Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 694, October 28, 2012

"Libertarianism must, for the foreseeable
future, be a strategy for conservatives"

Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea (six words with which it's always good to begin an essay about recreational drugs) the distinguished authors of the massive novel Illuminatus! compared the preferred self-medicating substances of two consecutive American generations.

One group—presumably including the parents of us Baby Boomers—were into nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. The Boomers themselves, in the experience of the Bobs, leaned toward things like mescaline, peyote ...

And marijuana.

In this connection I am definitely a throwback. When it comes to relaxing at the end of a long day, I greatly enjoy beer (make mine Mexican), whiskey (Scotch and Irish), and Tequila (straight up or in Margaritas). I also drink Tequila and beer (not at the same time) mixed with tomato squeezings, lemon or lime wedges, and a litle clam juice.

To get me through that long day, unless I prefer something brown And fizzy, I will drink coffee, preferably French roasted, and strong enough to stand the spoon in, adding half-and-half and plenty of powdered chocolate. To me, going to Starbucks has become a sort of sacrament.

Before I had two heart attacks in 1993, I smoked all I could— two packs of cigarettes a day for almost exactly 30 years—until I had to stop. One of Auntie Evolution's little jokes is that nicotine makes red blood cells clump together, while raising your blood pressure, so that when a clump hits an obstruction, usually in a coronary artery, circulation stops, tissues downstream die for lack of oxygen, and it's lights out. I stopped cold turkey and never looked back.

I never tried mescaline, peyote, LSD, or any of the Hippie Era drugs. A simple description of their effects was enough to deter my interest completely. Like practically everybody else, I tried marijuana and hashish—and I inhaled—but one big difference between alcohol and cannabis is that when you drink, you're ready to go to work the following morning, but it took the Maryjanoids several days to work their way out of my system, which is very bad for a writer.

One batch of hash I was invited to share was laced, I found out later, with opium, which made me apprehensive and sick to my stomach, quite unlike the morphine I was given in the hospital years later in connection with my heart attacks. That would be the choice for me, if I were making such choices. It lifted the weight of the world off my shoulders.

But, as I say, I'm really an old-fashioned guy (although, come to think of it, I've never had an Old-Fashioned). Above and beyond that, I am a libertarian, and I truly don't care, as George Carlin used to put it, what you choose to shoot, snort, smoke, or rub into your belly.

What I do mind—and perhaps I am alone in this, who knows?—is weak and disingenuous politics with regard to drugs. It was the issue of "medical marijuana" that first got my goat this way. I don't doubt for a microsecond that the weed makes life easier and longer for those suffering certain diseases, and I believe that those who would deny them that relief are little better than scavengers on the misery of others.

But observation—and my knowledge of history and human nature—suggests that the majority of those who advocate the legalization of pot "purely for medicinal purposes" do not require it for that reason. They simply want to slip the nose of their personal camel under the edge of the tent, and I find that approach sneaky, dishonest, and cowardly.

I believe that if they had spent the past fifty years pushing the Ninth Amendment right to roll up and smoke whatever frigging vegetable you wish, marijuana would be legal now, and there would not have been a "War On Drugs" handy for the psychopathetic enemies of liberty to transform into a War on Everything, including the American Productive Class.

I think we've seen the high point for medical marijuana. The proof of that lies in a current initiative to "Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol", on the ballot in my home state of Colorado this year. The title says it all, although the details could be gruesome, ending in a mess found in some states and all military bases, where the government runs the liquor stores (about as well as they run everything else). In the Air Force, when I was growing up, some officious snoops regularly examined the records of the store and your commanding officer would get a tattletale letter if they thought that you were buying too much booze.

Whatever that amounts to.

This is not a kind of progress any that real libertarian would recognize. The fact that advocates of the measure make a major selling point of taxing the stuff only makes it worse, both in principle and practice. First, by what right does anybody steal money from me when I choose to spend it on some things and not on others. Furthermore, when I was just entering college, a smoker could buy a pack of Marlboros out of a machine for 35 cents. Today, the price per pack is nudging five dollars, and only a small fraction of that is attributable to inflation.

Exactly the same thing will happen with marijuana.

And so, on balance, I don't believe that I will vote in favor of the initiative on marijuana. The only entity it helps is the only entity higher on the food chain than individual human beings: the government.

What we should be voting on is whether to abolish it now or next Wednesday.

L. Neil Smith is the Publisher and Senior Columnist of L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE, as well as the author of 33 freedom-oriented books, the most recent of which is DOWN WITH POWER: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis:
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DOWN WITH POWER was selected as the Freedom Book Club Book-of-the-Month for August 2012

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