Friday, September 23, 2016
Are all opponents of marijuana reform ultimately suspicious and critical of capitalism and free markets?
The question in the title of this post came to my mind as I started heading this morning the great book I first flagged here at my sentencing blog: Harvard historian Lisa McGirr's The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State. The start of the book highlights how many early alcohol Prohibitionist were much more troubled by and focused on the "liquor trade" and "liquor trafficking" rather than just individuals drinking.
I see, of course, a huge parallel in this sense to the leading modern anti-marijuana-reform group, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), which repeatedly claims that its advocacy is not driven by support for blanket marijuana prohibition enforced by criminal sanctions, but rather is just concerned about the creation of a legal "Big Marijuana" industry. As SAM explains here at its website:
People often ask us what our biggest fear of legalization is. The answer is simple: Big Pot....
The tobacco and alcohol industries follow similar patterns while hawking their legal, addictive substances. And we know how that story ends: money-hungry industries, targeting the vulnerable, will stop at nothing to increase addiction and profit. Why on earth would we want to repeat that debacle with cannabis?
I bring this up because I have long said and long believed that my affinity for and support of marijuana reform is part of a "conservative" commitment not only to personal liberty but also to capitalism and free markets. Though I fully understand and respect concerns about the long-term political and practical impact of "Big Marijuana" (and/or Big Pharma and/or Big Oil and/or Big Google), I still firmly believe the long-term political and practical impact of Big Government is and should be more worrisome at least to those who are fans of capitalism and free markets. Ergo, I think it is fair to at least suggest that all opponents of marijuana reform (and even a good number of marijuana reform supporters) are likely fundamentally suspicious and critical of capitalism and free markets.