The current Brett Kavanaugh fiasco reminds us of the huge chasm between alcohol and cannabis culture.
What we tend to forget is that while some people drink alcohol or consume cannabis a few times a month, others get drunk or stoned to excess every day, sometimes several times per day. Those hardcore users comprise two subcultures and mindsets: A stoner subculture and a boozer subculture.
In both groups, the intoxicant is a major determinant in how the person lives, behaves and thinks. Consuming alcohol or cannabis to the point where it alters consciousness and produces subjective and externally visible behavioral changes is the major focus — perhaps the life purpose — of a stoner or boozer.
As a self-professed stoner and cannabis grower, I know how it feels to plan my life around intoxication. Not just because growing weed requires planning and a daily suite of duties to keep the plants happy, but because getting stoned is what I most look forward to every day.
In fact, growing cannabis and being stoned is what keeps me sane, interested in life, active, engaged, smiling. That’s why I can relate to a couple of old friends who are alcohol connoisseurs. Their love of being buzzed or drunk is like my love of being high, except they don’t produce their own alcohol.
They drink as much as Kavanaugh allegedly did in high school and college, if not more, and they too have been doing it since they were teenagers. I’ve seen them blackout drunk. I’ve put them in taxis and sent them home from bars and parties. One of them once got so drunk that he made a disgusting, embarrassing mess with his projectile vomiting.
One of these guys has a wine cellar and spent $3,700 last year alone buying supposedly rare, vintage bottles of booze. Not just wine, but bourbon, gin, cognac, tequila and whisky. If he were to attempt to consume the hoard of booze he has right now in the cellar, it would rot his liver. And yet, he keeps adding to his collection.
Despite their love for alcohol, and apparently without irony, these guys refer to cannabis as “dope” and say “it makes you stupid.”
They claim to have tried cannabis and it made them lethargic, slow-witted and confused. That one negative experience was all it took for them to form a lifetime negative opinion of marijuana.
It offends me when they slag off weed, and it worries me when I see how reliant they are on alcohol and what it does to them. As is the case with so many functional alcoholics, they don’t admit to having a reliance on or problem with alcohol, even though they consume booze at lunch, at dinner, and in late evening in a way that’s clearly a compulsive habit more than a recreational choice. They average 7 to 10 units of alcohol per day, and sometimes consume much more on the weekend.
They have high-powered jobs and stressful home lives. They say they drink to calm down, blot out the stress, overcome social anxiety or insomnia. Drinking booze helps them “mellow out,” but from what I can see, it only riles them up.
Without booze, these individuals are reserved, quiet, pedantic, restrained professionals. But after a couple of drinks, they become verbose, garrulous, red-faced, argumentative, jocular, sloppy and loud.
Those are just the personality changes. Physically, their movements are looser and more prone to clumsiness. Their gait is uneven and their coordination fades. They slur their speech, break out in a sweat, seem to easily lose their balance.
The concept of a designated driver is meant specifically for the likes of these guys. I’ve been in vehicles driven by each of them after they’ve had a few drinks, and it was frightening. The degree of recklessness, inattentiveness, swerving and near misses greatly alarmed me. As a passenger, I could do nothing but insist they stop the vehicle and let me drive, or let me out. In one instance, this nearly turned into a fistfight when my drunk friend took offense that I was scared of his driving.
Alcohol And Sexual Assault
As with the allegations against US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh — a controversial nominee who has been accused of having problems with alcohol, controlling his temper, and assaultive behavior toward women — I’ve seen booze turn many a person into lecherous, foolish, obnoxious, dangerous predators. After years of being around boozehounds, I’ve concluded that there’s something about alcohol intoxication that encourages men to hit on women when it’s obvious that these women do not want to be hit on.
The unwanted advances don’t just include witless verbal solicitations — “C’mon baby, you know you want it” — but also inappropriate, unwanted touching and attempts at groping.
Only because women have for generations been socialized to passively react to sexual harassment and unwanted touching have these guys not been kicked hard in the crotch — figuratively and literally — by the women I’ve seen harassed at parties, bars, and in one case, even on the sidewalk.
Prof. Christine Blasey Ford alleges that in 1982, a drunk then-17-year-old Kavanaugh and his teenage beer buddy (author-turned-right-wing pundit) Mark Judge trapped her in a room at a party when she was just 15 years old. She asserts that Kavanaugh then jumped her, pinned her to a bed, made her afraid he would suffocate her by putting his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming, and attempted to sexually assault her as he tried to pull off her clothes.
Considering how often drunkards at parties will pin girls to walls, couches, beds and the ground in a drunken attempt to force sexual activity, Ford’s allegations do have a ring of truth about them.
I’ve gotten punched in the face and otherwise abused pulling drunk guys off girls who didn’t want their sexual attention. Chivalry isn’t dead, but it can be a hazard to your health.
Charles “Chad” Ludington, one of Kavanaugh’s college chums from his time at Yale University, remembers him as “belligerent and aggressive” when drunk, contradicting the Supreme Court candidate’s previous public statements that attempt to water down the alcohol abuse of his younger years. And there are even reports of a police investigation of Kavanaugh being involved in a drunken bar fight in 1985, according to The New York Times.
Of course, you can’t blame alcohol for all sexual assault. President Donald Trump, who claims to have never been drunk, or high, in his life — even saying last year that he has “never had a drink and I have no longing for it. I have no interest in it” — bragged on the infamous Access Hollywood recording that when he sees a beautiful woman, he can’t control himself. He’ll walks up and kiss the woman or “grab ’em by the pussy,” without waiting for the woman’s consent.
Because he’s a celebrity, Trump said on the recording that women let him do it, without protest. Trump doesn’t have to be drunk when he does this. This is his sober behavior and reflects his attitude that women are property to be handled, prey to be chased and attacked.
To put it bluntly, you don’t have to be drunk to be a sexual assaulter, you just have to be an asshole. Check out the Trump recording below to learn more about the president’s approach to women.
Who Owns A Woman’s Body?
Perhaps one tack to take when evaluating the allegations of Kavanaugh’s past behavior is to examine his judicial record. He has a well-documented history of ruling against environmental regulations, women’s rights, victims of police brutality, victims of corporate criminality and civil liberties. He has consistently ruled in favor of corporations, wealthy elites and violent police.
One reason I believe these sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh is that his judicial record shows he has taken an ownership view of women’s bodies. For example, in the 2017 case of Garza v. Hargan, when a 17-year-old undocumented illegal immigrant sought an abortion in the state of Texas, Kavanaugh (who opposes abortion and has a concerning attitude toward birth control) did everything in his judicial power to force the woman to carry the fetus to full term.
On several occasions Kavanaugh has loudly proclaimed his Catholic faith, and even though he wouldn’t admit it during his confirmation hearings, the evangelical anti-abortion lobby is counting on him to be the swing vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, removing federal constitutional protection for a woman’s right to control her own womb.
If you’ve read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or watched the Hulu TV series adaptation, there you’ll see many Kavanaughs — people who believe women are little more than gestation chambers meant to serve men and the state.
Trump himself is on record as saying he is “pro-life” but “with exceptions,” and suggests that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who undergo this procedure.
This is why I believe that although alcohol seems to bring out the worst in some people, alcohol doesn’t make a monster out of a fundamentally good person, but merely removes inhibitions and social masks so the monster hidden underneath is revealed.
Let’s Face It: Stoners Are Safer
If you enjoy alcohol, you might be feeling offended right now, thinking I’m overgeneralizing and insulting people who consume alcohol moderately and intelligently. And of course, there are millions of people who drink and never create problems or become a problem themselves because of it.
But let’s be honest. When it comes to generalized violence and violence against women, you never hear of a case of someone getting stoned on weed and starting a fight or engaging in sexually predatory behavior.
In fact, and this might come as a pride shock to stoner men, many women complain that when guys get high, they have problems with erectile dysfunction.
This might be a case of the embarrassing “stoner boner” that plagues some guys when they’re high. There is evidence to suggest that cannabis short circuits male sex hormones, resulting in stoner boner and even gynecomastia, or male breast syndrome. Erectile dysfunction doesn’t mean a stoner guy is a disappointing lover. After all, cannabis can be a potent aphrodisiac.
For women who wonder if it’s safer to be around a guy who’s stoned on weed versus a guy who’s drunk, the fact that cannabis isn’t at all known as a date rape drug or for turning a nice guy into an invasive creep is quite comforting.
Alcohol Is Not A Medicine, But Cannabis Is
One reason Americans overwhelmingly support cannabis legalization is that it’s cannabinoids and terpenoids have dozens of medicinal benefits, and medical marijuana is safer and less addictive than the pharmaceutical drugs it competes with.
Booze culture and the alcohol industry know that its intoxicant of choice, when used as directed, inherently causes physical and societal problems. The industry has a history of buying off scientists and segments of the media to promote the myth that alcohol, when consumed “in moderation,” is good for your health.
The alcohol industry’s buyoff of science even penetrated the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. According to The New York Times, researchers from these institutions were soliciting funds from and colluding with liquor company execs to bankroll a study intended to show that alcohol, when used in moderation, is part of a healthy diet and can have medical benefits.
Previous reports suggested that a daily dose of alcohol could protect consumers against heart attacks and stroke. Alcohol is a solvent that dissolves fats and cholesterols, so technically, it could be said that it might dissolve cardiovascular plaque and lower heart attack and stroke risk. But the studies and media hype that accompanied that conjecture left out how the harms of alcohol far outweigh its alleged benefits.
An investigation at the NIH concluded that the recent $100 million alcohol-stroke-heart-attack clinical trial had been tainted by funding and influence from the alcohol industry and as a consequence will be shut down. The lead medical researcher and others involved in the study were in constant contact with the alcohol industry and seeking funding as the study was planned. These contacts violated official NIH policy.
An official in-house investigation of the NIH alcohol study found that, according to the advisory committee’s report, “The early and frequent engagement with industry representatives calls into question the impartiality of the process and thus casts doubt that the scientific knowledge gained from the study would be actionable or believable.”
The sobering truth about alcohol and its health effects is provided in a 2018 report published by the medical journal The Lancet. The report was the result of deep analysis of more than 1,200 alcohol studies and data points dating from 1990 to 2016, and co-authored by 512 researchers from 243 institutions around the world.
The research goals were to find out if alcohol had medical benefits in relation to 23 specific health outcomes. These benefits have been asserted by the alcohol industry and disseminated by the media. The researchers concluded that there is no safe amount of alcohol consumption — not even one drink.
Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor of global health at the University of Washington and the report’s senior author, told The Washington Post, “What has been underappreciated, what’s surprising, is that no amount of drinking is good for you. People should no longer think that a drink or two a day is good for you. What’s best for you is to not drink at all.”
So, what does alcohol do to us exactly? The report found that in 2016, 2.8 million people worldwide died from alcohol-related causes. And for people ages 15 to 49, alcohol is the leading risk factor for poor health and disease.
Booze Bars Versus Cannabis Clubs
If reports about Kavanaugh and excessive alcohol use are true, it wouldn’t surprise most people to learn that getting hammered can lead to bad behavior.
When my boozer friends defend alcohol subculture and slag cannabis and stoners, I invite them to engage in an experiment — go sober to legalized recreational cannabis gatherings where stoners are getting high and no booze is present, then go sober to bars where people are drunk, and compare the social ambiance and how people behave as their drug of choice impacts them.
I’ve been to cannabis coffee shops in Amsterdam and elsewhere and have never, ever, not even once witnessed the kind of anger, boisterousness, loutish, crude behavior and violence I’ve routinely witnessed in bars where alcohol is served.
It’s just plain common sense and common knowledge that women at a cannabis party don’t have to huddle together and warn each other, “Watch out for Brett, he’s been smoking a lot of weed today.”
But that kind of warning is commonly given at booze-soaked events. My female friends are always on guard at such gatherings, because some drunk guy inevitably starts putting their hands where they don’t belong, and saying crude, sexual things.
The First Stoner President?
As I write this, the FBI is still allegedly doing a background investigation into the increasing number of allegations regarding sexual improprieties, boozy fights, and perjury apparently committed by Kavanaugh. Some of his former classmates, from prep school to college, have come forward to challenge his assertions that he was a Jesus-loving prayerful virgin in his younger years. They say he was a party bro known for his excessive drinking and crude behavior.
Of course, President Trump and ranking Senate Republicans don’t seem to care much about what Ford alleges, or about Kavanaugh’s crazy, emotional, threatening behavior during the Senate hearing when he was asked about Ford’s allegations — behavior which is totally familiar to anyone who has been around an alcoholic, by the way.
Trump and the GOP continue to support Kavanaugh, and he may well make it onto the Supreme Court. After all, Clarence Thomas was placed on the Supreme Court, even though his former assistant, attorney Anita Hill, made credible allegations that he sexually harassed her.
America has a long history of boozers in positions of power. Before he became the 18th president of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant was claimed to be a drinker to a degree that might be familiar to the likes of Kavanaugh. Grant’s boozed-up exploits allegedly happened when he was a successful Union general in the Civil War, and as president he’s said to have had an aide-de-camp in John Aaron Rawlins, who was specifically tasked with being Grant’s voice of reason when it came to his apparently prolific alcohol consumption.
We haven’t yet had a president or a Supreme Court justice who is openly a chronic stoner, although Barack Obama confessed that as a teenager he used cocaine and marijuana — “When I was a kid, I inhaled. That was the point” — but added that his early drug experimentations were “bad decisions” and that he had long stopped using them.
Until cannabis is federally legal, we won’t see stoners in high office, or in office high. But if I had to choose between who I’d want to hang out with at a party, who I’d trust as a date for my sister, or who would make a better president or Supreme Court justice, I’d be far happier with a stoner than a drunkard.
The best thing anyone could do for Brett Kavanaugh right now is to suggest that he try consuming cannabis to help him stop abusing alcohol. If he became a stoner, he’d likely be a much nicer person.
Instead of starting his Senate hearing the way he did, by yelling, twisting his face into ugly knots, sniffling constantly as if he has a cocaine habit, screaming about a conspiracy against him run by the Clintons and Democrats, and refusing to acknowledge that he has any problem whatsoever with alcohol or sexual aggressiveness, a stoned Kavanaugh might have said:
“I’m sincerely sorry if any of my behavior or words ever caused harm to any woman, including Christine Blasey Ford. When I was younger, I made the mistake of getting drunk a lot and hanging out with other drunkards. It made me act in ways I’m now ashamed of. I’m not the same person I used to be, and I’ve renounced my past actions. I come before you today to apologize and ask for forgiveness.”