Yes on 19? Californians Vote On Marijuana Legalization

by Joe Hargrave

Readers of this blog know I am as socially-conservative as they come. But I am also libertarian-minded on a number of issues, and I have to admit, the legalization of marijuana is one of them. I’m going to be taking a much closer look at all of the ballot propositions before I head to the polls on Tuesday, but right now I am inclined to vote yes on prop. 19, which would legalize marijuana in California and subject it to regulation and taxation by the state. I will give a few reasons why.

1) Irrational Double-Standard

Why on Earth should marijuana be illegal while alcohol and tobacco remain legal? While I admire the consistency of the handful of Protestant fundamentalists and Mormons who abstain from all stimulants, I find it hard to believe that the average conservative opponent of marijuana legalization would also support the reinstatement of prohibition on alcohol or the banning of smoking. In the case of the latter, it is almost always nanny-state leftist types, such as the junta ruling the town of San Luis Obispo here in CA, that are behind the bans. Conservatives know this, rightly rejecting such initiatives as beyond the proper scope of government.

On marijuana there appears to be an irrational blind spot, however. I can certainly understand being personally opposed to recreational marijuana use; I don’t touch the stuff, and for that matter I rarely drink alcohol. But it is another matter to insist that the state ought to be wasting time and resources arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating people for consuming a substance that doesn’t really do that much more harm than alcohol, and possibly less.

2) Costs of Prohibition

On that note, I will also point out that the US spends a whopping 1 billion dollars incarcerating people for marijuana-related offenses. This is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

And there is also a moral cost, or hazard, involved in locking up people who are really innocent with hardened criminals in our brutal prison system. For heaven’s sake, is it more immoral to tolerate marijuana than it is put young men in prison to be coerced into homosexual acts?

As with most big-government “solutions” to what ought to be handled at the local level, or not at all, the War On Drugs has really amounted to little more than a war on taxpayers. Drug use continues to rise, with some fluctuations over time, right along with spending on this futile war.

3) Breaking the Cartels

The Mexican drug cartels are a menace to the United States and to all of human civilization. Opinion is divided as to what the impact of marijuana legalization would be on the profits and power of the cartels, but I have to believe that taking away one of their most lucrative markets would have some effect. I do buy the argument that legalization in CA won’t have much of an impact itself, since most Californians grow, buy and sell their own pot, but the passage of 19 could inspire other states to move forward on this as well.

Conclusion

The “War on Drugs” is an unjustifiable intrusion into the private lives of American citizens, it is a massive waste of taxpayer dollars, and for those who are moved by neither point, it simply doesn’t work. I don’t like pot: I think it makes some stupid, others paranoid, and some both. I don’t like drunkenness either, for that matter. I think Christians should avoid getting stoned or getting drunk. But should anyone go to jail for simply possessing or selling either substance? I have to say no. So I’m probably going to vote yes on 19, though I am open to persuasion if someone has a good reason not to.

Oh, and for those who want to point to abortion and gay marriage as examples of hypocrisy on my part, well, let me say quite clearly: I respect the US Constitution and the basic idea of a federal republic, which is contained in the 10th amendment. This matter ultimately belongs to the states to decide, all of which are required to have a republican form of government (per Art. IV, Sec. IV of the Constitution) and I will respect the decision of the electorate while working to promote my own views on the matter.

109 Responses to Yes on 19? Californians Vote On Marijuana Legalization

  • Passage of this law will not vanquish the cartels. It will invite them in… The pot will be grown, (at higher yields), and shipped to other out of state destinations where prices are higher.

    We live in a rural Southern Oregon town that is well-known for local growing–and cartels. In fact, our family is moving because of a 5 acre grow operation next to us… Under protection of medical pot laws and lax law enforcment due to the economic downturn, growers are now bold. For instance: this spring, our neighbor ordered a tractor trailer full of planting soil at the beginning of grow season… (unloaded with multiple forklifts as traffic waited…

    There are other problems of course with legalization:
    –harvest season violence because of raiders
    –Flooding our high schools (and middle school’s)with cheap, yet, extremely potent weed
    –Property devaluation
    –impossibility of overview
    –Not to mention it’s just plain rude…

    Sorry, can’t fly with the legalization thing. It’s bad for society in general and souls individually…

    jme

  • While I favor the legalization of marijuana, Prop. 19 is a flawed piece of legislation. No one should go to jail for smoking weed. However, it is also important that employers retain the right to demand their employees not use drugs, without having to litigate whether or not it has actually affected their job performance. Prop. 19 would take away that right (see here).

  • The beat goes on once again society is worn down on traditional morality. Abortion, gay marriage, now drug legalization. No good can come from any of this. Sorry don’t want marijauna legalized. Father John Corapi describes the P squad in one of his talks (Pornography, Promiscuity, Potions – Drugs) are we really a better country for all of this.

  • Marijuana was legal in the United States until the 1920s, so to say that legalization is somehow inconsistent with traditional morality is a stretch.

  • Marijuana was legal in the United States until the 1920s, so to say that legalization is somehow inconsistent with traditional morality is a stretch.

    Street drugs in general were unregulated by federal law ‘ere 1914. One might tend to think that prohibition was enacted for a reason. One factor that contains drug use (Charles Murray points out) would be the thorougness of a society’s dependence on the labor market for sustenance – much more thorough in 1914 than today. One might also note that certain informal means of social control (on the part of families) have atrophied.

  • Legalizing pot would be a very bad idea and I hope you and others considering supporting Prop 19 will reconsider. Recreational use of drugs is prohibited by the CCC. That alcohol and tobacco are used legally is hardly a valid argument in favor.
    Both can be used without impairing one’s mental faculties, though with alcohol this is clearly more problematic; but with pot the whole point of using is to get high, which will impair one’s judgment and coordination. It will also be an added temptation for our youth. Please reconsider.

  • I don’t live in CA, but I’d be voting yes on 19 if I did. I hope it passes, if only so we can find out what the consequences will be. One of the benefits of having 50 states is that we can have 50 laboratories of laws.

    About the CCC — I’ve always found the wording of the English in that section (#2281) bizarre. It says baldly that the use of “drugs” is gravely wrong, without qualification — and that would seem to mean that we can’t use alcohol or tobacco either, period. Are alcohol and tobacco not drugs? It would strike me as extremely odd and/or convenient that the teaching of a universal Church that knows no boundaries of nation or state would correspond exactly with the controlled-substance laws of the U. S. of A. Cigarettes are peachy keen as long as you don’t abuse them, but joints are inherently evil? This makes no logical sense.

    The Latin is “stupefactivorum medicamentorum usus.” Anyone want to take a stab at that one? Does the term “medicamentorum” imply that naturally occurring substances (alcohol, tobacco, and various psychoactive plants) aren’t included?

    The second part of #2281 makes reference to illegal drugs only (and it makes sense that the Church would want us to obey local laws even regarding substances the use of which is not INTRINSICALLY evil).

  • Jesus said, Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. (Matthew 7:12).

    I know I would not want my child sent to jail with the sexual predators, or my aging parents to have their house confiscated and sold by the police, over a little marijuana.

    We can change the world when we vote.

  • Correction, I meant #2291, typo.

  • Are alcohol and tobacco not drugs?

    Tobacco is not a stupefacient, people who imbibe do not typically intoxicate themselves, and liquor is a component of hospitality (in Sacred Scripture and elsewhere). None of this applies to crystal meth.

  • About the irrational double-standard, alcohol and tobacco are socially acceptable drugs. That makes a big difference in the practicality of a ban.

    I favor Prop 19 primarily because I want to see what effect it would have. I don’t think it’ll do much of anything. California would export more marijuana which could have far reaching effects.

  • “Tobacco is not a stupefacient, people who imbibe do not typically intoxicate themselves, and liquor is a component of hospitality (in Sacred Scripture and elsewhere). None of this applies to crystal meth.”

    Hold on, are you saying that “stupefactivorum” restricts it to drugs that “stupefy” people? Because alcohol would qualify, then, no?

    “people who imbibe do not typically intoxicate themselves”
    — Depends on what you mean by “intoxicate” — does it take an atypical amount of alcohol to raise your blood alcohol to 0.08?
    — And is it clear that people who use pot do, or don’t, typically impair themselves more than people who imbibe? I don’t think it is clear that that’s so.
    –And more to the point, what “typical” imbibers, or pot smokers, do is completely irrelevant to the question of *inherent* morality or immorality of the use of certain drugs.

  • Recreational use of drugs is prohibited by the CCC.

    Whether drug use is immoral and whether it should be illegal are two separate questions.

  • And more to the point, what “typical” imbibers, or pot smokers, do is completely irrelevant to the question of *inherent* morality or immorality of the use of certain drugs.

    My point was to demonstrate the distinction between tobacco, liquor (and coffee, while we are at it) from street drugs, and why they can properly be considered different things. If we cannot draw these distinctions you will have us subscribing to the notion that the Catechism condemns the use of Tylenol.

  • “If we cannot draw these distinctions you will have us subscribing to the notion that the Catechism condemns the use of Tylenol.”

    Hardly — there is an explicit exemption for “therapeutic” use. But so far I am only trying to understand whether, as Chris C asserts, recreational use of alcohol and tobacco (or caffeine) really is permitted and recreational use of marijuana really is forbidden by the CCC.

    And no, I don’t think you *have* demonstrated a moral distinction between tobacco/alcohol/coffee and marijuana. All you have done is *assert* one, and offered no data.

  • A commenter on my blog post that links here suggested that “stupefactivorum medicamentorum usus” means “the use of drugs to numb or stun”, which to me implies that one’s intent in using the drugs, rather than the drugs themselves, is what makes the difference between licitness and illicitness.

  • “Why on Earth should marijuana be illegal while alcohol and tobacco remain legal?”
    Hi Joe,

    I use to smoke pot in my early 20’s (a long time ago, I’m 43 now). I would not want this legalized- no way, plus, the pot today is extremely powerful, driving stoned is just as bad as driving drunk, maybe more so. This is definately not a good idea. Just because alcohol is legal doesn’t mean pot should be legalized. Also, smoking pot can lead one to have severe panic attacks, even after they stopped smoking…

    bad idea…

  • I know I would not want my child sent to jail with the sexual predators, or my aging parents to have their house confiscated and sold by the police, over a little marijuana.

    I tend to agree with this. When I was in college in the late ’70’s, pot was easily available to anybody who wished to use it. Some kids became stoners, just as some people abuse alcohol (a far more addictive and potentially physically damaging substance) , some smoked it occasionally and some abstained. There were also those kids (like me) who tried it out of curiosity and did not find self-induced slow-wittedness and paranoia to be an enjoyable experience. I don’t know if legalization will make any difference whatsoever in the number of pot-smokers.

    As Blackadder points out, whether pot-smoking is immoral and whether it should be illegal are 2 different questions.

  • And no, I don’t think you *have* demonstrated a moral distinction between tobacco/alcohol/coffee and marijuana. All you have done is *assert* one, and offered no data.

    And you’ve asserted that liquor and tobacco are ‘drugs’.

  • “I know I would not want my child sent to jail with the sexual predators, or my aging parents to have their house confiscated and sold by the police, over a little marijuana.”

    That isn’t what happens. I have done my share of “pothead” cases in the past, and the sentences are usually quite mild and do not involve any jail time. In the rare cases where jailtime is ordered on repeat offenders, the jail time has consisted of a weekend or two in the country klink. Prison time is only in question when fairly large amounts of cannabis are involved and the fellow is clearly in the wholesale pot market. Even then, I have usually been able to avoid prison time for my clients, or had it limited to 2 years, which in Illinois works out to slightly more than 6 months.

    Of course we have de facto legalization now in most of the country. Almost all the “pothead” cases I have had usually have involved other charges. The pot was discovered in the course of a search relating to other matters. The pot charge is thrown into the mix, but usually is not the focus of the prosecution.

    Free piece of legal advice to all potheads: when you are involved in a traffic stop and the cops ask for permission to search your person or your vehicle, the proper response is always a resounding “No!”.

  • While Scripture and Tradition do not condemn drinking they do condemn drunkenness. People who smoke marijuana do so in order to get high, so the parallel would be not to drinking as such but to drinking in order to get drunk.

    As for tobacco, smoking it may be bad for you healthwise, but it’s hard to see how it bears much resemblance to either alcohol or illegal drugs.

  • “And you’ve asserted that liquor and tobacco are ‘drugs’.”

    True: I class alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine as such. What authority would you accept for my assertion to rest upon? A dictionary? My elementary school teachers? Wikipedia?

    On what objective grounds (other than legal definitions, which vary) could you avoid classifying alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine as drugs while classifying marijuana as a drug?

    “People who smoke marijuana do so in order to get high, so the parallel would be not to drinking as such but to drinking in order to get drunk.”

    Recreational use of alcohol often involves the intent to enjoy the pleasant effects of mild intoxication. On what grounds do you claim “people who smoke marijuana do so in order to get high” is significantly different from this? Do people who smoke marijuana *always* intend to become seriously impaired? Have you taken a survey?

  • Don,

    “I have done my share of “pothead” cases in the past, and the sentences are usually quite mild and do not involve any jail time. In the rare cases where jailtime is ordered on repeat offenders, the jail time has consisted of a weekend or two in the country klink.”

    Doesn’t that vary from state to state? Some state laws are harsher than others, aren’t they?

    For everyone else,

    The question here for me is simply what is the proper role of government? Is it to make sure “our kids” don’t get high? I thought that was the job of parents. Naturally marijuana should be illegal to those under the age of 18, as alcohol ought to be (21 is ridiculous and absurd). But ultimately the responsibility will lie with the parents.

    The secondary questions is, can the government even prevent marijuana use? And the answer is evidently no.

    And another question is, is it right for someone to go to jail – even if only for a little while – for pot? Let’s say its not the Shawshank Redemption for every pot offender, its still a waste of taxpayer money. If we want to cut spending, let’s start with the absurd war on drugs.

  • Hmm. In light of BA’s comments, as well as what another friend told me about who is funding this proposition, I may vote no after all.

  • I haven’t taken a survey (an odd suggestion, that) but I have been around lots of recreational drug users and have both observed their behavior and heard them speak about their motivations. Pretty universally the reason people smoked weed was to get high.

    Are you sure you want to die on this hill?

  • Aquinas thinks it OK to drink to the point of being jolly. Drunkenness is dangerous because it clouds judgment. Marijuana isn’t as dangerous in that regard. Some harder drugs like cocaine that don’t alter cognitive abilities are even safer in that regard. I think the sin of drug use has to be tied to the intent to use it with the knowledge that it will likely be destructive.

  • So who is funding this prop?

  • A major problem with this one is that the state wouldn’t be the one taxing and regulating. There is nothing in it that requires it. It would be up to each individual locality (some 400+) to regulate and tax. The LA Times has done quite a bit of analysis on it and they’re saying “no”. And, as they say today, it wouldn’t do a damn thing about the drug cartels and the violence.

  • The problem is we won’t ‘legalize and demonize’ marijuana- it will be marketed and become even more established as a means of R & R- and more kids will be introduced to it- with all that that entails. There is zero benefit to society to having more pot heads, more temporary pot heads, more pot-intoxicated persons out and about on roads and streets. With any freedom one should be aware of the costs to society- since if something is legal it is much more likely to be taken up as an activity.

    One may be able to make the case that marijuana tablets given to someone on Chemo could have a medicinal value- but that isn’t what we are talking about here. I think we can retain mild laws to keep the public mindful that marijuana use is a bad idea- but continue to go after the big drug money through following the money back to the Drug Lords and using all the force of law to come down hard- including use of the U.S. Military to target criminal elements who are too powerful for the national/state policing in their national havens- only in places where there is cooperation with a nation’s leadership. All the while we should be discouraging marijuana and cocaine drug abuse in our country- destroy the basis for the marketplace by ‘demonizing’ the use of such drugs- they are not harmless fun, they rob our nation of many youths and much brain power. This is how a culture developes “mores”, commonly-held values that stigmatize certain behaviors- instead of making some bad behaviors look cool- we should be collectively holding Hollywood et al accountable for making marijuana use appear so attractive/harmless.

    So you take in the reality of something destructive like pot, and you address it on multiple levels- you don’t have to go with the extremes of pure legalization or harsh legal penalties for low level possession.

  • Big Tex,

    None other than George Soros.

  • I live in California and I do have a good friend whose life was saved by taking marijuana until a new surgical procedure was used on him to remove a brain tumor. Marijuana helped him through the headaches and the nausea, allowing him to eat and thus stay alive.

    That being said, I will be voting no on Prop 19 tomorrow. You don’t know what it is like already in the state of California. There are legal marijuana dispensaries, one unfortunately being close to my house. Any person can go to a “doctor” and get a prescription for marijuana and it seems to me that at least 90% of the people who do get these prescriptions are perfectly healthy. They just want to get high. With the dispensary came in increase in crime.

    If marijuana is to be used for medical reasons, the marijuana should be tested for its efficacy for certain symptoms and propagated with stricter controls.

  • On what grounds do you claim “people who smoke marijuana do so in order to get high” is significantly different from this? Do people who smoke marijuana *always* intend to become seriously impaired? Have you taken a survey?

    I’m a child of the 70s, and I wasn’t living under a rock.

  • This is one of those arguments that always seems to go like this:

    A: “Our efforts to solve XYZ don’t work, and even make it worse, so we should stop them.”
    B: “But we have to do something, because XYZ is bad.”
    A: “But everything we try fails or makes it worse.”
    B: “But it’s bad. We have to do something!”

    When you realize you’re in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. I don’t think there’s much doubt that we’re in a hole on this issue.

  • I can (and often do) have a glass of wine without intending even mild intoxication. I can’t imagine anyone smoking pot without the intention of getting high. They are very, very different kinds of “drugs.”

    Voting emphatically NO on 19 tomorrow.

  • Considering how severely alcohol and tobacco use has come to be restricted in the last 20-30 years or so — tougher dramshop and drunken driving laws, smoking bans that (in Illinois at least) effectively forbid smoking anywhere except outdoors or in one’s home or car, tougher penalties and “sting” operations to discourage underage purchases — along with the fact that both commodities are far more heavily taxed than they once were, I can’t help but wonder if the same restrictions could simply be extended to marijuana.

    No use by or sale to anyone under 18 (or 21), absolutely no driving or operating boats or other vehicles under the influence, no smoking in public places, and slap lots of taxes on it. Tobacco and alcohol are in some respects already as restricted or more restricted than pot as it is.

  • The data hereon the difference between pot as my mom knew it and pot now is fairly good.

    On a practical level, MJ is different from alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.
    Like alcohol, it depresses activity– unlike alcohol, it can’t be made by anyone with half a brain and a tiny bit of unobserved space. (Alcohol gets made ON SUBS. Anyplace that you have to hotrack it doesn’t have any sort of privacy.)
    Like caffeine and tobacco, it’s from plants– unlike those, it’s only one plant, and its effects are as a hallucinogen and depressant.

    On a personal side, I’m tired of watching people destroy their reason with pot. Most of the self-described casual users I know insist that it doesn’t effect them… but have issues with rationality. (Even when I agree with them they have issues with it, so I know it’s not observer bias.)

  • When you realize you’re in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. I don’t think there’s much doubt that we’re in a hole on this issue.

    Color me a doubter, Aaron. ‘XYZ’ does not ‘work’ toward what end? Under very few circumstances do people insist that the police and courts comprehensively extinguish a given sort of behavior or else there is not point in regulating it at all. The exception, of course, is when they disapprove of the regulation a priori and are looking for an excuse to persuade someone else who does not disapprove of the regulation. You want adolescents toking on street corners (as long as their vendors pay their excise taxes), fine. But not in my town.

  • The Law can serve as Teacher- but of course we need to address the complexities- we don’t want young casual users of pot to be thrown into prison where they may get abused or come into contact with really bad seeds. But we don’t seriously want more young casual users of pot do we? So what to do?

    Impose $1000 or more fines on those in possession of smaller amounts of marijuana- that should dissuade many from taking the risk, and that should help raise some money in the process to more than cover the legal costs incurred by the state. We need to give incentives -especially to the young- to be empowered to just say no when peer pressure comes calling- “Dude- I can’t afford to risk getting caught with pot!” and parents will definitely be more pro-active in getting their pot-head children to see straight since they may be the ones footing the bill. And if the pot holder and parents have no money to pay- don’t put him in jail, put him to work- have him join in on the work on some infrastructure project where carrrying bricks for a month might give one pause to re-consider one’s life path.

    If we coordinated with other nations- to follow the money of Drug Lords, freezing their bank accounts and other holdings, and doing joint military operations that would free people from the local terror of Drug Mafias- we could actually put a huge hole in the Drug markets- and if we combine that with a major public relations operation that is sustained- just like with the anti-drunk driving and anti-smoking blitzes and media pressures- even Hollywood starts to be affected- depictions of smoking for example are way down, and smokers are much more likely to be depicted as villians- well- pot smokers should be next.

  • Hey, I’m not trying to die on any hill. Legality and morality are separate here — I’m trying to understand the ccc’s cryptic classification system. What about common traditional stimulants that aren’t found as much in the US, like betel nut? Are those inherently morally wrong too?

  • You want adolescents toking on street corners (as long as their vendors pay their excise taxes), fine. But not in my town.

    That brings up a good point. Where I live, some towns are dry (no alcohol sales) and some aren’t. I don’t think anyone’s saying we should add the right to smoke pot to the Bill of Rights. Just get the feds out of it, stop letting them spend billions on it and use it as an excuse to bring federal power into what would otherwise be state and local jurisdictions, and let cities and states set their own limits. If you don’t want it in your town, by all means keep it out.

    When I say XYZ doesn’t work, I mean it isn’t stopping anyone from smoking pot. We’re so far from “comprehensively extinguishing the behavior” that it’s laughable. Any junior high student can tell you when and where to buy the stuff. So the laws aren’t preventing the behavior at all; at most they’re pushing it behind closed doors somewhat. When I was hanging around with people who smoked pot, I declined because I didn’t need to “mellow out” (and I was having too much fun getting drunk); the legality of it never entered into the equation.

    On the other hand, by making it illegal, we also give it a forbidden fruit quality that surely increases its use among some people. So it’s possible that legalizing it would actually decrease its use. And if we don’t want to look at people getting high, there’s no reason we can’t make it legal to raise, buy, and possess, but not to use in public. That’s pretty much what we’ve done with tobacco smoking, after all.

  • Once you institutionalize a drug watch out- before we go around saying there is nothing we can do to severely limit the average person’s access to pot- why not try out some differing strategies- some of which I mentioned in earlier posts. Is the social acceptance of pot smoking the goal here? If not, then we would do better to work on developing more creative, more effective strategies for weaning America off pot/coke etc.. Drugs like marijuana work similar to alcohol being used to the point of drunkenness- don’t we have our hands full with the sad effects of excessive alcohol consumption and addictive cigarette smoking- costing all of us in society both in spiritual terms and economic?

  • Legalization is a Pandora’s Box.

    In the immortal words of Nancy Reagan, “Just Say No.”

  • There is actually empirical evidence about what happens when you decriminialize drug use: crime and usage go down! Portugal did this in the mid to late 90s and has suffered none of the dire consequences predicted in this thread.

  • There is actually empirical evidence about what happens when you decriminialize drug use: crime and usage go down!

    The use of Mary Jane has already been decriminalized and empirical results that would have it that lowering the transactions costs of the traffic in a commodity leads to reduced consumption of that commodity would (one would reasonbly wager) be infected with confounding variables. To what sort of crime are you referring?

  • Look,

    The bottom line is that I’m convinced that marijuana was outlawed under dubious, self-interested motivations several decades ago; that everyone has now forgotten about those; and that everyone is therefore attempting to rationalize the law after the fact.

    It’s a bad law. I don’t like pot. I think it makes you stupid. I have family members who can attest to that.

    The only relevant questions are

    a) does the state have a right to interfere in a person’s private decision to smoke pot (while hypocritically allowing them to get drunk to the point of stupidity, recklessness, violence and death), yes or no?

    No. I don’t want the state to have that power.

    b) Even if we did grant the state that power, would it effectively keep “the children”, for whom all liberties are said to be sacrificed by our entirely selfless politicians who bravely take on the role of collective father and mother – does it even work, yes or no?

    The answer is no.

    c) Does the cost outweigh the benefit? And the answer is yes.

    It’s bad policy all around, it really is just unjustifiable, though in the case of prop.19 I can see where the devil is in some of the details.

    People are still smoking pot. Absolutely no one I have ever known has refused to smoke it on the grounds that it was illegal. No one cares. People who don’t do it, know that its harmful and don’t want the risk. People who do do it, know that it is harmful and are willing to take the risk.

    The vast majority pose no danger to themselves or others, no more so and likely less than habitual drunkards who legally intoxicate themselves and then proceed to do all sorts of illegal things, such as driving impaired, beating their wives and children, and stupid things, such as adultery, fornication, copious vomiting, and sometimes they even die. Few pot smokers get wrapped up in such things because of pot.

    Instead they sort of waste away, quietly, behind closed doors. I truly hate to see a person do that, but whose right and responsibility is it to stop them?

    The fewer problems we run to Big Brother to solve, the less power he’ll be able to take for himself on any justifiable grounds. We don’t need Leviathan.

  • Keep in mind they “decriminalized” it in that you’re now taken in front of a social worker, a psychologist and a legal advisor when you’re found in possession of a “small amount” of illegal substances, rather than a judge– a far cry from Prop 19.

    That said:
    The Cato paper reports that between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8% (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, after decriminalization, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well.

    As the cato.org link clearly says, having more than a ten day supply is still illegal, as is selling or transporting the stuff.
    They did a nation-wide version of the treatment programs we already have over here for junkies.

  • Meanwhile, after having driven to half a dozen pharmacies this week, I’m starting to think I’d have better luck buying pot for my sick kids than children’s Sudafed.

  • “b) Even if we did grant the state that power, would it effectively keep “the children”, for whom all liberties are said to be sacrificed by our entirely selfless politicians who bravely take on the role of collective father and mother – does it even work, yes or no?”

    I don’t like Joe H.’s continual denigration of the “for the children” argument- when you have and love children of your own- you don’t argue against the interests of children- so I would suggest you drop the cynicism attacking fathers like me for acting and thinking like fathers who care about our children and all of God’s children and bring that into the political arena. I was 20-something myself long ago- I recall the cynicism- it isn’t good. Intelligence and Wisdom are not always in synch- so one can make a fact-based argument but be missing something else- something found in life experience/wisdom/intuitiveness.

  • Tim,

    And I’m not too fond of those arguments that would replace the parents with the state – even bad parents.

    It is not your right or responsibility to look after, or to empower others to look after, the children of others. There’s nothing cynical about it. It is about the proper role of government and the limits of its power.

  • The cynicism is implied in the use of the line “for the children!” At least my own experience with it was to lol any time South Park or some other smart comedy would have some foolish character voice that line during some community meeting or the like. It’s a throw-a-way line that I see now as a cheap escape from the ideal of having a true community of persons where there is actual solidarity- not just a collection of individuals setting up their legal perimeters with shotguns in hand. Solidarity and Subsidiarity are twins- you can’t kill one without permanently scarring the other. I get that I’m not to “raise” any one else’s kids- but I’m a teacher and a parent- it is hard to miss that a lot of kids are not getting what they need at home when it comes to a lot of things- I could cop a “none of my biz” attitude, and I do stay out of the soap opera details, but I take on the approach of an Elder in the community- a father who didn’t have much fathering myself- I can see the real value of having leaders in politics who reflect some skills beyond hating big government. A good statesman says and does more than “Don’t Tread On Me!”. Elders are around to shape the environment, the culture, the mores, and the laws that help instruct and guide the young, in particular. We lead as disciples, we take our place at the front of the pack to work to renew the temporal order – that means life example, that means political activism for a lay Catholic. Solidarity to me is look at the unborn child, the victim of human trafficking, and others at risk and to see my own children’s faces reflected a bit in theirs. When you see your child, you act, you take up power and you do something to help them- to deny the political order the power to accomplish much or anything, you tempt a kind of vigilanti mind-set. In a sinful, dangerous land, you need tough laws and strong enforcers of justice operating in the open, and with considerable mercy and prudence.

    A lot of what I do in my home life and my work and political life is “for the children”- I’m proud to say it even if a generation warped by South Park cynicism thinks it is a joke and a threat to their personal freedom to smoke dope, go to strip clubs, download porn, have abortions, smoke cigs in a restaurant and the like.

  • I’m talking about all drugs.

    Luscious.

  • That is a brief article by Glenn Greenwald of all people. There is not one reference to a piece of social research in it.

  • Shows like South Park started making fun of “for the children” precisely because it got so overused by people using it to shut down discussion. If you don’t want to defend your statist program, just say it’s “for the children,” and no one can argue against you without being accused of being anti-child. (See also: anything with the words “civil rights” in it.) That’s wrong, and it cynically uses children as political pawns, so it deserves to be ridiculed until they stop doing it.

  • Tim Shipe-
    to avoid the eye-rolling response to “for the children,” make specific arguments.
    Much as “for your own good” has come to mean “I am going to force you to do what I think is right, and you should be thanking me for taking that away,” “for the children” has come to mean “I can’t make any reasonable argument, so– do it or you hate kids!” (See also: women, fairness, love, puppies, etc.)

    It’s not like it’s impossible to REALLY support something for either reason, it’s just that the broad claim has been way too useful to the wrong folks.

    Example:
    Abortion rights: rather than opposing abortion for the children, oppose abortion because it involves killing a human– the right to not be killed is superior to the right to comfort.

  • When I say XYZ doesn’t work, I mean it isn’t stopping anyone from smoking pot.

    If it had no coercive force there would not be any
    objections to it. It is your implicit position that the prohibition on the commercial traffic in marijuana and the prohibition on its possession (and, most saliently, prohibition on consuming public places) has no effect on the quantity consumed or on the level of public order and hygiene on city streets. That is just stupid.

    Any junior high student can tell you when and where to buy the stuff.

    Some can, some cannot. That was true when I was in junior high school, when consumption of dope was a good deal more prevalent than it is today.

    Just get the feds out of it, stop letting them spend billions on it and use it

    70% of the population incarcerated on drug charges are in state prisons and county jails; I think you will find very few are there for possession of marijuana.

    Foxfier,
    The Cato Institute is a source you need to scrutinize with care. What conceptions of human behavior are they testing to reveal that result? Or are they just data dredging?

    Tim Shipe, Marian Wright Edelman turned the phrase ‘The Children’ into a snicker line for many of us. Too bad.

  • Art-
    to support your argument, I noticed that (among those who spoke about it) the guys who were smoking pot assumed that everyone was doing it, and that any claims otherwise were vile lies to make them look bad.

    I much agree about the Cato institute, but there were enough arguments against the claims without pointing out the questionable source as well.
    (I’d think that they’re going off of data of kids, and that their own data says that pot use went up, spoke loudly enough.)

  • I think it has been commonly accepted as a self-evident assertion that once something is legalized and thereby institutionalized- there would be an increase in that thing. In this case pot use- just like in the argument regarding abortion- I have heard many counter-intuitive arguments claiming dubious facts that there were even more abortions happening when abortion was officially illegal. Patrick Whelen of Catholic Dems seemed to make that case a lot. He would use examples taken from South America today where abortion is typically illegal- again, I would find it extremely difficult to believe the facts bear out this argument. People usually follow the law unless it is an utterly ridiculous law- and I think the case against pot use is hardly ridiculous.

    And apparently Californians agree- Yes! http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101103/ap_on_el_st_lo/us_marijuana_legalization

    I’m sorry the grown-ups who follow the Catholic social teaching theme of taking the fundamental option for the poor and vulnerable (For the Children) aren’t respected here at Libertarian Catholic Central- otherwise known as “American Catholic”- but so be it- the Southpark heart is a tough nut to crack- so laugh it up boys- I think I know a good song for you by Billy Joel-

  • to Foxflier- specific arguments? Pot use is not something to promote- especially since young people are most vulnerable to the peer pressure and “charm” of getting high- so legalizing it before we have tried many different strategies ( which I’ve detailed above- read before you complain) doesn’t make sense. So, I get that the libertarian Catholic doesn’t like rules/laws/government- I am not a libertarian Catholic so fire away- you are large and in charge at this blog site- enjoy the ride!

  • Tim-
    specific arguments as in don’t say it’s “for the children,” say exactly how it will help children.

    For someone who is annoyed at not being read, I’m amused you got my name wrong, and that you didn’t pay attention to what I wrote. (Side note, name-calling is childish.)

    Possible arguments include that pot saps folks’ motivation, that it’s known to damage brains in young users, that it’s know to have carcinogens, that regular users have withdrawal symptoms (which would mean that yes, it’s addictive), lower verbal IQ in those who use regularly compared to those who have minimal exposure, or something like this:
    No matter which side you take in the debate over whether marijuana is a “gateway” to other illicit drugs, you can’t argue with “indisputable data” showing that smoking pot affects neuropsychological functioning, such as hand-eye coordination, reaction time and memory, says H. Westley Clark, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

  • aren’t respected here at Libertarian Catholic Central- otherwise known as “American Catholic”- but so be it- the Southpark heart is a tough nut to crack-

    I think American Knight, Paul Primavera and T. Shaw might be libertarians of a sort; none of them are on your contributors roster.

    Marian Wright Edelman turned ‘the children’ into a snicker line because she was an omnipresent force as a lobbyist for the social work industry, forever invoking ‘the children’ while working to maintain a political economy that left about 6% of the population as permanent clients of the agencies whose agenda she served. The woman got excellent press for years while promoting an agenda of Leave No Social Worker Behind. Snickering at her was step one on a path of enacting policies that would actually benefit real children, as opposed to “The Children”.

  • Again,

    I’m not seeing any greater significant harms caused by pot than are caused by alcohol.

    So Tim, where is your heart for the children when it comes to alcohol? How could you leave them and their helpless parents to navigate through a world full of booze? Why haven’t you yet stepped in and decided what’s best for them?

    I do like rules, law, and government – when they are used properly. When they usurp the legitimate rights and duties of families and local governments, then they must be changed or abolished.

    Once again, it’s quite simple Tim – you look after your kids, and if I am blessed with children of my own, I will look after mine. The same logic that you use to keep drugs such as marijuana illegal (“for the children”) is the logic that is employed to restrict home schooling and to expand the unimaginably corrupt and incompetent Child Protective Services – parents can’t do the job, parents are too stupid, or too overworked, too busy, not educated enough; someone has to step in. That someone is the state, social workers, public school teachers, bureaucrats, an army of people on the government payroll who justify their existence and their salaries by finding problems and flaws in your parenting skills.

    There’s nothing MORE OPPOSED TO CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING than the usurpation of the family by the state.

    And I say this, ironically, as one who would legalize marijuana while maintaining a legal age limit for it, to be determined by each individual state. Alcohol is legal for adults, but it still “harms the children” – I drank more in high school than I did in college.

  • I believe it is painfully obvious that smoking marijuana is to abuse one’s body and mind. This is especially so when we are talking about young developing bodies- my own experience with this is private but it animates my passions to not suffer fools gladly when it comes to the subject of providing empirical evidence that smoking pot is actually bad for young people. Legalizing pot will put more pot into more hands- and it is no stretch to imagine many of those hands will be young – this is not a good thing, it doesn’t bode well for the common good. So- let’s stop the charade of pretending that recreational pot use is something Americans should have the right to engage in- lest Big Brother show His Oppressive Face.

    Just because the phrase “For the children” has been abused by one doesn’t mean everyone should knee-jerk ridicule the idea behind the phrase. Pro-Choice for abortion rights is something we can despise, so maybe we should be Anti-Choice on everything- we are the no-choice advocates- “Choice” language has been abused, so we can’t use it in any context.

    It should be obvious that promoting pot smoking via legalization is something that will harm many more young persons than would be the case if we actually got serious about ridding our nation of the supply and demand. That’s my clear position- if you want to put up more smoke screens I’m at a loss to how I could engage this subject any further. The bottom-line is I’m glad the majority of Californians saw the light on this, just like on gay marriage.

  • Pro-Choice for abortion rights is something we can despise, so maybe we should be Anti-Choice on everything- we are the no-choice advocates- “Choice” language has been abused, so we can’t use it in any context.

    No, to follow the pattern we’re establishing, we would point out how the “pro-choice” folks are against choice– as the many pro-life groups that have pointed out they support the right of the child to be able to live long enough to make their own choices!

    I am also glad that California was oddly sensible, but we still can’t count on that in the long run.

    Unless they already agree with you, you will have to offer evidence and arguments to sway people.

  • I agree with you in a different context- say a non-orthodox Catholic blog- but I was running with what was already presented- I wasn’t the author of the piece and I wasn’t in the main battle in the opening debate- I just wanted to throw my weight into the battle among Catholics who would have similar presuppositions about many things- the linkage of smoking pot to the equivalent action of getting drunk on alcohol was already established- I just got fired up over Joe’s use of the “For the children” comment- not knowing where it originated, but being something of a big “child’s advocate” myself- I wrote a piece somewhere entitled “The Politics of Fatherhood” it was my breakthrough lifestyle event to get into the principle of Solidarity in ways I never conceived before becoming a dad. My instincts since have led me away from Southpark ridicule, and away from libertine/libertarian social concepts of personal freedoms run amok.

    So- my own deepening of personalist Catholicism has not led me down the path to the Tea Party- I am more like the guy who sees how perverted our society is and wants more law and order and respect for human dignity- and mamby-pamby freedom without truth talk isn’t cutting the mustard. I’m also a teacher of teens, and I see their need for strong order coming from the administrative and teaching ranks- you need more at first, then you rachet back the discipline as the young charges internalize the good stuff and start throwing their energies into creative outlets. I see America as something akin to a big high school- when you look at the attitudes towards sex, drugs, and family life- I am reminded of Patrick Buchanan’s speech back in the 90’s- “We need to take America back- street by street!” I believe we do this with many overlapping approaches- life witness of faithful Catholics- taking care of their own nests first and foremost, also education and politics- politicians and elders of society using the tools of media and law to direct the citizenry in the way of the common good.

    That’s a bit of where I’m coming from- don’t know how that goes down here – but there is a bit of a rowdy spirit still inside me- not sure if it is working for or against me sometimes when we are talking in the context of ‘clanging gongs’ warnings from Scripture. I know that generally my students who are conservative-leaning tend to like my approach a lot more than those very liberal-leaning- even though as you may perceive, I don’t always cut in the direction of the Right. I think the Right does seem to appreciate straight, tough talk more so than the Left- I certainly don’t want to hide behind platitudes like “For the Children” but I am very concerned about setting the right societal conditions for the kids, just like setting the best schoolwide conditions for the students in my charge (in part), even as I see that the primary shaping is taking place at home where I have little ability to influence parents.

  • … setting the best schoolwide conditions for the students in my charge (in part), even as I see that the primary shaping is taking place at home where I have little ability to influence parents….

    That may be the point of conflict– the US is not a school, filled with children who need to develop. It is a nation filled with adults who need to be treated as adults, responsible for their choices…and their children.

    It sucks. We can’t save everyone, and there’s all this power just hanging around, why not use it? Clearly, we know best, if we’d just make people do the right thing…what could go wrong?
    Road to hell, etc.

  • To Joe H. last comment- I do try to make an impact on the alcohol problem and “children”- when I ran for office one of my ideas was to pressure the NCAA to restrict the type of advertising they allow in their tv broadcast contracts- the problem of binge drinking is huge- so why have college sports seeming to promote alcohol through ads appealing mostly to teenage mindsets? So at least give me points for consistency!

    As for the other things you mention as being “for the children”- I’m not on board with those ideas- so why do I have to be linked to them? You can be an advocate for children and not be attached to the notions that homeschooling should be made illegal- is it just the idea of calling oneself a “child’s advocate” that bothers you? I often say to pro-choicers and my own students that I am a Catholic feminist now that I have daughters, I am more pro-woman than ever- but being pro-woman is being pro-life, not pro-choice- even if you are restricting someone’s freedom to do something it is not necessarily an act of oppression and expression of being against the person(s) you are seeking to restrict. I don’t want any woman to make the biggest mistake of her life by killing her unborn child- and I am willing to use the law to make that restriction more than just my opinion she should not have that abortion. I am not her oppressor, I am representing the side of liberation. and by making pot more difficult to reach I am not harming anyone, I am helping- even if they should protest their “right to get high”. Now this doesn’t mean that we are going to try to outlaw every bad thing- but we aren’t talking about every bad thing, we are talking about pot legalization- that’s it. We need to be able to have a debate on each and every issue and try to determine if Law and Government have a role to play or not- it seems like you are trying to put me into a straw man category of saying “yes” to every government intervention in any area of life- and I’m not.

  • An analogy should not be taken too literally- my point being that in many ways our American culture among a large swathe of the nation is quite immature, immoral, and in need of renewal. To say that political leaders should not lead, and lawmakers should not make laws which would help improve the situation is foolish. Aren’t we treating grown women like children by trying to forbid them from getting private treatment from their private doctor- regarding a life form inside them that isn’t the kind of life the Founding Fathers were originally including in their thinking about humanity and rights?

  • As for the other things you mention as being “for the children”- I’m not on board with those ideas- so why do I have to be linked to them?

    For the same reason that “pro-choice” now links one to abortion, rather than, say, soft drink selection. (“Pepsi, Coke, Dr. Pepper– I’m pro-choice!”) I’m sure there are less inflammatory examples, but it’s simple.

  • To say that political leaders should not lead, and lawmakers should not make laws which would help improve the situation is foolish.

    Lead, fine.
    Make laws that will improve the situation, debatable.
    Have the mindset that we’ll just have to make these people grow up, no. That is foolish, especially in a nation that is of and by the people.

    If you don’t look at the nation as having adults, flawed though we are, you are unlikely to try to sway them; if you do not try to sway them, you are unlikely to persuade them; if you try to treat them as those who cannot choose the right option, you will turn them away from the right option.

    It’s mildly disturbing that you keep forming abortion in terms of the mother this, the mother that– there are two people involved, not counting the father. Does one talk about crime prevention in terms of keeping thieves from making a grave mistake that will send them to jail? Or in terms of protecting the right of people to be secure in their property?

  • Joe Hargrave said: Why on Earth should marijuana be illegal while alcohol and tobacco remain legal?

    I don’t know about alcohol but if we can get the number of people addicted to ‘death sticks’ down to one or two percent then I would support the abolition of tobacco too. It is a proven scientific fact that tobacco causes cancer. I’m sure that marijuana causes cancer for the same reasons (i.e. low temperature combustion of plant material = carcinogen). I don’t know of anyone getting cancer from one alcohol drink a day but one cigarette a day is playing with a loaded revolver.

    Also, the large amount of THC in modern marijuana is suspected of causing long-term impairment of brain function, similar to people who abuse alcohol often, and the effects on the fetus are unknown but could be similar to FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome).

  • I frame abortion that way because that is how it is regarded by many- as a woman’s issue- and why we can’t assume that grown women know what is best where her body is concerned. But of course, we all know that the problem is with that other body- but we have to deal with the complaint that by being pro-life we (especially men) are somehow anti-woman, we want to controll women, we don’t trust that grown women know what’s going on inside their bodies- that they aren’t reviewing the case for the unborn child’s existence and deciding for themselves what’s best. These are the obstacles placed in front of us- and for Libertarians they don’t want government to help or interfere with families- yet some do want the government to establish a binding definition on what Marriage is. And most would like laws to protect children from violence even if it is taking place inside their homes, and parents are responsible. And some wouldn’t mind having Sex Offenders given restrictions on where they can live and so forth. And many would not want to completely de-fund public schools, even as they would like to open up vouchers for private schools or offer tax write-offs for private school tuition. There is a whole range of activities involving the state in various capacities working to represent the interests and human rights of vulnerable people- like children. The state is not necessarily acting in a way that is malicious or arbitrary- and depending on the size of the problem, it may have to do more for a time. After WWII, The U.S. had a heck of a lot of power in making command decisions for the citizenry of Japan- as things developed and improved, the American authorities backed away- this in a sense is how good governance operates- where things are working nicely for the common good, the government isn’t needed, or is required only in small measures- where things are badly broken, one must review and strategize various options where government may intervene, regulate, police, or work to set up cooperative players to reduce or eliminate some very real social problem.

  • Tim,

    You’re always going on about CST, and that’s good, but how about absorbing it’s full meaning? Have you read Rerum Novarum lately? Have you read the parts where Leo XIII declares that families exist prior to the state, and that they have rights that do not come from the state but must be protected by it? That the family should have “at least” equal rights with the state, if not more, for this reason?

    I know you know all this, but it doesn’t appear to inform your perspective as well as it ought. Freedom ultimately means the freedom to be immoral. The role of the government is not to create a perfectly safe society and eliminate all conceivable human problems. Even the people who work in it don’t believe that, since they need the problem to become worse in order to make themselves useful and employed.

    I don’t want a single person to do jail time for marijuana possession. I don’t want a single person to be harassed by the police on suspicion of marijuana possession. Do you have any idea what it does to a person’s life to get arrested, tried, and convicted for something like this? The time, the resources, the reputation all lost because of this? It goes on a person’s permanent record, it shows up in background checks, employment becomes more difficult, it literally can ruin a person’s life or at least make it very difficult in the short run. All for what? So you can feel better about the children?

    I want to leave grown adults to decide whether or not they will ingest this perfectly natural plant into their system, I want to leave it to them to inform themselves of the risks, and to inform their children of them as well.

    Will many fail in this task? Yes. People have been failing with alcohol since the dawn of civilization. Somehow we made it this far.

    On your other points, there is no “right to get high” – there is a right to not be interfered with in how you live your life by the state, up to the point at which you become dangerous to others and interfere with THEIR rights, which happens a lot sooner with alcohol than it does with pot.

    As for the comparison with abortion, it’s absurd and you know it Tim, for the reason stated above. The founding fathers didn’t have ultrasound, but they believed, as did all the men of that era, that life began at “the quickening”, the stirring in the womb, prior to which they believed there was nothing truly alive. And they all believed, as far as I can tell, that abortion ought to have been illegal after that point, and every state in the union recognized this unless I’m mistaken.

    There was a cultural and religious consensus at the time of the Founders on these matters. There were no Marxist and feminist subversives to contend with.

  • I brought up the Founding Fathers because Justice Scalia has made it a big point in his judicial view that since the Founding Fathers didn’t have these ‘non walking around kind of lives’ in mind when they drafted the originial works- then he is powerless to interpret their words with the unborn in mind- and so he rationalizes taking a pass on the question in his professional capacity- leaving the matter to the states. Do you agree with him? And I’ll have to check back much later for your reply- because “for the children” I have to go pick them up at school- the state hasn’t made arrangements for doing that for me – yet:}

  • If you accept the misframing of the argument, you’ve already lost.

  • Regarding your last post:

    “I frame abortion that way because that is how it is regarded by many-”

    For goodness sake, we ought to be confronting their fallacies rather than accepting them! We can clearly establish that abortion is nothing like any of these other issues because it is murder – it is the killing of an innocent human being.

    “yet some do want the government to establish a binding definition on what Marriage is”

    I don’t think any libertarian wants that.

    As a true federalist I want the matter to be left to the states and not the federal government. I think it would be for the best if we got the state out of marriage altogether, to be honest, and left it entirely to religion. Benefits and incentives could go only to married heterosexual parents – not to “gay partners”, not to hetero couples with no children, not to a man married to a lamp.

    “And most would like laws to protect children from violence even if it is taking place inside their homes, and parents are responsible.”

    Well of course. Children have rights too. Inalienable, individual rights. That means the state exists to protect them as well. This isn’t ancient Rome with the pater familias, parents do not own their children or have the power of life and death over them.

    ” And some wouldn’t mind having Sex Offenders given restrictions on where they can live and so forth.”

    Actually, I question the morality and the utility of that program. Sometimes you have a case where a 20 year old man slept with a 17 year old girl, and may not have even known her age at the time – and he gets lumped in with a 50 year old pedophile who goes after prepubescent children. That’s completely unfair as well.

    “many would not want to completely de-fund public schools”

    Not completely, I suppose. But over a generation I would dismantle every last one of those spiritual and moral gulags. Frankly I’d rather leave it to major corporations to establish their own training and educational facilities for future teenage employees, as has been done in Japan, than to waste another dollar on “public education.” People should be entering the workforce far sooner than they do, and they should be learning a skill or a trade far sooner than they do and more often than they do.

    Few things have been more damaging to the American economy and society than delayed adulthood and educational romanticism, the vile and stupid lies pumped into every child in the country about how the must “follow their dreams” and get a four-year degree, and now a post-graduate degree. 95% of them would have been happier with a certification for welding or plumbing. They’d be making more money sooner in life, able to support a family, and they wouldn’t think they knew everything about everything either. I absolutely despise the way we do education here.

    “After WWII, The U.S. had a heck of a lot of power in making command decisions for the citizenry of Japan”

    The US is not Japan. The American people are not the Japanese people. You can’t just treat peoples and cultures as if they are all interchangeable parts in a machine. That being said, the corporate educational approach, I think, could work here. It would be worth a shot.

  • Foxfier: for the sake of having an argument instead of just shouting at one another- sometimes I will start from the other side’s premises, and move to higher ground, as the case builds.

    Joe- I want to continue- but this was a quick check- duty calls- rosary prayer with the kiddies and bed time- the state has yet to arrange these activities for me- yet :} Keep your sense of humor and I’ll keep mine- and live to fight another day-

  • Building on bad ground never ends well.

  • Foxfier: I was also trying to frame things in quasi-libertarian thinking- the primary assumption being that in our adult society everyone should be treated as such- so we should maximize the opportunities for consumer choice- now when there is something in dispute- like whether an unborn child is fully human and thereby granted rights that supercede the rights of an adult woman to conduct medical procedures within the frame of her body. The facts of “Life” may be obvious to most of us, but apparently not enough of us- so what to do? Cajole, convince and legislate? or just cajole/convince?

    Now there are many lesser propositions in society such as the allowance of pornography and strip clubs to be counted as Free Speech- where it is obvious to some that these type of things are actually harmful to all concerned on many levels. I recall going to Libertarian club meeting back in my college days and they had a fundamentalist preacher who used to preach fire and brimstone on campus, and the subject was pornography. The Libertarians challenged the preacher on free speech grounds, and it was an interesting debate. I actually didn’t have much use for the preacher when I heard him railing on campus, but his thoughts in the meeting seemed quite sober and reasonable.

    And therein lies the rub- do we apply Reason to all issues in dispute, or do we automatically come down with a result coming as it were from an ideological predisposition?

    I have noted that I believe pot smoking to be a detriment to the user and to society- in a way similar to say pornography- now pornography has left the gate in terms of our ability to legislate against much of it- excepting for the use of under 18 victims. But pot is still on the books as something we are not allowing to be institutionalized as a freedom to use- so it is vital that we have a strong process of discernment before embarking on Legalization and Institutionalizing this drug.

    I have expressed a view that isn’t completely black or white- as in what Joe H. describes in sending young people with small possession charges to prison and ruining their futures with criminal records. I don’t think that that is the right approach- and I have detailed my ideas in earlier posts- for example- instead of jail time, small possessions could have stiff fines or work duties for those unable to pay- this would give those persons who need reasons to avoid becoming users of pot, a good reason to beg off the weed- especially those who need ammo to back away from considerable peer pressure. Now, I don’t think jail time and having a permanent record should be part of the deal here. I do think the FBI and military could work with local police and foreign leaders in the campaign against the Drug Lords and Gangs that create and move the product. I mentioned this one in earlier post as well.

    As for Joe H.’s thoughts on how the parents/family are prior to the State as made obvious in Rerum Novarum et al, I agree wholeheartedly- but I do believe the Church guides us to a point where we should have a positive view of State authority, and that authority should be used as an assist to parents and families- as noted as one example in the Compendium I’ve quoted in previous blogs- on the subject of Just Wages, with advice that more public subsidies and remuneration for the domestic work of a parent staying home to raise children be in the mix of possibilities. That is a case where the State is being used as a tool to promote more stable, happier traditional families- now if the State says- here we have some subsidy for you, but you must change your beliefs on what traditional marriage is- then that would be the work of an oppressive regime disguised as a benevolent State.

    My point is that I am actually striving to not be bound by any one ideology- be it a statist solution for every immorality, or a libertarian “limit or eliminate” the State down to a bare nub. Now I know there is a range within any ideology- so some Libertarians concern themselves with the power of large, multi-national Corporations and accuse the mainstream Republicans as being “Corporatists”, and not actual promoters of the Free Market. As an example, I saw a clip of George W. Bush defending TARP as a necessary thing, which was even better than people imagined at the time because they built into the deal the way for the government to get even more money back after some time- something he claims has already happened. Now that would be an interesting discussion to see here at American Catholic to see if there is agreement or disagreement with the former President. Maybe if I find more time today I’ll find and post it- it was a short piece on NBC Nightly News last night.

    Anyway- I will continue to be part of these kind of debates- especially since one day I plan on putting my own hat back in the ring when my kids are teens and can enjoy the process- and see that their old man isn’t just another sideline critic.

  • Tim-
    Stop.
    No.
    You do NOT get to pin your theories on libertarians on to Catholics here who happen to disagree with you. That’s bogus.

    There is no question if an unborn child is human. That’s simple scientific fact. The argument is over if they are a person.

    If you’re so into arguing from the other side’s view, why can’t you accurately frame what it even is? When you’re not busy using “libertarian” as a slur, that is.

  • Foxfier: I’ve been in enough company with self-professed Libertarians to know that it is hardly a universal conclusion among such thinkers that an actual human being with unalienable rights comes into existence at conception, and so all the rights of Man come into play from that beginning. Who speaks for Libertarianism- is there a pope?

  • Why are you so hung up on libertarianism? Why can’t you argue against actual stances, rather than whatever you mean by “libertarian”?
    Same as the start of this discussion, where you just broad-stroked “for the children” instead of making specific arguments.

    We do not already agree with you as a default. You’ll have to at least convey your arguments!

  • BTW, I SAID the debate was on if they’re a person, ie, someone with rights.

    Scientifically, they are human.

  • Hello- the issue is legalization of Marijuana here- it seems to me that libertarians have been leading that charge for decades- and the author of this piece seems to be indicating a big love for libertarianism these days- or am I missing something?

    Oh well- this is more about our perverse back n’ forth than anything healthy- so I’ll give you the last shot if you want and leave this thread with as much peace as I can muster. I can only take heart in the fact that the initiative in California failed, and in my prudential judgment that is a good and smart outcome- even if there is a big need to reform the way we collectively deal with pot smoking and the illict market for such drugs.

  • Who cares who supports it or who doesn’t?

    Either you have rational arguments for your view, or you don’t, and name-calling and ad hominem just damages your own side.

  • First, let me say that anyone who thinks the state should deprive me of my occasional weekend smoke can kiss my cigar butt. Man, how I cannot stand puritans.

    Second, it is difficult to distinguish marijuana use from alcohol use. Both are used recreationally for their mind/temparant altering benefits, and to suggest otherwise is pretty much transparent rationalizaion. It has been so since before Jesus changed water into wine. This is not to say that it isn’t morally wrong to use such substances to the point where free will is impaired or the risk of commiting immoral acts is increased, but those are prudential concerns for which each individual is responsible. In this connection whether society on balance would benefit by marijuana legalization is a prudential question, as is and was alcohol prohibtion. We have a pretty good idea on how the latter turned out, but seem to be navigating marijuana prohibition acceptably. Whether extending alcohol legalization to marijuana would yield net social benefits is hard to say, which is one reason using states as laboritories can be useful.

    The bottom line is I am not convinced that Catholic teaching has much to offer in terms of the legalization questio as opposed to personal use.

  • Tim,

    I can understand the concern that legalizing marijuana would led to it being more legitimized. On the other hand, it’s worth noting that the rate of cannabis use in the U.S. is roughly double the rate in the Netherlands (where it is legal) and is nearly four times the rate in Portugal (where it is likewise legal).

    It’s true that drugs are destructive, but they aren’t nearly as destructive as the drug war has been. Think of all the neighborhoods terrorized by drug gangs, whole countries destabilized by narco-cartels. Criminalization also puts pressure on suppliers to focus on low-weight high dosage products, which leads to the development of things like crack cocaine.

    I know that counter will be that we should just really go after the drug gangs. We’ve tried that for decades and it doesn’t work. Look at Mexico. The new government has spent the last several years attacking the drug cartels, which has only led to more violence. You will never get rid of drug gangs or cartels by going after this or that leader. So long as there is a large demand for the product new leaders will emerge to take their places. The only way to stop the cartels and gangs is to take away their market, which means making drugs legal.

  • http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/netherlands/100202/marijuana-cannabis-amsterdam-coffee-shop

    It’s a rather complicated setup; for example, you can sell small amounts, but the rest of the drug trade is illegal, and there seem to be even more laws around pot use there than alcohol use here!

  • Blackadder- recall James Mary Ender’s words from the beginning of this piece:

    “Passage of this law will not vanquish the cartels. It will invite them in… The pot will be grown, (at higher yields), and shipped to other out of state destinations where prices are higher.

    We live in a rural Southern Oregon town that is well-known for local growing–and cartels. In fact, our family is moving because of a 5 acre grow operation next to us… Under protection of medical pot laws and lax law enforcment due to the economic downturn, growers are now bold. For instance: this spring, our neighbor ordered a tractor trailer full of planting soil at the beginning of grow season… (unloaded with multiple forklifts as traffic waited…

    There are other problems of course with legalization:
    –harvest season violence because of raiders
    –Flooding our high schools (and middle school’s)with cheap, yet, extremely potent weed
    –Property devaluation
    –impossibility of overview
    –Not to mention it’s just plain rude…

    Sorry, can’t fly with the legalization thing. It’s bad for society in general and souls individually…”

    I know that different cultures handle some things differently than others- recall how much criticism the lib Supreme Court Justices get when they something works or is the norm in Europe- so maybe we should try that! America ain’t Europe exactly..

  • Tim,

    I agree that passage of Prop. 19 would not vanquish the cartels. To do that you would have to legalize drugs generally.

    As for Europe, what gets people upset is not that liberal Supreme Court Justices mention how things are done in Europe, but that they cite foreign law when interpreting the U.S. constitution. Europe and the U.S. are different, but if you want to justify continuing a policy that results in tens of thousands of deaths a year, I think you need more than just a gut feeling that legalization wouldn’t work here like it does in Europe.

  • Tens of thousands, all directly linked to pot being illegal?

    The legalization proposed isn’t at all like either example from Europe; I think you’ll need something stronger than ‘something that also meant not charging individuals who had and used small amounts of pot didn’t turn out too bad’ (especially when Portugal’s high school pot use rate went up.)

    Side note– how low was the original lifetime use rate, if a decade later only one in ten have ever tried it? (From the Time link above)

    I tried to find out what the pot use rate was in the 90s, and found this article instead, with an interesting quote:
    It depends on whom you ask. According to libertarian think tank the Cato Institute, illegal drug use among Portuguese teenagers declined after 2001, and 45 percent of the country’s heroin addicts sought medical treatment. Marijuana use in particular has plummeted — only 10 percent of Portuguese adults are now pot smokers, less than the proportion of Americans who are regular cocaine users. But critics of the policy, such as the Association for a Drug-Free Portugal, say overall consumption of drugs in the country has actually risen by 4.2 percent since 2001 and claim the benefits of decriminalization are being “over-egged.”

    It also emphasizes that the reason Portugal went to therapy instead of jail is because they had massive levels of heroin use.

  • Foxfire,

    The tens of thousands refers to the drug war generally, not just pot.

  • You mean the one that the two example-countries offered are still fighting, as well?

  • Foxfire,

    There is a spectrum of policies that a country might adopt regarding drugs. For example, it is possible for drugs to be illegal without declaring a “war” on drugs and making a concerted and often militarized effort to wipe out the drug trade. This was the case in the U.S. prior to the 1970s, and in Mexico prior to a couple of years ago. In that sense, I’m not sure that Portugal or the Netherlands were ever fighting the drug war.

    Simply doing that would save tens of thousands of lives a year.

    Technically I suppose one could have decriminalization of drug use *and* a “war on drugs.” This would be equivalent to what happened with alcohol under Prohibition, where alcohol consumption was still legal, but you had a concerted effort to suppress the booze trade. In practice, though, I don’t think countries that have decriminalized drug use have adopted a war mentality with regard to the drug trade, though there may be exceptions.

    I would be generally favorable to decriminalization, as I think drug abuse is better dealt with as a public health issue and through treatment than as a criminal, let alone a military, issue. In terms of lives saved, however, decriminalization wouldn’t have a huge added impact over and above what you’d gain just by calling off the drug war.

    Ideally my preference would be for full legalization. That would also save lots of additional lives. Plenty of countries used to have this policy (e.g. the U.S. before the 1920s), but as you note even the more lenient countries today have yet to take this step, and I’m not optimistic that it will happen any time soon. But you don’t have to go the full legalization route to save lots of lives.

  • From the Global Post story above, page 2, quoting a guy who’s in the Dutch dependency unit:
    Polak complains that criminal elements continue to play a leading role in the cannabis trade due to an anomaly in the laws: While the retailing is tolerated, wholesale trade remains illegal, meaning coffee shop owners often have to get their supplies from criminal networks, which are also involved in illegal exports of the drug and violent turf wars.

    “With our system, for people who want to smoke marijuana it’s very pleasant, but on the supply side here there is no control, it’s still completely illegal, so the wrong people make very much money,” Polak said.

  • Foxfire,

    Yes, that would seem to be a problem that full legalization would solve.

  • I would be generally favorable to decriminalization, as I think drug abuse is better dealt with as a public health issue and through treatment than as a criminal, let alone a military, issue. In terms of lives saved, however, decriminalization wouldn’t have a huge added impact over and above what you’d gain just by calling off the drug war.

    So the little kid who OD’s on his cousin’s meth stash is a fair trade for two career criminals who get killed in a shootout with the boarder police?

    The guys who kill themselves flying a plane full of pot over the border wouldn’t get themselves killed in a home invasion if that was the best money?

    Getting rid of prohibition didn’t get rid of the gangs and all the related deaths; moving from total illegality to mere drug prohibition, or from total illegality to restrictions similar to alcohol, will not get rid of the gangs.

  • (Also, where are you getting your numbers? I see the ten thousand number popping up a lot, but nobody ever sources it….)

  • I doubt it’s anything you haven’t read before, but it turns out the Heritage foundation has a paper on the difference between alcohol and weed, and a bunch of the other things we’ve being going around and around about.

  • Also, where are you getting your numbers? I see the ten thousand number popping up a lot, but nobody ever sources it

    Milton Friedman had a famous estimate that drug legalization would save ten thousand lives a year in the U.S., so that may be what you are seeing. In terms of Mexico, approximately 30,000 people have died in drug-related killings since the current push began.

    So the little kid who OD’s on his cousin’s meth stash is a fair trade for two career criminals who get killed in a shootout with the boarder police?

    If the only people who died in the drug war were career criminals you might have a point. But that’s not the case. Those mass graves in Mexico aren’t full of career criminals.

    And, of course, despite all the blood, sweat, toil, and tears that goes into fighting the drug war, it’s still possible for a little kid to OD on his cousin’s meth stash.

    The guys who kill themselves flying a plane full of pot over the border wouldn’t get themselves killed in a home invasion if that was the best money?

    If you end the drug war is home invasion supposed to become a lot more lucrative for some reason?

  • And, of course, despite all the blood, sweat, toil, and tears that goes into fighting the drug war, it’s still possible for a little kid to OD on his cousin’s meth stash.

    Possible isn’t likely, and if there’s no restriction on adults possessing the drugs, they’ll be hid a lot less throughly.

    Come to think of it, the Idiot College Kid angle isn’t covered, either– up here in Washington they’re expressing shock and amazement that college kids can give themselves alcohol poisoning, in spite of the relative weakness of alcohol and centuries of “don’t do that.” See also, folks managing to kill themselves with caffeine.

    If you end the drug war is home invasion supposed to become a lot more lucrative for some reason?

    Relative gain, yes. From observation, folks who go into crime for fun and profit go to what gets them the most money. According to the only drug dealer I’ve spent a large amount of time talking to, crack users will also do absolutely anything to get their fix. He’d regularly have people bring in their children’s entire Christmas haul, wedding rings, anything they could get a hold on. Pretty big deal.

    In terms of Mexico, approximately 30,000 people have died in drug-related killings since the current push began.

    Your link actually says “More than 30,000 people have died in drug-related killings across Mexico over the past four years.”– AKA, Mexican gangs are estimated to have killed that many. (No idea who by, but hey. Let’s pretend it’s a more accurate number than the Mexican Gov’ts claims about American guns.)

    As much as folks love to do it, you can’t blame laws for the acts of those breaking them; removing one stream of income (let’s assume, somehow, magically, the profit is actually removed from the illegal drug trade– even though the illegal alcohol and tobacco trade is still going on) does not get rid of the lawbreaking. Again, I point at prohibition and the mafia. If there is any way to make profit outside of the law, people will do it.

    A big chunk of Mexico’s problem is probably that they don’t have rule of law. Many of the gangs are stepping into that role; the story you link is about a grave they found because they were given a video of two guys confessing to killing those in the grave before them. This is getting more and more common. (validity of confessions disputed, of course)
    A relative who is much more familiar with Mexico put it like this: ‘it’s criminals all the way down.’
    (That would’ve been about a decade ago, in the course of a conversation threatening my life and limb if I crossed the Mexican border because there’s been a kidnapping-and-ransom risk since at least the sixties.)

    Making drugs across-the-board legal is not a cure-all.

  • Possible isn’t likely, and if there’s no restriction on adults possessing the drugs, they’ll be hid a lot less throughly.

    If drugs were legal, quality control would be better, and you would have far fewer overdoses for adults, let alone kids.

    From observation, folks who go into crime for fun and profit go to what gets them the most money.

    No doubt. But you can’t assume that there is a fixed number of criminals out there independent of the existence of a highly lucrative illegal drug market. If there were a fixed number of criminals, then presumably the thing to do would be to make selling onions illegal, so that some of the criminals dealing drugs would switch to dealing onions, and you’d have less drug dealing.

    But it doesn’t work that way. You’re right that if there is a way to make profit outside the law, people will do it. That’s why fighting a drug war is so stupid. Making drugs illegal makes criminal activity a lot more profitable; hence more criminals.

    As much as folks love to do it, you can’t blame laws for the acts of those breaking them.

    I think the mistake that people often make here is assuming that if you blame the law for the bad consequences of lawbreaking that you are somehow excusing the lawbreakers. But that’s not true. Drug dealers are scum. But if a law empowers scum, then it is a bad law.

    Again, I point at prohibition and the mafia.

    The mafia existed before Prohibition, and it existed after Prohibition. But are you really going to maintain that it didn’t get stronger as a result of Prohibition? Surely you don’t think that all that stuff with Al Capone and the St. Valentine’s Day massacre would have happened anyway?

  • I doubt it’s anything you haven’t read before, but it turns out the Heritage foundation has a paper on the difference between alcohol and weed, and a bunch of the other things we’ve being going around and around about.

    If you look earlier in the thread, you’ll see that I don’t think marijuana and alcohol are equivalent.

  • If drugs were legal, quality control would be better, and you would have far fewer overdoses for adults, let alone kids.

    Like how folks don’t OD on prescription drugs?

    No doubt. But you can’t assume that there is a fixed number of criminals out there independent of the existence of a highly lucrative illegal drug market

    Nor can you assume that there isn’t.

    Surely you don’t think that all that stuff with Al Capone and the St. Valentine’s Day massacre would have happened anyway?

    Totally irrelevant. It establishes that removing one line of profit doesn’t destroy the entire thing.

    Drug dealers are scum. But if a law empowers scum, then it is a bad law.

    Depends on how it “empowers” them; the existence of laws against murder “empowers” those who are willing to kill for money by creating a demand; the prohibition on teenagers buying alcohol “empowered” those college or older boys who were willing to buy alcohol to sleep with many of the girls in my high school. (that’s two, two, two crimes for one! Minimum.)
    Rules against a behavior where there is still a demand will result in people trying to get around the prohibitions, if it’s a good law or a bad law.

  • If you look earlier in the thread, you’ll see that I don’t think marijuana and alcohol are equivalent.

    I didn’t phrase that intro so very well. >.> The legal effects, not the moral or physical ones. Is that clearer? (they do open with pointing out that pot isn’t alcohol in physical effects, but it is a catch-all post)

  • Like how folks don’t OD on prescription drugs?

    Totally irrelevant. It establishes that removing one line of profit doesn’t destroy the entire thing.

    I’m going to address these comments together, as they involve the same error. To say that drug liberalization wouldn’t totally eliminate a problem is not the same as saying that it wouldn’t make the problem less severe. People would still overdose if drugs were legal. But there would be fewer overdoses,
    because of improved quality control. There would still be gangs and organized crime. But they would not be as strong, because they would be lacking a major source of revenue which they currently have.

    You said earlier that “[i]f there is any way to make profit outside of the law, people will do it.” You were right about that, but note that if this is true then there cannot be a fixed number of criminals in society. If the profitability of crime goes down, fewer people will be able to make a profit outside of the law, and so you will have fewer criminals. When Prohibition ended, everyone who was a bootlegger didn’t just switch to other criminal activity. Some did, but most either became legitimate alcohol merchants or they went into other legitimate fields. Similarly, far fewer people entered into new criminal enterprises (of all kind) during the years after Prohibition than during Prohibition. Why? Because there wasn’t as much money in it.

    the existence of laws against murder “empowers” those who are willing to kill for money by creating a demand

    How does outlawing murder increase the demand for murder? That doesn’t make any sense.

    the prohibition on teenagers buying alcohol “empowered” those college or older boys who were willing to buy alcohol to sleep with many of the girls in my high school.

    Of course it does. You don’t think this is a relevant factor in considering whether the law should be changed?

  • How does outlawing murder increase the demand for murder? That doesn’t make any sense.

    How does outlawing drugs increase the demand for drugs?

    To say that drug liberalization wouldn’t totally eliminate a problem is not the same as saying that it wouldn’t make the problem less severe.

    Nor does it mean that the problems would become less severe.

    the prohibition on teenagers buying alcohol “empowered” those college or older boys who were willing to buy alcohol to sleep with many of the girls in my high school.

    Of course it does. You don’t think this is a relevant factor in considering whether the law should be changed?

    Not as big as what the direct effect of making it legal would be.

  • Bah, the italics went away for the second part of that quote. Formatting fail. >.<

  • It’s true that drugs are destructive, but they aren’t nearly as destructive as the drug war has been. Think of all the neighborhoods terrorized by drug gangs, whole countries destabilized by narco-cartels. Criminalization also puts pressure on suppliers to focus on low-weight high dosage products, which leads to the development of things like crack cocaine.

    And what happens when marijuana is legalized? Do all these drug gangs and narco-cartels decide to call it a day and become CPA’s and Amway salesmen, or do they decide to shift even more of their attention to trafficking crack cocaine, not to mention 10-year old prostitutes, ecstasy, plastic explosives and AK-47’s? If, for some wild reason, they go with the latter alternative, will the situation really improve? After all, I don’t recall that the lifting of Prohibition (i.e. transitioning from moonshine back to gambling, prostitution, cigarette tax evasion, etc.) was a death-blow to the Mafia, though I’m sure similar arguments were made back then.

    If marijuana is as over-maligned as some people claim, I think I’d rather have the narco-cartels stick with that as their main vice. I’m not sure about that, but at the least, this “marijuana drug war vs. marijuana drug peace” argument has a few holes in it as long as there are things in our world that we still choose to criminalize.

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