Content With Permission?

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Writing at PolicyMic, Chris Miles notes a drop in Denver crime and increased Colorado tax revenue six months after the state legalized marijuana. "We are witnessing the fruits of Colorado's legal weed experiment, and those fruits are juicy indeed." [his emphasis]

Miles does concede that it may be too soon to draw the conclusion that crime has dropped and we'll overlook his common mistake of regarding the increase in tax revenue (i.e., government looting) as a good thing. He is nonetheless right to take heart from the fact that the sky has not fallen, as Governor Hickenlooper had predicted.

But is he is wrong to get too excited about the "fruits" when the vine on which they grow is obviously diseased. For example, later in his article, Miles notes the following:

In yet another sign that 2014 is shaping up to be the year of marijuana reform, the Department of Drug Enforcement (DEA) is waving a white flag and surrendering on a crucial policy issue that has kept legalization from gaining traction across the nation.

The DEA is now asking the Food and Drug Administration to remove marijuana from its list of the most dangerous and harmful drugs. This could signal a radical shift in the way our government regulates and enforces weed. Marijuana advocates hail the decision as a necessary policy step towards eventual legalization, removing a critical roadblock that has constrained marijuana legalization on the local and federal levels. It is, of course, the first step of many.

Then there's the city of Washington, D.C. This November, it's all but certain that D.C. will vote on a marijuana ballot measure and even pass it, setting up a battle with Congress to legalize. This could be the most important battle yet in the marijuana prohibition fight; D.C. is considered a staging ground for many local policies that get enacted throughout the country, and a victory for pot could open the floodgates elsewhere. [link in original]
Granted: So long as the government is improperly meddling with our affairs, that meddling should at least be as reasonable as possible. Marijuana is indeed, to my knowledge, no more dangerous than alcohol, so, as long as the government is telling people what to ingest and what not to ingest, it should at least refrain from claiming that marijuana is one of the most dangerous drugs. But it seems that too many people are content with having permission from the nanny state to use marijuana, rather than remaining concerned that it is telling us what we can and cannot consume in the first place. If the proper purpose of the government is to protect individual rights, why is it proscribing behavior, such as drug use, that harms no one but the user (if the drug is dangerous)? (This is a separate issue from the state properly punishing public intoxication, where there is a danger to others.) It is interesting that the word "right" appears only twice on this entire web page -- both times within a copyright notice.

The good news, such as it is, is that it may well be that the innocuousness of legalized marijuana will somewhat lessen the credibility of drug laws. The bad news is that such laws will remain on the books and, worse, their precedence left unquestioned, unless those who are interested in using marijuana (among others) stand up for themselves on moral grounds, and work to end government meddling with individual decisions on what foods and drugs we consume.

Denver may be a mile high in more ways than one these days, but it isn't really much freer. 

-- CAV

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