What is the logic behind being ok with alcohol and tobacco and not with marijuana?

Some statistics for causes of death in the year 2000

Tobacco- 435,000 Deaths
Alcohol- 85,000 Deaths
Incidents Involving Firearms- 29,000
Marijuana- 0 Deaths

Now many conservative I have known were of the belief that the first 3 on that list were god given rights, while the last was nothing less than social devinancy. What I want is an explanation of the flow of logic in those beliefs. I was considering putting this in GQ since what I really want is an explanation of a view and not actual debate on the issue, but I opted for GD instead because of where this may lead.

I am not classifying this view as a collective conservative view, but in my experience with the conservatives I know this is the case. Once again I don’t really want debate but rather the logic behind being a proponet of Tobacco, Alcohol, and Firearm legality and mot Marijuana.

Marijuana is not completely harmless, so the “0 deaths” figure is probably too low. (It is rougher on the throat than tobacco is.)

However, I agree. There is also the irony of conservatives wanting the government out of their lives, but wanting the government to put those damned drug fiends behind bars for long prison terms.

I do not see this as conservative vs liberal (except as it has been shaped by the politics of the Right over the last few years). Initially it was simply that marijuana was used by “other” people (with dark skins) and the mythology surrounding it got into the political mainstream.

I do not believe that any current conservative who opposes decriminalizing marijuana does so for racist reasons. (And there are many conservatives who do support decriminalization.) However, between its “traditional” negative connotations and the fact that it was embraced by the counterculture (Left) in the 1960s, it now tends to be seen as a conservative position, regardless (not because) of its early racist origins.

Not everyone is “okay” with alcohol and cigarettes. Our own government essentially outlawed alcohol for several years, until it turned out to be counterproductive and unworkable. Maybe we are right now in the process of discovering that a marijuana ban is also counterproductive and unworkable. Tobacco, on the other hand, seems to be getting more stigmatized all the time, not less. That could mean that bans could come back in style. It’s not just a cut-and-dried example of conservative hypocrisy as you seem to suggest.

Part of the difference is that alcohol and tobacco are already legal…enough people use them, they’re a large enough industry, that outlawing them now would have some pretty big economic and social consequences. Marijuana, on the other hand is illegal now. If tobacco or alcohol were just “discovered” today, they’d probably be made illegal too, but it’s just a general rule, I think, that it’s a lot easier to maintain the status quo than to change it.

Maybe we need to frame this so that they can jump on board:

“Yeah, but if we created a marijuana industry… just think of all the undocument… err… low-wage workers we could employ.”

Except… that’s true today. But there’s the old joke, how back in the '20-s the cops would bust a party with alcohol, then when they got off duty they’d go out and relax with a joint or two. And now, their grandchildren may bust a party with marijuana, then go off duty and head for the pub for a beer…

I’ve always heard it as a U.L., but I still sometimes wonder if there is any truth to the story that the textile industry – or was it the cotton growers? – worked to outlaw marijuana as a left-handed maneouvre to stop **hemp **from becoming a competitive fabric.

You can grow Weed in your backyard. You cant tax it you cant control selling it.

I can set up a still in my back yard too. And, considering that I live in Northern Virginia, I can probably grow tobacco in my back yard. So, I don’t know that that’s a good distinction.

You can grow tobacco in your back yard (if you have the right climate) and you can create alcholic beverages in your own house. We regulate some of those and not others, but we do not tax that which is not sold, yet marijuana remains illegal despite the tax issue.

I have heard the “cotton growers” story, but I suspect that it is not true. If hemp was that much of a threat to cotton, the growers would have siimply switched to hemp in the nineteenth century. (It is not as though hemp was a “Northern only” crop that the South could not have exploited.) Hemp was already in serious decline even for naval stores with the introduction of jute and sisal, long before marijuana was outlawed.

My friend offers that maybe some don’t see it in terms of deaths caused, but rather see marijuana as a “mind expanding” drug and that in itself is what makes them adverse to it. Even if alcohol is “mind expanding”, becuase of the status quo most people don’t really view it like that. Could it be that some people are just scared of…perceiving different things?

I think this is the real reason right here, along with the fact that alcohol and tobacco use are thoroughly woven into our culture. They’re mainstream, whereas marijuana use is something that is (rightly or wrongly) seen as something that’s only done by the fringe elements of society: the hippies, the burnouts, the artsy countercultural types, etc.

A good point - especially since hemp is rather easy to grow (or so I am told.)

There is a notable difference between levels of support, though.

In the Nov 2004 ballot in Alaska to legalize pot, Dems said Yes 56 to 44; Reps 26 to 74.

Can you provide a cite for those figures?

Considering that people die from all kinds of things – I’ve seen an incident report where a construction worker fell onot a lunch box and it stopped his heart somehow – we can state with mathematical certainty that “Marijuana- 0 Deaths” is false. Subjectively, I think it’s more than false – I think it’s a deliberate lie.


It’s disingenuous in that the figure is derived from the lack of documented overdoses. Any excess mortality due to chronic use is not accounted for. As for the lack of acute-use fatalities, I refer you to pages 56-57 (Findings of Fact) in The 1988 court case ruling involving marijuana rescheduling.

The CDC has characterized a few deaths as cannabis-induced and related. Do read the investigation of the induced deaths.

Is it anything more than an accident of history? Alcohol has a long history in western culture. Pot doesn’t. IOW, pretty much what Thudlow Boink said.

The only other thing I can think of is that alcohol is more of a social drug. It doesn’t cause the introspection and paranoia that pot can sometimes cause. Booze is a good drug for people who want to kick back and shoot the shit after a hard week at work.

Here’s an article where Cecil touches on the subject.

No, not a deliberate lie. The statistics I’ve read come from marijuana causing ‘natural’ deaths. One can say that not all deaths attributed to alcohol are for merely consuming it, and yes, one can probably find an example where a stoned person drove off a cliff. But did the pot kill them, or did the crash kill them? So I read that stat of zero deaths as being accurate in that pot in and of itself will not kill you.

How could marijuana usage cause death? Tobacco is tied directly to various cancers and other diseases (heart, etc). This is a product of the smoke itself and nicotine and/or tars. Just using tobacco can kill you (not will, but can).

Alcoholism is a disease and can kill you in a couple of ways. Rotting your liver to making stoopid Darwin award choices, for example.

And guns? Well, that should probably not be compared to any of them.

With pot, while smoking is the preferred method, it is not the only method of use. One can ingest it. One can also vaporize the THC without igniting the leafy material. Plus, even if it is smoked, the amount one smokes is a small percentage of a normal cigarette habit. Strong pot the size of a pea will get one high - one inhalation can do the trick, and when compared to how many times a cigarette smoker inhales it is ridiculously small. This is why I think the arguments focusing on the strength of pot these days fall flat. Stronger pot is a good thing - it takes less to work.

Basically the argument is valid that marijuana in and of itself won’t kill you. One cannot overdose on pot. Eating pot brownies will not give you cancer. It will not stop your heart (although it can increase your heart rate, which could be bad with other conditions). So while it is not safe, it is safer.


“[R]ougher on the throat” assumes it is being burned and inhaled. More and more people are ingesting tinctures and oil made from cannabis. I’ve been told.