Well-meaning moralists campaigned for years to pass a constitutional amendment banning alcohol in this country starting in 1920. As a result, the next 13 years were bloody time when criminal elements took over supplying alcohol and many people were killed — by rival gangs, by police enforcement efforts and from drinking poisonous homemade booze.
As crazy as this whole thing sounds to us today, some people still don’t understand that we’re doing the same thing today — and have been for decades — as the federal government fights the never-ending “war on (some) drugs.” It’s time to quite committing a slow version of national suicide. We need to end drug prohibition.
When I discovered individual liberty, the toughest issue for me to deal with was illegal drugs. My own lifestyle is very conservative. I don’t use any kind of recreational drugs, either the legal kinds or the illegal kinds. When I was a teen-ager, I looked around at the problems that I saw alcohol causing for many people and I decided that the risks weren’t worth the dubious benefits, so I never even started. The more life I live, the more I’m certain it’s the smartest decision. However, I’m equally certain that it’s not my business — and not the government’s business — to decide which recreational drugs you use, even if I would prefer you leave them alone.
For the first time, more Americans favor legalizing marijuana than favor keeping it illegal, according to a new Gallup poll. If you look at the breakdown of subgroups in the poll, you’ll see that legalization is inevitable. The group favoring making it legal the most is younger people. The group favoring keeping it illegal are old folks. Guess who are dying out more rapidly?
I’m not going to argue that I think it’s smart to smoke weed or to use other recreational drugs. I’m just arguing that it’s not moral for me to make that decision for other people and that history has proven over and over that people are going to use the drugs they want, whether they’re legal or not. Trying to stamp them out simply turns the business over to criminals and drives up prices, which just gives the criminals more of an incentive to kill each other to take over territories. For some reason, we don’t hear about this kind of violence between rival beer distributors.
And if you’re one of the many conservatives who favor legal alcohol, but favor keeping other drugs illegal, you’re being hypocritical and irrational. What you don’t realize is that alcohol causes more problems for society than heroin or crack. It’s always going to be that way.
I detest what people do to themselves when they abuse drugs or even when they put themselves on a path of tempting themselves with moderate use of them. I think it’s one of the worst decision that people in our society make. But I’m equally sure that I don’t have the right to force you to make the same decision I do (as long as you don’t infringe on my rights or put me into danger by your actions).
Even though I detest alcohol and marijuana and heroin and crack and all the rest, I’m among the growing number of people who want to give people individual freedom on this choice. Even if you hate these drugs as much as I do, I invite you to join me in that — both for moral reasons and for pragmatic reasons.
Note: If you’d like to learn about the perspective of current and former law enforcement officers who are now in favor of legalization, please take a look at the website of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. If you’re against drug legalization, you might be very interested in what they have to say.