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Is it proper to date a girl who smokes pot?

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JacobGalt
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This woman, while not being an Objectivist, has many great qualities like being smart, attractive, funny, pro-reason and pro-man in general. She, however, likes to smoke marijuana. She says that it provides a great pleasure and relaxes her body and mind after a long day of work.

What should I do about it? Confront her? Immediately break up with her?

Cross-posted from Objectivist Answers.

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Join her! ;)

What you have provided is not enough to pass any sort of moral judgment. Smoking pot is not necessarily wrong.

Ayn Rand on drugs:

"It appears, however, that the “progressive” rich will be the first victims of their own social theories: it is the children of the well-to-do who emerge from expensive nursery schools and colleges as hippies, and destroy the remnants of their paralyzed brains by means of drugs."

Don't drugs cripple your rational faculty, which is the basic means of man's survival?

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Don't drugs cripple your rational faculty, which is the basic means of man's survival?

The occasional use of relatively mild drugs like pot and alcohol doesn't have a significant, lasting effect on someone's rational faculty. As evidenced by all the successful, productive pot smokers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRyLbsW3wZE

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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"Drugs" in this context is a human-invented categorization of foreign chemicals (foreign to the body as born) which act to noticeably alter the mental state of the user.

In many cases, the alteration, if repeatedly induced by the user, causes a re-balancing of body chemistry away from what it would be in the absence of the repeated alteration.

Now, about the morality of mind-altering drugs: that requires context. It is always a trade off; it is not always true that mind-alteration is always bad, or might not even be good for some, depending on the scope and cost of the alteration.

For example, smoking tobacco and drinking coffee can have a positive effect by increasing one's ability to focus in the face of mental stress, at the expense of physical health. The trade may go in favor of reducing mental stress for some. Personally, I find that smoking cigarettes helps me calmly focus when I have tough decisions to make, and I make fewer decisive mistakes in life choices as a result. I find that more valuable than 5-10 years at the back end of my life, because I'd rather live 25 more good years than 35 more mediocre ones, and on the margin the cigarettes assist me in making productive choices. If that equation changes, I'll quit.

Drinking alcohol to any significant degree is often deleterious, but is net beneficial in some very rare contexts. But I don't drink, and don't care to, because I am certain that it reduces mental clarity in the moment, and degrades mental alacrity over prolonged use.

Marijuana is not so clear cut: it is certainly less socially deleterious than alcohol (bar fights, car crashes, rapes, and other alcohol-induced stupidities are much much rarer with just pot); but it is certainly not as easy to embrace, morally, as cigarettes or coffee.

For some people, it does seem to make them overall happier and more productive -- yes, I said it. I think that one must keep context of the individual user, and let each potential user decide for themselves the cost/benefit to their happiness.

- ico

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Please note that hippies did/do FAR worse drugs to destroy their brains--acid, PCP, cocaine, heroin, the whole gamut.

On a side note, you might want to ponder whether you're substituting Rand's judgment for your own. Wikipedia is very available to you. Research marijuana!

[edit] on a personal note, I have a friend who smokes pot and tobacco, about which I do not judge him--but whenever he mentions listening to illegally copied music, I give a good "booooooo! boooooo!"

Edited by musenji
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Don't drugs cripple your rational faculty, which is the basic means of man's survival?

Not all drugs. Medications are drugs, too. That basically answers the question. Replace "play video games" or "have some wine" with "smoke marijuana" and the meaning is the same, with the same sort of implications. The important question to ask is: how much and why?

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You can't simply lump "drugs" all together as mind killers. Any definition of drugs that attempts to do that will inevitably also encompass alcohol and tobacco, but I presume you wouldn't be considering breaking up with this girl if she liked to have a glass of wine to relax after work. You have to look at the actual drug she uses and evaluate what role it plays in her life. If, for instance, she used the drug in ways that significantly interfered with her goals and values, that sort of self-destructive behavior should definitely be a concern. However, it sounds from your description as though she uses it responsibly in a positive context.

Being an Objectivist does not mean living your life based on Ayn Rand's opinions on everything. Think about your questions for a minute before you do a Lexicon search to find out what you should believe, eh?

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For example, smoking tobacco and drinking coffee can have a positive effect by increasing one's ability to focus in the face of mental stress, at the expense of physical health. The trade may go in favor of reducing mental stress for some. Personally, I find that smoking cigarettes helps me calmly focus when I have tough decisions to make, and I make fewer decisive mistakes in life choices as a result. I find that more valuable than 5-10 years at the back end of my life, because I'd rather live 25 more good years than 35 more mediocre ones, and on the margin the cigarettes assist me in making productive choices. If that equation changes, I'll quit.

That equation is wrong. People who smoke a pack or more a day die ten years early on average (not 5-10, by the way, but 10). That doesn't mean you're guaranteed 25 good years, far from it. You could die (or get a debilitating disease) from smoking next year.

The actual equation is that smoking doubles mortality rates in both middle and old age. About half of smokers die because of their habit, the other half don't. But out of those who die, half (duh!) die even earlier than that 10 year average.

So if you continue smoking, your odds of dying more than ten years before your time are 25%, and your odds of dying during middle age are two times greater than mine. If you quit before the age of 50, the chances of dying, from that point on, from your previous smoking are cut by at least half, but a lot more the faster you quit. (for instance, if you quit before the age of 30, you're almost completely safe).

The above facts are one of two reasons why I quit (the other was that smoking was affecting my appetite and physical condition). Looking back on it, I also realize that one of the arguments I used to come up with for smoking (that it relaxes me, and helps me think and work) was in fact dead wrong. I was comparing my mental state while smoking not with the state of a non-smoker, but rather with my mental state during times of withdrawal (whenever I was stuck in a place where I couldn't light up). Of course you can't think while going through withdrawal. But that says nothing about your ability to think once you've quit. There is no evidence to suggest those who stop smoking are negatively impacted as far as their ability to focus and make good decisions. If anything, I'm more functional and calm now, that I quit (since I'm never going through withdrawal).

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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This woman, while not being an Objectivist, has many great qualities like being smart, attractive, funny, pro-reason and pro-man in general. She, however, likes to smoke marijuana. She says that it provides a great pleasure and relaxes her body and mind after a long day of work.

What should I do about it? Confront her? Immediately break up with her?

So she:

is

1. "smart, attractive, funny, pro-reason and pro-man in general."

2. likes to some the devil bush because she feels there are aspects of it which benefit her life, such as using it for a social and stress relief tool.

First of all, Objectivism is not puritanism. While Ayn Rand was never much for any kind of drugs (the exception being cigarettes no less) although I do believe Peikoff has recounted that she has stated that they should "get some" of said devil bush in one instance (I do not know if this was carried through), Ayn Rand's views on drugs were expressed as an opinion, not a moral statement. While, generally speaking, there is a negative view of drugs with respect to your life in the Objectivist mindset, that is because the vast majority of drugs do entail harmful effects or have social costs that outweigh their actual benefit.

With the exception of the laws against marijuana (which are a joke to get a round), this is, for the most part, not true of marijuana, and in fact, many other drugs, such as mushrooms, LSD, and I think perhaps even Peyote, neuroscientists have been finding some positive effects they may have on various diseases such as ADHD/ADD, Autism, an I think I remember Alzheimers. Marijuana can also for instance, be very useful for those with cancer. In fact, when marijuana is used with a vaporizer, or even better, cooked into edible forms, its negative health effects are relatively negligible, especially compared to all other legal and/or commonly used drugs.

Now many people do not have these legitimate medical conditions, but stress is a very real condition and can become very harmful to ones life at certain levels. While most people do not have that issue, stress is a legitimate issue nonetheless, and just like many other discomforts, we seek to deal with them through technology, science, and the resourcefulness of knowledge about remedying effects. You should be judging her on her overall qualities, not simply her marijuana smoking. I think you need to reevaluate your heirarchy of values here. If the usage of marijuana is not to a point where it is actually destructive to her life, if it is not seriously being a detriment to her productivity, success, etc. then I don't think its something to put much weight on. Hell, try it just the once if you haven't before. If nothing else, you will get a better idea of what it is and it will give you some bonding points with her.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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What should I do about it? Confront her? Immediately break up with her?

It sounds like it bothers you so if it does you should obviously break up with her. However, if you are asking what the rational thing to do is, it would be to stay with her since she has all those great qualities you listed. There is nothing wrong with smoking herb. If you think the practice is bad since the government has a law against it, think again. There is no reason to follow irrational laws.

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First of all get the legal bias off the subject. Economic laws should not affect your moral judgement. I am almost sure that at the time Beer was illegal in the States, Marijuana, opium and "Heroin the cure for all ailments", were very much legal. First thing you could do as an imperfect exercise is replacing pot with alcohol, then ask yourself: does she enjoy the occasional, or even daily, drink? or is she a vicious alcoholic? Then asess the situation but replacing the physically addictive alcohol with the more conspicuous properties of cannabinoids.

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If you don't drink this may not be relevant to you, but please consider that alcohol is far more dangerous than marijuana. You can not overdose on marijuana (by smoking it), you'd die of asphyxiation first. You can, however die by alcohol poisoning. I assume you don't binge drink; likewise, I'd hope the lady doesn't smoke herself retarded when she lites up. So long as she's doing it in moderation, there isn't necesarily a problem with it. But if it makes you uncomfortable, she may not be the one for you anyway.

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I wouldn't even be asking this question, I'd have broken up with her within 24 hours, but probably immediately. Taking drugs for depression (which appears to be a problem with the brain's functioning) and taking drugs to deal with stress are two different things. Stress has a purpose; if stress is such that you can't function on a regular basis because of it, one should seek clinical help because they have a serious problem. Otherwise, one should be able to reorganize their life and/or think better so as to eliminate or at least negate much of the stress. Using a mind-dulling drug as a crutch to deal with stress (much like using alcohol for this purpose, or to be more sociable at functions) is counter-productive. One would be in a far better position if they tried to work on their social skills, or stress relief skills, or tried to make their life less stressful; that is, if one learned how not to be dependent on a mind-dulling drug. Barring the presence of disease, there is no excuse, in my opinion, to intentionally dull your mind in order to get some sort of feeling.

This is not saying that you can't drink alcohol. The above argument would say that you shouldn't have more than one standard drink in each 1-1.5 hour period (approximately the time period it takes your liver to process the alcohol). You can drink alcohol for taste, for example, but one should not drink in order to get drunk or "buzzed". That would mean that you are intentionally unfocussing your mind (and making difficult to impossible to reach full focus if needed), something which one ought never to do if they wish to live rationally. I don't see how one could ever enjoy smoking anything (as marijuana and tobacco smell terrible, for one thing), and at least with marijuana, I don't imagine it is possible to use it without getting the equivalent of an alcoholic "buzz." As a result, the use of marijuana recreationally is wrong, and should not be done under any circumstances.

As for those advocating the use of hallucinogenics, that is an explicit desire to disconnect oneself entirely from reality, and as such is profoundly immoral; I thought that would be so obvious as to not be even in question.

I'll grant that I've always leaned on the puritanical side of things, but I don't see any flaw in my reasoning. Nowhere in the arguments or context for the virtues was there room to breach those principles (particularly rationality and honesty, which explicitly require full focus) for recreation.

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That would mean that you are intentionally unfocussing your mind (and making difficult to impossible to reach full focus if needed), something which one ought never to do if they wish to live rationally. I don't see how one could ever enjoy smoking anything (as marijuana and tobacco smell terrible, for one thing), and at least with marijuana, I don't imagine it is possible to use it without getting the equivalent of an alcoholic "buzz."

So are you advocating that no legal drugs should be used that have similar effects to marijuana (which there are many of)? Using a drug for a clear cut rational purpose (e.g. relieving stress) does not cause you to live irrationally.

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So are you advocating that no legal drugs should be used that have similar effects to marijuana (which there are many of)? Using a drug for a clear cut rational purpose (e.g. relieving stress) does not cause you to live irrationally.

If you have a clinical problem with stress, that you need medication in order to be able to resolve, then sure go ahead (in extreme moderation). But if you are simply stressed out occasionally, then one shouldn't turn to a drug, but instead work on improving their own psychology in order to resolve the problem. Using a drug to relieve stress (that is normal, not a medical or clinically psychological problem) is NOT rational. That is what I am saying.

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This is not saying that you can't drink alcohol. The above argument would say that you shouldn't have more than one standard drink in each 1-1.5 hour period (approximately the time period it takes your liver to process the alcohol). You can drink alcohol for taste, for example, but one should not drink in order to get drunk or "buzzed". That would mean that you are intentionally unfocussing your mind (and making difficult to impossible to reach full focus if needed), something which one ought never to do if they wish to live rationally. I don't see how one could ever enjoy smoking anything (as marijuana and tobacco smell terrible, for one thing), and at least with marijuana, I don't imagine it is possible to use it without getting the equivalent of an alcoholic "buzz." As a result, the use of marijuana recreationally is wrong, and should not be done under any circumstances.

This sounds a little like Objectivism (because of the whole focused mind thing), but it isn't. Objectivism advocates for a focused mind as the means of achieving one's goals, making hard choices, creating great things, etc. However, that does not mean it calls for always lying in wait, like a damn deer or some kind of martial arts guru, ready to focus one's mind just in case something happens. In fact Rand drank to get buzzed, so did the people in her circle of friends. Plenty of people (like Miss Rand) have jobs that allow them to not worry about having to perform at full capacity 24/7. They can get off work and make the safe assumption that they can enjoy a good buzz without any negative consequences whatsoever.

As for those advocating the use of hallucinogenics, that is an explicit desire to disconnect oneself entirely from reality, and as such is profoundly immoral; I thought that would be so obvious as to not be even in question.

Smoking pot has never caused me to have even a single hallucination. So, if you're calling the people in this thread, who are saying there's nothing wrong with that practice, advocates for the use of hallucinogenics, you are factually and demonstrably wrong. Yes, in their purest form and taken excessively substances contained in pot are hallucinogenic, but that does not mean a joint is also hallucinogenic. Something that doesn't cause hallucinations isn't hallucinogenic.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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So if you continue smoking, your odds of dying more than ten years before your time are 25%, and your odds of dying during middle age are two times greater than mine. If you quit before the age of 50, the chances of dying, from that point on, from your previous smoking are cut by at least half, but a lot more the faster you quit. (for instance, if you quit before the age of 30, you're almost completely safe).

This is a perfect example of the fallacy of using statistics in individual cases. The individual is the essential context for any question relating to the health and happiness of the individual.

Is it possible that tobacco use is highly correlated with mental stresses? If so, then could it be that the mental stress is the cause of ill health for some, and by reducing it they live better? Can you say that cigarettes are bad in ALL contexts, for ALL people, based on statistics?

There was an old Dutch study that found self-described stress as the only significant correlate to cancer. I'll try to dig up the documentation.

- ico

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Mind you, I am not claiming that cigarettes are good for me in a purely physical way; I am saying that, all tolled, I find the experience net beneficial in my current context.

I fully expect that calculation to evolve, and the conclusion to change, and me to quit at some point. I can see the evidence building in my mind, and at some point, as with alcohol, I'll just quit without desire or regret. The physical addiction is an excuse for weak minds to justify their indulgence -- it ain't harder to quit than working at an invigorating endeavor, it just takes harmony between conscious and subconscious sums.

- ico

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This is a perfect example of the fallacy of using statistics in individual cases.

No, it's not. I am applying the statistical evidence to a random smoker's chances of survival correctly, after you mis-applied them in your previous post to conclude smoking will take 5-10 years off your life.

In the context of my knowledge about you (all I know is that you are a middle aged smoker), that is the accurate estimation of your chances of dying from it. If I was your doctor and had some more facts (about your medical condition, history of illness in your family, etc.) I could maybe give you a more accurate estimate. (meaning that 50% chance that you'll die because of your smoking, instead of some other cause, would either go up or down to some extent - I doubt it could ever, given our current medical knowledge, go down enough to allow someone to rationally choose long term smoking)

But, based on my current knowledge about you, that 0.5 is an accurate number for the probability of you dying from smoking, and so are all the other figures. Can you present any evidence to suggest your chances of survival are better than that?

Can you say that cigarettes are bad in ALL contexts, for ALL people, based on statistics?

Based on only statistics? Of course not. Based on only statistics, it would also be possible that smoking only kills some humans, and has no effect on others. But that's not the case.

Based on the rest of our knowledge about the effects of smoking on the human body in general, coupled with those statistics, I absolutely can say that they are harmful for any person in the context you provided (of yourself).

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But, based on my current knowledge about you, that 0.5 is an accurate number for the probability of you dying from smoking, and so are all the other figures. Can you present any evidence to suggest your chances of survival are better than that?

Wrong. Past statistics do not determine future probabilities. That is the fallacy you are using: Correlation does not prove causality, and therefore does not imply predictability in any individual case.

Based on only statistics? Of course not. Based on only statistics, it would also be possible that smoking only kills some humans, and has no effect on others. But that's not the case.

Actually, smoking does not kill humans per se. And neither is smoking the only means to conditions such as lung cancer and heart attack, which do kill humans, and are statistically correlated to smoking, and are in some cases caused, more or less, by the additional stress of smoking. But in other cases, the stress of smoking on the body does not lead to untimely death. Smoking has an effect on everyone, but that effect is not death in every case. Unlike, e.g., arsenic in sufficient dosage.

Also, you conveniently ignore the potential benefits of smoking. If it was just poisonous, with no benefit, no one would ever do it.

Based on the rest of our knowledge about the effects of smoking on the human body in general, coupled with those statistics, I absolutely can say that they are harmful for any person in the context you provided (of yourself).

They are physically harmful, that I do not dispute. But to Man, an integrated whole with both mental and physical aspects, it is possible for the physical detriment to be a fair cost for the psychological benefit. It is always a trade. The question is, is it necessary to physical survival? No, but then, neither is sexual intercourse.

You have to consider the whole context before judging bad and good. Otherwise, you are floating.

- ico

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Wrong. Past statistics do not determine future probabilities.

Where are you getting this from? Of course they do, that's the only reason why anyone does statistical analysis.

Also, you conveniently ignore the potential benefits of smoking. If it was just poisonous, with no benefit, no one would ever do it.

No one ever does anything that's poisonous and without benefit? That's not a very sound premise for your inference there.

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