Stanford professor: pot smokers are “uneducated”

By Oscar Pascual |

It would be nice to think that the face of marijuana has switched from hippies and slackers to intellectuals and world travelers like Carl Sagan and Rick Steves, but Stanford University psychiatry professor Keith Humphreys believes sophisticated smokers are still the exception, not the norm.

The renown school’s Mental Health Policy Director, Humphreys makes the argument in a recent piece for the Washington Post’s Wonkblog titled “The Stereotype of the College-Educated Pot Smoker Is Wrong,” citing a survey showing that college grads account for only 1/6 of the marijuana market.

He goes on to say that the majority of today’s marijuana market is comprised of high school graduates, college dropouts, high school dropouts and teenagers, who are uneducated consumers as well as unlearned people: all of the above, Humphreys contends, would rather smoke low-grade cartel weed over the good stuff carried in dispensaries.

“Why then is the modal cultural image of pot that of hipster professionals clucking over arrays of $500/ounce sinsemilla blends at upscale dispensaries in San Francisco or Boulder, rather than, say, that of a gas station attendant who smokes low-cost weed several times a day?” argues Humphreys.

It sounds like Humphreys is more so debating the difference of marijuana use between class, not intelligence. In fact, in another recent piece published by, Humphreys actually dissects the cannabis market into two classes: the Marijuana Analyst Class vs. the Marijuana User Class. He believes the differences separating the two are that analysts don’t go to jail as much, they don’t suffer ill effects from daily use, and they pay more for pot.

“The public debate about marijuana is shaped almost exclusively by people who don’t live and work in the world where 5/6 of the drug is actually consumed,” Humphreys concludes.

It’s not clear why Humphreys is making these arguments in the first place, as the professor doesn’t state which spectrum of legalization he sides on. But he presents a few fallacies.

First off, using the level of formal education to classify pot smokers will most likely separate them socioeconomically, not by their intelligence. The New York Times reports that the number of high school graduates who go on to college are declining, while Time reports that teens with high IQs are more likely to smoke marijuana.

Furthermore, the differences separating the two classes are actually perfect arguments to legalize marijuana. If users are arrested more often — thereby eliminating their access to student loans and other roads to higher education — and have health concerns from using low-grade marijuana, then legalizing the drug would end arrests and provide cheaper access to high-quality cannabis. Don’t see why the good professor could argue against that.

Moreover, the rigid line he places between the two classes doesn’t actually exist in the actual marijuana market. Sure, there probably are “hipster professionals” willing to spend more on top-shelf cannabis, but even the highest-grade marijuana is relatively affordable at an average of $15 per gram. If Humpreys was actually correct, then Mexican cartels would actually be flourishing, rather than producing the lowest amount of cannabis inside Mexico since 2000.

Also, I don’t care how smart you are, but hardly anybody — except maybe 2 Chainz — is buying weed at $500 an ounce.

If so, I’d like to know what Humphreys is smoking.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons