To Be Free or Not To Be Free

When we discuss the legalization or even rescheduling of marijuana most people would consider that the only people who would benefit from it would be the marijuana users. However as I read news from many sources I find stories unrelated to the use of marijuana where our government at the national and local level has been increasingly passing laws and ordinances dictating our consumption of other things from cigarettes and alcohol to food items and portion size. I just read at MSN Healthy Living that Mayor Bloomberg is at it again, trying to lock up baby formula to promote breast-feeding. The question we need to ask as a society is “How much control do we want our government to have over us or do we want to control our government”.
Most would say some balance would be best and I agree. We need to, as a society, try to promote a healthy lifestyle because that is best for all of society, not just us as individuals. Laws against underage drinking and smoking are good for society and help to ensure that people reach the age of consent before choosing to consume things that may have serious effects on their health. Honest education about the effects unhealthy habits have on our health would likely reduce a lot of unhealthy habits and lifestyles in adults. But we also need to protect individual choice as that is the essence of our freedom. Our right to choose how we live our lives and what risks are acceptable to us as individuals should not be the decision of a politician or bureaucrat.
Many of the things we aspire to do put us at risk of damage to ourselves from injury or illness, such as riding bicycles or rock climbing or eating fast food or even just too much food. We all take risks every day and the decisions we make when we meet those risks define who we are. That is the essence of our freedom, to decide for ourselves what are acceptable risks for us as individuals. Should we cede those decisions to our government or retain that liberty. My thoughts are that if we allow the war against people who use marijuana and those who provide marijuana for the sick and dying to continue, we have given the government a green light to tell us what can or cannot consume.
As a society we must live with the consequences of our laws good and bad. The downside to prohibition is higher crime rates and diminished respect for the law and a reduction in freedom for all. While prohibition may reduce marijuana use to some degree, it does not eliminate it. Laws governing behavior that people believe are unjust will always be ignored. All that is accomplished is that the behavior is pushed out of sight giving the illusion of compliance. But we must address this as a society and suffer the consequences together good and bad. My vote will be on the side of freedom.
Randy Johnson