The Beginning Of The End Of Prohibition?


Jacob Sullum sees this election's pot legalization initiatives as a major challenge to the status quo:

By the time the 21st Amendment ended national alcohol prohibition in December 1933, more than a dozen states had already opted out. Maryland never passed its own version of the Volstead Act, while New York repealed its alcohol prohibition law in 1923. Eleven other states eliminated their statutes by referendum in November 1932.

We could see the beginning of a similar rebellion against marijuana prohibition this year as voters in three states—Washington, Colorado, and Oregon—decide whether to legalize the drug's production and sale for recreational use. If any of these ballot initiatives pass, it might be the most consequential election result this fall, forcing both major parties to confront an unjust, irrational policy that Americans increasingly oppose.

Meanwhile, Winston Ross covers the intensification of the medical marijuana crackdown:

For a while, the feds tended to look the other way—until last year, when the Obama administration began stepping up enforcement of a law that supersedes the writs of the 17 states that have legalized marijuana. The Controlled Substances Act, which classifies pot as a “schedule one” drug on par with cocaine, makes it illegal to sell or possess it.

Now, the federal crackdown appears to be expanding. On Tuesday, officials raided several pot shops in Los Angeles and sent letters to dozens more warning them to close or face criminal charges. Last week, the DEA raided one of Oregon’s largest medical marijuana operations. In Washington, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan sent a threatening letter last month (PDF) to 23 pot dispensaries identified as being within 1,000 feet of a school, prompting many of them to close. And in Colorado, 57 dispensaries have quit so far this year after the U.S. attorney there announced it would prosecute shops that were deemed too close to schools.

If Romney wins, prohibition will be back with more force than under Bush. If Obama wins, and refuses to rein in the FDA, we will have to go to war with him and his party on this. No government has the right to restrict any citizen's use of a plant for her own health. I cannot see how this right over our own bodies – when no one else is affected – isn't an inalienable one.

(Photo: Marijuana plants grow at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensary in operation since 2006, on September 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. By David McNew/Getty Images)