Archive for February 19th, 2009

Michael Phelps may have been onto something (pun intended) …

I can’t stop stewing over the fact that the South Carolina sheriff decided to investigate Michael Phelps’ notorious bong hit, with an eye toward possible prosecution.

Phelps may be onto something!

Phelps may be onto something!

I know, I know, the sheriff dropped the investigation earlier this week after deciding there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Phelps, who wisely did not admit to smoking the funny weed but merely apologized for using ‘bad judgment.’

But still, the fact that we had even the beginnings of an investigation is an outright travesty. I actually thought it was a joke until I read that the sheriff arrested eight students after his posse stormed the house where the party was held and found trace amounts of marijuana.

All around us, this country seems to be going to hell, and with state unemployment at 9.5%,  South Carolina seems to be going through some particularly dark times. There just has gotta be something more pressing on the South Carolina police force agenda than going after a U.S. Olympic champion who decided to let loose one night and get stoned.

In fact, why is this country still not having a serious discussion about legalizing marijuana?? Even 500 leading economists, including the great Milton Friedman, believe the societal benefits of legalization would far outweigh the costs. Sure, $13 billion in tax revenue and cost savings may not sound like a lot when you’re looking at trillion-dollar deficits, but you gotta start somewhere (and in some states like California, those kind of dollars could actually make a dent).

Marijuana is the easiest argument to make for legalization because few people can argue that it is more dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes. And the successful medical marijuana state initatives have at least paved the way for us to begin a reasonable discussion about the issue.

But frankly, if I had my way I wouldn’t stop with marijuana. I’d legalize all drugs, and then tax the shit out of them. And then I’d move on to prostitution and do the exact same thing.

I’m not about to argue that legalizing drugs and prostitution would limit their occurrence in our society by making them more expensive or perhaps less ‘cool’ among the younger kids. On that front, legalization has had a mixed record in countries where it’s been tried.

However, I don’t think legalization would dramatically raise the levels of occurrence either, or burden our already strained health care system.

And these are areas where the government could actually do some good through taxation and regulation, filling in state revenue gaps (without going into more debt) and helping to combat contaminated drugs in the black market or the spread of STDs and violence in the sex worker industry.

We are wasting so many resources – in our police stations and our courts and our jails – to fight these silly wars which can’t be won, and which are funding terrorist organizations and hostile governments throughout the world.

Laws already exist on the books to guard against drug- or prostitution-related crimes, such as driving under the influence, or forced enslavement. I strongly believe we have the right to do whatever we want to our bodies as long as we are not harming others in the process. That to me is one of the core principles of what it means to be an American.

And could there possibly be a better example of an American hero than Michael Phelps? He brings home the gold and then possibly shows us one way to help solve our economic woes … Awesome!!

February 2009
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