I recently got into an online debate with a prohibitionist from Washington, DC. This fellow was behind the “Two Is Enough DC” campaign in 2014 that lost the legalization vote by a 40-point margin.
“Two is enough,” I joked with him, “now that Oregon and Alaska are legal, shouldn’t it be four is enough?”
I had mistakenly thought that the campaign was about keeping the number of legal states limited to Colorado and Washington—two is enough.
“No, it means that two legal drugs—alcohol and tobacco—are enough,” he corrected me.
This is a common prohibitionist argument. It is based on the idea that alcohol and tobacco are terribly destructive to society, so we shouldn’t legalize a third drug, marijuana.
The corollary is that legality means far more people use those two drugs, compounding the destruction to society, therefore by keeping marijuana illegal, we reduce how many people are using it.
But if you think about it for even a moment, none of this makes any sense.
Alcohol and tobacco aren’t destructive because they were the first to be legal. They aren’t destructive because so many more people use them.
Alcohol and tobacco are destructive because they are toxic and addictive.
Furthermore, the premises aren’t entirely true. First, legal drug use is down. Yes, more people use alcohol than any other drug, but alcohol use has been in decline for 30 years. Fewer young people are using tobacco now and smoking rates are at the lowest levels ever measured.
Second, marijuana use is up. At the beginning of Nixon’s War on Drugs, there may have been a million marijuana smokers nationwide. Now, there are over 28 million, most of whom took up marijuana while it was quite illegal.
The “No Third Legal Drug” argument also pretends that legality is what puts a drug on the menu. News flash: marijuana is here. It’s already the third most popular drug. It’s already on the menu.
“Two Is Enough” is trying to make people believe that prohibition is all that keeps the marijuana apocalypse at bay. Legalize weed, and epic destruction on an alcohol/tobacco scale will be unleashed.
But since 28 million people are already smoking marijuana, whatever nightmare hellscape that would result from widespread pot use has already happened. Stoned drivers? It’s not like legalization invents cars and weed.
When it comes to drugs, if they really mean “Two Is Enough,” then why stick with the two most harmful drugs? Why is the campaign not lobbying to replace alcohol and tobacco with marijuana and mushrooms?
Saying we can’t legalize marijuana because alcohol and tobacco are already legal and cause terrible harm is like saying we can’t create a youth badminton league because we already have youth football and soccer that cause concussions.
(Photo Courtesy of Rebloggy)