The Unseen Cost Of Pot Prohibition

December 31st, 2011   Submitted by Stefano Mugnaini

When liberals and conservatives take a good look at themselves and genuinely strive for logical consistency, they wind up turning into libertarians and voluntaryists.

Both liberals and conservatives share the belief that society needs a safety net that only a mighty, centralized state can provide. The only real difference is that liberals prefer a social safety net to provide free education, medical care, housing, food, and, increasingly, disposable income and leisure activities. Conservatives want a moral safety net, a government authority responsible for enforcing what they see as good behavior and condemning what they see as bad behavior.

What both sides fail to grasp is that you can’t get one without the other. The government that feeds you can easily retain the prerogative to tell you what to eat. As Ron Paul has consistently pointed out, there is only one kind of freedom, and that’s individual liberty.

Why do so many people miss this obvious truth?

Frederic Bastiat provided a great answer in his definition of what makes an economist good or bad:

There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.

This is the basic reason conservatives and liberals find themselves defending paradoxical and even hypocritical conclusions; they see some perceived good, or they desire to prevent some perceived evil, and they are blinded to what remains unseen.

Those of the Left, in their pursuit of economic equality, fail to see the unseen consequences of egalitarianism — the destruction of personal liberty, stifling of productivity, and general impoverishment that everywhere are the fruits of their policies. Conservatives, meanwhile, in the pursuit of their twin golden calves — security and morality — are blind to the atrocities committed, at home and abroad, in pursuit of these lofty ideals.

There is, perhaps, reason to be hopeful. War-weariness, the blistering stupidity of the bureaucracies that run the government, from the EPA to the TSA and NLRB, the militarization of police departments, and the passage of the recent abomination known as the NDAA seem to be awakening many conservatives, at least, to the unseens that surround their seen goals.

The War On Drugs

But one battle that still galvanizes the conservatives’ will and numbs their capacity for reason is the war on drugs. This is the surest principle upon which conservatives seem willing to unite, and the source of most of their antilibertarian straw men. “You libertarians just want children hooked on crack,” they claim. Smug in their conviction that the drug war is a noble and righteous struggle, conservatives are blinded to its numerous and tragic consequences.

Previously, I’ve written on this subject and focused on the costs — both in lives destroyed and in dollars. For me, the costs of America’s wars, in lives and treasure, were the deciding factor in my conversion away from conservatism. For many conservatives, however, this seems to be immaterial. To them these are, not deaths, but merely statistics; and this is, of course, the fundamental delusion necessary to accept and wholeheartedly support each and every war that comes along.

Marijuana, Marinol, And The Unseen Cost

There is, however, another significant consequence of drug prohibition. It is a classic example of Bastiat’s “that which is not seen.” The clinical and therapeutic promise of cannabis is staggering. Studies have linked cannabis to the destruction and inhibition of brain and breast tumors, the prevention of Alzheimer’s, treatment of glaucoma and multiple sclerosis, and even some forms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Marinol, a synthetic cannabinoid, is now widely used as an appetite stimulant and antiemetic in cancer patients. But the use of synthetic cannabinoids has two drawbacks. First, in attempting to isolate and fabricate the “effective ingredients,” you destroy whatever synergistic effects existed between the various compounds found in marijuana.

Second, the prescription of synthetic Marinol, produced by UniMed Pharmaceuticals, grants corporate control over something that should be easily, cheaply available to anyone with need. How much research is left undone — how many benefits remain undiscovered because of the pot prohibition — is anyone’s guess.

The war on drugs is just another attempt by the state to stifle innovation, limit creativity, and exert its control over every detail of our lives. Many well-meaning people endorse it and genuinely feel that they are doing the right thing. But the problem with wars is that they all end the same way: the result is not peace and prosperity, but widespread suffering and misery.


6 Responses to “The Unseen Cost Of Pot Prohibition”

  1. augustNo Gravatar says:

    “How honest are you willing to be?”

    This is the ultimate question and really the only way to cure a statist. The reason that 99% of the population are trapped in this statist paradigm is that they are scared of total honesty. Only those who will allow themselves to be as honest as possible can conclude that Voluntaryism is the best solution!

    “How honest are you willing to be?”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voluntaryism

  2. PericlesNo Gravatar says:

    Most humans at this point are lazy stupid infantile parasites and think of government as mommy and daddy. They want free stuff because they are basically moronic terrorists…Even when you point out to them that the government has to steal in order for them to get free stuff, they are absolutely OK with that. Government schools and TV broadcasts combined with Democracy has turned America into a violent/uncivilized Fascist terror state. There is no way to change this…Voting will not ever restore individual liberty.

  3. Anthony VNo Gravatar says:

    Most Americans sadly are still under the impression that legalization of anything implies condoning that activity. Whether it’s gambling, prostitution or drugs, the lack of forceful prohibition, they say, leads to an amoral, directionless free-for-all.
    The great thing about libertarianism or anarchy is that you can still hold the beliefs you did before and advocate the same lifestyles. It;s just that the force of law will not be an option.
    You can advocate not using marijuana, perhaps even go door to door telling people to stop toking… Just don’t throw anyone in jail for making the opposite decision.

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