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Focus

In a comment to Bill's post on marijuana, Oscar asks why CJLF does not take a position on marijuana legalization.  I've explained this before on the blog, but readers come and go, so it won't hurt to explain it again.
CJLF is a small, sparsely funded nonprofit organization.  It depends heavily on donations and the volunteer efforts of our trustees.  As such, it must operate on consensus.

Narrow focus makes for broad support.  People who may disagree strongly on some issues can come together on others.  We stay focused primarily on the acts that all reasonable people agree should be crimes -- murder, rape, robbery, burglary, etc.

We do occasionally venture into other areas that we believe have an effect on these basic crimes.  Twenty years ago we made a foray into public order under the "broken windows" theory (which we still believe, notwithstanding the misrepresentations of it and the attacks on it).

Some issues we avoid like the plague because they are tangential to our mission and taking a stand either way would necessarily alienate a portion of our support base.  We watched with dismay as the Komen breast cancer charity, a worthy cause, got itself into a no-win situation by getting entangled in the abortion controversy.  We don't want to make that mistake.

Sometimes it's a judgment call.  Does a controversial issue have a strong enough connection to our core mission that there is a need for us to take a stand, a need strong enough to risk alienating people who might otherwise support us in that core mission?  For marijuana legalization, I think the answer is no.  It is already de facto legal in California, where our base is, and I expect the legalization wave to continue to sweep around other states.  But we will neither support nor oppose that movement.  If proposals to legalize drugs that are far more addictive and harmful ever got serious traction, that would be a different question.

Bill has his own views on the subject.  As noted on our "About" page, the views expressed by our outside authors are their own, just as columnists in a newspaper do not speak for the paper as an institution. 


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