What is it about marijuana that drives people to such extreme disagreement with one another? Clearly it isn't a party line thing as you have a democratic governor threatening vetoes and a republican mayor threatening jobs. Watching the fireworks from both republicans and democrats alike over the recent marijuana bill leads me to believe we've become lost as a nation. We've gone from a nation who's laws were designed simply from protecting one person from causing harm to another person to laws which seek to protect us from ourselves and to attempt to force by law the morality of the lawmakers.
I don't smoke, not even legal cigarettes, I do enjoy the occasional beer or glass of wine however, yet if you wish to smoke a cigarette or a joint I see no harm in your doing so. I do see harm in forcing money from my pocket to punish someone else who is not harming me in any way for something I see nothing wrong with their doing.
The argument has been made that supporting decriminalization of marijuana sends the wrong message to kids and that lessening the punishment would make it easier for kids to access pot. I've news for you folks, along with pot, kids drink too even though that is illegal behavior for anyone under 21 years of age. Is the answer to roll back prohibition? Outlaw drinking because the thought of a school teacher enjoying a glass of wine with dinner or a parent having a beer while watching a game on TV might give kids the wrong idea? It must be double talk to say kids shouldn't drink beer while sitting back enjoying one yourself right?
Let me back up a minute here and explain my background which may help explain my view. I served as a national president to a Fraternity. I ran the entire organization from top to bottom. And as most who have ever been to a college campus can tell you, there is drinking. In some cases under age drinking and yes even drugs. Now as the president, I could easily have yelled and shouted and closed chapter after chapter for the slightest allegation but what good would it have done? College kids, 18, 19 and 20 years old are by all means adults. Closing their fraternity chapter down wouldn't change their behavior. It wouldn't make them change into something they weren't. They would simply be running wild as nongreek students instead of under the banner of a fraternity or sorority.
Instead, myself and the other national officers serving the fraternity under me took the time to travel the country visiting our chapters one by one and having leadership seminars. We spoke to them about responsibility and of consequence for ones actions. We encouraged safety and responsibility. And we spoke to them as adults making them aware that their behaviors are their own to choose. The result was they listened.
When it comes to smoking pot though, instead of looking to allow mature adults to make up their own minds and teaching children about responsibility and consequences for their actions we suddenly fall into a puritanical mindset. We seek to criminalize behavior that we see as immoral and seek to attack or punish anyone who dare speak out in support of such behavior.
I'd like to leave you with a top 10 quotes related to marijuana and drugs which I hope will get you all thinking.
1) No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the sources of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed, and love of power. – P. J. O'Rourke
2) Left-wing politicians take away your liberty in the name of children and of fighting poverty, while right-wing politicians do it in the name of family values and fighting drugs. Either way, government gets bigger and you become less free. – Harry Browne
3) Alcohol didn't cause the high crime rates of the '20s and '30s, Prohibition did. And drugs do not cause today's alarming crime rates, but drug prohibition does. – US District Judge James C. Paine, addressing the Federal Bar Association in Miami, November, 1991
4) Don't do drugs because if you do drugs you'll go to prison, and drugs are really expensive in prison. – John Hardwick
5) If the government can't keep drugs away from inmates who are locked in steel cages, surrounded by barbed wire, watched by armed guards, drug-tested, strip-searched, X-rayed, and videotaped – how can it possibly stop the flow of drugs to an entire nation? – Ron Crickenberger
6) I am convinced that we can do to guns what we've done to drugs: create a multi-billion dollar underground market over which we have absolutely no control. – George L. Roman
7) I favor free trade in drugs for the same reason the Founding Fathers favored free trade in ideas: in a free society it is none of the government's business what ideas a man puts into his mind; likewise, it should be none of its business what drugs he puts into his body. – Thomas Szasz
8) I'm in favor of legalizing drugs. According to my value system, if people want to kill themselves, they have every right to do so. Most of the harm that comes from drugs is because they are illegal. – Milton Friedman
9) Opium and morphine are certainly dangerous, habit-forming drugs. But once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of the government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments … Is not the harm a man can inflict on his mind and soul even more disastrous than any bodily evils.? Why not prevent him from reading bad books and bad plays, from looking at bad paintings and statues and from hearing bad music? The mischief done by bad ideologies, surely, is much more pernicious both for the individual and for the whole society, than that done by narcotic drugs. – Von Mises
10) The War on Drugs is a price support system for terrorists and drug pushers. It turns ordinary, cheap plants like marijuana and poppies into fantastically lucrative black market products. Without the War on Drugs, the financial engine that fuels terrorist organizations would sputter to a halt. – Ron Crickenberger, Libertarian Party Political Director 2/4/02