American Spectator Article is a Helpful Reminder That Prohibitionists Never Stop Making the Same Stupid Arguments


In case you were feeling a little too optimistic about the future end of the drug war — if only because public opinion polls are moving in the right direction and the occasional fact of actual politicians like Reps. Ron Paul and Barney Frank who oppose it —take a look at this American Spectator article which is cheaply, lazily, and with great moralizing, in favor of the continued drug war. It's truly terrible work from Manon McKinnon and, among other blithely written incorrect facts, McKinnon declares that there are no non-violent, non-dealers in prison. Also, if you use stern italics then science doesn't count and medical marijuana isn't real:

…the imagined wrongful incarceration of simple users (no—such prisoners have plea bargained down from major trafficking and violent crimes); medical necessity (banned drugs are not medicine); and the existence of drug crime….

McKinnon also compares rape and slavery to drug use, because malum in se versus malum prohibitum are just too complicated of concepts when the children could be in peril (or something). Drug use is a moral issue to folks like McKinnon, but locking up people for victimless crimes obviously is not.

But don't take my word for it, read Scott Morgan's Huffington Post response headlined "How to Write a Cliched, Unpersuasive Argument Against Drug Legalization." Morgan is an associate editor at, so there's probably a reason he knows these cliches so well. According to Morgan, here are the steps to follow so that you, too, can write a prohibitionist screed:

Step 1: Attempt to marginalize supporters of drug policy reform by claiming they are "pot heads."…

Step 2: Frame legalization as a plan for "surrendering" or "giving up" and letting drugs defeat us….

Step 3: Insist confidently—but without citation—that no one actually gets in serious trouble for personal use….

Step 4: Insist that illegal drugs can never have medical value….

Step 5: Compare regulating drugs to legalizing rape….

Step 6: Mention something bad that happened involving drugs and ask smugly whether legalization would have prevented it….

Step 7: Close with a sweeping, apocalyptic generalization….

Read the whole thing here and enjoy how Morgan nicely skewers McKinnon's tiresome arguments. And though you may not always get such a fine "bingo" on your pro-prohibition articles except on rare occasions you can definitely find these arguments amongst your elected politicians or your own family members.  The only thing Morgan and McKinnon forgot, in my experience, was those who go straight to the being high and driving question. And though there's plenty of libertarian debate potential there, it's best just to say to people new to the idea of legalization that no, clearly that would endanger innocent people and that doing drugs and driving will be just as illegal as drinking and driving.

Reason on marijuana.