ATPR: The following article, titled “Drug Legalization: Relaxing the rules against use of recreational drugs”, appeared in the April/May/June 2016 edition of the National Prohibitionist, the official newsletter of the Prohibition Party, America’s oldest continually existing third party since 1869. The full text of the article is below:
Legalization is often presented as a way to cut the cost of prisons, and it is an unfortunate fact that the “prison industry” has grown fat on the persecution of marijuana users. America, which calls itself “the land of the free,” has 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.
Other times, the argument in favor of legalization is based on allowing doctors to make medical decisions about appropriate treatment without government interference; a stock joke in the Prohibition Era was “Our town used to have one drug store and five saloons, but now it has six drug stores.
Still another oft-heard viewpoint is that limiting access to recreational drugs is somehow “un-American;” this is the tack taken by George Soros and his arrogantly named “People for the American Way.”
And then there are the tax advocates, people who have deceived themselves into believing that the tax receipts from alcohol, tobacco, and in the future possibly other recreational drugs are larger than the social costs of drug use.
Implicit in all this is the assumption that, one way or another, government would retain control over sales and use.
That last statement is the easiest to refute: It is true that alcohol causes slightly fewer problems in “control” states than it does in “free enterprise” states, but dramshop laws are rarely enforced, minors obtain alcohol from parents or from older friends, advertising is ubiquitous, and hospitals and jails are full of victims; over time, “control” becomes weaker and then is abandoned entirely.
The tax argument is a non-starter: The most recent study showed that the cost to the community is 17 times as large as tax income; estimates vary, but every study
has shown a tax loss.
There is no “American way” of victimizing other people by selling them recreational
drugs. No ethical way, no moral way, no religious way.
It is noteworthy that the recent development of pharmaceutical grade cannabidiol,
the therapeutically active ingredient in marijuana, has panicked the “medical marijuana” lobby. They don’t really care about medicine, they want unrefined weed includingthe tetrahydrocannabinol which makes them high.
The jail problem is real, however. Today’s drug policy should be informed by the way in which National Prohibition was conducted: The 18th Amendment said nothing at all about possession of alcohol; it criminalized only the traffic in alcohol, the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages. Prohibition didn’t care if you had some on your person. It was invoked only if you provided alcohol to someone else. By making alcohol harder to get, it reduced percapita consumption by two-thirds.
Today’s “War on Drugs” has been carried out by criminalizing the victims. That
approach has distorted law enforcement, destroyed careers and families, and handicapped hundreds of thousands of otherwise productive citizens by tagging them
with criminal records.
There needs to be strong resistance to recreational drugs, but it should seek to
disrupt the traffic in drugs, not to persecute drug users individually.
Read the entire April/May/June 2016 edition of The National Prohibitionist here. The newsletter is a four page pdf file that includes statements from the Prohibition Party on , various issues such as gambling and single payer health care, the Prohibition Party presidential candidate James Hedges’ opinion on immigration, an update from the party’s chairman Rick Knox that touches on ballot access and a section on Prohibitionist history. –ATPR