I’m a conservative and not a libertarian. But I think drug laws are tyrannical and need to be repealed.
Obviously, not all conservatives will agree with me. But I want to mostly talk in this post about some basic conservative principles we should all agree on.
1. Whether or not drugs should be decriminalized (I’m going to avoid using the word “legal” for reasons I will explain later), it is obviously, under our Constitution, up to state governments to make the decision for our states.
One of many proofs that this is true and conservative is found in the history of alcohol prohibition. When the Federal Government took up the authority to prohibit alcoholic beverages, they did so on the basis of a lawfully-passed amendment to the Constitution that granted the Federal Government this power. On what basis does the Federal Government take upon itself the authority to control other substances? It has no such lawful power. Conservatives who are opposed to decriminalizing marijuana need to work within the states to lobby for the laws they think are right and just.
2. Above and beyond the fact that the Federal Government has no right to unilaterally impose drug prohibition, the “War on Drugs” has been a tyrannical nightmare undermining much else that is supposed to be Constitutionally protected. It is the war on drugs that helped grow SWAT teams everywhere and accustomed us to the widespread use of no-knock warrants. Conservatives should want nothing to do with it, whether or not they want a drug to be criminalized.
3. Just because libertarian rhetoric is used to justify both legalized drugs and legalized prostitution or homosexual marriage doesn’t mean that conservatives have to agree that they all belong in the same classification. The Bible says a lot about protecting marriage, and giving marriage partners rights to expect the other to keep their legal, public commitments to one another. That is why the no-fault divorce laws are so anti-liberty. The make it legal for one party to defraud the other and essentially deny a person the right to get married in any real sense at all.
What I don’t see in the Bible is a general idea that people in government can make others do whatever they think is best for them. In the Bible fools who drink too much or engage in other slothful behavior are warned but legally free to be stupid and sinful in that way. If drugs are so dangerous, they carry their own penalty. That should be enough.
Even if you as a conservative believe in drug prohibition, I don’t think you should regard it as in the same class as sexual immorality. Nor should we ever feel that the one obligates us in any way to support the decriminalization of the other.
4. We have developed a frightening legal environment in this country that anything that is “legal” becomes a civil rights issue allowing a person to sue employers and landlords and anyone else who doesn’t approve of his or her choice. This is why I want to talk about drugs being “decriminalized” rather than legalized. Without the freedom of association, including employers and landlords and private schools—at least!—all other “freedoms” actually become impositions. Thus, homosexual “freedom” is actually the enslavement of conservatives to homosexual convenience.
Conservatives need to fight tooth and nail to change this legal environment. Drug decriminalization may actually give us a chance to re-start the argument.
I’ll leave you with a Fox video interviewing Penn Jillette. I don’t agree with everything Jillette said (not being an atheist or a libertarian, etc) but I thought he made some cogent points. (The way the Fox crew fawned over him is kind of nauseating, but I don’t think he asked for that).