Libertarian Drug Legacy
By: Stephen Carter
It is a line often repeated, libertarians are just potheads who want to get high. Drugs are an issue that many non-libertarians automatically use to define who libertarians are.
I have no statistics to reference, and I doubt they exist, so I can only go based on what I know. What do I know? Nearly all of the people I know who consume marijuana are either liberal or politically unaffiliated. In fact, of all the libertarians I’ve met, the grand majority of them do not consume cannabis. There are even quite a few of them that don’t drink alcohol as well.
Based on my experience with drug consumers, marijuana smokers in particular, and libertarians, I can’t help but ask why people automatically think of a bunch of druggies when the word libertarian is mentioned.
When I interned at a local university last year my boss discovered that I was a libertarian, so the first thing he asked me was why I thought legalizing drugs was such a great idea. He didn’t ever ask me if I truly thought this, and when I asked him why, he said that it’s the number one priority for libertarians. Well, this is news to me.
He stated this was the case because it is the first thing in the Libertarian Party platform. In a sense this is somewhat true. The platform is broken down into several sections with personal liberty being at the forefront. In section 1.2 under personal privacy it reads:
Libertarians support the rights recognized by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Protection from unreasonable search and seizure should include records held by third parties, such as email, medical, and library records. Only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed crimes. We favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Not exactly dedicated to legalizing drugs, but it is indeed a part of personal liberty to be able to consume drugs without being imprisoned or fined for it so long as you are not harming anyone else. For example, you still wouldn’t be able to get intoxicated, high, whatever and then operate a vehicle on a public road.
The reality is that people have a hard time wrapping their heads around a person or group of people advocating for something that doesn’t directly effect them. For example, why would a person who doesn’t consume marijuana support its legalization? Why would a person who isn’t gay, support gay marriage? Why would someone support getting rid of alcohol time of sell restrictions if they don’t drink? It’s pretty simple really, it’s about liberty, and realizing that you can’t have your freedom if you are actively or passively denying freedom to others.
It’s also about more than just liberty, even though this is the primary reason. It is about recognizing that these laws in most cases cause more harm to society than whatever it was they were trying to prohibit or regulate. For all the money spent, lives lost, and resources wasted, it is very evident that the war on drugs is a failure and cannot be won. Many will readily admit this, but still deem it a low priority issue.
For many libertarians, while it isn’t a low priority issue, it certainly doesn’t sit at the top either. I would venture to guess that the military industrial complex and foreign policy, along with the monetary system and federal reserve hold that position, along with concern for a surveillance and police state. Also near the top are property rights, which include the right to do with our body as we please, and economic liberty, which leads to lower poverty and a more robust economy. Contrary to certain beliefs, libertarians do not want to simply get rid of all regulations, that would just be silly.
Ending the prohibition of drugs is a scary and dangerous topic, which is so taboo that people try to avoid it at all costs. It only makes sense that people looking to detract from the merits of libertarianism would immediately point at their stance on drug legalization, and those people who are unreasonably afraid of drugs due to the years of propaganda put into their head would immediately latch onto that particular stance, blowing it out of proportion because of the sensitive nature of the subject.
Drug legalization isn’t something that most libertarians are going to be going nuts over, talking about it at every turn. However, it is something that they are not going to turn away from, especially if asked about it or if they see someone making false statements about the subject. They know it’s a sensitive issue, but they also know that despite all of the fears held by society, they are right about the subject. It’s not a matter of being intellectually superior, it’s simply a matter of knowing that while many drugs are bad, and reducing their usage is definitely a good thing, nothing good can come of throwing people in jail and having conviction records following them around for life, making it much harder to get by, not to mention all of the violent crime associated with prohibition. The laws are worse than the effects of the drugs.
2 Responses to “Libertarian Drug Legacy”
Leave a Response
You must be logged in to post a comment.