Robertson right on the drug war

Walter Cronkite had the
reputation of being the most trusted man in America. As the story goes, when
the CBS Evening News anchor did a commentary against the Vietnam War,
then-President Lyndon Johnson reportedly turned to an aide and said, “If I’ve
lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the country.”

While our involvement in
Vietnam did not end until years after the commentary, the writing was on the
wall. Perhaps another comment from another broadcaster will put the writing on
the wall for another improper war.

It’s unlikely that anyone would
confuse Pat Robertson with Mr. Cronkite. While both are known as broadcasters,
Robertson is an evangelical Christian and host of "The 700 Club" on
the Christian Broadcasting Network. He is part of the conservative religious
right. So what can we take from his latest comment?

He was quoted in a New York
Times story last week saying, “If people can go into a liquor store and buy a
bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use
of this other substance is somehow criminal?”

He was speaking about the
marijuana.

In the March 7 story, Robertson
said, “I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage
alcohol…I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of
those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded”

Robertson’s view reflects
another parallel between the two wars. The pressure to get out of Vietnam increased
as middle class America became disenchanted with our involvement. If the
religious right is now turning against the drug war, that should send signals
to Washington and the various state capitols that support is waning and it’s
just a matter of time before legalization is reality.

Needless to say, Roberston’s
call to treat marijuana the same as alcohol is being hailed by pro-legalization
groups. Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance is quoted in the NY
Times story as saying, “Pat Robertson still has an audience of millions of
people, and they respect what he has to say... And he’s not backtracking. He’s
doubling down.”

Robertson said the government
has “gone overboard” in its attempt to be tough on drug use.

Indeed, the police have been
militarized, kicking in doors to serve no knock warrants. Innocent people have
been killed by police in the headlong rush to stop drug use and there’s no
apology or change in policy.

Even President Obama’s promise
not to raid medical marijuana facilities in states that have legalized such
practices has gone by the way.

“It’s completely out of
control,” Robertson said in the story. “Prisons are being overcrowded with
juvenile offenders having to do with drugs. And the penalties, the maximums,
some of them could get 10 years for possession of a joint of marijuana. It
makes no sense at all.”

Mr. Robertson’s position stops
well sort of full legalization of all drugs. It pertains to marijuana only.
It’s a good start, though.

He’s correct, the
criminalization of marijuana is destroying lives, mostly young lives, and most
of them are black or Hispanic. It’s not that those kids use pot more than
others; they just get arrested more. Things get hushed up and covered up in the
richer white neighborhoods.

Lives are lost and wasted
because of the drug war, but that war also destroys the Constitution and, by
extension, respect for the concept of law and order and it destroys the
application of liberty.

Two states this year — Colorado
and Washington — are considering softening their marijuana laws. While
Robertson is not campaigning on behalf of those changes, his position could
influence more conservative voters in those states to realize that the laws for
prohibition do more harm than good.

The full NY Times story can be
found at www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/us/pat-robertson-backs-legalizing-marijuana.html?_r=3&smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto

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