Pot prohibition is on the downfall across the country. Every year we see more states jumping on the bandwagon of full legalization or at least go down the road of decriminalization. Even among young Republicans, support for the legalization of marijuana is overwhelming, yet many traditional social conservatives still are holding on to prohibition for dear life.
While their reasoning may be noble, the logic is flawed. Conservatives need to finally support legalization of marijuana.
America has the largest prison population in the world, even more than that of countries with thugs for leaders like Russia. As of 2010, out of every 10,000 people, 730 are incarcerated – and mostly because of non-violent crimes such as marijuana possession. This is a direct result of the war on drug. The drug war has had a combined price tag of over $1 trillion since it began under Nixon over 40 years ago. For any self proclaimed fiscal conservative to support such and initiative is for that conservative to not hold true to their belief of fiscal responsibility.
Not only is it fiscally irresponsible and a waste of taxpayer dollars to spend billions on keeping people in prison for crimes that otherwise would not affect anyone other than themselves, it is a strain on the economy as well. We are incarcerating literally millions of able bodied, well functioning workers that would help lift up the economy and fill jobs. Yet conservatives mostly still maintain their stance of prohibition, despite the economic benefits.
However, economics are not the only reason conservatives should support legalization. Ending pot prohibition is a moral issue as well.
If a conservative, or anyone for that matter, is against the use and abuse of drugs, they should without question support ending the drug war. Since the war on drugs began, drug use has only escalated and drugs that would typically be harmless (marijuana) has landed in the most dangerous hands in the black market. Young people are finding themselves more involved in crime and into trying harder drugs they would typically avoid because thee war on drugs has driven something safe underground and made it dangerous. Much like how prohibition in the early 20th century helped lead to the rise of the mob, the war on drugs has helped lead to the rise of the cartel and underground, black market activity.
Any sensible conservative against not only drugs, but government intervention, should be able to tell that the government can’t do anything effectively – and that includes the prohibition of drugs like marijuana.
However, more importantly, the legalization of marijuana should not be looked at as merely an excuse for some people to get high. Conservatives should support it because, at the end of the day, it is about real freedom of choice – being able to choose for yourself what is best for you instead of the government making that decision for you. Conservatives are suppose to be the defenders of the free market place, full of choice without government regulation unless there is an understandable intent to harm someone. For conservatives to let their personal feelings about weed get in the way of letting people do as they please, so long as it is peaceful, is to say how hypocritical they are. At that point they are no different from the liberals who want to regulate how much soda you drink or what light bulbs you use in your home. True freedom of choice is a two way street.
While many classical conservatives want to stick to their traditional views, the urge they feel to want to keep the pot prohibition stands in contradiction to everything else that makes them conservative. Supporting legalization is in no way an endorsement of the use of marijuana, but it does tell the world that you endorse the right of the individual to make their own personal decisions. It says you want to take power away from the government empowered underground black market. And it says you believe in fiscal responsibility.
The time now is better than ever for conservatives to finally catch up and say “it is time to legalize.”