Why Drug Prohibition Of Any Sort Is Inherently Immoral, Totalitarian, and Profoundly Un-American


Drug prohibition of any sort infringes on personal freedom. That should serve as good enough proof that the American government should end the War On Drugs and repeal federal drug prohibitions of all kinds. (To most people it’s not quite that simple, hence the necessity of this argument in the first place.) Personal freedoms are, according to an online definition I stumbled upon: “rights and freedoms that protect an individual from the state. Civil liberties (synonymous with personal freedoms) set limits on the government so that its agents cannot… interfere unduly with the lives of private citizens”.

One of the most fundamental ideas upon which America was founded is that each citizen should have the right to do what they want with their body and property, as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others. One infringes on another’s rights by harming them or stealing what that person rightfully owns. Quite simply, if you’re not infringing on anyone else’s rights, on what basis does anyone have a right to stop you? Because doing certain drugs will inevitably lead to the usage of heavier ones? Because it’s “bad for you”? Well, 1) who gets to decide what’s good and what’s bad for every citizen, 2) who says they know better than you about what should go in your body, and 3) how do they have the right to dictate your own personal health choices?

Smoking is pretty darn bad for you but nobody would stand for it if it was against the law to buy, sell, or use cigarettes. And rightfully so. Because as individuals, we have the right to our life, and thus we have the right to make crappy choices – even dangerous ones! It’s not the government’s job to legislate morality or what a bunch of respected officials decide is a good kind of lifestyle. For one thing, not everybody agrees on what is a good choice of lifestyle… Even if smoking pot were unequivocally the most disgusting, unhealthy practice on the planet, I’m sure there would still be plenty of people who’d choose to smoke it even with a guaranteed shortened lifespan. The government might say that being a total pothead will shorten your life, but so might being an alcoholic, smoking cigarettes, eating too much food, and being anorexic. Why does the government not outlaw those things, if like pot they are harmful in excess? If somebody feels like the obesity that comes with food addiction is a worthy price to pay for the enjoyment they feel when they “binge eat”, that is rightfully their choice; it may be a ridiculously stupid one, but on what moral grounds can anyone or anything force you to stop eating as much food as you’d like?

The same argument applies to outlandish regulations set forth by the Food and Drug Administration that forbid Americans from consuming certain foods, drinks, and medicines that it has deemed unhealthy. One current regulation: the interstate sale of raw milk. I’m actually not kidding. Yes, the government will seriously arrest you for selling milk that the FDA rules is not up to its standards. As strange as it may sound, the common sense argument that people should be able to drink whatever milk they want is the very same one I’m making in favor of drug legalization. The concept and the logic are no different: we all own our bodies, so if our bodies are our property, how can a government justly deny us full usage of that property? And when government is afforded the ability to do just that, and can fully dictate our health choices and our diets, are we not all just property of the government? That’s a scary thought, but it’s an even scarier reality. Scarier still is not just that the current government really upholds laws that view citizens as government property, but that a majority of Americans seem to be so complacent with that.

Life is full of choices – sometimes we make good ones and sometimes we mess up. But it’s our right to mess up, and not the government’s job to parent and “baby” us the way it sees fit. Unless of course we live in a country where each citizen is the government’s property, and I don’t think many Americans believe that’s how individuals should exist in a just society. (Oh wait, I forgot about the liberals.) But again, how is living under drug prohibition anything but living as the government’s property? Think about it. Individuals have the right to make dangerous choices (though it should be noted that drugs like marijuana are substantially less dangerous and far more beneficial than legal drugs like alcohol). This is one of the most basic principles of American freedom. America’s Founding Fathers, though hardly in agreement on every major issue, would at least all readily agree on this.

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2 Responses to Why Drug Prohibition Of Any Sort Is Inherently Immoral, Totalitarian, and Profoundly Un-American

  1. Dr. Seuss says:

    It’s not a good approach to go according to everything by its pure textbook definition, as you did when defining personal freedoms; not everything is that black and white, as is the case with the drug matters.
    It may seem like a silly question, but why are you bringing this topic up and presenting it as such? Is it really something that matters that much to you? If you’re concerned about controlling drugs’ infringing upon people’s freedoms, I highly doubt, and am 99.999% sure that it will not lead to a totalitarian government which will oppress its people and suspend rights.
    I also disagree about what the Founding Fathers would have thought. Of course, it’s impossible to know their thought processes, but I do not think they defined civil liberties as rigidly and in as black-and-white a fashion as you did. If that were the case, then various Federalists and later political parties and figures within the time period would not have pushed for a government involved in peoples’ lives. Additionally, if the government shouldn’t “baby” its people, why bother forming an army to protect them? While it doesn’t involve a choice of the people, it’s still a form of protecting them. Moreover, the government was founded on the basis that people could not make proper decisions for themselves. Even though these decisions were political, I think it’s more than fair to extend such political decisions to ones like whether or not to take drugs.

    • jonathanadam says:

      Seuss – I’ll respond to your post bit by bit. I’ll quote what you said and then after the “———–” which marks my answer I’ll respond. Hopefully you’ll read most of it because I’m going to respond to your comment in its entirety. Btw, thanks for the comment. I really appreciate the interest!

      “It’s not a good approach to go according to everything by its pure textbook definition, as you did when defining personal freedoms; not everything is that black and white, as is the case with the drug matters.”

      ————— That was actually a very accurate definition of personal freedom. It’s truly a very black and white concept. Personal freedom = your right to privacy from the government where, as long as you don’t infringe on anyone else’s rights, you have a right to do as you please with yourself. It can’t really mean anything else aside from that, so that’s how I defined it. If you have another definition, I’d love to hear it, for real.

      “It may seem like a silly question, but why are you bringing this topic up and presenting it as such? Is it really something that matters that much to you? If you’re concerned about controlling drugs’ infringing upon people’s freedoms, I highly doubt, and am 99.999% sure that it will not lead to a totalitarian government which will oppress its people and suspend rights.”

      ————— Yeah, I guess it is a rather silly question. I bring it up because the United States government currently adopts a position with which I disagree: maintaining the War On Drugs. It’s quite obvious why someone who disagrees with the War On Drugs would care about it: it’s part of the reason why over 7 million people are in jail in America and why imprison a staggering 25% of the world’s prisoners (while America has only 5% of the world population!). Also, the government spends billions of $$$ per year enforcing it. All that for people who are either making a personal health decision, or nonviolently selling something which someone agrees to buy. So this massive intrusion on our rights is something I’m quite passionate about.

      Additionally, I never said that this act of infringing freedom would LEAD to a totalitarian government, because infringing freedom is a FEATURE of a totalitarian government which oppresses its people and suspends rights. No offense meant, but you probably don’t see it because 99% of people in totalitarian states don’t think “oh, I’m living in a totalitarian dictatorship right now!” No, they just assume, like you, that certain features of totalitarianism are just the way life is. Now I’m not implying that America is by any means fully totalitarian. But the right to do what you want with your body, since it’s your property, IS a right itself – so suspending that right is something totalitarian governments, who seek to control all aspects of citizens’ personal lives, tend to do.

      “I also disagree about what the Founding Fathers would have thought. Of course, it’s impossible to know their thought processes, but I do not think they defined civil liberties as rigidly and in as black-and-white a fashion as you did. If that were the case, then various Federalists and later political parties and figures within the time period would not have pushed for a government involved in peoples’ lives.”

      ———— Well, I hate to be a total jerk here, but you’re flat out incorrect. Think about it: what was the American Revolution fought for? Independence from what? The answer: independence what they perceived to be King George’s totalitarian dictatorship, and as such, America was founded on the exact opposite – upon the rights of the individual. That’s why all drugs were legal for roughly the first HUNDRED AND FIFTY years of America’s existence! They just didn’t view it as the role of government to be dealing with personal matters like that.

      Now, I concede one point: that not every single Founding Father was totally consistent with civil liberties. As you correctly noted, Federalists advocated a relatively strong central government, and there were times when Federalists disregarded the Constitutional right to free speech (Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 for instance) and arrested people for simply disagreeing with government…….. However, there’s a reason that as recent as 1919 people demanded an amendment to prohibit alcohol. It’s because even Federalists and most parties before them knew that it just is not the role of government to prohibit what you put in your body – and that it’s unconstitutional to do so. (Part of my proof is a quote from Thomas Jefferson himself – “If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Exactly what I’m saying here.)

      “Additionally, if the government shouldn’t “baby” its people, why bother forming an army to protect them? While it doesn’t involve a choice of the people, it’s still a form of protecting them. Moreover, the government was founded on the basis that people could not make proper decisions for themselves. Even though these decisions were political, I think it’s more than fair to extend such political decisions to ones like whether or not to take drugs.”

      —————— Because forming an army, when it is done rightfully and morally, is done through volunteers who get together to protect the country. It isn’t done through force and coercion, as prohibiting certain substances most certainly is. Also, protecting citizens’ lives from external attacks (aka national defense) is THE single most important function of the federal government. To adhere to that is not “babying” the people. Babying the people is making their personal health decisions – what medicines they can and can’t take, what substances they can sell or buy, etc. When the government controls those things, they essentially control its people as well.

      Again with due respect you’re wrong about why American government was founded. Especially the American government more so than others. It wasn’t founded on the basis that we can’t make proper decisions for ourselves – on the contrary, the American government was founded on the basis that the GOVERNMENT can’t make those decisions… And on the basis that as long as one doesn’t harm anyone else, the government should follow the Constitution and, as Founder Thomas Paine said, “That government is best which governs least.”

      If you actually read this long winded response of mine it’s really much appreciated! Thanks again for the interest.

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