Monday, August 26, 2013

The Pothead's Case Against Legalization; the Libertarian's Argument For Decriminalization

If you believe pollsters -- or wingnuts like Michael Harris -- Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's sole policy proposal since becoming Liberal leader is paying dividends. Apparently, this idea of legalizing pot is a popular one.

Two million Canadians have admitted they regularly smoke marijuana, gaining Trudeau what Harris has implied is the Trudeau constituency. Perhaps it was to be expected that legalizing pot would be extremely popular amongst potheads: but only so long as they don't understand what legalization of pot would actually entail. It doesn't entail what they think it does. Not by a longshot.

While the pothead's case for legalization may seem obvious -- they like pot -- the pothead's case against legalizing pot is one that the 4/20 crowd ought to pay some attention to.

So what is the case against the legalization of marijuana? It actually happens to be closely tied to the libertarian's case for decriminalization.

First off, legalizing marijuana won't make the supply any cheaper. While it may eliminate the risk premium charged by dealers, it will undoubtedly also drastically reduce the number of producers. Reducing suppliers tends to mean reducing supply. Reducing supply inevitably increases price.

Perhaps you're the kind of user who grows their own. Certainly this won't affect you, right? Wrong.The legalization of pot would inevitably lead to the requirement that growers be licensed. The trade in seeds -- for which "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery is currently in prison -- would inevitably be the first thing cracked down on under a legalized pot regime.

Next, suppose that you enjoy pot that is stronger, with higher THC content. Well, one of the arguments in favour of legalization happens to be that legalization -- and the granted of limited and competitive monopolies in production -- will allow the government to regulate this. Better get used to weaker bud, bud.

Legalization will also affect the quantities in which you'll be able to buy your pot. Keep in mind that it's illegal to sell individual cigarettes. Expect the same with marijuana.

Last but not least, consider the core argument big-government types like Justin Trudeau use to support the idea of legalizing pot: that legalization allows it to be taxed. Consider it very carefully: it's basically campaigning for your vote on the back of a promise to tax you. Not that they'll tell it to you like this.

Now before you say anything, I know what you're thinking: Amerstam, right? Well, as it turns out Amsterdam is not a model of legalization. Pot is freely sold and consumed within the city's Red Light District, which is another way of saying "limited decriminalization."

The libertarian argument for decriminalization takes all of this off of the table, and merely suggests that the law not punish you for practicing the right to put whatever you want into your body so long as you're not harming anyone else while you're doing it. Canadian chiefs of police have come out in favour of this option, and with pretty good reason.

Sadly, this much can be said for Canada's pot smokers: to this point they haven't thought very deeply about what Trudeau has suggested. Some of them simply won't because they don't possess that kind of intellectual acumen. But for those who do, Justin Trudeau's gambit will inevitably be seen for precisely what it is: at best a Trojan Horse, and at worst a hollow promise calculated to dupe a bunch of dopes out of their votes.

Either way, don't fall for it.

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