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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: Grabar on the Legalization of Marijuana

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Grabar on the Legalization of Marijuana

I am a conflicted libertarian on the issue of the legalization of marijuana.  As a libertarian, I believe that people should have the freedom to do stupid things like smoke marijuana and that social norms and economic exigencies will limit the number of stupid behaviors.  Restricting freedom to use marijuana and other drugs has been costly.  The arguments against legalization are real.  I don't like the creation of a protected class of marijuana, those using it for "medical" purposes and I don't want to support a marijuana induced zombie lifestyle with my taxes.  It will give incentives for people to find medical "needs" to support their current habit ("Medical Marijuana and the Drug War").  And even if legalized for adults, its use will properly be banned from children, eliminating nearly all the savings from the war on drugs. 

Mary Grabar offers good arguments for a libertarian to oppose any type of legalization of marijuana in, "Libertarians Need to Rethink Support for Drug Legalization" (Pajamas Media, December 22, 2009).  She blogs at The Literate Citizen.  I recommend the entire article, but provide only paragraphs that summarize her position. 
Doc Washburn...invited former Congressman Ernest Istook from the Heritage Foundation and Tina Trent , who blogs on crime, to speak about the dangers of marijuana to the user and to society. Trent indicated that Grande had faced probably only a misdemeanor charge; she pointed to studies showing that the illegal drug trade flourishes despite the legality of marijuana in certain states and other countries. And legalizing marijuana will remove the freedom employers now have to test for the judgment-impairing drug.

The position on the legalization of marijuana provides the point of departure from the traditional libertarianism of Barry Goldwater. In abandoning the duty to enforce social order, today’s libertarians have made a devil’s pact with the pro-drug forces of George Soros and company.

My libertarian friends like to say, “I’m a libertarian, not a libertine.” But though many of the advocates of libertarianism lead socially conservative lives, their agendas promote libertinism — especially when it comes to legalizing drugs. They forget that the moral order they have inherited is put at even further risk as laws change to allow more destructive behavior...
The libertarian maintains that values are the function of the private sphere: the family and church. But as Goldwater argued in the riot-plagued year of 1964, when safety and order are not maintained by the government, our freedoms are affected. In so many ways, the legalization of drugs will lead to the further breakdown of order.

To give sanction to a drug that robs the individual of reason and conviction is to give up on our way of life. It is another surrender to the counter-culture. It sends a dangerous message to young people. A recent study shows that the creeping sanction through legalization of “medical” marijuana in certain states is giving young teenagers a sense of safety about marijuana use.


  1. Ester Anderson said.....
    I agree it should not be legalized and it does give children/teens a sense of safty. I feel that they can come up with others ways to deal with pain that does not involve drugs.I know people who are addicted to marijauna as well as people who have permission to but it however they ues it for the wrong reasons.It is too easy for a person to claim to have a medical reason to use drugs.It deffinatly gives the wrong idea.If they thing dealing with the marijauna issue cost too much whats it gonna cost if they legalize it and people are driving high and car wrects are popping up all over the place.My sister is on probation and she found a herb that is sold at a tobacco place that is caled K pac or K px .Something like that ,but it gives you the same effect as marijauna and she was pissed because she said they recently took it off the shelves because it was another way to get high and still pass the drug test .I consider this a normal good because it was equal to marijauna and cause an increase in buissiness in Cleburne texas for the tabacco store because the demand was high.Due to the number of buyers because of the similar or what she said exact effects of this herb.I think that although they can argues over weather or not this will be legalized there is always another way for people to pollute thier bodys.

  2. Alcohol is a drug, Marijuana is a drug..I don't see the difference in the two, with the exception that marijuana is a fix for people with glaucoma and they also use it for an aid for people in pain with a terminal illness. Several states have approved the use of marijuana as a medical aid. I think it is unlikely you will ever see alcohol used for medical reasons.It seems like using it for medical reasons would be an incentive to legalize it.