Monday, February 02, 2009

The Michael Phelps hypocrisy

I was planning to wax indignant about the flaming hypocrisy involved in tut-tutting about Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps having a picture showing him puffing away on a marijuana bong (and he does look as if he knows what he's doing with it; probably not his first time). So he has to go through the ritual of apologizing about a youthful mistake in judgment and promise he'll never do it again. Fortunately marijuana isn't considered a "performance-enhancing" drug (though any number of athletes use it in a somewhat medicinal way to get relief from various aches and pains). But the morons in government have made it illegal and keep it illegal, at the federal level even for medicinal uses that are thoroughly documented (check out my book), and most of the media have to treat it as a serious problem.

What the incident really shows is that top-level athletes can smoke marijuana without doing themselves serious harm. Our last three presidents somehow managed to make their way in life despite having indulged -- but so far all three want others to go to jail for what didn't hurt them (though I still have some hope Obama might be different eventually). Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners have smoked it. It has killed exactly zero people. The most harmful thing about it is the fact that you can be punished for using it. When it this country going to grow up and tell the politicians to make it legal?

Fortunately Radley Balko, who was one of my tablemates at the Reason 40th anniversary dinner in November and has done yeoman work on police abuses under the color of the drug laws, has written the comment I had partially formed in my mind, in the form of the letter he wishes Michael Phelps had written. Enjoy. A few excerpts:

"Here’s a crazy thought: If I can smoke a little dope and go on to win 14 Olympic gold medals, maybe pot smokers aren’t doomed to lives of couch surfing and video games, as our moronic government would have us believe. In fact, the list of successful pot smokers includes not just world class athletes like me, Howard, Williams, and others, it includes Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, the last three U.S. presidents, several Supreme Court justices, and luminaries and success stories from all sectors of business and the arts, sciences, and humanities.

"Tell you what. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll apologize for smoking pot when every politician who ever did drugs and then voted to uphold or strengthen the drug laws marches his ass off to the nearest federal prison to serve out the sentence he wants to impose on everyone else for committing the same crimes he committed. I’ll apologize when the sons, daughters, and nephews of powerful politicians who get caught possessing or dealing drugs in the frat house or prep school get the same treatment as the no-name, probably black kid caught on the corner or the front stoop doing the same thing."

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