Excerpt from an interesting article on medical marijuana:
The Bush administration argues that Congress has found no accepted medical use of marijuana and needs to be able to eradicate drug trafficking and its social harms.
Eradicate drug trafficking? Social harms? Let’s break this up.
1. Eradicate drug trafficking. On face, it’s not at all a bad idea. Drug trafficing typically is associated with organized crime, which certainly is not a positive or contributing branch of society. Mark Thornton, a professor of economics at Auburn University writes “National prohibition of alcohol (1920-33)–the ‘noble experiment’–was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in America. The results of that experiment clearly indicate that it was a miserable failure on all counts. The evidence affirms sound economic theory, which predicts that prohibition of mutually beneficial exchanges is doomed to failure.” He continues that ” although consumption of alcohol fell at the beginning of Prohibition, it subsequently increased. Alcohol became more dangerous to consume; crime increased and became ‘organized’; the court and prison systems were stretched to the breaking point; and corruption of public officials was rampant. No measurable gains were made in productivity or reduced absenteeism. Prohibition removed a significant source of tax revenue and greatly increased government spending. It led many drinkers to switch to opium, marijuana, patent medicines, cocaine, and other dangerous substances that they would have been unlikely to encounter in the absence of Prohibition” (source).
There’s nothing I could say to state my point better.
2. Social harms. Aside from the obviously harms associated with the active prohibition of marijuana (thriving organized crime, overcrowded prisons, etc) what exactly are these social harms that the Bush administration is referring to? And isn’t the administration headed by a man who, when put to direct questioning, can only tell the American people that he hasn’t used cocaine (never mind marijuana– he doesn’t even bother to deny using that) for at least seven years? A man who was described by Newsweek as seeming “to have majored in beer drinking at the Deke House” for his college years? (The very same man who now travels the country lecturing students on staying celibate, sober and drug free.) Is that the kind of social harm that our government is trying to protect us from? Being forced to admit that our president used and enjoyed the very drugs that he’s now adamantly fighting against? Obviously he turned out alright (or completely wrong, depending on how you look at it).
Regardless, I’m just blown away by the hypocrisy and frightening puritanicalism that’s demonstrated by the Bush administration with regards to marijuana laws.