I have had the opportunity over the past few years to speak with the leaders in drug policy reform. They are a very smart and dedicated group of individuals. And it seems there is consensus that drug prohibition is the most destabilizing domestic policy in America today, and must be repealed. What is puzzling is that these leaders have chosen the incremental approach to reform, exemplified by medical marijuana.
Do not misunderstand me. I am a firm believer in the efficacy of marijuana as a medicine, and find it heartless our federal government continues denying patients this proven relief. But as a strategy to move the drug policy debate forward, it’s a loser. Yes, there are 13 states that allow the medicinal use of marijuana. California was first, passing Proposition 215 in 1996. Yet licensed marijuana growers, dispensers and even patients are still being harassed and arrested for acting in concert with California state law - despite Mr. Obama ordering the DEA to end such raids there and in other states with medical marijuana laws on their books. If this is considered progress, consider me unimpressed.
But let’s look down the road. Say medical marijuana does become the law of the land. No one doubts the journey will be difficult. Prohibitionists will refuse to go gently into the good night, erecting roadblocks every step of the way. And when they finally fail, it is naïve to believe prohibitionists will calmly accept defeat. (Abortion debate, anyone?) Aside from wondering why so many millions of otherwise healthy adults suddenly take ill, the real question, one that medical marijuana advocates seem unable to answer, is this: What drug will you champion next? LSD? Cocaine? MDMA? The question seems fair: if repealing drug prohibition is the end game, you’ll need a new drug. And therein lies the rub.
We all know that even a broken clock tells the correct time twice a day. Despite the fact that drug prohibitionists are an ideological and idiotic bunch, they get it right on occasion. And where they’re right is in stating that medical marijuana is a Trojan Horse for the legalization of all drugs. So we should not be surprised that when medical marijuana advocates continue their march, the diehard prohibitionists will shout with righteous indignation, “Ah-ha! See! We were right all along!” And those championing medical marijuana will be faced with a dilemma: Do they publicly admit that medical marijuana is indeed a gateway drug, or will they simply declare victory and, exhausted from their long march, retire to write books touting their qualified success?
A central tenet of the medical marijuana strategy, and what fuels its advocacy, is a belief that Americans are not ready to discuss prohibition, let alone repeal it. I find that condescending and rather insulting, and so should you. Especially if you are among the 76% of adults who believe the drug war has failed. Yes, some of them think we’re just not trying hard enough. But a significant majority believes fundamental change is required. And many agree that replacing prohibition with a regulated market to control the sale and distribution of drugs, similar to what we now have for alcohol and tobacco, is the proper course of action.
It was exactly 100 years ago when religious arrogance and political opportunism slipped beneath the sheets to procreate drug prohibition. And their little bastard has become the most unruly monster of modern times. We must kill it. Severing just an arm or a leg will not suffice – we must rip out its heart. If we fail, society will be faced with yet another century of crime, disease and despair. So while I do not believe medical marijuana advocates need to end their clarion call to allow the truly sick and dying a medicine proven to be of great benefit, I do believe they must enlarge and amplify it so as to provide the greatest benefit for all mankind. After all, that’s the prize. And being a part of that unqualified success will be more than deeply satisfying. It’ll give everyone’s book a better ending.
And I won’t need to lie to my doctor.
Read the Opposing Views debate, Should Medical Marijuana be Legalized?