Legalize drugs, save Mexico?

>> Tuesday, March 31, 2009

We need to rework our drug laws in this country. It's no longer logical to spend so much money jailing people and still having huge numbers of people addicted to drugs.

Tom Ammiano introduced legislation in February in California that

would regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana, and then tax it. By legalizing pot, the San Francisco lawmaker argues, the state could reap huge new revenues. Currently pot is California's biggest cash crop, with annual sales reaching $14 billion. Vegetables, the state's second hottest agricultural product, take in a mere $5.7 billion. And California's famous grapes? A piddling $2.6 billion.

If passed, the Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act would give California control of pot in a manner similar to alcohol, while prohibiting its purchase to citizens under age 21. The state's tax collectors estimate the measure would bring in about $1.3 billion in new revenues a year.
Dude, I'm all for it. And I've never even smoked pot! Don't have plans to in the future either.

But, you know, logic is wasted on some people as Glenn Greenwald points out:
(1) Anyone who favors marijuana legalization just wants to get high without being hassled, and anyone who favors drug decriminalization generally is or wants to be a drug user.

(2) Anyone who opposes a return to alcohol prohibition is almost certainly an out-of-control drunk.

(3) Anyone who cares about gay marriage or advocates for equal rights for gay couples is a closet homosexual who just wants to have sex with people of the same gender. The only reason anyone would care about that issue is if one wants to have gay sex.

(4) Anyone who believes in free speech rights for Communists obviously opposes private property ownership and craves Stalinism. Anyone who believes in free assembly rights for neo-Nazis secretly admires Hitler.

(5) Anyone who believes abortion should be legal just wants to have reckless sex without consequences.

(6) Anyone who advocates habeas corpus rights for accused terrorists or who opposes torture harbors sympathy for Islamic extremism and approves of indiscriminate violence against civilians.

(7) Anyone who opposes unrestrained government surveillance must be doing bad things in private that they want to hide.

(8) Anyone who believes in the freedom to practice a certain religion is probably an adherent of that religion and is motivated by a desire to practice it without interference.

Why is most everyone capable of understanding the egregious, illogical stupidity of propositions (2)-(8) -- based on the bleedingly obvious premise that one can advocate the freedom to do X for reasons other than a desire to do X -- while so many people embrace the equally illogical and stupid reasoning of proposition (1) as though it so self-evidently true that it requires no discussion?
Although, there are plenty of people who fully believe in points 2 through 8. Cognitive dissonance runs rampant in certain parts of the country.

Portugal, however, is a country that has come to its senses and decriminalize drugs.
In 2001, Portugal became the only EU-member state to decriminalize drugs, a distinction which continues through to the present. Last year, working with the Cato Institute, I went to that country in order to research the effects of the decriminalization law (which applies to all substances, including cocaine and heroin) and to interview both Portuguese and EU drug policy officials and analysts (the central EU drug policy monitoring agency is, by coincidence, based in Lisbon). Evaluating the policy strictly from an empirical perspective, decriminalization has been an unquestionable success, leading to improvements in virtually every relevant category and enabling Portugal to manage drug-related problems (and drug usage rates) far better than most Western nations that continue to treat adult drug consumption as a criminal offense.
It can happen here too. Some day...

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