Last week, we began a new tradition at The Recovering Politician: a great virtual debate among our recovering politicians; with provocations, rebuttals, responses, and defenses. This week, we ramped up the controversy level by tackling a highly explosive topic: legalizing marijuana. The RP starts off with his provocative article arguing the moral case for legalized cannabis. Tune in every half hour to read what other RPs have to say.
SPOILER ALERT: There will be fireworks.
This week, the contributing RPs take on The RP’s recent controversial call for legalizing marijuana in The Huffington Post. (As well as a Kentucky-centric version dedicated to Gatewood Galbraith, published in the Lexington Herald-Leader).
The RP’s Provocation:
While a recent Gallup poll revealed that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, and Ron Paul — a proponent — has run well in the early GOP presidential primaries, most mainstream politicians still refuse to touch the subject, and many journalists continue to refer to legalization as a “radical” position.
It’s no wonder. The loudest voices for reform usually come from the political margins: the “hippie” Far Left and the libertarian Far Right. And while emanating from different directions, the two extremes share a similar credo: An out-of-control government has no business telling me what I can ingest.
A politically-influential cross-section of Americans, however, disagree. Many associate pot advocacy with the “anything goes” counter-culture of the 1970s that they blame for the decline of personal responsibility. Others worry that the logical extension of the philosophy could lead to legalizing “harder” drugs, prostitution, even polygamy. All of them — liberals, moderates, and conservatives — believe that there must be some moral standards established to guide public policy.
I’m part of that moral majority. But unlike Jerry Falwell’s version, my values system is based on the multi-religious mandate to “love your neighbor as yourself.” I’ve even written a book, The Compassionate Community, which applies Bible lessons and other religions’ texts to advocate for progressive policies that promote the common good.
And I’ve recently concluded that these same enduring moral values compel me to support legalizing marijuana.
I’m not your typical pro-pot advocate. Like Bill Clinton, I’ve never inhaled; but unlike the former President — indeed, unlike most of my Gen X cohorts — I’ve never even handled a joint. Since I lost my chain-smoking grandmother to cancer at an impressionable age, the thought of sucking any kind of smoke into my lungs thoroughly disgusts me.
So when I served in public office — I’m the former State Treasurer of Kentucky — it was easy for me to represent my conservative constituents and oppose legalizing cannabis.
But leaving the arena last year and becoming a recovering politician freed me of my electoral blinders, and allowed me to take a more critical look at the underlying issues. And as I summarize below, I’ve concluded that legalizing cannabis would enable our government, as well as our society, to better reflect universally-shared moral values, such as compassion toward the sick, justice in our legal system, and economic opportunity for all.
Click here to read the rest of The RP’s provocative Huffington Post piece.
Click here for the Kentucky-centric version that appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader.