Marijuana and Milkshakes

How much regulation is too much?
(a) do we regulate ALL vices – including potato chips and alcohol, and make them inaccessible?
OR (b) do we make ALL vices available – alcohol, drugs, burgers, gambling, sex (sounds like Vegas to me……)?
The problem is that we do a hybrid and since we aren’t transparent about what gets in (e.g. alcohol and tobacco), what doesn’t (e.g. cocaine and heroin) and what sometimes does but not really (e.g. marijuana) – everyone is confused on who the real villains are.
What constitutes a vice? Stuff that is bad for us? Then wouldn’t high fructose corn syrup and fast food qualify?
There’s the rub. The American people feel like a tribe of adolescent kids, at one level screaming for freedoms (don’t take away my cigarettes and donuts) and at another craving and needing rules (you can’t legalize cocaine).
Two events on my radar led to this blog. The first is a symposium to which I was invited to listen about whether the government should be regulating unhealthy foods (e.g. milkshake and fried chicken prohibition). What if the government stepped in, identifying obesity as the health crisis of our time, and said – we MUST stop the madness – all sugar sales are regulated, you need a special card to purchase a hamburger, and all cakes are kept locked up so you can’t just purchase a limitless supply. Is it the government’s job to regulate this?
The second is tonight’s premiere of Weed Country, Discovery Network’s provocative new show about the battle between marijuana growers, sellers and law enforcement in California’s “Emerald Triangle.” Those who are believers in the “good” of weed hold fast to the notion that marijuana is a game changer with powerful medicinal benefits as well as a fantastic business model. Law enforcement cites the risks of marijuana to public safety. Regardless of which side of the fence you are on – you will find someone with whom to agree (and disagree).
Milkshakes good, cocaine bad; french fries good, marijuana bad; alcohol good, heroin bad; gambling good, fried twinkies bad. Who decides? Right now it seems these decisions are being made by lobbyists and big donors rather than good science.
Why do we want these things? Reward and escape. Cake tastes good and numbs a broken heart. Weed relaxes and distracts. Reward and escape distract us – and so we want things that help with it. Because we are not willing to learn how to face down our fears and tolerate stuff that doesn’t feel good.
So why not drop all the rules? “Vice Supermarkets” would be great sources of revenue – instead of Wal-Mart there could be Vice-Mart. Marijuana in the garden department, cakes in the bakery, cocaine in aisle 4. Perhaps these things have some of their appeal because we “aren’t” supposed to have them. They are a secret . So if you take the secret away – could they lose their allure? We put the cartels out of business, get tax revenue, regulate quality. What stops us? Make the forbidden permissible – not nearly as interesting – is it?
And ultimately – is the government’s job one of parent? Or do we need to grow the hell up and learn to monitor and regulate ourselves. The US is starting to feel like a VH1 show – a bunch of badly behaved kids (the populace) with lazy parents who sometimes give us what we want and sometimes don’t (the government). In my experience as a psychologist, that means we kids are going to grow up into selfish, poorly regulated and badly behaved adults.
Watch Weed Country tonight and muse on vices and choices. And think about whether regulating marijuana means regulating fast food, casinos and all those other dangerous toys we love to play with.
Perhaps if fast food prohibition kicks in I will see you at a “Milkshake speakeasy” some day…..
Til then…….cheers!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 at 1:24 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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