R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.

There is something ironic about R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, arguing against marijuana legalization because he claims it reduces your IQ while apparently not understanding basic math. From his recent column against marijuana legalization:

Possibly the marijuana smoker becomes more convivial at first, but mainly one becomes steadily more isolated, more alone. Is this really civilized?A pot party, as opposed to a cocktail party, can be a pretty gray affair. With contemporary marijuana the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) rate, that is to say the psychoactive ingredient in the drug, is about 15 percent higher than it was in the 1960s or 1970s. The increased level of THC makes the drug at least five times more powerful and brings with it increased medical problems. This little known fact hints at how widespread our ignorance of marijuana really is during the current debate about marijuana, or I should say the current non-debate?

This “fact” is little known because it is makes no sense logically. He directly contradicts himself from one line to the next. If the concentration of THC increased by 15 percent compared to 1970 that would mean the drug is 15 percent more “powerful” not five times. He is confusing his data and/or his math.

More importantly, talking about how much “more powerful” marijuana has supposedly become is silly and a mostly meaningless scare tactic. Just because some marijuana has more THC than others makes relatively little difference in the grand scheme.

Bourbon can be a shocking 10 TIMES! more powerful than beer, but that doesn’t mean people drinking whiskey are getting 10 times more drunk. People simply choose to drink a much smaller volume of bourbon as a result. The same way people choose to smoke a small amount of a marijuana if it has more THC.

Just like Tyrrell admits to doing with his scotch, people adjust their total consumption of their of choice of drug based on the amount of active ingredient in order to get their desired effect.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy

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