Monday, March 24, 2008

An Opening on Drugs

Last month, we learned that more than one of every 100 Americans is living in a jail or prison, mainly because of the insane War on Drugs. Will the next president end this madness and legalize drugs? Not a chance. Not even if the next president was Tommy Chong (a Drug War victim himself).

But maybe things could get better. Slowly. In baby steps.

One of those baby steps came today, when U.S. Rep. Barney Frank said that he intends to introduce legislation decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. Will Frank's bill pass? Not a chance. But maybe Americans are finally ready to talk about drug laws and their effects. And maybe there are some positive changes that could come at the margins. Like letting states decide whether or not they want legal medical marijuana. Or ending the militarization of drug police.

Last year in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton called for an end to federal raids in states where medical use of marijuana is legal, while Sen. John McCain backtracked on an earlier promise to end the raids.

And Obama? He takes it a step further than Clinton: Full decriminalization.

Take heart, libertarians. There's finally movement on this issue.

Update: Likely Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr was a pretty hardcore drug warrior back when he was in Congress. Now he says that drug laws should be left to the states, though he clearly still supports these laws. From a recent interview with KFNX radio:

"I'm working through some of those individual liberties issues but also believe very strongly that, just as when I was in the Republican Party, I did not agree with everything the Republican Party stood for, everything in its platform, and certainly there's a lot of room in the Libertarian Party for people who have differing views on drugs." (my emphasis)


Dominik Hennig said...

I'm a Libertarian (from Germany) and I gave my Endorsement to Obama!

Thanks a lot for your site!

ka1igu1a said...


FWIW, that Barr link from 2006 is a bit old. I doubt Barr is ever going to evolve to the position of a Jacob Sullum, but Barr does now think that some drugs like Pot and Steroids should be legal. I'm not sure of Barr's views on state legality of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, opiate analgesics, but it's probably fair to say he would not be enthusiastic about it.

But you can't federalize legality of narcotics without a constitutional amendment. Ending the War on drugs means ending federal prohibition and letting individual states regulate narcotics similar to how they regulate alcohol.

There's no doubt that Barr was once an odious drug warrior, but he has had a legitimate "Road to Damascus" conversion on a number of issues.

I'm not trying to be a Barr "hack" here, but my main objective is to ensure John Mccain does not win the presidency. I think a Bob Barr LP run can injure McCain in this respect. As a LP member, I can feel relatively comfortable with a Bob Barr, certainly much more comfortable than the likes of a Wayne Allen Root.

Mark said...

Don't get me wrong, ka1igu1a, if I were voting in the LP primary, I might vote for Barr too. And as an Obama supporter, I certainly welcome a Barr candidacy for its potential to take votes from McCain. But I don't think I could support him in the general election. If you have more recent information that demonstrates that he's internalized a philosophy of liberty, please share it with me. From what I've read, I still believe that he's a philosophical conservative who happens to agree with libertarians on many issues.