Sunday, September 26, 2010

What The Pot Legalization
Campaign Really Threatens

by David Sirota - September 24th, 2010 - Salon

According to most physicians, pot is less toxic -- and has more medicinal applications -- than a legal and more pervasive drug like alcohol. Whereas alcohol causes hundreds of annual overdose deaths, contributes to untold numbers of illnesses and is a major factor in violent crime, the use of marijuana has never resulted in a fatal overdose and has not been systemically linked to major illness or violent behavior.

This effort to legalize marijauna is fascinating. I concur with Sirota that major opposition is coming from the alcohol industry. It is bizarre to see churches, parents and this industry working together.

As a libertarian, I am inclined toward the belief that it is not the responsibility of government to criminalize behavior that only indirectly harms society. I concur that it is just to keep some behavior out of public view so that parents do not have to fight its corrupting influence on their children. In that regard, all vices (drugs, gambling and sex) should be limited to keep them out of public view. To go further and attempt to ban adults from the behavior is to invite the same consequences for society that happened during the period of prohibition, after the 18th Amendment banned alcohol "... it stimulated the proliferation of rampant underground, organized and widespread criminal activity."

The profits from the illegal sale of a reduced amount of alcohol during prohibition funded massive expansion of crime in other regards. The small reduction in the use of alcohol overall thus paved the way for much worse damage to society as a whole. The current "war on drugs" has had the exact same effect. Drug cartels, both inside and outside of our nation have driven overall crime higher and created the horrible reality that our kids are more exposed to drugs than they would be if the "war on drugs" had never existed.

It is time for our society to end the unitended consequencs of our efforts. It should never be the responsibility of government to ban adult behavior that harms only the individual directly, no matter the indirect harm to society. Alcohol is tolerated but a less damaging drug is treated with harsh penalties because of cultural attitudes. This is not just. This is not beneficial. This is not rational. This is not moral.

Vices should only be dealt with as civil violations and never above the local level of government. The federal and state governments should be banned from legislating morality and limitations on any vice. Let local governments prohibit public advertising or public acts of vices while taxing them in private situations. Vice would be less profitable, less harmful to society and generate more public funds as a result. Our society and our children would be vastly better off and the greater freedom would clearly be better for the individual. Currently crime cartels make huge profits from vices and fund worse activities with their wealth. One example? The current effort by the cartels to steal money by identity theft.

We have already seen this story once. Why will we not learn from the history of prohibition? End the war on drugs.


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