Marijuana v. Alcohol


Although no one tells me, I’m positive everyone gets annoyed when I start a comment off with “I used to be a newspaper reporter and I…”

I apologize in advance but the thing is, journalists see things in this world that most people don’t. They have a unique perspective and a more informed perspective than those who are content to just watch TV news.

I say all of this before talking about something that I haven’t before and that’s drugs. Obama said in a recent New Yorker article that marijuana is perhaps not the pariah on society that it was painted to be in the likes of Reefer Madness. While it could be a gateway drug and is damaging to your lungs, it doesn’t cause as much ill effects on the body and on society as previously advertised. There’s all kinds of research about the subject. Some say marijuana’s bad. Others say it’s not that bad.

I won’t profess to know one way or the other. I’ve never toked up nor have I smoked a cigarette in my entire life. Watching my grandfather wither up and die from lung cancer solved that problem for me.

I do however, drink. Not excessively but regularly.

As a newspaper reporter I witnessed a lot of the things that go wrong when it comes to alcohol and drugs. One of my responsibilities with some of the papers I worked for was covering the courtroom. Most every single murder case I covered involved alcohol and/or drugs in some manifestation. Either the victims or the killer were on drugs, buying drugs, selling drugs or fighting over drugs. As far as alcohol is concerned many times killer was drunk or had been drinking.

Then there are the manslaughter cases from drunk-driving fatalities. There’s a lot of those, especially in Texas. The trials were especially painful to watch because, unlike homicides, there’s no real explanation for someone dying in a drunk-driving wreck. With a murder, there’s some known motivation. With intoxicated manslaughter, it’s really about chance. The victim just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and then, poof, their gone.

Like it or not, alcohol is part of American culture but it is also an element of many heinous things that happen in the criminal justice system. Aside from the wreck deaths and the murders, there’s an untold number of domestic violence, assaults, robberies and more that are fueled by people with alcohol in their system.

While it was a prevalent theme in many of the cases I covered, one thing that I didn’t see a lot of were suspects who committed crimes while under the influence of marijuana. I’m not saying that it never happened, just that it was exceedingly rare.

There’s two ways of looking at that, of course. One is marijuana isn’t much of a factor because it isn’t legal and therefore less people use it than alcohol. True. The other way of looking at it is (and I’ll borrow the pro-gun lobby logic here) criminals don’t follow the law thus they’re more than likely to light one than regular people and thus more likely to commit crime while under the influence.

Regardless of how you look at it, it’s not something that you see a lot of when it comes to people who commit crime and their mental state. Yes it does happen but not near as often as you see with alcohol.

So why are so people fighting the legalization? My guess is they’ll use the point of view that if it’s legal more people will use it thus leading to more crime, etc, etc. These detractors are more than likely conservative and the same people who use the criminals-are-criminals-and-don’t-follow-the-law-anyway argument when it comes to the gun control measures that they oppose.

Why is it that alcohol is acceptable to use and marijuana is not? A close look at the criminal justice system will show that alcohol seemingly has a more damaging effect on society and yet it is legal.

With Washington and Colorado blazing a new trail with their legalization laws, time will tell if marijuana will create the rise in crime some believe will happen.

I’m guessing it won’t. Some people are happy drunks. Some people are mean drunks. You’ve never heard of a mean pothead.



Mind Market



I love Apple. Their products, in my mind, are far superior than most, if not all, PC makers.

It’s not as though I didn’t give PCs a try. Starting back in the DOS days 20 years ago, I used PCs and several operating systems including, but not limited to, Windows, Linux, Unix, etc.

Then I used Macintosh. It never crashed. It always worked. It was easy to use. In short, it was just a better product.

This was all before the advent of Mac’s trendy marketing campaign. I mean way before it, like when the Apple logo was rainbow-colored. I came to Apple honestly.

Fast forward to today. Thanks to the iPod, iPhone and various other forms of “i”s Apple went from near bankruptcy to the most profitable company in the world.

Apple fans are accused of being drones, slaves to the product and suckers for the clever, hipster marketing techniques.

This is a problem in today’s world with how we view brands. People, particularly progressives, are leery of products with strong marketing campaigns. Whether it’s baby formula, fast food, vaccines or even politics, some feel that we are being force-fed goods that are no good for us. They think that we’re victims of manipulative marketing.

Three years ago the Supreme Court issued it’s “Citizen’s United” decision where they determined that corporations can pour as much money into political propaganda as they want. Critics cried foul because they felt that secretive marketing would somehow taint the election process and corrupt our political system.

Right, because it wasn’t corrupt before.

Do political actions committees, fast food companies, beer brewers and marketing firms use unscrupulous tactics to make us want their products? Of course. They sneak in sexual innuendo. They make exaggerated claims. They use cartoon characters to sell cigarettes. They study cult behavior to determine how people get hooked on a feeling. They try to make you feel irresponsible if you don’t buy a five-star crash rating car or purchase supplemental life insurance. The T&A, my Lord, they use T&A to sell everything.

People cry foul. I used to agree but I don’t anymore.

Why? Because at the end of the day, we still make a choice. Marketing is exactly that— it’s marketing not mind control. All told, I still have to line up and get my Apple fix. People still choose to smoke, drink beer, buy organic or drive a Ford.

As the guy said in the PBS Frontline special on Citizens United, it’s about the message. PACs can spend as much as they want on a candidate but at the end of the day, the voter still decides whether to buy the message and vote for the candidate.

If you want to weigh marketing dollar for dollar, success doesn’t correlate to the amount of money you spend on marketing. John Kerry had more political donations than George W. Bush in 2004. Bush still won. Mitt Romney spent more than Barack Obama in battleground states. Obama still won. The marketing upper hand doesn’t automatically mean a win. Just ask Karl Rove.

No matter how much we point the finger at those who try to fool us, it’s still mind over marketing. The process is a two-way street and a mutual decision.

If you want to buy something, ask yourself if you really need it or want it. Then DO RESEARCH and figure out if the advertiser’s claims are true. THEN decide.

I have just about every make of Apple Computer including the Apple IIc, the iPad, MacBook Pro, G3 Powerbook and a IIGS. Hell, I even own an Apple Newton. But ironically, I’m sticking with my Android phone though. I’ve read the iPhone is not actually a good cell phone despite it’s innovative apps.

When I was considering whether to buy an iPad, my wife tried to dissuade me from it saying she didn’t see why I needed it.

“You know what? I just want one,” I told her.

Nope, Apple doesn’t control me.