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Digging a Deeper Hole

David Frum writes:

(CNN) — Last week, I joined the board of a new organization to oppose marijuana legalization: Smart Approaches to Marijuana. The group is headed by former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy…

Oh dear.

In no particular order, marijuana prohibition is a moral disaster, a practical failure, a colossal waste of public funds, a destroyer of lives, a gift to criminals, an insult to the notion of individual responsibility, and a brutal assault on the idea of limited government.

It’s grotesquely appropriate, in a way, that this new group is headed by Patrick Kennedy.

 The Huffington Post reports:

Kennedy admits to having smoked pot but also said that, as an asthma sufferer, he “found other ways to get high.”

In 2006, he crashed his car into a security barrier in Washington, D.C., and soon after sought treatment for drug dependency. He said he was addicted to the pain reliever Oxycontin at that time and suffered from alcoholism. He added that he has been continuously sober for nearly two years.

Patrick Kennedy is to be congratulated for getting his life together.

He is, however, to be condemned for suggesting that the legal system of the United States should be organized in a way to suit the needs of a small minority unable to cope with the temptation presented by a relatively innocuous plant.

It should also be noted that, as described in the Huffington Post, Kennedy’s own problems were with a prescription drug and with alcohol. The former is, under certain conditions, legal, and the latter is freely available for anyone over the (ludicrously advanced) age of 21.

Should alcohol be banned too?

David Frum goes on to point out that marijuana comes with health risks. He’s right. Their extent can be debated, but not their existence, even if (unlike the case, say, with alcohol) nobody has ever died of an overdose of this particular drug.

Ban pot for the under-18s by all means (and have penalties for those that inhale and drive too), but everyone else should be free to decide for themselves whether weed is a risk that they want to run. Some—Patrick Kennedy types—will make the wrong decision—and they should be helped back on to the right path when they do, but to assume that most people are incapable of deciding this relatively trivial matter for themselves is not only an insult, but a further step down the road to the infantilization of a society that once knew how to think for itself.