They Said It On Marijuana, Quotable Saturday, Part LVIII


Marijuana per Lenny Bruce

Marijuana will be legal some day because every law student I know smokes it.

Lenny Bruce

We have been a bit slow to quote Lenny Bruce on marijuana because he died of a drug overdose (not from marijuana, of course) and we were afraid some would somehow attribute that to cannabis. But so much has come out of late proving marijuana is not a gateway drug that we have decided to throw our caution to the wind in favor of this great quote.

This is a great quote not because every law student smokes cannabis (they don’t) but because an overwhelming majority of law students and lawyers favor legalization. We are not going to claim that this last statement is based on any scientific survey, but we will claim that almost without exception, every law student and lawyer with whom we have discussed the subject — and we are talking about thousands here — believes the law should treat cannabis consistent with the way it treats alcohol.

And there is a good explanation for why this is the case. It is our training. Law school teaches us to analyze court cases. We learn this so that we can demonstrate to courts the factual similarities (or dissimilarities) of previous cases. If we can show a court twenty previously decided cases ruling one way, that court will almost certainly rule that same way. This is because our legal system is based on precedent. So let’s say we show the court twenty cases where the court held that delivering fresh food 120 days after it was ordered was deemed to be a late delivery and thus a breach of contract, we almost certainly will prevail if we can also show that in our case the opposing side failed to deliver our order of fresh chicken within 120 days. We will prevail even if the other twenty cases deal with beef or pork or even vegetables. This is because a court will treat chicken no different than other foods that deteriorate in quality over time.

Lawyers and law students look at cannabis and alcohol and they see more similarities than differences and they therefore — based on their training — believe those two things should be treated more or less similarly. We could even persuasively argue that alcohol is more harmful than marijuana (and we might add that virtually every lawyer we know with children is more concerned about their kids drinking and driving than smoking and driving), but the point is that on legalization they should be treated the same. They should be treated the same because you either believe in the individual right to consume alcohol or cannabis or you don’t. Similarly, you either believe that prohibiting something like alcohol or cannabis has and can work or you believe that it has not and can not. And since arguing that alcohol prohibition worked is nearly impossible and arguing that cannabis prohibition has worked is nearly as difficult, finding lawyers (except maybe prosecutors or those running for elected office) who oppose marijuana legalization in favor of prohibition is going to be a difficult thing to do.

What are your thoughts?

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