You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myDaytonDailyNews.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myDaytonDailyNews.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myDaytonDailyNews.com.

breaking news

Dayton man accused of trying to join ISIS in Syria

COMMENTARY: Is U.S. drug policy moving backward?


Thursday was 4/20, the unofficial holiday of marijuana consumption, and for stoners in Canada, this is an especially joyous year: At the instigation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, our neighbors to the north are on course to legal recreational pot use nationwide.

This isn’t complete legalization — Trudeau’s bill would limit adults over 18 to possession of 30 grams of marijuana — but the plan permits public possession and would make Canada just the second nation worldwide to legalize (as opposed to decriminalize) weed. The tentative legalization date is July 2018.

Here in the States, federal drug policy is moving backward. This hardly spells the death knell of criminal justice reform because of how much can be changed at the state and local level.

Still, it would be Pollyannaish to deny the Trump White House represents a major setback for progress toward eliminating federal marijuana prohibition, let alone the entire failure that is the war on drugs.

COMMENTARY: What is America’s moral responsibility?

The chief evidence for that point is President Trump’s selection of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom civil libertarians like myself have roundly castigated for his 1920s throwback views on how the government should be able to control our personal consumption habits.

Sessions has a long record of misleading statements, gross hypocrisy and outright falsehood where the drug war is concerned. He likes to suggest, for instance, that marijuana is a deadly drug with a real risk of lethal overdose. There are many good reasons not to smoke weed, but that is simply not one of them.

Unfortunately, the prohibition politics Sessions has brought to the Trump administration isn’t particularly concerned with such troublesome things as facts.

The last administration, though friendlier to reform efforts than the Trump team, often cast legalization efforts as frivolous.

Marijuana “shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority,” former President Obama said in 2015. We kids “should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace,” he continued. “Maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana.”

Was he right? With a president — whether Trump or Obama himself — who has the U.S. involved in costly and unconstitutional wars in at least seven countries, does weed really matter? With domestic issues like taxes, the national debt, and health care in play, should the drug war be on the back burner?

Obama was proposing a false dichotomy that was, in a way, just as dangerous as his successor’s active hostility to drawing down the war on drugs. Prohibition is not a minor issue, and caring about ending the drug war does not in any way preclude us from caring about all the other vital issues of the day.

If you’re not quite convinced, let me share the story that prompted this column in the first place. It’s about a 3-year-old boy from South Dakota.

MORE COMMENTARY FROM Thomas Suddes: Tax change, budget holes and how to fix them.

He was at home with his mom and her boyfriend when the police showed up to arrest the boyfriend on suspicion that he had violated parole. The boyfriend tested positive for drug use, and police told the little boy’s mom she and her children would have to be tested too.

In fact, the Department of Social Services told the mom her kids would be taken away from her if the urine test was not completed. Obviously, she consented. Trouble is, the toddler wasn’t potty-trained. That led to the 3-year-old being held down and forcibly catheterized while he writhed and cried in pain.

That is the drug war in action. That is what prohibition does.

4/20 may be a lighthearted holiday for stoners, but this is a serious civil liberties issue with brutal consequences that damage the lives of innocents every day. Drug policy is not something we can afford to let slide.

Bonnie Kristian is a columnist for Rare and The Week.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Is Macron the EU’s last best hope?

For the French establishment, Sunday’s presidential election came close to a near-death experience. As the Duke of Wellington said of Waterloo, it was a “damn near-run thing.” Neither candidate of the two major parties that have ruled France since Charles De Gaulle even made it into the runoff, an astonishing repudiation of France&rsquo...
Opinion: The nightmare of the North Korea-Trump standoff
Opinion: The nightmare of the North Korea-Trump standoff

President Donald Trump is scary in many ways, but perhaps the most frightening nightmare is of him blundering into a new Korean war. It would begin because the present approach of leaning on China to pressure North Korea will likely fail. Trump will grow angry at public snickering at the emptiness of his threats. At some point, U.S. intelligence will...
COMMENTARY: What are we willing to do for our at-risk kids?

On a sad, recent day as I was driving with tears in my eyes to Dayton’s Hilltop Apartments to canvas after the murder of 14-year-old James Banks Jr., I couldn’t stop thinking about gun violence as a mental-health disease and firearm injuries as a public-health issue. In the words of American law professor Lawrence Gostin, “We can...
COMMENTARY: At Day 100, meet the Backdown President

As Donald Trump approaches the 100-day marker of his first year in office, he has defined himself not as the Dealmaker in Chief but as The Backdown President. What a deliciously strange irony that until Monday night he set the stage for a government shutdown over, of all things, his campaign centerpiece — The Wall. Strange because Trump, who...
COMMENTARY: Trump and the degradation of the presidency

Donald Trump’s failure to accomplish much or any of his agenda during his first 100 days as president shouldn’t blind us to the vast harm he has done in this comparatively short time to our system of government, especially his degradation of the presidency. From early in the republic, we have looked at the office of the president as a focal...
More Stories