Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fear the ponies

I found a lovely article today talking about the ridiculous fears we have about drugs.  The author talked about equasy, a habit that results in acute harm in 1 in 350 cases and which causes the release of endorphins and adrenalin into the system of humans who use it.  It had thousands of Britons in its grip, including many small children.

Of course equasy is horseriding, and despite the fact that it is vastly more dangerous than nearly any illegal drug no one bats an eye at people exposing children to it.

It is a similar comparison to one I often make where I talk about how people don't think anything at all of children being put in a car and driven long distances to a cottage but they freak out about children walking home alone or using an elevator by themselves.  The fact that the ride to the cottage is vastly more dangerous simply doesn't factor into it as their worry has nothing to do with actual measureable danger.

I am imagining a cop show where the plucky cop duo crash through the door of a ski resort, slam the manager down on the floor, and pack them away into a squad car before delivering some pithy one liner involving saving children from broken legs and frostbite.  (I tried to figure out something about frostbite and broken legs in jail, because that is how those one liners go, but I came up empty.  I guess I shouldn't try to write for TV.)

Canada is going to legalize pot, which is a great first step, but it is only the first step.  Pot has the most medicinal value and the least downsides of the illegal drugs so it is definitely the first candidate for legalization but we should not stop there.  We need to legalize all of it, regulate it, tax it, and focus on helping addicts instead of locking them up.  Failing to do so is the height of hypocrisy in light of how we look at other sources of danger.


  1. I think you're missing a bit of the risk/benefit equation in one of those examples.

    Cars are deadly, but they are extremely useful. And in many cases they are significantly better than the alternatives.

    I still use that same example when talking about risk though.

    I believe the marijuana example of choice is alcohol, which is also a recreational drug, but legal and occasionally incredibly dangerous.

  2. Both Cocaine and Heroin are vastly more dangerous than horseback riding. Horseback riding is responsible for ~100 deaths annually in the US. While ~4,000 and ~6,000 die from Cocaine and Heroin overdoses respectively each year in the US.