When Bill Buckley came out for drug legalization and declared the ‚Äúdrug war‚ÄĚ a failure, the issue of drug legalization ceased to be a left-right issue. Mr. Buckley wrote, ‚ÄúSo what has the drug war done? It has made a mockery of an anti-drug law that is simply ignored by millions; it has induced violent felonies in pursuit of drug profits; and it is self-evidently powerless to do anything about the recent increase in marijuana use by reckless adolescents.‚ÄĚ
Mr. Buckley makes the conservative case against the drug war by evaluating ‚ÄúThe practicality of a legal constriction, as for instance, what those states ought to do whose statute books continue to outlaw sodomy, which interdiction is unenforceable, making the law nothing more than print on paper.‚ÄĚ He added, ‚ÄúI came to the conclusion that the drug war was not working, and that it would not work absent a change in the structure of the civil rights to which we cling as a valuable part of our patrimony.‚ÄĚ We need to calculate the cost to society by outlawing drugs and weigh it against its legalization.
The active ingredient in marijuana is legal and marketed as Marinol, an effective anti-emetic agent and weight gain enhancer. When many individuals pushed for the use of marijuana for medical use, it was based on the sound science done with Marinol and as well as personal experiences. Most people who have smoked marijuana do report an increase in appetite and many cancer patients have found the illegal substance useful in reducing the nausea and vomiting that accompanies chemotherapy.
Nearly 70 million people over 12 years old have experimented with marijuana or hashish at least once in their lives and 5% are ‚Äúcurrent users." That represents nearly 15 million Americans and most users range between 18 and 25. (Usage plummets after the age of 34; when children, mortgages, and jobs blunt the appeal of bonging.) As National Review editor Richard Lowery comments, ‚Äúit makes little sense to send people to jail for using a drug that, in terms of its harmfulness, should be categorized somewhere between alcohol and tobacco on one hand and caffeine on the other hand." Nearly 700,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana offenses and close to 80% of these arrests are for possession. Like alcohol prohibition in the 1920‚Äôs, marijuana prohibition is becoming unenforceable and reducing respect for the law.
Many members of the Baby Boomer era and their children have used marijuana and here is an irony. During the Prohibition period of the 20‚Äôs, when alcohol was illegal, marijuana was legal. Alcohol prohibition was a progressive cause due to the significant abuse seen with alcohol at the turn of the century. The biggest supporters of Prohibition were women, who did not like to see the family income going to alcohol. Alcohol was blamed for poverty, crime, insanity and degeneracy. Prohibit alcohol and you will empty the jails and poorhouses. No sooner than Prohibition was passed, Americans regretted the noble experiment.