By Scott Tibbs, February 12, 2014
I came across an interesting graphic late last month comparing marijuana to alcohol, with the point being that a less dangerous substance is illegal with a more dangerous substance is legal. It is an interesting argument, but the problem is that it is not an apples to apples comparison. The graphic does not compare the effects of marijuana and the effects of alcohol, but instead compares marijuana to alcohol abuse.
Alcohol abuse is certainly a concern, and has impacts on public health, government spending and crime, but alcohol use and alcohol abuse are not the same thing. Having a drink with a meal or with friends is a long way from binge drinking or being an alcoholic. Moderate, reasonable and responsible use of alcohol noes not cost law enforcement anything, does not cause death via overdose, does not lead to drunk-driving deaths and does not increase crime.
Decriminalization advocates complain about marijuana being unfairly stigmatized, but images like that are not the best way to combat that stigmatization. In addition to being misleading about alcohol, some of the claims about marijuana are just plain false. Marijuana does not cure cancer, and with the War on Drugs it certainly does not save "billions" for law enforcement. Even if legalized, that would not be the case. Making absurd claims does not help your cause.
Speaking of absurd, I noticed a post on the Facebook page of a candidate for Indiana state treasurer. The question was about marijuana, even though the state treasurer has absolutely no authority over marijuana policy. Why ask that question of a candidate for state treasurer? Then I clicked on the profile. The questioner is a Libertarian candidate for state representative. The cover photo is... interesting, to say the least.
This is the problem too many Libertarians. Making marijuana legalization such a large focus marginalizes the Libertarian Party as the party of dope. That might play well with certain segments of the voter base, but that is not enough to win an election and does not make up for the voters who are turned off by what they see as (as Ann Coulter said) "a bunch of Trekkies living in their parents' basements." The Libertarian Party has a lot of good things going for it, but they will never be a major party until they stop (figuratively, if not literally) making a marijuana leaf the party's mascot.