Quick: What do Pat Robertson and Ron Paul have in common? Yep, that’s right — they both think marijuana should be as legal as alcohol. Robertson made waves on the issue in the past when he said he thought marijuana-possession convictions shouldn’t end in mandatory prison sentences. He’s making waves again with the outright call to legalize the controlled substance.
Mr. Robertson’s support for legalizing pot appeared in a New York Times article published Thursday. His spokesman confirmed to the Associated Press that Mr. Robertson supports legalization with regulation. Mr. Robertson was not made available for an interview.
“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Mr. Robertson was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?”
Mr. Robertson said he “absolutely” supports ballot measures in Colorado and Washington state that would allow people older than 21 to possess a small amount of marijuana and allow for commercial pot sales. Both measures, if passed by voters, would place the states at odds with federal law, which bans marijuana use of all kinds.
This debate seems to have no direction to go but in the direction of legalization; as Robertson said elsewhere in the article, “This war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”
As I wrote this morning about tobacco use, it’s not necessarily the government’s role to keep us from harming ourselves, even if it is the government’s role to keep us from physically harming others. A law that prevents driving under the influence of marijuana and other drug-related behaviors that could lead to the deprivation of another’s life or property but that allows private use of the drug doesn’t seem to be incompatible with conservatism to me. At the same time, I must not be quite as hip as the 81-year-old Robertson because some part of me still shies away from endorsing the idea of legalization entirely. This is just one of those hills I don’t want to die on — whether pot is legal or illegal doesn’t seem to matter much in the grand scheme of things to me.