Legalization -- or Takeover?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The title of an article in the New York Times about a marijuana legalization initiative in Washington caught my eye the other day, appearing as it did on a "most read" list. The article describes as dishonest and self-serving (as if opposition to greater freedom can truly be self-serving) the efforts of the beneficiaries of the state's medical marijuana law to oppose the initiative:

What's the threat? A legal, regulated market for all consumers -- not just sick people -- could negate demand for a niche medical pot industry altogether.

"The medical marijuana industry is driven by profit," said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which supports medical marijuana legalization. "It's not driven by compassion anymore. It is driven by the need to make money."

What's more, the opposition doesn't even have a compelling case. I haven't found a single scientific study showing that even the heaviest of pot users would exceed the five-nanogram cutoff after 24 hours. And the civil liberties attacks are simply dishonest. The rules would remain the same as they currently are for medical marijuana -- no registration requirements and no database.
While it may indeed be true that this government-created medical marijuana cartel opposes full legalization of the drug -- recent American history is replete with other examples of groups seeking and defending special government privileges at the expense of freedom for everyone -- this article fails to comment on the elepahant in the room: This bill might well represent more freedom to use marijuana, but just look at how little personal freedom there is, otherwise, and much control is handed to the government (PDF)!
Sec. 1. The people intend to stop treating adult marijuana use as a crime and try a new approach that:

(1) Allows law enforcement resources to be focused on violent and property crimes;

(2) Generates new state and local tax revenue for education, health care, research, and substance abuse prevention; and

(3) Takes marijuana out of the hands of illegal drug organizations and brings it under a tightly regulated, state-licensed system similar to that for controlling hard alcohol.

This measure authorizes the state liquor control board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age and older, and add a new threshold for driving under the influence of marijuana.
Great. Marijuana use won't be treated like a crime -- but since people stopped caring long ago about the right to keep one's own money, there will be taxes and, since nobody bats an eye at central planning anymore, there will be heavy regulation of this industry, just like there is for everything else.

So what if Washington makes marijuana legal when, apparently, the means to a livelihood -- being able to keep one's own money and run a business according to one's own best judgement -- are practically illegal, and treated like government-granted favors, rather than as the rights that they are?

Shame on anyone in the medical marijuana business who sees greater freedom, in the form of legalized marijuana, as a threat. But shame, too, on the New York Times for missing the fact that Washington's "legalization" would amount to a mere government takeover of what is now a criminal enterprise, rather than a single first step towards greater freedom for all Washingtonians, whether they use marijuana or not.

-- CAV


Jim May said...

But shame, too, on the New York Times for missing the fact that Washington's "legalization" would amount to a mere government takeover of what is now a criminal enterprise

But that worked so well in 1913...

(I could mean the Fed, or the 16th Amendment. Either one works.)

Gus Van Horn said...

It's interesting that we've been afflicted with the 16th Amendment for nearly a century now.