Johann Hari, in the LA Times yesterday, dealt with some of the last of the cannabis taboos that Americans grapple with as many states legalise and decriminalise its sale and possession.

They ask: Aren’t many drugs, even pot, much more potent today than they were in the 1960s, when the boomers formed their views on drug use? Hasn’t cannabis morphed into super skunk? Aren’t people who used legal painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet sliding into heroin addiction — suggesting that legally accessible drugs are a slippery slope toward the abuse of harder drugs?

Hari argues that the reason people do use stronger more potent drugs today is because of the war on drugs. He points to the 1920’s prohibition of alcohol in the US – where the public’s drinks of choice were beer and wine both before and after prohibition – and how during the period alcohol was banned the most commonly drank alcohols were spirits and moonshine.

So why would banning a drug change people’s taste? In fact, it didn’t. It just changed what they had access to.

Hari touches on some interesting points often overlooked when it comes to drugs – especially when he emphasises that, given the choice, most cannabis consumers would use a lower strength product.

Most cannabis smokers don’t want to get totally baked on super skunk, any more than most social drinkers want to get smashed on Smirnoff. But the milder stuff isn’t available because the market is prohibited.

He ends his piece with a plea, to those who worry about the consumption of high potency drugs, to end prohibition.

So if you want drugs to be as wildly potent as possible, sticking with the war on drugs is way to go. But if you believe milder and less intoxicating drugs present less risk to us all, it’s time — at last — to end prohibition.

Read the full article here.

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