I went through a brief libertarian phase on the matter of drug legalization, but now I’ve come back around against it, albeit for different reasons than I was against it before.
It could be seen as a logical inconsistency that conservatives would want to keep drugs illegal on the basis that people shouldn’t have them. Is that not the argument liberals use regarding guns? But when a liberal says this, the conservative comes back with, “Outlawing guns isn’t going to stop bad guys from getting them.” And that’s true.
But the purpose for me in keeping drugs outlawed would not be to keep them out of people’s hands—again, it won’t achieve that affect at all. I know that if you outlaw drugs, “only outlaws will use drugs.” That’s fine with me if they do. So why outlaw drugs?
Because it breeds sloth and apathy. The people who want to smoke pot are going to smoke pot without regard for what the law says, but if it’s illegal, they will do it in the privacy of their home most of the time. If it’s legal, they will be more likely to do it in public (there’s nothing marijuana-smokers love more than telling people they smoke marijuana—they’re like vegans, marathoners, and teachers).
Ron Paul made a good point in one of the Republican primary debates for the 2012 election. He said that just because a drug becomes legal does not mean people who didn’t use drugs before are suddenly going to want to use them. Most people’s minds on the matter won’t be changed, he’s right. But kids will be adversely affected by legalization.
It is actually still illegal in Colorado to smoke marijuana publicly, but on Easter Sunday tens of thousands of potheads descended on Denver for a big pot-smoking festival. There’s power in numbers, they figured. Here’s a quote from an Associated Press article on the event:
“It feels good not to be persecuted anymore,” said Joe Garramone, exultantly smoking a joint while his 3-year-old daughter played on a vast lawn crowded with fellow smokers.
Smoking in public allows kids to witness it. Growing up with that normalizes the practice in these kids’ eyes, so when they’re advised in their teen years not to smoke pot, those admonishments will seem merely like the silly hysterics of square, old-fashioned parents. “Nothing is wrong with it,” they will think. “Everyone does it all the time.”
Why would we want the next generation to have that belief? Drugs should be stigmatized, not normalized.
Secondly, but most importantly for me, getting high is a sin for the same reason that getting drunk is a sin. (Why not outlaw alcohol then? Because alcohol isn’t always drunk to get drunk; I drink and don’t get drunk. But people who use drugs use them specifically to get high.) If this violates the First Amendment, then the First Amendment is wrong on the matter. Call me a theocrat—that’s accurate, actually; I am a believer in Christian theocracy and an opponent of legalizing drugs, and I am both of those for the same reason: any nation that allows immorality to flourish cannot itself flourish.