This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress
You know, if I was a lawyer and I was listening to Bill Bennett and Bob White give their presentation about marijuana, I would probably conceive every point that they made about marijuana. Other than why they say marijuana should continue to be illegal. I would say all of their points about the negative effects about marijuana are probably right. I would just conceive all of that, but then my point about what they are saying would be, that the arguments that you are making against marijuana can be made about alcohol and tobacco. Probably especially alcohol as far as short-term negative side-effects. Tobacco’s danger is more long-term.
And that is really my point about marijuana legalization. I’m not a fan of marijuana and wouldn’t use it for anything other than maybe the food. But at the same time just because marijuana is not for me, doesn’t mean I should tell others they can’t have it either. I look at marijuana the same way I look at legal narcotics including prescription drugs. Is locking people up in prison and giving them permanent criminal records simply for possessing or using a drug that has similar side-effects as alcohol, worth it not? I have to say no just on that alone, but I can give other reasons regarding personal freedom, freedom of choice, anti-big government and anti-nanny state reasons why marijuana should be legal as well.
And my criminal justice reason for legalizing marijuana has to do with how many people we incarcerate in America and how many of those people are in there because of the War on Drugs as users. And marijuana being a big cause for that as well. Good productive non-violent Americans serving prison sentences for simply being caught with marijuana, or being caught having marijuana in their system. Money that could be spent dealing with violent offenders and violent inmates in this country. Money that could also be used for education and other infrastructure priorities. Things we desperately need in this country. Or could be used to reduce taxes across the board.
The War on Drugs and War on Marijuana in particular perhaps, is the ultimate big government Uncle Sam nanny state knows best for the entire country what people should be allowed to do with their own bodies and how they can live their own lives. Marijuana legalization supporters aren’t calling for a federal law to legalize marijuana everywhere and push the states out-of-the-way. They are fighting this battle and I agree with them here, state by state and taking federalist approach in how marijuana is legalized. And the Obama Administration at least to a certain extent is helping the states who decide to legalize. Which is not to lock up people for simple marijuana possession or usage in states where it legal.
The drug warriors are the Mike Bloomberg nanny statists in this debate. Except when it comes to marijuana there are nanny statists on the Right and Left. Neoconservatives and Progressives Right and Left who believe they know what its best for people to put in their own bodies and how they should live their own lives. And what the anti-drug warriors are saying is, “enough! Why are we locking up people for what they put in their own bodies when they aren’t hurting anyone else? Especially when what they put in their bodies has similar side-effects as alcohol?” As well as saying that marijuana doesn’t come without any negative side-effects. Which is why it should regulated and taxed like alcohol as well.