My latest RedState post:
Hardcore libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and rabid leftist Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) have united for a cause near and dear to many a crank’s heart: drug legalization. The two have introduced a bill to all but end the federal War on Drugs. While their proposal would still let the feds prohibit the transfer of marijuana across state lines and keep it from entering the country, it would recognize the states’ authority to legalize pot within their borders if they so choose.
Constitutionally, it’s not the federal government’s job to handle the states’ internal affairs, and as we struggle to trim the fat from our debt-ridden, bureaucratic federal government, every little bit helps. Also, comparing the results of varying drug policies in newly empowered states would help us clearly see whether or not legalizers’ rosy predictions of safer narcotics and collapsing cartels actually come true.
So, is Paul-Frank a win-win? Not quite.
First, it’s simply insane to do anything federally that would increase drug use (and let’s not kid ourselves, that’s exactly what would happen) until after we’ve secured the southern border drugs are currently pouring across, and dismantled whatever federal programs currently force taxpayers to pay for drug users’ bad decisions.
Second, many of Paul and Frank’s supporters want to go further. In recent years, a growing number of voices on both sides have called for a wholesale end to drug prohibition. On June 16, Jimmy Carter wrote that American drug policies “destroy the lives of millions of young people and their families.” The far-left ex-president is in rare agreement with National Review, which on June 27 called the bill “an excellent first step” toward ending a war that has “curtailed personal freedom.” For leftists, drug use is a personal lifestyle choice, the condemnation of which would be the unpardonable sin of judgmentalism, while legalizers on the Right frame the issue around personal responsibility, suggesting it’s paternalistic for government to keep people from putting harmful things in their systems.