I touched on this in my previous post but, over the last few days, I've been thinking a lot about the defeat of the marijuana legalization initiatives in Tuesday's elections. I asked prohibitionists what horrors they would expect to ensue should marijuana become legal. But I can't let it go at that. The more I think about these votes, the angrier I get.
There are many issues that pass the "both sides" test with me -- meaning, I can genuinely see and appreciate both sides of the issue. Though I may not agree with the other side's opinion, I can at least respect it. Issues such as abortion and the death penalty are colored in enough shades of gray to at least make the debate worthwhile. But the issue of drug prohibition and all the misery wrought by the War on Drugs? Sorry, don't get it.
Prohibition is a failure in every way imaginable: nonviolent, harmless people imprisoned, individual rights trampled, militarization of law enforcement, resources wasted, and no discernible benefits: hundreds of billions shoveled at the "problem," and yet interdiction efforts have failed to curtail the drug supply. Nor has demand for drugs been curbed despite the rather clever device of portraying Rachel Leigh Cook bashing the holy shit out of a kitchen.
And so I'd really like to know what went through the minds of the 1,313,617 people in Colorado, Nevada, and South Dakota who voted to keep marijuana prohibition alive. I have some serious questions for the prohibitionists:
1. Why do you expect drug prohibition to work out any differently from this nation's failed experiment in alcohol prohibition? What do you see as the material differences?
2. What benefits are realized by continuing to imprison nonviolent drug offenders?
3. What sea change in enforcement strategy do you anticipate that will lead to "success" where previous efforts have failed?
4. What evidence of prohibition's "effectiveness" leads you to believe the policy ought to be continued?
5. If legalization of marijuana ought not be pursued now, then when? How much longer must the War on Drugs go on before victory or defeat can be acknowledged?
6. How many more people must be imprisoned to make prohibition a "success"? How many more billions of dollars poured into enforcement of drug laws?
7. Given that nearly 80 million Americans admit to having tried marijuana, and that society continues to function despite this, why continue the policy? What's the point?
I could probably think of a million more questions since I'll be angry about this for a long time. What a golden opportunity wasted! Voters had the power to change the course of this nation's despicable drug policy, but no. What a disgrace.
Anyway, I'm interested to hear some answers to my questions. I promise to be civil to anyone willing to discuss his/her vote (or contrary position on the issue).