Venezuela! Who would have thought socialism would fail?
Drugs Are The Health Of The State
by L. Neil Smith
Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
If you’ve been listening to the soon-to-be former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ blather for any length of time at all, then you know that he believes that an increasing number of states like Colorado and Washington must be brought firmly to heel for having legalized marijuana over the past several years without federal government permission. It doesn’t matter to him that the states created that federal government in the first place, or how the people of those states, more than weary of the War On (Some) Drugs have voted. He says it’s a matter of federal law and of various treaties that the government has signed (without our permission, by the way) with other governments. Any way you slice it, then it’s all about the law, right?
Well, not exactly. Under what is probably the most commonly overlooked and criminally disregarded article of the Bill of Rights—the Ninth Amendment—Americans are entitled to do with their own bodies whatever the hell they damn well please. This fact was acknowledged, even by perverts who get their funsies controlling other people’s lives, when the 20th century was relatively new and alcohol Prohibitionists found it necessary to amend the Constitution before they could outlaw booze. That law and that Amendment were repealed relatively quickly when it was finally pounded into the densest of Mrs. Grundian heads that Prohibition was doing vastly more damage to American society than alcohol ever had. It had made bottom-scrapings like Al Capone obscenely rich. And even worse, from the authoritarians’ viewpoint, juries were stubbornly refusing to convict violators of Prohibition, humiliating the bucket-heads who supported it.
Drug laws and their inevitably violent and disruptive enforcement have done America similar (albeit far worse) damage, all in the name, and for the sake, of nothing more than employing thousands upon thousands, if not millions of otherwise unemployable goons, to play various Pushme-Pullyou games with politicos and gangsters and providing endless excuses to peer into people’s private lives. But no such Constitutional Amendment was ever proposed or passed with regard to the broad range of substances we call “drugs”, and so everything that government has ever done to interrupt the flow of drugs in underground (i.e., free) commerce is, itself, illegal. Drugs are illegally illegal! NeoPuritanical stuffed shirts like Sessions in their expensive suits and killer neckties, are themselves the criminals, ripping up the protections that the Constitution otherwise affords to businessmen who simply provide the public with what they want and are willing to pay for, whether it be paperclips or cocaine.
At this point most Prohibitionists usually shout hysterically, “But the children!” or start yammering about the danger and deaths involved in the Drug War. However, how many of those dangers would exist, how many deaths would occur, if drugs were as legal as paperclips? Are there a lot of deaths in the paperclip business? True, some scumbags would try to sell drugs to little children, and some little children would want to buy them. It’s hard to keep kids away from cigarettes, too, but that’s not a legitimate reason to outlaw the damned things, not in a supposedly free society. Besides, I’m a great believer in Natural Selection. And would you really want to live in a society that only allows what’s good for children? Go away and eat your Spaghetti-Os.
And to anyone who parachutes into the conversation to cite the long-discredited and primarily literary Interstate Commerce Clause, as “justifying” this kind of brutalitarian statist interference, I would say this: “C’mon, you know perfectly well that in the 18th century, when our great governing document was written, the word ’regulate’ meant ’facilitate’—exactly as it does in the Second Amendment.” George Washington. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the world’s first hippie, Benjamin Franklin, all grew their own marijuana, following procedures that were more consistent with producing recreational drugs than mountain-climbing and sailing gear. True, the parent plant, hemp, does make pretty good rope, textiles, oil, and other things; that’s exactly like finding out that beer has unexpected industrial uses. Whoopie! Icing on the cake!
Perhaps a confession of sorts is in order here. I do not personally use marijuana or any other recreational drug. It’s like the late, lamented Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea said in the Golden Dawn of whatever Age we’re living in now. There are two kinds of people: the young folks with their dope and magic mushrooms and acid; and the older generation with their nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. Even in my youth, I was always inclined toward the latter. Alas, now that I’m an old guy, myself, diabetic, and a heart patient to boot, I can’t tolerate nicotine any more (although I once smoked all I could) and coffee without cigarettes seems to have lost most of its charm. During a recent hospital interlude, I asked my attending physician about the advisability of my habit of consuming two beers a day with my wife during our “cocktail hour” each afternoon and he didn’t even turn around from examining my chart on the door, but growled, “’Sgood forya!” I think I get from those two beers pretty much what others do from Maryjane, a chance to lift the burdens of the world from my shoulders for a little while. We usually watch a baseball game, as well.
Thus I am civilized enough that I would never deny anybody their “cocktail hour” whether it be alcoholic or marijuanic (to coin a term). For one thing, anyone who would deny the palliative blessings of cannabis to somebody suffering through the horrors of chemotherapy is an unspeakable thug. For another, I firmly believe that humanity began (long before it was, strictly speaking, humanity) standing around with their friends and neighbors (chest-deep in the neighborhood swimming hole, if the great Elaine Morgan is to be believed—look her up), discussing their long, hard day on the Veldt, and enjoying the African sunset. Today we do it with a martini glass or a roach-clip in our hands. The equsally great H. Beam Piper (look him up, too) was another historically-oriented novelist like me, and a firm believer in this particular civilized ritual.
Unfortunately, from the outset, in 1971, the one force that might have changed things, the Libertarian Party, lacked the moral courage and ethical integrity to oppose the government in this context as vigorously as it should. Around 2008, with the nomination of Bob Barr, and later, Gary Johnson, it lost the mental acuity, as well. On the other hand, I would suggest to you that, despite the failings of the Libertarian Party, our civilization is still advancing as we speak—if you look at the right maps, the ones showing progress in the areas of marijuana legalization and the “permitless” carry of concealed weapons. Any society in which (A) alcohol and marijuana are freely available for purchase, (B) there are no legal strictures on the ownership and carry of the means of self-defense, and (C) people speak openly of getting rid of all drug laws, is pretty much the kind of society that Piper wrote about at his best, and pretty much my kind of society, as well. All that leaves to be done is getting rid of the despicable, 10,000-year-old addiction of governments to looting those they pretend to protect.
Look, friends and readers: I voted for the current President because I thought he represented a baby-step closer to that kind of society than that old hag Hillary was going to take us. I would like to continue believing that’s true. But if I’m proven wrong, I and my word processor are going to make a very bad pair of political enemies.
Better to let history flow where it will.
Publisher and Senior Columnist L. Neil Smith is the author of over thirty books, mostly science fiction novels, L. Neil Smith has been a libertarian activist since 1962. His many books and those of other pro-gun libertarians may be found (and ordered) at L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE “Free Radical Book Store” The preceding essays were originally prepared for and appeared in L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE. Use them to fight the continuing war against tyranny.
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