The Conservative War on the War on Drugs

A red state like Nevada may not top your list of pot-friendly
places, but that could soon change. A legalizing initiative is
scheduled to appear on the ballot there this fall. If approved, the
‘tax and regulate’ measure would make the sale of marijuana more
like alcohol,
reports Sasha Abramsky for Mother
Jones
. Designated vendors would sell the substance —
taxed — to those over 21, who could legally possess up to an
ounce.

According to Abramsky, among the most enthusiastic supporters of
the measure are conservatives. Many of them are tired of seeing
resources wasted in a failed war on drugs, others are simply wary
of overbearing government and law enforcement agencies. Bill Piper,
director of national affairs for the reform-minded
Drug Policy Alliance, explains: ‘At its core,
conservatism is supposed to be about free markets, the rule of law,
and smaller government — and you can’t have any of those when you
have a massive war on drugs.’

Nevada isn’t the only place where conservatives are taking a
stand on the issue.
Writing for Philadelphia’s City
Paper
, Brian Hickey reports that
Libertarian
James Babb
is using legalization as a platform in his
campaign to become a state representative for the 157th
District. A key element of his proposal is a position outlined
by the group Law
Enforcement Against Prohibition
(LEAP): It is simply time to
try a new tack, since decades of ‘war’ have clearly not resolved
illegal drug use.

LEAP started with five members in 2002 and has grown to more
than 5,000 police officers, judges, corrections officers, and
prosecutors nationally. Jack Cole, LEAP’s executive director and a
former undercover narcotics investigator for the New Jersey State
Police, theorizes, ‘If we ended drug prohibition today, tomorrow
all the drug lords, terrorists, and street dealers would be out of
business. If they’re not in business, they’re not out in the
streets, and if they’re not out in the streets, they’re not
shooting each other to protect their market share, catching
innocent people and children in the crossfire.’ What’s more, LEAP
contends, legalization could mean better relations between the
people and the police. One of the primary goals outlined on LEAP’s
website is ‘to restore the public’s respect for law enforcement,
which has been greatly diminished by its involvement in imposing
drug prohibition.’

While the Nevada initiative may not pass — early polls put 56
percent of voters against the measure — we may see variations on
it in the future. With these new cheerleaders, the argument against
war and for informed compromise may gain traction.

Go there>>
Nevada Conservatives Against the War on
Drugs

Go there, too>>
Reefer Gladness

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