The Corner

I Have a Good Idea What Prager Is Smoking

And it isn’t kush.

I am mystified by Dennis Prager’s column today. Setting aside the particular question of the legalization of marijuana (which I favor), what seems odd to me is Mr. Prager’s argument that smoking marijuana is much more likely to make you a “loser” than is smoking cigarettes, that smoking marijuana is much more likely to cause you to be in a car accident than is smoking cigarettes, etc. I do not debate any of this, but the relevance escapes me: Surely the more apt comparison is between marijuana and alcohol rather than marijuana and cigarettes? I understand Mr. Prager’s consternation that we are liberalizing our marijuana laws while restricting tobacco use, but our national approach to tobacco has always been kind of stupid: We subsidize its production but work against its consumption.

As a public-health concern, marijuana is a minor issue. Alcohol is a major issue: Estimates vary, but as many as one in ten Americans have a drinking problem, and about one in five children grow up in a home in which there is an alcohol abuser. Alcohol kills a great many people; it may be possible to overdose on THC, the active substance in marijuana, but as a practical matter it is impossible to do so by smoking pot. (The FDA believes that people have overdosed on synthetic THC pills.) The list of chronic disabilities associated with alcohol use is long. That does not make prohibition a retroactively good idea.

People may scoff at my saying so, but there is such a thing as a marijuana addict, and marijuana addicts are as miserable as any other addict. Alcohol addicts are much more common, and generally worse off. Sure, a cigarette is less likely to cause you to drive into a tree, but that is the definition of a trivial truth.

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