Posts Tagged ‘Madeleine Brand Show

12
Oct
10

Prohibition is the issue

This Rand study showing that repealing marijuana prohibition won’t stop Mexican drug cartels from being violent will, no doubt, be making the rounds.

No, not that Rand study. I mean the slightly less-crazy one.

 

The pro-prohibition, anti-legalization crowd will, no doubt, seize upon this latest study to try to convince voters that they’ll be voting on issues beyond simply repealing prohibition when they vote on Prop 19; specifically, that they should consider their role in the overall structure and outlook of the Mexican drug cartels when they cast their vote.  In that regard, this argument will join the other straw-man arguments against Prop 19 that have been circulating more frequently as we approach this historic vote – you know, that ending prohibition won’t really produce more tax revenue, or that it won’t really keep kids off drugs, or that it won’t really help law enforcement officials focus on violent crimes, or that it won’t really reduce the population of non-violent offenders in our overcrowded prisons, etc., etc., etc.

 

I’m not saying this new study is wrong.  I’m just saying it’s beside the point.  Just like all those other arguments.

 

Enthusiastic Prop 19 supporters probably bear some responsibility in muddying the waters.  Recognizing that an end to a bad policy might be in sight, motivated activists may have added to the problem by promising more than they should have done, in an attempt to secure that long-awaited end to marijuana prohibition, arguable the dumbest front in our over-long war on drugs. Or  maybe Prop 19 opponents are smarter than I think they are, and this is all part of their nefarious scheme to inflate hopes, only to then turn and attack the weakest of the straw-man arguments that they, themselves, posed.  Regardless, as we get closer to the election, I think it’s important to recognize what the Proposition actually proposes to do, and what it doesn’t propose to do.  This short audio clip from Steve Proffitt on the Madeleine Brand Show (Prop 19 Explainer) very succinctly describes some of the realities (and some of the unrealities) of the initiative, but even that level of detail seems a little beside the point.

 

 

It’s worth remembering that even when a law is clearly written, and narrowly focused, it’s subject to legal challenges and amendments and alterations.  It’s relatively rare to find a law passed by initiative that doesn’t continue evolving long after it’s been approved by voters.  Voters don’t really have the power to dictate the aftermath, or the specific implementation – just the broad thrust of the proposed law.  In other words, you can vote to end the prohibition of marijuana by voting for Prop 19, but you can’t vote to control what happens afterwards.   But isn’t that enough to make it a law worth voting for?

Regardless of what happens afterwards, shouldn’t we all be able to agree – based on the evidence already in front of us – that marijuana prohibition has been a stupid policy, based upon demonstrably-false claims, producing demonstrably-bad results?  I’d remind those Rand scientists that, regardless of what the Mexican cartels might do if marijuana prohibition ends, they haven’t exactly been the best of neighbors during prohibition.

I'm not voting based upon what these guys will or won't do.

The truth is, no one knows exactly what the specific collateral effects of ending prohibition will be – all we can know is what we already have.  The feds might react angrily, or they might not – but the way the behave now isn’t good.   The individual counties and cities might create smart controls and regulations, of they might not – but the way they deal with marijuana use right now isn’t good.  The Cartels might double-down on marijuana production, or they might not – but they’re killing people for marijuana right now.

 

Stupid feds, murderous cartels, keystone kounties – none of that is addressed by the law that California voters will vote on.  The upcoming vote is about trying to end prohibition here and now, or not.  All the rest of the talk is just noise.

 

 

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