State pot votes spark freedom

Nov. 25, 2012

By Steven Greenhut

SACRAMENTO — When it comes to real political change, the people almost always are light years ahead of the politicians, most of whom are so worried about re-election they take only carefully crafted positions that appeal to their core constituencies.

If anything, the general election reaffirmed the big-government status quo. But there was one good sign from the national results, as voters in Washington and Colorado passed, with strong majorities, measures legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Voters ignored the hysteria of Republican and Democratic politicians and did the right thing.

This is a serious issue that involves law-enforcement priorities, basic freedoms, criminal justice reform and basic economic issues involving black markets and taxation. Not that you’d know it from the silly pot jokes one hears whenever discussing this matter. (As an example, Colorado’s Democratic governor, an opponent of the state’s measure, warned supporters, “Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.”)

Some conservatives have chalked up the pot-decriminalization victories in two Western states as the indication of the leftward nature of the election results, but that would be a misreading that will harm conservatives’ viability.

“What transpired in Colorado and Washington were disciplined efforts that forged alliances between liberals and tea party conservatives, often using public health arguments to advance their cause,” according to a recent New York Times analysis. “Tuesday’s vote on the measure in Colorado amounted to a popular revolt against the establishment.”

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the grassroots Left and Right would be united in favor of a “leave us alone” policy any more than it should surprise us that the supposedly liberal Obama administration has been even more zealous in prosecuting medical-marijuana dispensaries in California and Colorado than the supposedly conservative Bush administration. Political authorities like to flex their muscle, and it’s up to the people to band together to preserve their freedoms.

Changing attitudes

Attitudes toward marijuana are changing dramatically, and if the GOP is serious about rebranding itself in the wake of its losses, this is a good place to start. No one is suggesting that conservatives suddenly act hip by embracing pot smoking. But Republicans should try to live up to their own stated principles of limited government and states’ rights by advocating a credible policy on this and other social issues.

During the election, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan made sensible points about medical marijuana. “My personal position on these issues has been let the states decide what they want to do with these things,” he said in a TV interview. That was before the Romney campaign caused him to do some back-tracking.

From a basic consistency standpoint, it’s bizarre that Republicans would advocate returning abortion to the states, which would be the effect of overturning Roe vs. Wade, yet insist that the federal government wantonly overturn the will of the people in those states that allow either medical marijuana or the recreational use of a substance that is demonstrably less harmful than the alcoholic beverages one can buy in any grocery store.

It’s not about weed, but about consistency. States’ rights means states’ rights, not states’ rights when we agree with the policies independent states embrace. The GOP’s rigidity only reinforces the cartoonish Democratic narrative that the party is beholden to religious moralists of the type who want to re-impose slavery and Prohibition. It also lets the Democrats get away with their stupidity on the drug war.

I was chatting recently with a couple in their mid-80s — staunch conservatives who told me how much they believe in ending the drug war and especially the war on marijuana users. These types of attitudes are becoming more common, yet the national parties are advancing attitudes from the “Reefer Madness” era.

Policy matters

There are so many public policy matters involved in this issue. Supporters argued that legalizing marijuana would allow law enforcement to focus resources on genuine crime issues rather than on this minor issue. It would provide tax revenue to revenue-hungry governments, although that’s an argument that leaves me cold given my desire to cut back government spending.

In its letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, a group of prominent law-enforcement officials argued:

“August Vollmer, father of professional policing and primary author of the Wickersham Commission report that served to bring an end to the prohibition of alcohol, opposed the enforcement of drug laws, saying that they ‘engender disrespect both for law and for the agents of law enforcement.’ … After 40 years of the drug war, people no longer look upon law enforcement as heroes but as people to be feared. This is particularly true in poor neighborhoods and in those of people of color, and it impacts our ability to fight real crime.” 

Some conservatives, including former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, endorsed legalization. Serious liberals have bucked the Democratic Party’s equally insane prosecution of the drug war, thus planting the seeds of a Left-Right pro-freedom coalition outside the confines of the two outdated national parties.

Critics of legalizing small amounts of marijuana are using scare tactics to encourage a heavy-handed federal response. We don’t know what the feds will do, given that they have been silent about the measures. Expect the worst. But Seattle police, for instance, have been coming up with reasonable guidelines for enforcement. Is it too much to ask authorities treat us like self-governing adults rather than subjects?

The market will work things out. In California, one can visit quiet pharmacies that are less ominous-looking than liquor stores and choose their medicine without harassment, provided they show a card. Some similarly regulated system will emerge for the sale of recreational marijuana.

The best news isn’t that pot will be legal in two states, but that the legalization victories could point the way to a broader, pro-freedom movement.

(Steven Greenhut is vice president of journalism at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Write to him at: [email protected])


Write a comment
  1. Ted
    Ted "Eddy Baby" Steele, Associate Prof. 25 November, 2012, 07:43

    Legalizing pot will solve all of our problems. It’s brilliant. It will help us compete with China.It will toughen our youth. Yes, freedom is everything! Greeny, you are a genius.

    Reply this comment
  2. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 25 November, 2012, 11:11

    Remmington Steels you are steel a joke ;()

    Reply this comment
  3. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 25 November, 2012, 11:12


    Reply this comment
  4. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 25 November, 2012, 12:17

    So Eddy Baby, you’re not simpatico with legalizing Mary Jane? That is so totally un-cool dude. Don’t tell me you approve of Obama’s hypocritical and futile war against pot. Why not just leave people alone as if they were responsible tax paying adults? Live and let live, you know? Lighten up and take a puff Eddy, you know you want to. 🙂

    “Yes, freedom is everything!”

    No one ever said freedom was everything, but it sure beats the alternative. What is it about individual liberty that scares the mooky out of you control freaks anyway? Just because you can’t handle it, doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t

    Reply this comment
  5. Ted
    Ted "Eddy Baby" Steele, Associate Prof. 25 November, 2012, 13:33

    Dysphoric— No– I am not for or against pot. Don’t care, it’s nonsense. Couldn’t care less.

    Reply this comment
  6. Ted
    Ted "Eddy Baby" Steele, Associate Prof. 25 November, 2012, 16:18

    Dysphoric– I like freedom. Fought once for it, or was told so. So did my Dad, well and his Dad.

    But control freak? Huh? I have no problem with the social compact that keeps things in check. Laws, zoning, proscriptions of one sort or another, never cramped my style. I find the Constitution in tact. Etc…


    Reply this comment
  7. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 25 November, 2012, 17:00

    Teddy tge ONLY thing you ever “fought” for was a Lazy-Boy chair, a bottle of beer and a bag of Doritos….

    Reply this comment
  8. Acapitalistpig
    Acapitalistpig 25 November, 2012, 19:17

    Embrace Libertarianism and it will all work out. Stay out of my business and I’ll stay out of yours….

    Reply this comment
  9. Ted
    Ted "Eddy Baby" Steele, Associate Prof. 26 November, 2012, 06:35

    Are you ok Zero the Poodle?

    0 for 14 ™!

    It’s so easy!

    Reply this comment
  10. Ted
    Ted 26 November, 2012, 08:26

    Poodle is all seeing! Remember this prediction?

    Rex The Wonder Dog! says:
    July 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm
    Prop 30 is DOA, by a 60%-40% landslide……

    LOL 0 for 14 ™ !

    Reply this comment
  11. BobA
    BobA 26 November, 2012, 08:42

    Ted “Eddy Baby”:

    We need to make heroin legal to compete with Afghanistan also. And cocaine should be legal to cut out the South & Central American middlemen.

    Pot, smack, blow and crack should be legal and taxed & licensed just like alcohol and tobacco. Headshops should be allowed to sell government sanctioned drugs & drug paraphernalia, munchies and comic books. No booze though. That’s the liquor industry’s turf.

    Besides, the government will need the tax doh to take care of all the human vegetables resulting from the legalization of all drugs.

    Reply this comment
  12. Ted
    Ted 26 November, 2012, 08:44

    BobA– I think you are saying, more or less, that you, like many teabaggers– support American Exceptionalism! Way to go!

    Reply this comment
  13. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 26 November, 2012, 14:07

    Teddy be sure to vacuum up those doritos you spill all over the floor in your drunken stupor!

    Reply this comment
  14. Ted
    Ted 26 November, 2012, 15:38

    Poodle– Be sure to eat all of thoase sour grapes for the massive prediction fails !

    Reply this comment
  15. BobA
    BobA 26 November, 2012, 16:17


    No. I’m saying I support the legalization of ALL drugs because by the time the Feds and the state gets done [messing with] us six days a week and twice on Sundays, we’re going to need all the drugs we can get. Might as well legalize them now so the people can have their drugs and the government can tax the hell out of it.

    People should also be allowed to purchase drugs with EBT cards too. If we’re all going to be poor then why shouldn’t the government pacify us with drugs? Might as fire it up, shoot up, snort up and chill out.

    By the way:

    Once upon a time, America was exceptional because it was the apex of modern civilization. Now that the rot & decay of moral turpitude and corruption has taken hold and metastasized, we are now unexceptional and on our way “down the tubes” as the saying goes. Of course, none of us have ever seen the “tubes” but I know we’re going somewhere and it ain’t up!!

    Reply this comment
  16. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 26 November, 2012, 16:29

    BobA: Bob, we can’t do that because then Big Pharma, which owns the government and wrote RomneyCare/ObamaCare/PelosiCare to enroll more victims, wouldn’t make as much money getting us addicted to ITS drugs.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  17. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 26 November, 2012, 18:59

    You know… DOES the Demoncrat Party get away with it? We know Republicans get chided because they are all old, white, racist men. But why do the Dems skate?

    This is actually a perfect opportunity for Republicans to get out ahead of an issue. But they’ll blow it.

    And Stev-o……please go easy on the rosy view with pot-clouded glasses (“….demonstrably less harmful than the alcoholic beverages…..”) As someone who during his late teens and early 20s counted his bong as his most prized possession, I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Too much drinking is bad. So is too much dope. Just sayin’.

    Reply this comment
  18. Ted
    Ted "Eddy Baby" Steele, Associate Prof. 26 November, 2012, 19:10

    BobA— I hear ya— but be of good cheer—American exceptionalism ONLY rears its head during trying times. We will get by all of our current woes. Electing this President again was a damn good start!

    Reply this comment
  19. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 26 November, 2012, 19:54

    Electing this President again was a damn good start!
    Yeah…Right………and CA is a shining example of fiscal discipline.
    Must be because they legislature is full of “serious dems” 🙂

    Reply this comment
  20. BobA
    BobA 26 November, 2012, 20:47

    John Seiler:

    Not if they mix the drugs with an inert filler to reduce the potency. Don’t underestimate the drug companies ingenuity in finding ways to maximize their profits.

    Here’s a perfect yet simple example: Compare the typical aspirin tablet made today to an aspirin tablet made say 20 years ago. The dosage of the tablet made today is half that of the tablet made in yesteryears but the cost per tablet is the same. Another way of stating it is that you have to pay twice as much today to get the same amount (dosage) as yesterday.

    And it doesn’t end there. Go to your local grocery market and pick up any packaged item and I guarantee you that it is smaller than the same package from yesteryear but costs a lot more.

    When it comes to marketing and selling drugs, Big Pharma will maximize their profits by any means necessary. Pot, heroin and cocaine is just another product to be hyped & mass marketed as far as they’re concerned.

    Imagine Charlie Sheen doing a cocaine commercial for ADM or Snoop Dog’s face plastered on billboards advertising Marlboro brand marijuana cigarettes!!

    That reminds me of an old Cheech & Chong song: “No stems no seeds that you don’t need, Acapulco gold is some bad as weed!”

    Reply this comment
  21. BobA
    BobA 27 November, 2012, 18:34


    So you’re saying that in other words, Ted is just some micro-brain hamster with multiple personality problems. In that case I’ll leave him alone so he can stare in the mirror and play with his sock puppets. It would be cruel of me to fry his little bean with big words and big ideas.

    Reply this comment
  22. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 27 November, 2012, 18:35

    Note: I deleted a bunch of posts here that got way off topic.

    Please stay on the topic of the article.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  23. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 November, 2012, 18:37


    So you’re saying that in other words, Ted is just some micro-brain hamster with multiple personality problems. In that case I’ll leave him alone so he can stare in the mirror and play with his sock puppets. It would be cruel of me to fry his little bean with big words and big ideas.

    In a nutshell YES!!!!!!!! I cant make anymore Teddy comments, I might get booted 😉

    Reply this comment
  24. Ted
    Ted "Eddy Baby" Steele, Associate Prof. 27 November, 2012, 19:53

    BobA— I’ve been able to keep up with ya little buddy! Do the best you can! I’ll try– but you’re soooo brainy! Mmmmmmmmm

    Poor Poodle– Booted from so many places!

    Reply this comment
  25. Ted
    Ted "Eddy Baby" Steele, Associate Prof. 27 November, 2012, 20:05

    Greeny—– Do you think that the social compact of governing requires some attention to public to public morals? Or would you liberate all of it? Vis– Sweeden, Swiz.

    Reply this comment
  26. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 November, 2012, 07:05

    Teddy- booted off Calpensions 🙂

    Reply this comment
  27. BobA
    BobA 28 November, 2012, 07:35

    John Seiler:

    I try to stay on topic as much as possible but there are certain posters in this forum that sometimes causes a few of us to go off-topic and take a whacked at them every so often. It’s not necessary to name names: you know who they are.

    I’ve even had two of my comments deleted on occasion and deservedly so. You did the right thing. Give me an inch and I’ll take a mile if I you let me get away with it.


    Reply this comment
  28. BobA
    BobA 28 November, 2012, 07:41


    I assure you, you haven’t seen my best because the cents worth of opinion you offer can’t purchase my best.

    Reply this comment
  29. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 28 November, 2012, 09:16

    uh huh

    Reply this comment
  30. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 28 November, 2012, 09:33

    Seems to me that my rhetorical question above is spot on topic.

    Reply this comment
  31. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 November, 2012, 12:24

    Rex pleads the 5th on the off topic comments 😉

    But will refrain as much as possible……….!!

    Reply this comment
  32. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 28 November, 2012, 12:25

    Phew— Good!
    I would hate to see the Poodle booted from yet another blog!

    0 for 14 ™!

    Reply this comment
  33. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 November, 2012, 16:06

    LOL..Teddy I can get you back on Calpensions if you pipe down …..

    Reply this comment
  34. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 28 November, 2012, 16:13

    dreaming….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….please stay on topic.

    Reply this comment

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