When marijuana was legalized in Alaska, consumption went down. The Netherlands had a similar experience. In Amsterdam, heroin addiction is half that of the U.S. rate, and crack is not widely available. When we honor our neighbor’s choice, he or she will often act differently than we would have predicted. ... The excessive profit that comes from prohibitive licensing would not exist in the self-regulating marketplace ecosystem. Alcohol and cigarettes, which are illegal for minors, are less of a problem because they are less profitable. If recreational drugs were legal, their medicinal properties could be more easily studied and employed. Today, red tape discourages physicians from giving marijuana to their patients, even though it can slow the progress of glaucoma, keep cancer patients from being nauseated by chemotherapy, and help treat multiple sclerosis. Until it became illegal, marijuana was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia for some of these purposes. Instead, our enforcement agents seized the marijuana plants of a retired postal worker suffering from cancer. Robert Brewser had used them to control the pain and nausea from his radiation therapy. The agents also took -- without trial -- the van his wife used to take him to the hospital for treatment! How much universal love do we show our neighbors when we support laws that make this possible? ... Aggression-through-government sets the stage for drug problems. When we discriminate against disadvantaged workers through minimum wage and licensing laws, we frustrate their economic goals. Getting high is certainly more attractive when other parts of one’s life don’t seem to be working. Selling drugs certainly seems like a lucrative career for a ghetto youth banned from legitimate paths of creating wealth. In addition to the other deleterious effects of licensing laws, they may well contribute to the drug problem. Drug prohibition is counterproductive. We resist this conclusion, however, because we want to control other people’s choices. Some people will indeed make what we consider to be poor choices for themselves. People who overeat, drink heavily, or engage in dangerous activities may prefer a shorter, more exciting, and intense life to a longer one with different rewards. They may prefer gratification over longevity. It is their life and their choice -- if only we would honor it.
| || |