A group called Crime in America wrote an opinion editorial for the LA Times on the subject of marijuana. The op-ed, titled Marijuana: People Do Incredibly Stupid Things Under the Influence seems to have been written by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, or was at least written on their behalf.
Most of the arguments against marijuana’s legalization are old hack. The title alone gives the general bent of the opinion as a whole. There is little to back up their claims that cannot be refuted with two simple responses:
- People also do incredibly stupid things under the influence of prescription drugs, alcohol, religion, and a lot of other substances (controlled or uncontrolled) that we have not outlawed today. Why is marijuana somehow different than, say, the religion of Vampirism or wine coolers?
- The op-ed piece claims that the authors do not wish to jail people for using or holding marijuana. How is that any different than legalizing it? What’s the difference between decriminalization and legalization and why is that fine line so important?
The first point answers itself. Marijuana is no different than any of the large number of other things we have legalized (or never made illegal) in this nation. Our country is built on the ideal of personal liberty. IIt is legal for someone to sit in front of the TV and drink Budweiser to their heart’s content. Yet if that same person sits in front of the TV and hits the bong, they’ve somehow crossed a line that must be enforced.
This makes no sense. No sensible person is going to argue about whether using marijuana in public or doing stupid things is OK. If you smoke a joint or down a couple of shots and then ride your bicycle, nude, through the city park you are in need of some discipline. But what about in your back yard? At the lake while barbecuing? At the bowling alley? It’s legal to drink in those places and the vast majority of those who do so in those locations don’t become a public nuisance. So how is pot somehow different?
The truth is.. it’s not. Only the perception of the sweet leaf versus alcohol or religious fervor or prescription drugs is different.
As for the fine line between decriminalization and legalization, it doesn’t seem to be much of a point. Making something non-criminal is, de facto, making it legal.
The crux of the Office of Drug Control Policy’s opinion hinges on a straw man argument about what “society” can “handle.” It ignores reality, as Washington usually does, and makes a direct attack on the ideal of personal freedom and liberty by pretending to worry about the “consequences” of marijuana should it be legalized.
Consequences as opposed to what? Consequences like the huge number of people jailed in this country for merely owning some plants? The consequences of finally allowing people to do as they wish and only punishing them if they hurt others with their actions? The consequences of lifting a large chunk of the failed War on Drugs and finally conceding that the policies of the Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush Sr., etc. were wrong and unjustifiable?
Since most of the “experts” who wrote this opinion editorial were directors of the Office of National Drug Control Policy during those named presidents’ tenures in office, they should know the true consequences of the War on (some) Drugs.
Instead, they overlook that and make straw man claims about supposed impacts on society and hint at the Reefer Madness idea that marijuana turns everyone involved with it into drug-crazed lunatics bent on rape, mayhem, and worse.
[source Crime In America]