Musings: Prohibition vs Liberty

Prohibitionists are losing their decades-long fight to lock people up for ingesting or inhaling certain substances, substances that make no money for big pharma. Specifically, cannabis and psilocybin — marijuana and magic mushrooms.

In the Nov. 3 general election, voters in four states — New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, and Montana — said yes to adult use of recreational cannabis. Voters in Oregon said the same for psilocybin.

Those votes for the re-legalization of cannabis brings the total of states where adults can legally consume marijuana to 15, plus the District of Columbia. Some of those states also allow residents to grow their own.

Marijuana may have been the biggest winner in the election.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania is lagging woefully behind. Granted, after years of nonsense, the state legislature eventually passed a medical marijuana bill, but with restrictions on what conditions can be treated with cannabis.

Even Oklahoma doesn't restrict medicinal cannabis that way. Laws there allow medical marijuana decisions made "according to the accepted standards a reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending or approving any medication."

Further still, patients can have up to three ounces on their person and eight ounces at their residence. They may also have six mature plants and six seedlings, an ounce of concentrate, and 72 ounces of edible marijuana products.

At least as far as medicinal use, Oklahoma is well ahead of Pennsylvania.

But re-legalization (it wasn't always illegal) goes well beyond medicinal use. It's about honesty and liberty. Prohibition is rooted in lies and racism, and it erodes trust in government and, worse yet, erodes the condition of liberty that's supposed to exist in the United States.

I've commented on those facts numerous times over the years, and it's difficult to comprehend why people just don't get it. Alcohol and tobacco are far more dangerous than cannabis, yet they are legal, and some people relish their use while decrying the use of cannabis.

Active and former law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges have also come out in favor of a complete end to the drug war, calling for an end to all prohibition. Indeed, the group's name LEAP originally stood for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. They changed it to Law Enforcement Action Partnership because they wanted to drive home that prohibition destroys the trust between citizens and police, especially in the inner cities.

For years, various members of LEAP have explained that the war on drugs has corrupted both police and judges, that prohibition has done more damage than the drugs prohibited, including cocaine, heroin, and even meth. They understand that addiction is not a crime but a medical condition and that free men and women have the right to choose what they put into their bodies.

During the last few years, municipalities in Pennsylvania have enacted provisions in their zoning codes to accommodate the legal sale of medicinal marijuana in licensed dispensaries. The hearings held in Concord Township were fraught with fear. It was as if people believed the film "Reefer Madness" was a factual documentary rather than a government promoted propaganda film.

Now, elements of the same trepidation are occurring in Chadds Ford Township as the Planning Commission is considering changes to the zoning code to accommodate those legal dispensaries.

But the township must do it.  As Planning Commission Chairman Craig Huffman and township and Commission solicitor Mike Maddren have correctly reiterated to Commission members, municipalities must accommodate all legal businesses in their codes.

What's the fear? The boogie man is that "those people," those unsavory types who don't belong here, might come into Chadds Ford to buy marijuana. But people here are naïve if they think marijuana isn't used in Chadds Ford, used illegally. They're also naïve if they believe it hasn't been sold in the township. And that oh so wonderful Unionville-Chadds Ford School District? Yeah, there too.

Cannabis, marijuana, pot, weed, however it's referred to, is everywhere. It grows naturally on every continent except Antarctica. People have been using it for at least 5,000 years. And unlike alcohol and tobacco, simple use has never killed anyone. But prohibition does kill. It kills trust in the police, and it destroys liberty. But it hasn't killed drug use and never will. Let's end this stupid war.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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