You can’t fool all of the people all of the time — tobacco, alcohol and pot edition

21th April 2016 - Washington, D.C. - U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez participates in a press conference with congressional leaders to discuss the importance of raising the federal minimum wage and urging Congress to pass the Murray-Scott Raise the Wage legislation. Congressman Steny Hoyer ***Official Department of Labor Photograph*** Photographs taken by the federal government are generally part of the public domain and may be used, copied and distributed without permission. Unless otherwise noted, photos posted here may be used without the prior permission of the U.S. Department of Labor. Such materials, however, may not be used in a manner that imply any official affiliation with or endorsement of your company, website or publication. Photo Credit: Department of Labor Shawn T Moore
Department of Labor/Shawn T Moore/Wikmedia Commons

Prohibitionists have spent more than 80 years trying to convince the American people that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol and tobacco. At first it worked, but not anymore, according to a new survey.

The survey, the product of a collaboration between Politico and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that Americans are three times more likely to consider tobacco “very harmful” than marijuana. Tobacco cigarettes were considered “very harmful” by 81% of those surveyed, compared with 26% of those who considered pot “very harmful.”

Marijuana doesn’t get a completely clean bill of health, however; 27% of those surveyed said they thought it was “somewhat harmful” and 26% said it was “not too harmful.”

But 18% of those surveyed said pot was “not at all harmful.” Only 1% said the same of tobacco. Unlike many surveys, there was little or no difference in the responses from Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Of those answering “very harmful” to both the tobacco and marijuana questions, there was only a one percentage point difference among the three groups.

The survey also asked people how harmful they considered alcohol to be: 51% said they considered it “very harmful,” with Republicans (at 46%) only a bit less likely to say so.

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While you can’t fool all of the people all of the time about pot, it turns out you can fool Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), who says he believes marijuana is a gateway drug to hard drug use.

Hoyer is House Majority Leader, a position that makes him the second highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives.

In a letter to a constituent who evidently asked Hoyer for his views on marijuana legalization, the Congressman said that while he supports the legalization of medical marijuana and the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana generally, he still had “concerns” about full legalization “after speaking to people who deal with drug abuse and rehabilitation and particularly after learning of the drug’s harmful consequences as a threshold drug that leads to the use of harder, very harmful drugs.”

The constituent Hoyer wrote to shared the letter with the Marijuana Moment website.

The “gateway theory,” that marijuana use is a gateway to hard drug use, has been widely debunked, although some marijuana neo-prohibitionists have been trying to revive it lately. Evidently Hoyer has been drinking some of their Kool-Aid.

Rober Capecchi, the constituent who made Hoyer’s letter public, told Marijuana Moment that while he voted for Hoyer in the past, “it’s incredibly disappointing to see opposition to cannabis policy reform — beyond accommodating medical cannabis laws — based on the debunked ‘gateway theory,’ especially from one of the most senior members of Democratic Leadership.”

Happily, Hoyer is going to have some ’splainin’ to do about his retro views on pot, because he has a primary challenger this cycle. After Marijuana Moment publicized the contents of Hoyer’s letter, Mckayla Wilkes immediately made them a campaign issue, tweeting that in the year 2019 Hoyer “continues to push the myth that marijuana should remain illegal because it is a ‘gateway drug.’”

“We must: Legalize it. Expunge the records. Invest in communities that the War on Drugs has destroyed,” she tweeted.

The truth is marijuana use is not a “gateway” to hard drug use. However, marijuana use can be a gateway to illegal drug use, if marijuana is illegal. The obvious way to close the gate is to make marijuana legal.

And an obvious way to bring marijuana prohibition to a swift end is for knuckle-draggers like Hoyer to have their sorry butts kicked out of Congress due to their pot views. It arguably happened last year when Representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas), no relation to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was sacked by civil rights lawyer and former NFL linebacker Collin Allred, who made marijuana reform a major issue in his campaign. Sessions had used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to systematically prevent marijuana reform bills from reaching the House floor. If Hoyer could be sent the way of Sessions, chances are even the most obdurate pot prohibitionists would start to evolve.  

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