As a student at a far left state college here in New York, I can remember dreadlock crowned, trust fund Rastafarians peddling their petitions to legalize marijuana. My stock response to these appeals was to ask them if they had glaucoma or arthritis, in which case I’d gladly sign. Inevitably, they’d slink away defeated in search of a less cantankerous student to solicit. While the ruse was designed to give them something to think about (and me a cheap laugh) I always believed one thing; you don’t have to smoke weed to see the wisdom in its decriminalization.
To gain fresh perspective on this issue, we first have to accept the fact that Marijuana laws have failed utterly to achieve their intended results. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 100 million Americans have tried marijuana in their lifetimes. What does it tell us that our last three presidents have all admitted to smoking marijuana recreationally? While the fact that people break the law is not an argument against it, the sheer number of Americans who have admitted to use should give us reason enough to take a second look.
While I don’t believe that all drugs should be decriminalized and agree that America can’t simply allow hard drugs like heroin and crack flow unobstructed through our streets, marijuana should not be put in the same category as these poisons. This actually represents one of our greatest obstacles in reconsidering these laws, in that we have a hard time mentally separating marijuana from dangerous narcotics. While we want to lump it in with harder drugs, it is in reality more comparable to nicotine or alcohol.
Study after study has indicated that marijuana has various medicinal benefits including; the reduction of cancerous tumors, the reduction of eye pressure for glaucoma patients, and apatite enhancement for people undergoing chemotherapy. Some states, most notably California, have recognized the medical qualities of marijuana and have adopted laws to reflect this. This has created the inevitable conflict between State and Federal law, leading to Federal Drug Enforcement Agency raids on state licensed clinics. Despite President Obama’s 2008 promise to end such raids, federal agents raided the Emmalyn’s California Cannabis Clinic, a licensed medical marijuana clinic in San Francisco, on March 25th of 2009.
As conservatives, it should always be our natural instinct to err on the side of the states in such conflicts, especially when the Constitution fails to give the federal government the explicit authority over the issue of drug use (if the marijuana is grown in-state, it’s hard to make the case that the Constitution even gives the federal government implicit authority.) In this respect, the argument for the over-turning of Roe v. Wade is not unlike the argument for the over-turning federal marijuana laws and represents a logical consistency.
In addition to being a source of political contention on the domestic front, we are learning more and more that those who are flooding America’s streets with illegal substances represent a national security threat. As proof, one must look no further than the growing conflict at our border, and the new evolution in America’s drug war.
Demand is fueling our current shooting war with Mexican narco-gangs, and pushing the Mexican government to the brink of collapse. Of the estimated $15 to $25 billion a year a year funneled to Mexican drug cartels, marijuana represents about 60-70%. This windfall is paying not only for advanced weapons and body armor which put our border patrol at risk, but also for corruption and influence within the Mexican government itself. Legalizing marijuana would allow it to be grown domestically. Domestic production would not only eliminate the demand for imported product, but also choke off a vital revenue stream for the violent gangs behind its trafficking. Why should we continue to allow marijuana to fund the activities of a dangerous enemy who is increasingly spilling over the border and into American cities like Laredo?
In June of 2004, William F. Buckley wrote in the National Review in favor of the reformation of marijuana laws. In his column, he wrote that conservative’s knee jerk resistance to such reformation “can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism”. If nothing else, Buckley’s words were a challenge to reconsider some of our preconceived notions. Perhaps its time we take him up on that challenge.
Originally posted at Parcbench.com