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August 19, 2009

The ethics of scoring pot

Free meta-advice: Heavily discount advice containing the phrase "high on life."

Slate's Emily Yoffe completely misses the point in her counsel to a guy who wants to know whether it's okay for him to obtain marijuana for his infirm sister-in-law (SIL). The letter-writer (LW) tells Prudie (Yoffe's alter ego) that he is close to both his brother and his sister-in-law, a woman in her mid-sixties who suffers from obesity and diabetes and who is nearly housebound from the pain of diabetic neuropathy.

According to LW, SIL has fond memories of marijuana from her youth and asked if he might be able to use his connections to get her some. It's not clear whether she wants the drug as medicine, but LW clearly hopes that the pot will help her neuropathic pain.

LW is very clear about the moral dilemma: SIL wants to keep her drug use a secret from her husband who is "very closed minded" and who would never approve of her using marijuana.

The secrecy is a real problem. SIL is an adult and what she decides to tell her husband is her business. But LW is close to both SIL and his brother. Helping SIL means going behind his brother's back. My advice to LW would be to offer to connect her, provided she agreed to level with her husband. Ganja is benign, but secrecy and divided loyalties are toxic.

SIL is 65 years old. She doesn't need her husband's permission. She can't let his disapproval rule her life. Maybe he won't approve, but what's he going to do, call the police?

It's not fair for SIL to ask LW to cover for her like that. The ruse isn't likely to last anyway. If the husband finds out, he would have every right to feel betrayed by his wife and his brother.

SIL should tell her husband and LW should openly take her side. The husband might get mad, but chances are he'll get over it.

Instead of grappling with the real ethical conundrum, Prudie presents a false dichotomy: Instead of procuring pot for his SIL, LW should be encouraging her to lose weight and see a doctor about her diabetes. "Instead of being her drug dealer, be her cheerleader!" Prudie gushes, "Your sister-in-law is only in her mid-sixties. There's still a lot of time left for her to be high on life."

For all we know, SIL is already eating well and seeing her doctor. Maybe she could get more exercise if she weren't in constant pain!

The accompanying animation incorporates and impressive number of cliches: Reefer madness plus ageism, as seen by a mid-20th century illustrator.

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Comments

medical marijuana .... woo hoo...!

"She's nearly housebound from disabilities....diabetic neuropathy..."

Doesn't sound to me like someone who's just a doctor's visit away from relief.

Look, obviously miss prude can't exactly dispense advice that is against the law. Are you kidding me?

Whoever ask that question is pretty dumb. (What's next? Dear Prude, what should I do between shooting grandma or saving the nation?)

The question itself is stupid. medium and forum have social context.

Look, obviously miss prude can't exactly dispense advice that is against the law.

That isn't obvious to me at all. What would prevent her from dispensing advice that is against the law?

It's perfectly legal to opine about whether something is ethical.

I'm sure an overweight 65-year-old diabetic woman is really just one uninspired rant from her BIL away from becoming a svelte size two who doesn't need marijuana. Jesus, what an asshole Prudie is.

Yeah, but salon.com is a US based publication. Even if grandma will live better life with marijuana, their ass will be grass if they dare saying "yeah dude, go ahead, score some weed for gramm"

Advocating illegal activity is pretty much opening a big publication to legal action.

Advocating illegal activity is pretty much opening a big publication to legal action.


Yet somehow High Times manages to tip toe through the tulips. Although they're probably on the margins of left liberal discourse along with Naomi Wolf and Keith Olbermann.

well, you got me there.

Let's face it, High Times is way more on the margins than Slate.

I was trying to figure out how big High Times circulation is. (their wiki entry is kinda amusing.)

anyway, circulation about 200K in '98. I bet with proliferation of internet, and down economy, their size is a bit smaller.
http://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1691254.html

The advertising department at High Times stated in a telephone interview that the paid circulation of the magazine is 237,411 and its pass-along circulation (a figure determined by the projected number of readers who will read each copy of the magazine) of more than 2 million. With that figure, the magazine asks and receives $12,000 for a full page color ad (Weisman, 1998).

You know Slate? Yeah, don't ever, ever read Slate. Slate destroys brain cells faster than huffing solvents.

Readership doesn't equal prestige. It matters not just how many people read you, but which people read you. Pharyngula's readership is about the same as The New Republic's. The New Republic is about seven orders of magnitude more influential.

Does that mean that The New Republic is 10 million times more influential than Pharyngula? So that if something on Pharyngula influenced 1,000 people, the same thing published in The New Republic would influence every single person on earth, and still have influence to spare? I should take out an ad in The New Republic!

new republic and Pharyngula are too hard to compare. Their reader demographic, main medium and subject are too different.

Maybe comparing new republic to huffingtonpost or daily kos is easier.

random observation: the internet will be transformed yet again soon, with the introduction of ultra cheap laptop and Android base smartphone. Everybody will read their news in their pocket computer soon. (not just twitter or blackberry.)

There's already an ultra cheap laptop - anything from 2003, for one. The current cheap laptops marketed for poor countries, such as the one laptop per child initiative, are low-end and mimic the performance of computers from the beginning of the decade.

I think squashed is talking about laptops that will be seven orders of magnitude cheaper than anything you could buy in 2003.

In being a medical marijuana-recommended patient in California, I have observed that many medical professionals and even para-professionals have a hard time dealing with the medical efficacy of pot. Or even just talking about the issue of using it for pain relief or solace in general. Just like Ms. Prudish, I mean Prudence, above. At the same time, some of the more knowledgeable MDs will "joke" about it with me, indicating their lack of disapproval in an indirect way. It is the oncology nurses in the trenches who have been most unabashed and straightforward about recommending it and talking about it with me.

Oh, those laptops are cheaper than vintage 2003 laptops were in 2003. They're just not cheaper than vintage 2003 laptops are today. Computers depreciate really fast.

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