One of our recent topics on PolitiChicks was “legalizing drugs”. While I was researching the pros and cons I asked one of my strong Libertarian friends what he thought about it.
“The government should interfere in my choices as a free human being as little as possible,” he told me. “If my choices do not interfere with another person’s free choices and rights then it is nobody’s business what I do or do not do.” He then quoted Thomas Sowell (from his book Compassion versus Guilt & Other Essays:
“A ban on drugs has become Prohibition…Like Prohibition, the ban on drugs has been a financial bonanza for organized crime and its profits have financed the corruption of law enforcement agencies, politicians and judges. If drugs and alcohol had never been discovered this would be a much better world. But it is a dangerous illusion that we have the omnipotence to undo every evil.”
This pretty much sums up the big argument among proponents who want to legalize drugs—comparing it to Prohibition.
According to Mike Meno of the Marijuana Policy Project, since 2006, about 30,000 people have been killed in Mexico’s drug wars.
“In the 1920s, alcohol prohibition gave us Al Capone; now, marijuana prohibition gave us Mexican drug cartels,” Meno said.
“Mexican drug cartels, which are gaining power, currently generate about 60 percent of their revenue by selling marijuana in the U.S,” Meno continues, “giving them a virtual monopoly on this very lucrative trade. By keeping marijuana illegal, we’ve allowed some very dangerous and violent people to make a lot of money.”
Proponents of legalizing drugs believe it could be a way to help reduce government costs, raise tax revenues and end the costly drug war. A Cato Institute study estimated that legalizing drugs would save the government approximately $41.3 billion annually on expenditures related to the enforcement of prohibition. They estimated that of that $41.3 billion about $8.7 billion would result from the legalization of marijuana alone and $32.6 billion from the legalization of other drugs, like cocaine and heroin.
(Is that what we’re doing? Are they saying the reason there are violent criminals in the drug trade is simply because drugs are illegal and not because of the evil people pushing them?)
Unfortunately for Meno and potheads everywhere, in 2010 even my liberal home state of California failed to legalize marijuana with Prop 19. It was opposed by the California Chamber of Commerce, the Peace Keepers Association. Even radical California Senator Diane Feinstein was quoted in the International Business Times as saying, “Proposition 19..will cause harm to Californians on our roadways, and in our schools, workplaces and communities.” (Tsk tsk; when Feinstein’s not in your radical liberal corner, you know you’ve got a problem. )
Some reports say that even the legal marijuana program is having immense problems.
In an LA Times article, Sheriff Lee Baca said, “The medicinal marijuana program that voters authorized years ago has been hijacked by underground drug-dealing criminals who are resorting to violence in order to control their piece of the action.” And John Lovell, a lobbyist for the California Peace Officers’ Association said, “We have enough problems with alcohol and abuse of pharmaceutical products. Do we really need to add yet another mind-altering substance to the array?”
When I posed this question to my Libertarian friend, he said, “My problem with conservatives in general is that they espouse the same beliefs of freedom and non-interference, except when it comes to something they disagree with. Then they are more than happy to have the government tell me what I can and cannot do. My opinion is the same for the following issues: prostitution, seat belt laws as they apply to adults, helmet laws, and prohibitions against suicide, or basically anything that would harm me but not infringe upon or harm others. If I wish to be stupid, that is my choice.”
MY problem with this—and it’s where I usually part ways with Libertarians—is that this would be fine if everyone lived on a tiny little island all by themselves and their actions didn’t affect anyone else. Unfortunately that’s just not the case—and this is especially a problem with it comes to hard drugs like heroin & cocaine which completely impair judgment & their “human-ness”. It’s also a major problem in big cities like Los Angeles where I live. The LAST thing I want to have to contend with on the 405 freeway during rush hour is a bunch of cokeheads driving like maniacs. Yes, I know they do that now illegally—but the mind reels when thinking of a time when they can actually buy their cocaine in a drug store…
Again, I believe this would be a perfectly logical point of view if people lived on their little isolated islands and didn’t have ANY FRIENDS OR FAMILY anywhere near them that they could hurt. Just like in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”—each of our lives touches other people’s lives. That’s the beauty of life. For Libertarians, they seem to want to believe their personal actions don’t have any consequences, no matter what they do.