Buckley on Pot
July 5, 2004 10:30 PM   Subscribe

An editorial in support of legalizing marijuana (or at least modifying pot laws) from none other than William F. Buckley Jr. in the National Review.
posted by msacheson (16 comments total)
He's been a longtime supporter of legalization and ending prohibition. A lot of classic small gov't conservatives that tend towards libertarian agree.
posted by mathowie at 10:34 PM on July 5, 2004

Conservatives, if they actually followed their philosophy, should be all for decrim of pot, removal of victimless crimes, etc but the bullshit religious moral angle along with the "who will save our kids" nonsense makes hypocrites out of most of 'em.
posted by skallas at 10:38 PM on July 5, 2004

If they were for all that stuff, skallas, wouldn't they be libertarians?
posted by trharlan at 10:50 PM on July 5, 2004

Wouldn't it be great if there was a rational, public discussion on the pros and cons of marijuana based on real science and not knee-jerk, outdated attitudes? You think anyone'll listen to William F.?

What is required is a genuine republican groundswell.

Come on, groundswell!
posted by wsg at 11:26 PM on July 5, 2004

While it's refreshing to see arguments for drug legalization coming from the right, I would never want to be in the same room as a stoned William F. Buckley.
posted by varmint at 11:30 PM on July 5, 2004

I'd be great! You just KNOW he'd start rattling off yards of TS Eliot
posted by leotrotsky at 6:21 AM on July 6, 2004

Conservatives, if they actually followed their philosophy, should be all for decrim of pot, removal of victimless crimes, etc but the bullshit religious moral angle along with the "who will save our kids" nonsense makes hypocrites out of most of 'em.

The notion of "hypocrite" only exists in the minds of those who want to lump all "conservatives" into a single category, and believe they all think the same way. There are a number of different distinct streams of thought within conservatism ... from the bible-belt, social-issue folks, to the free-market, libertarian-leaning people.

A good number of the latter have always been against the "war on drugs" ... some of the most powerful, rational arguments for de-criminalization have come from ... Milton Friedman and the Chicago school of economics.

They argue (essentially) that demand creates markets ... that if there is a demand for something, there will be a market for it. The choice governments have is whether to acknowledge that demand, integrate the market it creates into the legitimate economy, and regulate it ... or to shove that market into the shadow economy. In fact, when they crunch the numbers, it appears as though the worst aspects the global drug market - from the intense violence that surrounds it, to the obscene profits made by the oligopolists that control production - come less from drugs themselves than from the need to import and distribute illegal substances. (The absolute worst nightmare of a good number of drug lords would be for drugs to be de-criminalized in the US and EU ... prices would collapse overnight).

While it is unlikely to happen on MeFi ... I might simply suggest that the monolithic view of "conservatives" here is quite often wildly inaccurate. Because the US has a two-party system, large numbers of very different perspectives wind up grouping themselves within the Republican and Democratic parties, and the "liberal" or "conservative" perspectives ... but these labels are so general as to be almost meaningless.

It is not "hypocritical" for bible-belt Christians and free-market libertarians to be in the same party ... any more than it is "hypocritical" for rust-belt, unionized steel-workers, radical environmentalists, and Manhattan latte-liberals to be in the same party.
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:47 AM on July 6, 2004

these labels are so general as to be almost meaningless

Ah, something we agree on. :)
posted by rushmc at 6:58 AM on July 6, 2004

I am not sure why the " of all people"--Buckley has been favoring legalization of pot for many years now.
posted by Postroad at 7:26 AM on July 6, 2004

First, Buckley mentions marijuana use, then legalization, and finally medical marijuana, without addressing the issue of who is going to reform existing laws. If he means to imply that the federal government should create yet another bureaucracy to regulate marijuana decriminalization, taxation, and distribution, then I wholeheartedly disagree. Several states have already decriminalized marijuana for personal use such as Alaska, or many others in which possession is a misdemeanor:

"Since 1973, 12 state legislatures -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon -- have enacted versions of marijuana decriminalization."

So long as federal laws are not violated, the states should be able to decide what's right for their own citizens, as they seem to be doing. No problem.
posted by hama7 at 8:03 AM on July 6, 2004

Hama: Buckley has always liked to speak broadly without really leaving much to pin him down on. But then, it's not his job to make the policy, just to say what it ought to be. (Mind, I've always liked him, if only because I enjoyed his elegant cattyness...At least he doesn't gleefully refer to his opponent's pre-teen daughter as "the dog-faced girl".)

And let's not forget that he's also periodically come out in favor (in principle) of mandatory national service (though, as I recally, he did commit to finding that idea logistically unfeasible).

Thoughtful people recognize that there's a difference between "C"onservatism and "c"onservatism. That said, Buckley is, solidly, a big-C Conservative. He has libertarian leanings, to be sure, but they are tempered by a true preservationist conservatism, all leavened with enough pragmatism for him to know which party he needs to support to achieve his goals.
posted by lodurr at 9:52 AM on July 6, 2004

Not just Buckley, but National Review as a whole, supports decriminalizing drugs, and not just pot. (Except for National Review Online's editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg, who thinks hard drugs should stay illegal.) There have been plenty of arguments about this over in the NRO blog, The Corner (powered by Blogger!), if you want to poke around in their archives.

(MeFi newsflash: some conservatives are actually decent people! Film at 11!)
posted by Asparagirl at 10:39 AM on July 6, 2004

NRO ran two issues on drug legalization (not just pot) many years back. Good reading. Track it down at the library. Too bad they're not so sensible on most other issues.
posted by 4midori at 1:11 PM on July 6, 2004

Mind, I've always liked him, if only because I enjoyed his elegant cattyness

He's one of a kind. His wit and vocabulary(!) come across especially well in his speech.
posted by hama7 at 3:06 PM on July 6, 2004

Midas, spare me your lame rationalizations.

Everything about the drug war goes against conservative values like smaller government, states rights, and land owner's/property rights. The fact that the few who speak out against it are the exception and not the norm speaks volumes on how this issue has been marginalized in the press.

Its either hypocrisy or, more realistically, the GOP consists of patsys for big business and big religion. The drug war isn't just a moral position, its a web of disinformation. How many American studies make pot sound like the worst sustance on the planet? How many more commercials do we need telling us drugs == terrorism? etc. This disinfo campaign is aimed at the core, to keep them believing the BS. And what profitable BS it is! Government spending on the drug war is huge, the prison industry is loving it, etc.

Also, I dont see the hypocrisy of a union worker and a radical environmentalist all breathing the same cleaner air or the radical working in a union shop.
posted by skallas at 4:49 PM on July 6, 2004

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