By now you have probably heard numerous arguments in favor of or against our nation’s policy of Drug Prohibition, and you also probably know that I have called this approach the biggest failed policy in our nation’s history, second only to slavery. But putting aside the practical failures, the policy of Drug Prohibition also results in a huge deprivation of Liberty. Why? Because the government has as much of a right to dictate to adults what they can put into their bodies, as it does what they put into their minds. When it comes down to it, it is the same thing, and Liberty dictates that this should be a choice adults should be able to make.
Thus it makes as much sense to put that gifted actor Robert Downey, Jr. in jail for his past heroin usage as it would have Betty Ford in jail for her use of alcohol. It is none of the government’s business, although it certainly could be an issue for those people’s healthcare professionals. However, if Robert Downey, Jr., Betty Ford or you or I drive a motor vehicle while impaired by any of these mind-altering and sometimes addicting drugs (including alchol), that is and should be a crime. What is the difference? Now by our actions we would be putting the safety of other people at risk. And the Criminal Justice System is not only designed for, it is also good at holding people accountable for their actions. So, once again, Liberty not only is effective in principle, it is also effective in a practical way as well.
(Next week: Make the System Work)
Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
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