The 20th of April

A multitude of fairly cliche and suggestive Facebook statuses started popping up even before the clock struck midnight to signal that it was finally time to celebrate a day of defiance and civil disobedience. Brownies were baked, college dorm hallways reeked of Febreeze, and the timeless music of Bob Marley found its way into the ears of those who walked by.

Yes, it was 4/20.

Madison Liberty sprung into action as we always do on the 20th of April to raise awareness about an issue of personal freedom that is often overlooked and kicked to the curb by individuals on both sides of the aisle. I don’t think the prohibition of marijuana is one of our most pressing issues in an era of massive government spending, huge deficits, and runaway entitlement programs that will bankrupt America in the not-to-distant future, but the prohibition of marijuana continues to rape our nation in a multitude of ways:

Prohibition perpetuates poverty. Inner-city kids are incentivized to join the illegal drug trade because of the lucrative opportunities that come with a black market. Prohibition fills our jails and prisons with people who need to be rehabilitated, not incarcerated. Prohibition costs taxpayers billions of dollars every year to support these prisoners as well as the police officers and resources necessary to apprehend and incarcerate drug users. Prohibition promotes the formation of gangs, gang violence, and murder. Prohibition encroaches on personal choice and liberty. Prohibition has created a “War on Drugs” (who knew you could win a war against an inanimate object?) that has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry with no limits on its expansion.

Now, let’s take a step back. All of this? In the name of what? Keeping harmful drugs out of the hands of our kids? For all the precious prices we pay for this “war”, our society gets NOTHING good in return. There are still more drug users than ever, and marijuana is even easier for high school students to acquire than alcohol.

Even though all this evidence of prohibition’s absurdity exists, there are still challenges and barriers that continue to block change in our society. Conservatives cite morality in their defense of prohibition. Somehow, inhaling the smoke of a burning plant is immoral. They use this argument all the time to legislate their personal preferences and choices onto the entire nation. I say If you don’t like it, then don’t partake in it.

The knee-jerk response I get from most people when I voice my opinion about drug prohibition is, “well, you just want to get high, you dumb pothead!” I savor these moments, because at this point, I can look them straight in the eyes and honestly say that I do not use marijuana or any other illegal drugs. This usually leaves them speechless. I have nothing against those who choose to smoke because it is up to them what they put in their bodies. I just choose not to smoke out of personal preference.

On this particular 20th of April, Madison Liberty distributed t-shirts on campus along with literature explaining the ill-effects of the drug war. Thanks to a Students for Liberty protest grant, we were able to do so at little cost to our club, and therefore we gave out the shirts for FREE. They were a hit (no pun intended) and were gone within 45 minutes!

College students seem to be very open to the idea of legalized marijuana, and not just for the obvious reasons either. I think young people are all libertarians deep down inside. That true longing for independence after being raised in a system that emphasizes rules, barriers, grades, and conformity starts to shine once we reach college. Why should some stuffy old white guy up in Washington D.C. tell you what you can and cannot do with your own body?

Yet, after these short 24 hours pass, the issue seems to fade into the background and the novelty of the situation no longer motivates people into action. People continue to accept the status quo because most people never see the direct negative effects of prohibition with their own eyes. What will it take to finally realize the end to prohibition? I don’t have all the answers, but we can start with continual education and the restoration of common sense. The latter seems to be quite scarce in our nation today.

So, however you decided to celebrate (or not celebrate) the 20th of April this year, I think we all need to take a conscious step back and evaluate the United States’ current drug policy. Portugal decided to end drug prohibition and they have seen decreases in violence and drug use across the board. Wake up America!

~ by rfreeland on April 21, 2011.

2 Responses to “The 20th of April”

  1. Most young people are libertarians…I realize this when I discuss singls issues with those who think they are not libertarians. They almost always agree with me. It’s when you get to the big picture that somehow people think that the opinions they came to regarding each issue individually is unsustainable in practice…as actual government policy. Hardly anyone thinks a man should be jailed simply for smoking marijuana in the privacy of his own home…but the drug war is “necessary”. No one thinks killing innocent lives is ok…but sometimes war is necessary and unfortunately causes inevitable “collateral damage”. No one thinks the government should spend more than it earns…but it is ok to authorize a budget that generates massive deficits year after year.

    I can’t recount all the times I have talked with a Republican about the absurdity of the drug war, and they end up agreeing with me (the facts are just too compelling to continue to disagree with me), then turn around and go support the very candidates who are behind the drug war! They justify this with unintelligible talk about “electability” that I still can’t figure out.

  2. The word “electable” should be synonymous with “corruptable.” People who sacrifice their values and common sense for power are those whom the founding fathers warned against and despised.

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