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Wine & Pot? Why not


How ironic is it that, even as California seriously considers legalizing marijuana (to help stanch the  budget deficit), anti-alcohol forces are once again attacking the concept that a little wine each day is good for your health.

The “wine isn’t good for you” crowd was reported on in yesterday’s Times (come on, you know there’s only one Times in the country, right?) under the provocative header, Alcohol’s Good for You? Some Scientists Doubt It. After all these years (since The French Paradox) of study after study demonstrating that a little wine is good for everything from hearts to diabetes prevention and anti-cancer, there are still some stubborn scientists stuck in the “you can’t really prove it, so nyaah nyaah” camp.

The basis of their objection, the Times writes, is that “No study, these critics say, has ever proved a causal relationship between moderate drinking and lower risk of death — only that the two often go together.”

When I was a philosophy major back at good old Clark U. in Worcestor, Mass., we studied the Scottish philosopher, David Hume. I never forgot his metaphor about billiard balls to illustrate how hard it is to actually prove causality. When we hit the cue ball, we see it smash into the six ball, which then moves (hopefully, into a pocket). But we can’t directly observe this causality, which must happen on the atomic level. All we can do is infer that the causality is there.


Hume and Socrates playing billiards

So the anti-wine scientists say, in effect, “Just because people who drink moderate amounts of wine are healthier, we’re not justified in saying that wine causes them to be healthier. It may just be that wine drinkers lead healthier lifestyles (more balanced meals, going to the gym, jogging, staying slim, don’t smoke) and therefore are healthier, regardless of wine.”

On the scale of dumb, self-serving arguments, that one takes the cake. Look: whether it’s wine that makes you healthier — or the fact that healthy people choose to drink wine — either way, the bottom line is that WINE DRINKERS ARE HEALTHIER, not to mention happier! Would it hurt for these scientists to admit it?

Meanwhile, the Associated Press yesterday reported that momentum is building for legalizing pot. Seems that with states and municipalities struggling to pay their bills and keep services, a tax on weed could raise billions — money that Mexican drug lords are now getting instead of our local police and fire departments and public health facilities.

Here in (not so sunny) California, even Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he’s open to the idea of at least talking about legalizing pot. And I recall that the late William F. Buckley and the still very-much alive former Secretary of State, George Schultz, also expressed support for legalizing, or at least decriminalizing, marijuana. So it’s not like a Republican-vs.-Democrat thing.

It’s definitely worth looking into. Not only would this rob the drug kingpins of the source of much of their wealth, it would result in far fewer people being locked up in prisons, which would save the state money.

Think what a nice place California would be if everyone drank a few glasses of wine everyday, went to the gym, stayed healthy, ate right, and smoked a doobie every once in a while. Why, we could almost get mellow again, like back in the Sixties.


  1. Or…

    Everyone could meditate fo5 15 mins. every day, which would likely achieve the same state of conscientious mellowness without the lung damage…

  2. Jim Caudill says:


    We wouldn’t have to explain to the kids why Daddy has a bong, or what the heck is a bong anyway?

  3. Proving Causality in hard science (biology, chemistry, biochemistry, etc) is a lot easier than in Philosophy, Steve.
    The trick is knowing enough about the process involved to know which dots to connect.
    Cases in point: the plague, phylloxera and Pierce’s disease.
    For a long time people tried different ‘cures’ with each and until they identified the processes at play (and thus the causality and offending organisms and their mode of transfer) nothing worked.

    Here is the most realistic take:
    A little (very little) bit of wine consumed WITH food probably does no harm (there has been some research that indicates that wine mixed with food in the stomach blocks the uptake of substances implicated in plaque formation – in rats).
    The health-promoting effects of wine consumption may have statistical significance, but are not so powerful as to warrant an abstinent taking up drinking.
    Finally, since most people follow the “more is gooder” logic, the detrimental effects of excessive intake of (16% ABV) wine probably outweigh the health-promoting ones.
    There are plenty of reasons why wine drinkers may be healthier:
    More money, better lifestyle, better diet, better education, (in Europe: the walk and don’t drive, eat less caloricaly-dense and more raw foods, etc).
    Multifactorial processes like this can be challenging but not impossible to asses.

    As for pot, there are two THC formulations available by prescription in the US. They just don’t give you the high you get with inhaling vaporized THC….

  4. I was going to post about this too, but I had a glass of wine and got high instead.

  5. @1winedude Tinctures do not cause lung damage.

    @Arthur – the THC-cannabinoid-terpene complex is so poorly understood I wouldn’t be surprised if there were marked health benefits from one strain over another. In fact science is completely unable to untangle why a sativa makes you feel up and an indica makes you fall asleep. THC doesn’t paint the full picture, just like Brix doesn’t with wine and ripeness.

    @Steve If pot were legalized, I would be one of the first to plant inter-row. You think grapes are a cash crop? The inputs and maintenance on cannabis are minimal in the extreme. Even given what I’m sure would the crash in pricing that would accompany legislation and the industrialization of cultivation by the tobacco companies, there would still be much profit to be had.

    Especially for artisanal producers. “Hand crafted”, natch. :-p

  6. “The bottom line is wine drinkers are healthier.” And that’s great. It’s just important not to come across as though wine is the ultimate reason for that.
    Arthur brought up a lot of external factors that play into the fact that it may not be a causal relationship. I’d prefer a headline that read, “Those who lead healthy lifestyles also prefer wine in moderation.” Every one’s looking for that silver bullet of health–and many would prefer it in red, white, or rose.

  7. Back to the pernicious Putitan “food as medicine” ethic. “Eat (or drink) [insert current wonder product du jour] and be healthy!” Meh. There’s a sucker born every minute.

    Arthur – the flip side to the American “more is gooder” logic is the equally thoughtproof: “if any amount is bad then only zero is acceptable” (variation on si minor plus est ergo nihil sunt omnia).

    I have a very low tolerance for this sort of nonsense.

  8. Steve,

    If i may be so informal, As a grower “Wine Grapes”
    I would still use the 5X8 Trellis system Vsp Weed

  9. John
    You have a point.

    One way or another, nobody lives forever. The older I get, though, the more acutely aware I become of that it’s in the last stretch that you begin paying back debts accrued through the judgments made about those things that are more or less good or bad for us …..

  10. Human beings evolved with alcohol in their diet. Fermentation occurs naturally in the foods they would have gathered and stored. Alcohol effects are studied in fruit flies because they are attracted to the naturally occurring smell.

    I’m not too worried about food items that we evolved in the presence of.

  11. wine is delicious and pot makes you feel good. Happy people live longer. The end.

  12. I have a heart condition and strong anxiety, part of my therapy is to drink a little wine a couple of days a week. It pisses me off to hear the same old spoon fed propaganda against wine drinking and its benefits (to say nothing of marijuana which was only criminalized in the first place because cotton producers and their lobbyists wanted to make more money).

    I say publish more real results on the effects of wine and legalize marijuana – prohibition didn’t work for alcohol and it doesn’t work for pot.

  13. Bob Henry says:

    Excerpt from The Wall Street Journal “Personal Journal” Section
    (June 21, 2016, Page D1ff):

    “Study Goes to Texas to Test Alcohol and Health”


    By Ron Winslow
    “Heart Beat” Column

    A study comparing hospital admissions in “wet” versus “dry” counties in Texas offers a surprising new perspective on how alcohol consumption may affect the health of your heart.

    The analysis found that people living in dry counties, where sales of alcoholic beverages are prohibited, had a higher risk of being hospitalized for a heart attack or congestive heart failure than people living in wet counties, where such sales are allowed. But residents of wet counties were at elevated risk for a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation.

    The report, published last week in the British Medical Journal, or BMJ, is the latest to address a long-running controversy in heart-disease prevention: Does alcohol contribute to, or protect against, heart disease?

    Researchers took advantage of the legacy of Prohibition-era laws in Texas to compare heart-related illnesses where access to alcohol had been curbed for decades with illnesses where alcoholic beverages have been commonly available.

    The upshot: “It’s not so simple that alcohol is good for you or alcohol is bad for you,” says Gregory Marcus, associate professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco and senior author of the study. “Rather it depends on the individual.”

    . . .

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