The RPs Debate Legalizing Marijuana: The RP Defends

The RP‘s Third Defense

[The RP’s Provocation; Jason Atkinson’s Rebuttal #1; The RP’s First Defense: Jason Atkinson’s First Response; Artur Davis’ Rebuttal #2; The RP’s Second Defense; Artur Davis’ First Response; Ron Granieri’s Rebuttal #3; Jeff Smith’s Rebuttal #4]

Jeff, you ignorant slut.

(OK, OK, if you are too old or too young to get the reference, click here.)

As always, Jeff’s writing is lucid, compelling, entertaining, and reliant on first-hand knowledge due to his unique experiences.

But I strongly disagree.  In fact, you help illustrate to me why marijuana legislation is such a moral issue, in stark contrast to the “harder” drugs you mention.

It comes down to this phrase from your piece:

Part of having freedom is having the freedom to do harm to yourself.

First of all, I disagree with the premise: My communitarian philosophy, in contrast to your libertarian views, recognizes the moral dimensions of public policy, and sometimes requires members of the community to sacrifice certain freedoms for the common good.  [Sorry for the big words and over-thinking, but if you’d like an excellent summary of the philosophical distinctions, click here, and if you want to read an incredible, very readable book on the subject, click here.]

But for the sake of argument, let me concede your point.  The problem with your argument is that by taking cocaine, crack, heroin, and or meth (and I’m sure there are dozens of other illegal drugs in the same category), you are much more likely to be doing harm not only to yourself, but to others around you.  There is a clear and direct connection between hard drug use and violent crime.

That’s not the case with marijuana.

Of course, it is the case with alcohol, as well.  But the key difference between alcohol and hard drugs is that while there certainly is a tragically large number of Americans who abuse alcohol, the vast majority of Americans that consume alcohol drink in moderation.

That’s not the case with the harder drugs.  Scientific studies consistently demonstrate that harder drugs have greater reinforcement qualities (the measure of the substance’s abilit to get users to take it repeatedly and in priority to other substances) and greater chance of dependence (how difficult it is for the user to quit, the commonality of relapse, and the likelihood of people to become dependent).

With some hard drugs like heroin and meth, many first-timers become addicted instantly, and extraordinary detoxification efforts are often required to return that person to become a non-destructive member of society.

You seemingly undermine your “freedom” argument later in your piece:

Any system of regulation would have a range of restrictions for various drugs depending on their risk; while some drugs would be sold over the counter in licensed stores, drugs with greater risks of harm might only be available where use could be monitored and emergency treatment care available.

Does this mean in rural areas without proper medical facilities, we’d outlaw meth and heroin, for example?  At least in my home state of Kentucky, it is indeed those rural areas where you find the broadest distribution and the worst abuse of those drugs.  These areas are the front lines of the War on Drugs, and it seems like your regulatory system would do nothing to change that.

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