Why Pot Legalization Isn't A "Freedom Issue"

By Gina Loudon (SOURCE)

I won’t read the libertarian comments of those who attack me for writing this, unless you promise to read until the end. Then I will listen.

I love freedom as much as anyone, and I flirted not only the idea of calling myself libertarian, but also with the idea of legalization of marijuana for medical use, etc. My husband is the best political mind I know, and he said that legalization would surge heroin use. I didn’t believe it.

I hate admitting I was wrong, but that is precisely where I find myself after watching the data roll in following several states’ legalization of marijuana.

The libertarian argument holds that a free society trusts its adult citizens to make their own choices. Criminalizing use of a “harmless” substance like pot builds a drug-enforcement police state and empowers black-market drug gangs. The solution, decriminalization, will set people free, weaken the drug cartels and allow governments to collect net new revenues. The problem with this view is that none of the facts meet reality, and the libertarian view suffers from flawed logic.

First, the drug cartels enjoy vast new markets with every legalization vote. Are the drug cartels weaker? To the contrary, they are not only doing amazingly well, they are now happy to satisfy the exploding new demand for heroine. Heroine, once a devastating drug that ran its course, with use limited to small pockets of junkies, is now the biggest scourge in small towns across the country. Deaths from heroin use have now surpassed gun deaths. Exploding use of the ostensibly harmless marijuana has confirmed its role as the gateway drug, enticing people to try altering their minds, entrusting them to put the brakes on and not go deeper into use of other drugs.

The libertarian view, to be consistent, would decriminalize all drugs for all adults and define adults as those over 18 years of age. If you can take up arms as a soldier, you should be able to choose to enjoy not just pot, but heroin, cocaine and oxycodone, right? If you do not accept this premise, you need to relinquish your libertarian card.

People of good will don’t want to tell others how to live their lives. What business is it of mine to tell you what to do in the privacy of your home?

That is the foundation of what we do in a republican welfare state. If you lived alone on an island, you should be able to do whatever you want. The problem is, no man is an island unto himself. We are all stuck with the bad choices of the drug addicted. Relatives and crime victims pay directly. We all pay the “social costs” of jail cells, treatment, influenced driving incidents and lost productivity of drug addicts.

The libertarian argument holds that we create this ideal system where everything is legal, so government’s only role is to tax use and fund treatment rather than incarcerate citizens. We know from the experiences of the states that decriminalized pot that drug use skyrockets. The “legalize, tax and treat” theory creates a bizarre mixed message where society tells its young adults that use is fine and yet bad. We told our kids that pot, the gateway drug, is OK, and now we’re surprised that they’re taking up heroin?

Then there is the bizarre dilemma for employers, especially those who are required by either criminal or civil law to maintain a drug-free workplace. Recreational pot is legal, but effectively illegal for vast segments of the economy, like construction. Contractors across California are experiencing serious challenges recruiting drug-free construction workers in a state in which it seems almost every teen smokes pot regularly.

As the libertarian arguments fail, we are back to considering what philosophy provides true liberty. Liberty requires active and engaged citizens with sharp minds, healthy bodies and drive. Prosperous people are harder to control than the impoverished. Our Founding Fathers knew government would grow unless severely restricted by checks and balances. The statists who would grow it thrive where the citizenry checks out. California, the first state to allow the libertarian, “medical” use of marijuana, now has the highest in the nation taxation, government repression and poverty.

While the California progressive is the furthest away from the libertarian on the political scale, when you look at the map, you see that every other recreational pot state is also an oppressive, high-tax, low-liberty, Democrat-stronghold state. Is this mere coincidence or cause and effect? Why is it that George Soros is the number one financier of marijuana use initiatives? With the exception of Arkansas and Louisiana, the pot map looks like the Democrat “blue wall” map of guaranteed electoral votes for the presidency.

The conservative conserves. We embrace what works and reject what does not work. We learn from history and approach change with caution.

Decriminalizing that which one’s forebears criminalized is radical. It is one thing to test the idea, but another to reject the knowledge learned from the experiment. Legalization of illicit substances has the appearance of creating freedom, but, in reality, it expands the use of the opiate of the masses that allows the statists to thrive.

Rapists know it: If you want to control people, give them free drugs. We should think again if we promote legalization of drugs as a “freedom issue.” It simply isn’t.