Jewish World Review July 6, 2004 / 17 Tamuz, 5764
High time to eliminate drug laws?
It's not High Times or Rolling Stone that sports a marijuana leaf on its July 12 cover and calls for an end to the prohibition of marijuana.
It's National Review, the small but revered and still influential conservative journal of political ideas that made the Reagan Revolution possible.
Don't worry, Grandpap. National Review founded 49 years ago by William F. Buckley Jr. to do intellectual battle with New Deal liberals and soft-on-communism types has not had its offices taken over by a bunch of pot-headed hippies.
But its cover story, written by drug policy reformer Ethan Nadelmann, makes a strong case to National Review's faithful that our $15-billion-a-year federal war against marijuana is "costly, foolish and destructive" to society.
Calling for the decriminalization of loco weed will shock and annoy many conservatives and Republicans, especially among the anti-drug-crazed warriors in the Bush White House. But it is nothing new.
Buckley, who just this week formally turned ownership of National Review over to a board of trustees he has selected, has long been in favor of decriminalizing marijuana.
And Rich Lowry, the current editor and successor to Buckley, says the magazine's official policy "is that we're skeptics of the current drug laws."
Lowry, who said the cover piece is being run to deliberately spark public debate, said he was once in favor of drug laws until old man Buckley himself persuaded him otherwise about decriminalizing marijuana.
To prove how important Lowry thinks it was to publish "An End to Marijuana Prohibition," he was not afraid to use Nadelmann, whose Drug Policy Alliance is heavily funded by George Soros, the conservative-bashing billionaire.
Nadelmann, meanwhile, does his usual good job of refuting government myths about marijuana's alleged medical risks, its potency and its addictive powers.
He also points out how cruel our anti-marijuana laws still are and analyzes the burgeoning public support for decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana: Three-fourths of all Americans say people should be fined for simple marijuana possession, not jailed.
"What's needed now," Nadelmann concludes, "are conservative politicians willing to say enough is enough: Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain each year. People losing their jobs, their property, and their freedom for nothing more than possessing a joint or growing a few marijuana plants.
"And all for what? To send a message? To keep pretending that we're protecting our children? Alcohol Prohibition made a lot more sense than marijuana prohibition does today and it, too, was a disaster."
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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Bill Steigerwald