Regular readers of these virtual pages know my opinions on marijuana legalization; I’m in favor of it. With that said, here’s a take on the trend towards legalizing marijuana. Excerpt, with my comments:
It’s clear enough why politicians are warming to pot. They’re chasing public opinion. Since 1990, the percentage of Americans who think pot should be illegal has fallen by more than half. A solid majority now supports legalization. Younger voters are especially enthused. To a politician’s eyes, this is not a battle worth fighting, and everyone loves an opportunity to infuse moral triumphalism into a thoroughly winnable crusade. Jeff Sessions’ protests notwithstanding, this ship is unlikely to turn.
And that’s a good thing. I don’t use marijuana, have not touched it in decades (since about 1980) and have no plans to do so. But tying up law-enforcement resources on pot is not the best use of those resources; and legalization has the effect of largely drying up huge criminal black markets with their concomitant violence and abuse.
Public opinion can be wrong, though. It’s understandable that the public would be eager to dial back the War on Drugs, with its (somewhat deserved) associations with police brutality and mass incarceration. At the same time, it’s genuinely shameful for us to celebrate booming new markets and burgeoning state revenues, considering what that means on the consumer side.
Yes, public opinion can be wrong. In this case, though, it’s not. The War on Drugs is an abomination, and has resulted in some pretty bad infringements on basic liberties (civil forfeiture, to name one.) If we can undo part of this stupid policy, let’s continue to do it. The real flaw in this argument is that the author makes no argument that cannot also be applied to (legal) alcohol:
Is this really cause for cheer? I went to high school in Boulder, Colorado, so I know perfectly well that nice people can smoke pot.
Nice people drink alcohol, too, and it’s legal.
Alcohol can be addictive and lifestyle-invasive as well – I should know, my best friend outside of my family is a recovered alcoholic – and it’s legal.
So can alcohol, and it’s legal.
Physical coordination can also be diminished, potentially affecting a person’s ability to drive safely.
Alcohol also has those effects, and it’s legal.
Predictably, these effects are far more pronounced in the heavy users who are the primary clientele for the cannabis industry.
And, while we’re beating this dead horse, heavy alcohol users also have more pronounced effects. That last sentence is just an assertion; I have seen no evidence that “heavy users,” however defined, are the “primary clientele” for the cannabis industry; that last sentence is effectively content-free.
It is not the role of government to shield people from the consequences of their own bad decisions. Marijuana falls into the same category as alcohol where intoxicants are concerned; of little concern when used sparingly, harmful if abused. Control them the same way.