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Friday, March 04, 2005

Are they on drugs?

Making penalties tougher for grow-ops? That's what some police groups are calling for in the wake of the slaying of the four Mounties in Mayerthorpe, and public safety minister Anne McLellan says she'll consider the idea when she and justice minister Irwin Cotler review their decriminalization bill now before the House.

Not surprising: the knee-jerk response by this government in the wake of shocking crimes always seems to be to appease outraged interest groups by drafting up hastily prepared and poorly considered legislation (see: Montreal Massacre=gun registry, Murder of Aaron Webster=Bill C-250).

Never mind that this James Roszko character was no ordinary marijuana cultivator (he had a long history of run ins with cops, hated Mounties with a passion, had booby-trapped his land and was described by his own father as a "devil"). And that this isn't really a story about grow-ops anyway—word this morning is that police were actually looking for stolen cars on the property, not weed.

Increasing penalties on grow-ops is possibly the stupidest way you could respond to an incident like this, even if it was about drugs. For one thing, raising the stakes on the pot game will only make growers less likely to get taken out without a fight. Sure, it will drive the smaller guys, home hobbyist growers out of the industry. But the rules of economics pertain to the black market as much as anywhere: if smaller guys drop out, and demand remains constant, production will only consolidate under the larger grow ops, run largely by the biker and ethnic gangs, who are far more dangerous to deal with.

But decriminalizing demand for marijuana (i.e. its use) while recriminalizing supply (i.e. grow ops) entirely misses the main points of the legalization argument, which holds that, among other things, marijuana can be transformed into a legal industry, free of a criminal element, the same way the liquor industry is, by decriminalizing supply, not just demand. However you feel about legalizing weed, it should be obvious to any reasonable observer that if growing it weren't against the law, you wouldn't need cops to raid grow-ops and growers wouldn't need to guard them with guns.

Posted by Kevin Libin on March 4, 2005 | Permalink


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» 4 RCMP officers dead after Alberta shootout from Being American in T.O.
Mar. 3 - I have to run off to work, but want to note this (Four Alberta RCMP officers killed during raid.) By American standards it may not be big news, but up here, it is indeed major. And shocking.... [Read More]

Tracked on 2005-03-04 12:05:18 PM


While I'm generally sympathetic with your argument, I wonder what the maket structure is like. Is the pot grown in Canada consumed in Canada? If it were legal to grow and consume in Canada, would there still be a financial interest in illegal or unregulated production?

Posted by: KevinG | 2005-03-04 11:08:37 AM

Your hunch is correct, actually: Most marijuana grown in Canada is designated for export to the U.S., where street values are at least double what they are here. But even bearing that in mind, I can't see how that changes the fact that if growing it were legal here—regardless of where it's ultimately headed—you wouldn't have violent confrontations because there would be no need for cops to confront these guys.

The onus would fall on the U.S. to ensure their borders are protected against unwanted imports (kinda like they do with our cows). But cracking down on a legal product here to limit exports would mean fighting the U.S. drug war on Canadian soil.

I bet that a few cases of Canadian Club end up in Saudi Arabia from time to time, where it's illegal. Why would Canadian cops make the effort and raid Seagram's to prevent that?

Posted by: Kevin Libin | 2005-03-04 11:21:44 AM

So what is your point ? Are you saying because it may be difficult, we should just legalize the stuff and give up ? I say give the police more weapons to use. If they know where a grow-op is let them drop a bomb and take it out. Instead of increasing all the warrants and paperwork needed. Do that a few times, and I'm sure these sleezebags will think twice about turning their farm into a grow-op.

It appears you are right about one thing, though. This does not appear to be about grow-ops. That seems to be just an additional note on this jerks resume. I am amazed though that the RCMP sent four junior officers in there with only hand guns, with this guys history. Someone needs to answer why that would happen. Especially since the 'gun registry' would have given them all the information they would need to prevent this. (sarcasm intended)

Posted by: Mark Cameron | 2005-03-04 11:24:32 AM

"The onus would fall on the U.S. to ensure their borders are protected against unwanted imports"

I think we would have an obligation to take additional steps on our side of the border to curtail the export (not manufacture) opportunities. If for no other reason than to mitigate the political ill-will legalization would generate.

Also, if the cost of regulated production drops below the cost of unregulated productio the link between organised crime and pot production is less conclusively severed.

But, as I said, I'm generally in agreement.

Posted by: KevinG | 2005-03-04 11:43:07 AM

The argument that legalizing pot would undermine organized crime's ability to profit from it, and hence, lessen the criminal behavior is tempting... but illogical.

Crime seeks high risk enterprise because of the high profit margins, and absence of tax. Removing profit will not reduce criminal involvement in the economy - they will only shift to develop new markets.

If the solution were as simple as legalizing marijuana so that they could make a peaceful, honest living, these people would already be growing hydroponic vegetables, canola, wine orchards. If stealing cars were legal I can guarantee you that James Roszko wouldn't have been making an "honest living" doing it.

Remove the risk, and hence the profit, from marijuana and you will see a corresponding increase to promote other substances and activities that victimize society. Fighting organized and habitual crime is more akin to a war - marijuana is only the current battlefield. Surrendering on any battlefield in a war against serious criminality is ill advised.

If legalizing marijuana is good public policy, then deal with that issue after the criminal involvement has been eradicated.

Of course, it's easier to go the Bahgdad Bob route, give them what they want and publicly declare yourself the victor.

Posted by: Kate | 2005-03-04 12:36:26 PM

Serious critics of "illogic" don't generally make their best arguments by means of lame-o analogies. If "surrendering on any battlefield in a war against serious criminality is ill-advised", surely expanding into more battlefields would be well-advised? Should we bring back alcohol prohibition? Ban other substances randomly in order to corner those nasty criminals still further?

Posted by: Colby Cosh | 2005-03-04 1:35:50 PM

Did I read this right? "It should be obvious to any reasonable observer that if growing it weren't against the law, you wouldn't need cops to raid grow-ops and growers wouldn't need to guard them with guns." Are you advocating that marijuana and marijuana growing should be legal? By your statement then, murder should also be legal because if it were we wouldn't need cops with guns to go after those sleaze balls either. Why not just make everything legal? Are you smoking the stuff?

Posted by: flyingopher | 2005-03-04 1:37:46 PM

It does seem today as though people are growing rapidly unable to tell the moral difference between growing marijuana in the basement and killing another human being. At least flyingopher is right up-front about it!

Posted by: Colby Cosh | 2005-03-04 1:56:48 PM

If ending prohibition had been a successful tactic to erode criminal activity and make life safer for law enforcement, then organized crime should have declared bankruptcy decades ago.

Instead of running booze, they turned to different markets - and created a few more. So, today we have international human sex slavery, the drug trade, child porn and Liberal friendly advertising agencies.

Arguing that this event is due to prohibiting marijuana is as absurd as stating that it's due to criminalizing auto theft.

To continue the lame-o analogy - it's not an "expansion" of a battlefield - it's recognizing that you are going to eventually have to engage the enemy on one or another, and to my mind, this is as good a one as any other. But you have to actually fight to win. Arresting pot growers and sending them back out through a revolving door of fines-as-cost-of-doing-business is not sufficient.

Posted by: Kate | 2005-03-04 2:10:07 PM

I agree completely with Kate; there is no way to conclude that legalizing marijuana (or autotheft) would have prevented the murder of the RCMP officers. the two are unrelated and it's disgusting to see the MSM and the politicos hoping to make political hay..out of this tragedy. Watch out for Jack Layton as well as the Liberals to latch onto this. Stephen Harper has already rejected the link.

Essentially, that's setting up a scenario where you state that IF everything is legal, THEN, there will be no crime. Semantically, that's indeed accurate. If everything is legally OK, then, it's no crime to do anything. I can murder my wife; steal my neighbour's car and extort thousands from the folks at the Old Age Home down the street. ..and none of that would be a crime.
Practically, if any of this were legal, would such permissiveness stop me from doing any of these actions? No. So, the assumption that one only does Bad Things because they are illegal, is naive.

Kate's point is more accurate than my semantic ramblings; it's that illegal economic actions are highly profitable, and must be analyzed, not as emotional aberrations but as economic actions. If I run an auto theft ring, yes, it may be high risk...but..the profit is beyond any that I, in my humdrum job, can ever hope to achieve. After all, my very legal job has taken me years of study and kept me off the income market for all those years...while autotheft does not, as far as I know, require any advanced educational skills, and above all...autotheft means that I keep all that money.

No taxes. No money sent for the federal liberals to steal and spend on $500 dollar lunches, and Challenger Jets and apartments in Paris. Very very enticing, actually.

So- the illegal economy - is a very big economy, and gets bigger as taxes get larger. (check out the robust illegal economy in Quebec, whose devoted citizens pay the highest taxes in North America)..

It will always be with us, and the agenda should be to make it less profitable and more difficult to engage in. Our current method, as Kate points out, of 'revolving door fines' as a cost of doing business is simply a cost of doing business. After all, high income earners readily accept that $4,000 worth of parking fines is an acceptable, and deductible, cost to their income, and so, the illegal and just as high income earners accept the risks of a $5,000 fine and a few weeks in our comfort-jails.

Posted by: ET | 2005-03-04 2:40:06 PM

What happened yesterday will convince many Canadians that the prohibition on marijuana is the same as the prohibition of alcohol in the past. It is stupid, illogical, creates a victimless crime (with colleteral victims), and is ultimately futile.
All you law and order types can cry for "justice" all you want but the prohibition on marijuana is a failure and will always be a failure.
Legalize it now and bring sanity to Canada.
The nanny stae creates chaos as we saw yesterday.

Posted by: Jim | 2005-03-04 2:43:59 PM

There is nothing in this event that should effect national policy. The RCMP appear to have acted in a reasonable manner. Assigning a couple of junior members to guard some evidence until specialists arrived is quite reasonable. The lack of seniority of the members likely played no part in this. For the majority of RCMP members graduation from Basic Training is the pinacle of their officer survival skills. The precence of a Sergeant or Corporal would have made no difference to the outcome.

This event is extraordinary.I know of no other occasion where a suspect has returned to the scene of a crime to attack the police. The fact is that Canadian police operate in a permissive environment. They assume that premeditated violence against them, although a possibility, is very unlikley. They operate on the basis that criminals will attempt to flee not stalk them.

Attempts at using this crime to push agendas are misplaced. With 100% hindsight there may be some tactical "lessons learned" for the RCMP with regards their response after the attack but I doubt very much if anything of great value concerning the investigation will emerge. Sometimes you can do everything by the book and still lose.

Posted by: M Shannon | 2005-03-04 2:46:57 PM

Pass the Paraquat, please.

The libertarians are evidently only capable of rousing themselves over their "rights" to grow pot, smoke pot, sell pot.... We've seen it over and over on this site. I only wish they could become so excited, so engaged, on important matters.

Posted by: Charles MacDonald | 2005-03-04 2:49:38 PM

Was this meant to be a compendium of everything that's wrong with your side in this debate? If so, congratulations.

I am fascinated that someone could endorse the view that sex tourism, the drug trade, and child porn are all complete novelties of our age. For those not numb to the history here, there's a gaping irony in Kate's mention of the "international sex slavery trade"; marijuana and narcotics were banned in the first place precisely because of a blind moral panic over their associations with, among other things, "white slavery".

Alcohol prohibition, as I'd have thought nearly everybody knows, led directly to the Golden Age of organized crime in the United States and Canada. Its repeal caused a decline in the influence and wealth of American gangland, which remains in existence but no longer openly exerts control of city governments or police forces. That some criminals (criminals created in the first place by the promise of bootlegging fortunes) found other criminal things to do after repeal is a pathetically inadequate argument against it, or against repeating its success today vis-a-vis illegal drugs. It's an inescapable conclusion from your premises that it would in fact be desirable to reintroduce alcoholic Prohibition. How many dozen people in the whole of North America would agree?

As far as "battlefields" go, here's a brainstorm: let's not fight these battles in the endless Flemish mud of victimless crime. History and economics teach us--history and economics, in fact, scream at us--that it's utterly witless to do so. The police and courts in this country now seem to regard property offences as mere bureaucratic matters. and many violent crimes as peccadilloes requiring a few short months in the can. I'd have thought this observation was a good deal more relevant to the case at hand than talk of "organized crime". But apparently diverting more law-enforcement resources into raising the price of pot is the favoured answer to yesterday's shooting, for some.

Posted by: Colby Cosh | 2005-03-04 2:58:22 PM

Memo to social conservatives: we libertarians will shut up about marijuana when you start taking James Roszko's history of personal and property crimes as seriously as you apparently do his pot-cultivation activities.

Posted by: Colby Cosh | 2005-03-04 3:09:57 PM

James Roszko should long ago have paid with his life for the serious indictable offences of which he was convicted. If he had never committed any of them, his grow-op alone would justify his execution.

And I'm just a reactionary, not a true, hardcore socon.

Posted by: Charles MacDonald | 2005-03-04 3:24:21 PM

I think there's a name for Colby's society where those societal catalysts for "blind moral panic" are harnessed and integrated into the governing beaurocracy.


But we're in agreement. My point about marijuana is that it's not the marijuana - it's the way we enforce law. Legalizing marijuana will not change the nature of the career criminal, so long as they skip through the justice system with impunity. So why grow-ops? Why not grow-ops. It's as good an excuse as any to finally get to work and start eliminating them.

(I'll give Colby the benefit of the doubt over his fixation on quaint notions "American gangland" prohibition era organized crime. He's probably never dated a member of the Hong Kong "mafia".)

Posted by: Kate | 2005-03-04 3:27:25 PM

Decriminalizing possession of small amounts makes sense regardless whether cultivation and possession of large amounts is a criminal offence: it is foolish to criminalize large numbers of the generally inoffensive citizenry.

The end of Prohibition ended a problem in the US, but that is not an appropriate analogy to be used by decriminalization proponents. What the proponents propose is to end Prohibition in Canada without ending Prohibition in the US, and that will have a very different result.

The current cultivators will not quit the business; they will become (in Canada) legitimate businessmen who possess advantages of knowing the business and having infrastructure in place. They will be dominant suppliers in the market. The proceeds of their cultivation operations will continue to finance the less savoury aspects of their financial empires and their expansion of capital into other legitimate enterprises, all of which will further empower them. Those who consume the product will continue to finance the other operations - harder drugs, human slavery, etc, as the consumers do now; the social consequences will continue. The resources the producers currently must expend to maintain operations in Canada against the force of the law may be redirected to improve delivery (ie. smuggle) to the market in which the price remains higher - the US.

And that, of course, will not exactly endear us to the US. They aren't going to thank us for forcing them to shift resources to match the refocussed efforts of the suppliers. There will thus be political consequences.

I doubt I have exhaustively enumerated all the probable adverse consequences.

Posted by: lrC | 2005-03-04 3:35:28 PM

How exactly is the marijuana trade a "victimless crime"? Some slimebag sets up shop in rented accommodations in order to minimise costs and maximise his return. He bypasses the electric meter, both to evade detection and reduce input costs. He creates a high humidity, high carbon dioxide environment in the home to promote growth of the marijuana crop. Unfortunately, that is also conducive to mould growth, often sticking the landlord with a condemned property and a $60,000-$80,000 tab when the property is abandoned. In the meantime, the grow-op attracts the attention of alert and ruthless competitors, who decide to invade the locus in quo and steal the valuable crop, whether the owners object or not.

And decriminalisation or legalisation will improve this situation in what respect? These layabouts will suddenly invest in secure, purpose-built quonsets and never bother the neighbours? (That is, unless they stumble over the blackguard from down the road who's dumping waste from his meth lab on their property. But hey, that's a victimless crime for another day.)

Posted by: Charles MacDonald | 2005-03-04 4:13:21 PM

Since most experts agree that the grow ops are run by organized crime who want to smuggle weed back into the USA (and are coming into Canada to do so, legalizing the growing of the drug may not only cause massive border crossing problems, it will also increase the number of criminals living in the country.

Posted by: Pat C | 2005-03-04 4:23:18 PM

Sorry, I agree with Colby. I'd write more, but I've got to go down in the basement and check my beer and wine musts, and water some plants. What? Marijuana? Don't be silly. I grow and cure my own tobacco. I have several briars worth hundreds of dollars each. And you can't stop me.

Posted by: Tony | 2005-03-04 6:57:14 PM

I would suggest, (somewhat tongue in cheek) that the best way to curtail any activity is to let the government regulate it.

In this debate I come down on the side of legalizing and controlling drugs. I have no problem with somebody deciding to waste their life away. The problem I have is the criminal activity the use of drugs generates.

Legalize it all, smack age limits on it and make the sellers of the product "educate" our children about how bad it is for them. That will be more effective in the long run, than saying its illegal and you can't have it.

Posted by: Gareth Igloliorte | 2005-03-04 7:34:53 PM

On legalizing marijuana, I ask if we need another legal drug. All the activists say "oh yeh regulate it and tax it like alcohol." (these activists all love taxes and regulations). As if alcohol has been a great thing for society.

Posted by: Mallard | 2005-03-04 8:43:15 PM

My grandma used to say: everything in moderation, including moderation itself. But, she was wise. I, on the other hand, am an edjumacated smartass, so I say:

Abuse is No Argument Against Titrated Use

Of course, my grandma also used to say: sticks and stones can break your bones but names can never hurt you.

Tell that to the anti-freedom-of-speach fanatics! Someday they'll get hurt, not by people wielding names, but by people wielding sticks and stones.

Self defence excepted of course. Aye, there's the rub.

Posted by: Tony | 2005-03-04 10:38:27 PM

Why were these drugs prohibited? The use of opium in Victorian England was wide spread.

"Under the pressure of the cares and sorrows of our mortal condition, men have at all times, and in all countries, called in some physical aid to their moral consolations - wine, beer, opium, brandy, or tobacco." -Edmund Burke

Posted by: DJ | 2005-03-05 12:22:19 AM

No doubt the repeal of alcohol Prohibition had its Charles MacDonalds--boobs who stood around saying "Is repeal going to shut down illegal speakeasies? Is it going to stop people from drinking Sterno? Is it going to prevent criminals from serving adulterated liquor to the ordinary consumer? Is it going to stop machine-gun fights between bootleggers in warehouses? Is it going to remove the burden of hypocrisy from physicians who are asked to prescribe therapeutic 'spirits'? Is it going to allow for the creation and growth of rehabilitative societies that can try to cure people of their addictions?"

The question is, what did such people do when repeal actually accomplished all these things? One likes to think they expired of pure shame.

I wouldn't want to raise the ire of any "conservatives" by raising the mere issue of personal freedom to put chemicals in one's body ("Why not target grow-ops?"). It has gone completely unmentioned in this thread; I conclude that fans of the Shotgun by and large, and most inexplicably, regard it as a joke.

I will add, in the spirit of beating my head soothingly against a brick wall, that James Roszko was not an "organized criminal", that the cops were not present on his farm to look for marijuana, that his grow-op was not on rental property, that his neighbours feared him for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with drugs, that he was a native of the area rather than some sinister foreign chemistry interloper, that he was walking around free as air despite an extensive record of violence, and that there's no evidence he was stealing electricity. The law must have had something like fifty chances to forestall Thursday's crime; none had anything to do with "grow-ops". I can only wonder, with due respect, what the hell is wrong with anyone who brings that issue up in this connection. "Did you hear that guy who shot four cops was growing POT? We've gotta do something about that stuff!"

Posted by: Colby Cosh | 2005-03-05 12:40:52 AM

James Roszko was a criminal, pure and simple. Let's assume his grow-op was merely a sideline in an extensive criminal career which probably included many offences for which he was never charged or convicted. So what? Who would have less compunction about gravitating to growing marijuana: James Roszko, career criminal; or an otherwise upstanding citizen?

Your indignation that this man was free to continue committing crimes is justified, Mr. Cosh, but I don't see any participant in this discussion arguing otherwise.

Mr. Cosh, the end of Prohibition demonstrably did not bring any of the wonders you claim, leaving aside the more lurid Hollywood aspects of your comment.

Illegal speakeasies still exist. Some operate under the guise of motorcycle clubhouses where patrons are free to imbibe -- provided their monetary contribution before leaving reflects the market value of the drinks and a healthy profit for the club. That's despite the end of Prohibition and a relatively benign regime of regulation and inspection for bars and lounges.

Yes, and people still drink vanilla extract, Lysol, methanol and virtually any other source of ethanol or fusel oils despite the almost untrammelled availability of beer, wine and liquor.

In Alberta, medicare subsidised the cost of medicinal brandy by $6/bottle until a couple of years ago. Far from being a "burden of hypocrisy" on physicians, prescribing therapeutic spirits was a highly effective treatment for some people (my mother among them, with her long history of stomach problems and surgeries). Certainly the long experience with spirits compares favourably to the pseudoscience (more accurately, religious fervour) surrounding medicinal marijuana. "I have a remitting-relapsing condition. I smoked pot and look -- it's in remission!"

I realise none of this is quite as satisfying as a truly Tedwardesque "control his/her own body" rant, but give it a try.

Posted by: Charles MacDonald | 2005-03-05 9:23:32 AM

I protest the calling of Charles M a boob by Colby. I was chastised the other day for calling Norman a pinhead and my post was removed and another edited . As I accept the rights of the moderator to do this , I think it only right to point out the double standard(and also think I had more cause).

Posted by: ken the ex-canuck | 2005-03-05 9:34:52 AM

"Boob" is an extremely mild term and well within the scope of my implied consent by participating in this forum. It's like a clean bodycheck in hockey.

Posted by: Charles MacDonald | 2005-03-05 9:43:16 AM

Colby Cosh is just showing himself to be a few successful years away from the same smug dedication to comfortable privilege that the Liberals demonstrate so well. "Libertarian" hocus-pocus about the curative powers of more legalized intoxicants is a sure sign that bourgeois self-fascination crosses all ideological borders.

Posted by: Barry Stagg | 2005-03-05 3:33:21 PM

I have a cactus and a fern in my solarium. Plants are plants. Let's stop sending SWAT teams in to people's houses to confiscate their plants -
it's simply not worth it. I personally cannot stand pot and I generally stay away from users because I find it impossible to carry on a conversation with potheads and I can't stand the way they smell. I have seen what pot does to destroy people's motivation, their memory and their cognitive skills but, unfortunately, people make choices and must bear the consequences. The war on drugs is not working. It never has. Stop the plant hunt.

Posted by: Michael Dabioch | 2005-03-05 3:49:10 PM

Aside from the weed mis-information ... the part of this story I don't get is why these officers sauntered onto this psycho's property without flack jackets and serious weaponry. If the guy was a known nutcase who had been involved in numerous violent incidents, wouldn't it make sense for due precautions to be taken. If I was a relative of any of those young officers I would want heads to roll. These deaths were needless, and could have been avoided with some basic precautions.

The weed issue seems minor compared to proceedural problems and issues pertaining to the pathology that characterized most of Roszko's dealings with his communuty. There have been thousands of raids on genuine grow operations across Canada over the years and none of them has ended up in a tragedy of this dimension. Clearly the problem here can't be reduced to a simple weed issue.

Posted by: raskolnikov | 2005-03-06 12:08:16 AM

Alcohol and tobacco are legal drugs, its true. But they have long histories in our society. If they were not already established, we would not wish for more of them.

Marijuana is a curse that is still mostly trapped in Pandora’s box. Let’s keep it there.

Posted by: Pete E | 2005-03-06 1:49:11 AM

And what about the gun registry? Were Rozko's weapons registered? What are the chances we'll be reading about this in the MSM any time soon?

Posted by: skelly | 2005-03-06 1:23:19 PM

The trajedy of our RCMP victims should be disconnected from the issue of pot. The issue is why a dangerous man, known to the community as such, was enabled to push his envelope.

Regarding marijuana:
Obviously, prohibition did not work for alcohol and it is not working for marijuana. Libin's very correct if that Canada could just grow up, we would no longer grow op.

Posted by: bk | 2005-03-06 6:19:41 PM

It does tend to seem suspicious to me when the bulk of the public officials who are supposed to prevent this sort of thing from happening simultaneuosly pounce on the obvious self-deflecting news-baiting hypothesis in response to these tragedies, apparently largely without any particular introspecion as to whether or not the system they purport to be responsible for is performing adequately, rather than just ideologically.

Posted by: Tony | 2005-03-06 6:43:56 PM

Obviously there are two polar sides in this forum: complete legalization or complete criminalization of marijuana. With the exception of lrC, no one seems to support the Liberal plan to decriminalize possession and use while continuing to prohibit production, distribution and sale.

This "moderate" position is clearly worst, and not only because it is morally contradictory.

Decriminalizing possession and use will increase demand by lowering the risks of consumption. Increased demand will increase incentive for suppliers who will remain outlaws thus increasing all their attendant ills.

Posted by: Yesprat | 2005-03-06 7:06:08 PM

The big question for the prohibition folks is this:

What business is it of yours if I grow or smoke pot?

Posted by: billy-jay | 2005-03-06 8:42:15 PM

Charles MacDonald:
"The libertarians are evidently only capable of rousing themselves over their "rights" to grow pot, smoke pot, sell pot.... We've seen it over and over on this site. I only wish they could become so excited, so engaged, on important matters."

'Important' to whom? To *you*?

Posted by: John Lopez | 2005-03-06 11:23:05 PM

>'Important' to whom? To *you*?

No, important according to what they profess to believe.

There are a handful of participants on this site who consistently examine the issues of the day from the perspective of free-market economics and the tradition of classical liberalism. I do not always agree with them, but I'm grateful that they advocate their views clearly and with passion.

I ask only why more libertarians do not weigh in on the large issues of politics, government and the economy. They seem to turn up in droves whenever pot is mentioned, then disappear for weeks or months until the next melee over marijuana.

It may be that I misconstrue libertarianism, perhaps wilfully. I thought it was more than a single-issue quasi-ideology.

Posted by: Charles MacDonald | 2005-03-07 11:50:07 AM

As a left wing libertarian I too have to wonder when does 20 pot plants a Grow Op make, and given the fact that the RCMP were acting as armed Repo men in a contract dispute, why that was not the news header: RCMP Killed trying to reposess Truck.
See my comment on my blog

Posted by: Eugene Plawiuk | 2005-03-07 5:16:39 PM

It is nauseating to see supposedly reasoned people treat marijuana farmers as the innocent victims of this mass murder.

Posted by: Barry Stagg | 2005-03-07 5:31:12 PM

>With the exception of lrC, no one seems to support the Liberal plan to decriminalize possession and use while continuing to prohibit production, distribution and sale.

>This "moderate" position is clearly worst, and not only because it is morally contradictory.

If you want to make possession an idiot tax and allow police to write fines for people found in possession, go ahead. However, you'll have to explain in detail how the "worst" position is one which doesn't place thousands of productive and inoffensive citizens at risk of having to answer "Yes" when asked during a job interview if they have ever been convicted.

I'd prefer to avoid both problems:

1) Criminalizing users, whose moral crime is hardly worse than using tobacco or alcohol.

2) Annoying the US if conditions analogous to the bootleg era are re-established.

Posted by: lrC | 2005-03-07 6:45:35 PM


"No, important according to what they profess to believe.


It may be that I misconstrue libertarianism, perhaps wilfully. I thought it was more than a single-issue quasi-ideology."

The term 'libertarian' is very vague, and you'll find a whole spectrum of people laying claim to the label, all the way from folks who long for the status quo ante of the week before last to outright anarchists.

My position on the issue is simple: what's grown on other folks' land is none of my business. The guns in my house are none of your business, because it isn't your house. The amount of money you make isn't my business, because it isn't my money. 'Who owns what?' provides the answer about 99% of the time in regards to the proper libertarian position on any issue.

That question also serves to give the answer to your wonderment about this:
"I ask only why more libertarians do not weigh in on the large issues of politics, government and the economy."

Those libertarians aren't *your* property, and so they get to pick different values than you if they feel like it.

See how simple it can be?

Posted by: John Lopez | 2005-03-07 9:48:44 PM

This is my final contribution on this thread. I promise!

MWW sent me a courteous and well-reasoned email, for which I thank her. In response to "why weed all the time?", she begins:

"Because the "war on drugs" is a monumental failure, has created a veritable gulag prison system in America, (After Canada, The greatest country on earth) and is wreaking havoc in the lives of thousands of innocent people who are only indulging in a vice no more harmful than smoking or imbibing alcohol."

The points of contention there are only too obvious in this thread.

MWW continues:

"Read Milton Friedman's essay on the subject or William F Buckley. Both have come out against marijuana prohibition."

We may well disagree about Buckley (although that could be fun, too), but Friedman casts a long shadow.


"Part of the reason volumes are written in the comments section on the subject is because this is one area where libertarians and conservatives disagree profoundly."

Yes, undeniably.

Thank you, Meaghan.

Posted by: Charles MacDonald | 2005-03-08 10:01:48 AM

I noticed several comments comparing drug laws to alcohol prohibition. Ann Coulter provides some of the missing facts (from "How to Talk to a Liberal".)

"Stupid Argument No. 2: Prohibition failed. No it didn't. Prohibition resulted in startling reductions of alcohol consumption (over 50 percent), cirrhosis of the liver (63 percent), admissions to mental health institutions for alcohol psychosis (60 percent), and arrests for drunk and disorderly conduct (50 percent). That doesn't mean Prohibition was a good thing. Christ's first miracle wasn't turning wine into water. But Prohibition is one of the strongest arguments against legalizing marijuana. The reason Prohibition failed was that alcohol had become a respectable libation, it was part of the social fabric in high society and low. Once the genie is out of the bottle (so to speak), it's hard to put it back in." -- P. 312

Posted by: Pete E | 2005-03-09 1:00:24 AM

Ann Coulter is an idiot. Of course Prohibition failed. When an activity is made illegal and it reduces said activity by (over) 50 per cent, that is not what I would call success. What (Alcohol) Prohibition did was finance guys like Al Capone. Way to go. Drug Prohibition finances the gangs in American cities.

Posted by: billy-jay | 2005-03-09 7:32:25 AM


Obviously Coulter would rather see Grandpa unable to take a toot before going to bed than she would see organized crime evaporate. It's really that simple.

There's a *reason* that conservatives cut and run when the subject of *ethics* is brought up.

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Posted by: Excathe | 2008-03-19 1:08:28 AM

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