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A New Bill to Legalize Pot

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Two notable Congressmen  --  Barney Frank and Ron Paul  --  have jointly, as it were, introduced legislation to repeal the federal ban on marijuana, and leave its legal status to the states, so the on-line Houston Chronicle reports.

This story struck me, not only for its intrinsic interest on this hotly debated topic, but because it comes out on the same day as another story to which I shall presently refer.

One of the principal arguments for legalizing marijuana is that, by doing so, we can tax it, thus increasing government revenue at a time of considerable need, and simultaneously reduce the violence that often accompanies the illegal drug trade.  If we treated marijuana like the painkiller it is said to be, and made it available at the pharmacy, as other painkillers are, we could put an end to the gunplay with which illegal drugs have become associated. 

The idea that violence will end with legalization is most appealing.  It depends, however, on the tacit assumption that the sort of people who seek drugs are really just law-abiding citizens unjustifiably if not irrationally labelled as criminals. 

As I say, this notion is appealing.  It's just not so reliably true.

1 Comment

Bill,

The story you posted is about a man robbing a store to obtain prescription painkillers. Said painkillers are highly addictive and highly effective. They are also highly controlled and thus, extremely valuable on the black market. I assume you agree all of these things are true.

Marijuana is a primarily recreational drug that has potential medical benefits. Rather than being produced by corporations, it is produced by either small growers or large dangerous drug cartels.

The connection you make between a mentally troubled person seeking to rob a pharmacy of valuable prescription drugs versus an imagined scenario where fans of marijuana, upon legalization, turn to illegal and violent measures to obtain the drug, such that those measures exceed any benefit in obliterating the black-market marijuana trade seems empirically unreasonable.

I believe that marijuana should be legal because we should be free to alter our minds with certain chemicals that are moderately effective and of limited dangerousness to other people. (i.e. caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, over-consumption of fats (I recognize these are not all equal)) I do not believe that other drugs (cocaine, heroin, lsd, meth) should be legal because their immediate danger of devastating addiction and overdose outweighs the gains in personal freedom.

My question to you is do you favor prohibition of alcohol and if not, why? Additionally, do you favor prohibition of nicotine and trans-fats?

In the interest of personal disclosure of bias, I drink alcohol very moderately and have never tried a recreational drug and have no desire. I do not smoke and drink a small amount of caffeine.

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