David Harsanyi: For liberty, but against dumb decisions
Unrealistic? Maybe. But less so than allowing myself to believe that human behavior can/should be endlessly nudged, cajoled and coerced by politicians.
According to The Denver Post, there are nearly 40 stores in Colorado licensed to sell “recreational” pot. Medical marijuana has been legal for more than a decade. Not surprisingly, pot stores can’t keep up with demand for a hit of recreational tetrahydrocannabinol. Outside Denver shops, people are waiting for up to five hours to buy some well-taxed and “regulated” cannabis. The pot tourists also have arrived. All this, The Denver Post estimates, will translate into $40 million of additional tax revenue in 2014 — the real reason legalization in Colorado became a reality.
The large part of my position on drugs is ideological, but some of it is familiarity. As a young person, I inhaled, yet today I can pull together the occasional lucid thought. I don’t feel as if I did anything immoral. I guess I’d have to say that I have acquaintance on a par with David Brooks (regrettably without the “uninhibited frolic”): “For a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I smoked marijuana. It was fun. I have some fond memories of us all being silly together. I think those moments of uninhibited frolic deepened our friendships.”
Marijuana is, for the most part, an innocuous habit. But there can be detrimental psychological and physiological effects on the human body after prolonged use. It hinders the mental capacity of people who use it excessively. No doubt, you’ve met some test subjects. Many pro-pot legalization advocates want Americans to believe that nurses, accountants, shopkeeps and local haberdashers make up the majority share of those smoking Caramelicious on weekends. Anyone who’s done any reporting on the issues understands that this is preposterous. There are hordes of stoners making a “lifestyle” choice and wasting away.
If libertarian ideas are winning the day, as some pundits insist, then government’s getting out of the “legislating morality” business should cut both ways. The state’s decriminalizing of an activity or substance doesn’t transform that activity or substance into a moral, healthy or admirable one. You can celebrate the fact that people are free without celebrating all the dumb things those people do with their freedoms. Like, for instance, standing in line for five hours to buy a dime bag.