Win Cannabis Legalization Battle — Lose War for Freedom

in drugwar •  6 months ago

You’ve heard variations of the idea that sometimes you have to lose a battle to win a war. And if you are Civil War history buff, you may know that the inverse is also true: Confederate General Robert E. Lee won many battles against the North, but the cost in blood and treasure was such that the South lost the war.


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In the case of the Drug War, I see the successful fights to legalize cannabis as winning battles while losing the war at the same time. To put it in perspective, the Drug War itself is really only one of the many battles being fought to preserve human freedom. If we concede to The State that its claim to own our bodies and control what we consume is legitimate, we may win a battle by getting cannabis “legalized”, the prize of which is merely a privilege granted, but we are losing the war for human freedom. In this case, the cost in blood and treasure is in the form of freedoms lost forever.

There is a little skirmish going on here in my home town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. County Supervisor John F. Weishan Jr. crossed into no-mans-land by introducing, via the Judiciary Committee , a resolution to put an advisory referendum on the November ballot regarding cannabis:

Do you favor allowing adults 21 years of age and older to engage in the personal use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities, and imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana?

Sounds simple, but it is vaguely worded and prompts numerous questions in my mind. Being merely advisory, in a state where the politicians have steadfastly refused to give up any authority to control what we possess and consume, it is unlikely to generate any positive change. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to participate in the hearing held by the committee because I wanted to get a fundamental principle reintroduced into the discussion. You can watch the Milwaukee County Judiciary Committee Hearing via this link. My testimony is 7 minutes long, including questions from the committee, and it starts at the 18 minute mark. If you follow the link above it will auto-play beginning at that point.

You might hear the influence of Frédéric Bastiat’s The Law and Lysander Spooner’s The Constitution of No Authority in my testimony — if only I were as eloquent...

In case you didn’t watch my testimony, I tried to make the case that the premise behind putting a referendum on the ballot like this is fundamentally flawed. “Do you favor allowing adults 21….” Is the assumption here that we are The State and we are asking ourselves if we should allow ourselves to do something? Or, would it be more accurate if they had asked: “Do you favor The State allowing adults…”. The point I tried to make is that the resolution boils down to this: We i.e., The State, are your masters — we own your bodies and can arbitrarily dictate what you can possess and consume. We back up our claim to authority with violence and coercion and there are a whole lot of people in prison right now for violating our drug laws that prove we have the right to exercise this authority. Now, we, The State, are asking you: Should we continue with the status quo — denying you your basic human right to control what you can inoffensively possess and consume — or, should we, The State, relax our chokehold on your freedom and grant you the privilege to “engage in the personal use of marijuana”? Oh, and by the way, we will subject you to any taxes, regulations or licensure requirements that we see fit to enforce if you attempt to sell your marijuana.

Supervisor Deana Alexander responded with a summary of what she believes to be the government’s legitimate role in our lives and asked whether or not simply asking the people for their opinion on the matter was not a good thing and a step in the direction of freedom. Here is a summary of the arguments she, and other speakers at the hearing made in support of placing the referendum on the ballot:

  • It will reduce the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses, of which blacks and hispanics are disproportionally represented.
  • It will produce jobs in the cannabis industry (and if Colorado is any indication, the legal profession).
  • It will generate revenue from taxation that can be used to fund schools or other government programs.
  • It will make cannabis more readily available to people who need it for medicinal purposes.
  • Wisconsin needs to “keep up with the Joneses”.
  • Here are the "Whereas" clauses from the Resolution

I know, What’s not to like? Is this not a step in the right direction as Supervisor Alexander asked me?

In my response I conceded the validity of her arguments (although I do take issue with some of the "Whereas" clauses listed above used to justify the resolution), as well as the reality of the framework of laws currently imposed upon us by government, while, in apparent self-contradiction, I reiterated my position that, given the fundamentally flawed premise that The State has a legitimate right to control what we inoffensively posses and consume, I could not support including the referendum on the ballot. I could have done a better job defending my position and will summarize why I am against the legalization of cannabis here:

  • Whether it is raw milk, home baked goods, cannabis or any property legitimately possessed, the owner has the inherent right as a human being to possess, consume or exchange this property with any other person -- without government interference.
  • The taxation component is the old “sin tax” and I strongly protest that there is no “sin” involved in the production, consumption or distribution of cannabis. The government’s position is that if you do your “penance” and pay the tax, you will be “forgiven” and “allowed” to trade/exchange cannabis.
  • The imposition of taxes, license fees and other costs likely to result from government regulation, significantly increase the cost of cannabis possibly putting it out-of-reach of those, like me, who need to consume relatively large amounts to treat a medical condition (throat cancer in my case).
  • A privilege granted by The State can be arbitrarily taken away as well as given. There is no limit to the extent of taxation, licensure or other regulatory costs that The State my arbitrarily decide to impose — we are at their mercy.
  • It leaves the premise that The State has a legitimate authority to control what we posses and consume intact, and gives the appearance that The State is actually “the good guys”. What we really need is Truth and Reconciliation. Imagine a DEA agent or Policeman/woman participant in a drug raid coming forward and apologizing for their role in destroying the lives of the innocent people targeted by them.
  • Once cannabis legalization is established, and the tax revenue starts flowing in, The State, will never go back and revisit the premise behind their usurpation of this basic human right. That ship will have sailed and the freedom to inoffensively posses, consume and exchange cannabis will forever be a privilege rather than a right.

I have tried to engage supporters of cannabis legalization on this issue with little success. Most of the people fighting for legalization don’t have the time or inclination to examine the principles of human freedom that are important to me. Or, they think the case for harm reduction is so overwhelming that the sacrifice of a little freedom is worth it. Nevertheless, I think we should not lose sight of the principles that are at stake here. Instead of fighting for legalization of cannabis, or raw milk or home-baked goods, on a case by case basis, why not look to the broader war for freedom and work to get The State out of the business of controlling what we possess and consume? Instead of focusing on winning a legalization battle at all costs, how about focusing on the war for freedom and addressing the root cause of the problem — the belief that government can have a legitimate purpose beyond protecting our life, liberty and property?

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It’s always the case with government: they take away freedom then give it back to us taxed, reduced and not in original form.

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Yeah, government does two things really well: they take away our legitimate rights and they illegitimately assume rights nobody has.

We need to get some people to find an island and start a micro-nation. That way when people are arguing on whether freedom is successful or not they can look at them. (P.S if anybody actually going out and doing that sees my comment hit me up, I want to go with you.) ;)

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Thanks for your feedback Cole. You presented an interesting perspective on this issue in your recent post.

But if given the chance, we will signup for anything and everything. Soon, there will be no restrictions because of freedom and rights. Not every permissible thing is good.

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I think we are trending away from "no restrictions" and that the scope of government interference in our lives is increasing. If only it were true that because people were asserting their "freedom and rights" and constraining government to protecting them that there were "no restrictions". Just to be clear, IMO, so long as you are not infringing on the live, liberty or property of anyone else, so long as you are respecting everyone's freedoms and rights, you have the right to do whatever you want.

It is true no doubt that every permissible thing is not good. I am objecting here to the premise that The State has the legitimate right/authority to permit or not permit the possession, consumption or distribution of cannabis. Please check out Lysander Spooner's excellent essay Vices Are Not Crimes

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I’m of the opinion that, the use of drugs make us not deal with situations. Always look for the easy way out. Someone high on drugs, is likely to commit a crime for money, than someone who doesn’t use drugs.

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I know what you mean. Personally, I used cannabis to escape the reality of world we live in -- I could not deal with the injustice, warmongering, greed etc... But I also got valuable insights from using cannabis. It sparked my musical creativity and love of nature and there were many times in my 25 year career as computer programmer, analyst, and systems administrator, when I would solve the toughest work problems at home after having some cannabis. So, like Lysander Spooner explains in Vices Are Not Crimes it all depends on how you use something (so long as you are not infringing on the life, liberty and property of another).

Regarding people who are high on drugs committing crimes to get money to buy more drugs, yes, that is obviously causing harm. One thing to consider is that drug prohibition leads to much higher prices for drugs which in turn leads to crime and violence.

I do not think that everything will just magically work out if all drug prohibitions are removed -- it will take time and multiple generations living with this freedom for people to learn to accept personal responsibility for their actions.

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Personally, I hate smoke. If people will only smoke in their homes, I don’t have a problem. I just don’t wanna inhale it.

Would be nice to be like in the 50's ! And should be bad when the governments make something that has so many uses other than stupid dope heads making it bad for people who use it properly. All they did is make that NAZI Richard Nixon look like he was right. I grew it for along time all my friends were connoisseurs. STOP BELIEVING DRUG COMPANY AND GOVERNMENT LIES. Stop! taking the poison from Big Pharma < SCUM!

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Heh, thanks for resteeming my blogs! Yes, the war on drugs was not so vicious back in the 50's, unless of course you were a talented black musician like Charlie Parker or Billie Holiday. Harry Anslinger and company started the power trip back then and it has only gotten worse.

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Thanks for your support and for resteeming my blog!

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your very welcome, pleasure to reshare great content!

the constitution always grants freedom and rights to the people and limits the powers of the government. it's the people's defense from arbitrary rulings of those in power.

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hmmm, "the constitution always grants..." what is the constitution? Are you personifying it? Is it a contract and if so, how did it become applicable to me? Is it not simply a written instrument that no one bothered to sign? I'm borrowing lines from Lysander Spooner's No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority.

From the appendix:

"Inasmuch as the Constitution was never signed, nor agreed to, by anybody, as a contract, and therefore never bound anybody, and is now binding upon nobody; and is, moreover, such an one as no people can ever hereafter be expected to consent to, except as they may be forced to do so at the point of the bayonet, it is perhaps of no importance what its true legal meaning, as a contract, is. Nevertheless, the writer thinks it proper to say that, in his opinion, the Constitution is no such instrument as it has generally been assumed to be; but that by false interpretations, and naked usurpations, the government has been made in practice a very widely, and almost wholly, different thing from what the Constitution itself purports to authorize. He has heretofore written much, and could write much more, to prove that such is the truth. But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist. "

The government's arbitrary prohibitions of demonized substances is a perfect example of how the "constitution" has utterly failed to protect one of the most basic and fundamental of human rights i.e., the right to control what we possess and consume. It has not served to defend the people from this arbitrary usurpation.

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what i mean is that, in order to assert our rights, we must have a written law -rules that govern us, and protect us and that's our guard against violations- our basis, where all our rights have laid out into text or form- and the state is the embodiment of these written rules while the government is the instrument to execute these rules .

i agree on your statement that we should gain the right to control what we possess and consume. i also agree that when canabis becomes legalized, it should have no string attached such as "sin" tax. "sin" tax will never stop people from using it, make the price higher so that the government can gain more.

On the other side of the coin. we need a government. a state. in order to say that you are sovereign. Don't invalidate the purpose of the constitution, it's the framework, a fundamental and supreme law, in which no one shall deter. you should better revise or amend it to suite your needs.

I can also see that the right to control what to possess and to consume have some drawbacks. for example, what if you grant all the citizens with ownership of guns? it will cause unrest and insecurity right?

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Thanks for your interest and feedback John.

My perspective, which is informed by the writings of Frédéric Bastiat and Lysander Spooner (linked in the article above) among others, is that the we must come to terms with the difference between malum prohibitum, "wrong [as or because] prohibited" and malum en se, "wrong or evil in itself". To the extent that the written laws, or malum prohibitum, are merely codifications of what we all acknowledge to be wrong or evil in itself, there is no need for the laws. That is not to say there is no need for enforcement of these basic rules that enable us to live in society, it is just that, as laws, they are redundant.

The trouble comes with the malum en se laws -- the arbitrary rules that governments make that refer to actions that are not wrong in themselves. Not only do these later rules restrict our legitimate freedoms, they assert "rights" that are not derived from the rights of the governed. They go way beyond the rights that you or I possess as individuals. And using a written instrument like a constitution to justify this usurpation of "rights" is wrong, in my opinion, which is based on the observation of the harms it has lead to.

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i think we both agree that if the rulings of the government will bypass the basic rights of every citizen, or take advantage of their power to strangle our rights- then there's no purpose of the constitution if it can't protect the lives of the individuals from those who are in power.

I respect your opinion. As long as there is a balance between the branches of the government- as long as they are independent and functioning, the people shall be defended from these malum en se laws.

a very good read

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Thank you Mr. Freeman. I look forward to more updates from your journeys through Africa.

I posted the article below about Cannabis. But today on the BBC was a father with a harrowing story of his son's suicide and blaming Skunk Cannabis for altering his son's mind.

It is difficult to know what the truth is about the plant?
https://steemit.com/health/@ijavee/smoking-is-good-for-you-new-government-health-warning

Me ha encantado esta publicación, saludos!