By Scott Tibbs, April 1, 2010
CBS News reports that a California ballot measure, if approved, would make California "the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults. The measure would also give local governments the authority to regulate and tax pot sales." I am not familiar with the specifics of the ballot measure, but I support the basic philosophical principle behind it. This is not an area where government needs to be controlling behavior.
As a philosophical libertarian, I believe government should not be prohibiting behavior unless one person is doing harm to another. If someone is engaging in behavior that only harms himself, he should be free to do so without government sanction. He should also not expect government to bail him out when self-destructive behavior leads to financial or health problems. You make your choices, and live with the consequences.
If California does decriminalize marijuana, the federal government needs to stay out of it. The federal government is not given the authority to criminalize drugs in the Constitution, so the states should be allowed to set their own policies under the 10th Amendment. I have little faith that a statist like Obama would cede federal authority to the states on this matter, so California will need to aggressively fight for her rights.
Marijuana is physically harmful to the user, and anyone who smokes marijuana is a fool. It is not the role of government, however, to police what we do to ourselves. A government that has the authority to prohibit marijuana use also has the authority to ban trans fats in meal preparation (which has already happened in some areas) and regulate other ways we do not properly take care of our bodies. We will see more of this with Barack Obama's health care "reform" law. But harmful choices should be the choice of the individual, unless those choices harm others.