Good Smoking v. Bad Smoking

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Steve Sailer notes how hard it can be to hit the libertarian sweet spot:

I was driving through the Hollywood Hills on Laurel Canyon yesterday, which now is bedecked in enormous number of signs announcing that smoking is banned in the canyon. There’s been a drought for a year and a half, so somebody tossing a smoldering butt out the window might send the small patches of indigenous forest left up in flames, and some of the increasingly seedy houses along the two-lane winding highway, too.

The most interesting sign was on the little (and extremely expensive) convenience mart in the depths of Laurel Canyon. In the spirit of Frank Zappa, the sign emphasized that the smoking ban included “spliffs,” which, these days, needs restating. With marijuana legalization ongoing, dope smoking is being transformed in the (weed-addled) popular mind from a vice to something that’s good for you and probably the environment (you couldn’t buy it a Medical Marijuana dispensary if it wasn’t medicine, right?). Similarly, all the cultural opposition to smoking shouldn’t apply to dope smoking. It’s totally different. It couldn’t cause a brushfire. It’s good smoking, not Bad Smoking.

As the marijuana legalization movement strengthens, you can see hints of how hard it is to hit the libertarian sweet spot where something is simultaneously legalized but remains rare and distasteful. People, especially young people, pick up messages from society about what is winning and what is losing more than they pick up nuanced messages. Smoking tobacco is losing so it seems reasonable to ban smoking it even in your own car while driving through a brushfire zone. Smoking marijuana is winning, so it doesn’t seem like the ban on smoking in Laurel Canyon applies to dope.

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