Thursday, August 07, 2014

An interesting take on marijuana use

Marijuana decriminalisation: High times in Amsterdam and Boulder | The Economist

See, I don't just post negative stories about marijuana experiences.  Sometimes I link to stories by people who are happy casual users - and then point out why they are wrong.

Really, the interesting thing about the story in the Economist was the oft repeated point that Holland has less cannabis use than America, despite its long term legal availability in certain venues.  (And how the main users of the pot cafes are tourists, and how some people find these cafes are pretty unpleasant places to smoke.)  But, as I have noted over the years, the Dutch are an odd mix of relative conservatism with their liberalism - the best example other than drugs being the explicit and detailed sex education their kids get from a very young age at school, yet the teenagers wait longer before having sex and have way fewer pregnancies than their American or English counterparts.

People say this good outcome is because of the sex education; but really, how do you separate out its effect from the social milieu generally?  As I noted in a post a long time ago, it is said that government policy is not to be overly generous with welfare benefits to young single mothers, and people just accept that accidentally falling pregnant is a silly and embarrassing thing to do; so they do (largely) successfully avoid it.  And take marriage and family life pretty seriously.

The same with drugs legalisation - its hard to draw uniform lessons from one society to another, and the Dutch experience may well not translate well elsewhere.  If you legalised marijuana overnight in Japan, for example, I have my doubts that its use would soar immediately.  They are very, very happy with their drinking culture (too happy, probably), and public interest in other ways to get uninhibited (or off one's face) is (I think) very very low.

The thing is, I suspect (but could be wrong) that American culture is not one that is going to find legalisation results in less use, or that the population is primed to just settle into a natural rate of use similar to what has been in place for some decades.  If anything, the entrepreneurial streak that runs through the country will see that legalisation means increased usage, quite potentially to levels where it is clearly seen as a societal problem affecting the economy.

But we shall see...


John said...

The big problem for the USA is the growing numbers of people who feel alienated from the benefits of their society. That touches on my previous comment about the "gateway environment". Drug use and a sense of alienation go hand in hand, there is some fascinating neurobiology and endocrinology behind this and it raises serious questions about those who think marginalising certain groups of people is a good idea. Our current govt pretty much operates on the stupid premise that if people are alienated then alienate them more, somehow that will encourage them to enter into a society that has largely rejected them in the first place.

Holland and many European countries have a much more inclusive sense of society. The USA and increasingly in Australia with the current fascist bully boys in power, promotes the ostracizing of the weak and alienated. Such a strategy is a recipe for increased drug use and crime.

So we shall see but my suspicion is that this will become a problem in the USA because it is replete with gateway environments that promote drug use.

Steve said...

Sounds like a reasonable take on it, John.

nottrampis said...

if you dobbed some one in would that be grassing them?