Alcohol is Not a Rationale For Legalized Pot
Whenever I write about the pitfalls of legalized weed I can always expect the following response from Ron Paul followers, potheads, and Conservatives who purport to lean Libertarian: “Well, why is alcohol legal and pot isn’t? Alcohol gets you high and trillions of people die each year in drunk driving crashes!”
The answer is pretty simple, but it’s also logical, so if you vote with your emotions you might want to step out of the room so your head doesn’t explode. Let’s take a stroll back in time…
The first bender probably took place beneath a fruit tree where early man overindulged on some rotting fruit, and felt happy. Early man’s early wife tried it too and found that it made her forget, for a time, about the insects living in her hair. Peach Schnapps was discovered.
Jump ahead to 5,000 B.C. and Pyramid Pale Ale. The Mesopotamians and Egyptians became more sophisticated in their quest for the best brew and they began to distill alcoholic drinks from grain and other starchy foods.
The Dark Ages were also the Beer Ages. Life in the open sewers of Europe made it a little dangerous to drink from common water sources. Beer, having been distilled and containing anti-bacterial ethanol, was the preferred beverage. It didn’t enhance your functioning, but it didn’t kill you either.
Alcohol has been around since humans first developed the concept of cause and effect. I consume this or that, it makes me feel happy, I want more, can you drive me to the liquor store? Humans have had tens of thousands of years to learn how to cope with alcohol.
The essential consideration that disqualifies cannabis as the moral equivalent of alcohol is human tradition, especially Western tradition. Alcohol is found everywhere and virtually every culture has a set of traditions which dictate its use. Even the Mormon Church, which prohibits the drinking of alcohol, finds value in its use as a cleansing agent and disinfectant. The green energy movement will even turn feed corn into booze and put it into your car. Because alcohol, with its myriad uses, is so a deeply ingrained in Western culture, the culture itself has a developed a framework that entrusts personal regulation to manage its deleterious effects.
This form of regulation arrives through religions, civil laws, and the traditions of families. The most important mechanism the civil society has to regulate the use of alcohol is family tradition. This has been proven in a variety of studies, but it also makes sense. Adult patterns of alcohol use usually emerge from the teachings and behaviors to which they were exposed in their home of origin. If the family was poorly regulated and alcohol abuse was present, the adult drinker will reflect those early impressions. If alcohol was present but the family enforced strict limits and protocols pertaining to its use, that too will be reflected in an adult drinker whose alcohol consumption has specific limits. If alcohol was prohibited by the family because of faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for example, or because of a simple desire to annul its negative effects, the adult is likely to reflect those same values and behaviors relative to booze.
I use the “adult” as the example of the logical outcome here because oftentimes teenagers and young adults will stray from the patterns and rules of alcohol use set forth by their families. It is a statistical fact that more often than not, the mature adult will return to the standards with which he was raised. Families, not government, are the best regulator of alcohol consumption. The West has family traditions which deal with booze at the most personal levels. Regardless of how government attempts to legislate alcohol, this substance is so well-rooted in society that its best regulatory agents are the actions and teachings of parents.
American society has no such mechanism for the regulation of pot and other drugs. Whereas alcohol has been with mankind for thousands of years, drugs have either destroyed the populations who used them, or they are so new to Western culture that there exist no traditions that deal with their use and effects within the structure of the family.
There are tribes scattered throughout the world, from the Amazon to Southern Africa, that use drugs for healing or religious rituals. They often employ ancient traditions that regulate the use of the drugs for specific uses in rituals and social exchanges. However, looking at these egalitarian cultures one has to wonder, “Would they be building hospitals and sports stadiums instead of scratching their subsistence out of the earth and living in mud huts if they weren’t burdened by superstitions and the hallucinogenic rituals that adorn them?”
Pot and alcohol are not the same. Not only does Western culture lack a mechanism of family tradition to regulate the personal use of pot, the drug culture is largely repugnant to mainstream society, as it should be. Across the Atlantic, permissive European drug laws have done more to harm culture and erode national identity on that continent than the centuries of alcohol consumption that came before.
Pot, cocaine, meth, heroin, LSD, and all their ugly counterparts would have to be successfully accepted and interwoven into Western society for decades in order for us to develop the kinds of traditions that regulate the personal consumption of alcohol. Do we really want these things to be accepted and perpetuated for decades and centuries by our culture? Do we want to heap rampant underage and excessive drug use and addiction on top of the already serious problems of underage and excessive alcohol consumption and addiction? Such a phenomenon would increase drug use, abuse, related crimes, and since Americans are reluctant to allow people to languish in the gutters of their broken lives, it would also increase the size of government.
From the perspective of a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, none of these substances is beneficial for man except when used medicinally. From the standpoint of Western tradition, alcohol is a familiar substance with social rules for its use already implicit in cultural norms. From the standpoint of a realist, family traditions where parents model for their children how to properly smoke pot, snort coke, shoot meth, or pop Ecstasy, sounds like nothing less than a living nightmare.