Drugs and Libertarianism...

Alphecca is soliciting comments about the War on Drugs.  I'm a Libertarian (yes, big-L, though I do have some serious differences with the party's positions on some things).  Thus, it should not come as a surprise that I oppose the drug war.  I do so for several reasons.

First, there is no Constitutional authority for drug prohibition.  The federal government has no authority to regulate or ban the possession of any substance, though they can regulate commerce in that substance IF it crosses a state line or international border.  The government is exceeding it's Constitutional authority in this respect, and for decades that was driving the expansion of Federal powers in a way that caused dramatic harm to the rights of the people

If drug regulations were to operate on the State level, people could choose to live under regulations that they approve of -- and suffer the consequences of that choice.  The federal system would work as it was intended, allowing both choice and policy experimentation.

Second, I believe that drug use is a personal choice.  People have the right to do whatever they wish so long as their conduct does not harm others.  If a drug user can't keep a job, he's harming himself, not anyone else -- and not being able to keep a job might well motivate him to change!  The same argument applies to alcohol.  Social pressure has reduced the problem of alcohol abuse far, far more than regulation has.   Those who want to be successful will choose to drink or use drugs responsibly -- and "responsibly" may mean complete abstinence for many.  I drink rarely, and I choose not to use the sort of drugs that people mean when they talk about "using drugs".  I don't even like simple painkillers for a headache or cold medicine; I don't like the way that they interfere with my thought processes.

Third, some of the drugs we're talking about are just plants.  Why are we outlawing weeds?

Fourth, Jeff comments about lost productivity resulting from alcohol abuse.  While that's a good argument for appropriate social norms discouraging alcohol abuse, it's not an argument for government intervention.  It is not the government's job to make us more productive.

Fifth, Jeff also notes that crime is often associated with alcohol.  Granted, but correlation is not causation -- would these same people be committing crimes if they were not drunk?  Probably not in some cases, but there are millions of people who manage to drink and get drunk without breaking the law.  The causal chain is not direct, but instead involves reduced judgement and reasoning.  Drinking does not cause crime; it causes stupidity.  The problem is the crime itself, not that drinking led to the crime, and the way to address it is to punish the crime.  Someone who notices that when they get drunk, they end up in jail, should put two and two together and stop getting drunk.

It is not appropriate for the government to walk back up that chain of causality.  Deal with the crime.  Social organizations that are not wielding the threat of lethal force to bankroll their operations can handle the causes.

Sixth, and finally, drug prohibition is unenforceable.  Our experience with it so far has made that abundently clear.

All that said, I agree with Jeff that hard drugs can destroy lives.   But government is not there to help us make good choices; it's there to prevent us from harming one another, not from harming ourselves. 

This entry was published Sat Oct 29 12:06:13 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2005-10-29 12:06:13.0. [Tweet]

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