Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Legalize Drugs

William Buckley suggests, not for the first time, that laws against marijuana are counterproductive, and that marijuana should be treated as alcohol: Taxed, regulated, but not prohibited. I'm not an expert on drug policy -- far from it -- but I'm inclined to agree.

"But people would take things that harm themselves," runs the main objection. Well, so what? People do all sorts of things already that put themselves at risk of harm. They smoke, they drink, they eat fatty foods, they watch TV rather than exercise, they go skydiving or bungee jumping. Why spend billions of dollars throwing people in jail for doing something that is likely less harmful than driving a car? (Recall that 47,478 people died in 2002 in vehicle accidents, while 11,965 died from alcoholic liver disease and 29,737 died from guns.)

The real reason that I don't pay more attention to this, to be perfectly frank, is because I don't want to be associated with the sort of people who usually support legalization, i.e., those who are motivated by personal habits. I've never even tried a cigarette, let alone drugs of any kind.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take the opposite lesson from observation of people doing legal but harmful things to themselves. Why do we want to add another one to an already long list? Most of the things that you state as being harmful also serve useful functions (information and entertainment from TV), can be done in ways that don't cause harm (eatting a healthy diet or drinking in moderation), or aren't done with the objective of injuring oneself (risky activities like skydiving or bungee jumping). Smoking is the only activity on your list that has no intrinsic value other than providing a 'high'.

I don't find the argument that driving kills more people very persuasive (even if it turned out to be true). Getting high serves no useful purpose, driving is practically a necessity in our culture.

I'm consistently surprised by these sort of arguments in favor of legalization of marijuana. It almost seems that those in favor seem to think that marijuana will lose it's addictive properties if it's legalized. Alcohol addiction, even though alcohol is taxed and regulated, has an enormous negative impact on our society. Nobody in favor of legalization ever seems to want to confront the reality that legal marijuana would most likely have similar effects.

Chris B

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arguments can be made for legalizing 'less dangerous' drugs like weed, ecstasy and heroin. We need to be aware, however, that legalized drugs will be used by more people and therefore more people will drive under the influence. An extra ten-thousand traffic homicides a year may be acceptable, but we should be aware that is part of what we will be getting.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

This is a response to Chris B's comment.
So, you think getting high serves no useful purpose? Do you listen to music at all? Because a lot of the music we listen to, I would be willing to bet, is written while the writer was high on some drug.
Second, I remember this one girl during my freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She smoked weed all the time before she studied. Why did she do this? Because the high was able to place her in a state of mind that allowed her to study. Well, there's another purpose of getting high.
By the way, I have an essay on drug legalization on my blog.

11:32 PM  
Blogger coh said...

It's against the American way to limit freedoms and take away free will and civil liberties from people. If someone enjoys getting high, it makes no sense to ban the substance when there is more than enough technology and media to teach safe usage.

Banning drugs also provides an outlet for terrorists to take advantage of, funding their ambitions. Turning ordinary citizens 'terrorist supporters' is ridiculous. Plus, it's unfair to put farmers at a disadvantage.

3:58 PM  

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