The Republican Party, writes Peter Wehner today, is looking for a new issue to rally behind, and keeping drugs illegal should be a new priority. For all the reasons we learned in middle school, drugs can mess you up — even the marijuana some states are softening on and some claim don’t have any harmful health effects. There is, Wehner says, a legitimate state interest in keeping people off pot.
Overwhelmingly, commenters disagreed. PostScript isn’t sure what PS readers generally expect from commenters on the Post Opinions page, but today’s commenters are particularly good spellers, particularly articulate (many fewer all-caps personal insults) and one big monolith of wanting to legalize marijuana use.
And they were almost all talking specifically about marijuana, though Wehner mentioned cocaine as well. It is, to the commenters, an entirely different issue.
Tobit insists “drugs” and “marijuana” be separate conversations:
A dishonest argument. It’s not drug legalization, it’s marijuana legalization. The arguments have been made many times before. It’s time to stop locking people up for smoking a joint.
For one thing, JoeDaWg says, there’s the sheer ubiquity of marijuana use, especially among useful citizens:
Can you imagine what the world would be like if Steve Jobs or Bill Gates had been arrested when they were smoking pot in their youth? A world without Apple or Microsoft? Now think about how many businesses, inventions, entrepreneurs we have lost because of our war on drugs. Prohibition has devastated this country.
And marijuana, americanitis1 argues, can treat some illnesses without pharmaceutical drugs.
Imagine how much cheaper that Medicare drug benefit would be if people could just grow their own pain, depression and anxiety medicine in their own backyards?
TheHillman argues that the war on drugs is much more disruptive to people’s lives than actual marijuana use.
The author ignores the astonishing cost of incarcerating marijuana users and small time dealers. And the havoc that wreaks on families.
But above and beyond actual pot use, making it illegal has other bad effects, readers say.
It makes NoVAHockey, quoting a line Wehner wrote in order to argue against it, feel mighty uncomfortable with government power:
“The role of the state is to maximize individual liberty and be indifferent to human character.” Damn skippy. Because you’re enforcing what you think that human character should look like with violence [threat of incarceration].
It’ll hamstring the Republican Party where it’s already weak, says joshlct:
Republicans just really, really don’t need another issue to strongly disagree with public opinion on.
They also don’t need another issue that would further the Libertarian/old guard GOP divide.
They also also don’t need another issue that further alienates minorities.
And aahpat says it has the anti-democratic effect of jacking up the number of nonviolent felonies, which means many more people than otherwise don’t get to vote:
Criminal electoral disenfranchisement for drugs has changed the outcomes of races and the shape of legislative districts for decades. Mostly to the detriment of the Democrats. I will never understand why so many Democrats are such ardent supporters of a policy that screws them into the ground at the polls.
Interestingly, PostScript saw very little defense of using or normalizing any other drugs. Though, of course, arguing for marijuana legalization is considered a “gateway” argument, so next time we visit the issue she expects to see some harder stuff.