Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Marijuana: How to convince someone on legalization

For the past month, I have been reading what ordinary people say about why marijuana should be legalized (i.e., the comments at the bottom of Digg articles on marijuana legalization). Some of these comments are interesting and have changed my perspective, but others have terrible logic.

If you favor legalization for a good reason, why should you care if others use bad logic to also favor legalization? Simple. Their support makes your arguments seem less valid. This is not fair because you probably have some good points. But, this is the cost of a bad argument.

As I dislike bad logic, I was elated to find the following exchange in the comments on a popular marijuana article from Digg:

Stop throwing innocent people in jail because they have a plant on them. Most people that don't smoke don't realize how serious an issue it is, people are literally being sent to jail and prison because they have a PLANT on them! Imagine you were arrested because they made cotton illegal and you were wearing a T-shirt? [NightC]
Silly, right? Here's my favorite response:

Look, I'm all for legalizing pot, but please stop trying to support it by posting your reasoning, and I use the term loosely, because horribly simplified arguments like that are not helping. [egoideal]
I could not agree more. If you have a good point, why ruin it by adding a bad argument into the mix? Yet, that's what the pro-legalization camp looks like: For every 10 arguments, there are only one or two good ones. Someone who might be persuaded by a good argument won't listen to your good points if you also throw senseless garbage at him.

Of course, if all you have are bad arguments, your best strategy is to spray them anywhere and everywhere. Maybe someone will believe you if only you contact enough people. As of right now, I'm just a casual observer, waiting to be convinced.


  1. A very relevant, yet underplayed component to the issue of marijuana legalization is generational, which might well be a gamechanger. Obama, and many of his key appointees, are members of Generation Jones-—born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X. Many top national commentators (from Newsweek, NBC, CNN, etc.) have spoken about the importance and relevance of GenJones as the new generation of leadership; this could be a gamechanger re. the drug issue for at least two reasons:

    1) Jonesers are by far the biggest pot smokers compared to the other generations. While Boomers are associated with pot, it was only a small, albeit very visible, segment of Boomers who actually smoked pot back in the day. Govt. and independent studies show that Jonesers as teens (in the 1970s) smoked 15 to 20 times more pot than Boomers did as teens. And not only did Jonesers smoke much more grass than any other generation of teens in US history, but still today--in middle-age--smoke it a remarkable amount. The data is really striking.

    2) One of the key collective personality traits consistently attributed to Jonesers is their pragmatism; they are far likelier to put aside ideology and deal with drugs in a realistic and practical way.

    Here's a page with a good recent overview about GenJones:

    If ever there was a generation of leadership open to legalizing pot, it probably is Generation Jones. And if there ever was a time that the country might be open to this change in drug laws, perhaps it’s now…

  2. Interesting demographics.

    Do you suppose the argument in the comments is taking place between generation X and generation Jones? If so, who's providing the good arguments, and who is disservicing the debate with bad arguments?

  3. To those of you who have been following my blog posts on marijuana, I have decided to stop writing on the topic, and I won't write any more posts on marijuana unless something particularly interesting comes up.

    I have decided to stop writing on marijuana because I have run out of insightful things to say on the topic. To be honest, this is painfully clear in the above post.

    If you're interested in seeing what else I have written on the topic. Below is a set of links to my other marijuana posts. As always, I appreciate constructive comments.