May 14, 2010


(It could happen . . .)

With the current movement afoot to legalize Marijuana in California (in an effort to raise revenues with a cigarette-style tax), I was reminded that in 1971 there was a movement afoot to legalize drugs completely, not just Marijuana but the whole recreational sub-genre. The idea that Heroin would suddenly become legal seemed remote, but the PBS program The Advocates devoted their hour on week to just that subject. And, as always with that program, the arguments were very interesting.

Joseph Oteri(arguing For legalization): “As extreme as our proposition may sound, we believe that we can show that by legalizing all drugs, you will have the following results: There will be less crime because drugs will be cheap enough so that addicts will not have to steal money in order to purchase them. The tax free criminal drug monopoly will be destroyed because of their inability to compete with cheap legal drugs. There will be fewer addicts because the forbidden fruit temptation of drug use will be diminished by its openness and the drug subculture, which makes drugs available will disappear. There will be fewer deaths from overdoses because the strength of drugs will be controlled by Federal standards. Hepatitis cases will be diminished because it will no longer be criminal to possess needles and syringes and users will have sterile equipment to use. But more importantly, an adult’s right to be let alone, his right to determine for himself what is good for him and not to be forced to accept the moral judgments of society as they relate to his private conduct demand that he have the right to use drugs if he chooses to do so.”

Needless to say it was a bold idea. The arguments on both sides had merits (although the "against" side went into overdrive when someone on the "for" side mentioned Heroin and Ice Cream in the same sentence).

It does beg the question why it can't happen now. I'm still not so sure we will ever see a full legalization of all drugs in our lifetimes, but legalizing Marijuana does seem possible at this point in time. Probably more so now than in 1971.

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