|Moving Toward a More Sensible Drug Policy|
Posted by FoM on June 20, 2001 at 09:03:56 PT|
By James Eaves-Johnson
Source: Daily Iowan
Canada is just finishing a round of radically liberalizing its marijuana laws. For many UI students, this is good news: more marijuana, more legal, and closer to home. Particularly novel is that Canada will soon legalize marijuana farming for the medicinal market.
This is a step unseen throughout the world. Hash use is widely permitted in many European countries. Several states have attempted to legalize pot for pharmaceutical use. However, none but Canada has gone so far as to permit private marijuana production.
Canada has only recently acted because an Ontario appeals court ruled that marijuana laws would be lifted unless Canada reworked its law to allow medicinal use of marijuana. Although this move was recent, it has led to broad liberalization of marijuana laws, and some are talking about going further. Joe Clark, the head of Canada's Tory party, has suggested full decriminalization.
Unfortunately, we in America are too benighted to move forward in liberalizing our drug laws. Our federal laws contain no medical-use exception. And, as the Supreme Court recently pointed out, state medical-marijuana laws do not make such an exception suddenly exist. Indeed, the tack of federal drug law in America is frightening enough that it should force even die-hard government-loving liberals to reconsider their support for the behemoth state.
Consider that under former President Clinton, a federal offender was incarcerated twice as long for drugs than for manslaughter. The federal government spends more than $17,000 per mile of border and coastline to stop drugs from entering, and then the vast majority still get in. Consider that marijuana has become the fourth-largest cash crop in America, with marijuana production being valued at five times tobacco production. At the same time, we are eroding our Constitution with a failed War on Drugs that more resembles a War on the Bill of Rights.
It is mind-boggling that Americans can look at these facts and support the failed War on Drugs in general, let alone the prohibition of marijuana. Indeed, in light of what should be done, Canada looks as though it is taking mere baby steps that the United States should take immediately. In fact, U.S. drug policy is not only having deleterious effects at home, it is also making huge impacts abroad. U.S. demand for illicit drugs funds criminal organizations worldwide. Both Mexican President Vicente Fox and Uruguayan President Jorge Batlle have suggested that little can be done in their countries until the United States moves towards legalization. Batlle even went so far as to point out that Colombian rebels would be defunded and the civil war there would be over if the United States legalized drugs.
Although the situation looks grim, it appears that the United States could have a shift of its own on drug policy. Support for liberalization of drug laws is no longer limited to a few pot-heads from NORML. According to an ACLU study, 79 percent of Americans responded favorably when asked if a doctor should be able to prescribe marijuana. The number rises to 85 percent for prescriptions where marijuana has been proven effective.
However, support does not end there. A rising number of conservatives have made libertarian statements supporting liberalization. Among them are Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, Republican Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle, and former Reagan Secretary of State George Schultz.
One of the biggest reformers is Republican Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico.
If you go to his Web site -- http://www.governor.state.nm.us/ -- the first thing you see is his plan to decriminalize marijuana, among other things. Johnson is so outspoken about it that when the media asked if he had "experimented" with marijuana, he replied, "No, I smoked marijuana. This is something that I did. I did it along with a lot of other people. But me and my buddies, you know … we enjoyed what we were doing."
But, you don't have to be a pot smoker like Johnson to support a move towards drug-law liberalization. I've never tried illicit drugs; I don't even drink alcohol, a drug far worse than marijuana in my opinion.
The facts speak for themselves. Canada has done what is minimally necessary to have a sane approach to drugs; full legalization would be an even better approach.
Even if you think drugs are bad and people shouldn't use them, then that does not mean that imprisoning hundreds of thousands of people for drug crimes is the solution. Nobel laureate Milton Friedman pointed out, "Legalizing drugs would simultaneously reduce the amount of crime and raise the quality of law enforcement. Can you conceive of any other measure that would accomplish so much to promote law and order?"
James Eaves-Johnson is a DI columnist.
Related Articles & Web Site:
Canadians Lean Toward Easing Marijuana Laws
Pot for Medical Purposes Gets Clearer in Canada
CannabisNews Articles - Governor Gary Johnson
|Comment #1 posted by RandÝm_ on June 21, 2001 at 20:06:04 PT|
|In order to be "more sensible" the current drug policy would have to entail some sense to begin with, ey?|
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