When Colorado and Washington voters approved ballot initiatives last November to legalize the use and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, freedom lost a step. Nine days after the votes, the stock of just one medical marijuana vendor shot from three dollars up to $215. Today, experienced entrepreneurs are anxious for these pot markets to expand.
In 1975 I was a senior in high school living in northern Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C. The mid-’70s was the height of the pot craze just before the more troubling cocaine boom in the ’80s.
I know what pot is because I used it. I know what pot culture is because I lived it. I just shake my head when I hear people say that there’s nothing wrong with marijuana – and then try to contrast its adverse effects against those of liquor or certain prescription drugs. But here’s the problem with that thinking: It’s insular, it’s juvenile, and it’s dysfunctional. It’s like homosexual activists justifying “gay parenting” or “gay adoption” by arguing that their parental results are at least as good as the worst examples among heterosexuals. True, I could drive my car while stoned when I couldn’t while drunk, but that contrast is no justification for me to drive my car while stoned.
We have entered a progressive age of intellectual dishonesty and deceit to cover a multitude of sins. We live in an age of cultural mediocrity and basement-level expectations. Think of the major cultural battles today. Think of what many Americans, led by delusional youth, now go to the mat over: sodomy, narcotics, liquor, pornography, gambling and smoking pot. They ask to be treated like adults when their causes and motivations couldn’t be any more juvenile.
The progressive right, in its libertarian splendor, fuels this nonsense in principle. It diminishes the value of free markets, private property and, worst of all, individual liberty just to excuse bad behavior. I was once a libertarian when I smoked pot and only thought of myself – when I was 18. Public hue and outcry in defense of bad behavior is little more than a 2-year-old’s tantrum when he doesn’t get the candy he wants for breakfast.
It’s true, we often do mix petty pot users with hardened criminals in our prison system. Yes, marijuana has medicinal value like prescription drugs. But are those sound reasons to legally universalize pot? No. My guess is that reasonable and responsible people can address those situations one by one without granting wholesale justifications for people to exercise diminished capacities. I’ll say it again: If you’re stoned or drunk, if you’re slightly buzzed or even a bit tipsy, you’re less free in that moment than the moment before you engaged that behavior. And, yes, in a free society, the rest of us have a responsibility to prudently mitigate bad behavior and to act justifiably to scorn cultures of bad behavior. It’s amazing that we say no to tobacco use but embrace pot.
As newlyweds, I remember demanding that my wife smoke her cigarettes out on the porch while I felt completely justified smoking pot in the apartment. The more we make laws based on individual preferences, in the name of individual liberties, we will destroy our free society.
For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.
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