Drug Policy

"If government can tell us what we can put into our own bodies, what can it not tell us?"

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Writing as part of an Encyclopedia Britannica symposium on marijuana and California's Proposition 19, the Cato Institute's David Boaz makes the case for "drug legalization and the right to control your body":

People have rights that governments may not violate. Thomas Jefferson defined them as the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When I'm asked what libertarianism is, I often say that it is the idea that adult individuals have the right and the responsibility to make the important decisions about their own lives. More categorically, I would say that people have the right to live their lives in any way they choose so long as they don't violate the equal rights of others. What right could be more basic, more inherent in human nature, than the right to choose what substances to put in one's own body? Whether we're talking about alcohol, tobacco, herbal cures, saturated fat, or marijuana, this is a decision that should be made by the individual, not the government. If government can tell us what we can put into our own bodies, what can it not tell us? What limits on government action are there?

Read the whole thing here. Read Reason's Prop 19 coverage here. Reason.tv asks if Californians should legalize marijuana below:

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  1. Confederacy-nostalgic paleo bilge!

    If government can’t regulate, tax, and create a heavily barriered pseudo-market based on political favoritism for what we put into our own bodies, what can it…

  2. This, more than anything, is the biggest issue this election. If it doesn’t pass, nothing will change (and I lose a lot of faith it ever will), but if it does it will require a massive revisitation of the Commerce Clause with respect to the 10th Amendment by the Supremes.

    1. Team Red wants to use the Commerce Clause to stop you from using drugs or looking at pr0n sites.

      Team Blue wants to use the Commerce Clause to stop you from eating trans-fats, steak, salted food, caffinated beverages, etc.

      1. Aresen,

        Red and Blue both want to prohibit all those things you listed. They just emphasize different ones.

        1. Team Red isn’t in to the food nannyism

          1. Our Penumbras (sic)

            ——-

            Abortion

            ——-

      2. Aresen,

        Red and Blue both want to prohibit all those things you listed. They just emphasize different ones.

        1. Fuck! I feel like a douche.

          1. Let he that has never double-posted cast the first Godwin.

            1. You know who else double posted?

              1. Eva Braun?

                1. I read once that Hitler had only one post.

            2. Speaking of Godwin, Tennessee Volunteers football coach compares his team to the German Army on D-Day.

              “Right now we’re like the Germans in World War II,” Dooley said. “Here comes the boats, they’re coming. You have the binoculars, and it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, the invasion is coming.”‘

              1. Does that make Dooley Hitler? Figures.

                1. And I am sure the end result will be the same.

                  1. Dooley doused with gasoline and lit on fire? That’s a bit harsh.

                    1. I must destroy Son of Dooley. He offends me.

  3. Well, at least they still can’t force us to buy something we don’t want.

    1. Well, at least they still can’t force us to buy something we don’t want.

      Since ‘LOL’ has lost all meaning, I’ll just state that you actually made me laugh out loud.

  4. I don’t think it will pass. I live and work in the bay area, and too many progressives are taking their cue from Jerry Brown and the SF Chronicle (both against).

    Then when I talk to conservatives, quite a few have said the same basic thing: I’m on the fence, but I think marijuana is bad for people so I’m voting against. It’s just sad.

    1. Not surprising. Progressives listening to the authority figures that they hold in such high esteem and conservatives voting to get rid of something cuz they just don’t like it.

      I think I’ll go make a sandwich and work towards becoming wealthy enough to expatriate.

      1. Don’t need no fucking money to expatriate, just the will to do it.

        1. Depends on which shit-hole you move to…

          1. Uraguay isn’t bad. Low cost of living, hot babes, moderate clime, legal pot. . .

        2. Don’t need no fucking money to expatriate

          This is good, because you ain’t taking any with you if you leave.

  5. I just submitted an application for a marijuana march in Patterson, NJ. I hope it gets approved.

    1. dude, i’m in

  6. “If government can tell us what we can put into our own bodies, what can it not tell us?

    To love our enemies?

    Obama to Latinos: “Punish” Your “Enemies” in the Voting Booth

    In a radio interview that aired on Univision on Monday, Mr. Obama sought to assure Hispanics that he would push an immigration overhaul after the midterm elections, despite fierce Republican opposition.

    “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.”

    http://hotair.com/archives/201…..r-enemies/

    1. Bullshit. Obama and the Dems don’t have the courage to go to the mat for substantive immigration reform.

      The DREAM act never came up for a stand alone vote.

      Repealing DADT and DOMA never came up for a stand alone vote.

      Why? Congresscritters would have to go on record. Our courageous civil rights loving Democratic party is afraid those bills would cost them votes or they would fail for lack of Democratic members support.

      Your courageous politicians in the two party system at work.

      1. Yeah, heaven forbid they look like Reagan on the issue.

    2. After the elections? Meaning after the GOP takes over? Or are they going to try to force through a bunch of crap before the changeover? That might be good, because going crazy will increase the likelihood that the GOP will stonewall for two years.

    3. Let me be clear. I know the terrible oppression that non-Democrats lay down at the feet of my Hispanic brothers and sisters, and I plan on addressing that issue in full by lifting the chains of racism and bigotry.

      But not until after the mid-term election.

  7. ObamaCare has critically weakened the “it’s my body, I’ll do what I want with it,” argument, if Medicare and Medicaid hadn’t already. When the public shares the risk caused by your behavior public servants have an excuse to try to modify that behavior. Under socialized medicine “Don’t eat fat,” has the same logical basis as “Don’t discharge firearms within the city limits.”

    1. “When the public shares the risk caused by your behavior public servants have an excuse to try to modify that behavior.”

      Abortions cost money.

    2. True. And of course so does anal sex, but somehow I don’t think the health bureaucrats will be targeting that.

      1. You’re missing out, most people get anal for free.

        1. There ain’t no such thing as free anal sex. Or lunch.

  8. >If government can tell us what we can put into our own bodies, what can it not tell us? What limits on government action are there?

    None. Why do you ask?

  9. If government can tell us what we can put into our own bodies, what can it not tell us? What limits on government action are there?

    None. Why do you ask?

  10. When you agree to be a citizen you are agreeing to live according to the will of the government. If everyone could do whatever dangerous drugs they wanted our country would turn into even more of a disaster. People wouldn’t go to work, they would just get high all the time. Children would starve, and those that don’t would just learn from the adults to get high. People would stop believing in God and would worship drugs.

    The Government’s job is protect its people. So yes, telling you that you can’t harm yourself and others is well within the righteous role of government in yours and everyone else’s lives.

    Freedom is the freedom to live a happy, healthy life. All drug use undermines that freedom. Can’t you drug-fiends understand that you are abridging the freedom of clean Americans?

    1. You sing with Juanita’s voice.

      1. Though you mock me, I am glad you at least understand that freedom is a zero-sum game. You can’t legalize drugs without taking away freedom from non-users.

        1. When you agree to be a citizen you are agreeing to live according to the will of the government.

          Easy there foreigner. Some of us were born citizens and agreed to nothing, and as MNG reminds us a deal is a deal.

          1. I worked hard to get here and I won’t let my kids forget it using dangerous narcotics.

            1. Fine, pancakes. Ride herd on your own kids, and let us raise ours. Unless you feel you’re more qualified… which seems to be the case.

        2. You can’t legalize drugs without taking away freedom from non-users

          Bullshit!

      2. The only winning move is not to play, Bingo. How about a nice game of chess?

        1. Though there is much there to get inflamed at, I agree and will abstain.

          Your wisdom is great, oh Splenda-type person.

          1. Agreed, but at least it’s not Max.

        2. this was the worst troll attempt evah…

        3. No thanks, but I would love to play a game of Global Thermonuclear War.

          1. Go take out the trash.

      3. Juanita, Juanita
        Beautiful Juanit’
        Juanita, Juanita
        Lovely, DEAR Juanit’

    2. whatever man, sometimes I just have to let my stupid do the talking. I guess I need to be more subtle (but not too subtle) for you guys to actually bite.

      Just don’t play. Meh, I could do work.

      1. i give you a b- actually, and only that low becuase the sceptics on this board sniffed too early.

        1. Really? The name didn’t give it away?

  11. Great post, Mr. Root. I strongly believe that libertarians, and all those who oppose the drug war will never make real headway until we address this particular problem: the idea the government can control what we put in our bodies writ large. Not just drugs, not just marijuana, but salt, trans fats, caffein, tobacco, sugary drinks…

    Libertarians should avoid the medicalizing of marijuana, because it doesn’t address the question about what government says you can ingest. It tacitly leaves government as the sole authority on how, what and when we ingest these substances.

    1. Paul, We posted the same sentiment simultaneously.

    2. Never let the perfect be the stumbling block for accomplishing the possible. If the only acceptable solution is idylic perfection, you’ll never achieve it, and condemn yourself to bitterness and failure.

      1. Normally, something I agree with. However, in my opinion, the stumbling block is the tacit belief that government has sole authority over our health. And from that stems our current dilemma.

        I believe that if you can change the thought process that believes that government can direct our health choices, then there would be a noticable softening on the drug war front.

    3. The gov’t can try to stop us from getting high, without a constitutional amendment, because if we are citizens of the United States, and subject to the laws thereof, we are not protected by the Common Law. Same way Congress has full authority over the military. Read the Constitution, not just the amendments.

  12. “If government can tell us what we can put into our own bodies, what can it not tell us?”

    This is the only way to frame the issue. So long as it’s framed as, “Hey guys, let’s legalize marijuana, because, face it, it’s not really that dangerous,” then we will still have a long, long row to hoe.
    That’s why I’ll keep my powder dry until we can get the issue framed this way: The War on Drugs is literally killing us. End it now!

  13. When you agree to be a citizen you are agreeing to live according to the will of the government.

    Produce a wet-ink, notarized copy of my agreement to be a citizen, with the clause stating I have agreed to live according to the will of the government, and we can talk.

    1. I want to see the long form of Obama’s agreement to be a citizen

      1. I actually was sworn in as a citizen, and brother, I don’t remember that clause.

    2. “Will of the government?” What does that even mean?

      1. It’s like how you used to have a king, but you overthrew him to have constitutional government. But then your country got fat and lazy and started electing kings again. Now you just have many kings instead of one, their will is the will of the government.

        1. Fuck that.

          1. Sure, as long as you pay the license fee, pass a certification course, and show proof of liability insurance.

            1. Leila: What about our relationship?

              Otto: What?

              Leila: Our relationship!

              Otto: Fuck that!

              Leila: You SHITHEAD! I’m glad I tortured you!

              1. In case this isn’t clear, Otto represents the American people; Leila represents the Democratic party (this time around, anyway).

          2. I’m not into monarchical sex.

            1. I bet you’d do the Queen.

              1. Ugh. She’s in her 80s, fer chris’ sake.

                I might have done Princess Di before she developed a taste for fat Egyptians, but only if she promissed not to say anything.

    3. It’s your agreement with Social Security. You agree to be a citizen of the United States. That’s why they can do so much to us without a court order.

    4. You can always renounce your citizenship.

  14. Hypothetically, if what we put in our bodies causes us to kill other people, should that be legal? I think what the gov’t can and cannot tell us what to do has to be framed around how our activities affect others citizens rights. If what we do violates their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then probably that activity should be off limits.

    1. Every time I fire up a blunt, I get the uncontrollable urge to KILL BABIES!!!

      1. “We call that a CALIFORNIA CHEESEBURGER!”

    2. Pot-crazed killers roaming the streets, raping and killing and destroying at will. Oh, the HUMANITY!

      Damn near makes pancakes look erudite.

      1. Looks like “pancakes” got his/her/its drug information from watching Reefer Madness.

    3. Epistemologically, the question makes no sense. Either you are responsible for your actions, or you are not. A free society demands the former.

    4. So then punish people for their resultant actions. Cause regardless of whether the choice was to ingest the horrific drug of murdering or to just straight up murder, the blame, and the act infringing on others is what was wrong.

    5. So listening to Helter Skelter should be illegal?

      1. Only if you downloaded a royalty free pirated copy off the innertoobs.

    6. Re: Sedulous,

      Hypothetically, if what we put in our bodies causes us to kill other people, should that be legal?

      You mean like eating a lighted stick of dynamite?

      YES, ABSOLUTELY! Amend the Constitution to forbid people from eating lighted sticks of dynamite! Why, how dare they!

      Now, if what they put in their bodies doesn’t explode, then what business is it of yours???

      I think what the gov’t can and cannot tell us what to do has to be framed around how our activities affect [other] citizens rights.

      Of course. AS LONG AS. Otherwise, it is none of the Gunvarmint business.

      If what we do violates their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then probably that activity should be off limits.

      Yes, totally. For instance, building an eyesore right in front of my house negates my right to happiness and should be banned!

      Uh, of course, that would violate his right to happiness . . . but, no matter, he can go to hell – MY happiness comes first!!

      Sedulous, NOW do you see the problem??

      1. Now, if what they put in their bodies doesn’t explode, then what business is it of yours???

        Love to hear your explanation of the legalality refried beans. . .

        1. Love to hear your explanation of the legalality refried beans. . .

          Wind Rider… Teehee!

    7. If what we do violates their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then probably that activity should be off limits.

      That’s right. And when someone actually violates someone else’s rights, we advocate full responsibility.

      That’s one hell of a jump you make from that statement to preemptively regulating people’s private behavior in their own homes with their own bodies, no?

    8. Hypothetically, if what we put in our bodies causes us to kill other people, should that be legal? I think what the gov’t can and cannot tell us what to do has to be framed around how our activities affect others citizens rights.

      You guys might laugh at this, but this is the nexus of where both social conservatives and progressives agree:

      The social conservative believes that what you put in your body can cause errant behavior which exacts a public cost. Therefore the government has license over what you ingest.

      The progressive beleves that what you put in your body can cause adverse health effects, which can also exact a a public cost. Therefore the government has license over what you ingest.

    9. Well, the killing other people part is already illegal, so it seems they have it covered.

  15. Hypothetically, if what we put in our bodies causes us to kill other people, should that be legal?

    Show me a substance that actually does this on a consistent basis, and we can talk.

    1. Plutonium. Can that get you high?

      1. Psychoactive effects aside, you’d have to eat like 30lbs of plutonium before you would go critical and explode.

    2. Well, there’s The Communist Manifesto. And Mein Kampf. And Gr?ne Eier und Schinken.

    3. Show me the substance that has done this at all and we can talk.

    4. Gamma rays?

    5. I’m guessing Tony’s semen.

    6. Water.

      Well, it’s arguably a causative factor.

    7. Are there chemicals that can make people into walking explosives?

      1. Did you see the Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey, Jr.? I’m just sayin’.

        1. Not yet, but I intend to. It had better not suck–I like Sherlock Holmes. In fact, the only network show I watch anymore is a Holmes knock-off.

      2. See my comment to Old Mex, re: refried beans.

        1. Old Mex, Wind Rider.
          Obviously you two are members of a secret “eeker cell.”

      3. Are there chemicals that can make people into walking explosives?

        Sufficient doses of alcohol have been used to induce people to vote in the past. Does that count?

      4. Yes. Though they’re usually worn rather than ingested.

  16. What we can kill inside our bodies.

  17. It doesn’t seem to me that much would change, people are driving around high right now anyway. If someone is drunk at work, it is not tolerated, so the same goes with being high. The money we spend fighting MJ is a waste, as they said.

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