Reefer Madness At The FDA

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6 Responses

  1. John Armstrong says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the largest ideological divide in this country is one of epistemology — between the experimentalists and the gnostics. The experimentalists believe that observed events reflect reality and construct their realities from observations, while the gnostics construct their realities from fundamental points of faith and disregard or discredit observations which disagree with those points.

    As an example, the 2004 poll showing that Kerry supporters were generally accurate about Kerry’s positions while Bush supporters were generally inaccurate about his. Some try to spin this as an indictment of Bush voters’ attention, but what I think it clearly shows is that they have started with the point “Bush (or Republican) is good”, added their intuition that “labor and environmental standards in trade agreements are good” (or the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the International Criminal Court, the treaty banning land mines, or the Kyoto Treaty on global warming; or…) and concluded that Bush was also in favor of those points, despite what observations and explicit statements show.

    In this case, the gnostics in the FDA have already taken as given that marijuana is categorically bad, and so that is the Truth to them, despite what experimental observations may or may not show. You’re trying to argue as an experimentalist that these studies have any weight at all to compare with the fundamental point of faith. You’re not going to convince anyone to change their ways, because the whole notion of epistemology underlying your well-reasoned post is flawed in their estimation.

  2. Liz L says:

    Professor Filler- I am glad you are addressing this issue; I wanted to discuss marijuana in the context of Profsesor Anderson’s “Drunk at Duke” posting. I would argue that marijuana is the most benign of any illegal drug, safer even (both health wise and external risk wise) than alcohol. As you point out, this Administration continuously twists data unfavorable to its Mission, thus clouding the debate on issues such as the legalization of pot. Aside from the theraputic benefits to marijuana, there are economic reasons for legalization. First, tax revenue from its legalized sale would be staggering. Second, the costs of prosecution and incarceration of pot smokers would drop. Check out “Reefer Madness” by Eric Scholosser. It’s all in there.

  3. Liz L says:

    That’s Eric Schlosser. I apologize.

  4. Alex Geisinger says:


    Thanks for posting on this issue. I take the earlier point on experimentalism versus gnosticism but wonder whether the timing suggests something else.

    As we gear up for another election cycle, faith-based groups are starting again to bang the drum on homosexual unions (see the April 24th edition of the New York Times reporting on 50 religious leaders signing a petition for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages) and I expect legalization of marijuana may be the latest entry in the “culture” wars. Currently about 11 states allow medical use of marijuana, including California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Some midwestern states (Illinois and Wisconsin) are reported to be considering laws allowing the medical use of marijuana as well. While this type of issue doesn’t necessarily resonate with social conservatives in the way that Christian issues may, it nevertheless may impact the views of many conservatives and, perhaps, even some soccer moms. In a year of potentially-close elections, mary jane may be just what the doctor ordered (for republicans, at least)!!!

  5. “Why can’t the administration concede the existence of this data review by another federal agency?’

    well, actually that wasn’t another federal agency that did the review – yes, the study was done at the behest of the ONDCP but it was the Institute of Medicine which did the study. IOM is part of the National Academy of Sciences which isn’t a federal agency.

    That said, I agree that the federal government should allow the states to set their own policy on this issue…as well as on most matters. That’s the problem with an overarching federal government – social conservatives can co-opt it to put forth their own agenda….insert ‘petard’ comment here…

  6. gloster says:

    It is well known in the drug policy field that eleven states reduced the criminal sanctions associated with possession of small amounts of marijuana.


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