January 1st, 2014 – The first legal recreational marijuana sale in Colorado occurred. The sale, like the vast majority of legal sales, was peaceful and mutually beneficial. That can’t be said about marijuana sales in the past.
I have strong opinions about the failed War on Drugs and it always surprises people when I tell them I don’t really smoke weed. It just isn’t my drug of choice, but I don’t think my personal tastes and preferences should be used to restrict the actions of others. The War on Drugs isn’t important to me because I want to get high, it is important to me because I truly believe it is the greatest civil rights issue of our time and we are winning.
To outlaw a peaceful activity (and using drugs is a peaceful activity with no victims) is to claim dominion over the bodies and minds of another person. It is to claim that their vice makes you superior to them, so superior that you are somehow morally authorized to use violence against them to prevent this peaceful action. It is the mindset of a tyrant. Many drug warriors will fall behind cliches like “protecting children”, “family stability”, or other such nonsense but they never want to compare whether prohibition causes more harm than good. What destroys more families, allowing people to smoke weed or using the drug war to give America the highest prison population in the world? What protects children better, allowing people to smoke weed or prohibiting a teenager from getting college support because he got caught with a joint?
The War on Drugs is not about getting high. It is about the type of society that we want to be. Do we want to treat sick people with medicine or jails? Do we want to provide education and harm reduction or do we want to use lies and scare tactics to discourage behavior? As alcohol prohibition and abstinence only sex education have shown time and time again, prohibition leads to unsafe use and violence. We now have real world examples of a better way, a way that treats people equally with respect regardless of their chosen vice. A society that puts love, compassion, and peace above paternalism. The War on Drugs has been a total failure, it has cost billions of dollars, lead the unknown number of deaths across the globe, has militarized the police, and destroyed communities.
And it is coming to an end… finally. The Drug Warriors won’t give up easily, they have invested their lives into it. Entire industries exist because of it, but like civil rights issues of the past the birthing pains we are going to go through are worth it in the end. Thank you Colorado and congratulations to all the freedom fighters out there (NORML, SSDP, etc), you have done the right thing and I look forward to more communities following your example.