Earlier this week I wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post opposing drug legalization. In response, TIME magazine’s Joe Klein, who favors it, has written a dissent, critical but serious, which you can read here. Some responses to Klein follow:
1. “Most of [Wehner’s] arguments against dope come from a different era. He assumes a bright line between alcohol and ‘drugs.’ He assumes that marijuana is the entry drug on an inevitable path toward addiction. (He also seems to infer that marijuana is addictive.) Most of these arguments seem ridiculous to anyone who has inhaled.”
What I actually argue is a bit more nuanced and up-to-date than Klein’s characterization, and my claims happen to be true. Marijuana is much more potent than in the past. (In the 1970s, marijuana was at most 2-3 percent tetrahydrocanabinol, or THC. Recent Drug Enforcement Agency seizures were 7-10 percent. In Colorado and California, the marijuana dispensaries go as high as 15-20 percent or more.) Heavy use of marijuana does adversely affect brain development in the young. And the vast majority of people who are addicted to harder drugs start by using marijuana.
Today New York City’s Board of Health approved a ban on the sale of large sodas and sugary drinks in many establishments. It is, as the New York Times pointed out, the first such law enacted in the country. The intent of this initiative pursued by Mayor Michael Bloomberg is to combat the epidemic of obesity in this country. But good intentions have always paved the road to hell or, more important, the path to tyranny. Bloomberg is right to say that New Yorkers ought to be watching their diets. He’s dead wrong in attempting to use the ubiquitous power of the state to impose his ideas about what they should be eating and drinking on them.
The mayor has said he doesn’t want to take away anyone’s right to drink as much soda as they want, but rather his goal is, as he said on the “Today” show, to “force you to understand” that what you are doing is wrong. But at the heart of the latest instance of the mayor’s attempt to become New York’s nanny-in-chief, is an idea put forward in the New York Times by one of his measure’s supporters. As filmmaker Casey Neistat wrote on Saturday, the issue is “that some people just aren’t responsible enough to feed themselves.” That is exactly the frame of reference of Bloomberg on this and all such measures where he and other do-gooders seek to govern the lives of fellow citizens. It is not that they oppose individual freedom per se but that they think the rest of us are too sick or too stupid to be allowed to exercise it freely.