Marijuana Is Like Wine–Except For Difference
There’s no punchline here. It’s a legitimate question being asked by folks in Oregon who will go to thee polls in November and vote for whether to allow marijuana to be sold and regulated like wine. In fact, the voter initiative, Measure 80, has the official tag-line of “Regulate Cannabis Like Liquor”.
Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, a supporter of Measure 80, answers the question this way:
“Liquor has no medical benefit, but we allow it through a state-regulated monopoly,” Bradbury says. “There are a number of people who like to smoke pot, and they enjoy it, just like people who enjoy liquor. I don’t see the difference.”
If Secretary Bradbury doesn’t see the difference, it’s entirely possible that he’s gotten a head start on his enjoyment of dope.
I’m no prude. I’m no marijuana prohibitionist. And I care little about what people drink or smoke. Have at it. But the difference between smoking smoking marijuana and having a glass of wine or drink of bourbon is pretty wide because of one significant fact.
Nobody lights up a joint or sparks up a bowl of marijuana with the purpose of enjoying its taste or the way it enhances food the way so many folks enjoy alcohol. Rather, there is one reason and one reason alone that marijuana is consumed: To get high.
People also use alcohol to get high. That’s clear. But the fact that you can use alcohol without the goal of getting high is all Secretary Bradbury need to know about the difference between alcohol and Marijuana. To suggest anything different is either a nod to ignorance or deception.
The trend to push for reform of marijuana laws by using the good name of wine and alcohol is a strong one (as well as a politically and rhetorically smart one). We see the trend in Washington State and Colorado as well as Oregon. All three states have initiatives on the ballot that legalize marijuana use and sales and they are all promoted by making direct comparisons to alcohol use and regulation.
In all three states the case is being made that smoking dope is safer than drinking. Maybe it is. I don’t know. But I do know this: Consumption of alcohol can be accomplished without getting high and it is done without the intent of getting high. On the other hand, I’ve never met anyone who smoked or consumed marijuana without the intent of getting high. And this, in my mind, is the downside of the linkage between marijuana and alcohol. It delivers the message that we drink wine, beer or bourbon merely in order to get high.
Interestingly, the Oregon initiative is currently behind in the polls far enough that it appears that it will lose. However, the initiatives in Colorado and Washington State to regulate marijuana like alcohol are both ahead and possess more than 50% support in recent polls.