Will states' rights go to pot?

Pot-legalization advocates are fond of casting themselves as the avant-garde of a new libertarian revolution sweeping the nation. I generally hope they’re right. But I also hope we don’t lose sight of the collective right of states and other legally recognized communities and institutions to have the freedom to organize their lives the way they want.

I love America’s love of individual liberty. But no good thing comes without a downside. Particularly since the “rights explosion” of the 1960s and 1970s, public-policy debates are too often framed as the individual versus the government. Presented with that choice, Americans are going to err on the side of individual rights. And that’s usually a good thing. The problem is that the rights of a community — a town, a county, a state, a religious organization, etc. — are left out of that formulation. And they matter…

My objection to both the progressive vision of one-size-fits-all government and some extreme notions of individual liberty is that they both lack the imaginative sympathy required to let groups of people organize their lives in the ways that will let the majority live the way they want to live.