Drug Law

Christian Science Monitor Really Hates Marijuana

| by Reason Foundation

By Mike Riggs

The Christian Science Monitor is, in many respects, a good newspaper. It has a large team of stellar reporters who know how to get scoops, knows the value of breaking news online, and, contrary to its name, is largely independent of the First Church of Christ, Scientist (save for the one religious article it has run, in honor of founder Mary Baker Eddy, every day since 1908). On the CSM’s About page, where it explains its independence from the church Eddy also founded, the editors write, “The idea is that the unblemished truth is freeing (as a fundamental human right); with it, citizens can make informed decisions and take intelligent action, for themselves and for society.”

Considering all this, it is very odd that the Monitor's editorial board has not been deposed for the nonsense it writes about drug-law reform.

In 2010, the paper’s board ran an editorial titled, “Time to again mobilize against marijuana,” in which the writers made the case that casual use of marijuana “can lead to dependency, distort perception, and impair coordination, learning, and memory,” and that chronic use has been “linked” to schizophrenia, and suicide. The editorial also misrepresented a RAND study that said marijuana legalization won’t completely destroy the cartels. (Not now, it won’t. But it would sure as hell reduce their profit margins.) In its conclusion, the 2010 Monitor editorial took the rather slimy course of suggesting that Obama was not just a bad president, but a bad father for not doing more to oppose marijuana legalization efforts:

Barack Obama is widely respected as a family man. His two girls are on the way to teenhood. One in 6 people who start using marijuana as an adolescent becomes addicted. Is he going to simply tell his daughters that, yes, he smoked pot and, well, he hopes they survive the experience if they follow his example?

Or will the president successfully articulate a message – one that helps parents and other caring adults talk to today’s youth – by telling his children that rejecting marijuana isn’t about his past use, it’s about their future. It’s about their safety, their clarity of thought, their happiness independent of a drug.

The culture of pot acceptance must be reversed in America. It was turned back after 1979, and that can happen again. But the drug czar can’t do it alone. We need the man at the top, and all of the relevant administration players, saying the same thing, and saying it often. What’s good for the president’s children is good for the country. He must tell us so.

Two years later, the editors of the Monitor have outdone their previous efforts—here they are cheering on dispensary crackdowns; here they are praising the DEA as arbiters of morality and reason—this time by suggesting that Obama is being a bad president for doing more to dissuade legalization efforts abroad than he is in Colorado and Washington state:

During his visit to Central America, Mr. Biden seemed sympathetic to the region’s frustration with drug cartels and their violence. He said a debate over legalization is understandable “in societies that don’t have the institutional framework and the structure to deal with organized, illicit operations.”

Did the vice president mean to imply that the United States does have the “institutional framework” to deal with illicit drug sales? If so, why does marijuana use only rise?

The administration needs to step up and make a strong case against legalization in the US in order to counter a well-financed, well-organized pro-marijuana effort. One argument is that the cartels would actually welcome legalization, in the same way that US casino owners have welcomed state gambling lotteries. To drug dealers, the more addicts the better.

Biden did say a debate in Latin America about legalization would help “lay to rest some of the myths that are associated with the notion of legalization.”

How about he and Obama start to challenge those myths in states like Colorado and Washington?

This is nothing short of vile. Not only is Biden wrong about the effects of ending prohibition (Portugal has experienced lower addiction rates since decriminalizing all drugs), but there is zero evidence that cartels want legalization. In fact, it’s more likely they—and the politicians they've captured—hate the idea. Prohibition has made Mexico’s drug lords insanely wealthy, won countless PRI campaigns, and lined the pockets of politicians and cops on both sides of the border. Full-on legalization across the Americas would cause pot prices to plummet, and diminish the slush funds that finance the cartels' savagery and corruption.  

As for the paper's claim to editorial indepence: The Monitor editorial board’s thinking is not just wrong-headed, but mirrors its parent organization's willingness to cite all manner of specters in order to keep from openly espousing its quackish pre-Enlightenment views on medicine and science. The myth, then, is not that repealing marijuana prohibition will save lives and money, but that the editors of the Christian Science Monitor, which was founded by an anti-science charlatan, are in any way qualified to opine about public health.