Monday, October 25, 2004

Marijuana Busts up last year

NORML reports that arrests for marijuana were up 8% last year to 755,187 people and comprised 45% of all drug arrests. These numbers come from the FBI. According to NORML, that translates into 1 arrest every 42 seconds in the US (a stunning, if silly, statistic - must have been a baseball fan who first came up with such numbers). Of those charged, 88% were for mere possession, though I don't know why they separate this category since I think that any law for arresting marijuana smokers/distributers is ridiculous and I thought that NORML agreed with me. Are we really getting our money's worth on the war on drugs if cops are targeting pot smokers? Think about it. Wouldn't you rather see the resources going after crack and heroin distributers - you know, the ones who form gangs?

Not that I support drug laws, because I do not. I take the libertarian position against the nanny state on this issue, but it would be nice to find a way to offer assistance to people who commit real crimes who are also addicted. It seems to me that one cannot commit a real crime against his/her own person. It's as simple as that. Possible cause and effect is not how we should measure the reasonableness of writing laws. If a crime has actually been committed, then the person should be locked up and, if necessary, offered assistance in kicking the habit(s).

I agree with libertarians that sometimes government goes too far in the name of protecting it's citizens. Mandating playbark for playground surfaces might make sense, for instance, but getting rid of monkey bars certainly does not. Government cannot, nor should it seek to, prevent everyone from risking any harm to one's self. Risk will always exist - legally or not - and we should not attempt to eradicate it especially if it harms only the person involved.

Now, I know that some people will say that drug abuse causes undue burden upon the health care system, puts families at risk and so on. So do alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, pornography, etc, etc. Hell, so does mountain climbing, surfing, offroading, etc. In other words, as a society we assume risks for all sorts of things and through insurance and our health care system - even government programs - we choose to help those why choose to put themselves and possibly their families at risk. We share the burden of the risks freedom offers. So why should government choose what is a greater risk and attempt to restrict the freedom of individuals?

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