MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

What Robert Reich Failed to Say about Marijuana Legalization – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on June 22, 2019

https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/what-robert-reich-failed-to-say-about-marijuana-legalization/

by

…But even though Reich is a liberal in every sense of the word, conservatives should be paying attention to what he says about marijuana legalization. And so should liberals, since, after all, drug freedom is not a tenet of liberalism.

A recent post on Reich’s blog titled “Why We Must Legalize Marijuana” also appeared at Salon. He begins,

The federal prohibition on marijuana has been a disaster. For decades, millions of Americans have been locked up and billions of dollars have been wasted. It’s also deepened racial and economic inequality.

We must end this nonsensical prohibition.

The facts are staggering. In 2017, more Americans were arrested for marijuana possession than for murder, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery combined. That’s one marijuana arrest every minute.

The costs associated with enforcing this ban — including arrests, court costs, and incarceration — reach nearly $14 billion a year.

Prohibition also hurts the economy in terms of lost wages. And Americans with criminal records have a harder time finding a job and getting the education they need.

That marijuana prohibition is a colossal waste of money with costs that greatly exceed any of its supposed benefits is reason enough to legalize marijuana. But Reich doesn’t stop there. He also maintains that “legalizing, taxing, and regulating” marijuana “is good for the economy and creates jobs.” He believes that marijuana should be taxed by state and local governments the way cigarettes and alcohol are. Reich points to states such as Colorado and Washington that tax and regulate marijuana and generate “millions of dollars for health care, education, and other public investments.” As a libertarian, I certainly oppose taxes and regulations on marijuana, just as I oppose taxes and regulations on cigarettes and alcohol. But, like it or not, the fact remains that every state that has legalized marijuana has also taxed and regulated it — and reaped a windfall.

But Reich isn’t finished yet. Marijuana legalization is “more than an economic issue” because “it’s also a matter of racial justice and equality.” Reich recounts the racist origins of the federal prohibition on marijuana and asserts that “black and brown Americans are still much more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white Americans, despite using marijuana at similar rates.” He also points out that “more states are taking action to reform their laws and move toward legalization” and “support for marijuana legalization has surged in recent years, with two-thirds of Americans now in favor of it,” although I take issue with his statement that “even a majority of Republicans are in support.” “It’s time to legalize marijuana,” concludes Reich…

So Reich is certainly correct: It’s time to legalize marijuana.

Yet, there are some extremely important things that Robert Reich failed to say about marijuana legalization. And they are, in fact, much more important than anything he says in his article.

Reich has a law degree. He should know that the Constitution says absolutely nothing about marijuana or any other drug. He should know that the Constitution gives no authority to the federal government to have a Controlled Substances Act, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a drug czar, an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), or a Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program. He should know that the federal government has not only no authority under the Constitution to prohibit marijuana possession, but also that it has no authority whatsoever to have anything to do with marijuana.

So why didn’t Reich say so? They are things that any liberal, progressive, socialist, or Democrat could say. And they are also things that any conservative or Republican could say, and especially those who claim to revere the Constitution and say that the Constitution should be followed.

But that’s not all that Reich failed to say about marijuana legalization.

He failed to say that it is not the proper role of government to be concerned with the medical or recreational habits of Americans.

He failed to say that it is not the business of government bureaucrats to interfere with what Americans want to put in their mouths, noses, veins, or lungs.

He failed to say that it is an illegitimate purpose of government to regulate what Americans desire to eat, drink, smoke, inhale, or inject.

He failed to say that people should be able to do anything that’s peaceful as long as they don’t infringe the personal or property rights of others and are responsible for the consequences of their actions.

He failed to say that every crime should have a tangible and identifiable victim who has suffered measurable harm to his person or measurable damages to his property.

He failed to say that no American should ever be arrested, fined, or imprisoned for possessing a plant his government doesn’t approve of.

He failed to say that the government’s war on marijuana is a war on personal freedom, private property, personal responsibility, individual liberty, personal and financial privacy, and the free market.

But at least he said what he did about marijuana legalization. That is more than most conservatives would ever say.

Be seeing you

Despite Liberalizing Marijuana Laws, the War on Drugs ...

 

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