Americans from all points of the political spectrum contain values promoting, and would benefit from, ending prohibition.
The stench of status quo reductionism drives public opinion in almost every issue, which has resulted in marijuana getting lumped into the category leftist causes. Yet when we view cannabis through the lens of different political views, the repeal of prohibition seems to be universally supported by all political ideologies.
First let’s examine why the mainstream media continues to persist with its erroneous categorization of the issue. From almost the very beginning of prohibition the propaganda was aimed at associating cannabis use with minorities, alternative lifestyles and countercultures. While this was not was not entirely true, as cannabis had been used by plain white folk in America as medicine for almost a century, the usage of these associations to create fear based on racism and varied forms of traditionalism created an image in the public that stuck.
Even today marijuana has a strong association with the hippy aesthetic of the 1960’s. Critics reduce marijuana users to a caricature of some Haight-Ashbury flower child. Not only is this connection ridiculously oversimplified, as it fails to address the diversity of cannabis users, it completely misses the deeper political implications of prohibition.
The hippy generation – the baby boomers – have the largest presence in political institutions at every level, not to mention in media and the world of business. If the fight for cannabis was a leftist cause of those damn hippies, then all those damn hippies now entrenched in the system should have taken care of it by now.
Alternately it is seen as a leftist cause because of its almost universal rejection by the Good Old Boy Network, who bolster themselves as the champions of political right ideologies, even when that is clearly not the case as evidenced by their many intrusive big government programs.
From years of working headshops I can attest first hand, marijuana use transcends any such cultural or political definition. Those who toke come from all walks of life; ever color, every class and from every point along the political spectrum. And as marijuana has lost some of its obsolete taboos and become more accepted as legitimate medicine, the users have become even more widely dispersed across all demographic categories.
Now let us take a look at what marijuana prohibition means politically to both the left and the right.
The Left – Civil Rights
The basis of leftist support for ending prohibition begins with individual rights. From there it follows an awareness that prohibition laws have been applied unequally, creating a huge discrepancy of enforcement based on race and class. Dismantling the destructive cannabis laws is seen as a way of easing the burden of our predatory justice system on blacks, hispanics and the poor. At the same time it is also seen as an artifice of open-mindedness and compassion.
The Right – Freedom & Liberty
Prohibition is Big Government personified in all of it’s glory, the alleged bane of the right. The cost of marijuana laws on taxpayers is absolutely enormous. It has also caused a gigantic growth in government, from law enforcement to the various three letter bureaucracies, which exist to oversee and regulate the federally coordinated ban on a plant.
Having the federal government tell you what you can and cannot do with your body and your mind, especially when it does not harm others, is the most explicit example possible of an intrusion on your freedoms and liberties. How can any individual be free if they are not permitted to make these most basic choices? It should therefore seem a given that those on the right would take up the cause of marijuana – whether or not they use or like it. Any impediment on freedoms and liberties is a an attack on the very foundation of Freedom and Liberty which the right considers America’s cornerstone.
Most third party political movements, from the Green Party to Libertarians, also espouse political beliefs that are inclusive and accepting of marijuana. Only radical totalitarians and puritans, including the extreme end of the political left and right, have any tolerance for the sort of hypocrisy one must accept to stand against marijuana.
The rejection of marijuana is the rejection of every political, cultural and ideological faction of American life. It is the rejection of the overall values of almost all those who support that way of life. The only people who can remain ideologically consistent while standing against it are the radical political tyrants who are driven by fear, ignorance and/or greed at the extreme level.
This is the challenge of modern civilization, to make our social and political practices consistent. It is the reckless disorder and hypocrisy of inconsistency that leads to every destructive policy that modern humans indulge in. Working from consistent principles it becomes clear that there is no left or right, just individuals and the forces that conspire against them. Government as a tool of behavior modification has been an exquisite failure that has only one solution – the eradication of institutionalized force (the state) against the individual and their will.