Friday, October 27, 2006

Quote of the Week

This one will be on my sidebar, eventually. It's from Sci-Fi/Fantasy author Neil Gaiman, one of my favorites, from his blog "Neil Gaiman's Journal."

It's always best to be offended by things you haven't read. That way you keep your mind uncluttered by things that might change it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Say No To Prohibition

On the Colorado General Election Ballot:
Amendment 44
Marijuana Possession
Ballot Title:
An ammendment to secton 18-18-406 (1) of the Colorado rvisd statutes making legal the possession of one ounce or less of marihuana for any person twenty-one years of age or older.

One of the most difficult issues to address in today's society is the argument against prohibition. It is, perhaps, the hottest of the political hot potatoes, and the most difficult to present, because people immediately think this guy --or gal--must be high! One need only look back a few years to see this general reaction when former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, a Libertarian who ran and got elected as a Republican, merely suggested that a dialog on repealing prohibition be opened. He was strongly criticized by Republicans, and become the butt of jokes and personal attacks by both branches of the Demopublican Party. A person who uses the word "decriminalize," or "legalize," and the word "marijuana" in the same sentence is accused of being a radical liberal, unless that person's name isWilliam F. Buckley, Jr.
I submit that most arguments either for or against prohibition seem to be written by people who seem to be not on marijuana, but on crack or LSD. The argument that marijuana "leads to the use of more dangerous drugs," is absurd and has no scientific substance. The argument that marijuana is "as safe as alcohol" is equally absurd, because unmoderated alcohol abuse is highly dangerous.
It is also necessary, when making arguments against prohibition, to declare "I am not under the influence of, nor do I condone the use of marijuana for recreational purposes."
There is a serious cost of prohibition, both in financial and in human terms. Prohibition creates an underground economy, run by criminal elements and corrupt officials, and makes it difficult to regulate who buys the product and from whom it is bought. As Buckley points out, it is easier for an underage person to buy marijuana than it is to buy beer or alcohol products, because beer and alcohol are regulated, and marijuana isn't.
It can't be proven that marijuana leads to harder drugs. If that were true, nearly everyone I know would be a heroin, cocaine, or metha-amphetemine addict. Rather, I submit, that it is the prohibition of marijuana which has led to the abuse of aerosols, amphyl- and butyl- nitrates, prescription drugs, and to the rise of "bathtub" metha-amphetemines. Because of marijuana prohibition and the enforcement thereof, in many parts of the country, these substances are more readily available than marijuana.
Many of us have seen those advertisements which link marijuana use to terrorism and subversive elements. Again, this can be blamed on marijuana prohibition, as much of that product is smuggled into the country, and the money goes to FARQ in Columbia, to the Shining Path Maoist movement in Peru and Chile, to fanatical Islamist terrorist organizations in the Phillipines, and to organizations in Venezuela and Bolivia which train and support terrorists who find their way inside US borders. Mexican Cartels and corrupt officials in that country profit greatly from marijuana prohibition in the United States. An end to prohibition would give the U.S more control over the distrubution of marijuana money. Legalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana is only a small step toward what really needs to be done--domestic cultivation of marijuana needs to be legalized in order to prevent the funding of terrorist groups. The opening of legal marijuana trade with such countries as Jamaica and Canada is also something that should be looked at down the road, in order to prevent the money from falling into the wrong hands.
An argument used to support prohibition is illustrated by this little tidbit from the Colorado voters' guide, under the heading "Estimate of Fiscal Impact:"
Ammendment 44 may reduce state and local government revenues because fines would no longer be assessed for adult marijuana possession of one ounce or less.

Prohibition proponants see legalization as a suppression of their ability to create and support excessive bureaucracy. Prohibition also allows governments to confiscate private property without a conviction, and without just compensation. But the cost of enforcement outweighs the benifits of the fines and property auctions. Law enforcement resources are distracted from crimes against Natural Law, and more people are in jail for smoking a joint than there are for committing such crimes as rape, burglary, robbery, or assault. This all costs the taxpayers money which could be used for something else, mainly more efficient law enforcement which would better protect us from violent crimes.
The pro-prohibition element claims that legalization would increase marijuana use. In the referenced essay, Buckley laughs at the notion, and points out that The Netherlands has had legal marijuana for years, yet the percentage of the population that uses marijuana is no greater than the marijuana using percentage of the US population. I agree with Buckley, because the notion of doing something just because it is legal is ridiculous. Alcohol consumption and Cigarette smoking are legal, but not everybody smokes cigarettes or drinks alcohol. Eating pork is legal, but not everybody eats pork. It all comes down to personal responsibility, something that no US government from the time of FDR to present wants to recognize in the general population. Social Darwinism isn't necessarily a good thing, but it is a part of nature. Vices will always be with us, law or no law, and everybody chooses their own vices. Morality can not be legislated. It is time to just say no to marijuana prohibition laws.