“The federal government’s decadeslong war on marijuana, one of the most life-mangling policies ever enacted, could be ended with a single sentence: The Controlled Substances Act shall not apply to marijuana.
Put it in a bill, vote on the bill, pass the bill, sign the bill, done. Much of the federal government’s drug war law enforcement machinery would grind to a halt. No legislative horse-trading, no Christmas tree–style gifts to favored constituencies, no giving old bureaucracies new responsibilities. Just the simple and urgent removal of the legal justification for grievous government harm.
This elegant approach, redolent of the 21st Amendment’s repeal of federal alcohol prohibition, is untenable to big-government lifers like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.), as Jacob Sullum has repeatedly detailed in these pages. But it’s the shortest line to a point where a supermajority of Americans want policy to be. And it’s a template that could and should be used, at every level of government, by every flavor of politician.”
“Supporters of the ban on menthol cigarettes that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed today say it is “a racial justice issue.” They are right about that, but not in the way they mean.
What they mean is that 85 percent of black smokers prefer menthol cigarettes, compared to 30 percent of white smokers. “The number one killer of black folks is tobacco-related diseases,” Phillip Gardiner, a tobacco researcher and activist, told Slate’s Julia Craven after the FDA announced plans for the ban last year. “The main vector of that is menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.”
The FDA’s proposed rule would ban both, which the agency says will “address health disparities experienced by communities of color.” Action on Smoking and Health welcomed the FDA’s ban, calling it “a major step forward in Saving Black Lives” and averring that “menthol advertising violates the right to health of Black Americans.”
Although menthol and nonmenthol cigarettes pose similar hazards, the FDA says menthol makes smoking more appealing and harder to quit. As Guy Bentley, director of consumer freedom at Reason Foundation (which publishes this website), noted this week, the evidence on the latter point is mixed. But even if it were clear that menthol smokers are less likely to quit, that would not necessarily mean menthol cigarettes are inherently more “addictive.” That debate tends to obscure the tastes, preferences, personal characteristics, and circumstances that are crucial to understanding why some people never smoke, some start but eventually quit, and others continue smoking.
As the menthol ban’s proponents see it, even the choice to start smoking is not really a choice, because consumers—in this case, black consumers in particular—are no match for Big Tobacco’s persuasive wiles. Gardiner cites the industry’s history of “predatory marketing,” while the anti-smoking Truth Initiative condemns “relentless profiling of Black Americans and vulnerable populations” by brands like Kool, Salem, and Newport.
That’s one way of looking at it. Here is another: The federal government is targeting the kind of cigarettes that black smokers overwhelmingly prefer, precisely because black smokers overwhelmingly prefer them. The FDA also worries that menthol cigarettes appeal to teenagers, another “vulnerable population.” Public health officials are thus treating African Americans like children in the sense that they don’t trust either to make their own decisions.
“The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit,” says Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra. “Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities.” The FDA notes “particularly high rates of use by youth, young adults, and African American and other racial and ethnic groups.”
The federal government is implicitly denying the moral agency of black people, suggesting that they, like adolescents, are helpless to resist the allure of “predatory marketing” or the appeal of menthol’s minty coolness. In the FDA’s view, persuasion is not enough to break Big Tobacco’s spell; force is required.”
I used to support legalizing all drugs. Then the opioid epidemic happened. German Lopez. 2017 9 12. Vox. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/4/20/15328384/opioid-epidemic-drug-legalization Dopesick Reinforces These Pernicious Misconceptions About Opioids, Addiction, and Pain Treatment Jacob Sullum. 2021 11 17. Reason. Two Courts Debunk Widely Accepted Opioid
Substance Use and Intimate Partner Violence: A Meta-Analytic Review 2016. Bryan M. Cafferky, Marcos Mendez, Jared R. Anderson, and Sandra M. Stith. Psychology of Violence. https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/59511278/Cafferky_201820190604-60960-qtu1qv-with-cover-page-v2.pdf?Expires=1643220750&Signature=JmFWS~QkCg86Icul9oqw-3Sz9j5uO~LzKP~HsVRSKQtNbZcNthwDy3nCgpG9yKXqPN2J2hs4tBs5pXVaD7cqLr9OXk9MDuEs37O1A0-c1-ZxX7EWjD16pZdSF3uKci5vDn4Geu2DhSduZ-Jqd~qkfmjK~NJybrESL7vvuiyszzVMhd~XjwQUQKw-PDdYiOY8qMD4oA~ecbZKCSVF~Rmxm5aFaYmnHAtWJb6Xc221n2SG5db3vXeECkCW3Ym09t7YAkY2b-Sg~sjKhHe3vGbUVcPkSj3aMKjsjBuA~mGK6xynPEQkGlmRJ0Htg22yJsh02QBtbqf51KqlGMKsk0L4uA__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJLOHF5GGSLRBV4ZA ALCOHOL USE IN FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Ashlee Curtis et al. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/am-pdf/10.1111/dar.12925 The Role of Illicit
“When Carlos got pinched by the fuzz, he was holding some hot commodities.
Flaming hot, in fact.
No, that’s not slang. The illegal behavior that landed Carlos (not his real name), a ninth-grade student at a high school in the southern suburbs of Chicago, in the deans’ office on a mid-September morning in 2019 was the illicit sale of chips to one of his fellow students. For the crime, he was summarily sentenced to a one-day suspension from school—and his mother was called to pick him up.
As Karlyn Gorski, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Chicago, relates in a paper recently published in the journal Youth & Society, Carlos is just one small part of a robust black market for snack foods that persists at Hamilton High (not the school’s real name) despite the best efforts by school administrators, security guards, and teachers to stamp it out. The punishment handed out to Carlos for his busted chip-deal was actually a light sentence, Gorski explains, with administrators granting leniency on the grounds that Carlos was a freshman and might not yet understand the school’s zero-tolerance policy for unapproved exercises of snack-related capitalism. Repeat offenders, she writes, faced in-school suspensions—the high school equivalent of solitary confinement.
Gorski spent 112 days observing students and adults at Hamilton during the 2019–2020 school year, though her research was cut short by the school’s closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While there, she observed a widespread black market for snack sales. The perpetrators were mere children, but they organized “elaborate strategies to hide sales, build networks of sellers, and develop a verbal shorthand around the market.”
By outlawing the sale of snacks, the school ensured that only outlaws would sell snacks.
Enforcement of the snack-selling ban was robust, with security guards even relying on the use of mounted cameras to identify perpetrators so they could be hauled out of class and reprimanded.”
“Punishing a student for a victimless crime was apparently more important than whatever he might have learned in class that day.”
“treating innocuous behavior as criminal forces students to behave more like criminals in order to continue engaging in the market. Those patterns are the opposite of what schools should be teaching.”
“Both the MORE Act and the legalization bill that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) plans to introduce this spring include unnecessarily contentious provisions that are bound to alienate Republicans who might otherwise be inclined to resolve the untenable conflict between federal prohibition and the laws that allow medical or recreational use of cannabis in 37 states.
According to the latest Gallup poll, 68 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legal, including 83 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of Republicans. Even Republicans who are not crazy about the idea should be able to get behind legislation that would let states set their own marijuana policies without federal interference.
Such legislation can be straightforward. The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017, sponsored by then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R–Calif.), consisted of a single sentence that said the federal marijuana ban would not apply to conduct authorized by state law. Its 46 cosponsors included 14 Republicans—11 more than voted for the MORE Act last week.
The Common Sense Cannabis Reform Act, which Rep. Dave Joyce (R–Ohio) introduced last May, is 14 pages long. So far it has just eight cosponsors, including four Republicans, but that still means it has more GOP support than Democrats managed to attract for the 92-page MORE Act, which includes new taxes, regulations, and spending programs.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.) thinks Congress never should have banned marijuana, because it had no constitutional authority to do so. He nevertheless voted against the MORE Act, objecting to the “new marijuana crimes” its tax and regulatory provisions would create, with each violation punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The 163-page preliminary version of Schumer’s bill doubles down on the MORE Act’s overly prescriptive and burdensome approach. It would levy a 25 percent federal excise tax on top of frequently hefty state and local taxes, impose picayune federal regulations, and create the sort of “social equity” programs that gave pause even to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.), the MORE Act’s lone Republican cosponsor.
GOP support for marijuana federalism is clear from the fact that 106 Republicans voted last April for the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would protect financial institutions that serve state-licensed marijuana businesses from federal prosecution, forfeiture, and regulatory penalties. The SAFE Banking Act would already be law if it had not been blocked by Schumer, who insisted that his own bill take priority.
Instead of building on the Republican appetite for letting states go their own way on this issue, Schumer is effectively telling GOP senators their views don’t matter. That makes sense only if he is more interested in scoring political points than in reversing a morally, scientifically, and constitutionally bankrupt policy that should have been abandoned long ago.”