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The Dope on Conservative Pot Warriors

A conservative is upset that there appears to be “a seemingly irresistible momentum promoting unrestrained medical and recreational use of marijuana in the U.S.”

This is certainly true.

Because of the passage of some marijuana ballot initiatives in the recent election, there are now thirty-three states that have legalized the medical use of marijuana, plus the District of Columbia, and ten states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, plus the District of Columbia.

Just the states of Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming have not yet legalized medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana is now legal in the states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

There are, of course, still many government restrictions on the buying, selling, growing, possession, and use of marijuana. And there is still a war on drugs in general.

In his brief article, “The Dope on Legal Pot,” the conservative writer makes the case that the medical benefits of marijuana are dubious; there are no adequate safety standards for the consumption of pot, even under medical supervision; the acceptance of the alleged medical benefits of marijuana mirrors earlier enthusiasms for opioids, of which we now have an epidemic; the marijuana industry is viewed by state governments as a panacea to help fund their budgets, resulting in politicians supporting legal pot because of its fiscal benefits; the promotion of marijuana stocks will drive up demand for the stocks and increase the number of people who will have a vested financial interest in marijuana; and scientists have been working to create varieties of marijuana with greater concentrations of THC.

But in the course of doing all of the above, he also manages to smear libertarians:

The decriminalization or legalization of pot is basically a leftist crusade, with some philosophical justification provided by the Libertarians. Once the left initiates a crusade like this, their flacks in the Corrupt Leftist Media will relentlessly promote it until these enthusiasms eventually become accepted.

The Democrat Party has made decriminalization or legalization of pot part of its Party platform. Republicans have mostly remained silent on this issue, just as they often do before they test the political wind for the scent of campaign donations or political support. The Libertarians are enthusiastic about decriminalization and legalization, just as they are about every destructive vice. Thus, there is no viable political opposition to this movement.

I want to ask and answer two questions.

1. Are libertarians simply justifying a leftist crusade when they call for the decriminalization or legalization of pot?

Libertarians are in favor of the decriminalization or legalization of pot because it is not the job of the government to monitor, restrict, or regulate what anyone wants to eat, drink, inhale, or inject into his mouth, nose, veins, or lungs. Libertarians advocate complete marijuana freedom because they believe that anyone should be able to do anything that’s peaceful as long as he doesn’t infringe upon the personal or property rights of others and is responsible for the consequences of his actions. Liberals are not in favor of complete marijuana freedom. What Democratic member of Congress has ever called for complete marijuana freedom? When Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress under President Obama, they didn’t pass any legislation to institute marijuana freedom or anything close to it, although they had the power to do so.

2. Why are libertarians so enthusiastic about decriminalization and legalization, just as they are about every destructive vice?

Libertarians are enthusiastic about decriminalization and legalization, not because marijuana is good or harmless or medically beneficial, but because they are enthusiastic about individual liberty, personal freedom, private property, and limited government. Libertarians are enthusiastic about the legalization of destructive vices, not because they don’t think they are immoral or sinful or dangerous, but because vices should not be crimes. As the nineteenth-century political philosopher Lysander Spooner explained it:

Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another. Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.

Every crime needs a real victim—not a potential victim or a possible victim, but a tangible and identifiable victim who has suffered measurable harm to his person or measurable damages to his property.

“This enthusiasm for decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana means that the country really is going to pot,” says our conservative pot warrior. No, the country has already gone to pot. The enthusiasm for decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana means that the country really is turning, at least on this issue, toward more freedom and less government. I thought this was something that conservatives supported.

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