A long time ago, I wrote a post on 10 reasons not to legalize drugs and for some reason, it got a tremendous number of hits, it is still one of the most popular articles on the blog most days, even though it’s more than 9 months old. I recently suggested on a forum that if people want to actually defend the legalization of marijuana, they need to come up with some specific positives that can be demonstrated to be true. Several people made an attempt., but this individual’s attempt stood out by way of organization and effort. However, they’re still problematic from where I stand, here’s why all of them fail critical evaluation.
1. Jobs: You will need jobs that range from growing to retail. You will employ more farmers, more distribution people, more people at retail outlets, and create new businesses in every part of those sectors. There is also the new industries of making smoking devices and other pot merchandise and selling it. Then you have an increase in any regulatory areas which would be needed to control the sale and quality of the product.
Jobs really aren’t a good reason, there are jobs to be had no matter what you do, if you legalized murder, you’d be able to employ a near endless supply of coroners and undertakers, not to mention people to make and sell weapons, ammunition, etc. There are plenty of other ways to create jobs that don’t entail putting legal drugs into the hands of consumers. This may be a logical extension of legalizing drugs, it isn’t a good reason to do it in the first place.
2. Taxes. Your have direct tax revenue from taxing the sale of the product. Plus you have the indirect taxes which come from the newly employed people and commercial revenue that allows people to purchase other products and services across society.
I honestly don’t think that the tax base here is as large as people seem to think. The second that the government starts taxing pot, and we know that they will, you’ll also have a lot of moral crusaders adding tons of sin taxes, like they already do with tobacco. It will end up that the cost of illegal pot will be cheaper than the cost of the legal stuff and I see no reason to think that many consumers are going to go with the more expensive legal stuff when there’s already a clear distribution network for the illegal stuff. It’s also not that difficult to grow pot yourself and once it’s legal, there’s no way to stop people from doing so. Yes, you can make your own beer and theoretically grow your own tobacco, but those are much more difficult than growing your small patch of pot in a window box. There’s a thriving hydroponic industry today that caters to the home grower and those people pay no taxes, nor would they if pot was legal across the board. I don’t think this is the tax panacea some people think it is.
3. Lower use of unsafe pain relievers. Pot can be used in much healthier ways to reduce pain from many conditions. The liver damaging effects of many modern pain relievers would be reduced through a much safer and better method of controling mild to moderate pain.
This is something I’m relatively okay with, but only with a prescription. I’d be better with it if they could find a way to package the pain-killing elements of pot while eliminating the non-essential side effects. If they could do that, stop pot from getting you high, then I’d be more than happy to put it in every store in the country, but not until. But of course, if pot didn’t get people high, they wouldn’t care about it, would they?
4. Reduction in crime. The sales of pot presently are a huge contributor to the revenue of criminal organizations. Those organizations use that revenue to do violence on the street, to corrupt the government, and to destroy people’s lives. By taking their revenue we can use it for more police and better abilities to drive things like gangs out of our neighborhoods while reducing the criminal’s ability to fight. There is also the reality that our present pot laws contribute to ongoing poverty by putting regular people who may not want to be a part of crime into the criminal system. once you are arrested and convicted of sale or possession you are placed in the same category as any other violent person for the purposes of getting a job. This gives the criminal organizations a large group of poor soldiers to chose from because they become the only area many of those people can get employed, and it is a profitable area to be employed in.
I don’t buy that there will be a significant reduction in crime. Even if the entire illegal drug marketplace dried up tomorrow, the criminal underworld wouldn’t go get legitimate jobs, they’d just move on to another form of crime. Especially when you’re looking at the street level pushers, they are involved in crime, not because they want to be, but because they have to be. They have no other skills or education required to get a decent paying job in the real world, they’re just going to move to some other criminal enterprise, be it other, harder drugs, or theft, prostitution, etc. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve never thought that we should be putting drug users in prison, they should go into treatment programs, not the criminal justice system. Likewise, I think we ought to put all drug dealers to death, without exception. Doing that will empty the prisons rapidly and I’m all in support of that. I just don’t think that declaring a criminal act to be legal, just because you don’t like the number of people in jail makes any sense whatsoever.
5. Improved health care. Pot does actually have medicinal qualities and is not just a pain reducer as many pain reducers are. It actually helps with certain illnesses and has been found to reduce cancer risks. It is an all natural sleep aid and nausea reducer. It helps promote apatite for people who need that because of other medical procedures. It doesn’t conflict with many other drugs. It is cheap also.
Well, it has pain reduction qualities, it hasn’t actually been shown to help cure any disease, so once again, I’m fine with it being available to the public with a prescription. We don’t put out Vicodin over the counter, I see no reason we ought to do so with pot.
6. Happy people. Pot is not alcohol. It makes most people who take it happy instead of being a mood amplifier. People smoke it because it is fun to do. Being high is an interesting and fun experience on pot. The worst that seems to come from it would be adam sandler’s movie career. I hate him as much as the next guy, but if something excuses the massive sales of his crap I do not care. Saturday night live might become good again.
But this just brings me back to my original statement, that I think anyone who injects or imbibes, snorts or smokes any illicit substance, particularly for the sole purpose of mood alteration, has some serious issues to begin with and I see no reason to encourage such people.
Wait, some people say, aren’t you a conservative? Don’t you think that people ought to be responsible for themselves and have the freedom to do as they wish? Yes, to a certain degree. But people are also responsible to society as a whole and that’s something that most liberals and libertarians forget. This is something they just don’t like, that they have an obligation to those around them, as much as they do to themselves. Liberals don’t think anyone should ever have to give back to society and libertarians hate the idea that they are responsible to anyone but themselves, but there you go. There is a balance between being free and being irresponsible. You have an inherent social contract in which you agree, whether you like it or not, that you will follow society’s laws, that you will act on society’s behalf as necessary and that you will be a responsible individual and a civilized and productive citizen.
It is to that last option that I speak here. If our goal is to advance society, to improve society, then we all rise or fall together. It does society no good to wear an anchor around it’s collective neck. It is the expectation that each and every person make at least a good faith effort to be productive, to work hard, to get educated, to pay back to society that which has been invested in them. It’s fine to be an individual to a certain extent, it is not fine to ignore your responsibilities to those around you.
That means that if you breed, you are personally responsible for paying for and raising responsible citizens. If you smoke, the cost of any illness associated with your actions is yours and yours alone. If you screw around and fail to get an education, the responsibility for your failure is yours. You shouldn’t expect people to come and help you when you’re the one who messed up your life in the first place. It’s one thing to have a social safety net that catches you when you fall and puts you back on your feet, it’s another to never try in the first place and be unprepared and unwilling to work at all.
That’s going to piss off our liberal friends, who think that breathing is enough to get one a free pass in life, but it’s not. This is neither a totalitarian nor authoritarian position, it’s one of responsibility, not emotion, one of expectation, not wishful thinking. You’re not special. You do not have special dispensation to be a lazy, selfish git. Everyone who has the ability to get up and work has the expectation to get up and work, bar none. People do not have the right to pollute themselves, to the point where they are useless to the rest of us. We all sink or swim together. I choose swim.
How about you?