Posted by Lex, on October 18, 2010
I’ve never smoked pot. Never wanted to. Probably never will. But strangely – for me – I find myself in agreement with Bill Clinton’s otherwise kooktacular Surgeon General, Jocyelyn Elders:
Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders told CNN Sunday she supports legalizing marijuana.
The trend-setting state of California is voting next month on a ballot initiative to legalize pot, also known as Proposition 19. The measure would legalize recreational use in the state, though federal officials have said they would continue to enforce drug laws in California if the initiative is approved.
“What I think is horrible about all of this, is that we criminalize young people. And we use so many of our excellent resources … for things that aren’t really causing any problems,” said Elders. “It’s not a toxic substance.”
Supporters of California’s Prop. 19 say it would raise revenue and cut the cost of enforcement, while opponents point to drug’s harmful side-effects.
I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that substance abuse, whether that substance be alcohol, THC or even the more vicious and addictive drugs – pick one, or several – ought to be in the general population less an issue of criminal enforcement than one of psycho/behavioral remediation. Where that fails, let the lotus eaters shiver in their cold places until they die their unlamented deaths. They’re not contributing to society much. They shouldn’t be a drain on it, either.
You can’t save everybody. Not everyone wants to be saved. But we’re criminalizing actions that people willingly inflict upon themselves, and in doing so incentivizing horrible behaviors both at home and in the near abroad. Because junkies don’t have the wherewithal to purchase their preferred poisons, they are victimizing their families and neighbors. Because there is money to be made in the black market exchange of toxins, renegade drug dealers are committing astonishingly profitable mayhem south of our borders: 28,000 Mexicans have died either fighting over the drug trade that services our shores, or in the accompanying collateral damage since 2006.
Legalize it, tax the hell out of it, put the monsters out of business and put the truly dedicated addicts into hospice care and speed them on their inevitable way.
Here’s the reality of it: People who want to do drugs will get to do drugs. People who don’t want to, won’t. In between those two poles there be monsters who are victimizing each group, and successive generations of the persistently poor who grow up believing that they have a better shot at clawing their way out of poverty by enslaving their neighbors than they do by learning a skill or getting a degree. Legalizing and regulating those behaviors takes the wind out of those sails and is at least worth a try. The war on drugs has been an unmitigated failure.
Finally, there’s this: We’ve lost a lot of kids in Sandy Eggo in car crashes over the last year. Not one of them was high on pot.
Caveat: I carve out an exception for the serving military. They’ve got real work to do in dangerous circumstances wherein teamwork must be safely assumed. And after all, consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.