The Case for Marijuana


I’ll start this by saying I am an advocate for the legalization of marijuana, and not just for medical use. This latest debate has brought out the ignorance in people once more, so I figure I might as well do what I did for gun rights and compile some facts for everyone to understand.

1) Marijuana is, comparatively, not a bad substance to use

Contrary to the obviously biased lies spread by anti-marijuana, the use of cannabis does not lead to aggression or insanity. Smoking marijuana’s short-term effects include pacification, lethargy, apathy, reduced stress, and reduced cognitive ability. Certainly not the people you want driving a vehicle or performing a risky task, but far from the claims of slavering nutjobs that have to be put down by bullets (you’re thinking about PCP or Meth). Now compare that to the effects of people who drink alcohol, a legal substance that has shown correlation with aggressive behavior, reduced judgment, reduced coordination, and reduced inhibition. Why is it that it’s OK to take something known to cause vehicular accidents or physical conflicts, yet not OK to use a substance known to pacify individuals or make them lazy?

If we look at the long-term effects of marijuana, we find a number of positives. Certainly, the most notable is that medical marijuana has proven to reduce neuropathic and psychosomatic pain. In addition, some studies are showing correlations between reduction in overall symptoms and increases in immune system, possibly because of the psychological effects THC intoxication can have on mood and stress relief. Marijuana shows no conclusive relationship with cancer and may actually improve cancer patients chances of remission. In contrast, tobacco is directly proven to cause cancer and numerous other physiological effects. Neurologically, moderate THC use has not been proven to create a permanent effect on cognitive ability or memory in adults. Alcohol, on the other hand, not only effects the liver but also the brain, creating deficits in both of those areas. We end up with two legal substances (cigarettes and booze) that are proven to create lasting neurological and physiological effects, yet marijuana is the illegal one.

What about addiction? Although there is some minor evidence that marijuana may be psychologically addictive, it is no more so than many other substances. The majority of people who suffer marijuana addiction generally suffer from an “addictive” personality archetype and would be addicted to something anyway. In addition, marijuana has no proof of physiological addiction, unlike tobacco and alcohol. Should we be banning a substance because a minority have a psychological disorder that may be exacerbated, while we continue to allow legal use of substances that are known to create a chemical addiction in users?

2) Marijuana is not safe

Now, to make it clear, smoking marijuana is not something done without a care. Marijuana can create negative effects in the short-term and has shown to have some lasting effects in the long-term. Any effects of substance use will be dependent on the individual and their situation, so don’t think that marijuana is some wonder drug that is safe.

In the short-term, marijuana still affects cognitive ability, which means it needs to be used responsibly. You should not use vehicles or perform stressful or risky tasks while under the influence. You wouldn’t want your doctor or a firefighter showing up drunk, so why should they show up stoned? Moderate usage at home or at an event that does not require you to drive is smart, no different than getting drunk.

In the long-term, marijuana does have correlations with some respiratory illness, including atypical bulbous disease. This is because smoking anything is bad for you, as you’re pouring hot, toxin-filled air into sensitive lungs. This may be why many are turning to vaporizers, tablets, or patches for THC. Also, while most adults are not affected by cannabis use, the same cannot be said for children. Studies have shown that adolescent use of marijuana may restrict neurological development, stunting cognitive ability later in life. Of course, you don’t want your underage kids smoking or drinking, so the same rules should apply to cannabis use.

Remember how I said the use depended on the individual and the situation? Similar to alcohol, marijuana use requires a person to be able to moderate themselves. They have to recognize how much they’ve smoked, be responsible enough to avoid risky behavior (like driving), know how much they can have and when they need to sober up by, etc. Too many smokers do so without concern, often with continued and intense usage, and this can lead to many problems.

3) Marijuana is not a gateway drug

Despite some controversial studies in the early 21st century supposedly finding a correlation between later drug use, current studies reveal that there is no evidence that marijuana use leads to heavier drug use. What the current research discovered is that the original studies did not take into account two types of marijuana users: at-risk youths and the curious.

Aggressive or deviant adolescents and young adults are more likely to perform risky behavior. When they use marijuana, with minimal effect on themselves, they are more likely to try something “harder”. Of course, they are just as likely to do this through alcohol as well, yet that substance is not labeled a “gateway”. Instead of accusing marijuana of leading these teenagers astray, perhaps there should be a stronger look at the community from which they come from. Where are the parents? Where are their teachers? Who is trying to help these troubled kids and advocate for responsible behavior?

Similarly, the criminalization of marijuana often puts it in proximity with other substances. When an individual who is naturally curious is presented with a dealer or a party, they may be inclined to try something different. Instead of claiming that marijuana should be banned because of these inquisitive users, perhaps decriminalization will remove the presence of harder substances. If you’re purchasing from legitimate businesses and salesmen, you avoid interacting with criminals who may try to push other drugs.

4) Marijuana can help a society

I’ll talk about hemp in a second, but I figured I should mention a key point about marijuana: taxation. Colorado is estimated to have pulled in over $100 million in tax revenues alone. Now, while we all cringed at “taxes”, if done right these things can help save a community. Putting money into schools, police, infrastructure, etc. is just the tip of the iceberg. Colorado is using much of this money toward community support programs, including advocacy against substance use among kids, addiction counseling and networks, etc. If we can take a previously illegal substance, flip it and sell it to responsible adults, and use the revenue to help the irresponsible… would we not be creating a better environment?

Another side of this is the decriminalization that can help reduce prison rates, refocus police on more important issues, and avoid the ruin of many people’s future. There are a disproportionate amount of people in prison for simply smoking marijuana, whereas wealthy blue collar criminals can embezzle millions and get off with a slap of the wrist or a year in Club Fed. Freeing up space in prison for true criminals and allowing someone to not pay for the rest of their life for simple substance use would be the smart thing, wouldn’t it? I mean, it’s almost like the entire war on marijuana was created not to help society but to keep it divided, the for-profit prisons filled with the poor and minority… but that couldn’t be true, could it?

5) Hemp is an amazing substance

We’ve talked about the good effects of marijuana, some of the bad, and the fact that marijuana is not a gateway to the ugly. Are there are other reasons to encourage the growth of this plant? Well, consider this: hemp is one of the most useful, and oldest, agricultural plants in the world. The growing of hemp stretches back to antiquity and was even performed by our Founding Figures, only becoming illegal in the last century or so. What does this wonder plant do?

Hemp seed can be used to replace soybeans and other food goods. The nutritious value of this seed, which is high in dietary fiber, essential fats, proteins, and Vitamin B is second to none. Hemp fibers are better than cotton, showing higher absorption and insulation than that popular plant. Clothes, towels, sheets, rope, etc. made from hemp have long been proven to be superior. The great part is that none of these forms contain psychoactive levels of THC, making them perfectly safe and not at risk of wrongful use.

What about hemp’s effect on the environment? Green energy could see a spike from hemp used as a biomass fuel producer, replacing corn and similar ethanol crops. Hemp is also a hardy plant, requiring less chemicals to maintain healthy growth, and can produce more product per square acre than any other crop. Hemp may even be used to produce more biodegradable plastics and papers, reducing waste.

So why haven’t we used this wonder plant? Simply, those invested in wood, plastics, oils, etc. don’t want it. They will use every last politician and lobbyist in their pocket to prevent an efficient, environmentally friendly, and useful substance from ruining their own profits. This is why you see so much advocacy against marijuana and hemp, often filled with lies and misinformation… the Corporations want to keep public opinion swayed their way.

So, there you have it. You have a substance that does have some risk to it, but is comparatively safer than other substances (including the two legal ones), is not a gateway drug, and is not addictive. It can help a society by bringing in extra revenue and reducing prison populations and ruined futures, not to mention wonder crops that run a gamut of positive uses. Yet we still debate over legalization, as if there was a valid reason not to…

Perhaps we should just round up the politicians, lock them in a room, and smokebox them until they start to see some reason.

The Problems with Conventions (and Some Advice)


I’ve been watching the rants about a recent local convention, from the points-of-view of both staff and attendee. Thinking upon these disparate claims and my own previous experiences with conventions, I think the main problem stems from the clash between personality and professionalism. No small part is thanks to the prevalence of certain personality archetypes in this arena, regardless of whether paid customer or volunteer worker. The lack of emotional control, social intelligence, and maturity makes it just as hard to satisfy the demanding attendee as it does to guarantee the professionalism of the staff. Based on that, and some discussions with others who’ve regularly dealt with conventions, I do have some suggestions.

Professional Department Heads

You need to ensure the utmost professional behavior from your department heads. Without mature, responsible, and ethical leadership you cannot guarantee it from the rest your staff. Although it’s been years since I last helped with a convention, I can tell you from rumors that the “Game of Thrones” still goes on behind the scenes. Certain types of people let positions of authority go to their head and often do not have the maturity to handle being “lord of the manor”. When egocentrism and narcissism take priority over responsibility, things go south fast. Inter-department conflicts, refusals to cooperate or adhere to convention-wide rules, or any other form of “dick waving” does nothing but make things worse for everyone, from staff to guest.

To counter this, you need to make sure that each department head is staffed by someone who is professional, knowledgeable, and understands the ramifications if they do not cooperate. Although everyone who participates is a volunteer, that doesn’t mean the convention should accept whoever is willing to do something. They should still interview the person and ensure that they have the correct personality, skills, and education to perform the task. My HOA consists solely of volunteers and you will see that certain tasks (like Treasurer or Secretary) only go to those the Board agrees can handle them. The same should apply to those running everything from Security to Customer Service to Operations; you don’t want someone who has no people skills working the badge desk and you don’t need someone whose meek securing a door or line. These interviews should ensure the person in charge knows their jobs, knows their responsibilities, and can handle them without behaving like a Skeksis holding on to their scepter.

Properly Staffed Departments

Once you have the appropriate people running each department, you need to make sure the people you have under them are just as professional. Too many volunteers do so just for a free badge (including myself in the past) without taking into consideration that they are there for the paying customers, not themselves. Departments should start gathering volunteer requests from the start and give them the same scrutiny the convention did to determine heads. They should make sure the most knowledgeable and skilled individuals are on the frontlines of their department, while additional volunteers are put on the more menial, less crucial tasks. This allows the “face” of the convention to be the most professional while a new generation learns from their example for future events.

Now, this does run into a problem with “volunteer” desks that often bring people in at the last second. If that is the case, these people should be instructed that their badge is contingent on a certain amount of dedicated work. They should be assigned to whatever department is appropriate given their education, ability, and personality, and that position is not guaranteed to be one they want. The point of this is to weed out the “free badge” vultures and make sure that those who work for the convention truly are there for the greater experience.

Customer Service Training

Now, before this work feels like it is solely blaming poor staff behavior and ability, let’s not forget the clientele they have to deal with. The average American these days is egocentric to a fault, demanding immediate gratification regardless of the unrealistic expectations. Combine that with the personality archetype of the typical con-goer, who often has the emotional maturity and social graces of a toddler, and you end up with one of the most difficult customer bases. No matter what you do, someone will take offense and start a soapbox rant about how draconian, unreasonable, etc. the staff are.

The first thing to ensure is that their rant holds no truth. By guaranteeing the professionalism of your staff, you ensure that the rumors and complaints are likely to be false. As long as convention volunteers never stoop to the same level of the attendee, you can perform your job with confidence and efficacy without concern over what others are saying. A con staff should be a role model of acceptable behavior that the attendants can look to and realize how ridiculous some of their peers are behaving.

The second thing is to learn techniques to handle complainants, whether based on real incidents or not. I will not go into the variety of customer service techniques and training that exist, but there are enough that could be explained in simple terms that the cost to educate staff is minimal. E-mails, websites, or 1-2 page brochures highlighting proper responses and behavior can work wonders to ensuring a professional air. The department heads might want to go further than this, using certain guides to better sift through complaints and create new approaches to curtail these situations the next time. You don’t have to attend some multi-hour seminar, but you should at least know how to deal with people and basic management techniques and plans.


Hopefully those three suggestions actually make sense and mean something. It’s a shame when a popular event faces upset from its clientele, but often those closest to the issue are blinded by their own proximity. If you want your event to appear professional and garner respect, you need to make sure your staff are professional and respectful. From the department heads to the front door volunteer, everyone needs to be knowledgeable, skilled, and mature. Only then can you better recognize the true complaints from the usual rants of some whiners, reacting to each in their own appropriate manner. Do that and you might just have an event that starts to have positive rumors spread instead of the usual mewlings of the unwashed masses.

Obama’s Ranking in History


To those who claim Obama is the worst President in history… you clearly are not in the majority.

According to an aggregation of political scholar surveys, Obama ties with several others at #14… out of 43. He is considered a higher success so far than 66% of the other Presidents. The worst? Warren G. Harding. The worst in recent history (last 50 years)? George W. Bush.

The Siena College Research Institute has compiled surveys for almost 30 years, ranking Presidents on a 19-point axis including leadership, economy, communication, accomplishments, and relationships with congress. In the most recent surveys, Obama ranks #15… out of 43. He is considered of higher ability than almost 66% of the other Presidents; he has high marks in Communication, Imagination, and Intelligence, although low marks in Party Leadership, Relations with Congress, Foreign Policy, Crucial Mistakes, and Overall Ability. The worst? Andrew Johnson. The worst in recent history (last 50 years)? George W. Bush.

According to a 2011 Vision Critical/Angus Reid Poll on approval ratings of the past twelve Presidents, Obama was #8… out of 12. His 41% approval/33% disapproval was higher than Ford, Lyndon B. Johnson, G.W. Bush, and Nixon. The worst? Nixon with a 24% approval/54% disapproval rating.

According to a 2011 Gallup Poll on who the best President is/was, Obama was #7 of the highest with 4% of people. He had more supporters than Teddy Roosevelt, Truman, Bush I and II, Jefferson, Carter, Eisenhower, Jackson, Lyndon B. Johnson and Nixon. The worst? Nixon had less than 1% support.

According to a 2012 Harris Poll on who the best President is/was, Obama again ranks #7 of the highest with 4% of people. There he had more supporters than Jefferson, G.W. Bush, Truman, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Carter. The worst? Bush II, Adams, Nixon, Jackson, Lyndon B. Johnson, Coolidge, Wilson, and Ford all had less than 0.5% support.

According to a 2012 Gallup Poll on how recent Presidents will go down in history, Obama only had a 35% below average/poor rating. 10% said Obama was outstanding, higher than Bush I and II, Carter, Ford, or Nixon. 28% said Obama was above average, higher than G.W. Bush, Carter, Ford, or Nixon. The worst? Nixon, who had 14% outstanding/above average and 55% below average/poor.

The consensus seems to be that Nixon is likely the worst president in recent history. In the bottom are Carter, Ford, Bush I and II, Lyndon B. Johnson, Eisenhower, and Truman. Of course, moving even further in the past and you find Presidents considered far worse according to their failures, including Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, and Warren G. Harding.


Think about that these numbers the next time someone (or yourself) spouts that “Obama is the worst President in history!”. The key to critical thinking (and thus common sense) is to recognize when your own perceptions might be wrong. After all, in this heated and divided country, how do you know what you’re being told about him is true?

Snopes shows that only 14% of the claims about Barack Obama are true, compared to 41% of claims about George W. Bush. Worse, people have spread 141 rumors about Obama, compared to 46 about Bush; people are three times more likely to spread misinformation about Obama suggesting anything you hear is probably a lie or half-truth.

Politifact shows that 46% of statements by Obama are True or Mostly True, with 27% Mostly False, False, or “Pants on Fire”; compare that to Reid (28% True – 56% False), Boehner (32% True – 53% False), McConnell (38% True – 43% False), and Pelosi (16% True – 38% False). If Obama is less of a liar than other politicians, how can he be the worst in history?

Is it possible to not like Obama? Absolutely! He has backed a number of policies that have upset people on both sides of the sociopolitical spectrum. To claim, however, that he is the “worst” is hyperbole and not supported by anything, from polls to surveys to historical analyses to his reelection in 2012. Pick a specific issue, fact check it to make sure it’s true, and then claim you don’t like him because of said topic. Otherwise, when you go on and on about how he’s the “worst President in history” you sound like a moron.

Nerd vs. Geek vs. Dork


The following arises from my concept of “Dork Psychology”. This is a theory I hold that attempts to define psychological and behavioral similarities between individuals of specific hobbies, pursuits, and groupings. Certainly, as with all generalizations, we cannot broadly apply these concepts to every individual; there are many variations and not everyone given a subjective label may fit. After all, one person’s “dork” is another person’s “genius”. However, as with other personality theories (Type A/B theory, Myers-Briggs theory, etc.) there are certain similarities between groups that cannot be denied. Just take a look at your local convention, Renaissance Festival, or comic store some time and say you don’t get a certain vibe. That being said, I think it’s important to understand my perception of the words Nerd, Geek, and Dork.

Webster defines “Dork” as synonymous with “Nerd”; both terms are defined as “an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; especially: one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits”. Further investigation of other definitions revealed a common trait in a lack of social skills, which can include behavior as well as appearance. In psychological terms, this social ineptitude would be understand as a lack in social intelligence. Thus, as defined by the theory of Dork Psychology, the personality type we are looking for is an individual who lacks social intelligence and follows intellectual or academic pursuits. Even simpler? People who are way too much into some sort of fantasy or technology and annoy the hell out of the rest of us.

The term “Dork” was used primarily because the connotations seemed stronger than “Nerd”, particularly to this author. Why do I not use the term “Geek” when it has been used interchangeably? Quite simply, “Geek” is defined differently and is not necessarily the same. Webster has three definitions for this term, but we will ignore two of them (circus performer and a tech enthusiast). The final definition is noted as “a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked”, which is not quite the same as the definitions for Dork or Nerd. There is no mention of being obsessed with certain pursuits nor talk of social ineptitude; the reasons for being disliked seem to be purely because the individual is intellectual. Thus, in this author’s terms, a “Geek” is just a smart person who’s into smart things and faces opposition or labeling because of it.

Understand that the pursuits may be similar between Dorks and Geeks. The difference is that you can be a Geek into many things and still be socially capable, as you will only face opposition when your intellectual nature or pursuits are brought up. Dorks face opposition because they lack social intelligence and are completely devoted to their pursuits (an aspect that contributes to social ineptitude). I.e., just because you know computers, play D&D, or dress up in medieval garb, does not mean you’re a Dork. It’s when your entire life revolves around computers, D&D, and medieval dress-up combined with a lack of social graces that you fit the definition for a Dork.