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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Blog Readers Favor Legal Medical Marijuana 55%-45%

The latest Madville Times poll on Initiated Measure 13 drew a lot of eager readers' attention. I asked, "Do you support IM13, legalizing medical marijuana in South Dakota?" 200 of you voted (thank you!) and broke slightly in favor:

110 (55%)
90 (45%)
Votes: 200

The somewhat close result indicates either that readers of this humble blog aren't so ravingly liberal as you might think or that the issue of legalizing marijuana, even for medical purposes, doesn't break neatly along stereotypical liberal/conservative lines. Remember that one of the biggest advocates for IM 13, Bob Newland, is a red-in-tooth-and-claw libertarian who thinks the best government is just slightly more restrictive than the state of nature... and only during business hours.

I do sympathize with Mr. Newland on the issue of medical marijuana. I also enjoy the hay that can be made holding purported conservatives' feet to their own rhetorical fire: if you're all for government leaving us alone, and if you're incensed at the thought of government coming between you and your doctor, how can you not vote for IM13? You legalize medical marijuana, and you transfer power from government to doctors and patients. Those docs who dig dope can prescribe accordingly. Those docs who haven't come to that studied medical opinion can still direct their patients toward industrial pharmaceuticals and other non-herbal treatments. Why would any conservative want to see Congress, the Legislature, and the local sheriff making that decision instead of patients and their doctors?

By the way, I check stats from the government's Drug Abuse Warning Network and learn that nationwide in 2008, marijuana was responsible for 133,201 trips to the emergency room. Alcohol was responsible for 656,661 ER visits.

For deaths, I review this hefty DAWN report and count 1046 reported deaths linked to marijuana. The reporting metro areas include about 38% of the population, and DAWN notes some jurisdictions don't report marijuana as a specific cause of death. So multiply by 6: suppose there were really over 6000 marijuana-related deaths in 2008. The CDC reports that in 2007, alcohol was connected to 23,199 deaths.

And we don't even make you get a doctor's note to buy alcohol.


  1. The opponents of IM13 are great at fear-mongering. They say this bill is a trojan horse for legalized marijuana. They claim kids will steal their old man's stash and light up.

    Did you know cocaine is used for medicinal purposes and almost all RX's in South Dakota carry it? Do you see civilation on the verge of collapse because of it?

    It's time to use common sense and pass this measure.

  2. There are multiple prescription drugs that are essentially synthetic canniboids that are used to treat nausea. The rub is that they cost close to a thousand dollars for a months supply and aren't covered by medicare.

    Ten bucks for a little weed to mix into meals gives exactly the same effect. The only difference is one was made in a lab.

    If you've ever had a relative go through cancer treatment and not be able to afford the anti-nausea meds you know that this measure needs to be passed. Voting against it is simply cruel.

  3. Cory,

    You really havea view of conservatives and free-market advocates that is ludicrous.

    Regardless of the merits of this initiative, there is nothing inconsistent with being for the free market or libertarian and not supporting certain roles for the government, like regulating pharmaceuticals for efficacy and safety.

    We are not anarchists. And the sooner you figure that out, your threads will make more sense and be based on at least some reality.

  4. Troy, I will grant that you are a thoughtful conservative capable of dealing with complex questions. But I'm working from the rhetoric I hear from the leading Tea-style shouters of supposed conservative values. They hit the "government is bad!" meme hard and never balance it with, "here are the things government can and should do." If the leading Republicans would lead that "proper roles of government" discussion, I'd be thrilled. But they too foten sound like Grover Norquist, not Adam Smith, much to the detriment of public discourse and faith in our common cause in doing good things through our cooperative effort in our government.

  5. LOL. We are reacting to an agenda to take control of 15% of our economy, deficit spending of 7% of our entire GDP, and you extrapolate it as saying all government is bad. Puhleeze!

    Speaking of rationale debate. During the Stimulus debate, the GOP said the economy needed immediate "stimulus" which could be accomplished by tax cuts. Tax cuts would immediately drop the cost of profitable companies (i.e. successful ones) who are best capable of immediately adding jobs.

    But, Obama and the Democrats said we needed to put the money into "shovel-ready projects." Finally, the President admitted something we knew all along.

    In this Sunday's NYT Magazine entitled "Education of a President", Obama reflects on what he "called the “tactical lessons” of his first two years: He let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend Democrat,” realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” and perhaps should have “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” in the stimulus."

    No bleep Sherlock. Obama just admitted again what we said all along: This guy is not ready for prime time.

    Sometimes it is just plain hard to argue when stupid is across the table.

    But, the consequence of going Obama's route: Millions of families are suffering, children are suffering, and the financial health of people and our nation has been harmed.

    But, what the heck. You accomplished your ideological agenda of the rich not getting richer no matter the effect on poor families and their children. It served a "higher" purpose.

  6. Troy-

    I fundamentally disagree with your assertion that tax cuts would have increased hiring by businesses. The reason that our economy came to a grinding halt is that the middle class has been entirely tapped out. They simply don't have cash and are largely in debt.

    Tax breaks would only be used to service their existing debt. If the money was put into the economy via tax breaks it most likely would not have been spent on consumption.

    The concept with shovel ready projects is that they would directly drive consumption. Consumption drives new business creation. Tax breaks most likely would not provide that today.

  7. Tony,

    See my comments above. Obama disagrees with you.

    There is no such thing as "shovel ready projects" and he wishes he'd have allowed tax cuts into the stimulus.

  8. Troy, I don't know where you copy and pasted that quotation from, but here is it unedited from the magazine article:

    "He realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” when it comes to public works. Perhaps he should not have proposed tax breaks as part of his stimulus and instead “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” so it could be seen as a bipartisan compromise."

    He is saying that if he wanted to get tax breaks through, it would have appeared better politically to let the republicans thunder on about lowering taxes and then agree to it to make the whole thing bipartisan.

    But, my point holds. If you simply throw money at people, they're going to pay their debts. Not consume. What we needed was consumption and mandated consumption via public works accomplishes that end. Tax breaks do not.


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