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Open Government Brainstorm Defies Wisdom of Crowds 709

Posted by Soulskill
from the democracy-that's-easy-enough-for-stoners dept.
theodp writes "In May, the White House launched what it called an 'unprecedented online process for public engagement in policymaking.' Brainstorming was conducted in an effort to identify ways to 'strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness by making government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative.' So, what were some of the top vote-getters? Currently near the top of the list are Legalize Marijuana And Solve Many Tax Issues / Prison Issues (#2) and Remove Marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (#3). For those who remember Obama's earlier Online Town Hall, it's deja vu all over again."
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Open Government Brainstorm Defies Wisdom of Crowds

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  • Painful to Watch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:49AM (#28194291) Journal
    So on the frton page of the site, I counted more than ten "ideas" from one individual reading all the same (with a handful of votes to each!). They all read:

    Hey folks, it seems that the administration is at it again. All of my posts have been removed regarding Obamas legitimacy of his birth certificate. It seems all of you that feel the same way will have yours removed sonner or later so that the ideas input portion of this website seems to consist mostly of garbage that doesnt really natter to true conservatives... How Sad Obama... You can change a leopards spots but you will never change the leopard.

    Are there no abuse policy/software in place to catch this?

    Even the other users like a person named 'obamawatch' is ranting about the president's birth certificate. I'm embarrassed enough for all parties involved--is this the "YouTube of the Government" to them? This is really what you say when you get the chance to make suggestions to your government?

    Where's the "Ron Paul Should Be President" +75,496 idea?

    I hate to say it but this might almost not work for a population the size of America. I know on a smaller scale (like in Hennepin County, Minnesota) they get useful ideas from the populace with very realistic goals. I dare say the only way this could work on a national level is to require the user to put in their SSN & birthdate for verification and banning for repeated abuse. But I don't like information going through IdeaScale one bit.

    • by captainpanic (1173915) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:00AM (#28194385)

      With the little knowledge I have of the American political system (mud fight) I expect that people actually get paid to spam the Obama-website.

      I think it's a lovely idea, and while the website won't reach any conclusion, the valuable information is that the Obama administration learns what people find important.

      And yes, to quite a large population it is important to legalize the weed. About 1/100 of the entire population of the USA is in prison. That's more than anywhere in the world. And the majority (I believe, I have no reference) is related to marijuana.

      Regardless of the fact that the open government is being abused, it will generate useful information, after it has gone through a (manual?) spam filter.

      • When will there be a way to check a person's marijuana intoxication level quickly and easily at a traffic stop?

        Until there is such a check, legalizing marijuana would make the current drunk driving problem many times more difficult in terms of detection and enforcement.

        William

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:11AM (#28194507)

          Why are you under the impression that cannabis intoxication is a traffic problem? (There's science done on the subject that I doubt you're aware of)

          Cannabis != alcohol. Those two drugs to not have the same issues.

          • by mcvos (645701) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:38AM (#28194865)

            Why are you under the impression that cannabis intoxication is a traffic problem? (There's science done on the subject that I doubt you're aware of)

            Cannabis != alcohol. Those two drugs to not have the same issues.

            Well, they don't get aggressive or overconfident, which is definitely nice. But someone going 30 on the motorway isn't exactly safe either.

            Even so, I've never heard of serious marihuana intoxication problems in traffic, and I live in a country where smoking pot is legal. People who are high have better things to do than driving a car, apparently.

            • by TheLostSamurai (1051736) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @09:45AM (#28195771)
              Actually, I like to partake in the pleasures of cannabis every now and again and definitely believe it should be legal, however I agree wholeheartedly with the original poster on the dangers of marijuana intoxication and driving.

              First off, as someone who does smoke marijuana, I can definitely attest to levels of intoxication that would prevent me from driving coherently, and do avoid such scenarios. Second, I have been involved in a major traffic collision when a driver intoxicated on marijuana pulled out in front of me causing me to t-bone him, totaling both cars. Luckily no one was severely injured.

              So yes, marijuana should be legal, however there should be ways to ensure it's use is responsible and does not endanger others. And frankly, driving is the only dangerous thing I can currently think of because I'm surely not dangerous in any other way while high.

              And would someone please mod the OP out of troll hell. His comment was neither inflammatory nor fallacious.
              • by spud603 (832173) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @10:22AM (#28196303)
                This whole argument is a red herring. Is there any evidence that more people would drive stoned if pot were legal? I'd make an argument for the converse:
                Currently there can be no widespread campaigns to stigmatize driving stoned (as there have been for driving drunk) because they would be seen as implicit approval of getting stoned and not driving. But if pot were legal you'd be sure to see a slew billboards and PSAs talking about the dangers of driving stoned.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by JebusIsLord (566856)

                I'm not sure why this is flamebait... it is well known that THC reduces your response time. If/when I have driven stoned, i've been real careful, but once I tried to turn into a bus stop which I thought was a driveway.

                I don't think legalizing will make the problem worse, however, and I don't think it is nearly the issue that alcohol is.

        • by Looce (1062620) * on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @09:07AM (#28195241) Journal

          I don't know if you're referring to the full legalization thread (#2) or just the Schedule reclassification thread (#3), but here goes.

          [T]here is a considerable legal difference between "drunk" and driving while "intoxicated" and "under the influence". The concept of drunk, as used in public drunk statutes, refers to a person who is so inebriated that he is incapable of caring for his own safety. This is a considerably greater degree of inebriation than "intoxicated" or "under the influence". This latter condition is often legally defined as that physical state in which the liquor has so far affected the nervous system, brain or muscles as to impair the ability to operate a vehicle in a manner like that of an ordinarily prudent or cautious person under like conditions in the full possession of his faculties using reasonable care. source [google.ca]

          [Emphasis mine, from "Drunk driving defense" by Lawrence Taylor & Steven Oberman]

          The effects of THC on the body [web4health.info] do include relaxation of the muscles, therefore would fall under the term "under the influence" as defined in law. However,

          Although marijuana's share of fatal crashes is much lower than those attributed to alcohol, researchers say the results show that marijuana use, even in low doses, significantly increases the risk of fatal car accidents. source [webmd.com]

          While the quote could be used in an argument on both sides, if marijuana were only reclassified under another Schedule, not fully legalized, the rate of use would be lower than with full legalization (with a law already in place for "intoxicated driving" as above!), so it all comes down to what you'd rather avoid: even more driving accidents than in the current situation; another cause of driving accidents; or perhaps the fact that the "new" cause of accidents is less well detectable by simple behavioral analysis therefore less enforceable. But the point of rescheduling marijuana (#3) is that the current legislation doesn't make sense. See my other comment [slashdot.org] in this thread for a summary of why.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Quothz (683368)

        And the majority (I believe, I have no reference) is related to marijuana.

        Estimates range from 10% to 20%, but nobody really knows. This includes those who are in for both pot-related and other offenses, however. If I were to learn that the majority of prisoners had at least one drug-related charge I would not be surprised (I'm not claiming that's the case, just speculating).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        With the little knowledge I have of the American political system (mud fight) I expect that people actually get paid to spam the Obama-website.

        You don't have to pay people who are brainwashed.

        About 1/100 of the entire population of the USA is in prison.

        According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in June of last year there were 3,851,789 people in custody in the US. This does not count the hundreds of thousands that are in municipal lockups in every city in America. Estimates put the total at about 4.5

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:46AM (#28194979) Journal

          This country would work a lot better if the central government were limited to only those powers enumerated in its constitution.

          For example, the California Government legalized medical marijuana but the central government over-ruled it and started arresting California citizens and doctors that prescribed marijuana. Why? By my reading of overall constitution, it is clear the power to legalize marijuana lies with the States, not Congress. "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." If California or any other state wants to let marijuana exist, that is their right to do so.

          It's no different than if the UK decided to make marijuana legal. The central EU government can not overrule them.

    • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:01AM (#28194401) Journal

      You give the population the chance to shape their own society for a change, you should expect that what they create for themselves won't resemble what currently exists and won't have the same priorities or measure of success as what currently exists. If that doesn't happen, the system is corrupted. The only way that this initiative can be made consistent with the views of the established order is to corrupt it to the point of uselessness and hypocrisy.

      When you say "realistic goals", all you really mean is "goals that are realistic while still holding XXX sacrosanct". What you mean is, "freedom within the narrow bounds of what the tyranny allows".

      You reveal yourself to be an enemy of freedom. Wave and say hi.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SailorSpork (1080153)

      Well, in the "Obama Birth Certificate" defense, the sum of the votes for that general idea outweigh the sum of the votes to legalize pot.

      I'm not making a judgment for or against any ideas (at least not here, too much flame potential), but I think a system like this needs to be a little bit more rubust:

      • Same ideas aggregated
        • "Wiki"-style format for adding details to ideas so that an individuals don't post similar but slightly different ideas
          • Limited # of votes so that "show your birth certificate B. Hussein" do
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Chrisq (894406)

      Where's the "Ron Paul Should Be President" +75,496 idea?

      Where's the CowboyNeal for President?

  • by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:50AM (#28194299)

    And it embodies, IMHO, a wider question about the freedom of the people to act as they wish without *very* good reason from the government and without demonstrable harm to other folks.

    Shame it'll just be written off with excuses like it always is all over the world.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mdwh2 (535323)

      I agree - I'm not saying that this voting system is representative of public opinion (often petitions/etc are very bad indicators), but I fail to see why the perfectly valid viewpoint that perhaps people shouldn't be criminalised for doing something with their own bodies is cited as an example of the system going wrong.

      I'm not sure what the point of this article is. It's not even referencing an article - it's just some random guy (theodp) making a comment based on what he's seen on the site. And it's a poor

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nursie (632944)

        "For every petition I agree with, there's plenty I'd hate to see acted on."

        Oh hells yes, there are some real crackpot things that get voted up on that thing. That site is a great argument against direct democracy (or mob rule at any rate).

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Shame it'll just be written off with excuses like it always is all over the world.

      Put your hands against the car, we're winning the war on drugs [nme.com]

    • by DoctorNathaniel (459436) <nathaniel DOT tagg AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:21AM (#28194623) Homepage

      Marijuana decriminalization is not simply a "stoner" issue. It's actually a very important one.

      The US has disproportionately crowded jails, filled disproportionately with African-Americans, and a very large fraction of which are there on drug charges. The US "War on Drugs" has led to many many convictions over marijuana and we are paying the social and monetary cost of imprisoning lots of people.

      This is not a Cheech and Chong movie - these are people in jail for doing something that is widely regarded as harmless in of itself.

      So, I don't think it's any surprise when you have a very vocal segment of the population calling for decriminalization... particularly in this forum! Establishment media and other outlets for vox populi are likely to steer away from this issue due to editorial concerns - no one wants to look "pro drugs", so the issue will be touched very carefully in a newspaper.

      Do _I_ think it's the most important issue? No. But then my brother isn't in jail for dealing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Plus, we got that Mexican Drug War going on just to the south. You want to put Mexican / Colombian drug cartels out of business? Unleash Eli Lilly or GlaxoSmithKline on them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by eth1 (94901)

        Not to mention that the prohibition sends tons of money out of the country, causes violent crime, and is destroying the countries that grow and transport the stuff.

      • by SoVeryTired (967875) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @10:59AM (#28196825)

        The HBO show "The Wire" summed up the war on drugs nicely:

        Det. Ellis Carver: You can't even call this shit a war.
        Det. Thomas Hauk: Why not?
        Det. Ellis Carver: Wars end.

  • yeah don't make me laugh.
  • Wrong Idea Form (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:52AM (#28194319) Journal
    Here's what you're prompted with when you author a new idea: Title/Subject, Why Is This Idea Important?, Category & Tags.

    That's not going to help people articulate ideas let alone produce anything usable. Half these things read sort of like a rant. IdeaScale should implement sections like the following:
    • Title/Subject
    • Problem You Are Addressing (Be Specific)
    • Solution (Include people involved, milestones, goals and how to measure success)
    • Foreseen Risks and Costs
    • Mitigation Plan to Risks & Failure
    • Category
    • Tags

    Go to corporate America and ask any CEO what he expects to see in an idea presented to him from an underling. Then you'll get an idea of what kind of data we should be seeking from people with ideas.

    I mean, this site should at least try to help people from making asses of themselves and instead 90% of these posts sound like people thinking they have the floor to say whatever they want about whatever they feel like. It's not coherent, it's not helping, it's nothing but internet drivel.

    • Re:Wrong Idea Form (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yvanhoe (564877) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:11AM (#28194513) Journal
      Well, a representative is not a CEO. It is not a boss, a chief that doesn't have time for your ramblings. It is the representatives' very job to articulate popular rants into concrete propositions. This form is made so that people can express easily, even ideas that are incomplete. It doesn't prevent anyone, however, to present a very well constructed proposition. I would however, remove one thing : the pseudo of the author of a proposition. This could turn too quickly into an ego competition.
  • We all laugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mdarksbane (587589) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:56AM (#28194357)

    But I think the fact that this issue keeps coming up shows that marijuana legalization isn't as much of a fringe, oddball, shouldn't-even-talk-about-it issue as some people seem to think. Polls are showing around half of the people in the US could go for completely legalization, and more than 70% are in favor of medicinal legalization. It's kind of ridiculous that despite the support for this issue it is still considered such a non-issue.

    Hell, the numbers in favor of legalization are *much* larger than the numbers in favor of gun control, and they still talk about trying to push that through!

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Interestingly there's no mention of that issue on the open government blog and the survey site seems to be down.

    • Re:We all laugh (Score:5, Informative)

      by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:06AM (#28194441) Homepage Journal

      There are really bigger issues behind this.

      The entire War on Drugs would be a farce, if only it weren't such a disaster with such bad side-effects. Not only does our drug policy not work, it has destabilized governments of many other nations, particularly in the western hemisphere south of the US, and is a root cause of a heck of a lot of deaths and human-rights violations. In addition, at least partly due to our drug policy, we have criminalized a larger percentage of our population than any first-world nation, perhaps the highest overall.

      IMHO we should focus on treatment (demand reduction) and stopping crimes of financing (stealing money for the next fix) that harm uninvolved innocents, as well as any other related violent acts. Trying to restrict supply while taking a "Just Say NO!" policy on demand is not only doomed to failure, it HAS been failing for decades. The side-effect is that it raises the price of drugs, pushing a LOT of money into the drug business, and saps more money out of the "good" economy by people buying their drugs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timmarhy (659436)
      the reason is because the VOTING public don't want it. once the students and younger generation become old enough that they actually turn up to cast their vote, they've had enough life experience that they've figured out more drugs isn't the answer to society's problems
      • Re:We all laugh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:18AM (#28194593)
        they've had enough life experience that they've figured out more drugs isn't the answer to society's problems

        That is irrelevant to the question of legalisation.

        And more likely people know that to get on in their career, they had better not espouse support for such an idea, or draw attention from law enforcement -- if you are sporting a "Legalise marijuana" bumper sticker, you'd have to be prepared to have your car, and your person, searched rather more often than otherwise, for example.

      • Re:We all laugh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rude Turnip (49495) <valuation@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:23AM (#28194647)

        The experience of the pharmaceutical industry is that Americans LOVE drugs, especially the old folks.

      • Re:We all laugh (Score:5, Interesting)

        by krou (1027572) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:35AM (#28194809)

        Actually, I think you completely misunderstand why many people want drugs like marijuana legalised.

        It's not just so you can light a joint any time that you want without risk of being caught. There are a lot more important issues here.

        It's because the current system is harmful, wastes money, and doesn't work. It's got sweet FA to do about taking the drugs themselves to solve society's problems. It's about legalising drugs in order to solve problems the Drug War and prohibition creates. It's about solving the issues of: wasting public money in a drugs war that has had no tangible effect; treating drug users as criminals and overburdening the prison population (not to mention the cost of incarceration, the cost to the economy, and the social costs as well); it's about focusing on the real issue, which is addiction and rehabilitation.

        Sit down and read through this website [drugwarfacts.org] and hopefully you'll understand why the War on Drugs is bogus, and why marijuana (at the very least) should be legalised. I, myself, take the view that the Dutch model is the way to go (so I go further than just legalisation of marijuana).

        Incidentally, in my opinion it's not that the voting public don't want it, it's that it's not an issue on the agenda in the media itself, which shapes the opinions of the voting public (never mind that the US government and certain banks have and continue to make extremely large profits as a result of drugs). The "War on Drugs" has been and is extremely lucrative for big business, and for the government, in terms of profits and control, and that's one of the underlying reasons why the myths of the dangers of legalising drugs like marijuana continue to dominate discourse.

    • Re:We all laugh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Glock27 (446276) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:10AM (#28194495)
      Exactly. I'd say this exercise DID show the "wisdom of the crowds" to a large extent. Marijuana use may not be beneficial, but it's certainly no worse a drag on society than alcohol. Regardless, marijuana enforcement has been a much worse drag on society, resulting in a general loss of civil liberties, an increase in government confiscation, and millions of citizens unnecessarily incarcerated, many with felonies. Oh, and the illegal marijuana trade is largely responsible for destabilizing Mexico almost to the point of civil war.

      -

      It's clearly time to rethink marijuana policy. This country has too many serious problems that require attention.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JoeMerchant (803320)
      I think it shows that the pro-legalization crowd has a lot of free time on their hands, which was the real reason THC was banned in the first place - it was believed to make people lazy, non-industrious layabouts.

      I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary... not sure how I feel overall about "the land of the free and the home of the brave" making something illegal just because it makes the population less competitive on the world stage, but I certainly can't argue that a bong hit a day would make the US
  • by jsnipy (913480) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:01AM (#28194403) Journal
    "Think of all the DA's, DEA employees, prison workers that would be out of a job"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Congrats - you've hit on the real issue. How about we provide %100 percent extended unemployment for all who loose thier jobs as the prisons and jails begin to empty. (It would still be cheaper for the tax payer than continuing the drug war). It won't take very long for a new economy, and new jobs, to rise around the new Hemp and marijuana industries.
  • Check this out [craigslist.org]

    Cannabis intended for recreational consumption comes in several different grades ranging in price from $10 a pound for compressed bricks of seedy Mexican hemp flowers purchased near the source up to $3,500 a pound for manicured colas grown indoors by farmers who produce small crops. That same $3,500 pound can be sold to consumers for up to $25 a gram, meaning that pound's street value if sold by the gram is in the neighborhood of $11,000.

    But, the case in point is the series of raids this summer, which authorities claimed netted 138 pounds of cannabis from 340,000 plants. Since they raided in August, the plants they took were immature [...] and at least half would have been male plants that produce nothing. Had those plants, which represent less than 10 percent of the county's entire crop, survived to maturity they would have yielded somewhere in the neighborhood of three-quarters to one pound per plant or about 150,000 total pounds of low- to mid-grade cannabis which would have been valued at something like $500 to $1,000 a pound [...] for an estimated net sale price of conservatively $75,000,000. Factor in the percentage of undetected crops and we see the county's illicit outdoor cannabis crop can conservatively be valued at $750 million in initial sales. [...] it would not be unreasonable to place a value of Tulare County's current cannabis industry at $1 billion, all of it untaxed.

    Let me isolate that statement for effect: Tulare County is currently home to a $1,000,000,000 unregulated, untaxed industry that our elected officials are actively and ineffectually attempting to eradicate at the taxpayers' expense, thus depriving the county and state of at least $80,000,000 in annual sales-tax revenues while they charge us for the privilege.

    Think about that when you read we cannot afford to fund rural health clinics or that our schools are in need of repair or that we can't afford rural fire stations or if you live along or must drive ill-maintained county roads or if you're one of the thousands of unemployed or are affected by that unemployment or if you or one of your family members is considered an outlaw because they use cannabis or if you think it's wrong to destroy Yokohl Valley in the hopes of generating a tenth the revenue cannabis could provide the moment it is legalized.

    You know, if I can just grow the shit, I'm not paying $3500 for it. Let's say cigarettes (which are legal, and a huge industry) cost $25 a gram for tobacco. A cigarette contains about 0.8 grams of tobacco (a bit less); a pack contains about 20 grams. So that's like $500/pack. Now, I don't smoke; but if a trip to the gas station for a pack of cigs cost me $20 to fill my tank and $500 for a pack of Malboros? I'd grow my own tobacco.

    The whole argument for marijuana tax hinges on artifici

  • Related, in a way (Score:5, Informative)

    by Looce (1062620) * on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:09AM (#28194475) Journal

    I used to think that all drugs were bad, and all that stuff. But after reading the second linked thread, the Schedule I thread [ideascale.com], specifically the bits about

    * marijuana not killing people as much as tobacco and alcohol;
    * pure THC being ranked as a Schedule III drug and marijuana as a Schedule I drug (see comment by user pbrigando13);
    * Oxycontin et al., more damaging and causing more of a dependency than marijuana (which creates none), not being on the Controlled Substances List altogether;
    * (taking this one with a grain of salt) the advantages of marijuana, rarer use of violence and driving accidents from users than alcoholics, etc. (see comment by user onegod1world)

    , I'm reconsidering that stance.

    Also, I'd like to point out that #1 is End Imperial Presidency [ideascale.com] -- with 755 votes against #2's 351 --, heavily criticizing Bush's presidency and calling out what happened in Iraq as war crimes, as they should be called. That is a serious one, and I for one am glad that it got voted up top.

    • Erratum (Score:3, Informative)

      by Looce (1062620) *

      #2 has 531 votes, not 351. Typos rule.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My favorite is:
      "Legislate a requirement that, in any war, the military aged children and grandchildren of the president, the vice president, all cabinet officials, and all Congress members serve on the front lines in the most dangerous combat positions -- no exceptions, no exemptions."

      This actually make sense

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stdarg (456557)

      I used to think that all drugs were bad, and all that stuff. But after reading the second linked thread, the Schedule I thread [...] I'm reconsidering that stance.

      I agree, I've changed my mind in the last 5 years or so.

      Also, I'd like to point out that #1 is End Imperial Presidency [ideascale.com] -- with 755 votes against #2's 351 --, heavily criticizing Bush's presidency and calling out what happened in Iraq as war crimes, as they should be called.

      Yes that's just what we need! It's definitely the #1 idea out of all of the ones posted! Come on. This just shows that the people voting don't care about the intent of the site ("Phase I was designed to elicit a wide array of actionable suggestions for creating a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative government") and are just using it as a platform for their own childish, vengeful viewpoints.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@b[ ].org ['eau' in gap]> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:15AM (#28194559)

    The problem being illustrated is with the concept of 'democracy', an idea our Founding Fathers was aware of and not only discarded it was a notion they took great measures to prevent. Instead we were given a Republic, if we could keep it. Epic Fail.

    Democracy means if you have a group of a hundred people, fifty one can vote to piss in the Corn Flakes of the other forty nine and if everyone believes in Democracy there can't be any objections if the votes were counted properly. Because that is what Democracy IS, the People can have anything they vote for. We had a Republic with a written Constituition that laid down hard limits that while changable, were intentionally difficult. This created the Rule of Laws instead of the Rule of Men. We had divided and limited government. But we threw that away and now have the Rule of Men and our civilization is declining.

    • by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:52AM (#28195057) Homepage

      Civilization declining? No way. It's getting better all the time. These are very groovy times. Try to look objectively at history. The amount of suck in life is decreasing at a fantastic rate.

  • Think again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:26AM (#28194683)

    It is ridiculous to assume that because the crowd opinion does not match your own that the crowd is wrong. Perhaps legalization is the correct course of action, and you are blinded by your own puny intellect.

    Legalization would save tens of billions of dollars in law enforcement and prison system fees. This money could easily be redirected to proping up companies that make cars that no one wants, making the world a better place.

  • by petrus4 (213815) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:35AM (#28194795) Homepage Journal

    The War on Drugs isn't one that they can hope to win, primarily because the enemy are their own constituents.

    I don't consider marijuana a desirable substance myself (and stoners who insist on self-justification beyond all rationality, go away. Yes, I have smoked, and inhaled, despite your insistence that it is impossible for anyone who has smoked to have a negative opinion on the substance) but I also know very well that criminalisation does not work, and will never work.

    As a (admittedly informally, and generally fairly secretively) practicing Shakta Hindu, I could also if I wanted, claim historical precedent for my own use of marijuana as a religious sacrament. (Although AFAIK, in India at least, marijuana is more commonly used in association with Shiva, but it has been consumed as part of the worship of Kali)

    Although I hold nothing against other adherents of various religions who do so, I have made the decision not to do that, as my own experience has led me to believe that marijuana is not b primarily beneficial substance, at least in the case of my own specific physiology.

    I acknowledge, however, that it is not up to me to make that decision for anyone else other than myself. I further acknowledge that the plant does have certain extremely legitimate medical uses; I have advocated at least trying it with a few people I know at times, when they have been in extreme pain.

    There is a certain percentage of the population (whether they are a minority or not, I do not know specifically, and make no claim about) who whether for good or ill, are mortally determined to smoke marijuana. Given their level of adamancy on this especially, it is not the place of government to make the decision for these individuals as to whether they should be allowed to smoke or not, especially considering that such a decision is usually made against these individuals' implicit, if not explicit, consent.

    It has long been my opinion that the American government is, and always has been, at its' heart, a fundamentally tyrannical and insidious institution, which will, at any opportunity afforded to it, enthusiastically act as the mortal enemy of its' own constituents. The long term war that the Drug Enforcement Administration has been waging against said constituents, is in itself compelling proof of this assertion.

    The DEA, in its' own defense, would likely try to claim that many of the substances which it crusades against the use of are gravely harmful; sometimes lethally so. In the cases of heroine, cocaine, and methamphetamines in particular, I would not argue against such an assertion. However, whether the drugs themselves are lethal is not the point.

    The point is that it should not rightfully be the role of government to act as a parental figure for its' constituents. As adults, said constituents are supposed to be able to serve that role for themselves.

    I also believe that criminalisation, rather than reducing the use of these substances, in face greatly contributes to their appeal, as it is well known that both teenagers and retrograde adults take particular delight in doing certain things, primarily when they know that said things are illegal or taboo. If many of these drugs, marijuana included, we made legal, use of them would cease to appear to be an act of rebellion, and would instead become socially mundane.

    A third point is that many of the entheogens have not been allowed virtually any academic study, because of a hysterical, knee-jerk governmental approach to criminalisation. Some early work was done with LSD, yes; but very little such work has been done with other substances such as MDMA. If this research was permitted to be conducted, more could likely be learned about the drugs' drawbacks, potentially beneficial uses, and guidelines could possibly even be developed for the safe and guided use of the substances by those who still wished to consume them.

  • by Temujin_12 (832986) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @09:38AM (#28195671)

    Putting the drug debate aside, online polls always suffer from two things:

    biased sample [nizkor.org] and hasty generalization [nizkor.org]

    A poll at WhiteHouse.gov merely reflects the opinion of those who visited WhiteHouse.gov--nothing more and nothing less. A poll at cnn.com or foxnews.com merely reflects the opinions of those who visit those sites--nothing more and nothing less. It doesn't matter how popular the online poll is... THEY CANNOT BE GENERALIZED TO THE US POPULATION AT LARGE. And it would be unwise for an administration to make policy decisions based on informal online polls.

    That's why we have the voting system. Those who vote represent legal US citizens who chose to exercise their constitutional right to vote--nothing more, nothing less.

  • by NiceGeek (126629) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @09:53AM (#28195885)

    Pot smokers and conspiracy theorists have a lot of time on their hands.

  • by careysub (976506) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @11:57AM (#28197713)

    This is a simple matter of paying attention to science and obeying the law as written.

    The rules for Schedule I are:
    A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
    (B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

    The best available scientific and medical evidence and opinion clearly shows that criteria B and C do not apply (the US Institute of Medicine refuted B a decade ago, for example). The only way one can claim A applies is via a circular argument: all cannabis use DEFINED as abuse, therefore it has a high potential for abuse.

    If the rules of classification are objectively and scientifically applied the it would rank no higher than Schedule IV!

    The logic of scheduling Cannabis at Schedule IV (or V) is further shown by the DEA itself - by scheduling pure 100% THC at Schedule III. Clearly a preparation that is only about 10% as potent should have a lower ranking. One should note that Schedule V consists entirely of drugs with higher rankings (from I down to III) in reduced potency preparations.

    This is simply a matter of getting science and reason back into regulation. Regrettably the DEA has been given a pass on these by both parties form the very beginning.

Hold on to the root.

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