start accusing others of doing the same, and stop going to pro-marijuana websites in order to justify your slanted view on the issue.

      There are too many stupid people in the world that we don’t need to create another one.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Dude, awesome post! You’ve taken such a contrary position! Christopher Hitchens must be anxious indeed. Next step, The Economist. That is, after the police state releases you from Santa Cruz.

  6. collapse expand

    From the MercuryNews article linked above:
    “Law enforcement officials testified the harms caused by marijuana legalization would far outweigh whatever tax revenue it might bring — more, not less, use by children; more people driving under the influence, causing more injuries and deaths; decreased worker productivity that could hurt the economy; and a still-thriving black market.”

    Am I missing something? When did we give law enforcement agencies the mandate to ensure “worker productivity” by threatening citizens who smoke pot with fines and incarceration?

    I get it, they’re just throwing this stuff out there. It doesn’t have to make sense. I can’t believe that it’s almost 2010 and we still tolerate this kind of state-sanctioned oppression by moral crusaders and modern-day temperance buttholes.

    It’s official: I live in the Twilight Zone.

  7. collapse expand

    did this guy get paid to write this? i’ve seen better journalism in a freshman writing class.

    • collapse expand

      I wonder if he gets paid by the number of hits and thus writes so as to attract those of us addicted to our own adrenal secretions. I think the term is “sensationalism.” Rush Limbaugh has it down pat. There are hundreds of imitators of various political stripes. Not that the stripes matter.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  8. collapse expand

    First of all, your article is confusing. Are you saying you don’t understand the call for cannabis legalization? Or that you don’t agree with it? Or that you’re against tobacco? Whatever the reason, it does a good job of showing how a great number of people are so confused by the issues at hand. How about some clarification:

    1. Cannabis has been used medicinally and recreationally by humans (documented) for well over 6,000 years.
    2. Not one single person has ever died as a direct result of cannabis use.
    3. Cannabis is not physically addictive and “psychological dependence” is only as great as the relief it provides a person of their ails – be they psychological or physical ones.
    4. Cannabis works beautifully for relaxation, relief of pain, nausea, stress, and a multitude of other things.
    5. Cannabis is the most natural and compatible drug for human use due to the human body’s own natural production of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
    6. Cannabis is milder than alcohol.
    7. Cannabis does not affect motor coordination.
    8. A cannabis high can easily be superceded by adrenaline, rendering the cannabis high gone when a person is in a high-adrenaline situation. The same is not true for alcohol.
    9. Cannabis does not cause hallucinations, even though your government would have you think otherwise. It simply does not.
    10. Cannabis does not make people nauseous and vomit, unlike tobacco.
    11. Cannabis DOES NOT cause cancer and in fact a number of studies have already shown that it has anti-cancerous effects.
    12. It can EASILY be argued that cheeseburgers are far more addictive than cannabis, and vastly more destructive to the human body and the health of the nation. Why are we not prohibiting cheeseburgers?

    And some facts about tobacco:
    1. Tobacco kills half-a-million people EACH YEAR.
    2. Tobacco is highly addictive.
    3. Tobacco causes many forms of cancer – mouth, throat, lung, and more.
    4. Tobacco typically causes people to become nauseous and vomit the first few times they use it.
    5. Tobacco companies add many toxic and addictive chemicals to their products, rendering them even more dangerous than the plant itself, which is already toxic to humans.

    And on a personal note, cannabis smells GOOD. Tobacco smells like ass. Just my opinion.

    But that’s not the crux of this issue. The problem with cannabis prohibition is a deep and vile rabbit hole of political corruption created originally by William Randolf Hurst, the DuPont corporation, and the US Government. All of whom stood to lose big money due to the hemp decordicator process and the hemp plant itself. Thus, hemp was made illegal so as to retain the DuPont and Hearst profit margins. Along with this, the smokable cannabis plant, prejudicely termed “marihuana” at the time, was made illegal solely for racist reasons because the US Government (white folks) did not care for the Mexican immigrants who brought the mellow cannabis with them.

    Once the government placed prohibition on the plant, they discovered that they could utilize the law to their advantage, and easily abuse their power against minorities through the use of this wrongful, and ultra-hypocritical law. This still goes on today, perhaps more than ever before, as the USA has the highest prison population in the world, and a majority of people incarcerated for cannabis possession are blacks, even though more whites use the stuff than blacks do.

    The fact of the matter is, prohibition needs to end and the law changed because what we have right now is profoundly hypocritical (allowing adults to use toxic alcohol and tobacco products and arresting those who choose a safer alternative, cannabis), and it is prejudice policy against minorities and people who don’t have proper haircuts.

    But most of all, it is a violation of human rights. No man has a right to dictate to another what he or she may put inside their body. As long as we are not hurting anyone else (and in the case of cannabis, not even hurting ourselves) then there is no reason to ruin the lives of otherwise law abiding citizens with unjust, unfair, prejudice and draconian laws.

    In a poll released last week, 53% of Americans now agree that cannabis needs to be legalized. Law enforcement should never be put in charge of people’s drug use “problems”, the cops create more problems than the drugs ever did. For people who have substance abuse problems, they need compassionate help, not jail terms.

    There are no valid arguments against cannabis. Period. Not one. Everything the government has told you about the plant is a lie and the truth is finally coming out. If this country is to recover from the past several decades of ruin that has been laid upon it by greedy, corporate-profit-driven politicians and policy, then the acceptance and legalization of cannabis is the place to start.

    WAKE UP AMERICA!

  9. collapse expand

    this article is sloppy.

    why are you comparing marijuana and tobacco? Is it because they both produce smoke?

    marijuana has therapeutic effects. don’t tell me it doesn’t, I’ve seen the benefit of marijuana personally while caring for a man with full blown AIDS in the late 90’s in San Francisco.

    tobacco in the form of cigarettes is a different story. Have you seen ‘The Insider’ perhaps? Have you done ANY research on this topic before you spewed forth a bunch of circuitous nonsense that tries to pass itself off as wit?

  10. collapse expand

    Your article is the schizophrenic subject here. You jump around all over the place, and I can’t see your point.
    Medical cannabis is NOT a con.
    Legalizing pot for adult use and imposing same restrictions and penalties as alcohol is a good idea whose time has come.

    Is that what you are saying ??

    Support Medical Cannabis Access

    In California: vote YES on Legalizing Marijuana at:
    http://www.yes390.org

    Support Leap.cc – Police Against Prohibition

    Support MPP.org – MJ Lobby in Wash, DC

  11. collapse expand

    “Chronic marijuana smoking can lead to a whole host of health problems, from memory loss to lung cancer”

    Well if you can show proof then you might be able to move up in the world!!! I am sure you would be the little darling of the Anti-Cannabis people.

    While it is true that some strains of cannabis can interfere with what you were just doing but, not all do.
    We need more freed to study this amazing plant
    ————————–

    So here is an example of some writer pandering to the last dying flames of cannabis hate in California.
    I read today that one town in California has banned anyone from growing medical cannabis at all. I guess this is more of the “Don’t ask Don’t Sell” paranoia that pervades. I think they are trying to stop the law by saying they are the law.

    While I have an heart felt sympathy for people who believe in the 70+ year old failed experiment with cannabis prohibition I point out that Cannabis may have helped us evolve. We date Cannabis fabrics back 5000 years OR MORE.

    So here we are.. Alcohol will destroy organs. Cannabis won’t. Alcohol creates violence. Cannabis doesn’t
    So in American culture we created prison terms to balance between Alcohol and Cannabis so that both can ruin your life.

    Now we are balking at taking away some of that prison time.

    Cannabis is liked because it is a stimulant rather than a depressant like alcohol.
    Cannabis can help one be creative where as Alcohol will make you slur.

    Lets talk about tobacco.. I have noticed that three out of 4 papers I have commented on about how the molecular bonds that form in nature are safer than the unnatural processed tobacco leaf molecular bonds, have refused to allow that comment. You see Tobacco undergoes a lot of chemical processing to get to your lungs and that is what makes it so deadly. Now The Tobacco itself is used to kill things like insects around the organic garden so it is not a big leap of faith to assume it could be harmful to humans IMO.
    The major thing about tobacco is the drug the cigarette is designed to deliver. Yes it’s called a delivery system by the industry. That Drug is Nicotine and Nicotine is the most addictive drug I am aware of from reading texts and watching videos.

    Alright so Cannabis smells like cannabis; yet, we accept air pollution and polluted water as normal. Makes me wonder if the legal products we have haven’t done us in already and that Cannabis might expose the damage once enough people quit tobacco and alcohol and enjoy a mild cannabis cake with tea.

    So Haters.. If you can’t attack gays and Cannabis what will you do?

    Remember it is a failed experiment that makes Cannabis a crime not God almighty.. We didn’t get kicked out of the Garden of Eden for weed my friends!

  12. collapse expand

    Schizophrenia is not a contradiction and the term should not be used to make a point when you aren’t even using it correctly.

    Schizophrenia is a complete break in reality. You are probably thinking of split personality, now known as dissociative identity disorder.

    In any case, I am asking people to please stop using a psychiatric diagnosis when you don’t like what someone has to say.

    This shows that you do not care about using correct information, but just blindly throw phrases out that you think will help you make a point.

  13. collapse expand

    tobacco is always listed as the leading killer in America(alcohol at 3rd), while marijuana is as always listed at a 0 count for deaths. problem would be what?

    http://drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/30

  14. collapse expand

    Also second-hand smoke kills more people then smoking marijuana, or even second-hand smoke smoke of marijuana.Like I said before marijuana kills no one. Keep your cigarette smoke away.

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    About Me

    I'm a writer based in Portland, Oregon. My work has appeared in the Weekly Standard, the American Spectator, the New York Press, The Big Money, sp!Ked online, the Epoch Times, the Daily NK, and others. From 2005 to 2007, I wrote a column on culture and politics for the (alas, now defunct) Seattle-based Internationalist Magazine. In so doing, I filed dispatches from Berlin, Seoul, Paris, New York, and, yes, Reno - among other places. In 2009, I reported on business from Shanghai. I attended Reed College, in Portland, Oregon.

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