Drug Legalization

Libertarians Know How To Oppose Things Without Banning Them



As a Denver Post columnist from 2004-11, I spent a considerable amount of time writing pieces advocating the legalization of pot. So I was happy when Colorado became one of the first to decriminalize small amounts of "recreational" marijuana. I believe that the war on drugs is a tragically misplaced use of resources—an immoral venture that produces far more suffering than it alleviates. And on a philosophical level, I believe that adults should be permitted to ingest whatever they desire—including, but not limited to, trans fats, tobacco, cough syrup, colossal sodas and so on—as long as they live with the consequences.

You know, that old chestnut.

Unrealistic? Maybe. But less so than allowing myself to believe that human behavior can/should be endlessly nudged, cajoled and coerced by politicians.

So naturally, I was curious to see how marijuana sales in Colorado would shake out. According to the Denver Post, there are nearly 40 stores in Colorado licensed to sell "recreational" pot. Medical marijuana has been legal for more than a decade. Not surprisingly, pot stores can't keep up with demand for a hit of recreational tetrahydrocannabinol. Outside Denver shops, people are waiting for up to five hours to buy some well-taxed and "regulated" cannabis. The pot tourists also have arrived. All this, the Denver Post estimates, will translate into $40 million of additional tax revenue in 2014—the real reason legalization in Colorado became a reality.

The news coverage swung from mild bemusement to acting as if society were on the cusp of a major civil rights victory. For me, the entire spectacle seemed rather pathetic and anticlimactic.

The large part of my position on drugs is ideological, but some of it is familiarity. As a young person, I inhaled, yet today I can pull together the occasional lucid thought. I don't feel as if I did anything immoral. I guess I'd have to say that I have acquaintance on a par with David Brooks (regrettably without the "uninhibited frolic"): "For a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I smoked marijuana. It was fun. I have some fond memories of us all being silly together. I think those moments of uninhibited frolic deepened our friendships."

Brooks was lambasted for opposing legalization while simultaneously admitting his own criminality and conceding that it was harmless. Now, he may be a hypocrite, but he's no more of a fraud than those who deny the right of people to assemble and smoke "recreational" cigarettes or support any of the countless nanny-state initiatives that deny people choices. Brooks also argues, as many others do, that decriminalization effectively encourages drug use. I think he overstates the case, considering the widespread tolerance, prevalence and accessibility of pot before legalization. But let's not pretend that it's completely absurd, either.

In the end, Brooks believes that pot use "should be discouraged more than encouraged." That seems, in itself, to be a reasonable suggestion. Unreasonably, he believes that government should discourage use by force. I believe that communities, parents and individuals should discourage use through persuasion (and with something other than hysterical drug warrior rhetoric).

"Many people these days shy away from talk about the moral status of drug use because that would imply that one sort of life you might choose is better than another sort of life," Brooks goes on to write. Jonah Goldberg put it better in column, pointing out that nonjudgmentalism is part of the secular catechism. And there are few people less judgmental about your choices than a libertarian. Fortunately, you can have it both ways. I believe prostitution should be legalized but also stigmatized.

The problem is that Americans use the state as a moral compass. For libertarians, it is often frustrating to explain that advocating the decriminalization of x is not synonymous with endorsing x. It's often easier to rationalize away the consequences of enhanced choice than to admit it exists.

Marijuana is, for the most part, an innocuous habit. But there can be detrimental psychological and physiological effects on the human body after prolonged use. It hinders the mental capacity of people who use it excessively. No doubt, you've met some test subjects. Many pro-pot legalization advocates want Americans to believe that nurses, accountants, shopkeeps, and local haberdashers make up the majority share of those smoking Caramelicious on weekends. Anyone who's done any reporting on the issues understands that this is preposterous. There are hordes of stoners making a "lifestyle" choice and wasting away. Is it a huge deal? Probably not. Should we criminalize slacking? No. Is it something that should discouraged? Probably. One sort of life you choose might be better than another sort of life. One imagines that most libertarian pundits who argue for legalization have higher degrees to prove it.

If libertarian ideas are winning the day, as some of those pundits insist, then government's getting out of the "legislating morality" business should cut both ways. The state's decriminalizing of an activity or substance doesn't transform that activity or substance into a moral, healthy or admirable one. And libertarians don't have to act as if it does. You can celebrate the fact that people are free without celebrating all the dumb things those people do with their freedoms.

Like, for instance, standing in line for five hours to buy a dime bag.

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  1. The problem is that Americans use the state as a moral compass.

    As good a one sentence summary of the fundamental flaw with modern America as I have ever seen.

    1. Uncle Sam is very disappointed with this sentence.

    2. More like a moral club?.

    3. Not just America.

      The West as a whole.

    4. It's more like a moral enema.

  2. Marijuana is, for the most part, an innocuous habit. But there can be detrimental psychological and physiological effects on the human body after prolonged use.

    1. I don't know about psychological effects but smoking marijuana has obvious long term physiological effects. Large particles in lungs are never good.

      1. Large particles in lungs are never good.

        Yeah, I'm pretty sure the physiological effects should be fairly well understood, and inhaling comubustion products of any kind can't be good for one's long term health.

        As for psychological effects, I'm not sure how you would even determine for sure what they are. The only experiment that comes readily to mind to test for them would be to perhaps take PET scans of a bunch of people's brains, then have them smoke pot everyday for a prolonged period of time, then take PET scans after the prolonged pot use and compare. And even then any changes may be the result of other factors, unless you can successfully eliminate all other possible variables, which you can't.

        1. I think the psychological impact would be the same as a similarly indulgent habit, like watching TV. Incidentally, I tend to think heavy pot smokers and heavy TV watchers exhibit the same traits. They're boring, intellectually lazy slobs. But it doesn't mean I want to ban TV.

          1. [i] Incidentally, I tend to think heavy pot smokers and heavy TV watchers exhibit the same traits. They're boring, intellectually lazy slobs.[/i]

            Incidentally, I tend to think you're talking out of your ass.

        2. To determine if marijuana caused psychological effects, you'd have to do a huge double-blind study. Give half the participants dank kind and the other half shwag. And have a control group of church ladies sipping tea.
          Maybe you meant physiological.

      2. Any evidence to support that claim? I'm afraid "obviousness" doesn't count.

      3. If marijuana was legalized, eating it would be a healthier (and more effective) method of ingestion.

  3. Yes, but let's be honest... When we say decriminalize, we mean, start partying dude.

  4. Mr. Harsanyi--

    Nice article for the most part, but I think your mild hand wringing over the need to stigmatize prostitution or any behavior is misplaced and may reveal an unconscious collectivist vein. I sense your felt need society to stigmatize any particular behavior is based upon the, so called, "bad societal effects argument". If it is, that indicates a collectivists mentality in my opinion. Detrimental effects of mj, prostitution, smoking, & alcohol are completely an individual issue and a personal relationship issue. Society is nothing buy a collection of individuals. If I am an employer, I can still drug test to make sure my work force is not effected by any drug that can adversely effect employee performance. Police can still enforce DUI laws the same and people can still control who they associate with. Parents can punish kids if they think they are using drugs, as they should if they care about their kids. Drugs detrimentally effect your mind and thinking which effects success in life. Libertarians should completely reject the "bad effect societal effects argument" and stick with the best and only moral argument: it is plainly a matter of individual rights what I or anyone else ingests. It's my body, so butt out of my business, thank you very much.

    1. Sorry, no.

      It's only your body if you are a female who wishes to have an abortion.

    2. Well said!

    3. You do realize that you said exactly the same thing the author did, right?

      Money quote:

      Parents can punish kids if they think they are using drugs, as they should if they care about their kids.

      Hirsanyi suggested nothing more or less wrt prostitution. You probably don't want your daughter becoming a hooker anymore than you want her smoking crack, even though you support the right of an individual to go into that line of work just as you support the right of an individual to smoke crack. Stigmatization doesn't suggest any particular collective action. And even if it did, voluntary collective action is certainly not un-libertarian. It's not until that collective action is turned into force by the government that it becomes dangerous.

      1. Hirsanyi did not mention the moral argument for freedom once, so no, I do not realize what I said was exactly the same thing he said.

        That was my main point, what is yours?

      2. woops--....moral argument BASED UPON INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS....

      3. PM...The nature of law enforcement is such that the average individual who is given the power over the lives of others, is simply unable to handle such power without unfortunate consequences for those over whom he or she can exercise that power.

        Police corruption flourishes when vice laws exit. It would be better if society stigmatized going into law enforcement than to stigmatize prostitution. Sex workers provide a very important service to people who do not otherwise have sexual or intimate companionship.

        If I had a daughter, I would MUCH prefer she become a prostitute than that she go into law enforcement. Sex work is SO much more HONEST than working as a government thug.

        1. No one suggested using police power to stigmatize prostitution. Some of you need a refresher on how the NAP works. I'm not sure how this line from the first paragraph of the article could be interpreted as anything other than a defense of the moral right of individuals:

          And on a philosophical level, I believe that adults should be permitted to ingest whatever they desire... Unrealistic? Maybe. But less so than allowing myself to believe that human behavior can/should be endlessly nudged, cajoled and coerced by politicians.

    4. I think you failed to understand his point. Societal norms will work themselves out through freedom.

      Take for instance 2 people raising a child. It is best for society, and over time it becomes a societal norm. Government interference destroys that societal norm, like we see today in America, and society is hurt greatly by it.

      I can take your entire argument and flip it around on you. The only way to get rid of societal norms is through government interference, so you sound like a collectivist to me!

  5. "I believe prostitution should be legalized but also stigmatized."

    Why should it be stigmatized, if as libertarians believe, it is a voluntary agreement between two willing participants?

    And more importantly, who should be doing the stigmatizing, and how should they be doing it?

    I completely disagree that skilled sex workers offering their services for hire represents anything that anybody anywhere needs to stigmatize, but would really like to hear your argument in favor of stigmatization.

    1. Would you mind if your mother was a prostitute?

      1. That's a good point.

        In a situation where prostitution is legal and considered a job, would there be shame in having your mother be a prostitute ?

        Would that person even exist if prostitution weren't accepted by society ?

        How can you be mad at your mother for being a whore if that is the reason for your existence ?

        1. "...would there be shame in having your mother be a prostitute ?"

          Why would there not be? Your question seems premised on the idea that prostitution is shameful because it is illegal and not that it is illegal because it is considered degrading.

        2. Prostitution was stigmatized because of STDs and damage to the family unit.

          Most stigmas come from a very good reason.

          For instance, pork was stigmatized in the old days because of the cooking techniques used, people tended to get deathly ill from eating it.

      2. I wouldn't care. If selling is okay and consensual sex is okay then what secular argument is there against selling consensual sex? Also think of the economic benefits of legal prostitution. More jobs!

        1. I agree with your sentiments AND with your sediments BOTH, frankly, Ah Sezzzz?. BHUTT, in Re-Butt-Hole, Ah Sezz, (Ah Sezz, Ah Sezz?)? Ah Be-Leaves DEEPLY and PROFOUNDLY in EQUALITY, Ah Sezzz? This sediment is ONLY acceptable if there are equalized numbers of male and female heterosexual "sex workers"!!!! Ah Personally has been DISCRIMITATED against when I have presented myself as MALE (stage name Willie-Wille-Whippin' Free) to perform alongside the FEMALE titty-bouncers at the various clubs, and? Clutching my pearls, Ah Ams? They TURNED ME DOWN for employment! If Ah didn't know better, I would think that my pecker or fake pecker, as a male or fake male, is worth less than the converse sexual organ? Ah DEMANDS that Government Almighty FIX this obscene in-equality!!! At the BARE_BOTTOMED minimum, Governemtn Almighty should conduct a survey about male v/s female employment jobs offered up in the "sex work" industry?

          1. Sorry, 2 much booze? I meant to say, I was DISCRIMTITATED against? Or LACKOFTITITATED against, perhaps?

      3. lap83- would you mind if your mother was a domestic servant? Cleaning toilets for minimum wage? Wouldn't having a parent who was economically coerced into working in such a degrading and menial occupation be far worse for a child than having their mother (or father) provide pleasure to others for a nice fee, so that the mother (or father) could provide a much better life for their child (and spend more time with their child) than the poor, degraded economically coerced domestic servant who must work 80 hours a week just to keep food on the table and pay the rent? Working at such a job would give the parent very little quality time with their child, who would ultimately feel alienated from the parent.

        I do not understand why people don't get it that providing pleasure is a good thing. And for providing pleasure, you get paid a heck of a lot more than someone toiling in a dead end job. Seems to me the real reason anyone would want to 'stigmatize' the profession I found to be the best job I ever had is purely and simply jealousy.

        I think we ought to stigmatize being a lawyer or a cop- and absolutely we must stigmatize being a politician or government employee. I realize that there is an element of 'screwing the public' involved in those jobs just as in sex work, but the end result is certainly NOT pleasure and the recipient did NOT ask to be screwed!

        1. Ooops, you accidentally forgot to strip the batshit lefty "economic coercion" bullshit from your copypasta. (Ironically, the feminist left would make exactly the same claims about prostitution-as-economic-coercion, and you're both wrong for the same reasons)

          Anyway, there are folks with different moral judgments about having a lot of sex partners, and they're as entitled to their moral viewpoint as you are. And in point of fact, there is absolutely a stigma attached to menial service work. Very few people who work as hotel maids probably save up to send their children to college so they can enter the same profession.

          Also, a major part of your argument on the economic advantages of sex work vs any other trade is contingent upon its being illegal and stigmatized. If sex work were both fully legal and carried little or no stigma the supply would increase and prices would fall. This is economics 101 stuff. It may also be worth pointing out that there is no short supply of prostitutes working for the less-than-affluent clientele who patronize skid row crack addicts, and they don't pull down much more than the poor, economically coerced hotel maid. So a lot depends on the particulars.

          1. Oops, YOU forgot to google my name- Almodovar is my last name, Norma Jean is the first.... I have been a long time libertarian- ran for office in 1986- and perhaps you don't recognize sarcasm when you see it (economic coercion)? And "copy paste"? I don't think so.

            I have been both a sex worker and a sex worker rights activist for the past 32 years since I left the LAPD in 1982. I fight those lefty feminists on a daily basis. And you are correct- it does depend on the particulars.

            For example, you think that the price is high because it is illegal... you'd be wrong. Our colleagues in New Zealand where there is total decrim say that prices have remained the same. In the brothels in Nevada, where they work legally- their prices are as high if not higher than elsewhere.

            It's like other commodities where the better the quality, the higher the price. In some places you can get a bj for $20, but if you wanted to hire me when I was working (am retired as I am 62 now and riddled with arthritis and pain from the 10 years I spent working for the LAPD many years ago) you would have to pay me about $1,000 (in today's money) to get have an hour of my time- whether or not it included a bj. So, this is one activity that the price depends on other particulars. But thanks for the economics lesson....

            1. Think of it this way- buying and owning a car is still legal- and one can buy a very economical vehicle which will get you where you want to go... or you can spend many thousands of dollars more to have a high performance, luxury car... gets you to the same place. Some people are willing to pay more for the things and companionship they desire, regardless of whether or not the object of their desire is legal. And personally, I never minded being a sex object.... as my clients were money objects to me...some were friends of course, but I wasn't there to enjoy THEIR company even if I did enjpy it.

              1. Yes, prices vary now, as they would under full legalization, with market segmentation, which was my point. The skid row crack head turning tricks isn't competing with the call girl working the D.C. corridor. It's hardly a universal truth "prostitution pays better than menial labor". The amount of competition under a freed market in prostitution would likely be higher; prices rarely rise under those conditions unless there's a cartel or a regulator involved.

                Case in point, I live in Nevada, and the sex trade here is subject to such regulation (and outlawed entirely in the one county where the demand is highest) that prices are necessarily much higher than they would be in a totally free market.

                Importantly, you didn't address the second qualifier: social stigma. Even under full legalization there would still exist that social stigma, which serves to reduce the supply of entrants to the field. If you got what you are advocating for - full legalization and the absence of social stigma - prices would be very likely to fall, even at the high end of the market as many new entrants cause an oversupply. This isn't unique to prostitution; like I said, this is economics 101 stuff.

                FWIW, I completely support a fully legal and liberalized sex trade. I just don't think social acceptance is a requirement for that to happen.

                1. As if any of us whores care about social acceptance... because there is no such entity as society... only a bunch of posterior ports with opinions.

                  The so called social stigma never stopped anyone from getting into this business. It was certainly much more appealing to me than continuing to work for the very corrupt LAPD- and society doesn't seem to condemn corrupt cops... which is why whatever any group of people claiming to be society is of no concern to me (or others like me) because your 'judgement' is worthless.

                  And as I have been an activist in this movement for 32 years, and have availed myself of the volumes of history of this profession - I can tell you that at one time, prostitution was honored and revered by society, and the prices were still high... yes, an over abundance of supply will temporarily reduce prices, but the market rights itself when the clients realize they get what they pay for. Those who provide the best experience will always be able to command the higher prices, regardless of how the rest of 'society' views sex work.

                  1. Oh- and the number of 'crack heads' is not nearly what someone like you would suppose, and, if drugs were decriminalized so that someone who did not want to 'sell their body' to make enough money to stay high, they wouldn't have to do so.

                    I've never even tried drugs- and if I had been into drug use, I would have stayed with the LAPD, where I could have had access to all the drugs my little heart desired- cop parties had more drugs than a Hollywood movie set. Cops stole the drugs from dealers, wrote up a report saying there was 1 pound of coke in the car when there was actually 10- and the drug dealer wasn't about to tell the judge that he/ she actually had MORE than that... so the cops had the best drugs which they also sold to the movie industry people when they were working security off duty on the TV and movie sets. But where is 'societal condemnation' of employment in law enforcement which is riddled with corruption?

      4. Would you mind if she was a masseuse? Once you get past the cultural taboo you're talking about two professions which accept money to provide physical pleasure.

    2. I agree this notion of the "need" to stigmatize "objectionable" behavior is horseshit. You don't like or approve of something, don't fucking do it, but mind your own fucking business. Who is anyone to say what "should" or "should not" be stigmatized. "Society" doesn't need moralistic jackasses looking out for it.

      1. You do realize that you are publicly objecting to people who stigmatize "objectionable" behavior. And that publicly objecting is a form of stigmatization?

      2. Isn't stigmatizing something a voluntary agreement between consenting adults that doesn't impinge on your freedom?

        Obviously, being a prostitute isn't as bad as being a lawyer or a cop, but we should be free to persuade out loved ones that there are better paths.

      3. the stigma would be created spontaneously. if enough people look negatively towards a certain behavior, it'll become disadvantageous to engage in that behavior because people will not want to associate with you. the stigma may make little difference to you, however, because you social circle, for instance, accept it.

    3. it should be stigmatized because it is risky behavior health wise. A rational person would want to steer clear of a prostitute, if only sexually, because of the risk of STDs. That risk would create a negative stigma around prostitutes.

  6. I agree with the spirit of this article. Personally I dislike pot. I don't like the high at all, I hate hippies, and I find most heavy pot users to be morons. However, I don't consider it immoral much less want to ban it. I'm all for the federal government leaving that decision up to the states.

    However, among some of the Reason writers there seems to be this assumption that legalizing pot will usher in a new era of freedom. Uh, no. We will not see Colorado turn into libertopia. All that happened is a new source of tax revenue.

    1. I never tried pot, but I can smell it just about everywhere in my neighborhood. And I don't live in some sort of ghetto. Teens smoke the stuff in plain view at the local park, not more than then feet from little kids playing in the sand. The stuff is legal here, for all intents and purposes.

      I support the first and second amendment, but I don't have to respect hate speech or donate money to the NRA (I don't hate the NRA). Pot legalization is definitely a freedom that will come at a certain price.

      If you're one of the few people who can't tolerate pot and develop an addiction, should you expect me and others to pay for your rehab? Or health problems? Nope, I expect that you made a decision as an adult and you have to live with the consequences.

      You shouldn't complain when big tobacco wants in and drives out the mom and pop joints. If it's legal, then it's fair game for the free market.

      1. hehehe, mom and pop joints

      2. Take pot out of the equation. Should I have to pay for someone's rehab? No. Should I have to pay for the health consequences of someone's choices? No.

        Get government out of healthcare, and we won't have to pay for someone else's bad choices. Smoking pot may be one bad choice among many, but it's no threat to you (or me) unless government forces us to pay for other people's healthcare. Pot (or any other personal choice) isn't the threat, government is.

        1. Exactly. This is the same justification that is being used, and will continue to be used even more so with the further centralization of care, to ban everything.

  7. What's operating in cases like this is what's called "the teaching function of the law", i.e. the tendency of people (not just Americans) to derive their sense of the moral fom that of the legal. I know of at least one study affirming the existence of the phenomenon. Those who celebrate rather than lament the effect use it as one reason for legislation.

    It's true that legislation is one major outlet for expression of approval or disapproval. You see it in an innocuous form when a legislature honors the official dessert of a state or passes a resolution expressing pleasure or displeasure at something. In the non-innocuous form discussed here, the way it works is to get people to think, "They're willing to fine or jail me if I do this. That must mean it's really important to them. They don't make just anything illegal. Maybe I ought to think about this and see if they had a good reason." Or as a Simpson cartoon put it, "If the state says it's legal, then it must be morally acceptable."

    Unfortunately there is no way to get away from this. People do think that way, and there's no way to stop them from thinking that way, so legalizing something formerly illegal is bound to convey a sense of approval that merely keeping the status quo for something that's already legal does not.

    1. "They don't make just anything illegal."


      It has been estimated that (nearly?) everyone commits 3 felonies per day due to the proliferation and vagueness of the laws being written.


  8. I have heard others say this in the past, but I know one person who says it currently that I firmly believe is being truthful.

    That they would like to try pot if it were legal. That person is telling the truth that they never did when young. This person is for legalization but has never tried it. He is a public figure and I kid him about his next trip to Colorado if he is going to try it but have not gotten a public answer.

    I wonder if legalization will truly increase the number of users ? I doubt it. I feel as though he is the exception and that most others curious will try it if it was in a safe atmosphere.

    I don't think that legalization will increase usage one measurable iota.

    1. "I don't think that legalization will increase usage one measurable iota."

      Legalization will certainly lower the economic and societal costs of pot usage. Lower costs lead to increased usage. See Econ 101.

    2. but have not gotten a public answer.

      How about a private answer? An answer for money? Will he do what you want him to do?


      1. Hey, it gave ME a chuckle. 🙂

    3. I think the number of people interesting in trying pot but waiting until it's legalized to do so is probably extremely small. The penalties and risk are so low that anybody who is interested in using it more than likely already has. You may see a brief spike in first time users, probably followed by a resettling back to historical norms.

      1. This is correct. We would definitely see a small spike in users as the pent up demand was realized, but it would almost certainly stabilize very quickly once legalization became the norm, if not fall off very quickly.

  9. Many pro-pot legalization advocates want Americans to believe that nurses, accountants, shopkeeps, and local haberdashers make up the majority share of those smoking Caramelicious on weekends. Anyone who's done any reporting on the issues understands that this is preposterous.

    Okay before I was just a reader but that made me register.

    Five words: Gary Johnson and Steve Jobs

    Especially the former. He smoked an ounce a week for ten years while running a multi-million dollar construction company. Now he's a vegetarian who doesn't even drink alcohol but still acknowledges that pot is still less dangerous than alcohol, and as far as the latter is concerned Tim BernersLee invented HTML and the HTTP protocol on NeXTSTEP

    Being the non-ideological (unless you view Ron Paul style non-interventionism as being ideological, I see it as cost-effective) socially liberal fiscal conservative I am I usually look the other way when Reason takes ideological stances against animal cruelty laws or legislation like ENDA but I always thought marijuana was an issue where they didn't act like certain paleos do on race ie give them rights but otherwise be as backwards as possible.

    1. Accidentally hit the tab key before hitting the spacebar after NeXTSTEP. I was going to add that marijuana critics are hypocrites for using the World Wide Web since NeXT Computer was of course Steve Jobs's company. Tim could have used a different operating system to do what he did but he said it would have taken much longer on anything else and he still uses NeXTSTEP (now called OS X) to this day, and even if he did make it on another OS it would have been all text because it would have taken another decade for the desktop interface to materialize without the Macintosh or Lisa (yes I know Xerox Park invented it, but they had no intentions on making it public).

      1. and even if he did make it on another OS it would have been all text because it would have taken another decade for the desktop interface to materialize without the Macintosh or Lisa

        Macintosh and Lisa predate NeXTSTEP by over a decade.

        1. I said there wouldn't have been NeXTSTEP without Lisa or Macintosh all of which are the creation of potheads (not just Jobs but much of the talent he pursued).

          1. Kind of ironic in that Jobs only bullied his way onto the Macintosh design team 2 years after it was envisioned by Jef Raskin once it became clear that it would serve as a more viable platform than Lisa... then pushed Raskin off the project entirely. I'm not sure about Raskin's hallucinogenic proclivities, as they never erected a statue in his honor or wrote a slobbering biography to turn into a hollywood motion picture.

            Also ironic in that Xerox, one of the most buttoned-down, straight-laced, corporate kiss-ass companies in history, was the originator of the GUI later used in the Lisa and Macintosh; seems your exemplary pot head (who was actually more fond of LSD, from what I understand) had a little trouble coming up with any original ideas.


            1. Also worth mentioning: graphical interfaces were common in 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee created HTTP and www; the protocol and browser could have been written with a GUI on any major platform of the day (including low end Amiga computers). All of which is fairly moot, since HTTP is a back end protocol that could have been written sans GUI, and www was text-based. There was no graphical component to the early web - the protocol and browser were intended primarily for academic use to add hyperlink reference to plain text. That HTTP and www were created on a computer designed by Steve Jobs, who once upon a time contributed to bringing the Xerox PARC GUI to mass-market personal computers, was a happy accident; and it hardly would have been impossible without Steve Jobs' drug habits. We're a long way down the butterfly effect rabbit hole to even be having this discussion.

              Here again, a sample of 2 is not a good pool to draw generally representative conclusions from when you're talking about an actual population of 75 million (assuming 226 million adult Americans, 1/3 of whom have tried pot). That 2 people who used pot (only one of which used it recreationally, lest we forget) became millionaires doesn't mean that all millionaires use pot or all pot users will become millionaires. Lest you be offended by this simple exercise in logic and probability, the same is true for alcohol, heroin, Pepsi, and gummy worms. You can't draw representative conclusions from a data pool of 2.

              1. Kind of ironic in that Jobs only bullied his way onto the Macintosh design team 2 years after it was envisioned by Jef Raskin once it became clear that it would serve as a more viable platform than Lisa

                The Macintosh had the same UI as Lisa. The success of the Mac had more to do with the hardware side.

                Also worth mentioning: graphical interfaces were common in 1989

                That's why I stated the possibility of a mostly text-based WWW after the fact because without Macintosh or Lisa the modern desktop would have taken longer to materialize. I just can't envision millions of people surfing a plain text-based internet on a CLI.

                Also ironic in that Xerox, one of the most buttoned-down, straight-laced, corporate kiss-ass companies in history

                Seymour Cray was that type of person and he regularly met with "elves" in a tunnel he dug under his house. More likely LSD than pot as well, but I don't like the idea of recreational LSD being legal. Again I don't adhere to the libertarian ideology so argue with me just because I don't think recreational ((private) research and medicine is fine) cocaine should be legal, also your use of "corporate kiss ass" reeks of anti-capitalist sentiment.

                Ask yourself, how boring would things be without drug use? Music would have been stuck in the 50s and advertising would be extremely boring. There would be no color at all. Oh and the Three Stooges and Elvis would still be violent and immoral.

              2. When Tim stated that it would have taken him longer on another platform he was actually referencing the likes of Windows, Mac, Amiga and OS/2, and again he still uses OS X to this day. Both me and him like the combination of Unix and a rich, color-accurate graphical environment designed from the ground up with on the fly rich text rendering and software-refined audio.

      2. I know a lot of people who are highly intelligent, motivated, responsible people who blow the occasional trees. Honestly the only dead-end potheads I knew were in high school, and a good many of them either quit or cut back and made a full mental recovery.

        1. Do they constitute a majority of users though? It's possible they may. With legalization and better data on the subject we may come to find out that vast majorities of responsible, middle and upper class people are regular tokers. I'd be fairly surprised if it's the case now though, if for no other reason than the stigma of illegality. Your boss or colleagues might laugh off a drunken performance at an office party, but the same incident on marijuana creates legal liability for both you and the company that might get you fired (or worse). I don't think a lot of people in stable careers with 30 year mortgages, 2 cars, and 1.75 children are willing to risk it when there's a legal buzz available.

          Anecdotally, I'd guess a sizeable portion of regular pot smokers are dumb high school kids who get off on the boundary pushing aspect of its illegality. It wouldn't shock me if teen pot use actually decreased with legalization. I've often bemusedly wondered what today's rap music would sound like in 20 years if pot were legalized tomorrow for the same reason. Not a lot of gangsta cred tied up in a product you can buy at your local mini-mart.

    2. Fuckin' doper. I get a strong whiff of communist too.

      1. I don't believe unions or the minimum wage law should exist and i'm pro-NAFTA. Try again.

    3. Five words: Gary Johnson and Steve Jobs

      A perfectly representative, random sample. Case closed!

      1. My first two bosses who run a successful jewelry shop were pretty much baked 24/7. They used alot of Visine and body spray to hide it.

        1. So plural of anecdote, then?

          1. One customer of there's was a road engineer and another was both a stock car driver and the owner of a large local construction company that was huge during the housing bubble. I also took a puff off the same joints as a satellite dish installer and body shop owner they were friends with.

            Oh and remember this?


            Was that you who posted that not-sarcastic comment?

            1. *theirs

  10. There are hordes of stoners making a "lifestyle" choice and wasting away. Is it a huge deal? Probably not. Should we criminalize slacking? No. Is it something that should discouraged? Probably. One sort of life you choose might be better than another sort of life.

    This argument is the most pernicious evil of all, because it relies on the premise that I owe you productivity - that not attaining maximum productivity, not for myself but for you - is somehow immoral.

    That's crap. Even as a quasi-objectivist, who subscribes to the John Galt speech list of virtues, I still declare it crap.

    You know what sort of life you can choose that is morally better than other sorts of life? The one where you don't concern yourself with what others do if it doesn't violate your rights.

    If other people pay their own way, it's not up to you to "discourage" them from engaging in recreation because you think they could achieve a "higher" sort of life with a nice dose of puritanism. Focus on the people not paying their own way or looting their way through life first.

    1. Focus on the people not paying their own way or looting their way through life first.

      Thank you.

    2. Listen Fluffy, value is subjective, unless someone does something you find disagreeable but, not out right immoral. Then you have to be a dick to them for reasons you can't really articulate, substantiate, or list concretely.

    3. What business is it of yours what he concerns himself with, so long as it doesn't violate your rights?

    4. This argument is the most pernicious evil of all, because it relies on the premise that I owe you productivity...

      If that was your takeaway from the quoted portion of the article, you read a lot more between the lines than I did.

      What the hell is wrong with advocating for people to better themselves and develop productive habits? If you found out your kid was away at college skipping all his classes and blowing his tuition money on partying, would you tell them "I'm so proud of you and the choices you've made as an independent individual!"? Fine enough for you if you would, but there's nothing wrong with the parent who would tell the same kid to shape up, take responsibility, get educated, and get a well-paid job either. You don't have to be a moralist to want to see your friends and family maximize their potential. In fact, if you don't, you're kind of an asshole, IMO.

      1. PM- in the scenario you describe, a parent or other family member certainly ought to advocate and even encourage a loved one to better him or her self. But for the non entity we often refer to as 'society'- what one group of people consider to be productive habits or bettering oneself may be quite different from what another group of people consider 'bettering oneself.'
        So, no, 'society' as a collective should not be advocating anything, other than getting government out of our lives...

        1. "Society" is a fiction - it's the collective result of millions of individuals. And importantly, the original article didn't suggest that "society" should discourage slacking:

          Should we criminalize slacking? No. Is it something that should discouraged? Probably. One sort of life you choose might be better than another sort of life.

          I'm failing to see the coercive action by the group upon the individual in this sentence, but then that's been the case throughout this entire discussion.

          1. It had little to nothing to do with coercion. The same group also discourages the individual from being an atheist or having a unisex haircut. Just because there's no coercion doesn't make the sentiment rational.

            Reminds me of paleos who go "there's no coercion so shut up!" when they talk about their weird fantasies of closed but voluntary white-only communities where being homeless gets you police brutality. It's still irrational, collectivist and should be called out.

  11. neoconservatives are the enemies of libertarianism we need to stop them

    1. You are so right! What is up with these people who don't understand the concept of freedom? Even if they don't want government to use force to run the lives of those whose private behavior they find offensive, they are determined to use 'societal pressure' to impose their values on us. They just don't seem to understand what individual liberty is, and think that they have some moral right to use pressure to make us conform to their values. What they don't get is that freedom is not reserved for those who say they are serving god...

  12. Well Shiites and SHIT and stuff anyway, Dudes and Dudettes! What's all this crap about whether or not it is good for the individual or society anyway?!!?! I personally am DEEPLY opposed to SUICIDE, it is VERY clearly BAD for the individual AND for society (except perhaps it is in the case of the suicide of Adolf Hitler or the likes of Stalin or Kim Ill Dung-Wang, but I personally think ANY suicide is a tragedy as opposed to that individual getting his or her shit together and doing what is right). Well, OK, horribly-suffering terminally ill people maybe I should not judge harshly, got that? Anyway? SUICIDE is the logical extreme. What about simply asking about the EFFECTIVENESS of laws anyway? Let's PUNISH dead people who have committed suicide, or those who attempt it? Put them in jail? Is THAT gonna help them? What about some PRACTICAL focus here. ? PS, drug warriors, please suck my hemorrhoids anyway?

  13. I think this article has brought out all of the people who simply want to do whatever they want, whenever they want, with no repercussion.

    Seems such people's ideological stance is less about libertarianism and freedom and more about selfish irresponsibility.

    No one here is advocating anyone, let alone the government force you to do what you do not want to do. Societal pressure is very different from force. Societal pressure is a good thing, and is the only way libertarianism can work. Sorry, but prostitution is not good you nor for society, neither is raising a child with a single parent, neither are hard drugs. If you are one who would not pressure your friends and family through speech or denial of access to yourself if they choose to do these things, as the guy said above, you identify more with being an asshole than a libertarian.

    1. Please explain why providing pleasure to people who do not otherwise have access to sexual intimacy is not a good thing? Is it your position that if someone is disabled or socially unable to interact with others to have a sexual relationship, they simply must forget about having any type of human intimacy?

      How about when someone is recently widowed or divorced and not yet ready to jump back into the dating scene- must they simply endure their loneliness until they can make 'society' happy by finding a permanent or semi permanent relationship?

      You have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to whether or not prostitution is good for ME or for society. It may not be something you find acceptable, but, no, 'society' has no legitimate need to stigmatize me or the disabled/ widowed/ divorced/ socially inept people who may need my services (if I were still providing them).

    2. For an alleged libertarian you're talking an awful lot about this "society" creature and what you expect people to do in support of it...

    3. Societal pressure is a good thing, and is the only way libertarianism can work.

      Societal pressure, IMO, is neither a good nor bad thing, it's just a thing. And until it rises to the level of using force against an individual, it's not a thing that libertarianism is concerned with. Libertarianism is morally underpinned by the non-aggression principle, not the non-judgment principle. Several commenters here seem to be extremely confused as to the difference between the two.

      1. "Societal" pressure does have consequences, regardless of lacking the force of government and even if there is no such thing as 'society.' And sure, you as an individual are free to believe that prostitution is wrong, just as I believe that religion is wrong, and sex work is great. That's my judgement and I am free to seek others who see things my way and who wish to stigmatize judgmental people like you, PM.

        You also can find others who believe as you do that somehow providing pleasure to others is a bad thing, especially when it involves money- and BTW- prostitution is one of the purest acts of capitalism there is- which is why so many lefties hate it.

        However, given that there is no such entity as 'society'- only groups of individuals who decide they represent everyone else- you can take your little troop of judgmentalists and I will take my troop of freedom lovers who do not view sex or pleasure as a bad thing, and we can all go off and live our lives without ever having to interact with each other. I bet we have lots more fun than YOUR troop of judgmental posterior ports.

  14. Years ago friend of mine wrote a senior thesis on the history of the legalities of cannabis. He found that cannabis was lumped in with hemp when the cotton industry successfully lobbied Congress against hemp. And when did Congress ever turn down a successful lobby? Imagine the profits of the cotton industry when the far superior hemp product was taken off the market. I'm curious as to how much money the cotton industry has pumped into the failed "war on drugs".

    Another friend of mine is a retired police officer who told me that 90% of the time they could "solve a crime" by following the money.

    If pot is decriminalized imagine how many jobs in the law enforcement industry will no longer be necessary. How many jobs in the courts and legal industry will disappear? Stop to consider how much tax money flows through the veins of the local and state agencies to fight the evil monster of Pot. Think of the loss of all of the billions of dollars of property that law enforcement agencies seize in drug busts that would no longer take place. The United States imprisons the highest percentage of population as compared to all other countries in the world. And a large percentage of prisons are now privately managed. What happens to the prison populations if pot becomes legal? Do you think that the private prison corporations will sit still and be quiet in the halls of Congress?

    No, there is simply too much money being made and too many jobs to be lost to allow pot to be decriminalized.

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  16. Actually Rapier Half-Witt, the campaign to prohibit cannabis was by no means just waged by the cotton industry. It started with the alcohol prohibitionists who soon focused on other intoxicants. I wrote a thesis on
    the alcohol prohibitionists and read a number of their hand-wringing tracts on the evil weed. People like to think that bad laws stem from mercenary or sinister motives but we must always remember the road to hell is paved with good intentions. If we forget that then we will be fooled by anyone's rotten causes just because they are nice and caring.

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  18. I think you failed to understand his point. Societal norms will work themselves out through freedom.

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