Pubdate: Thu, 9 Nov 2006
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Copyright: 2006 Boulder Weekly
Author: Ari Armstrong
Cited: Drug Policy Alliance report
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Drug Policy Alliance)


We have the right as adults to control our own bodies, insofar as we
don't violate the rights of others. And yet there was the governor,
Great Nanny Bill Owens, standing on the steps of the State Nursery on
Oct. 27, arguing that possession of a certain plant by adults should
be against the law. For the "crime" of possessing that plant, armed
government agents can, depending on the particulars, harass and
intimidate you, steal your money, kidnap you, and/or lock you in a
steel cage. Owens said, "Earlier this year we passed the Colorado
Clean Indoor Air Act, because we recognize that cigarette smoke was
having a negative impact on the health of our citizens. That one step
forward would be undone by the two steps back with the passage of
Amendment 44. Marijuana smoke is every bit as cancer-causing as is
cigarette smoke, and legalizing the drug would encourage more people
to inhale these toxic fumes."

In other words, one violation of rights deserves another.

People have the right to smoke cigarettes on their own property and
invite others to join them. That's the right of property and the
freedom of association. Adults also have the right to smoke the "toxic
fumes" of marijuana. (Owens didn't bother to point out that marijuana
smokers generally inhale less smoke relative to cigarette smokers, or
that marijuana can be consumed in ways other than smoking.)

Once the Nanny State gets going, its logical conclusion is total
control over our lives. If politicians can ban cigarette smoking on
select private property and all marijuana use, then they can also
regulate sex, ban risky sports and "junk" foods, and outlaw guns and

Yet some of Owens's children are more equal than others. Those who
choose to consume the drug alcohol rather than marijuana earn a pat on
the head. Owens endorsed one of the nation's most successful dealers
of the drug alcohol for U.S. Senate.

To hear the extent of Owens's arrogance, listen to the audio files at Owens, after calling for "free debate," asked for
questions from the press. When I began to ask a question of Attorney
General John Suthers, Owens shut down the press conference. Then Owens
cut off my questions about Milton Friedman, the Nobel-winning
economist who opposes marijuana prohibition. That's Big Nanny's idea
of "free debate."

Bill Ritter is merely a hypocrite, a prohibitionist who admitted to
using marijuana.

A government with the ability to control our bodies threatens all our
rights. As Sue Lindsay reports for the Oct. 31 Rocky Mountain News,
the smoking ban prevents actors from smoking even fake cigarettes on

"Smoking that is written into a production by a playwright isn't part
of an actor's artistic expression and is not protected free speech,"
Denver District Judge Michael Martinez said.

But who are state officials to decide what does and does not count as
free expression? The smoking ban has resulted in censorship. Even if
the legislature carves out a new exception for theaters, the ban still
violates the rights of expression, assembly and property of others.

And as David Montero reported for the same paper on Oct. 21, U.S.
District Court Judge Lewis Babcock ruled that "the state smoking ban
covering restaurants and exempting casinos does not violate equal
protection rights under the law." In other words, the treatment of
casinos is "separate but equal."

The Nanny State won't stop there. On Nov. 1, The Denver Post argued
that hydrogenated fats should be eliminated "by regulatory fiat if
necessary." Because people are just too stupid to decide for
themselves whether to eat it.

The Drug Policy Alliance reports, "According to a recent survey of
registered voters by Zogby International, 45 percent of Americans
would support a federal law making cigarettes illegal in the next five
to 10 years; 57 percent of 18-29 year olds were in favor of the idea."

That's no surprise, because children under the thrall of the Nanny
State never reach adulthood.

We have the right to engage in potentially unhealthy behavior, whether
that's having consensual, promiscuous sex; drinking alcohol even to
excess (so long as we stay off the roads); sky diving; or eating
hamburgers with greasy fries.

The proper purpose of government is to protect individual rights, not
save us from our potentially unhealthy decisions. A government with
the power to send out armed agents to enforce healthy behavior (as
defined by central planners) is a government that, in principle, can
do anything to you.

Only a culture that permits individuals to engage in potentially
unhealthy behavior also consistently grants individuals the freedom to
pursue their rational values. Only a culture that grants all
individuals the ability to use their own minds and follow their own
conclusions is one in which the greatest thoughts and achievements are

The culture that stifles stupidity necessarily stifles genius. A free
society does not shackle the responsible and sensible in order to
"save" the reckless and thoughtless. The standard of law in a free
society is the virtuous citizen, not the idiot. A Nanny State promotes
only a degenerate citizenry worthy of diapers.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake