mm274: Overdue: decriminalize marijuana use

MUDGE’S Musings

As expounded upon in this space several months (and 100 posts!) ago (here and here), MUDGE has no patience whatsoever with the U.S.’s other failed war.

And whether you care to believe it or not, this long-held position comes not as a result of this child of the 60s’ own recreational habits. We’ll cop to other vices, but not recreational pharmaceutical use, ever.

Unaltered reality is quite exciting enough for yr (justifiably) humble svt, thank you very much.

Consult either or both of the links above for the argument. Prohibition in the 1920s (the result of 50 years of fanatic organized religion based campaigning against alcohol consumption) had the unhappy unintended consequences both of making petty criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens, as well as solidifying in society as a permanent fixture organized crime.

The cure was ultimately understood by mainstream society as far worse than the disease it was treating, and was discarded after 13 tumultuous years.

However its passing left a couple of ugly artifacts behind: Organized crime, which like any other well organized consumer-oriented business cheerfully moved on to new products when its major market evaporated. And the implacably held belief (again, apparently religion based) that Prohibition, far from having proven itself impractical and wrong-headed, despite all the evidence of thirteen years, was yet a viable strategy to regulate society.

Prohibition against marijuana (and harder drugs) has had the predictable identically unpleasant results. Ever more virulent organized crime, long since expanded out of its Sicilian roots, and the ever-popular making petty criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens, although there’s nothing petty about the penalties currently exacted by statute, especially in federal jurisdictions.

For the most part politicians facing (re)election campaigns have run away from telling the truth about drugs, especially marijuana. Chicago Tribune‘s Steve Chapman wrote about Barack Obama, because after all, it is the Sunday before Tsunami Tuesday, on the topic today.

Why Obama? Apparently because he’s the only candidate willing to be quoted on the subject.

chapman chitrib

A truth Obama won’t dare tell

Steve Chapman | February 3, 2008

Lately, Barack Obama has been quoting John F. Kennedy: “The world is changing. The old ways will not do.” For a few hours the other day, I was starting to think he really meant it.
On Thursday, The Washington Times reported that in 2004, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, Obama came out for decriminalizing marijuana use. That usually means eliminating jail sentences and arrest records for anyone caught with a small amount for personal use, treating it more like a traffic offense than a violent crime. But in a show of hands at a debate last fall, he indicated that he opposed the idea….

This episode reveals that as a candidate, Obama is more fond of bold rhetoric than bold policies. But it also proves the impossibility of talking sense on the subject of illicit drugs during a political campaign. That course of action would mean admitting the inadmissible: that the prohibition of cannabis has been cruel, wasteful and fraudulent.

Cruel because it leads to the arrest of nearly 700,000 people a year for mere possession of a substance that is comparatively benign. Wasteful because it expends billions of dollars in police, court and correctional resources that could be deployed against dangerous predators. Fraudulent because it hasn’t solved anything: According to the federal government, nearly 100 million Americans have tried the stuff.

And one in three live in a city, or a state, where marijuana users aren’t usually jailed.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Chicago Tribune – A truth Obama won’t dare tell

I’ve noted before that considering Chapman’s spotless conservative credentials that it’s uncanny how often he makes good sense.

Another union that I’m in danger of having my card pulled from? Hope not, I’d have to change my logo and everything.

I’m never averse to quoting a well written opinion, even, ahem, if it’s my own:

Now, MUDGE is not recommending total legalization. After all, alcohol was legalized 74 years ago, and while the impact on criminals was dramatic, the impact on addictive individuals, their families, and those unlucky enough to share the highways with them has remained dire. An impact, however, that, except for DUIs, the medical establishment has been deemed most appropriate to handle.

But, when Prohibition ended, so also did the lucrative line of business for criminals.

Several states, mainly in the East, still to this day restrict alcohol sales to state run facilities.

Okay, that sounds like a useful template. Open up state controlled substance stores. Demand six forms of identification if necessary to keep children far away.

Thus, let’s see what happens to drug crimes when to use drugs doesn’t require one to be a criminal.

Prohibition turned an entire nation into criminals, and changed the face of criminal activity in this country. Prohibition finally became unsustainable because the nation came to its senses realizing that even otherwise exemplary citizens had to behave like criminals and break the law to enjoy a drink.

Set a price for heroin and cocaine and the like that includes a tax to fund drug abuse treatment programs — I’m guessing the “street” price will still, tax and all, come in at far less than the price available from the Colombian-supplied junkie down that alley.

But, keep a few law enforcement agents around, to throw the book at the creeps who persist in selling to children.

Make medical marijuana freely available at a fair price by prescription, again at the state stores where legal identification can be assured.

Just as organized crime found new things to do in 1933, if you take criminality out of the drug supply industry, drug related crime will dry up just as promptly. Fear not for the poor farmers in Bolivia, Peru and Afghanistan with their poppy fields. They will remain in business, paid though by the U.S. government rather than by criminal cartels.

Of course, there’s always a down side. This program would leave thousands of judges, bailiffs, court clerks, prosecutors, defense attorneys, sheriffs’ deputies, wardens and guards out of work.

Probably an acceptable price for the reduction, even elimination, of the casually violent drive-by shootings that kill innocent 10 year olds.

Use some of that obsolete war on drugs budget to retrain the judges, bailiffs, clerks, lawyers, deputies, and guards.

Teach them web page development and Java. Create something useful.

Maybe we can once again compete with Bengaluru.

Another pointless war we can end. Why not now?

Come on, candidates! In this year of certain change, why not stand up for this one. Imagine being able to cut federal and state budget deficits without taxation. Start with marijuana, I’m okay with that.

But start.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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4 Responses to mm274: Overdue: decriminalize marijuana use

  1. […] let sell the manufactured drugs on the street. The idiocy of our war on drugs has been exposed here more than once [that’s three different […]

  2. […] wrong-headed crusade against drugs several times before, most recently when we enjoyed Steve Chapman’s incisive decriminalization opinion piece. You might enjoy seeing that one again; there is a link to another war on drugs post you might also […]

  3. […] written previously in the context of illicit recreational chemicals (good stuff here and here and here) about the absurdity of society enforcing unenforceable laws instead of taxing vices. And Mr. […]

  4. How is it that just anyone can write a blog and get as popular as this? Its not like youve said something incredibly impressive –more like youve painted a fairly picture through an issue that you know nothing about! I dont want to sound mean, here. But do you truly think that you can get away with adding some fairly pictures and not genuinely say anything?

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