Surprising Endorsement For Marijuana Legalization

PatRobertsonIn a shocking development, a bastion and outspoken member of the Christian Right has come out pro-legalization. Pat Robertson, televangelist and host of the 700 Club on his network, is quoted as saying, “I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol.”

Robertson repeats some of the standard arguments about the current system being broken, and cites the extreme penalties in some cases for marijuana charges. This argument is a powerful one on the surface, and with his credibility, it may sway Christian Conservatives toward the pro-legalization side. This is especially because Robertson isn’t historically or generally libertarian about drug use and regulation.

What is overlooked in his statement is the damage that beverage alcohol causes to society and the fact that legalization may take matters too far. If marijuana is treated like a prescription drug, on the other hand, penalties remain. Still, a middle ground exists between full legalization and continuing what Robertson and others see as draconian enforcement and punishment.

For example, penalties could be reduced without making marijuana legal. Often, the crime of marijuana trafficking doesn’t occur in a vacuum – how are we to handle crimes where marijuana possession or sale is just one element of a larger criminal enterprise? An example might be smuggling and funding of Mexican drug cartel activity through the sale of marijuana.

A second criticism (besides the all-or-none misbranding) is that where marijuana has been partially legalized for medical use, illegal sales continue unabated. California is a fine example of this, where it was once thought that eliminating penalties for medical marijuana would reduce demand and lower the amount smuggled in. It hasn’t.

However, regardless of any arguments to the contrary, we may find out the results of full (for adults) legalization soon enough. Colorado and Washington State are moving toward legislation that would allow some quantities without penalty. If the social experiments go through (on the November ballot) we will have a clear example of what happens when marijuana is treated like alcohol. Hopefully, this will involve funding for treatment of those who wish to kick marijuana addiction as well.

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